The purpose of this article is to assess the philosophical and practical premises on which our general Astrological techniques are based, in order for us to begin to answer questions like ‘How Astrology Works?’ or ‘Why Astrology Works?’
The Most Common Myth in Astrology today
First of all, I would like to begin by debunking one of the most common preconceptions in Modern Astrology, namely that the Planets or Stars influence our lives.
Although Astrologers have been trying for nearly two thousand years (see Where Astrology came from) to find a causal relationship between the movement of the stars in the heavens and our lives on earth in order to give this esoteric practice a sort of “scientific” legitimacy that is considered necessary by modern standards, this causal relationship does not exist, since this belief was not there when Sumerian Astrologer Priests/Astronomers thought of Astrology.
There is no clear way to actually debunk (debunking itself is a scientific endeavor…) this hypothesis, but the fact that it is a later addition to Astrology in an attempt to make Astrology more like a ‘science’, should be a sufficient argument to raise at least some doubts about it…
Ad you will see, the answers to Why and How Astrology works lead us through a very deep rabbit whole.
The Real Core Concept of Astrology
`How does Astrology work, then?` you will ask. The only viable answer, and the fundamental premise that I believe ancient philosophers started from when they developed the theoretical foundation of Astrology, is that:
The stars simply ‘talk’ about our lives, describe our existence in symbolic terms, in a language which can be described through the laws of planetary movements.
In other words, the movement of the stars on the celestial vault is a kind of ‘subtitle‘ of the film of our existence. Astrology thus, if anything, shows the trends and consequences dictated by our decisions and choices in response to the trials and different experiences of our lives.
Further on, Astrology teaches us to take responsibility for our lives, and for our choices. So, Saturn is not responsible for my difficulties in relationships, for example, but it shows me a pattern that I live and repeat, whose causes are deeply hidden in my soul and my psyche. Saturn shows me the way I have to go to investigate this subject, to become aware of the deep causes and to be able to work on them.
Is there ultimately Free Will or is it all Predestination?
The ramifications of this question lie far in the territory of philosophy, but if I were to give a simple answer, I would say that both exist. There is both free will AND Predestination. The difference between them is at the level of awareness that we have in the decisions that we make in our lives that have a major impact on our development as individuals.
In other words, the higher the level of awareness, the more we are aware of the factors involved in the decisions we take and we are able to build our destiny in the direction that we want.
Otherwise, if we do not make an effort toward consciousness, the decisions we take remain under the influence of the unconscious forces in our psyche that move us in the different directions indicated by the “destiny” that was destined for us at the time of birth. This destiny is the one indicated by the Astrological map, the basic potential, the general directions to which life moves during our existence.
The Nautical Metaphor for Life, Destiny & Free Will
If we use a nautical metaphor, as the Greek philosophers once did, Man is like a ship that moves on the great cosmic ocean. The wind that inflates its sails is Life itself. Like any other, this ship has a complex crew composed of the planets of the natal map, where each one has its function and duties that it fulfills to the best of its abilities. This last distinction is very important and we should keep it in mind.
The stars who occupy the most powerful positions in your map occupy the most important functions in the ship’s hierarchy, as it is normal. The most skillful sailor should be the Captain of the ship.
Moreover, the chances of the ship to get as far as possible in this cosmic journey depend on the specific abilities of all sailors. Thus, depending on the zodiac power / ability of the planet that governs the direction / course of the ship, we can distinguish how far and where the Native will arrive on his journey, and so on. Incidentally or not, this very metaphor was used by ancient astrologers to investigate the native’s basic potential.
However, since Man is endowed with the ability to become conscious and raise his awareness level, to understand the depths of his decisions, thoughts and behaviors, he has the power to alter or set a new course for the ship of his life other than the original one, or he can choose to follow the original course to the end. This is what we will call Free Will.
This formulation of “choosing the course of life” is very important and constitutes one of the fundamental principles that I am following in my astrological practice.
Who chooses our Destiny?
I believe that before we are born, WE are already setting a course for our current existence at the moment when we “choose” the right moment of our birth for the particular theme of life that we choose.
It is only here that for the first time in all my years of astrological study I have found a way in which the concepts of Destiny and Free Will can be successfully intertwined, by admitting as true the hypothesis that our Souls choose these lives before being born.
In other words, the Destiny is the one we choose at birth, while Free Will is the degree or level of awareness achieved in this life that allows you to understand the nuances of the chosen destiny, the causes that lead to its fulfillment and which also allow you to understand that you have the power to alter the initial course if you want it.
In the end, it all comes down to a very simple idea, another fundamental premise on which all philosophy and astrological practice is based: “Know yourself, and you will know the Universe and the Gods.“
The same idea was at the basis of the great philosophical schools of antiquity and is the true goal of Astrology and related arts. Everything around us is meant to help us become aware of both our outer reality and our inner reality. This is what the Cosmic Mind expects from conscious beings.
What is important to remember is that as long as we do not make the effort to become aware of our lives, we follow the course already defined by ourselves at birth as a safety measure, for lack of a better term, that we can then discover in the stars to guide us … or to help us reach new heights, or new destinations.
Why Does Astrology work, after all?
When we are asking this question, we are actually asking:
Is there a relationship between the Solar System with its planets and the constellations/stars in our immediate vicinity in the Universe and Our Lives on Earth, a tiny pebble among the trillion of trillions of other pebbles in the Universe?
The simple answer is:
There is NO causal relationship between Stars, Constellations, Planets and Man, not a direct one, nor an indirect one, but that doesn’t mean that Astrology doesn’t work if we can’t find a ‘scientific’ reason behind it. More to the point, I argue that Astrology works because it relies on metaphysical, rather than physical-causal, principles that integrate Language, Symbols, Mind, Imagination, Divine Inspiration, Soul, Destiny and Free Will.
Astrology as a Cosmic Language
If we go back to the Astrological language that we mentioned earlier, we will immediately arrive at the concept of the Cosmic Mind of God, which is where this and any other Language ultimatelty unfolds.
I believe that Astrology works because it is based on a symbolic language, even one creates by the Human Mind; and this symbolic language is animated by the Cosmic Mind of which our own Minds are a part of and with which we can only communicate through symbols.
This is also the core teaching of the Hermetic writings, based on platonic, pythagorean and neo-pythagorean thinking
Astrology then ultimately rests on a Language of Symbolic frameworks (planets, zodiac, houses, etc.) invented by the Human Mind and Imagination through Divine Inspiration and Assistance from the Cosmic Mind, under the assumption that this language system that we create with our Minds and Imagination and impose upon the Cosmos comes to life, takes form and and actually describes our existence, in terms of Destiny, Free Will, and probable destinations.
And in so doing, as human beings endowed with Consciousness – which is ultimately a god-state of being, we become aware of our cosmic roles and the Cosmic Mind becomes aware of us.
Astrology in its purest form, does not ‘work’ by any technical or scientific definition, but it is rather an expression of Man’s quest for meaning in an infinite Cosmos. Even if there is no such abstract concept as Meaning or Destiny in the Universe, the implication of Astrology is that we can and will create it for ourselves.
Astrology is not the only path to the Cosmos, but it is certainly a path with a history of more than 5,000 years and a rich tradition marked by some of the most brilliant minds of humanity. Significantly, therefore, is not that the movements of the stars may or may not have a meaning that can be revealed through astrological techniques, but that our very existence has meaning.
The wind that pushes forward our Ship on the Cosmic Ocean is the Cosmic Mind, Divine Force, Universal Intelligence, God, or any other name you want to give it. The fact that Life goes forward is the invisible impulse of this divine force. The final destination is not set or written anywhere but is created every moment, every step we make going forward. Destiny, in the end, is a journey.
This theoretical and conceptual model for why and how Astrology works is perhaps the first model that I have come up with up until now that covers satisfactorily much of the philosophical and theoretical constraints imposed by such a study. It is not a perfect model, but I think that we have finally come to a good starting point in the study and philosophical implications of Astrological practice.
Finally, the answer whether or not Astrology works or not is intimately linked to our (spiritual) worldview of life in general, and whether or not it has intrinsic value and meaning. The final question really is:
Do entities (plants, animals, men or aliens) truly have a Soul that embarks on a spiritual journey? It is a truly unanswerable question, because its domain simply exceeds our capacity for understanding.