During and after the “Enlightenment,” predictive astrology lost favor as a respected craft. One of the reasons for this is that predictive astrology contradicted Enlightenment notions of Free Will. How can one predict anything, particularly in a Nativity chart, when we all have Free Will to be whatever we want to be? This is likely a particularly popular argument in the United States, where children are taught things like, “America is the land of opportunity,” and “every kid can grow up to be the President.”
The problem is that in the West, the traditional concept of Free Will has been misunderstood for some time. The crux of the difficulty is mistaking freedom of choice for freedom of action. We may not always have freedom of action, but we always have freedom of choice.
In order to explain the traditional concept of Free Will, it becomes helpful to look at the symbol of the Cross. While Christianity has adopted the Cross as its symbol, the Cross long predates Christianity, and it is a primordial symbol. On one level, the Cross is the symbol of the material world. It is one of the three symbols that are used in the glyphs for the planets. The other two are the Circle and the Crescent. Actually, the symbol of the Cross makes sense for Christianity, in the belief that the Divine became incarnate in a living human being.
If one looks deeper into the symbolism of the Cross, one will see that it is made up of a horizontal line with a vertical line intersecting. The horizontal line represents our life on the material plane. This is our day to day physical existence. The vertical intercepting line represents an upward or downward path. Humans are Axial Beings. This means that we are at the center or the axis of the cross. As Axial Beings, we have the choice to live at the level of physical existence. Animals live at this level of existence. This is not our only choice though. We can choose to live at a higher level of existence. This level has nothing to do with physical wealth or success. This level is choosing a higher spiritual life, or listening to our “higher angels.” We can also choose to live at a lower level of existence. We can succumb to our “demons,” as it were (humans are capable of evil that animals – literally – cannot dream of). In popular culture, there is the image of a little angel and a little devil sitting on our shoulders, both whispering in our ears.
This is the essence of the traditional notion of Free Will, the day to day choice between the purely material, our “higher angels,” and our “demons.” The traditional notion of Free Will was not freedom to do what one wants on the material plane. The notion of individual freedom of action, in this sense, is quite out of place. There is no real word in English to really explain this concept, so I will borrow a word from Japanese. The word is wa. The rough translation of wa is harmony, but a harmony beyond music. This is the harmony of the heavens that is transmitted to Earth and governs everything from day to day routines to social relationships to spiritual rituals. Wa governs everything. The opposite of wa is fuwa, which is disruption of the celestial harmony.
The concept of wa is quite similar to the doctrine of the Music of the Spheres in astrology. In a sense, astrology is being able to read and listen to this celestial music. We are born with a particular part to play in the Music of the Spheres. In a traditional society, we would generally know our part and be raised to sing or play that part. Few of us reading this will have ever lived in a traditional society, so we can use all of the help we can get to learn to play or sing our part. A good guide (who could be an astrologer) could help one find her natural wa, can point the way to the path of learning to excel at her part in the Celestial Music and can warn her of temptations that may lead her to the lower path, or to fuwa. So, in a large sense, such guidance not only does not negate Free Will, but it helps one to exercise her Free Will.
A good astrologer should be able to predict with reasonable accuracy events on the material plane. Most people, most of the time, will operate on the horizontal plane of existence. In other words, we tend to do what comes naturally to us. With a Nativity Chart, one can also predict with reasonable accuracy the areas of one’s life where she is most open to the guidance of the angels, and where she is more likely to be tempted by her “demons.” What cannot be predicted, though, is whether a person will actually listen to the angel or the devil on her shoulder. That choice can sometimes be a day by day choice. This is really what is meant by Free Will.
Here is a concrete example. One can predict that a person is likely to be quite irritable on a given day. One can even predict that it would be likely she would have a fight with her spouse. If she is aware of the celestial influence, she might be wise enough to go to bed early or go out to the gym to work off her excess martial energy. If she is unaware or does not manage to avoid the conflict, and a conflict ensues, there are still choices. She could choose to apologize quickly and reconcile with her spouse, she could keep the fight going for days, or she could let the fight escalate to the point of a divorce with her spouse. One can predict the potential for conflict, but one can not predict the actual choice she (or her spouse) will make in response to it.
Interestingly enough, as I mentioned above, the modern scientific world view in many ways negates this Free Will. One example of this is the scientific notion that we are merely animals, or that we are on the same level of existence as animals, and that our actions and behaviors are governed by chemicals and biology. This would mean that, like animals, we are not able to rise above or fall below than our horizontal, physical existence.* Another example of a modern theory that seems to deny Free Will is the concept of “infinite universes.” In this theory, every time anyone makes a choice, a new universe is created. In the above example of the potential fight with the spouse, each of those choices has been made, with each of these choices creating a different universe. If you think about this, this would mean that we really do not have choice. For every choice that we make, an alternate of us has made every other choice possible. This does not seem consistent with the doctrine of Free Will or with our place as Axial Beings.
If one thinks about it, the traditional doctrine of Free Will does allow for far more freedom than the materialistic notion of being able to “do whatever we want.” Most of us are limited in many ways, by financial status, by health, by class, by education, by natural ability, by age, or by many other factors, in our means to do “what we want.” Yet, no matter our circumstances, we can always choose the purely material, our higher angels, or our demons at any time and at any point in our lives. No matter how limited our freedom of action is, we always have freedom of choice.
*Actually animals *can* rise above or fall below their horizontal physical existence as well, but it is rare. An example that has been passed down to this author from a respected teacher is that of a dog. A dog can rise above her horizontal physical existence by performing an act such as saving the life of her owner or can fall below by going rogue. Still most of the time, a dog is going to just be a dog and will do what comes naturally to her.