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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

The Astrology of 2018 – What can we expect?

Astrology of 2018Over the past ten years the people of planet Earth have experienced a cataclysmic shift that has affected virtually every area of human life.  Pluto (planet of deep transformational forces) changed signs in 2008, moving from expansive Sagittarius which embraced migration and “one world” culture as well as celebrity and theology into the contracting sign of Capricorn which insists on being practical and creating strong foundations that can’t be buffeted around by the whims of the world.  Pluto then was drawn into a protracted conflict with Uranus, planet of rebellion and revolution, in the individualistic sign of Aries and predictably, revolutions occurred around the world.  The Arab Spring, the Trump revolution in the US, Brexit in the UK, revolutions in the UK, and a dismantling of governments in Africa and elsewhere (Pluto in Capricorn) by revolutionary forces (Uranus in Aries).

Here is a list of the major planetary events in 2018. 

I believe that 2018 will be the year of renewed stability.  That is not to say that peace will rule the planet, but new foundations are being built to replace the old ones which have been destroyed and the transformations of the past ten years will now be accepted as the new normal.  When our old reality has crumbled into the mists of history, there is nothing to do but to move forward and the planetary influences this year will help with that.

There are no outer planet alignments.  The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) are the big movers and shakers. I think of them as transformational forces that inspire us to evolve and change, and when they interact with each other they stimulate powerful changes in the world around us as well as in our inner worlds.  In 2018 there are no major aspects between the outer planets, and no significant stressful aspects even of Jupiter or Saturn.  Without these dramatic planetary incidents to rock and shake our world, the necessary rebuilding of the human condition can take place much more easily.

Four of the eclipses fall on the Leo/Aquarius axis.   The Leo/Aquarius polarity is about balancing our individual needs and desires (Leo) with the needs of the collective (Aquarius).  Leo is a highly personal sign which craves personal development and individual expression; Aquarius seeks to transcend the personal and to express the Self through interaction with community.  Neither is better than the other, but with four eclipses triggering this dynamic we will be working towards integrating our personal desires for a better life into the fabric of the needs of the collective communities in which we build our lives.

Here are the dates for the 2018 eclipses:

  • Lunar eclipse January 31, 2018 at 11 degrees Leo/Aquarius
  • Solar eclipse February 15, 2018 at 27 Aquarius/Leo
  • Solar eclipse July 12, 2018 at 20 Cancer/Capricorn
  • Lunar eclipse July 27, 2018 at 4 degrees Aquarius/Leo
  • Solar eclipse August 11, 2018 at 18 degrees Leo/Aquarius

Three important planets will be in Earth signs.  Earth signs help to ground us and enforce a practical perspective.  Earth is not exciting like Fire nor stimulating like Air, but it can be a welcome respite from chaos and intense transformation. Pluto is already in Capricorn (since 2008) as noted above.  Saturn moved into Capricorn in December 2017 and will remain in that sign until March 21, 2020.  Saturn and Pluto can be a bit heavy handed and when they aspect each other things get a bit intense, but that won’t occur until 2020 so there is no reason to be concerned quite yet.

We also have Uranus, planet of radical change, moving into the stable and grounded sign of Taurus in May of 2018.  I’ll be writing more about that over the coming months but that will serve to calm down the intense radical nature of the political energies over the past seven years of Uranus in fiery Aries.

Chiron will enter Aries April 17, 2018.  Chiron is the planet that regulates the healing process in the body, mind, spirit system by triggering psychospiritual wounds that are ready to emerge and heal.  Chiron has been in in the spiritual/creative sign of Pisces since 2010, challenging boundaries and pointing out where our illusions have given us the greatest problems.  Aries is the sign of individual self-motivation, an important aspect of self-development.  Taken to extremes, however, self-motivation can turn into selfishness and greed. In Aries, Chiron acts on the level of the individual to challenge our sense of Self and self-confidence.  On the global level it will reveal the societal wounds caused by individual selfishness.  Chiron will be in Aries until 2026.

Important planetary events for 2018:

  • Jupiter sextile Pluto  January 25, 2018 – September 12, 2018.  Aiding in personal transformation and the fulfillment of life goals, this lovely harmonious planetary dance will help to provide support in all of your endeavors, assuming you have a focused intention and a plan of action.
  • Chiron enters Aries  April 17, 2018 (described above)
  • Uranus enters Taurus May 15, 2018 (described above)
  • Mars retrograde June 26-August 27, 2018.  Mars doesn’t retrograde often (as opposed to the other planets which retrograde at least once a year) so it’s somewhat significant.  Mars retrograde periods are important times for personal action and review and can be difficult times to get something new off the ground.
  • Jupiter trine Neptune began in 2017, finishes August 19, 2018.  This is one of the most beautiful planetary combinations as Jupiter expands and offers hope to all of the creativity and spiritual longing that Neptune inspires.
  • Jupiter enters Sagittarius November 8, 2018. When Jupiter enters its own sign of Sagittarius, it’s the beginning of a year of optimism and opportunity.

Stay tuned for more information on these planetary cycles!  Many blessings and wishes for a beautiful 2018.

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By | 2018-01-04T08:31:24+00:00 December 30th, 2017|Featured posts, Planetary cycles|8 Comments

Saturn in Capricorn: The pinnacle of achievement (and some practical advice)

Saturn in Capricorn

The view from the top of the mountain

Saturn will be in Capricorn between December 19th, 2017 and December 17, 2020

The perception from earth of the movement of the planets through the symbolic constellations in the sky is one of the great tools that astrologers use to forecast the energies through which we live our life.  These energies operate on the macrocosmic level – everyone on the planet is affected to one degree or another by the movement of the Moon, or any of the planets, through the zodiacal signs.  On the microcosmic personal level, we are especially affected if the transiting planets in the sky trigger something in our own astrological chart.

About Saturn

Saturn is the outermost of the personal planets – the planets that are visible to the naked eye and which represent an aspect of our personality.  Saturn represents the impulse to achieve: to master the material world.  He imposes restrictions and places limitations on the goals and dreams that Jupiter has planted in the psyche. He has the tendency to engender feelings of insecurity, self-doubt and unworthiness.  Traditionally Saturn was known as the Greater Malefic (the Lesser Malefic being Mars) because of the tendency towards negativism and melancholy.  And probably because he ate his children in order to preserve his power which certainly didn’t help his image.

Still, while we can’t deny Saturn’s challenging qualities, his gifts are also great.  In ancient Greece Saturn was known as Kronos, Lord of Time, and under Saturn’s watchful eye we cannot deny that time is fleeting and death is before us making each moment more precious and not to be wasted.  The tests and crises that Saturn often brings with him give us the strength and endurance to prevail and thrive.  The depression that often comes with a prominent Saturn chart placement evolves into self-reliance and a love of solitude.  The pressure to succeed and fear of failure becomes, with a great deal of effort, success in the material world with the accompanying wealth and prestige (for more on this see Saturn: Both Beast and Prince).

Saturn in Capricorn

The zodiacal sign of Capricorn shares Saturn’s love of success and achievement.  Like the mountain goat with which it is sometimes associated, Capricorn relentlessly climbs the mountain of its goals, putting personal emotions and other frivolities aside, in order to ascend to the summit and enjoy the view from the top. Capricorn’s traditional symbol is the “goat fish” – a hybrid creature with the body of a goat and the tail of a sea serpent, combining what we know call “emotional intelligence” of water with the practical ability to achieve one’s goals symbolized by the goat.  Capricorn’s realm includes structures of all kinds – physical, political, and social – and the need to preserve these structures in order to preserve the fabric of human life. Capricorn lacks the desire to take risks or engage in carefree exploration such as Sagittarius does.

Saturn is said to be in its domicile in Capricorn – Saturn is at its most effective and, we might say, happiest when allowed to operate freely in the material and practical world of form and structure.  Saturn’s passage through the signs create tests and obstacles in the matters of that sign.  Saturn’s movement through Sagittarius  (sign of ideology and belief as well as foreign cultures) over the last two years has challenged our ideas on issues  such as immigration and religion.  Saturn’s focus in Capricorn now shifts to the political structures themselves as well as other social structures such as marriage, religious organizations.

What this means for you!

Saturn’s passage through Capricorn can provide a great support to our ventures in the physical world as long as we apply good Saturn principles of proper planning and solid strategy.  Over the next two years, dreams and fantasies with no basis in reality will not be supported.  This is not a time to believe that positive thinking is enough to carry you through to your goals – Saturn’s reward comes through hard work, discipline and structured planning.

Those of us with planets in the cardinal signs (Aries, Libra, Cancer and of course Capricorn) will be most affected by Saturn’s trip through Capricorn as Saturn triggers those planets.  This may mean success in business ventures, and it also can suggest hardships or an overload of responsibility.  Much of how you are personally affected will be determined both by the other dynamics of your own personal chart and the choices that you make under the Saturn influence. If Saturn is in Capricorn in your own chart, you will be having a Saturn Return sometime during this period.  An excellent time to consult an astrologer!

Here are some ways you can get the most out of this Saturn cycle:

  • Look to the future and create some goals.
  • Get organized. Saturn doesn’t like a mess, and will favor those who have already created structures to support and organize their lives.
  • Make a plan for the future. We often feel like planning for the future limits our possibilities, but plans can always be changed.  For the next two years, your plans are your keys to success.
  • If you find yourself in an unavoidable situation of great difficulty such as the illness of a family member or other personal crisis, try if you can to see this as a normal part of the cycle of life and realize the potential to develop greater strength through the endurance of hardship.
  • Be careful with money.  This is not a good time for speculation although success through careful investment is favored (once the current market frenzy settles down).
  • Emotions can stand in the way under this influence – do your best to try to see through the emotional story to the practical side of the matter.

And, stay tuned to this blog.  I am intending to use this transit to get back to a regular schedule of posting!

By | 2017-12-17T07:53:11+00:00 December 17th, 2017|Featured posts, Planetary cycles|11 Comments

Jupiter in Scorpio: Expansion of Truth and Mystery

Jupiter – the King of the Gods, the largest planet in our solar system.  Everything about it is bigger than life.  In our natal astrological charts, Jupiter shows where we find meaning in life, the kind of belief systems we formulate, and the pathways that will give us the abundance and opportunities to keep expanding. Known traditionally as the “greater benefic,” Jupiter’s influence is generally favorable and offers us confidence and optimism and a desire for growth and expansion.

(Astrology geeks: details of planetary movements can be found at the bottom of the page)  Jupiter also represents the search for truth – our own personal truth.  The truth that makes sense to us, our theology, and when we find others that share that truth, our religion.  Our philosophy of life.  In the process of finding this truth we seek to expand the limits of our knowledge through higher education, discovery of other cultures and foreign countries, and the higher knowledge that expands our inner consciousness.

The astrological sign of Scorpio represents Truth with a capital “T” – the Truth that is gritty and real and supersedes our own ideas of what is true.  Jupiter stays in a sign for about a year and has been in the sign of Libra since the fall of 2016 where it expanded cultural ideas of beauty and relationships.  Jupiter will enter the deep water sign of Scorpio on October 10th 2017 and will remain there through November 8th 2018.

Scorpio is also associated with sexuality, emotional intensity, passions of all kinds, as well as the energetic undercurrents that reveal the secrets behind the areas of our lives that we usually keep hidden.  Brutal honesty and direct confrontation are highlighted when dealing with the Scorpio influence – anything superficial or artificial is quickly penetrated with the Scorpionic laser eye for the Truth.

While Jupiter passes through Scorpio, our attention will be drawn into the mysteries of the unknown, the realm of Scorpio, as Jupiter inspires us to expand our knowledge (Jupiter) of the secrets that lead us towards the ultimate Truth.  Psychological discoveries, occult secrets, ancient mysteries and lost civilizations, issues of sex and death – all of these things will emerge into the light of day to encourage greater understanding.

While Jupiter is in Scorpio it will harmonize with its natural ally Neptune, facilitating the flow of consciousness expansion and increased awareness, and with Pluto, Scorpio’s modern ruler.  Pluto helps to guide us into the Underworld where the great treasures can be found – not only the treasures of the psyche and the magic of the great philosophical mysteries, but also the very keys to unlocking the mystery of Self Knowledge.  These influences will be especially strong in April-May 2018 and August-September 2018.

How to get the most out of the passage of Jupiter through Scorpio:

  • The gates to the underworld of the psyche are easier to access when Jupiter moves through Scorpio, making this the perfect time for psychotherapy or deep soul work.
  • Superficial relationships will be challenged and may fall away under this influence which requires nothing less than Truth in all things.
  • Recording your dreams and inner thoughts in a journal or some other form of record will help you to access the deep subconscious to facilitate greater awareness.
  • As your inner power is activated you will become aware of fears and anxieties that will need to be healed before you are able to fully emerge in your own Truth.

Geeky astrological details: Jupiter will trine Neptune on December 2, 2017, May 25, 2018 and August 8, 2018 and will sextile Pluto on January 1, 2018, April 2018 and September 2018.   

By | 2017-10-02T08:50:52+00:00 September 28th, 2017|Featured posts, Planetary cycles|12 Comments

The real astrology chart for the US – 2017 version

Sibly astrology chart

This post is updated from previous articles. 

Any person, place or event with a date of origination has an astrological chart. Humans have birthdates, companies have incorporation dates, and countries have their own dates of origination (we call this “mundane” astrology). Mundane charts are not always easy to define since we must accurately pinpoint the exact time at which the current incarnation of the place began.

The chart for the United States that is most typically used is called the Sibly chart which uses a date of July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed, and has Sagittarius on the ascendant (Sagittarius “rising”).

A Scorpio chart used by many astrologers uses a date of November 15, 1777 when the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were signed.   Other charts use the date that the Constitution was signed. There are also Gemini rising charts (including which uses a rectified time that is unsubstantiated in fact), a chart that uses a time when the signers convened to discuss the details of the terms,  and a rarely used chart for July 2nd when a resolution to declare independence was adopted.  This was famously the day that John Adams declared to be the birth of the nation, “to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”  

There are also a few adherents to a Scorpio ascendant that some say is based on the fact that the clocktower on the back of a $100 bill was set to 2:22 pm.  But if you look carefully at the image you’ll see that it could also be read as 4:10 pm and in fact that the Department of Bureau and Engraving says that the time is 4:10 pm (although I could find nothing to corroborate this).

Still, the relevance of the time on the clock tower is difficult to gauge in terms of establishing a proper horoscope for the United States.  Benton Bobrick’s masterwork The Fated Sky includes a scholarly discussion of the time when the signing of the Declaration of Independence was completed:

According to the Philadelphia Historical Society, ‘the Declaration was graced with its first signature (Hancock’s) at approximately five o’clock in the afternoon after which the members all went off to dine.’

corroborates this, using an approximation of “late in the afternoon” as the time when the Declaration was approved and Hancock affixed his signature.  The date of July Fourth was adopted as Independence Day first in Philadelphia in 1777, and quickly spread throughout the colonies, firmly establishing this date as the birthdate of the United States.

The July 4th astrological chart was first drawn by Ebenezer Sibly, an English astrologer who was alive at the time and as a Freemason would have been associated with the Freemason founding fathers.  Sibly was well practiced in the field of mundane astrology, known for his accurate political predictions regarding both the American and French revolutions. It is not a huge leap to imagine that his Freemason brethren in the new nation would have sought the advice of a competent astrologer in order to determine the optimum time for signing the Declaration.

There is a synchronicity to astrology that cannot be understood with logic. The fact that the date of July 4th was adopted so easily and so universally as the birthdate of the nation makes it easy to adopt this date as the astrological birth date.  The time is not so simple to discover nearly 250 years later, but the fact that the Sibly chart has become the predominant chart suggests that it is the one which resonates most strongly with the national consciousness.


By | 2017-10-02T08:51:16+00:00 July 4th, 2017|Favorite posts, Featured posts, Politics|2 Comments
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