APRIL ELLIOTT KENT has been a professional astrologer since 1990, specializing in the astrology of weddings and personal eclipse cycles. Kent is the author of three books, The Essential Guide to Practical Astrology, Star Guide to Weddings and the upcoming Astrological Transits (available in June 2015). Her astrological reflections have also appeared in The Mountain Astrologer, Dell Horoscope magazine and Llewellyn’s annual Moon Sign and Sun Sign books, as well as MoonCircles.com, Beliefnet.com and AOL Horoscopes. Her consistently thoughtful insights into astrology plus information about purchasing her new book and other services can be found at her site: BigSkyAstrology.com
What got you interested in astrology to begin with and how old were you at that time?
I was 12 years old when a copy of Linda Goodman’s “Sun Signs” beckoned to me from my stepbrother’s coffee table. I had always been interested in what makes people tick, and I immediately recognized that astrology could be a great tool for that. Impoverished and growing up in the pre-internet age, I spent years loitering in the aisles of my local bookstore, reading any astrology books I could get my hands on! It wasn’t until I was 28 years old, just before my first Saturn return, that I began studying with a teacher.
What is your specialty (mundane, natal, financial) and why?
I used to specialize in electional astrology (choosing good dates and times for taking action), particularly for weddings. I stumbled into electional work completely by accident, and it suited me perfectly while I was in school because I found it less emotionally demanding than other astrology work. Last year, after 14 years, I decided to take a hiatus from it. At this point, I’m between specialties, although I do love talking with people about their careers.
What do you think is the role of astrology in the modern world?
The modern world is a complex place. Astrology can’t offer the same thing to impoverished rural people of Guinea that it does to American suburbanites who want to become more self-actualized. Astrology can perform many roles, as your question about specialties implies. It can help you figure out what to do and when to do it, understand your own nature and those of others, plan your farming, anticipate global conflict, and even predict the weather.
But astrology’s greatest contribution is that it helps us understand the quality of time. If you understand the quality of a moment in time, you gain insight into the people who were born at that moment, the events that are initiated, and the promise and challenge that the moment holds. Then, it’s a question of applying that understanding to the specific needs of an individual, a family, a corporation, a country.
What is your personal ethos regarding giving readings? For instance, do you believe you have a responsibility of some kind to instill hope in a client who may be coming for answers to difficult life crises?
When you’re learning to do readings for people, there is a dilemma: Do you tell people the truth, or tell them what they want to hear? With a strong Saturn, I used to come down a little hard on the former. These days, I hope that I present reality in a way that allows for hope, choice, and possibilities. I find people appreciate hearing the truth, even when it’s unpleasant, but it’s important not to leave them there on their knees. You have to help them to their feet and get them walking again, toward the best possible future.
Are you able to make your living primarily from astrology? If so, how long did it take to get to the point where astrology provided an acceptable wage?
Astrology is my full-time job. It was a great day when my astrology income exceeded the federal poverty guidelines. Technically, my husband and I could eke out a living on what I earn, but there would be a lot of Top Ramen involved. As it is, he has a conventional job that pays a much more acceptable wage, so we enjoy a more varied diet and get to travel a little.
It took many years to reach this point. I began practicing in 1991, had a setback when I moved to a new city (again, pre-internet it was harder to move a practice), took some time off in the early 00’s to finish college, and spent five or six years supplementing my income with website design and freelance PR writing. I’d say it’s probably in the past seven years or so that I’ve gone from being humiliated by my astrology earnings to merely disappointed.
Has knowing what’s on the horizon for you astrologically ever functioned as an impediment to your spontaneity — for instance, knowing a potential partner’s chart?
Here’s my favorite story about that. I met my husband when he came to me for an astrology reading. We became great friends, then eventually fell in love and decided to get married. Like a good astrologer, I asked my teacher to choose a date for the wedding. As he overheard me giving his data to her, he stopped me: “That’s not the right time zone.” Turns out I’d been calculating his chart wrong all along! When I calculated it using the right time zone, our charts clicked together in an amazing way. Had I not made that mistake when I met him, and given all the other marriage indicators that were stacking up in my transits and progressions, I might have recognized him as my partner much sooner. But it’s probably best I didn’t, because the beauty of our relationship was how gradually we came to know and love one another, without any other expectations.
I don’t use astrology much for myself these days. Oh, I do adjust the timing of things on occasion, as a ritual to invite a better outcome. And when I’m unsure about what course of action to take, I refer to my chart for insights. But in the end, I see astrology as a friend. When I’m drifting off course, an hour spent with my chart will usually pull me back to onto my path.
What do you say to people who say they don’t believe in astrology?
They never say that to me anymore. That’s mostly because I work all the time and most of my socializing is done with close friends. On the rare occasion I find myself in other social settings, I’m extremely cautious about disclosing my profession. For years, I found that the minute I told someone I’m an astrologer, they either dismissed me as an idiot or hounded me for insights into their Scorpio boyfriends. These discussions did nothing to further astrology’s image or mine (I did my best to redeem Scorpio whenever I could), and led me to drink too much at parties. So these days, I size up my audience, then often hedge and say I’m a writer, which is perfectly true.
(What I used to say was that I don’t believe in astrology either – I see it not as a belief system, but as a language for describing life.)
What sign are you?
All of them! But when I was born, the Sun was in Leo. 🙂
This interview is part of The Stargazers series.