Whenever I think about astrology and vocation my mind always goes to Oscar. He was a young Swedish man in his mid-twenties whom I met a few years ago in Stockholm and with whom, as it often happens when travelling, we shared a brief conversation and a coffee while sitting in adjacent tables in the same café.
“What do you do?” I remember him asking me and I paused for a few moments before I went on to reveal that I was an astrologer (those days I was still timid about whether to come out to complete strangers as an astrologer or not). There was a moment of silence from his side as he was letting the word sink in and then he went on to enquire more about it, what an astrologer did and what the underlying philosophy and principles behind it were. He seemed genuinely interested in the subject and when his second question came up it took me by surprise: “I am a primary school teacher. If I were to come to you for a reading, would you see it in my chart that I am a teacher or that I should have become one?” I wondered how I could best answer his question in a way that honoured both the very person before me and astrology itself. In the end my response was that his astrological chart might not necessarily suggest that he was or should have become a teacher – though often astrology can be that definite – rather that it could certainly provide meaningful clues on the motivation behind his given vocational choice as well as the needs and aspirations that such a choice should allow expression to so that he could be happy with it.
Let’s try to examine Oscar’s question just by looking at the Sun’s position in the signs and what it may say about the motivation behind being a teacher. This is a rather simplified, watered down way of looking at something so complex as vocation, but the simplification will serve in this instance to illustrate more clearly how one can use the concept of motivation when approaching the sphere of vocation (or perhaps any other query that the client may have). Let us also keep in mind that the Sun is at the heart of the chart and a vocational choice should always allow some level of expression on the solar principle; after all, it shows someone’s essential nature and how they seek to radiate, shine and be recognised.
With the Sun in Aries the emphasis behind teaching may be on the freedom of managing their own class, the capacity to introduce pioneering resources to teaching, and perhaps this may be the type that prefers private tuition to being affiliated to a school so that they can organise their own workload and time or be their own boss with minimum interference from above.
The Sun in Taurus teacher may be attracted to teaching for being a solid, practical career along perhaps with the combination of job security and a guaranteed pay-check at the end of the month. The classroom may also be the place where patience and steadfastness - two key characteristics of this sign - can find purposeful manifestation and application.
The Sun in Gemini individual may find their true calling in teaching because it allows expression to their need to communicate, to bounce ideas back and forth with students and colleagues alike, along with the thirst for knowledge and the desire to keep exercising their mind and learning new things.
The Cancerian teacher may choose this career because of their love for children, the urge to nurture potential and to establish emotional bonds with their students, although they may also find it difficult to say goodbye to pupils as they progress to the next level up or leave school.
With the Sun in Leo it may be about the fun being around children, enjoying the natural spontaneity and childlike attitude that students can bring to the learning process as much as appreciating being a central figure with enough outlets for theatrical expression and playfulness that such a role can potentially allow.
The Virgo teacher may find their true vocation in teaching out of a strong sense service, the desire to be useful as well as the urge to hone their specialised knowledge or practical skills so that they can pass them onto their students.
For the Libra teacher the motivation may be the very relationship and its dynamics with students and colleagues alike. The capacity for impartial judgement, fairness and perspective are elements that these people could perhaps enjoy and wish to bring into the classroom.
For those teachers born with the Sun in Scorpio, the primary focus behind teaching may be an interest in the human nature, the hidden interactional dynamics taking place in the classroom along with the appreciation of the powerful impact that their work can have on their students. These people may also feel drawn to teaching and education in general because of the depth of knowledge that it allows them to develop and the possibility of research.
The Sun-in-Sagittarius teacher is likely to be in their element in education - especially higher education - and becoming a teacher may be a way of satisfying their quest for a meaningful vocation and fulfilling their natural urge for exploring or pushing their intellectual boundaries. This may be the teacher who believes in the value of education as a process that can promote personal growth or improve career prospects.
For the Capricorn tutor, the call to teaching may stem from a need to connect and develop their inner authority combined, perhaps, with the desire to be seen as a figure that, besides knowledge, fosters a sense of social responsibility and correct moral conduct in their students. Here we may find the disciplinarian but also the teacher who is fair and rewards according to individual efforts.
The Aquarian motivation behind becoming a teacher may be related to a humanitarian ideal and the urge to envision themselves within a wider collective sphere, such as the school environment. Teaching may also provide avenues for independent and unconventional personal expression in the class or it may resonate with a desire to influence or plant a seed for the future through educating the current and upcoming generations.
Being the last sign in the development and evolutionary process that the zodiac represents, Pisces may find themselves in teaching out of a true sense of idealism and sense of service. Becoming a teacher can allow them to channel their natural sense of compassion and empathy towards their students.
The above analysis has touched on only one out of the many chart factors that need to be taken into account when considering the whole issue of vocation. In reality, when analysing a chart it will be necessary to examine the major temperamental (primarily Sun, Moon, Asc and theirs aspects) and vocational indicators (2nd, 6th, 10th house, their rulers, planets conjunct or near the Angles especially the MC etc.) in order to determine how each set of these support the other or not (this idea is taken from Judith Hill’s excellent book “Vocational Astrology” in which she mentions that if there is a mismatch between temperamental and vocational factors, then the person may have a vocation and be quite successful at it without necessarily being happy doing it; or equally someone may have found their labour of love but may never quite manage to turn it into profession or make enough money out of it).
Regardless of how each astrologer approaches vocation in the chart technically, understanding the motivation behind specific career choices may be useful for another reason too: it helps us to put ourselves in our client’s place, to understand where they are coming from and to narrow down our list of suggested professions to the ones that the client will, hopefully, resonate most closely with. Of course, this cannot be done simply by looking at the astrological chart and it is likely to require some basic knowledge of various career sectors, potential roles within each one of them and the conditions of the job market; understanding the motivation, however, can be a good starting point and perhaps even the thread out of this complex labyrinth that career choice for some people can be.
Going back to Oscar, I never actually got to know anything more about his chart apart from the position of his Sun, although time - that master Trickster of all - seems to have placed even this tiny bit of information beyond my reach of recall.
Spiros Philippas is a recent Faculty graduate and a professional astrologer working and living in London.