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Astrology and Free Will

Astrology and Free Will

May 2, 2022 | 629 words | Philosophy, Psychology

Astrology doesn’t have many defenders these days, and with good reason.  The idea of a horoscope that can predict your future based on the month you were born and your “sun sign” is more than a little far-fetched.  The very thought strikes most reasonable people as silly, and a complete waste of time.

What’s more, passively giving one’s future over to the fates seems to violate the concept of self-determination and free will that most intelligent, rational people hold in high esteem.  As the poet tells us, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

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There are a couple of things wrong with this common dismissal of the superficial, sun-sign version of Astrology.  For starters, it fails to take the other planets (and the Earth’s moon), and their placement at the time of a person’s birth, into account.  It also makes no reckoning of the twelve houses that comprise each person’s “chart” at the time of their birth.

By way of example, just staying with the simplistic sun-sign version of Astrology, a person with their Sun in Virgo in the eighth house has quite a different outlook on life than another person whose Sun is also in Virgo, but in the third house.

But as I say this simplistic sun-sign version doesn’t begin to take into account the other planets and what signs they’re in, and in which house they appear.  It is the relationship between all these planets and signs and houses at the time of one’s birth that can provide valuable insight into one’s essential nature.

That’s all Astrology has even been to me:  not so much a predictor of future events, but a window into one’s soul.  It’s about understanding one’s predispositions and tendencies.  These are the things we come into this world with.  They are hard-wired into our DNA.

But it requires a skilled practitioner to conduct such an analysis and provide such insight.  There are books that can tell you what this planet in this sign in this house may indicate.  But it takes a wise man or woman to integrate all that information and yield an insightful portrait of a given individual.

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Needless to say, such skilled practitioners are few and far between.  I was lucky enough to bump into such a person early in my twenties.  

The gentleman in question was once a concert pianist who gave up the stage due to debilitating asthma.  By the time I encountered him during my one-and-only year of college, he was well into his second career as a French professor.  I had him for two semesters.  He got a kick out of my little essays in beginner’s French and gave me good grades.  After I dropped out of school we kept in touch, and eventually he “did my chart.”  In discussing its many placements and conjunctions and oppositions over the course of a few meetings, he did note a couple of bright spots.  But mostly he told me a lot of things about my emotional/psychological make-up that were hard to hear.

And that’s the thing about Astrology.  Like any worthwhile system of character analysis, it’s not just a matter of basking in the glow of one’s particular strengths.  Or gaining permission to sort of give in and accept one’s less-than-ideal predispositions and tendencies.  Knowing oneself should extend to using that knowledge in an attempt to improve upon certain less-than-favorable aspects of one’s character and personality, in the hope of becoming a better person.

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Freud, Jung, Abraham Maslow, Fritz Perls – these are all people who tried to map out human consciousness and discern the complexities of the intellect and emotions.  In-depth Astrology, in the right hands, can be another such detailed map of consciousness.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr

May 2, 2022

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