Wellness works in mysterious ways: something the Four Seasons Hong Kong spa is showcasing in their Masters of Wellness series. Inviting experts in their fields, the programme introduces an array of alternative therapies for guests to experience for a limited time, making unusual approaches to wellness – like astrology – accessible in their spa.
This is where CompareRetreats.com met Justin Andries, an astrologer offering birth and transit chart readings to give clients a better understanding of themselves. We chat with Justin about misconceptions, astrology sceptics, and how the stars can improve your wellness.
How did you get into astrology? I used to work in buying and procurement in South Africa, which was very corporate. I began a spiritual journey, and I’ve spent the last seven years moving about the planet – four years in Bali, a year in Australia, a year in North America, and a year in Hong Kong. It was in Bali that I got into astrology. I had a motorbike accident and my partner at the time pulled away. I was trying to work out why he was acting this way and someone mentioned astrology to me. I tried to find someone to read my chart, couldn’t find anyone, and kept on reading and watching people. I’ve been doing chart readings for three years now.
What is your astrology practice based on? It’s Western zodiac, and then I bring in some of the archetypes too. My basic premise is: the planet is an actor, the sign is a costume, and the house is a stage. For example, my Venus is in her home with her silks and scarves, but she’s dressed up in BDSM leather because the sign is a Scorpio. She doesn’t like it. Scorpio – or Pluto – is intense and manipulative and controlling, and Venus doesn’t like that. Giving them characters makes it easier to explain the narrative and the connections.
What is a birth reading and a transit reading? The birth reading is like a blueprint of your identity and only needs to be done once, whereas the transit reading is showing what energies are influencing you now and is always changing.
What do people get out of a birth or transit chart reading? You gain more clarity about yourself: it’s an expression of the identity and psyche of a person, and you can begin to accept and take ownership of yourself. What I do is highlight what’s already in your subconscious. Are you working to your fullest potential, are you working with or against the energies? Often people have considered these paths, but they’ve never been bold enough to take them. They might have been told by their parents or society to do one thing or another. If you go against the energies, you will be unhappy – and the energies will try to pull you back. But you can circumvent the process by not taking the wrong path, the one you feel forced into, by recognising that the other is more than just a whim or a feeling.
How can birth chart readings improve your mental, emotional and physical wellness? It gives you peace of mind, and it gives you tools to understanding yourself and working with the energies around you. Most people don’t know who they are. When you understand certain things about yourself it can make you less anxious. It’s about cultivating your identity.
Can you still do birth chart readings for astrology-sceptics? A birth reading, even for a sceptic, is easy. I’m telling you who you are, without having to interact with you, so it’s fine. You might lose them a bit when you talk about the energies, but it depends on the astrologer and how grounded they can be about it.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about astrology? People always think astrologers can tell the future. The future is very open: you can create anything you want. Even within a short time frame, you can’t predict what will happen. The charts are just telling you about the possibilities – not the events. You are the master of your own destiny: astrology is a tool to help you understand yourself.
Tell us about some of the planets we should be paying attention to. When Jupiter is in transit, it makes you optimistic and expansive, magnetic and luckier. Saturn is structure, authority, commitment. Saturn makes you face reality and gives you a reality check, so when you have a Saturn transit, you experience difficulties and hardships. Neptune is more about dreams and spirituality, disillusionment and uncertainty: in a positive aspect, it could make you more creative and empathetic; if it’s negative, it creates a lack of clarity, but through that process, you become more spiritual. Uranus is the rebel: innovation, not just through expanding but breaking the rules and making something new. Pluto is death and regeneration: it destroys everything, but then gives you the resources to build something new: Pluto burns your million-dollar house to the ground, but then gives you a million dollars and asks you what you want. People get hung up on what’s gone, rather than what they can do: you either embrace the process, or you reject it, and if you reject it, it will slap you in the face. It forces you to go with it – not going with it will bring crisis into your life.
How much do culture and upbringing have to do with who you are as a person, rather than astrology? Your birth chart is telling you who you are – and that dictates how you will react and respond to your stimulus. For example, if you are strongly influenced by Uranus, you’re nature is to go against the grain – but the grain is dictated by where you grow up, and what your parents or culture tries to push you towards.
What do you think about daily horoscopes? There’s some merit to everything, but I never read them. They’re not specific enough. There are so many different aspects of a person’s chart that these general horoscopes can’t be accurate enough.
How much does star-sign compatibility matter when you’re looking for love? Again, these things can be very general – it needs to be more specific. For example, I have two opposing extremes in my chart: my sun Uranus and Sagittarius means I enjoy isolation and freedom, but my Venus in Pluto means I need to be intensely connected to people. That’s two very different experiences, which needs to be reconciled. So when people ask me, “What sign is good for me?” I ask for their birth chart because it’s more complex than matching signs.
What three things should someone know before they come to a birth chart reading? Know your time of birth, be prepared to learn about yourself, and get ready to use the energy you’re given.
What books would you recommend for someone getting into astrology? The book I started with was the well-titled The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need. Jan Spiller’s books are also very good. Astrology is a language, so it depends on how willing you are to commit to learning, to become fluent in it. There’s a lot of information out there, but the most profound way of learning is watching people.
Find out more about Justin’s services at justinandries.com