For What It Is Worth

The Truth About Self-Employed/Freelance Women, And Their Rates & Fees

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

C.S. Sherin, Dec. 6, 2019

I love when people get right to the point, and so, that is what I am going to do. The following information is everything. It is the main point, which comes from a question about what something is worth…specifically when female freelance/self-employed professionals set the rates and fees.

So, you may wonder why self-employed/freelance professionals seem to “charge so much.” It is true that when you pay for services from an artisan, artist, trade specialist, editor, spiritual practitioner, or other self-employed or freelance professional — you pay for their specialization, and the value and quality of their service or product.

But why are some prices so high? The real reason for this is because self-employed professionals must pay for the following benefits themselves:

  • sick days
  • vacation/holidays
  • bonuses
  • healthcare/insurance
  • vision and dental care
  • retirement fund
  • maintaining or updating education/training
  • administrative tasks (non-billable hours)
  • travel

In addition to these, self-employed professionals also need to factor in business expenses against all profits:

  • hours of prep, design, PR, research, etc
  • taxes (social security, medicare, self-employment)
  • website/domain/email services
  • renting space
  • advertising
  • license fees
  • support services/consulting fees
  • business property taxes
  • work supplies & equipment (shipping, packaging, labels, software, third party apps)

Not all independent professionals will have every single one of those expenses, but many will. And, all of this, of course, is in addition to the responsibilities we all have: rent or mortgage, property taxes, costs of child care or pets, transportation, education (debt), food, clothing, and so on.

You see, many freelancers and self-employed folks are, in fact, talented people who are brave enough to administrate a business on their own, without a safety net. If they do it well, they are the stars of the circus, so to speak.

Yes, some independent professionals do overcharge and take advantage of others. Corruption is present in every profession and sector, unfortunately. However, it is important to understand — the majority of self-employed/freelance folks simply want to make a decent and honest living doing what they do best. There is zero greed behind most fees and rates. In fact, most self-employed people undercharge for their services!

Let’s look at some recent statistics and reports on this matter…

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2015, 7.4% of men were self-employed and 5.2% of women were. Also reported, self-employment is higher among White and Asian people, and lower among African American, Native American, and Hispanic people. (The study actually didn’t mention Native American people, and I hated that exclusion, so I changed it.)

In August of this year, The Pew Research Center reported that only 10% of the US work force is self-employed, though there are many unreported self-employed folks, they think. And, only about a quarter of known self-employed people (3.4 million) have employees of their own.

In October of this year, Forbes reported that in 2018 women received a severely neglectful “2.2% share of $130 billion given out in venture capital. And that was a $1 billion improvement over the prior year.” The article expands on how gender bias towards women inhibits funding for their small businesses. One detail given was how women are often asked personal questions, rather than questions focusing on their business during interviews for funding.

Lastly, a recent joint report by Thumbtack and Square stated that self-employed women end up earning more money. This is because, in “regular jobs,” women are often undervalued and underpaid. At the same time, the report shared that:

“Women small business owners are 5x more likely than men to have had their expertise questioned in all industries, and are 10x more likely than men to have had their expertise questioned in male-dominated industries.”

~ Thumbtack Journal (“Build Her Up”) and Square

This of course affects funding, word of mouth, and ultimate long-term success. In addition, the report shares that self-employed females will experience less workplace discrimination. (It goes without saying…)

Studies are reporting that being self-employed can improve women’s lives. This means that women of color, women leaving domestic violence, women veterans, LGBTQIA+ womyn, all sorts of women…who have talents that go unrecognized and undervalued by traditional means have a chance to improve theirs and others’ lives, work, and projects through self-employment…if they have support through local, regional and/or government funding and clients.

But funding and customers or clients won’t last if the business, service, or product doesn’t have real worth, use, and quality. And businesses of real worth and quality can’t last without support and recognition. And, of course, along with local support, funding, and tools and education for small business, the independent professional needs to have integrity, expertise, and reliability. So, yeah, it isn’t enough to decide to freelance and set a well-calculated price. A lot of preparation, education, practice, and time goes into becoming that expert, that artist, that consultant, that independent freelancer who can be so appreciated, needed, and valued.

At the same time, women, especially women of color, are not getting the support and votes of confidence (financial and community-wise) they need to become that independent professional that keeps going.

Alongside all of this, I can speak first-hand about one of the big challenges for the self-employed, which is affordable, accessible healthcare insurance. The first two years of the government’s Healthcare Marketplace coverage, for me, as a female self-employed professional was great. After that, it quickly became too expensive. Talk about prices being too high! Catastrophic insurance is a safety net, but far-flung from a desirable long-term solution. We need better solutions, that is for sure! But that is another article…back to the topic at hand…

Working for yourself can be viewed as the easy life, but really, it is more likely to be that you are overworked and underpaid when working for yourself. And when you work from home most of the time, like I do, that means that it is possible to work 18–20 hour days between what needs to be done at home and work.

That is, until you realize that you are your own boss, and so you are responsible for balance, health, income, and morale of the business…and that it is all you. A good friend of mine is also self-employed part of the year, and she helped me a lot in realizing that I am my own boss, and what kind of boss am I? Will I be a good boss? Will I be kind? Will I be merciless? I’ve found that I can be all of those. This is a compass of awareness that keeps me steady.

When you are the boss, worker, and administrator, it is way too easy to work over-time and endlessly, with passion and eagerness to make a difference and provide the best for you and your clients. That is the double-edged sword of doing what you are good at, and doing what you love!

When I was first beginning as a self-employed professional, many years ago, I was more than willing to be underpaid. I was even enthusiastic about it! I wanted to meet people where they were, and still provide amazing services. For the most part, people were fair with me when I gave them that trust. But, undercharging was not long-term sustainable.

The Thumbtack-Square report supports this experience, stating that both male and female independent professionals have to undercharge for their services in order to build a clientele in the beginning. And most people with “regular jobs” that have benefits or not, can probably relate to this since fair wages equal to inflation are near to non-existent in our country in general.

As I started to gain confidence, I took a small business class and later a few sessions of tutoring from the local University’s small business program. Through that, I learned about all of the hidden costs to self-employment, crafting a business plan, and how all of that leads to the fees that you see when you approach a self-employed individual for specialized services. I also learned that women are less likely to ask for money, start a business, or take financial risks.

After that, I started charging more appropriate fees for my services. Overall, it went well. Loyal clients valued my services and didn’t mind paying more. But there were some bumps too. The reactions ranged from shock and distaste…to flat out judgement. These reactions were from women who were able to pay the fee without strain, and who knew me personally, outside of my profession. To be clear, back then I wasn’t raising my rate by hundreds of dollars or anything, it was only an increase of $20!

Being an artist, writer/author, editor, publisher, and holistic spiritual practitioner…I have had ample opportunities to come face to face with the preconceived notions of value and worth placed on the services, projects, and products provided by women.

Women have been subjected to this mindset at a deep level, and the problem is, too many women: believe it, don’t question it, apologize for wanting fair payment, or don’t even want to ask to be paid! I have watched absolute expert superstar women tell me about clients not paying them, and how they did nothing. Why? Because they felt bad, uncomfortable, ashamed, confused — you name it. Women are often taught to resist being bold and straightforward. Why? Because they are then seen as demanding and pushy.

In witnessing this kind of dynamic, I learned quickly to ask to be paid, kindly — with normality, and without apology.

I mean, think about this… Imagine if someone had a pop-up shop at a store, and they were selling homemade gourmet cookies. Someone walks up and says they’ll have three, takes them, and walks away without paying. Not only is that illegal, it is unjustifiable. Now imagine the cookie artisan person asking that thief for payment, but apologizing for asking. Yes, it’s completely bananas, I know. Yet this happens. And women too often struggle to deal with it. I know, because it has happened to me, and to my friends who are also independent professionals.

In time, in engaging in conversation, later, with some of the women that balked at my $20 increase in fee back then, I found that they were also learning about their worth and the worth of others, and it was a growing edge for them. They expressed that they had realized the need for fair payment, and that the region we live in isn’t too hospitable to that — favoring corporations and organizations instead. Others, I didn’t get to talk to, and I simply wrote it up as their issue, not mine.

In retrospect, I know and appreciate that we women all have mental and emotional hurdles to overcome due to systemic bias and discrimination. For LGBTQIA+, Hispanic, Native American, and Black women that is on top of any other personal challenges and levels of discrimination and bias they experience.
Because of this, it is important for us to become more aware of these hidden issues, needs, and dynamics, so that we don’t perpetuate the problem for ourselves and others.

Yes, some women (and men) take advantage of others, and charge too much…even exploit sectors of business out of greed. I have been totally grossed out by some of the exploitative prices in certain fields of work that I have specialized in. I have been totally grossed out by those that make money the object, rather than the relationships, quality, outcome, and expertise. Still, they are not the majority! Please remember this when you look at services and fees listed by freelance/self-employed women.

Nowadays, I like to take a logical approach: this is what it costs to provide this service and maintain this small business. Period. End of sentence. We can tailor that cost to suit your needs. I can even give you a deal, but I cannot, logically or responsibly, work for you at a rate that will put me in debt by the end of the day, week, month, or year. It makes no sense.

I once had a speaking engagement where I let the hosts know my rate, and that I would be donating products for the crowd, valued at more than I would be paid. I was surprised to see them, at the beginning of the event, taking donations rather than a set admission cost, to cover my speaking fee, and to donate to a designated charity of the audience’s choice. Afterwards, the host said they didn’t make enough from the event, and asked if I would like to donate my fee to the charity that was chosen. I was shocked, and explained that the products I had donated for the night had already far exceeded the amount of my speaking fee (by hundreds), which they knew. The host reluctantly gave me an amount of money, less than what I had stated as my rate.

This was a tough experience for me, because the host was someone I had trusted. Sadly, it was clear to me, from that and other instances, that our needs and goals were no longer compatible. As much as I was disappointed, I moved on, realizing that it is more important to maintain what is sustainable for me, rather than caving to unreasonable and ongoing requests that put my livelihood at stake. It’s just one story of a million for women who put themselves out there. Well, in the freelance world it happens to both men and women, but it can be, and is, harder for women in many ways.

So, lessons learned! If your rate isn’t sustainable for me, it’s a fact, and we can move on in peace and mutual respect. I certainly won’t hold a grudge. Even with people who have tried to take advantage of my kindness, I won’t hold a grudge. It isn’t worth the energy. Best to move on, and make room to connect with those with compatible goals. Onward and upward!

So, the next time you are shocked by the rates and fees listed by an independent professional, please take into consideration all the hidden expenses that freelancers and the self-employed must plan for. Remember that we self-employed/freelancers most often have no safety net, and think long and hard about how to charge, and when not to.

Also, consider how much you would spend on other professionals, such as: an electrician, plumber, roofer, spa, or salon. And, remember how much money you usually spend on entertainment, fun items, holiday decor, and unnecessary food items. Then, consider the value vs. cost of a business relationship with a self-employed professional (whether they are an artist, writer, editor, consultant, advisor, artisan, or whatever), and how their services can truly make a positive difference for you, when given the chance.

Most of all, please do give us freelancers and self-employed professionals, and our fees, the benefit of the doubt. Most of us are worthy of your trust.

Look closely at what unique super powers we may have that can enhance your life, work, and project as the deciding factor — instead of jumping to conclusions about, and judging fees, without learning more. At least inquire, if you are seriously interested, and the fees are all that is stopping you. In most cases, independent professionals are willing to work within your budget (within reason).

The added bonus is that you can count on a personal touch from an individual who: deeply appreciates the business and the opportunity to exceed your expectations; and who seeks to forge a positive, mutually beneficial, ongoing business relationship with you. Win-win.


This article was previously published by C.S. Sherin, December 5, 2019 on Medium.com.

Poetry: Allowing And Understanding Feelings — Without Being Ruled By Them

The Golden Rules For Feelings, And Other Thoughts In Verse

CS Sherin, 09-10-2019, edited 9-11-19

Canadian Geese and Tundra Swans, La Crosse WI marsh. Photo by CS Sherin

FEELINGS…

are neither good or bad…
they just are.
If denied
they become like
exiled mice
burrowing and hiding
in hidden places
of the psyche and body,
indefinitely.
Only when
they are felt
and named
can they be released
and resolved…
even if it takes
50 years, or more.

If there is no room for certain feelings
they can get squeezed out
sideways
in unintended words or actions
that may inflict
lasting harm…
a lot of times
upon those
undeserving
and most loved.
Or we may express
inappropriate emotions
at inappropriate times
because we were never given permission
to show certain feelings, like
sadness, fear, or anger.

Feelings are like babies
or art…
they are so often
a surprise, an experience
created and flowing
through us without effort,
a full human experience…
emotions provide a needed function
that each of us is
responsible for…even
while others
may come to their own
interpretations
about it.

Feelings are.
All the feelings
are natural, honest responses
to whatever we are experiencing. Sometimes
they seem ugly and wrong,
sometimes they are
harsh
and exaggerated,
but truth is
they are what they are…
and everyone
has all of them
no matter how repressed and denied
they may be. Sometimes
the full gamut of emotions
haven’t been felt or
experienced, but the
potential remains
the same
within each of us.

What is important,
essential,
absolutely necessary
is
to look at our feelings
and name them,
especially the difficult or enigmatic
ones — whenever we can,
no matter
how clumsy or tentative
it seems in doing so.

Feelings, ultimately
are meant to be felt and then
fade…let go of
in the moment,
and recycled
into other energy
and actions that are needed
in each moment.

If we cannot let a feeling go
it becomes something else…
a thing, a force
that we
consciously or unconsciously
choose
to feed and hold onto…
like a depraved zombie
that is treated like a
beloved teddy bear —
it will surely cause
malfunctions and
other problems both
subtle and obvious.

If it is hard
to let go of a certain feeling
it may require really listening to
and responding
to the feeling, or it may mean
that one feeling is dominating
as a defense
to hide a deeper feeling
that was or is
less
acceptable to us
or to those
who
influenced us.

Look at your feelings,
name them, and
let them go.
Let it be
natural.
Let it be
like a passing moment.

No bird ever soars
by holding on.

Truly,
real and needed fear
can keep us alive,
and generate enough
kinetic energy
to fuel needed
responses to real danger
and emergencies:
like running, rescuing,
putting out fires,
fighting for our lives,
and so on.

Best we don’t hold onto it.
Best we listen to it
and respond. That allows
the natural flow
into
needed actions
and new feelings
and experiences.

Real and needed anger
can alert us to the fact
that our boundaries are being
disrespected, someone is
being harmed,
or that we need to
say no, because we are
allowing ourselves to be taken
advantage of, and we are giving too much.
And, it can tell us
that the other person
cannot be trusted, and shouldn’t be
at this time.
The anger serves its purpose…
we feel it,
we listen to it,
name and understand it,
and respond to it appropriately,
and then,
move on.
Anger too,
can give us new energy
to act, to respond,
to create
positive change,
movements for the good,
and new creations. Anger doesn’t mean
ugly. It means
something productive
needs to happen, adjustments
need to be made. Deep breathing
helps.

As emotions flow through and out of us
channeling difficult ones into
actions and words that do the least harm,
is most preferable.
Seeking to channel difficult
feelings can contribute to
health and creativity.

It is a choice
to be responsible
and transform pain and difficulty into
something helpful and
healing, or at least something
that brings greater health and balance
to self…
rather than creating more,
and unnecessary suffering.

In anger
I have created some
of my most beautiful
art. Channeling emotions
with creativity can be
surprising,
refreshing,
renewing. It can lead
to great things.

Easy feelings are easy.
Difficult and layered feelings
can be quite hard
and uncomfortable.

Rage and terribly sad can be much
harder. Along with resentment,
jealous insecurity and many
other challenging emotional
states brought about
by many dynamics…

Norms make some of these
unacceptable to feel or express,
except when channeled into
energy that bypasses
perceived weaknesses…

Feelings range the gamut
and can be easy to handle, feel,
name and let go of
unless
we have been in places
in circles
where
we were made to feel
over and over and over
that certain feelings are wrong and bad or
that there is no room for our feelings
or that feelings are inferior
or too big, or too much trouble…
there are so many ways
that our culture
has manipulated, exploited
and exiled feelings,
while also neglecting to
teach healthy processes for them.

Some of us grew up
being told without words that
there will be no support for our feelings
(trusted caregivers did this,
as was done to them)…or that
some feelings are forbidden. This is like
telling someone
that peeing is forbidden.
The pee is going to come out
sooner or later.
Seen or unseen.

Feelings are an automatic
and natural response to experiences
and situations.

Some of us received love when we
expressed pleasant emotions and then
likewise, love was
withheld
if
we expressed anger
or other “ugly” feelings.

Some natural feelings became
confusing, hard, forbidden.

There were so many unspoken judgements
and snares
like barbed wire for our
automatic, natural emotions
to navigate, all the while our brains
weren’t fully developed.

Drugs and alcohol often step in
for so many of us
to alleviate, numb, or mask
the difficult feelings and exile, and the
resulting anxiety and depression
produced
by such a dysfunctional culture
that has developed and upheld such
corrupt systems
that discriminate
and silence
among other things,
natural functions necessary
for
healthy development, comprehension and
coping skills.

Stress can be living in an environment that
denies and forbids difficult feelings
in public and community settings,
while also setting up media forces that feed
on stagnant, underdeveloped, unhealthy
held-on-to emotions.

Seems a stage set for devolution, really.

We have a right to our feelings. Just as
it is a basic right
to go to the bathroom
in a healthy, sanitary way.
We don’t have a right
to piss on others
and to take out
our pissed off state
on others.
Dealing with others
who are doing this,
or being cold and vicious
can be just as challenging
to handle.

We have a right to
our feelings and there is only
one over-arching
golden rule:

While feelings are neither good or bad…
when you are old enough
to understand and respond,
you are 100% responsible
for your own feelings and
how you handle them.

The GOLDEN RULE has many parts,
but it is all one
understanding and code:
We honor our feelings,
we take responsibility for our feelings,
and we take every measure to refrain from
causing harm to self or others due to our feelings.
We find ways to express our feelings
in healthy, honest,
creative ways. We refrain from
holding on to feelings, and instead, we
let them flow. Except,
with an anger that is unreasonably lit
with threat to harm, we engage our
breath, logic, and exercise — we engage
all manners of detaching from the lit rage,
as needed,
so that it does not become
unnecessary harm and suffering
for others
and self.

We are most true when
we realize:
No one makes us feel a certain way.
We experience our own feelings,
through our own experiences
and lens of perception.
Likewise, we aren’t responsible
for other people’s feelings.
Still, we can share a
healthy detachment that seeks to
acknowledge and honor the feelings
of others,
as needed, in order to
address something important.
Then, we let the feelings go,
and move on…
all the wiser.


CS Sherin, WildClover.org 2019©

Tips of gratitude are welcome here! Click the pic to support this site.


Astrology: The Gift Of Perspective

An Artist’s View On Perspective, Astronomy, And Astrology

The Most Crowded Place In Our Galaxy (The Milky Way). Arches Cluster in the constellation of Sagittarius. Credit: NASA/ESA 2015

Please take a moment to do the following before reading further:

  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, drawing the breath from below and around your belly button.
  • Hold the breath in for a couple seconds.
  • Then, release it slowly through your mouth like an audible sigh.
  • Now, smile. Yes, even if you don’t feel like it, and it feels kind of fake. Smile, and then release any tension you are holding in your body with another belly breath in and out.
  • Take one more deep breath, in and out, in the same way. Then, smile again.

Now, consider this. You are here:

  • You are an inhabitant on the planet Earth, also known as: “The Good Goddess”, “Gaea”, and Terra Mater
  • The Good Goddess: Terra Mater, is the 3rd planet from her (relatively young) Sun, which is known as: Sol or Helios
  • Our Helios solar system orbits the galactic center of our slightly warped barred spiral galaxy, which is called: The Milky Way
  • We are within the minor Orion “spur” (near the Sagittarius and Perseus major arms) of the Milky Way
  • Our solar system is estimated to be one of 10 – 100 billion solar systems in our Milky Way galaxy. 
  • Astronomers now estimate that there are at least 100-200 billion observable galaxies in the Universe.
  • At the galactic center is Sagittarius A, which is near the constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius.
  • Sagittarius A Star, in the Sagittarius A area, is a newly discovered radio source, and is also near the location of what is believed to be a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.
  • The first photograph of a supermassive black hole was shared on April 10th, 2019. This black hole was taken from a neighboring galaxy to Sag A*, M87. Messier 87 is further away, but larger than the supermassive black hole in Sag A*.
Artistic rendition of the Milky Way galaxy, created Sept. 12, 2013.
NASA_JPL-Caltech/R.Hurt

It is still a mystery what the true nature of our universe is…

It is important to keep in mind, that the Earth itself is invisible within scale of size compared to some of the universe’s most gargantuan heavenly bodies.  If the Earth is invisible in scale to some heavenly bodies, what does that make us? What is beyond invisible?

Yet, we are present and in relationship with all that is. This is amazing, and good to orient ourselves in this way — beyond the mundane, while also remaining rooted in facts of reality — as we know them so far!

This is what we call perspective on the grand scale…thanks to astronomy.

About Perspective

Perspective is personal and subjective. And, it can change suddenly, with a new experience, new thought, and by getting distance from things we have become too mired in.

As an artist, I find that when I work on a piece, sometimes I become too close to it, and lose perspective — much like a teenager focusing too much on one feature — losing all perspective on actual proportion and objectivity.  Often, I need to walk away from a piece of art I am working on, stand at a distance, look at it upside down, and even put it away for a while in order to see it with fresh eyes, and as it really is. When I do that, then I can appreciate it, and know what it needs…or that it is done.

Differing perspectives can grant us new glimpses of reality that we hadn’t considered. This can actually shift our mindset and cycle of thoughts and habits for good. Perspective can give us  space  to breathe, imagine, and create anew. 

If you did the breathing and smiling exercise at the beginning, and then read the astronomy “you are here” facts, did that change your mood and perspective in any way?

Our minds can too often fixate and replay old thoughts and stories without taking in enough of what is happening — what is real now — along with the scale of our experience in relation to time and space. Breaking out of these kinds of mental ruts and confines can mean opening ourselves to new thoughts and points of view, literally, figuratively, and through movement, like travel. All of which, have the potential to renew, refresh, strengthen, and make us wiser.

Perspective can release undue pressures, and refocus our attention on facts of core, maybe overlooked, importance. Astrology has the potential to provide all of those benefits that come with new perspective.

Mysticism and Symbolism

Bona Dea (The Good Goddess), The Earth. William Hone’s Everyday Book Volume 1, 1826. PD.

While astronomy is able to give us that amazing perspective on the grand scale, as demonstrated at the beginning of this article, astrology accomplishes this as well — just in quite different ways.

In-depth astrology is able to touch on the deeper dimensions of life and being, without losing touch with concrete reality. That is pretty impressive.

The deeper meaning found in astrology asserts that we matter, and have a right — a place (birthright) in the scheme of things in this galaxy — whether we have power, wealth, recognition, privilege, or anything else or not.  This is fertile ground for symbolic and archetypal self-exploration (the microcosm reflecting a macrocosm) and mysticism.

CS Sherin, WildClover.org

Symbolism and mythology are (and have always been) a basic foundation in all schools, cultures, eras, and approaches to astrology, worldwide. It has also always been a way to frame existence with archetypal energies and patterns.


The 12 Astrological Zodiac Signs

Zodiac Anatomy. Art by: Limbourg brothers circa 1411/1416, US-PD.

The twelve zodiac signs, used in western astrology charts, are largely rooted in names and stories that come from Greek, Roman, and even Babylonian and Egyptian mythology and symbols.

The western zodiac signs are symbols based on the zodiac constellations, yet they aren’t the same thing. The zodiac was documented by ancient astronomers, many of whom were also astrologers at the time. Astronomy has since moved well beyond the twelve signs used in astrology.

Please note: astrological signs aren’t astronomy’s constellations. Astronomy charted constellations are numerous, vast, and literal. The astrological zodiac signs are symbolic, limited to twelve (sometimes a hidden 13th), and are related to our point of view from Earth. Astrology’s signs aren’t real in the astronomical sense — they are symbols. The 12 zodiac we work with are found along the Sun’s passageway across the Earth throughout a year’s time, which is called the ecliptic. Astrology is personal, in that it relates directly to our little neighborhood in this solar system, from our point of view (with the exception of Heliocentric calculations, which is from a solar point of view). The narrower focus of astrology, in this case, doesn’t at all limit the depth, potential helpfulness, and relevance of this esoteric tool.

The Astrological Birth Chart

The birth (natal) chart is the foundation for most every kind of personal report in astrology — from current transits, geographical relocation, relationships, events, and birthdays. The astrological birth chart is an imprint of us, our total life here, from the vantage point of our geographical placement (latitude and longitude) and time of birth entry on this planet, and again, in relationship to some of the main heavenly bodies in our little solar system neighborhood.

The birth chart contains personal potentials in the many areas of our lives — from the deep to shallow, personal to public, daily and routine, to the mystical and esoteric. It covers self, relationships, home, work, and so much more. The planets, stars, and other heavenly bodies used in astrology are utilized as symbols in ways that have the ability to enrich and awaken our point of view. In this way, this tool has the great potential to help us to gain new perspective about ourselves in detail, and our greatest potentials related to possible life trajectories.

In addition to the 12 zodiac signs, mythology and archetypes, western astrology uses:

  • Symbols: elements (earth, air, fire, water), modes of dealing with change and collaboration (fixed, mutable, cardinal), and yin or yang energy
  • Aspects, orbs, and degrees: which are dynamics of energy and calculations, based on degrees of relationship between heavenly bodies and our time and place of birth
  • Ancient to modern methods/calculations based on the heavenly body’s relation to when and where an individual (or other event) is born on Earth, down to minutes, latitude and longitude  

The Birth Chart Itself Is A Symbol Of Wholeness:

  • The chart is a mandala (circle) that is divided into 12 sections, called houses, which represent different areas of life, from the personal and private to the public and transpersonal
  • The calculation of the astrological birth chart is the basis for all other calculations and reports made in astrology
  • The birth chart is relevant for the individual’s lifetime, and covers nearly every important area of life with some surprising detail
  • The birth chart encompasses a lifetime, therefore time is represented (past, present, potential future), yet it is also timeless — filled with spectrums of layered potentials, strengths, and challenges

A Timeless, Timely Enigmatic Tool

Astrology is an incredible timely, yet timeless tool, which can illuminate many things, including: influences, patterns, cycles, inheritances, and dynamics in our now, in our past, and even our potential future. The main heavenly bodies (planets, asteroids, mystical points) in our solar system — in western astrology — represent qualities of: personality, lessons, patterns, cycles of energy, phases, and time, as well as dynamics and tendencies related to mythology and universal archetypes. Truly and mysteriously, the planets and other heavenly bodies lessons and qualities amazingly mirror our particular and specific inner and outer realities in perplexing, yet accurate ways. The tool is complex and layered, and compelling.

In looking at only one or two aspects of a birth chart, like the Sun sign, Rising (ascendant) sign or Moon you may gain some important understanding (with enough and the right information), yet the big picture is missed, and  key facts may be misinterpreted. This can be due to other areas of the chart that are more dominant or strong. This can significantly change an interpretation and understanding.

For example, I had a client that was an earth Sun sign, but never felt it was accurate or applied to her. It wasn’t obvious in the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant, but she was actually predominantly a water person, with all of her other planets in water signs. When I explained her natal chart to her in a consultation, she found relief and happiness in hearing, finally, aspects of her own experience mirrored accurately for her in the astrological interpretation.

Experiencing the in-depth interpretation of a birth chart is a fascinating, mystifying perspective, and so interesting to experience and share. Every client I have had for consultations has been so surprised at how fast time flies when exploring one’s own chart.

Key Things To Remember About Astrology

No belief required. It is just like how we have no need to: believe in a paint brush, a wrench, or in clay in order to use and benefit from any of it. It is just like how we don’t need to believe in meditation in order to practice it, and benefit from it.

Astrology is a spiritual tool that can provide pivotal and helpful insights, which come from interpretations of symbols in relationship to each other, which are based on astronomy, mythology, and earth-based symbols, patterns, and cycles. Astrology has an ancient history and is diverse, and has had, and still has, universal use and value.

As I said, there is no need to believe in astrology in order for it to be useful. Likewise, a responsible astrologer will discourage you from allowing transits, retrogrades, and other astrological knowing to: control or dictate your life, create unnecessary fear or drama, or interfere with your freedom to choose and act in your own timing.

At the same time, knowing gained by transits, cycles and patterns in the present, and from birth charts, can help us to make more informed and autonomous decisions for our lives and spiritual development, and can affirm things that we feel and know deeply, but rarely get to discuss or acknowledge.

CS Sherin

Astronomy VS Astrology?

How About A Holistic Vision Of Both/And:

Instead of lumping astronomy and astrology together, and instead of comparing them as loosely related practices, I find that it is much more reasonable, true, and fulfilling to abandon the either/or approach in favor of a more holistic both/and approach.

They are different disciplines, yes, and each has a different way of seeing and interpreting life and being. As they ought to. A shaman or priest/ess is not the same as a scientist. Yet, a person can be both a spiritual leader/practitioner and scientific. BOTH of these aren’t mutually exclusive within an individual or in life, AND they are necessarily different and separate practices and states of mind.

Astronomy is a scientific discipline that gathers and develops information, research, evidence, discoveries, theories, and facts about our physical existence on Earth, in this solar system, galaxy, and universe. All of the information and exploration, as well as the images, and growing knowledge about the true nature of our universe is the result of a legacy from ancient astronomers. Ancient astronomers evolved into what modern astronomers and scientists now provide. It is captivating and inspiring to learn about and explore. Astronomy certainly has the power to lift us up into breathtaking and mind-boggling new perspectives. We need that!

Despite the adversarial and dismissive tone taken by some (not all) scientists and astronomers about astrology — astrology does remain, and stands strong as being useful and relevant. Some may call astrology a pseudoscience or placebo, in order to distance themselves, while asserting a specialized authority (that is overstepping its bounds, actually).  However, none of the belittling going on changes the fact that: astronomy does enrich the ancient and vast traditions of astrology, yes, AND can never replace it!


As someone who has overcome great odds with the help of creative and spiritual tools and techniques, I understand the importance of spiritual practices — meaning, ritual, and the rich sacred value of symbolism, intuition, and imagination. There is also great value found in ethical science, logic, and critical thinking. 

I refuse to abandon either one. We don’t have to.

CS Sherin

A holistic approach and vision means that science and spirituality don’t have to agree, speak the same, or see the same…AND neither one can, or needs to, replace the other. They are individual and part of a whole, which is much bigger than either one.

Finding meaning in life matters. Most of us need some sort of deeper meaning and context in order to enrich our lives, and experience fulfillment — we often don’t limit that deeper meaning and context to one discipline, genre, or perspective. At certain times and ongoing in life, I, and many others have found astrology to be useful and helpful in that way.

Our intelligence (emotional and intellectual), and our spirit (energy and consciousness) thrive when we are able to place meaning, and a deeper sense of purpose into the fabric of our lives — while also addressing, in real ways, what is broken, what needs to be faced, and what needs to be encouraged — in order to begin or continue healing. Astrology has the potential to do this, and this is how I use and share astrology.

Our ability to work with symbols, mystical aspects of life, and apply deeper meaning within scientific claims and discoveries is a part of our unique perspective and being as humans.

CS Sherin, WildClover.org

Free Will, Fate, And Improvisation

As human beings, we have free will, choice, action, instinct, common sense, intuition and presence. This is despite qualities and energies that seem to be or are, in some sense, fated or fixed. We are not bound by fate entirely, in life or in astrology — even though there are some fixed dynamics in life and personalities. 

For the most part, l i f e is an improvisational dance…unpredictable and changeable.

Maybe what is really needed, is to discipline our thoughts and emotions; practice awareness, and exercise our sacred imagination for collective and personal benefit and enrichment. If this is true, it is good news, as long as we are willing to face and take responsibility for our shortcomings, continue learning, growing, and respond and act on the information we are given in the best ways possible — unique to each of us. That means looking at our blind-spots, wounds, and shadow qualities as much as our gifts, talents, and amazing potential. This is how I use and approach astrology, and it serves my clients and me well.

This also means doing the work we are meant to do seriously and earnestly. Still, it is important to not take ourselves or each other too seriously! Good humor is essential. Good humor helps us to endure challenges and hardships, maintaining sanity and balance. The best comedians illuminate what is wrong in a way that awakens and frees us, via real heart, mind, and belly laughter. The best comedians touch on truths that jolt us into really and joyfully seeing how weird we and life are, and the dysfunctions that we deal with in our culture. Good humor relieves some of the pressure points of pain, and gives us space to breathe and clarity to see, process, and address it anew. Any discipline, from the scientific to the mystical, can benefit from maintaining humor and letting go of a seriousness that not only judges, but dismisses what it doesn’t focus on as false, or empty.

An Ancient, Diverse Legacy

The history and use of astrology in conjunction with astronomy has been going on since ancient times. Astronomy and Astrology were one in ancient times  —  identical twins, in a way  —  who later parted ways (circa 1400–1700).  Astrological tradition has continued in different ways throughout history and around the world:  Egyptian, Hellenistic, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, Indigenous, Renaissance Europe, and probably more.  Each had, and has, their approach and system/rules for calculations, perspective, and symbolism.  None are the one-dimensional, shallow, commercialized versions that grew from consumerism and commercialism. Some were based on superstitions and religious beliefs. And some are rooted in deep wisdom and ancient insights.

Ancient Byzantine Mosaic Of The Zodiac Wheel. PD

There are esoteric, evolutionary, humanist, classic, modern, ancient, and many Indigenous/First Nation/Native systems and schools of thought for astrology. There is the Heliocentric (Sun-centered, using Sidereal zodiac) or Geocentric (Earth-centered, using Tropical zodiac); differing ways to calculate houses, varying degrees for orbs, and much more that shapes and defines reports and interpretations . There are countless origins, approaches, technical details, and facets to astrology.

For example, one school of astrology is Jyotisha, also known as Hindu (Indian) astrology. In more recent history, the Western world calls it Vedic astrology. Hindu beliefs about karma influence Hindu astrology. Also, Hindu astrology uses the Sidereal zodiac. In contrast, Western astrology usually uses the Tropical zodiac and is influenced by western culture.

In ancient times, astronomy and astrology were most often united, rather than separate. Religion and mythology were integrated with the mathematical calculations and observations related to the night sky. The ancient figures were often holistic — the healer, herbalist, shaman was also the scientist, astronomer, botanist.

Here is a general and rough estimate of a timeline for some ancient astronomy-astrology origins:

  • Indigenous worldwide (ancient BC)*
  • Mesopotamian/Sumerian (6000-4500 BC)
  • African (3900 BC)
  • Irish (3200-2900 BC)
  • Babylonian/Chaldean (3200 BC)
  • Egyptian (3000 BC)
  • Indian (2000 BC)
  • Mayan (2000 BC)
  • Chinese (1500 BC)
  • Greek (700 BC)
  • Hellenistic (525 BC) Egypt: conquered by Persians, Mesopotamian influence
  • (332 BC) Greek/Roman: Alexander the Great, Greek influence mixed with Babylonian (“Chaldean wisdom”), Horoscopic, and Egyptian
  • Ptolemy (140 AD)
  • Aztec (1300 AD)

*Western history has no firm dates for Indigenous star knowledge and teachings, yet there is an established legacy among Nations and tribes around the world, that belong in ancient BC, before or like — the estimated Sumerian, African, and Irish astronomy origin dates.

The countless approaches in astrology differ greatly, even within one school of thought or system of calculating.

Astrology has ancient roots globally, and it endures.

The global longevity, with room for different viewpoints, methods, new discoveries, adaptations, and approaches — is evidence of its ongoing usefulness as a tool for personal development. It is a tool with which we can seek to be more aware of being present and informed, and directly connected to and aware of some universal qualities, cycles, patterns, and potentials — to all that is.

In whatever way that each of us gains new and expansive perspective, it is a gift that aids in our enrichment, well-being, and development — and that ripples out to others.

The sky is the most expansive physical reality we experience in this life. Becoming curious and interested in the many ways we can nourish our lives in relationship to it, the better!

CS Sherin, updated August 2019