The main objection to astrology by skeptics is that such a system threatens the notions of human agency and free will.
If the totality of our personality potential is indicated in the birth chart, then how can we ever grow? Do we really have the power to self-determine, or are we just pawns of a game that we did not design?
If the future is confined to what planets happen to be aspecting our charts, then do we really have any power over anything?
Astrology and other forms of divination may appear fundamentally fatalistic to the casual observer, but upon closer examination, we find that the effect of these psychic arts is liberation, not imprisonment.
Just as an artist is liberated from the chaos of ever-expanding potential by the boundaries of a canvas, astrology frees us by defining the limits. It gives us a sense of the baseline potential for any person or moment, helping us to understand what is within our power to change, and what we would do best to honor, accept and adapt to.
To some degree, your essential character is inborn, as we can see in the natural gravitation of children to some activities over others. You enter into life with certain preferences, affinities, talents, and temperamental inclinations over which you have no say.
What is under your control, however, is the level of consciousness you bring these energies to, and the degree to which you balance or integrate them with the other elements of your personality.
Every celestial body represents a fundamental feature of the human mind, the totality of which comprises the whole human psyche. Everyone has a particular way of expressing aggressive energy (Mars), and everyone has a style of connecting or relating to others (Venus). Everyone has instinctive security needs (Moon), and everyone has an ambition of one sort or another (Sun).
You come into this world “pre-programmed” to express these psychological impulses in a certain style. No one would deny this, as it is obvious that some people are innately gratified by a level of variability and change that would terrify another who thrives through constancy and security. Some are natural warriors while others live to please and accommodate.
Our strongest inclinations, however, do not make for a balanced personality. Over the course of life, our task as human beings is to balance, regulate and exalt our primitive natures through attempting to find wholeness. We must bring all of our planetary placements to birth— not just the ones we more prefer.
Each of us tends to let some of our planets speak more loudly than others. There are modes of activity or spheres of action that we feel more comfortable in, and there are aspects of our own personalities that we find uncomfortable, scary, or which we disapprove of.
These disowned planetary placements are often projected onto friends or mates; we are attracted to people who embody the qualities that belong to us but which we have difficulty integrating into our own personalities.
As Within So Without
A disintegrated planet can only be ignored for so long before it forcefully demands our attention. Upon this, esotericists and psychologists converge. The great psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, wrote: “When a situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
In practical, worldly terms, it is easy to recognize the truth of this. If we ignore our problems, deny our feelings, or go along with something when we know we should not for a sustained period of time, eventually the situation will careen out of control until we are forced to contend with reality.
It is as though there is an elephant in the room that we are ignoring, who is growing larger and larger the longer we ignore it. Soon our entire lives revolve around the avoidance of looking at the gigantic elephant. It takes a great deal of effort to keep ourselves from seeing it.
Denial or suppression of truth destabilizes the situation from underneath until eventually the truth bursts into the open. Such an explosion can be quite calamitous, leaving marriages, friendships, careers, finances, and even physical health in its wake.
The same principle applies to any planetary placement in the birth chart. If you disown some aspect of your nature or try to be something that you are not, this unlived part of your nature will come knocking at your door until you let it in.
This can be an unpleasant experience. A relationship ending badly may expose an emotional need you have been denying or the way that you have been trying to suppress your real feelings. Being laid off from a job may force you to face the fact that you have been pursuing a career that you don’t even like and running away from a pursuit you’ve always secretly dreamed about. A health problem may force you to closely examine your lifestyle habits and recognize how you’ve been suppressing powerful emotions or creative energy with food, alcohol, or drugs.
Take Life by the Cosmic Horns
When we embrace planetary aspects rather than denying, suppressing, or fighting them, we move from bondage back into freedom. We realize that these are needs that must be honored and gratified somewhere in our lives, and we find avenues for their expression.
Some astrologers apply this principle even to transits. If you look ahead into your horoscope and see that you have a difficult Saturn transit coming up in your 7th house, rather than fretfully anticipating difficulty in your closely committed relationship, you can choose to proactively get to work resolving the long-standing issues that you are already aware obtain in your partnerships.
Rather than waiting for Saturn to reveal the weak links in your chain through painful constriction, assume this responsibility yourself. If the time is going to be characterized by this theme anyway, you may as well state the terms and get up ahead of any issue. In this way, you forego the necessity of an unpleasant, cataclysmic revelation.
You are not born into a totally formless world; you are born into a world that has assumed a certain shape, but which is your pleasure to modify if you align yourself with it properly. Your nature is the same way. This is the answer to the question: “Am I ruled by fate or free will?”
The truth is, fate is that which you have not yet applied your free will to. Take ownership of the task of bringing the disintegrated aspects of yourself into the fold of your conscious personality, and you become the one driving the wheel of fate.