One of the most common dilemmas I encounter in astrological consultation is the question of how to explain the inability of modern astrology to define any planetary configuration as innately “positive” or “negative” in tone. There is sound reasoning behind this principle, as no birth chart is by definition “bad” or “good” by any means.
Yet, when I introduce a client to their chart for the first time, there is always one question I find myself fielding constantly from clients: "Is it good or bad?"
The classic example is when a challenge or difficult experience is indicated in the chart. In the majority of cases, no matter how tactfully, sensitively, or open-mindedly I broach the subject, the instantaneous reaction is: "So you're saying that's really bad, right?"
I would like to take a moment to here to state what many astrologers before me have already stated: the binary of good v.s. bad is not relevant or helpful when it comes to astrological analysis.
And here's why:
The assumption that is so deeply embedded in our culture is that if something cannot be categorized within the “good/bad” dichotomy, then it must not exist. From a standpoint of pure logic, this inherently does not make sense, especially as it pertains to the discussion of deeply personal experiences.
Furthermore, the question of good and bad will always be a relative one. Depending on culture, values, personal (and public) opinion, one person may say a trait is "good" while another may call it “bad.” Take the example of someone whose chart shows a high level of ambition. When looked at in isolation, “ambition” can mean many things. Thus I must look at the chart and say “Okay, here we have an ambitious soul. But ambitious to do what exactly? What is this person’s goal? Are they interested in personal gains or the public interest? Do they want to spend their time chasing money, are they campaigning for the rights of others? Is all they really want some good old-fashioned recognition from Mom & Dad?”
To look at the same question from another angle: Let’s say a person whose chart indicates an innately ambitious nature also shows a high degree of impulsiveness and lack of empathy. This person may accomplish much in the world but might use questionable tactics to get there. In this case, the result may be "good" in terms of material gain, for example, but the methods used to achieve such gains would likely lead to negative consequences down the road.
The point here is that no aspect of a person exists in a priori terms: a personality trait or innate response pattern is not static, because it exists in a constant, dynamic interaction with the context in which one operates. In fact, many of the most stressful or tense aspects in a birth chart produce extremely intelligent and highly creative people.
We never know when our beliefs or response style may be threatened or confronted, and those with the more dynamic (“stressful”) aspects in their charts are simply forced to confront their own beliefs and responses in a more abrupt and forceful way via karma (circumstances). In this way we develop self-awareness. Would there most likely be suffering in the lives of these people? Yes. But what is suffering really?
Suffering often involves confrontations with realities of life that, while difficult, are character building, leading to deeper self-awareness and understanding. This is why many people with some of the most stressful or tense aspects in their chart are extremely intelligent, sensitive, and highly creative people.
What defines our lives are our challenges, the experiences that push us to develop and evolve. It is the job of the Astrologer to help the client gain a deeper awareness of their challenges, so that they can become their greatest strengths.