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Fate, Free Will, and Astrology

Fate, Free Will, and Astrology

Fate, Free Will, and AstrologyIn this episode astrologer Mark Jones joins the show to discuss some philosophical issues related to astrology, and different arguments that astrologers have about its implications for fate and free will.

During the course of the show Mark and I talk about topics such as the extent to which astrology implies that people’s lives are determined, fate as an external versus an internal force, and whether astrology is a perfect or imperfect system.

 For more information about Mark please visit his website at PlutoSchool.com.

Below you will find an outline of some of the different topics that we touched on during the course of the show, followed by links to download or stream the recording.

Show Notes

  • Controversial statement to begin with: there is no real approach to astrology that involves us having 100% free will, because the basic premise of astrology is that there is *something* about our lives that is predetermined, however broadly.
  • I usually frame this debate on a spectrum from complete determinism to partial determinism.
  • Should fate necessarily be conceptualized as something that is negative or bad?
    • Are there positive versions or expressions of the fate concept?
  • Internal fate versus external fate.
  • Meaning and purpose being associated with fate, chaos and purposelessness associated with free will.
  • Do the techniques that an astrologer uses impact their views on fate?
  • Can things still be completely predetermined even if astrology isn’t capable of fully describing everything about a person’s fate?
    • Is it an imperfect system?
    • Or it is a perfect system that simply has too many variables for one astrologer to fully understand and know about at any given time.
  • Does one level of consciousness or spiritual evolution dictate the degree of fate?
  • The Secret, the law of attraction, and the externalization of internal dynamics.


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 48 transcript

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  • Bravo – very satisfying discussion, very affirming. We have a need for meaning – or at the very least, to share our existential anxiety surrounding that theme, so thank you. This is I imagine, why we love to entertain the possibility of pre-destination, and within that context, our free will.. Assigning meaning relieves existential anxiety – and paradoxically, so does giving up the need to know – to simply live. So why follow the stars then, why study astrology? Because it is fun ! It satisfies on many levels, and because it is a common language to share this obviously pre-destined (instinctual) need to survive. Some of us care about helping others on this journey – some of us destroy and are self-destructive. We don’t need to know why – we just need to know what is – what helps, what doesn’t. On that note, the book The Secret, is not helpful – it is simplistic and dangerous even. I was handed this book when diagnosed with cancer years ago and was deeply insulted – I threw it away along with the movie. In the middle of a treatment that saved my life I was reading the story from a woman who claimed her breast cancer was healed by her ability to will it so. Ridiculous. Miracles do happen yes, but to put this kind of information out to the public as a way to encourage not accepting medical treatment was entirely irresponsible and ignorant. Rubbish. Having said that – common sense tells us that smiling at another will bring more good will than a bad attitude – we will get more cooperation – attract more to us. This does not mean we attracted our cancer. That idea (judgement) is also not helpful and ignorant.
    Very important i think to not read the chart rigidly, but rather as a blueprint of potential and tendencies. Richard Tarnas has said we bring the meaning to the moment – to the symbol – and in the words of John Lennon, “Whatever gets you through the night s’ alright…”. Astrology gets me through the night., it is a powerful tool of contemplation and is soothing. I insist on my suffering having meaning because I have a will to live. It is that simple. The creator (free will) in us figures out how to work with the apparent predestination – or at the very least, the occurrence of what is.

  • Marvelous show to listen to while washing dishes and putting up groceries. Suppose you know in advance a difficult aspect is coming up. This allows you to be more prepared and cautious when the time comes. As opposed to not knowing and blundering unknowingly into a situation like an accident which could have extreme consequences. In some accident scenarios a mere second or two can sway the outcome. So does knowing your chart expand your free will to act in difficult circumstances toward a positive outcome? Astrology provides a framework for experiencing reality that can be a map, a philosophy and/or a creative art. Also works to let you predict there will be a traffic pileup on the way to the grocery store and allows you to choose to take another route.

  • I wonder how the conversation changes when we look at astrology as a form of divination…how does the conversation of fate/free will shift when we see astrology as a form of divination rather than a kind of spiritual, karmic, behavioral, psychological or deterministic science? Because throughout this conversation I felt that the question of fate and free will was taking place within an idea of astrology that presupposes the importance of the fate/free will problem more than a divinatory point of view would take it from the get go. I would love to hear a podcast on the same topic but introducing the idea of astrology as primarily divinatory in nature. I think the benefits of this viewpoint are many..for both psychological or evolutionary astrologers as well as traditional astrologers.

    • I’m hoping to interview Geoffrey Cornelius in November, so hopefully we can tackle that topic then. Remember though that the Stoics practiced and advocated divination, so it is possible to believe in astrology as divination and still have a fully deterministic worldview. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

  • A wonderful & very thought provoking discussion.
    I infinitely prefer this kind of candid interactions as they tackle issues that are far deeper & more important to the search for meaning.
    Hope there are more like this & the first one (Podcast 42, August 11) between you to look forward to.
    Congratulations both of you.

  • Very dynamic and interesting discussion. I hope that the next one includes whether one can detect one’s amount of free will in the chart itself. There certainly seem to be people who have more of it – self-help gurus, people who practice laws of manifestation, or simply people who seem in control of their fate for no particular reason at all. Whereas for others nno discipline seems to work and can in fact backfire, and even otherwise great placements or transits seem to just pass by, ephemereally without leaving many footprints.

    It could be that a charrt with more diurnal placements would allow for more free will whereas more noctural emphases would result in waiting for whatever the chart otherwise decides on. It could be matters of the Daimon and Fortune Houses or simply a really good chart. In anycase, I think the issue of free will vs. fate can only be found in the most concrete place that creates the controversy, i.e. astrology.

    Collateral to this is the question of major transits making lasting, life-altering changes vs. being highly charged and intense experiences but making, at most, internal changes that can also feel fleeting or that there’s not really much you can do with them but laugh or cry to yourself. Thank you.

  • Profound and fascinating conversation. I was first drawn to astrology because of the dynamic between fate and free. Thank you for illuminating my understanding of these concepts and taking it to a deeper level. I look forward to the next episode.

  • What an absolutely BRILLIANT lecture – thank you! As an Astrologer just starting our, initially to manage anxieties over the future and eventually leading to quite a detrimental intellectual obsession, trying to reason out everything with Astrology, I really appreciate the viewpoint where we have to keep it all in check! Remember the mystery of the human spirit instead of trying to pul it all apart intellectually.

    Thank you 🙂 Great advice for just starting out! Love how you put across the Ego Control over Reality issue – trying to explain reality to feel safe. So poignant.

  • Thank you for this – I recently started learning horary astrology after deciding that I could be okay with making a bit of prediction for people and clients but this was a difficult decision for me!

  • Loved this. Where’s Part 2?
    I’m left wondering what Chris’s personal philosophy is? After listening to numerous podcasts there’s seemed to have been a clear avoidance, reluctance or distance from a spiritual orientation as such (I mean for Chris personally)…, and a hint of scepticism, yet an intellectual openness to other ideas. Your frequent use of electional charts seems to indicate an emphasis on fate, perhaps?
    Are you a Stoic?

  • This is the most important discussion I have heard so far on this podcast. I’m new to astrology and I hope you will entertain my thoughts for that very reason. It sounds like astrologers might be setting themselves up for a fall if they try to explain away every little thing as predetermined. Even modern science with its controlled experiments is often proven wrong and must correct course. Life is complex, variables are everywhere, and humans have the gifts of creativity and reason.

    I understand that one of the main goals of astrology is to point out to people their strengths in an effort to help them live a more confident and fulfilling life. But in the end, whether or not they actually explore latent or underdeveloped talents is a matter of choice.

    Think also about all the lives seatbelts have saved. And how many charts must have been outsmarted by that one invention (including everyone connected to these lives). Was that all fated? I don’t think so.. I believe we are exercising free will when we buckle up.

    What about victims of the holocaust? Did all their charts foresee such a horrific and premature death? I doubt it. Those individuals were most certainly stripped of free will and suffered in the worst possible way for it.

    I liken astrology to the study of genetics. Much is predetermined, but choice and free will has a say. You could have a gene for a horrible disease, but if you take preventative measures and live a balanced life the gene may never be activated and you may never get the disease. Free will at its finest.

    Astrologers should not shy away from discussing bad charts with clients for fear of them being tied to fate. It is an opportunity to make people aware of their shortcomings, to help them improve relationships, etc. If they are paying for a reading it should include both the good and the bad. Of course, the delivery of bad news should be handled tactfully and with love. Perhaps astrologers should be dually certified as counselors.

    One final thought. If a natal chart reveals to be very challenging and the astrologer doesn’t believe in free will, couldn’t they just advise the client to schedule the start of a healing journey the next time the stars are ideally aligned and establish a new chart? Wouldn’t that second chart override the natal chart? It sounds silly but this is where such school of thought leads.

    The ability to take initiative in the face of difficulty and improve upon the situation in order to change the outcome is critical to survival. Perhaps human life (although flawed) is an even higher form of being than that which is driving the celestial movements.

    Blessings and thank you for all you do.