Free Will or Destiny?

February 15th, 2011

Hello, everyone.

(This article is a rewrite of a post I did a while ago on my other blog.  It’s an introduction to a topic I’ll cover here in the next couple of posts.)

I was speaking with a client the other day who had called about a business/astrology question.  After a fruitful conversation she said, “I almost didn’t call you.  I didn’t want the astrology to influence my thinking.”

It sounds odd, doesn’t it, to call an astrologer about a situation but not want the astrology to influence your decision?  Still, I understood what she meant.  It was the classic free will versus destiny dilemma.

I am the master of my destiny

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This particular client has a very prominent Uranus in her chart, which represents a rational, even scientific way of looking at things.  She wants to believe she is the master of her destiny.

The planet Uranus was first sighted during the 17th century, the same time that the scientific method was being developed into its modern form by Descartes and Galileo.  Science, as it has come to be practiced today, is based on hypotheses, repeatable experiments, and resultant theories.  What passes these tests is deemed real; what does not pass, is not real.

This scientific method has resulted in immeasurable changes to the way we live, and to the earth we inhabit.  It has ushered in marvelous advances in human society, as old superstitions which could not be proven have died, like the superiority of man versus woman or one race over another.

In the darkness of night, wanderers

Astrology is the ancient study of the cycles of nature.  Many people who don’t believe in astrology have not imagined what life must have been like before the introduction of electricity.  We are well aware of the cycles of the Sun which cause the seasons, and some of us are aware of the cycles of the Moon because they influence the tides.  But before electricity, the night was darker and if you ventured outside, you noticed these bright objects that wandered across the sky.  At times they would disappear entirely from your night sky; at other times they would seem to join other objects or be swallowed by the Sun completely.

In an age of less entertainment, these objects and their travels occupied a much bigger place in our psyches.  With the discovery in the last 300 years of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, and the advances that have led to the industrial age and now to our information age many of us are less and less aware of the cycles of nature, including the cycles of the planets.

Yin and Yang (Source: Wikipedia)

The study of astrology is to take a stand and say, the cycles of nature are still influencing our lives.  And further to say, if I understand these cycles I can live my life in tune with them.  When it’s time to sow, I will know it.  When it’s time to reap, I will know it.  But the ability to create our destiny is possibly the most powerful force in the universe and yes, it is free to use as we want.  We don’t have to plant in spring anymore; with greenhouses, heaters, grow lights, fertilizer, and automated watering systems we can plant a crop whenever we want.

To plant with ease, plant within season

What astrology says is, to plant with ease, plant within season.  The planets don’t compel.  As they move through space they mark times of increase and times of decrease.  They plainly show the natural cycles of activity and rest.  And these cycles stamp us at the moment of our birth, some cycles waxing, some cycles waning.  But it is entirely up to us whether we consciously align ourselves with these rhythms.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each belief system.  If you follow the cycles, you have to admit that we have retained our instinctual selves and our activities are a product of natural cycles, just like everything else on earth.  If you ignore these cycles, this sets you free to attempt to master your destiny, based on personal will and desires.

And there seems to be room for all of us, at least so far.  A more Neptune-type person will tend to feel connected to the cycles of life.  A more Uranus-type person will tend to feel more independent and attempt to control life.  And some people are an interesting mix of the two, which makes them call an astrologer, but not want to be influenced by what they hear.

Which one are you?  Weigh in by leaving a comment below.

If you’d like a “scientific” way of assessing the strength of Uranus and Neptune in your chart, check out these links to Donna Cunningham’s blog, Sky Writer.  She spells out a scoring system which is an interesting way of weighing the different parts of your chart.  For Uranus, see How Strong is your Uranus?  Here’s the Score! For Neptune, see How Strong is your Neptune? Here’s the Score! If the math or the symbols overwhelm you, let me know.  I’ve set up an excel spreadsheet and I’ll plug in your numbers.

Check out my other blog for all things business, including weekly and monthly forecasts.
Astro4Business Intersections

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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  8. Annie B says:

    I wasn’t able to do the math, but my intuitive feeling is that I’ve got strong Uranus. I like to exert my will and attempt control. But that doesn’t work very well without being tuned in to the circumstances and environment, so I’ve learned to monitor the environment pretty closely — to plan, but wait until conditions seem right. So which is that? I guess I believe in destiny, but I definitely try to work it and enhance it.

    A beautiful pair of cardinals just landed in the tree right outside my window as I type, snow softly falling. Nice. I didn’t plan that. I’m really glad I don’t have the ability to direct everything that happens in my life, because most of the best things come unbidden and are better than anything I could have dreamed up.

    • admin says:

      Hi, Annie. Yes, your Uranus is stronger than your Neptune. I like the idea to plan, but wait until conditions seem right. It reminds me of something I read about George Washington today. Here’s the quote, from Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis: …it was the same strategic lesson he had learned as head of the Continental Army-namely, to avoid engagement with a superior force until the passage of time made victory possible, what we might call “the strategy of enlightened procrastination.” Not exactly the same as what you said, but close, right?

      I love the unplanned moment you share with us above. Thanks.

  9. Nicole says:

    Of course I am overwhelmed and would love you to plug me into your Excel, or my nature doesn’t like to deal with the meticulous-ness of if all :) .

    I find that I am more inclined toward Destiny, but work to be conscious so I can align my choices with my Destiny flow. The aspect I still wonder about though is when I’m in dis-ease or angst: is it me raging against my Destiny and so I need to surrender, or is it stemming from the Destiny itself and is my lot to embrace that particular moment and learn from it, while I stay in it. Does that make sense?

    Thank you, as always.

    • admin says:

      Hi, Nicole. Your score was Uranus – 42; Neptune – 27. That puts you firmly into the more intellectual type, although Donna Cunningham says that any score over 25 is high.

      I’m pretty sure I understand your question. It sounds like you think that destiny itself can bring challenges which we are meant to accept so we can learn from them. It’s like, just because you surrender to your destiny doesn’t mean there won’t be matters to rage against. I don’t know. I’m a bit of a Taoist myself. I believe life is less personal and it’s only because we take it personally, we have likes and dislikes, opinions and righteousness, that we are constantly undermining our own happiness. My teacher once said to me, remember, don’t take it personally – which I immediately did and suffered for several years from doing so. I think life unfolds beautifully, easefully, unless we insist on thinking it’s all about us – that’s how we throw a wrench in the works.

      Does that make sense?

      • Nicole says:

        I want it to :) .

        Yes, I have moments of that sort of living and they are coming more frequently now, but I can’t say it is yet the way I live. I did catch myself just yesterday though.

        A few days ago I was deeply hurt and humiliated; moreso than I have been in a long time. So I caved–like a turtle almost. I hide and withdraw and try to quietly crawl about, but my inner-self is raging and upset and writing all sorts of scripts and stories.

        And then I dreamed a very similar dream three nights in a row and immediately saw archetypes: positive masculine, negative feminine. I then saw EGO (a huge damaging one :) ) and suddenly all of the past days of hurt and withdrawl and anger fell away and I saw my life as a story I was “reading”. Very very interesting and jolting–in the good way.

        This is still just one day later and so we’ll see, but even now, in decisions about my day today I feel I am a different me and all of it matters a whole hell of a lot less and so in that, so much more (which is so corny too…but beautiful).

        I’m definitely at a confluence and your blog has been part of that. Thank you.

        • admin says:

          Wow, that’s so cool, Nicole, that your subconscious gave you such a positive way to work with the situation and what it brought up in you. Glad to be part of your process.

  10. Patrice says:

    Ellen, I look at my horoscope first thing each day (have been doing this for 40+ years), but usually I forget about my daily aspects, shortly thereafter, as my Aries rising keeps me quite distracted! :) At the same time, the transits are fascinating to watch. Too, I am often quite surprised and humbled by the way events may turn out with certain aspects. Things will happen that I never ever would have imagined and, after the fact, I think to myself, why didn’t I see these things coming down the pike? They were plain as day in my chart!

    • admin says:

      Hi, Patricia. Yes, me too. It’s like the universe puts blinders on me when it comes to my chart and allows me to see into others. Or maybe I just don’t take the same time and care when considering my own that I take when looking at someone else’s. Somehow the stakes seem bigger when I’m reading the symbols for another person. And it’s much easier to be objective with another’s chart, right? I don’t even really do readings for my close family. No objectivity there at all.

  11. Natalie says:

    That’s is the ulitmate question isn’t it? Usually we think that you must choose one or the other way of thinking about life. It’s a bit like believing you can’t have more than one thought in your head at the time, and we all know that’s not true. I scored high on both Nept (49) and Ur (48), so I totally get the dilemma – I often feel the same way. I want the advice, but at the same time there’s the feeling that what the astrologer says might turn in to a self-fulfilling prophecy, and what if the reading is “bad”? (It never is, but you know, it might be one day! As you know, I also have a strong Pluto …). I see that for me it goes in periods – some times I turn to astrology a lot, other times I don’t even read the horoscope in the newspaper (Ha). Perhaps that reflects transits from the two planets. Great subject, Ellen!

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Natalie. Your statement about holding more than one thought in your head at the same time is intriguing to me. Can you really do that? I can’t. One thought at a time and the rest go wisping by. That’s why I keep a pen and notebook handy all the time.

      I just looked at your Mercury – in Libra. But trine Saturn. Maybe Saturn forms a kind of structure or container for your thoughts?

      • Natalie says:

        A Saturnian container – hopefully that’s not like Pandora’s box! I always have more than one thought at the time. It might come from always thinking about the story I’m writing, or new ideas popping up constantly, while at the same time I’m thinking about what’s going on around me, or a conversation I had, an old memory, reminding myself I have to buy milk … Like multi-tasking, only multi-thinking. Perhaps Mercury isn’t such a wrong planet for Virgo, after all. I’ve always found it difficult sitting still with one task, I get fidgety after awhile. When I’m writing, I usually run a DVD in the upper corner of my computer screen. It keeps the bored part of my brain busy, so I can let the words flow through my fingers. I have a feeling that’s Uranus’ energy. I could probably benefit from meditation …

        • admin says:

          Yes, I agree – strong Uranus influence and also that opposition from Jupiter in Pisces.

          That’s amazing you write with a DVD playing. I can see that it would help to just form a direct conduit from your creativity to your fingers, bypassing the part that may think too much. I’ll have to try it!

          • Nicole says:

            This is interesting to me as well. I find I must have an episode from hulu or a dvd or at the very least, music, in order to write and compose. I do the same when reading student papers or if heavily engrossed in email responses. I’m not sure if it is boredom, but feels more like there is part of my mind that must be soothed into some part of distraction so that I can really access the deeper part of my thinking.

            I’ve often wondered if the same affect occurs through my walking/running though too. If I go for a long walk or a run, I also often can compose and then return home to write it.

            However, I’m useless in a cafe or when someone else, live, is in the room rummaging about. This type of distraction aggravates and over-stimulates and I find I just quickly diminish in any useful thinking.


          • admin says:

            Hi. I’m useless too in a cafe or when someone is in the room. And I’ve also composed a lot on walks or runs.

            But I still can’t imagine watching a dvd while writing. Yesterday I tried to do some rote bookkeeping while watching a movie just to see how it went. It didn’t work for me. At the end I felt like I missed both of them. What I do like, and must do, is talk radio while housecleaning. It’s the only thing that distracts me enough to just get out the cleanser and go to it. I don’t mind cleaning at all, as long as my mind is distracted. If I’m not distracted I get bored in about five minutes.

          • Natalie says:

            The trick is to use a movie you know very well and have seen a few times already. That way your attention will not be on that story, but it will provide a distraction even so. I have the same problem twith cafes or when people are in my office – I don’t even carry a notebook with me anywhere.

          • admin says:

            OK, Nat (can I call you that? It just seems right. I always nickname people I’m close to.) I’ll try it with a move I know well and let you know.

  12. Katherine Dobson says:

    Dear Ellen,
    I loved ready your blog today on free will and destiny. I am presently focused on clarifying my destiny and purpose for this next phase of my life. I do believe we can hold both free will and destiny together. There is so much space to make choices, listen carefully to the voice of God and then align ourselves with the answers we receive and work with the energies that are available to us. Thank you for continually sharing your wisdom and insight. Love, Katherine

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much, Katherine. So nice to hear from you. Your response actually reminded me of the yin/yang symbol I included, without consciously knowing why. You highlight the constantly changing, flowing interaction between the two, receptivity when appropriate and action when appropriate.

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