Getting your chart done can be an extremely enlightening experience.

There is something about a brief glimpse of understanding the self that feels like a window into humanity. Rarely does it last. But hopefully, it comes around again, albeit in small pieces and unexpected moments.

To me, seeing an astrologer (a good one, at least), is a bit like getting a glimpse. They will explain to you some fundamental aspects about yourself, how the stars take part in making it so, and that at different periods of your life, you will be forced to stare deeply in the mirror in order to propel forward.

Sure, one can say “I already know myself well, and understand I will face some hard times in life,” but it is often helpful having someone else clarify, at least in part, why you do what you do. A lot of “ah ha”s can come from that.

Yeah, if you haven’t guessed by now, I love my naturopaths, massage therapists, and psychics. Fine, call me a new-age hippie – I can take it. But even if you can’t get on board with any of those alternative approaches, astrology tends to be a bit more of an accepted genre – who doesn’t read their horoscope at least every once in a while?

Well, it’s time to forget that horoscope, since it’s never right (it’s almost impossible to tell the whole world of oh say, Capricorns, what’s going to happen that day; so much is dependent on a person’s time and place of birth) and open your mind to something that can help you figure out a good time to push your career forward, when love might approach, and maybe most importantly, the best time to travel.

Here are five things to keep in mind when you decide to get an astrology reading:

1. Get a recommendation.

Yep, same goes for astrologers as psychics. Really, get a recommendation for any professional you are paying good money, from a lawyer to a bikini-line waxer (very important).

Would you drop off your beloved dog after randomly coming upon some house with a broken-down sign outside that says, “We luv pets”? No. Don’t just pop in an astrology establishment because you are on vacation and think it might be fun to ask what’s happening in the stars. Unless, of course, you don’t really care about the answer.

2. Do your homework.

Learn a bit about astrology before you make an appointment. For example, the astrologer will need to know your exact time of birth, and usually specifically what questions you would like answered. Not only is your sun sign (the one most people know) important in defining your personality, but so are your moon and ascendant signs.

Astrology will become a lot more clear to you if you learn about your chart in this way. You can hit Astrology.com to get a free natal chart. Although you only receive part of it for free, you’ll get the essence.

Also, understand that there are different types of astrology, including evolutionary astrologers and Chinese astrology, among many others. Get clear on which one you are most on-board with before you make an appointment.

3. Think about the bigger picture.

I know I can sometimes get caught up in what is going on in the moment, and desperately want to know if that hot guy is interested or if that proposal will get accepted. What a waste of time to see an astrologer and ask these piddly-little questions.

Before the most recent trip (via phone) I took to an amazing astrologer, I deliberately decided to mark it as a practice of mapping out 2010. This is the second year in a row that I’ve used my birthday, which neatly falls at the end of the year, as a stimulus to both plan for the coming year, and see what makes the most sense to focus my energy on. Usually, what has already been in my thoughts ends up showing up in my chart, but rarely in the way I thought they would.

Knowing when it is best to sit back, relax, and rework can save you a whole lotta aggravation.

Learning that May might be the best month for you to try and make some extra cash because the stars are aligned is helpful information. Also knowing when it is best to sit back, relax, and rework (like during the dreaded Mercury in retrograde, which occurs four times a year for three weeks at a time – THAT’S why it feels like it’s always happening) can save you a whole lotta aggravation.

4. Be emotionally prepared.

Seeing an astrologer can be a bit like going to a psychologist. Hopefully, through recommendations and homework, you’ve happened upon a very loving astrologer (as far as I can tell, there are a lot out there). But, they are also here to tell it like it is, and not sugar-coat the work that needs to be done.

They should skillfully take you through the process of understanding yourself a bit deeper, but as with any self-inquiry, some of it certainly can sting if you aren’t already aware.

Photo: Image Editor

5. Have fun.

Although astrology, like meditation or travel, gives you a chance to go deeper, it also gives you a chance to get out of yourself a bit at the same time. I often laugh uncontrollably when I’m “called out” by an astrologer (it is scary how dead-on they can be).

For example, in my last reading, the astrologer noted my Scorpio (dark, brooding) in Venus (sign of love) would have me always attracted to that which I shouldn’t be attracted to, so I’d better start working on accepting it instead of fighting it. Thinking about my propensity toward men who are for some reason or another out of reach, I couldn’t help but respond with a “touché”.

Let knowledge give you a chance to make fun of yourself. We all gotta take things a little less seriously, right?

What do you think about astrology? Share your thoughts below.