Astrological Musings

Fate vs Free Will in Astrology: Part II, the modern debate

Catch up with Part I, a History, here. 

The question of whether humans are controlled by their fate or have a part to play in their own destiny is as old as time.  Much of our western philosophy comes from the ancient Greeks for whom the gods controlled human destinies despite great efforts of men and women to escape the fates accorded to them.  The Greek concept of hubris is applied to ordinary mortals who attempt to challenge the gods, and therefore their fate.

It’s no surprise, then, that the resurgence of Hellenistic (Greek) astrology brings with it the return of the idea of fate.  Astrologer Chris Brennan, a graduate from Kepler College, is the acclaimed expert in this field.  Chris and I did a podcast on this topic a while back  and he has just published a .

Chris writes:

An important point to make with respect to transits to a person’s natal chart is that they do not only represent internal character traits and psychological states that are being activated or experienced during a given transit, as some modern astrologers argue, but transits also correlate with concrete external events and circumstances that occur in the life of the native at fixed periods.

While we may have a certain amount of leverage as to how we react to the internal psychological states that we experience during a given transit, some of the external events that occur in tandem with the transits are frequently out of our control in a concrete sense. With these concrete external events we are still in a position of being able to slightly modify our perception or internal reaction to these events though. However, the argument could be made that even our ability to modify our reaction to external events may be fated or predetermined as well, since that too depends on our own internal dispositions and character traits at a given point in time, and all of this is contained in our natal chart. Of course, our internal reaction to events changes over time as we grow and develop, and this is largely what the study of transits is all about.

It should be noted that many of the astrologers pursuing the ancient traditions are younger than those of us who came up in the time of psychological astrology.  When we are young, we do tend to play out the dynamics of our chart in a much more unconscious way, and as we age we tend to have more control over our impulses and therefore have more control over our fate.

I have been listening to Chris’s podcast and have heard some of the arguments made by the younger astrologers against the idea of free will and the concept of personal transformation, and the idea that planetary transits bring about predictable concrete events is something that I have seen over and over again in my client practice to be false.  Two charts, virtually identical, will undergo the same planetary cycle with very different results as anyone who has read my profiles of criminals will note.

On the other hand, the idea that we have complete control over our lives and can alchemize the planetary cycles through sheer force of will, is also false.  The natal chart that we are born with is completely out of our control and a gift of fate.  The death of a spouse, the collapse of a company for which we work – these sorts of things are completely out of our control and gifts of fate.  We CAN argue, as Chris proposes, that our ability to react to these events from a more conscious perspective, is due to fate or as I would view it, our level of awareness in our evolutionary journey and perhaps this is true.

All of these arguments come down to personal beliefs, because we have no way to know.

These ideas have led to a great debate among professional astrologers which emerged into the public domain with this article on the Quartz website:

Today, modern psychology has cast astrology as a fantastical way that people of the past project the workings of their minds onto the environment around them. This interpretation leaves far too much wiggle room for astrology to simply sound like affirmations of what people want to hear about themselves and think about the world. Even worse, the nurturing approach psychologists take has polluted modern astrology with watered-down interpretations that seek to protect their clients. Even if an astrological configuration spells trouble, the modern astrologer will describe it as an “opportunity for growth,” as if they were a patronizing middle-manager. Where is the trust in that?

The author of this piece, Ida Benedetto, is apparently not an astrologer.  Her bio says “Ida C. Benedetto is an experience designer who sparks new insight through adventure and play. Her recent research outlines the design of transformative social experiences by comparing sex parties, funerals, and wilderness trips.”  I am not clear how this research qualifies her to expound on the validity of astrology.

While it’s true that many modern astrologers, myself included, lack a scholarly background in astrological studies and ancient methodologies that could be helpful in delineating natal charts with greater accuracy, it’s also true that not everything from the ancient world should be considered as gospel truth today.  Astrology no longer governs astronomy, and as a result we are learning about world that lie beyond our entire universe. Ancient Greece also came up with the practice of bloodletting which was used for much of the past 2,000 years to cure a wide variety of ailments, but you don’t hear too many physicians calling for its return.

The fact is, astrological configurations that spell trouble ARE opportunities for growth.  Presenting a situation of impending doom such as the ones described in this earlier article in a consultation in way which will serve only to frighten a client really serves no purpose.  Certainly it must be pointed out that a challenging period is coming, but then there are the situations such as the ones I talked about in this article in which the deaths of two people occurred under a planetary cycle (a New Moon in the progressed chart) which is not notable for death.  In fact I myself had this same planetary cycle myself last summer.  After these deaths I sought wisdom from my traditional astrology colleagues, but found none.

The fact is, we cannot predict the future – note the failure of astrologers to correctly predict the outcome of the 2016 election using traditional techniques.  We cannot look at an astrological signature in an individual chart and predict with any certainty what will happen under that transit.  As astrological practitioners our first duty is to provide our clients with the information that will be most helpful to them – to prepare them for challenges but not to terrify them by offering predictions that may never come true.

This is an interesting debate that is sure to continue!  You can .

 

By | 2018-01-19T11:10:06+00:00 January 16th, 2018|Astrology, Fate, Featured posts|0 Comments

Fate vs free will in astrology: Part I, a history involving Pluto

modern astrologyEven though Pluto was not discovered until 1930, its influence is evident in the evolution of modern astrology. The renaissance of astrology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries began with and the birth of the publication “Modern Astrology” in 1895 when Pluto was in the information gathering sign of Gemini.  Gemini is more concerned with the sharing of information than finding any kind of ultimate truth, and Alan Leo, who was a Theosophist, was primarily concerned with spreading the language of astrology to the masses via what we now call horoscope columns.

In England, astrology under Pluto in Gemini was a more academic affair but the “cookbook” texts of Charles Carter similarly helped to spread the language of astrology to more people than ever before. illustrate the way in which the idea of predetermination was beginning to fade:

As regards the higher part of man’s nature, his rational, moral, and aesthetic faculties, it is my firm belief that, if we chose to unfold them, no stellar influence can prevent us, though it may place obstacles and hindrances in our path. There are parts of our lives which the stars do seem to a large extent to dominate, and there is a yet greater part which they undoubtedly can affect, both favourably and adversely. It is for us to place our treasure where they cannot penetrate; no easy task, it is true, but probably the one most worth performing.

The discovery of Pluto in the 1930s coincided with the scientific breakthroughs required to release the atomic bomb which symbolizes Pluto’s destructive force which sometimes requires complete annihilation followed by a necessary rebuilding phase.  But it also coincided with the groundbreaking work of Freud and especially Carl Jung into the workings of the human psyche and the idea that if humans were able to better understand themselves, they could change the world around them and ultimately, their destiny.

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves. ~Carl Jung, Aion, Christ: A Symbol of the Self, Pages 70-71, Para 126.

 

The work of Carl Jung helped to influence and inspire the development of modern astrology, with the bulk of Jung’s writings being published while Pluto was in Leo, the sign of individual expression and self-mastery, between 1937 and 1957.  Depth psychology asked the question: “What is the Self?” – a very Pluto in Leo idea.

Dane Rudhyar came of age under Pluto in Leo and was influenced by the quest for the ultimate expression of the Self and the idea that humans are not bound to a particular destiny but have the power to transcend one’s fate by utilizing the influence of the astrological chart rather than be a victim of it.  

The humanistic astrologer tries to present to his client’s consciousness a concrete, existential picture of what the chart signifies – the tensions to be resolved as well as the special abilities, the conflicts to be harmonized, the possibilities of disintegration to be avoided, and the opportunities that can be expected for individual self-fulfillment. In other worlds, he tries to assist the client in what Carl Jung calls “the integration of the personality” – how to be a whole person.

The transpersonal astrologer sees the astrological situation with which he is dealing in a different light – a sharp, penetrating light that illumines and guides a process of transformation. In that light, everything in the chart is to be used for transformation; and this may mainly be self-transformation, or in a more fated, because transpersonal way, the transformation of the individual’s socio-cultural environment in which his destiny is to act as a transforming agent. In such a light a basic conflict shown in the birth-chart need not be “harmonized” in terms of individual fulfillment; it may have instead to be used as a dynamic instrumentality able to produce definite effects in whatever has to be transformed. The goal is not personal happiness, but effectively focused action.

Rudhyar’s works were not popularized until the resurgence in interest in astrology of the 1960s and the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in the conservative sign of Virgo. During that period (between 1956 and 1972) the traditional societal rules were broken wide open, and new ways of living were embraced. Rudhyar did more than anyone else to popularize astrology and opened the doors to other modern astrologers with which we are now quite familiar: Stephen Arroyo, Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas, etc. The emphasis on psychological astrology came to a head while Pluto was in the deep thinking sign of Scorpio (1983-1995) and was followed by an interest in astrological history under with Pluto in Sagittarius, the sign that inspires a search for greater knowledge (1995-2008).

Project Hindsight was dedicated to studying and translating the astrological works of the ancient Greeks who originated what we now call western astrology.  Thanks to Kepler College which was founded in 2000, serious astrology students were able to study these ancient texts and techniques and in 2008 when Pluto moved into traditional Capricorn, the debate over the legitimacy of modern astrology (including psychological astrology, transpersonal astrology, evolutionary astrology and what I call transformational astrology) began.

Part II will explore this debate further and give me an opportunity to stake out a position in the argument.

 

 

 

By | 2018-01-16T08:43:01+00:00 January 11th, 2018|Astrology, Fate|2 Comments

In praise of hierarchy: A tale of the Uranus/Pluto square

In case you missed it, ever since Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008, followed by Uranus entering Aries in 2010, these two planets were locked in a challenging aspect that inspired and motivated the change that we have seen between 2010 and 2017.  (You can catch up here if this is all new to you.)

I always find it interesting when the zeitgeist (defined: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time) reflects for the mainstream thinker the planetary cycles that astrologers have been talking about and explaining in the context of planetary cycles.

 by economist Niall Ferguson (may be behind a paywall) tells a part of the story of this planetary cycle:

Established, traditional order [Capricorn]  is under assault [Pluto] from freewheeling [Aries], networked disrupters [Uranus] as never before. But society craves centralized leadership ([Capricorn], too. …

Networks rule not only in the realm of business. In politics, too, party establishments and their machines have been displaced by crowdfunded campaigns and viral messaging. Money, once a monopoly of the state, is being challenged by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which require no central banks to manage them, only consensus algorithms.

But is all this wise? In all the excitement of the age of hyper-connection, have we perhaps forgotten why hierarchies came into existence in the first place? Do we perhaps overestimate what can be achieved by ungoverned networks—and underestimate the perils of a world without any legitimate hierarchical structure?

The answer is, of course going from one extreme (rigid hierarchical societal structures) to another (chaos and anarchy) is not a great idea.  Nature and human nature both tend to swing from one extreme to another until we meet in the middle and I think we are about ready to take that step towards balance.

By | 2018-01-07T18:45:55+00:00 January 7th, 2018|Future Shock, Life|2 Comments

Astrology of Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon astrology“He was born angry, he was born fighting. This is just who the guy has always been.” ( by Joshua Green)

Steve Bannon is in the news again.  After failing in his attempt to use the Trump presidency to take down the GOP establishment, he has now turned against Donald Trump in a new book, resulting in a firestorm of fury from the White House.  Since Bannon rose to fame in 2012 as the director of Breitbart News, his rage has been directed at immigrants and immigration, Islam and Muslims, Hillary Clinton, to name only a few.  His incendiary philosophies led a Breitbart colleague to , ““If there’s an explosion or a fire somewhere, Steve’s probably nearby with some matches.”  An ex-employee “a seriously sinister figure.”

Click to enlarge

Bannon is the kind of character that makes me want to look into his astrological chart to see why he behaves as he does – what motivates him.  Unfortunately there is not a known birth time for Bannon so we are missing some key pieces of information, but there is enough here for us to sink our teeth into.

Steve Bannon was born with the Sun in Sagittarius, the sign of ideology, religion, philosophy and expansive thought and goals.  His Sun makes no (major) aspect to any other planet, suggesting that he tends to operate as a loner and may have had difficulty fitting in, even as a child.  His Leo Moon (emotional needs) craves attention and validation from others, but it is locked in a death match with Pluto, planet of obsession, death and power.  This dynamic suggests a challenging home life in childhood and since he was the middle child of five, this planetary placement suggests that he struggled to be seen by the parents and acted out for attention.

Mars is the planet that we typically associate with anger and rage – it is the force of assertiveness and motivation that when thwarted is transformed into a monster of resentment and outrage.  Bannon’s Mars is in the peace loving sign of Libra, making it more difficult to express one’s needs and desires outwardly. The fact that Chiron, denoting psycho-spiritual wounding, is in a challenging aspect to his Mars echoes the difficulty that his weak Mars has created in his life.  This is an individual that found it difficult to get what he wanted out of life and became more and more frustrated as a result, to the point where the rage could no longer be contained.  Uranus, planet of radical behavior, is also in stressful aspect to Mars, encouraging this reactionary approach to self-expression and reflecting the incendiary nature of the comments made about him by those who know him well.

This combination of planetary frustration made him restless and unable to stay in one career for very long.  He joined the navy but was restless, and during his Saturn Return graduated from Harvard business school.  He joined Goldman Sachs but left soon after to start his own investment firm. He financed films until he became bored with that, and then started making films himself.

With Mercury in Scorpio, he is an intense thinker with strongly held opinions.  His Scorpio Venus means that relationships for him are all or nothing.  This is a chart that holds a lot of power, and also the undoing of the individual if he is consumed by this power.

One interesting factoid in the chart is the challenging inconjunct between the Black Moon Lilith and Saturn, denoting a deeply held distrust and fear of women.  He has been married three times for short periods, and one of his wives charged him with domestic violence.

The challenging dance between Uranus (breaking up the status quo and fostering rebellion and radical behavior) and Pluto (destroying the old paradigm and forcing the rebuilding of a new one) triggered this Mars system in Bannon’s chart between 2015 and 2018 as the Trump campaign was unfolding.  Trump and Bannon have a lot of links between their charts which intensifies the connection between them. Trump’s ascendant falls right on Bannon’s Moon, so Bannon must have felt that Trump understood him. Trump’s Sun falls right on Bannon’s Jupiter so Trump must have felt that Bannon could help expand his agenda. But Trump’s Mars falls on Bannon’s Pluto, which means that power issues were inescapable.

As Bannon continues to rage against the political machine, he will soon find he has no machine of his own with which to fight his petty wars.  Though he is still in charge of Breitbart News, rumors of his imminent ouster are rampant.  Still, Bannon will enjoy a number of empowering Jupiter transits over the next year which will serve only to expand his confidence and encourage his brand of schoolyard bullying no matter which pulpit he chooses to use.

By | 2018-01-07T17:59:44+00:00 January 5th, 2018|People, Politics|7 Comments

Your 2018 Planetary Calendar

Here is a calendar of the important planetary events of 2018. I will be writing about these events as they occur so check back for more details and explanations about what these events mean for you. You can read the overview of 2018 major planetary cycles here which includes more information about some of these cycles.

Astrology of 2018JANUARY

1/1  New Year Supermoon! 11 Cancer
1/2  Uranus turns direct
1/11 Mercury enters Capricorn
1/15  Jupiter sextile Pluto
1/16  New Moon 26 Capricorn
1/17  Venus enters Aquarius
1/19  Sun enters Aquarius
1/31  Full Moon Total Lunar Eclipse 11 Leo
Mercury enters Aquarius

February

2/10  Venus enters Pisces
2/15  New Moon Partial Solar Eclipse 27 Aquarius
2/17  Mercury enters Pisces
2/18  Sun enters Pisces

March

3/1  Full Moon 11 Virgo
3/6 Mercury enters Aries
Venus enters Aries
3/8 Jupiter retrograde
3/17 New Moon 26 Pisces
3/17  Mars enters Capricorn
3/20 Sun enters Aries
3/22  Mercury turns retrograde
3/31 Venus enters Taurus
Full Moon 10 Libra

April

4/14  Jupiter sextile Pluto
4/15 Mercury turns direct
New Moon 26 Aries
4/17 Chiron enters Aries
Saturn turns retrograde
4/19 Sun enters Taurus
4/22 Pluto retrograde
4/24 Venus enters Gemini
4/29 Full Moon 9 Scorpio

May

5/13 Mercury enters Taurus
5/15  New Moon 24 Taurus
5/15  Uranus enters Taurus
5/16  Mars enters Aquarius
5/19  Venus enters Cancer
5/20  Sun enters Gemini
5/25  Jupiter trine Neptune
5/29  Full Moon 8 Sagittarius
Mercury enters Gemini

June

6/12  Mercury enters Cancer
6/13  New Moon 22 Gemini
Venus enters Leo
6/18  Neptune turns retrograde
6/21 Sun enters Cancer
6/26  Mars turns retrograde
6/28  Full Moon 6 Capricorn

July

7/5  Chiron turns retrograde
7/9  Venus enters Virgo
7/10 Jupiter turns direct
7/12  New Moon partial solar eclipse 20 Cancer
7/22  Sun enters Leo
7/26 Mercury retrograde
7/27 Full Moon total lunar eclipse 4 Aquarius

August

8/6  Venus enters Libra
8/7  Uranus turns retrograde
8/11 New Moon partial solar eclipse 18 Leo
8/12  Mars retrogrades back into Capricorn
8/19  Mercury turns direct
8/19  Jupiter trine Neptune
8/23  Sun enters Virgo
8/26  Full Moon 3 Pisces
8/27  Mars turns direct

September

9/5  Mercury enters Virgo
9/6  Saturn turns direct
9/9  Venus enters Scorpio
New Moon 17 Virgo
9/10 Mars enters Aquarius
9/12  Jupiter sextile Pluto
9/21  Mercury enters Libra
9/22  Sun enters Libra
9/24  Full Moon 2 Aries
9/25  Chiron retrogrades back into Pisces
9/30  Pluto turns direct

October

10/5  Venus turns retrograde
10/8  New Moon 15 Libra
10/9  Mercury enters Scorpio
10/23 Sun enters Scorpio
10/24 Full Moon 1 Taurus
10/31 Mercury enters Sagittarius
Venus retrogrades back into Libra

November

11/1  Jupiter trine Chiron
11/6  Uranus square North Node
North Node enters Cancer
Uranus retrogrades back into Aries
11/7  Jupiter trine North Node
New Moon 15 Scorpio
11/8  Jupiter enters Sagittarius
11/15  Mars enters Pisces
11/16  Venus turns direct
Mercury turns retrograde
11/22 Sun enters Sagittarius
11/23  Full Moon 0 Gemini
11/24 Neptune turns direct

December

12/1  Mercury retrogrades back into Scorpio
12/2  Venus enters Scorpio
North Node trine Chiron
12/6  Mercury direct
12/7  New Moon 15 Sagittarius
12/9  Chiron turns direct
12/12  Mercury enters Sagittarius
12/21  Sun enters Capricorn
12/22  Full Moon 0 Cancer
12/31  Mars enters Aries

For a free monthly report of important planetary cycles translated into easy to understand language, subscribe to Lynn’s monthly Planetary Illuminations report!



By | 2018-01-04T08:33:44+00:00 January 4th, 2018|Planetary cycles, Uncategorized|1 Comment
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