This week I found myself time traveling. Astrologers can do that, you know. I animated my natal chart so that I could watch the movement of transiting planets over the chart as I clicked the “forward” button. I’ve played this little game before, but it’s been a while and I was wondering about the timing of the next Pluto-Uranus opposition, and whether it would hit any major points in my chart. Yes, indeed it will — if I am still alive.
One of the first things I tell people during a tarot or astrology reading is that I don’t predict the future and I cannot tell them what to do.
I believe that astrology and tarot are excellent predictors of spiritual and emotional trends, and that free will comes in when we decide how to act based on those trends.
The interplay of fate and free will is such a tightly orchestrated little dance, I don’t like to give the divination tools too much power. I also believe it’s important not to ignore them altogether.
As someone who has a whole bunch of planets grouped together in fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius), any time a slow-mover like Saturn or Pluto trudges through one of them I tend to experience a whole lot of change. Being able to see that there will come a time, in that far off place I call my fifties, when Pluto is on my Descendant and Sun at the same time as it opposes transiting Saturn on my ascendant helps me to contextualize what I’m going through now as a kind of preparation for that later phase.
I’ve also joked at times about quitting astrology until a given transit is over. Just ignoring it for a bit. The temptation to project all kinds of fear or anxiety over a set of symbols can be tempting. The gift of being able to prepare, however, is such a blessing. There is so much to be understood about that fear and anxiety, and such a delicate balance between staying aware of it and manifesting it.
The increased awareness that tools such as astrology can facilitate now brings to mind the question of fate versus free will. It allows us to understand and sometimes amplify our fears, especially those that manifest as recurrent patterns. My personal goal has been to be careful not to frame this as victimization, but rather in a way that underscores potentialities and tools for healing. I rest assured that my soul somehow had a say in the challenges I’d be facing in this life, and most of the time that’s helpful.
A few months ago, I kept coming across a thread on the interwebs that was spawned by a discussion between two astrologers. It appeared as if one was arguing that when ‘bad’ things keep happening to a person, it is an indication that they are less evolved. That’s a pretty rough paraphrase, but his comments sparked some pretty intense debate.
I found myself laughing at the audacity it takes to claim to understand someone else’s evolutionary path in hierarchical terms, even though I sometimes find myself referring to ‘consensus’ reality — the reality of those living in the normal 9-5 grind, watching prime time television, eating whatever the heck they want, never questioning the system, and happy (at least seemingly so) to play by the rules — in a way that evokes the same kind of divisions.
But the idea that those who struggle in their evolutionary journeys are somehow doing it wrong or less aware does not sit well with me. In fact, who am I to judge anyone’s path at all?
It seems that there is something inherently challenging and confrontational about the act of learning about one’s own astrological chart. Don’t we have to confront and trudge through our shadow material in order to learn to work with it? Isn’t that process at the root of astrological work, at least in some forms?
I’m reminded of a passage from Rudhyar’s Astrology and the Modern Psyche, which I have re-read now several times. In it, he discusses the ways in which in-depth examination of one’s own natal chart forces the potentialities of our individual paths to the surface, intensifying both the ‘good’ qualities as well as the ‘evil.’ He says:
“…as human beings are usually more struck by and respond more crucially to the ‘bad’ than to the ‘good,’ if a person strives after self-knowledge by studying his birth-chart with an intense belief in the validity of astrology, this study very often leads to an intensification of Karmic confrontations. This is as it should be; for this intensification of pain and tragedy through the focusing of Karma is an inevitable part of the process of purification and purgation (catharsis) of the ego. And this process is the first manifestation of the fact that the ‘education to personality’ is gaining momentum and becoming effective.”
This basic notion — that intense study of one’s chart increases the potentialities of the chart — also indicates that the ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ is particularly brought to the surface because we tend to be more comfortable with the good. Therefore the more harrowing, shadowy or perhaps just yucky stuff constellates in our psyches, finding room to express there and throughout our lives.
This passage in Rudhyar’s book is followed by a discussion of something Jung once wrote, which has to do with the fear that so many humans feel when trying to locate or listen to their inner voice. Jung gives credence to this fear by pointing out that the inner voice is something that can bring us in contact with the shadow. By guiding us towards our true calling or path, much in the way an astrological chart can, it also brings us in contact with our fears and our shadow.
Honoring that fear is part of the work. That’s why, whenever I meet someone who learns what I do and expresses interest in having a reading, I give them my contact information but I don’t push. I wait for them to reach out to me, indicating their readiness.
As much as I believe the survival of our species is dependent on people accessing and working with tools for consciousness such as astrology, I also know that at its most potent it can open windows to the soul that sometimes aren’t for the faint of heart. Although I suppose everything happens in the right time and place.
So while I’m grateful to be able to do some time traveling, I also hold the power of that spark of knowledge with lot of reverence because it isn’t a matter of fortune telling and parlor tricks for me — it’s a way of tuning into the soul and working with what is found there in a way that gets us in touch with that divine spark.
Recently, a partial look at my chart had me believing that my life was going to be less challenging, Ha! I fumed. Then , I decided to “grow up” and be. There are challenges to keep in mind and gifts to keep in mind life is largely an in the moment experience, I am here, now.
Thank you for your knowledge and attractive way of expressing yourself. It literally attracts me and gives me food for thought.
You’re so welcome. Glad it’s helpful!
I found these observations of yours regarding the use of astrological wisdom quite reassuring Amanda. Over the course of several decades my own path has taken a turn away from emphasizing personal/individua astrological chart study. I have found that the topic of civilization’s progress as revealed in charts for cycles and planet ingress charts totally absorbing. This too gives a sense of time travel. As well, it requires less sensitivity then one-on-one discussions between individual and astrologer. Mankind – as a whole – is more willing to view all the options available!
Perhaps it’s just a phase, but I love the freedom to explore from a group perspective. It developed because my natal chart has much in common with the U.S. Sibly chart, but grew into an even less personal perspective as the evolutional/transcending/awakening period of growth became mainstream just before the 2012 winter solstice. You may recall there was a conjunction between the Sun and Juno at that solstice, along with trans. Jupiter conjunct the U.S. Uranus at the apex of a yod. The yod was completed by the transiting sextile between Pluto and Saturn, and Pluto and Saturn were in mutual reception.
As I look back at that chart, it is Juno’s role that most describes what was happening to me personally; I was motivated to take on the view and subsequently, the consciousness of a Sun at 0 Capricorn could symbolize. Sun and Juno were sextile “no boundaries” Neptune in Pisces on that day, and Ceres was conjunct my natal chart’s IC. Trans. Ceres was at the apex of a yod between trans. Mars and the North Node and Ceres opposed the Galactic Center. Now it seems a no-brainer but at the time I was oblivious to the ramifications it held. I might never have realized this if I hadn’t read your article today, so thank you for that!
Oh, you’re so welcome. That’s fascinating! Looking at astrology through the collective lens (or…looking at the collective through the astrological) was actually what sparked an understanding of my life’s path back at the beginning of my Saturn Return. I read “Cosmos and Psyche” and it merged with my love of Sociology and suddenly I realized there was so much more out there…
Thanks for all you contribute to PW
Thanks for your interesting article Amanda. Call me naive’ but what if I don’t want to work with the shadow and decide not to follow astrology? This was a partial thought I had when I read what you described when you quoted Rudhyar’s work. I was thinking that I didn’t want to work the shadow material, I preferred to remain in a pleasant space, and if knowing more about astrology meant that somehow that knowledge revealed more of the shadow to me, then perhaps I should stop reading or following astrology. What would I loose? If I am blind to it all, then my soul chooses the next lifetime to engage, and what if I consciously make the choice again, let’s say, I get exposed to Rudhyar’s work again (or better yet, I am doing this simultaneously in many lifetimes). I guess I wondered if I was any less closer to spiritual”being” than anyone else, especially if soul’s don’t “evolve”? And regarding that topic, I also wondered if their soul made choices to add other souls by giving something by which to compare?
I promise you, I am not playing devil’s advocate here, I don’t know or even have a sense for the answer, these just were my thoughts. But I so appreciate you expressing your thinking and others in the field (and be, I always appreciate your additions on the blogs, it’s interesting to learn what made you shift your astrological focus to the US Sibley chart)! Then I read Carolynkc, i(thank you CarolynKC) and your post really comforted my mind and heart! The concept of being, to just “be.” That quieted my thinking, gave me more respite.
Maybe I should be working the shadow, my mercury and chiron are conjoined in Pisces and I have had an astrologer who often tells me that I have been learning certain things for lifetimes… (and when she says that I always hear the line in the song by the Indigo Girls, “how long til my soul gets it right, I call on resting soul, Galileo, king of night vision, king of insight!”).
It’s almost like the answer is the answer to life itself.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and beautiful writing on the subject, Amanda. I will likely work on the shadow material dammit, but yes, I want to learn to how to undo “doing” and just “be.”
All good questions! None of which I’d dare to answer, really, but instead ponder myself. I try to just share tidbits each week with the understanding that I don’t profess to Know the Truth.
What happens by choosing to “be blind to it all?” I don’t know that either. Probably exactly what’s necessary. On the one hand, I’m a big fan of the “we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be” line of thinking. On the other, I know that for me personally it’s rare that I get the option of turning a blind eye. Things just become too glaringly obvious and often painful for me to choose that route. That said, I do indeed find that “just being” is often the remedy for me, as that Scorpionic shadow work thing can become compulsive, and I gotta engage that Taurus polarity and just go eat some food or listen to some music or bask in the sunshine. Simplify.
I also know I have met people in my life who were not actively seeking or searching in the way that I am, and that there have been times that has frustrated me. One of my biggest lessons, though, has been to realize that not everyone is here to do it like I do, and that sometimes people choose comfort, security and an alltogether different path and that they get to do that. It’s not for me to judge or force my own ideas, although I’ll always happily discuss them.
We all have different paths. Who am I to say what is right and wrong? A path of surrender and selfless service, for example, can be a necessary step in someone fulfilling their “contract” or whatever the heck you wanna call it, be that because it helps them to explore selfless service and surrender OR denial and avoidance.
There are so many forms of astrology, many of which don’t deal with “shadow” at all. Goodness knows shadow work sure isn’t for everyone. I just like to support those who feel called to engage it, and then babble on here about it from time to time.
Thanks for sharing. Sorry for babbling a bit. I had about 5 minutes to sit down and try to write something cohesive on big questions…
Thanks, I giggled, and I get it, maybe I will seek out the non-shadow astrology that you describe
The typo on the Rudhyar discussion is instead of “add” is “aid” so I am wondering of other souls decided to enter a state of naivitee so to aid others in achieving awareness.