One of the things about prediction is that it is hard to know at what point in a transit the predicted event is likely to occur. I like doing predictions, because I really do have to take in what the person is saying about their life and combine it with the relevant planets/archetypes, and see what comes out. At the end of the day, of course, the only thing we can be sure about is that a particular archetypal configuration will be active in a person's life over a particular period, and the rest is probabilities. All the same, prediction in the sense of saying "These archetypes will be activated at that period" IS a certainty, so I find it hard to understand many astrologers' reservations about prediction in that sense. As for linking prediction to concrete events, I think that providing the astrologer is sensible and mentions a number of different possible outcomes, it can do a lot of good, in that it connects the astrologee (I've still not got used to the word client!) to his/her future, it helps them experience the unfolding process that is their life, it helps them tune in to those hints of the future that are already present.
And I've only ever had good results from doing predictions. Of course I'm not always right - and you can learn from that - but I'm amazed how often I am. I'm always having people come up to me and announce how what I'd said came true - even though I can no longer remember what I'd said! - and I really do think it makes the universes a more magical place for them - and for me! And it's not like I'm using 'free-floating' intuition: what I say is fully grounded in what's in the chart and in the person's actual life. But I suspect that contributes to its accuracy.
One of the quite possible outcomes for the current Saturn-Neptune Opposition is an oil crisis. And it looked like that what was going to happen for a while, and now the price of oil is falling back. BUT..the oil crisis of 1973 took place a full year after the last Saturn-Neptune Opposition had ended. It was the outcome of it. Which is why I started by saying that it can be very hard to know at what point in a transit a possible event is likely to occur. We may still get our oil crisis.
Take the classic underworld journey of a major Pluto transit. I've known the transit kick-in in a full-on sort of way a year before the first crossing, and also for it not to kick in properly until the last crossing was over. All you know as an astrologer is that Pluto will kick in, and even whether there'll be a significant 'underworld journey' depends on how much stuff the person has to sort out, how imbalanced they are. They might just go from strength to strength.
Which is why these transits are often less dramatic (though no less profound) as we get older. I've seen older people who know a little, or even a lot about astrology, get needlessly apprehensive about an upcoming Pluto transit, assuming it will be like the last time, or like the classic dismemberment process that we read about in the textbooks. But actually, if you've already been dragged through the mud by Pluto, and managed to stand up again afterwards, there isn't that much too worry about. You know (to some extent) his realm. Which doesn't mean it will be easy!
As an astrologer, where the person is in their lives needs to be taken into account in order to do a good job. We need to get a strong sense of the person outside of any information we are getting from the chart. We need to ask them lots of questions and dig around a bit. Doing all this, I find it hard to understand how it is possible to be a good astrologer under the age of around 40, unless we have been born with a preternatural dose of human wisdom, which I wasn't. So when I see people training to be astrologers - or healers, or therapists - in their 20s or early 30s, I think it's great that they have a vocational sense so young. But I also wonder if anyone is saying to them look, there's probably going to be limitations around what you can do until you're older, and you need to take that into account.
This is the unfashionable voice of Saturn speaking! In some things, there is no substitute for sheer length of time being alive, however gifted we might be. The trouble is that training to be an astrologer etc gets confused with the notion of other 'professional' trainings, where the training consists simply in learning a skill. And we all want to be 'professional'. It is better to be a 'professional' astrologer than simply an astrologer. And if we have a certificate of training as an astrologer or a healer or a therapist, then we have the 'qualification' to call ourselves 'professional', which means we are the real thing. And like any professional, we must always know what we are talking about, we might not feel there is much room for going 'I don't know', or the client might not take us seriously.
As an astrologer or healer, one is to some extent in the position of 'spiritual' teacher in relation to the client, and in a more traditional society there would be a long apprenticeship, maybe lasting decades, because that dimension of human wisdom, outside of any gifts one may have, was more fully understood. A friend of mine left England in her early 30s in order to immerse herself in the Native American culture, and it is only now, 20 years later, that her teacher has started encouraging her to do some teaching and healing herself. And she really knows her stuff. And the basis of it comes from imbibing a whole attitude, a whole way of being from her teacher over the course of many years. Contrast that to the numerous 'shamanic' courses on offer in the west, where providing you have enough money and are not completely round the bend, you will be accepted onto a year long course of say 6 weekends and a week, after which you are let loose on clients, and having written a few of them up as case studies, you will probably get a certificate declaring your competence as a healer.
In a way we have no choice in our culture but to go this route. Some good healers come out of it, and some crap ones. And often with a spurious sense of 'tradition' behind them. But it seems rare for these modern teachers properly to understand what it means to be a balanced and experienced human being, and just how long it usually takes, and just how necessary it is in order to be a decent healer. Or therapist. Or astrologer.
One of the brilliant things about our culture is just how open it is to new influences and ideas. For all our fears around government control and loss of liberties etc, the fact is that if we choose to we can think what we want and say what we want and live how we want and criticise the government how we want in a way that is historically pretty unprecedented, and who knows how long it will last. Though the USA's notion that it is exporting 'freedom' is laughable, particularly in the hands of George W Bush, at the same time our modern democracies ARE free in a way that needs to be cherished.
But one of the causative factors of this openness and freedom is our loss of connection with tradition, a loss of Saturn, so there is a downside as well. And Saturn at his best is precisely that wisdom, that ripeness, that can only come with age, and that I think easily gets lost sight of in our 'professionalisation' of astrologers, healers and the like.