Fate and the progressed chart

fate or free willThe question of fate vs. free will is a thorny debate among astrologers.  Traditional astrologers, such as those who practice Hellenistic, Vedic or Medieval astrologers, tend to believe more firmly in the concept that the unfolding of our lives occurs in a predestined pattern and that we as humans have very little choice in the process.

It’s clear when you learn to read the astrological symbols that fate and destiny are tightly interwoven.  We are born with certain planets in certain placements which enables someone like me to be able to identify psychological patterns of a perfect stranger across a phone line with no previous information, just from looking at the birthchart.  And yet, you can take two different people born at the same moment in the same location, with identical charts, and while there will be similarities in the underlying dynamics of the chart their choices and outcomes will be completely different.

AK asked in the comments:

I have a question about your series on fate and free will. I always wondered why progressed chart should show how we “evolve”, if we have the free will to change our destiny. In other words, if we are born with certain challenges, lessons to be learnt (during transits to our natal planets), but at the same time have the ability to choose our destiny, we can evolve very differently than what progressed chart might show us. Progressing our natal planets somewhat assumes we are born with a certain fate…..

I thought this was an important question that deserves its own posts.  I’ve written on this topic before, but it’s an ongoing question that never gets old.

The progressed chart is the natal chart “progressed” forward through time, revealing unfolding patterns in the psyche that may or may not be reflected in the outer events.  Some astrologers say that planetary transits (which occur when a planet in the sky makes contact with a planet in our chart) stimulate events and progressed movements of the chart stimulate inner change, but I haven’t really seen that to be strictly true in any kind of predictable fashion.  Carl Jung wrote that “‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

When we are young we react against our inner impulses, fulfilling the problems of the birthchart.  Difficult relationships, insecurities, inability to assert ourselves, lack of self-confidence, failure to hold down a job – these are all potential problems of certain chart patterns.  As we grow older and hopefully wiser, if we become more self aware we start to work with those patterns and learn more about where they originate and how they can be transformed.  If we don’t go through this self-reflective process we are less likely to be able to effect change and alter our destiny.

The path of the progressed chart is already set when an individual is born because the natal chart is advanced through time, but so are the movements of planetary transits.   Once the natal chart is established we can predict every planetary cycle from birth into the future.  Some events that occur in our life are likely the result of fate, but the choices we make out of those events are what creates our destiny.  Terrible occurrences such as rape and abuse can later prove to be the seed of personal transformation.  A death of a spouse can be followed by a life of greater self-awareness.  Very rarely is there a disastrous event that is not followed by some sort of rebirth, as the archetype of Pluto reveals.

My sister recently had a big lineup of planets including her Moon, Mars and Venus aligning with Pluto in her progressed chart.  It was clear that something big was going to happen though it would have been impossible to predict exactly what.  This kind of dynamic could indicate a complete transformation of a marriage through shamanic therapy just as easily as divorce or death.  However, as it turned out her husband did become ill and died – an event which has already transformed her life on many levels. It’s hard to imagine that anything she did would have changed the fact of her husband’s death; the thing she has control over is whether she will allow herself to be transformed in the fire of the destruction of her old life and enable herself towards greater empowerment and healing.  (The good news:  she IS.)

I suppose none of us will ever know how much of what happens in our lives is fate and how much free will.  But my personal belief is that we have incarnated to face these challenges and learn and grow from them, and if every moment was predestined there would hardly be a point to incarnating at all.

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By | 2013-12-14T17:52:16+00:00 December 14th, 2013|Fate, Favorite posts|4 Comments

If you could predict death: 2013 edition

predict death

I do a fair amount of what I call “repair readings” – readings for people who have been told things by other astrologers that are upsetting and sometimes ridiculous.  Like the time a client was told that at a certain time she would meet someone and it would be the only opportunity she would ever have to find her soulmate. Or when an astrology told a client that her daughter would die on a certain date.

In 2008 I wrote a post “If you could predict death, would you?”  The subject has come up again because of a discussion on a Facebook group in which I participate and since 2008 there is more information available on the subject out on the web.

The whole idea of predicting death is based on the idea that the time of death is fated – that it is set in stone and can’t be changed.  This concept in itself is a huge point of argument among astrologers.  I personally believe that our family of origin, our astrological chart, and the timing of the planetary cycles that affect us are all fated, but that at an early age we begin to make choices that affect the rest of our lives.

When I was with my mother in the last months of her life I witnessed something else that was pretty amazing – when she was near the moment of death she suddenly decided that she wanted to go to the hospital.  She was quite insistent about it and the ambulance was called, and she lived another three months.  The hospice nurse told me that this is quite common – they speak about it as a “surge of energy” that lasts for a few days or a few weeks.  My mother had a very strong will, and she was determined not to die.  And she didn’t, until she was able to return home.  At that point she died within 36 hours.  I believe that she was then able to relax and let go.

My point is that it appeared to me that she had some choice as to the moment of death.  You hear stories about people who remain alive waiting for family members to arrive.  Or until after Christmas.  All of these events point away from the idea that the moment of death is fated.

Sometimes there are events that DO appear to be fated.  An acquaintance of mine was walking with a friend at 6:30 in the morning last week and was hit by a drunk driver and killed.  Certainly that experience had nothing to do with choice.  I did examine her chart and there were clearly stressful aspects on that day but nothing that would lead me to suggest death.

Modern astrology has no techniques for predicting death and indeed, the idea of predicting death goes against everything most modern astrologers believe in which is empowerment of the client.  Medieval and Hellenistic astrology as well as Vedic, all of which are more based in the idea of fate, do possess techniques for predicting death.  One well known astrologer, Richard Houck, wrote an entire book about it called the “Astrology of Death” – however, he was unable to accurately predict his own.  Using his own techniques he arrived at a date of 2031 for his demise – in fact he died of cancer in 2001.

Which brings me to the point – even if you could predict death, why would you?  How is that helpful?  Saturn in his role of Kronos the time keeper has already told us that our lives are fleeting – that time is passing.  We already know that death is coming – we do not need to know when that moment will arrive.  At every moment we have the opportunity to make choices to enhance our lives and those of our loved ones and our communities, and in my mind that is the most important thing that astrology can do for us.

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By | 2013-07-19T08:30:43+00:00 July 19th, 2013|Death, Fate|6 Comments

Catastrophe and transformation

catastrophe Tower TarotI was browsing around for something when I came across a of the word “catastrophe”:

catastrophe (plural catastrophes)
1. Any large and disastrous event of great significance.
2. (insurance) A disaster beyond expectations
3. (narratology) The dramatic event that initiates the resolution of the plot in a tragedy.
4. (mathematics) A type of bifurcation, where a system shifts between two stable states.

As an astrologer, I am always curious about catastrophes in a person’s life, because there is nearly always something of great significance astrologically that provides clues to the nature of this apparent disaster.  I believe that when we are ignoring our lives or unable to face certain truths, the Universe will present us with a catastrophe to get our attention and create the change and transformation that is required.

In order to get there, though, we have to completely suspend our usual ideas of what is good and bad, life and death.  A horrible childhood event can serve as the tool to foster a lifetime of introspection and self-discovery.  A terrible accident can create a lifetime of pain, but also shock us into realizing that a change in our life is needed.  A natural disaster can wipe away a family, but allow us to put our grief to work in helping others.  A terminal illness will end a life, but can bring great richness and transformation to an entire family as well as the patient.

All of these events could be considered catastrophes in definition #1 described above: “a large and disastrous event of great significance.”  And certainly a disaster beyond expectations (#2), because most of us don’t expect to encounter these disasters – they sneak up on us and shock us into an altered state.

#3 is one of the most interesting, and it comes to us from the elements of Greek drama: The dramatic event that initiates the resolution of the plot.  Many of us become stuck in patterns and situations that we know are limiting us but we stay there out of fear or inertia.  A catastrophe can indeed be the dramatic event that initiates a type of resolution.

theory in mathematics is a little more obtuse but it still has an interesting connection to this discussion: “Small changes in certain parameters of a nonlinear system can cause equilibria to appear or disappear, or to change from attracting to repelling and vice versa, leading to large and sudden changes of the behaviour of the system.”  Here again we see the idea that a catastrophe plants the seeds of change.

The Tower card in the Tarot is a significator of this kind of catastrophe.  The Tower card is represented by the planet Pluto which presides over death and rebirth – destruction and regeneration.  In this card we see the Tower of the material world, representing all that we have accomplished, but which rests precariously on a craggy mountain which represents a supremely difficult spiritual challenge.  In order to accomplish the spiritual work, the Tower of materialism must fall.

The crown is falling from the Tower, showing that we must let go of our arrogance and righteousness during this process.  A bolt of lightning (Uranus – sudden and shocking experience) comes out of the blue to destroy all that we have built. In order to escape the destruction, a change of perspective (the people falling upside down from the Tower) is required.

To me, the biggest challenge in life is to face the reality of its tenuousness without fear and with trust in the Universal laws of consciousness and fate.  Astrology helps with this, because it can provide a context within which these supposedly meaningless events occur and offers a framework for understanding.

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By | 2013-04-26T07:11:08+00:00 April 26th, 2013|Fate, Favorite posts, Inspiration|8 Comments

Occultists and astrology

occult astrologerA new client came to me because of something involving Saturn in her chart that had come up in another reading.  The information she was given was not only wrong, the Saturn placement was incorrect.  The “astrologer” who gave her this information is online, and on his website he calls himself a “master astrologist” which is interesting in itself.  We astrologers don’t call ourselves “astrologists” – that is an appellation typically found only in critical newspaper articles.  His website also states that he is an occultist. The definition of “occult” is defined by Google’s dictionary as “something pertaining to the supernatural or magical beliefs, practices or phenomena.”  “Magic” is “the power of apparently influencing the course of events through mysterious or supernatural forces.”  While it’s true that some psychics or occultists use astrology in an attempt to manipulate reality and create magic, most professional astrologers do not approach the craft with that intention. Occult really means that which is hidden from view.  A planet is said to be occult another planet when it hides that planet from our view.   Occult practices can be defined as those which operate under the radar of the masses, in secret and perhaps in mystery schools. Astrology as practiced by occultists can be steeped in superstition, such as the famed occultist Sepharial (a contemporary of Madame Blavatsky and himself a theosophist) who writes of “good” aspects and “evil” aspects in his .  This is a more traditional approach to astrology which considers astrology to be a map of one’s fate.  Presumably then the occult tools assist one in transforming one’s fate and therein lies the magic. I take a different view.  While it’s true that the horoscope or natal (birth) chart represents our fate because that chart will not change no matter what we do, it also holds the secret of our personal transformation and the evolution of the soul.  Those aspects that Separial defines as “evil” can be the source of our own personal empowerment.  This is a truly alchemical process that goes beyond anything the ancient alchemists ever dreamed of, and it requires no special magical tools, rituals or spells.  It requires simply a knowledge of the Self as described by the birth chart, and an understanding of the gifts that lie within. Vedic astrology often talks of “remedies” for negative influences in the birthchart.  These remedies include fasting, the use of gemstones, and acts of contrition and good will.  And while all of these methods are quite useful, they ignore the fact that the key to personal transformation lies within – that we create our reality and can transform it.  We are not victims to our fate – our fate is simply a roadmap we were given.  The experiences that we find along the way are determined by free will and intention. That is the real magic.

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By | 2013-01-08T07:41:32+00:00 January 8th, 2013|Astrology, Fate|12 Comments

Musings on soulmates

At the Body, Mind, Spirit Expo that I worked in Raleigh a couple of weeks ago two readings brought up the question of soulmates in very different ways. One reading was for someone who had experienced a very intense connection with someone who then withdrew and later denied the connection had ever occurred.  This was incredibly confusing for her because when we experience this kind of connection it is undeniable.  She had come to see me at the February show when this first happened and several other readers at the show had told her that the gentleman in question was her soulmate and that everything would work out.  Now, six months later, that had not come to pass and she wanted to know why. The other reading was for a couple who had been married less than a year and while their connection is powerfully strong they were seeing incompatibilities that disturbed them.  An astrology reading pointed out where there might be communication issues and the needs that each one had in the relationship and how their differing energies could be used to help provide balance for each of them, but also where they would find challenges that need to be overcome. These were two very different situations that exposed the true nature of the soulmate connection in very different ways.  The “New Age” movement has perpetuated a dangerous myth with the idea of the “Twin Flame” – the soulmate that is our perfect twin and completes us in every way.  Many of us would like to think that when we find our true soulmate we will live together with them in pure harmony and bliss and that our troubles will be over. I have posted on this before, and the fact that compatibility is very rarely present in true soulmate connections.  Compatibility occurs when two people are similar in every way, but this dynamic does not foster soul growth and personal evolution.  When we encounter a soulmate, someone we recognize immediately and to whom we feel at once deeply connected, we can be certain that this individual is coming into our life to stretch us and to bring healing and growth.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that we will end up married to them, and like the first person in this story, it doesn’t mean that we will necessarily even consummate a relationship.  I have seen situations with clients where a relationship came into their life like a thunderclap and then exploded, leaving them devastated.  But as a result their heart opened, and they were ready for a more balanced and loving relationship than they had been before. For the couple in this story, the very qualities that they admired about each other were the ones that they found most difficult.  This is quite typical, since we often admire qualities in others that we lack in ourselves.  For example, let’s say one person has difficulty expressing their needs and they are drawn to a partner who is courageous and fearless in doing so.  Once they are in a relationship with each other, the partner who is unable to express themselves may quietly begin to resent the one who can do so rather than learn those skills.  If we simply react to each other, these relationships may not work out even though the partner is in fact a true soulmate. Which brings me to my next point: Soulmates aren’t necessarily for forever.  I have seen, both in my own life and in the lives of clients, that there are some people that come into our life for mutual learning and growth and then move on.  Sometimes, like in the case of the first client in this story, the soulmate isn’t ready for the intensity of the connection and runs away. Fate brings us together – free will gives us the option how we are to handle the situation.  If we are ready for the kind of soul growth that a soulmate relationship offers, and one soulmate connection fails to ignite, there will be another one to take its place.

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By | 2012-09-04T07:47:36+00:00 September 4th, 2012|Fate, Relationships|9 Comments
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