Astrology gets a bit of a bad rap in many ways – usually either because the fairly trite, Sun sign horoscopes you get in newspapers and magazines and the like often seem wildly inaccurate or because people can’t see how our lives could be influenced by planets and stars – and if they are it seems uncomfortably like our lives are predestined and there is no room for free will.
Over the years (I’ve been informally studying astrology for about 16 years now) I have wondered about these issues myself, seeing that there are correlations between the movements of the planets and developments in my life, the exact form those developments take though is never entirely predictable beforehand. To me it seems less like there is some sort of causal connection between the planets and myself which means they can make something happen and more like they are a reflection of my life and I learn to read into them the meanings and movements that are important for me.
I certainly have seen that there are strong links between an individual’s personality and the way the planets were arranged at the time of birth – not in a definitive kind of way, but in a descriptive kind of way. Again, it seems as though there is a reflective relationship between the two rather than a causal relationship.
I know there are very talented astrologers who dedicate their lives to honing the techniques of predictive astrology, and often they can be incredibly accurate. At the same time there are psychological astrologers who can give enormously accurate and insightful readings regarding a person’s character, their motivations, loves and fears. But both these approaches seem to me to lock the individual into a rather one dimensional relationship with the world and their own birth chart – either it’s ‘out there’ and get the techniques right and everything in your life can be accurately predicted, no surprises, no upsets, no opportunity for development or change. Or the relationship is internal, in the psychology of the individual with little power to impact on the world ‘out there’ the only real opportunities being in getting an ever clearer view of the internal working of one’s own mind. It’s a case of astrology meets the Cartesian split, and it doesn’t come off very well.
Reading Thomas Moore’s ‘Care of the Soul’ and Robert Sardello’s ‘Facing the World with Soul’ has encouraged me to clarify my own experiences and perspectives about astrology and come to understand why it is I like it so much. Both these books are concerned with repairing the Cartesian split, re-introducing us to a multi-dimensional world, one in which there is a connection between ‘in here’ and ‘out there’ and soul exists not just as some ephemeral quality of an individual but as a quality of the world we are interacting with.
For me as an astrologer this means that the reflective relationship between the self and the planets can be used as a means of spiritual development – understanding when to do internal work and when to act in the world outside, getting the balance right. For instance the recent retrogrades indicate a time that is good for internal, spiritual reflection and work, but once there is direct motion it’s time to make it real, to make it happen in the world around us. By focusing on the development of this spiritual relationship between internal and external and viewing the movements of the planets as part of that reflective relationship allows free will to exist at the centre of any astrological understanding. This life isn’t being done to you, you are living it, a reflection helps you to see how you are living it. I have found that by adopting this approach birth charts often become of diminishing use as the patterns we are born into become a springboard rather than a cage – readings of all kinds become less and less accurate and the potential for growth and development becomes infinite and consciously self-regulated, defined by a cooperative and flowing relationship between the inner and outer worlds rather than one of separation, conflict and opposition.
In my writings here I reflect upon the movements of the planets and so on, the symbolism they hold, the stories that can be told. None of this will tell you what will happen to you, it will simply give a means to reflect, to wonder about your own life, what characters you play and how you can strengthen the relationship between your internal world of thoughts and feelings and the external world of things and events. What happens next is up to you.