Clare Martin discovered astrology by chance in her thirties, but the Shaftesbury resident has now become a well-known and highly respected figure within astrological circles. Alfred heard how she teaches the ancient practice to students from her home in our town.
If you were to mention Clare Martin’s name to another astrologer, Clare says that they most likely will have heard of her. “I think they might. I have been at the game long enough to have a reputation, I think,” said Clare, who is just about to complete her fifth book on the topic.
“I brought out a trilogy called ‘Mapping the Psyche’ which has become almost like a textbook for psychological astrology,” said Clare. That’s why dozens of people who are studying astrology log onto her lectures, delivered from her Park Walk home, overlooking Gold Hill and Melbury Hill. “I work for an online astrological school and I will do webinars. It is a most extraordinary experience. I will have fifty people in the ‘classroom’, but they will be in Brazil, Sydney or San Francisco.”
Clare’s has extensively studied astrology and how many civilizations and cultures have plotted the movement of celestial bodies to identify patterns that could offer an insight into events. Since astrologers are usually asked to chart human behaviour, Clare has gained qualifications in that field, too. “I have a diploma of the Faculty of Astronomical Studies and also a diploma of the Centre for Psychological Astrology. They are two schools that were set up in London a while back. I also have a Masters in psychotherapy and counselling.”
Clare earned her diploma in 1990 and went on to teach at the London school that she had studied with. “I was teaching throughout the 1990s for a decade. In 2000, I became the president of the faculty with a team of people and we restructured the modules and the exam system,” she said.
Clare has risen to the top of her game, but she only became interested in astrology in her late thirties. She was working from home as a secretary when she was required to transcribe an astrologer’s session with a client. “As I typed it, I thought it was amazing that two complete strangers would be having that conversation. The astrologer was saying things of such depth. They were profound. I had always thought it was nonsense, just star signs in the paper. Eventually I went to see this astrologer myself and she was the first person I felt who had ever known me. I felt reflected. I was even more excited when I discovered I could study astrology. It never occurred to me that it was a proper three-year course. I went to everything I could, and I felt it opened up whole new world for me,” said Clare.
Clare said she had an interesting reaction when she revealed to friends and family that she was giving up a traditional paid job for a career in astrology. “I learned, after a while, to keep quiet,” Clare laughed. “It’s hard to describe what it is, and I also learned that people didn’t really want to hear what it is. It’s associated with fate in some way. People are scared of that, as if everything is carved in stone.”
Clare says that an individual can have a ‘wonderful map which helps (them) to navigate life’, if they know their astrological chart and birth data. She is aware that many academics term astrology a pseudo-science and claim that it is unproven. And religious groups often oppose astrology.
“The Witchcraft Act of the 1700s has never been rescinded,” Clare laughed. “Within the BBC, you may not present astrology as anything serious. There is a profound media prohibition. Every time something is printed it will be derogatory. There are astrologers who write to journalists pointing out that they have got their facts wrong, but they never get printed. We are still dealing with a sense of astrology being taboo, although it is quite subtle.”
I asked Clare whether she thought that characters like TV’s Mystic Meg and the entertainment side of astrology were helpful to her profession. “That’s just the place it is found in popular culture,” Clare said. “There’s no point getting on a soapbox and trying to persuade or educate people unless they want to.”
Most people are first made aware of astrology from the star signs in newspapers, which are also considered by many to be a bit of fun, perhaps to liven up the morning coffee break at work. Again, Clare doesn’t mind this association. “It is the one way that the general public can realise that astrology exists. Since the beginning of astrology, this was been the ‘fairground side’ of things. Traditionally, the teaboy, or whoever, wrote the sun sign columns – it didn’t matter.”
When Clare became interested in astrology, its television profile was higher than it is today through regular appearances from personalities like Russell Grant. It doesn’t seem to be in the mainstream media so much today. “There’s more on the internet on astrology than almost any other subject. Younger generations have incorporated it,” she said.
I was curious to learn how an astrologer would make money. Clare says providing birth charts is a frequently requested service. “Astrology provides every person with a unique birth chart, a horoscope, which is a backdrop to understanding themselves and their relationships and goals.”
Clare explained that astrology teaches that everything in life is connected and that a person is a part of something that is much bigger. “It helps people to focus and find direction. People can find that an astrological session can be just as revealing as years in therapy,” she said.
Clients might have deep personal issues and challenges that they want guidance with. “I think it has to be taken seriously, which is why halfway through my astrological studies I realised that I had to go and train to become a therapist. I then had seven years of supervision when I started working with clients and it is very important that the whole thing is confidential and within clear boundaries and seen as a profession.”
Clare has a frequently asked question. Anyone who books a session to ask whether they will find a husband, wife or partner in 2020 might be disappointed by an astrologer’s response. “There’s a lot we can’t do,” laughed Clare. “We can’t do things for them. Psychological astrologers are not interested in whether somebody is going to win the lottery next week but we can see that there are people who are actually lucky and there are people who will never win the lottery, just because of the way the chart is configured,” said Clare, who explained the sort of issues clients of astrologers raise.
“People will consult an astrologer when they are lost, when everything they have tried isn’t working. When something has died, like a career that used to have meaning, or a relationship is going through difficulty and people do not know where to turn,” explained Clare. “They are looking to understand themselves, how they have got to this position and what they might do about it, rather than going to a therapist. It’s not connected to illness. Often a cycle in somebody’s life has come naturally to an end. An astrologer can give them the confidence to discuss it and give them a new insight into the potential.”
After chatting with Clare, I could see some similarities with a life coach’s role and how sessions could help people to focus on their own circumstances and opportunities. “It’s more about helping people to understand their motivation and to encourage them to become who they are. There is a saying – ‘character is fate’. If you understand your character that will help you make the right decision.”
Clare believes that personalities will be influenced by the time and place of birth, but an individual can choose how they best apply those characteristics. “Some people who have had an extremely harsh and uncaring environment manage spectacularly. They become self-sufficient and strong. Other people are defeated by that and lack self-esteem and confidence,” said Clare.
As you might expect, Clare has plotted her own chart. She knew it was time for her to make the move that brought her to Shaftsbury. “I could see clearly on my own chart that I was having a period of restlessness, something that everybody has at 63. It was a period of change and wanting something new. If I get a client who is that age, I know from experience what that particular transit in the chart means. The chart won’t tell me Shaftesbury, but it will tell me that I’m restless.”
Not so anymore. Clare feels a strong connection with her home and workplace on Park Walk. “Here I am in the Abbey grounds. That’s very important to me, in this special, sacred space. It’s beautifully peaceful and I feel like I’ve been here forever, and I hope to stay for the rest of my life,” said Clare.
Finally, I asked Clare whether she believed she would be an astrologer forever and whether she’ll remain in our hilltop town. “Definitely, no question. Right from the very first session I had, when I went to see my first astrologer, I felt I had come home, and I still do.” And in terms of Shaftesbury, “It’s home forever,” Clare said