Mj Patterson – What Has Math Got To Do With Astrology?


Astrology has been my study and passion for well over three decades at this point. I enjoy taking clients for sure, but it is the teaching that gets me the most excited.  There is nothing better than watching the “lightbulb” come on over a student’s head!

As the ISAR Global Director for Canada, I cannot wait to be able to teach the ISAR materials. At present, I teach all of the NCGR levels. It all goes well for the most part – until we have to finally knuckle down and do the MATH.  

It is hard watching the light go out in their eyes, watching the frustration and the head scratching…. this is not the easiest stuff in the world! Indeed, many would say we are all wasting our time, that computers do it all now and we don’t have to bother…. and at times I am almost swayed by that idea…. But then I consider how critical it is for us as astrologers to be able to viscerally grasp the steps to a chart erection, to have a clear understanding of why we do each step and to spot (and correct) any errors in the resulting chart. Computers, you know, are a smart as toast! If we type garbage in, we get garbage out. So those of us who have run the gauntlet of chart hand calculation are much better placed to spot and correct errors.

There is an argument that, in the age of computers, it makes no more sense to teach chart hand calculation than it does to teach how to use a slide rule! I do get that argument, I really do!  We don’t want our professional credentials to be outdated and inappropriate, but I am making the case here that requiring a solid knowledge of Celestial Mathematics and Astronomy of our up and coming young professionals is a case of being cruel to be kind.  If we rely only on the computer to calculate the details, and the computer gets it wrong (or in some way the details are incorrectly entered) how will anyone know? Then there is the simple truth that, anything we do not pass along to them will in turn not be passed along to the next generation.  If we water it down now, then who will carry the torch forward?

Perhaps some kind of middle ground is in order – testing the steps to calculation without necessarily demanding an entire chart be erected by hand. This is an area worthy of careful consideration, as we need to balance relevance with rigour.

In the meantime, the level I exam demands a full chart drawn by hand, so, at present, that is what my students must learn! It is hard work, more than a bit confusing, but my money is on my students: we will get there – and just like Everest, the view will be fabulous!


by Lt (Ret’d) Mj Patterson, BA BSc BEd CA NCGR-PAA, ISAR Global Director, Canada


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