Free will — the ability to act at our own discretion — and astrology may appear to contradict one another. After all, isn’t a birth chart a predestined account of who you are, what you’ll do, and where you’ll be headed?
In order to unpack this we must redefine, or at least reexamine, the purpose of astrology and its role in our lives.
I view a birth chart as our mental, emotional, psychological, and motivational ‘factory settings’.
Your smartphone has default factory settings. Those settings, just like the innate character traits and blind spots in a birth chart, can be increased, decreased, shut off, or turned on to enhance your user experience.
In astrology, the moon represents our emotional default setting. It describes where we automatically (subconsciously) seek emotional refuge when faced with challenges or stress. A Virgo moon, for example, defaults to control, logic, and preparing for the worst. An Aquarius moon detaches and runs away. A Gemini moon gets verbal diarrhea and throws in some sarcasm as a defense mechanism.
A simplistic view of astrology leads to silly conclusions like “I can’t help but be (insert negative emotional trait here)… my moon is in (insert zodiac sign here)!”. That isn’t astrology; that’s a refusal to look inward and evolve.
Through analysis of our birth chart, we can learn, for example, that a square aspect between our moon and Saturn inhibits our emotional expression and frequently manifests as frigidness that interferes with meaningful connections.
That, right there, is the astrological “factory setting”.
It’s precisely because it is the factory setting that we can trick ourselves into thinking that’s just “how we are”; that it’s a fixed quality which can’t be altered because we’ve been that way “for as long as we can remember.”
Alas, that’s a common cerebral defense mechanism rooted in our inherent resistance to change. After all, it’s easier to label something as “fixed” (and therefore not in our control) rather than “adjustable” (which means we can do something about it).
An astrologer can — and, in my opinion, should! — suggest how to mitigate challenging aspects in a birth chart. However, as I always remind my clients, while I can speak to the themes, lessons, and issues that need to be addressed, they should seek respective licensed professionals to guide them during that process.
Okay, so the basic energies in our birth chart do not have to control us. Once we gain conscious awareness, we can play around with the knobs to bring balance.
Great. But, what about when an astrologer looks ahead at the next twelve months and provides a glimpse of what’s on the horizon? How can we possibly exercise free will in that scenario?
That’s where I provide “the GPS analogy”.
A GPS assesses the landscape in relation to where you are presently and where you want to go and then suggests the quickest, safest route. It is aware of things that are out of your hands (traffic jams, lane closings, and detours) and suggests the best way to navigate them.
That, in essence, is what an astrologer does when they look at the astrological cycles that are at play in your chart over the next year.
Your chart may show that the next year will largely be dominated by a nine month-long conjunction of transiting Uranus to your natal Midheaven (in other words, over the next nine months, Uranus will be in the same part of the sky where your Midheaven was at your time of birth).
Without a doubt, this is a transit that will rock your career, public reputation, and/or vocation. You can expect disruptions, sudden changes, and even out-of-the-blue developments.
It’s important to note that the nature of that change (a sudden big-time promotion is very different from your position suddenly being eliminated) depends on other factors in the chart (concurrent progressions, solar arcs, and the nature of that year’s solar return will yield clues).
Regardless of whether this transit brings opportunities or challenges, remember that astrology simply presents situations; we choose our reaction. We can choose to accept a promotion or not; we can choose to view the elimination of our position at work as an opportunity to try something new or to become bitter and look for external blame.
Every planetary transit ultimately imparts a lesson. Uranus transits teach us to adapt and remain flexible. You can choose to cling to the status quo during a Uranus transit, but that’s as advisable as sticking to your plans to host a barbecue in your backyard when the weather forecast changes from partly cloudy skies to a torrential downpour. No one is stopping you from going outside and lighting up the grill; you just won’t have a good time (or guests).
Okay, so free will also applies to transits and forecasts.
But, but, but… what about global astrological influences?
For example: the January 2020 Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn which, in astrology circles, was long-predicted to be a time of significant changes in global business and governments? How much free will can there be when it was obvious that these two planets getting together would dismantle existing economic structures and collapse foundations?
Well, I see it as another example of astrological aspects bringing issues to light which we then have free will to address as we choose.
This particular aspect is showing the many longstanding structures — political, economic, social, etc — that are no longer sustainable because their foundations are crumbling and beyond repair. The cosmic “nudge” created by the January 2020 Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn is to acknowledge that these structures are outdated and build new ones.
However, that is merely a suggestion that requires human awareness and action to become reality.
Like any other transit, Saturn and Pluto’s conjunction in Capricorn simply brings up an issue; it does not “guarantee” that we’ll take the suggested course of action (the GPS equivalent of the quickest, most efficient, and safest route).
This, of course, is where astrological guidance comes in. Any astrologer would wince at the suggestion that the solution lies in trying to patch up the old foundation or, even worse, rebuilding something by utilizing the same old blueprints.
As renowned astrologer Alan Oken once wrote: “you can transform an astrological lemon of a chart into terrestrial lemonade. The ‘sugar’ is consciousness.”