I sat down with Megan Mastel for an episode of Hearthspeak podcast, a wonderful, deeply considered project. We talked around the basic uses of astrology and how astrology has helped me through my life narrative to date, while also shedding light on the times.
I recently received an astrology question that I felt worthy of a fleshed-out answer. So, it’s time for another installment of the Q & A blog series.
Question: I’m not trained in astrology but I’m curious about why it is that astrologers seem to stay fixated on the natal chart? Wouldn’t that just be a snapshot of what you entered this plane of existence with? Or would the progressed chart be more of what you have the opportunity to develop internally?? I’m just thinking about how transit charts are usually drawn up in relation to the natal and not the progressed. You came to mind during these intuitions so I thought I’d ask what your reflections or thoughts are about that.
Answer: I appreciate your thoughtfulness and questioning of convention. The layers of your questions here beg for unpacking. In my astrological pursuits, I’m always trying out ideas to see how/if they work, and really I would recommend you do the same here. Try comparing transiting planets to your progressed chart, and see if something clicks. Certainly it won’t work the same as transiting planets around the natal chart. But perhaps something of value awaits you there.
I look at the progressed chart as an unfolding of a person’s greater life narrative. The energies presented there definitely touch on personal evolution sprung from within, but just like astrology as a whole, they also reflect one’s narrative outside of inner life. I’ve seen health issues culminate and relationships come in, as well as rises to prominence and shifts into hermitude in progressed charts. My main resource on how to approach progressed charts is Bernadette Brady’s amazing book on predictive astrology The Eagle and the Lark. She is so incredibly thorough and attentive. And I recall her asserting that one’s progressed chart does not receive energetic influence from transiting planets. I had the same curiosity as you, but I decided to blindly trust her. She is so convincing! Or perhaps to give myself some credit, my inner being knew she was right, as I had some feint recollection of experimenting with it myself. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t being pulled to look into this for some reason.
Astrology was not always fixated on the natal chart. It developed very slowly, as the planets facillitated. And most astrologers/astronomers were concerned with the stars’ bearing on their collective/tribe/community moreso than on the individual (this is called “mundane astrology” in current language). I suppose times have changed! The first natal chart was drawn a little over two millenia ago, and now, natal astrology has taken over the entire field, aside from small interest in mundane, horary, and electional astrology. It makes sense, given all of the healing we need on the individual level at this time, perhaps in order to progress into some newly tinted ancient ways of living (it helps me to idealize the future). There is so much work to be done toward healing the planet, but I believe it has to start with the self, otherwise one’s work will be rendered ineffective by their unaddressed pain.
And yes, the natal chart is exactly a “snapshot of what you entered this plane of existence with.” A moment chosen by the higher self. We are born and develop into some version of the being reflected in that soul map, and the fully actualized self is the one who is most integrated with it. Why does it work when we compare transiting energies to this snapshot? Within the current knowledge paradigm, we can’t answer this with certainty. I started studying astrology as a doubter, but very quickly I grew comfortable with its built-in leaps of faith. So, generally, when I’m asked any number of questions about why astrology does this and that, instead of some other thing (and the debate goes on and on, even among astrologers’ nitpicking of techniques and house systems), I tend to encourage exploration. Because a lot of stuff works. And sometimes, a technique clicks and makes sense to one person, while to someone else it’s a jumbled mess. Astrology is a form of divination, and we ourselves are divine. There could be infinite applications! Just seek with reverence and the planets will respond.
I received an e-mail question from a client recently that I found myself answering very thoroughly. Ever since I have been “out” as an astrologer, people have expressed their reservations about an inherent lack of Free Will in astrology. This is part of a bigger problem of astrologers presenting the planets as causing events or feelings, rather than reflecting what is occurring. I could go on about the root of this instinct being lip service to the current patriarchical scientific paradigm of “knowledge”, but let’s just talk about free will, determinism, and astrology for now.
I paraphrase the e-mail quandary regarding astrology and free will:
Sometimes I have a perception of astrology as foretelling things that have already been written with little room for free will. This just isn’t actually very helpful or empowering for me. I’m curious about your approach to a life overview reading, and what your thoughts on free will vs. determinism are.
First off, let me say that I love receiving e-mails like this. E-mail me about your issues or questions with astrology!