Evolutionary Astrology is a relatively new branch of astrology. This branch seems to claim to be able to trace the soul’s journey from incarnation to incarnation, and to determine what a soul is trying to accomplish in this lifetime. This branch also claims to be an astrology about freedom and choice. As a caveat to this article, I have not studied Evolutionary Astrology in depth. My knowledge is based on the introductory materials that can be found on the internet. For this reason, I might be misunderstanding key concepts. My musings are from the perspective of an outside observer only.
Even though I use mostly Classical Western methods, there are things I do find interesting about Evolutionary Astrology, and in many ways, I want to like it. One of the main schools in this branch is led by Steven Forrest. When I was studying astrology in my teens, Steven Forrest’s books, The Inner Sky and The Changing Sky, were some of the mainstays of my self-education. I really like his approach to astrology and his gentle wisdom and humor.
I also like the use of astrology as a tool to aid one’s spiritual journey in this life. I disagree with the methodology of Evolutionary Astrology to the extent that I understand it, but I largely agree with many (but not all) of the core perceptions as outlined on Steven Forrest’s site. While I do really want to like it, there are some things I just can not get past.
Is Evolutionary Astrology Just Another Astrological Language?
Before I continue, there is the question of whether Evolutionary Astrology is simply a new astrological language. If that is the case, as a non-speaker of that language, I really do not have any business commenting at all. It is tempting to go that route. After all, it seems best when we can all just get along.
I think, though, that Evolutionary Astrology really is more than just a different language. By its very nature, it is not just talking about the physical world or people’s inner psychological workings. It is talking about the soul and matters that touch upon Fundamental Truth.
One of the other main founders of Evolutionary Astrology, Jeff Wolf Green, says that he received the basic tenets of this branch from a dream. This is an example of revealed knowledge, further evidence that we are looking at claims concerning Fundamental Truth. This means that this is not just a new astrological language, but a philosophy, and perhaps a religion.
I accept as a given that as beings in an unEnlightened state, our ability to understand Fundamental Truth is limited. Different religions tell different narratives to describe Truth, but none of these narratives are Truth itself. This does not mean that knowledge of these matters is merely a matter of perception and opinion, though. When looking at matters of Fundamental Truth, there are ideas that are in error. Thus, I am examining the philosophy behind Evolutionary Astrology, as I understand it, from a Traditional perspective.
The Name, Evolutionary Astrology
The first difficulty I have is the name itself. From a Traditional perspective, the direction of manifestation is decline, not progress. The word, evolution, means moving away from the Center. The main philosophy behind Evolutionary Astrology is that our souls incarnate from lifetime to lifetime, and that the birthchart can tell the “evolutionary condition” at the state of birth.
I do believe in reincarnation, or transmigration of souls, but my belief is closer to the Vedic and Buddhist traditions, in which this transmigration is part of the Wheel of Samsara. The ultimate goal of our souls is not to “evolve” on this wheel, but to escape it. Now, of course, it could be that the name of this branch of astrology does not really encompass a belief that our souls are progressing through evolution, but merely addresses why we are still on the Wheel of Samsara. I do not know enough about it to be sure. On the other hand, the Vedic tradition of astrology, which does address matters of Samsara, has been around a long time and is deeply rooted in an unbroken line between guru and student. Is a modern, Western branch of astrology that does the same thing necessary? That is really a question, by the way. I do not know the answer.
My biggest fundamental difficulty with Evolutionary Astrology comes from the heavy use of the dwarf planet, Pluto. Evolutionary Astrology claims that the sign and house position of Pluto is fundamental to understanding the soul’s purpose in this life.
This claim is going beyond saying the Pluto has impact on our lives, which I think is possible. It is even going beyond giving Pluto rulership of the sign, Scorpio, which I think is false and a disruption of the entire system. This seems to be going so far as to elevate Pluto above the level of the Traditional planets on a spiritual level. Indeed, one of the current schools of Evolutionary Astrology is called “The Pluto School.”
This elevation is not just a matter of technique by which reasonable astrologers might disagree. This is stating something about the nature of Fundamental Truth, and as such, needs to be carefully examined. I have come to see Pluto as representative of the poison of deformation or inversion of right and wrong, so this elevation of Pluto seems particularly troublesome to me.
Another difficulty is that Pluto was not discovered until 1930. Does that mean that we did not have access to information about the state of our souls until that time? This, more than anything, would seem to be to be a fatal flaw in the system.
On the other hand, according to Platonic and Eastern Traditions, we are currently in the late Iron Age, or Kali Yuga. This is the end of a larger cycle, and our souls could very well be using this lifetime to clean up old werde or karma before the next Golden Age begins. As such, we may need to deal with unsavory elements from our past lives, I do not know. If that were the case, perhaps we did not need to look at Plutonian issues until recently.
Still, from what I have seen, Evolutionary Astrology goes into areas of much complexity, and I wonder how useful and necessary this really is. Indeed, my own feeling is that being in the late Iron Age is all the more reason not to delve into such deep and dark complex matters.
In my own spiritual tradition, we are taught to turn away from these sorts of complexities as much as we can. In the Cry Marya, from the Gospel of Our Mother God, it is written, “All the complexities of the world are but the turnings of a labyrinth, and at the centre is the fiery rose-heart of our Mother, burning with perfect love.” We are taught that in this late Age, all that is required of us is to turn to Our Mother like humble, small children. We are assured that She will make up for any deficiencies in our devotion.
Fate and Free Will
Another difficulty I have with Evolutionary Astrology is what seems to me a rather extreme position on the question of fate and free will. One of the core perceptions of Evolutionary Astrology as outlined on Steven Forrest’s site is: “An acceptance of the fact that human beings are responsible for the realities they experience, both internally and externally.”
I am a strong believer in Free Will, and I have a lot of difficulty with Traditional/Classical Astrologers who take a mechanical and fatalistic approach to our craft. On the other hand, I do not believe that Free Will necessarily means the freedom of agency with respect to our material existence. If that were the case, it would seem to lead to some rather harsh results.
For example, what about children who are born into horribly abusive households or into extreme poverty? Are they responsible for their plight? In some traditions, including the Vedic one, the answer might be yes, because of misdeeds from a previous life. In the Buddhist tradition, all of life is suffering, and these situations just represent more obvious forms.
The problem of human suffering is particularly difficult for monotheistic faiths. Indeed, there is the old monotheistic paradox that if God were all-powerful, God can not be good, and if God were good, God can not be all-powerful. The issue of suffering is directly addressed in the Judeo-Christian written tradition in the Book of Job. There is also the famous question in the Christian tradition from the Gospel According to John, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2 NRSV
In the Filianic tradition, suffering is part of the necessary imperfection of manifestation, and it is beyond our power to fully comprehend from an unEnlightened state. We do not always have freedom of action or agency on the material plane. We do, however, have absolute Free Will in whether to turn to the Light or to the Dark, regardless of our material circumstances. This may or may not change anything in the physical world, but our choices will have a direct and clear impact on our souls.
On a material level, there are areas we have choice and areas we do not. I think it unnecessarily harsh to say that we are responsible for everything we experience.
The Moon’s Nodes
In Evolutionary Astrology, the Moon’s Nodes represent the life path of the native. The South Node represents where we are coming from and the North Node represents where we are going.
In Classical/Traditional Astrology, there is no consensus as to the meaning of the Nodes. In Vedic Astrology, the Nodes are the Head and Tail of the Dragon, Rahu and Ketu, respectively. Both are considered malefic.
In my own practice, I have not seen an appreciable difference between the North and South Nodes, and I tend to view both as malefic. They are the places that eclipses form. I see eclipses as waves of darkness over the world soul. I do believe they have a karmic influence, but not necessarily on the level of individual souls. I think they represent collective karma, and the place they touch our charts is where our individual souls connect with or are impacted by the world soul. I think this is particularly true for those born during or whose charts progress into eclipse seasons. This is not a Traditional approach, but one that I developed in my own experience and practice.
There are things that I like about Evolutionary Astrology, in particular, the practice of using astrology to assist with the development of the soul. It seems to be a popular branch of astrology in this day and age, and I can see how it can be helpful to people. On the other hand, I find some of the techniques and practices problematic, especially the elevation of Pluto and what seems to be an extreme position on the question of Fate and Free Will. These techniques and practices raise important issues with respect to the philosophy of astrology and delve into matters that relate to Fundamental Truth.