A common criticism of astrology is that it implies a lack of free will. People mistakenly believe, and even behave as if, the heavens are dictating the twists and turns of our lives, and that we’re somehow helpless pawns in a cosmic game. Whilst it’s true that an appreciation of astrology reminds us that we’re part of a huge and infinite whole, it certainly doesn’t remove any sense of free will or responsibility from us. In fact it seems to me that quite the opposite occurs when you truly engage with the heart and soul of astrological inquiry.
As we gaze into the heavens and see their reflection shining back at us, we begin to recognise the infinite possibilities contained within the universe, and may begin to recognise a lack of largesse in our own existence. A curiosity is sparked within us, and we want to know more. At this point, our questions are all too often future-oriented: When will I meet my soul-mate/ get that perfect job/ get out of this marriage etc. We seek certainty upon which we can rely, something to hold onto, telling us there is hope.
When used for this purpose alone, astrology can be an unreliable science which can rarely offer satisfactory answers to questions born of the personal ego. The meaning of a specific configuration in one person’s chart may be very different to its meaning when found in another, and concrete predictions can sink us when they’re off target, leaving astrology decried for being nonsensical and the refuge of the desperate and immature.
To go beyond this level of understanding requires deeper thought and a commitment to look at life with greater honesty and openness. We’re no longer passive subjects for whom life unfolds without our intervention. We become agents within the universe, endowed with free will, and with our own unique part to play and our own unique lessons to learn. As we begin to open up to the possibilities of a life that encompasses universal energies flowing through us, we must also embrace the responsibility this places in our hands: responsibility to act with integrity, to uncover our own truths and to do the work required to develop our inner life and reflect that development in the outer world.
As this process takes place, the question becomes not ‘When will I meet the man of my dreams’, but ‘How do I manage and relate to intimacy in my life?’, it changes from ‘When will I get my dream job?’, to ‘What is my life purpose and how do I fulfil it?’. Thus astrology reveals its deeper purpose: to provide a means by which we can come to know our essential selves, beneath all the layers that we build, one upon another, from the moment of our birth.
Within the birth-chart we find the most exquisite and poetic representation of ourselves, a map of our consciousness. Astrology shows us our strengths and weaknesses, imbalances and potential. Most importantly, it shows us how we can each address the challenges that come to us in life, using them for personal and spiritual development. Thus we can release the energies that reside within us in a constructive and positive way, rather than using them to sustain and solidify the personal ego, which invariably grows at great cost to our spirit.
When used in this way, the birth chart acts as a compass or spiritual road-map, providing a route to inner knowing and self-awareness. It points directly to the potential unity within the individual, whilst simultaneously mapping out the inner-conflicts and challenges that guard against the manifestation of this unity. It addresses issues of motivation, conflicts, blind-spots, strengths and weaknesses.
It shows us the energies present for us and how they can best be expressed. It can help distil the highest truth in each moment, and identify which actions and behaviours on our part have hindered the expression of that truth in our lives. The answers may not be straightforward, nor without contradictions themselves, but answers can be found.
We all experience patterns and cycles in our lives, recurring issues that we fail to resolve and scenarios that, to all intents and purposes, appear to come at us from without, but which, invariably, find their seeds within us, somewhere. When we use astrology to engage consciously with these matters it brings us insight and deeper understanding, enabling us to live our lives with more authenticity and clarity.
So, far from removing the notion of freewill, astrology implies it, within every moment of our lives. It gives us choices and the information and wisdom necessary to make the best of those choices. It reveals to us the bigger picture within which we live our lives, and invites us to take an active part in the unfolding of the universe in each moment. Whether or not we accept the invitation is also our choice of course!
How will you respond?