My Philosophy & Commitments
My approach to oracle readings is based on the simple idea that We Are Each Other's Oracle.
When two people sit down to do a reading together, we are drawing a sacred circle around ourselves. In ancient times, the oracle was thought to speak with the voice of a god. Whether or not the idea of a "god" resonates, in these sessions, we become oracles for one another. Everything that happens in that circle — asking questions, sharing stories, working with images, thinking through associations and checking in with our feelings — is a divined message.
I am committed to an ethical practice of divination and spiritual care — one that honors our inherent dignity, stories, life experiences, and deepest pains, hopes, and imaginative impulses. My training as a chaplain means that I not only respect but also embrace and affirm the unique dimensions of your life, particularly the religious and spiritual elements, whatever they may be. I believe that divination can be healing, and as such I am committed to preventing harm and providing compassionate benefit for your whole being and sense of becoming.
I'm happy to talk with you about this framework and these commitments, including how this understanding is supported by my research of divination, the history of tarot, and contemporary spiritual care and chaplaincy.
Furthermore, I support the ethical guidelines laid out by the International Association of Ethics in Astrology, which has informed my own set of guiding principles.
Guiding Principles for Divination
I wrote nine principles — the ethics and norms — to guide my work as a spiritual caregiver working at the crossroads of professional chaplaincy and divination. The first seven principles are general, while the last two are specific to astrology. It is my hope that by sharing these principles, we can approach divination with more humanity, more compassion, and more confidence in the work of asking good questions.
I. As I practice it, divination is primarily reflective and descriptive, not predictive
II. My oracular practice is rooted in a calling to provide spiritual care and support people's overall flourishing
III. “Shared wisdom” guides conversation toward and through insights that are of real value
IV. Meaning is as vital as information
V. “The soul is more at home in a light that is hospitable to shadow…reflection should not shine too severe
or aggressive a light on the [inner] world.” — John O’Donohue
VI. We don’t reduce mysteries to mechanics, nor do we cede to the unknowable our essential power and self-defined purpose
VII. We are guided by energies that are at once benevolent and fierce, healing and playful
VIII. Astrology helps us appreciate and align with the cycles and poetry of all forms of life
IX. Astrology emerged slowly and collectively, and so we take it slow
and consider our lives in relation to the actual world and situations around us
The First Principle comes out of my research into ancient Greek divination and the distinction between “diagnostic” and “prognostic” oracles. The first type of divination helped people identify the issues at play, the things that drove them to seek an oracle in the first place. The second type was concerned with what would happen — Will my child have a long life? Will my army win this campaign? What will the outcome of this situation be? As I developed my own practice, I found that the only way I could do it in good faith was to help a person appreciate why they were asking the question and what they wanted out of the introspection. No one can say how things will turn out: not a diviner, not a deck of cards, and not the planets or stars. Ultimately, our lives have to be lived and our agency cherished in this baffling existence.
The Second Principle is how I coalesce the training and formation I had at divinity school, where I was educated as a multi-faith chaplain in a changing world. This is the source of best practices in spiritual care, where confidentiality and standards of care are not assumed but affirmed.
The Third Principle comes from the work on pastoral care by Pamela Cooper-White and her book, Shared Wisdom (Fortress Press, 2003). Spiritual care is a dance between two people. But your questions are the focus of the dance, not me. So while we are moving together, and while I get a tremendous amount of meaning and satisfaction out of the encounter, I have a responsibility to be more than just a dance partner. And this responsibility is central to the whole enterprise of professional divination.
The Fourth Principle is an acknowledgement of the fact that when I look at an astrology chart or a spread of oracle cards, there will always be more information than I can realistically share during the reading. I take seriously the task of choosing what to elaborate on and of always deferring to the actual authority on your life, goals, and questions: you.
The Fifth Principle is a quote that sums up my approach to spiritual care. Some astrologers and card readers will “tell it like it is,” taking a no holds barred attitude. That’s not my style. Gentleness, reverence, kindness, and boundless compassion are what I aim to offer. Life is often difficult, and I won't ignore that reality in our explorations.
The Sixth Principle is how I hold the idea of the “spirit” is in “spiritual care." It is not just psychology. (And even if it was, I’m not a psychologist). Religion, or any other container of profound mysteries, contains more than the sum of its parts. But we cannot forget our power in the face of those mysteries: powers of discernment, analysis, volition and wisdom. Cards and the stars don’t dictate anyone’s life. They may provide a type of “map,” but your life is the “terrain” you walk through.
The Seventh Principle is my way of accounting for both theistic and non-theistic perspectives of oracles, which in the ancient world were thought to be divine utterances: the “voice of the god” speaking into the human domain. Do you believe in God, the ancestors, angels and demons? If so, they have space in our divinatory conversations. If not, nothing is lost. The oracle is just as sound, for you and I are also the embodiment of whatever we may call “the divine.”
The Eighth Principle is the astrological complement of the first. Exploring the different facets of astrology is about seeing cycles and spirals in action — and taking solace and strength from the very act of witnessing these dynamics. Yet we can become too identified with a particular astrological notion, even though we have great capacity for transformation. As Octavia Butler wrote in Parable of the Sower, “the only lasting truth is Change.”
The Ninth Principle reminds us that there is no hurry to “figure it out.” Astrology needs time to come into view and we need time to come home to ourselves. But studying our lives within the context of the stars is incomplete if we don’t also consider them within wider human conditions. This principle is a call to leave shallow ideas of “self-care” behind in favor of more abundant and liberating visions of collective realities.