Depth Astrology





This is the eleventh installment of a new series of interpretations of the astrological symbol set. For interpretations of Planets in Signs, Planets in Houses and Planets in Aspect, please see the Depth Astrology series at the Smashwords e-publishing site, . 


The dynamics of sign-to-sign relationships can be useful not only in the interpretation of compatibility charts; they can also add information to the interpretation of planetary aspects.  As with other symbol set interpretations, the juxtaposition of the essential energies of each sign is the starting off point for exploring their meanings.


This series continues with Aries-Aquarius and will end with Pisces-Pisces, working around the zodiacal wheel factorially with a new zodiacal combination presented each month.  Past month’s articles are archived.  Upon completion, some 5 1/2 years from now, Insha’Allah, these articles will immediately be published as an e-book for sale.



With Aries-Aquarius, we have the Fire and Air sign energies expressing in the Cardinal and Fixed modalities, respectively.  The character of the interaction between these two signs (and containers present in the two signs) is symbolized by the natural sextile that exists between the two signs.   However, a semi-square is also possible between planets in the last half of Aquarius and the first half of Aries and an out-of-sign square can exist between planets in early Aquarius and late Aries. 

Interpreting the Aries-
Aquarius combination may also shed some light on a number of related symbol sets.  These include Aries in the eleventh house, Aquarius in the first house, Mars in the eleventh house, Mars in Aquarius, Uranus in the first house, Uranus in Aries and Mars-Uranus aspects.

As a reminder, “container” is used here as a general term designating a planet whether in one’s own chart or another’s.  When in another’s chart, “container” may practically be viewed to mean the other person.  So that the analysis doesn’t wind up seeming too cold and depersonalized, I will sometimes use the personal pronoun (you, his/her, etc.) in lieu of the impersonal “container.”  Recognize that either term can refer to a planetary energy within you or your relationship with another person.

The natural sextile suggests opportunity for mutually beneficial relationships to exist between containers in the two signs, mirroring the general compatibility between Fire and Air.  The potential semi-square and square aspects, on the other hand, point to underlying tensions that may exist between containers in the two signs, mirroring tensions that can develop between the Cardinal and Fixed modalities.  The relationship between Aries and Aquarius can also be explored by considering the dynamics that can exist between their ruling planets, Mars and Uranus.

The Aries-Aquarius combination is the third time in the Aries cycle that Fire and Air have interacted and, thus, one could expect the interaction between Aries and Aquarius to represent the most mature expression of the dynamic between these two elements.  Particularly given that Air is Fixed, we can expect less that Air will fan Fire's flames than that Air will have a controlling or disciplining influence on Fire, much like the airflow from a flume regulates the flame in a fire box.  Thus, an opportunity exists for the Aquarian container to set the agenda for Aries container, directing the Aries energies into highly productive enterprises.  This can take place through inspiration, instruction or leadership flowing from the Aquarian container to Aries.  There can also be an element of moral suasion and appealing to Aries' better nature in the direction supplied by Aquarius.  Thus, the Aquarius-Aries combination carries the potential for the Aries container to undergo substantial growth as he/she is led to act in ways that go beyond self-benefit.  Fire and Air share a natural idealism and the Aquarian influence on Aries can be like being caught in an updraft so that Aries' flames ascend higher than they might otherwise. 

Aquarius can bring to Aries not only a heightened idealism but also expanded opportunities for discovery and setting out on new endeavors.  The drive for self-assertion and self-definition that characterizes Aries often fulfills itself through the constant exploration of new possibilities as the self tests its limits and finds its potentialities.  Aquarius offers a fountain of new experience and unbounded possibility--a sort of ready-made cornucopia into which Aries can delve.  While Aries typically possesses the qualities of freshness, openness, an uninhibited innocence, he/she/it is usually lacking in experience.  Thus, the Aries container can be manipulated by social forces rather easily so that its abundant energy flows through well-worn (and approved) channels and into allowable excesses.  The contact with Aquarius can leap-frog Aries into a realm of possibility and discovery, a level of unconventionality and diversity, that Aries could very well miss left to his/her/its own devices. 

Another point of compatibility and resonance between Aries and Aquarius is that they share--at different levels--a struggle to identify the self.  For Aries, this is a basic existential struggle to assert identity.  For Aquarius, this is the highly evolved process of individuation.  Yet, both involve the assertion of identity against "other"--against the existential pool of unbeing and the claiming of a place within the world or existence for Aries, and against the conditioning, conformity-enforcing, uniqueness-denying force of the Collective Unconscious for Aquarius.  Yet, because this process of finding and defining the self is taking place at such different levels for containers in the two signs, there is also the potential here for discord and misunderstanding (or inability to achieve mutual understanding).  Sometimes, despite the attractiveness of the richly diverse world that Aquarius can offer, Aries just wants to push forward for the joy (or for the fulfillment of its deep drive) of self-assertion.  Aquarius, building (or believing that he/she/it has built) the mental palace of self-differentiation, may somewhat arrogantly look at Aries' drives and impulses as lacking essential meaning, while the Aries container may view the Aquarian edifice as over-intellectualized and irrelevant to life.

Another source of potential conflict between Aries and Aquarius lies in the Cardinal-Fixed sign dynamic.  The Cardinal energy of Aries, propelled by Mars, thrives on forward motion, ever ready to move onto the next new thing.  While there would seem to be (an often is) a good fit with the Uranian side of Aquarius, reveling in diversity, the avant garde and discovery, the Fixed side of Aquarius is naturally inclined to hold onto a status quo, even if that status quo paradoxically involves change and revolution.  Fixed signs seek security and Fixed Air seeks the mental security of Truth (whether this be the Truth that is synonymous with Reality in the Absolute or that of the true believer), as well as the social security of a perfect world, reflecting, of course, whatever ideal with which Aquarius has self-identified.  Aries needs no such security and, in fact, is prone to be a risk-taker.  At any rate, Aries may very well not give a fig about the belief structure to which Aquarius can be so attached.  If the Aries ram does not take a certain pleasure in butting up against and shattering Aquarian crystalline concepts, Aries may at least be oblivious to the threat his/her/its unideologized actions pose to Aquarius' belief system and, hence, sense of security.  If the Aquarian container tries to impose his/her/its own belief structures on Aries, Aries may either ignore or rebel against these limitations to its independence and freedom to act (which are at the core of Aries' need to establish his/her identity). 

However, Aries and Aquarius are much more likely to work together, even if there is conflict or tension in their relationship from time to time.   One key to this cooperative relationship is the dynamic that can exist between Uranus (Aquarius' ruling planet) and Mars (which rules Aries).  Again, we begin with the Aquarian side (Uranus) as generally being the dominant in the relationship.  Uranus symbolizes the Higher Mind, Plato's world of Ideas, out of which the material world is manifested.  Thus, while the Uranian energy exists in the ideal world of mental construct, it yearns to be made manifest.  The Aquarian glyph of the water bearer (who is really pouring the water of Divine inspiration and knowledge out of the pitcher of the mental world of fixed ideas to quench humanity's thirst for understanding and advancement) is essentially a symbol of this yearning for pure mental concept to take form and become useful in the material world.  It is through Mars that the Uranian/Aquarian energies can be applied through action taken in the material world.  There can be no revolution without foot soldiers and there can be no utopian state without the doers who would bring it about.  As alluded to above, in this deal, Mars gains purpose and a cause, something to which he/she/it can be devoted.

At a lower level of awareness, however, where the pathways to higher consciousness are blocked for whatever reason, the Uranian energy expresses itself in restlessness, rebellion and random or erratic change, while the Martian energy asserts itself through aggression, risky behavior and self-centeredness.  Here, the Aries-Aquarius relationship expressing itself in the Mars-Uranus dynamic can become quite dangerous.  Recall that both Mars and Uranus are associated in traditional astrology with accidents.  With primal energies unleashed and uncontrolled, the archetypal representations of the Mars-Uranus (hence, Aries-Aquarius) combination include war, earthquake, violent revolution, pillage, personal violence and sudden destruction.  Images called to mind include Bonnie and Clyde, Clockwork Orange and Blade Runner.  When all inhibitions are removed, Aries and Aquarius can easily lead each other into bizarre adventure, dangerous pathways, outrageous risks, and foolish dares. 

Another opportunity for the less developed levels of Aries and Aquarius to interact involves the tendency to ego and arrogance inherent in each sign.  While, at the root, Aries' ego tendencies are a manifestation of the need to assert his/her/its existence in the world and Aquarius' ego tendencies tend to be a manifestation of a need to protect an identity that has been differentiated against the collective unconscious (the "masses"), the resulting expression in the world can be similar--self-importance, disregard for the rights and feelings of others, a sense of entitlement and self-absorbed narcissism.  While, of course, there is the opportunity for egos clashing when Aries and Aquarius get together, there is also the opportunity for the two containers to support each others' ego-images and ego-driven behavior.  Common qualities including judgmentalism, lack of compassion, a sharp tongue, and an ideology of me-firstism (or self-superiority) can bond containers in the two signs together.

On a more benign level, Aries and Aquarius can easily enjoy each others' company as they recognize, consciously or unconsciously, the complementariness of their strengths and natural tendencies.  Aries can engage Aquarius in the activity of life, drawing Aquarius out of his/her head and helping him/her to implement his/her ideas.  Aries offers a sense of freshness and enthusiasm that can appeal to Aquarius' taste for the new and different. As allude to earlier, Aquarius offers Aries new avenues to explore.  Even though the Aries container will probably prefer action to thought, the variety that may be present in the Aquarian mental landscape and the possibilities for activating Aquarian ideas can appeal to the Aries container.

The transcendent dimension of Aries-Aquarius lies in rising above these ego-tendencies.  One way to move toward this transcendence is through cultivating qualities inherent in the opposing signs.  For Aries, this involves developing a sense of the essential validity of "other."  By cultivating a sensitivity to the needs of the other, Aries can learn that he/she is not the most important person in the world.  For Aquarius, this can involve cultivating the Leonian sense of generosity in all its forms but without the underlying motif of drawing attention to him/herself.  As Leo must recognize that his/her creativity is not his/hers, Aquarius must learn to bestow his/her gifts on humanity without any sense of ownership or pride.  Aries and Aquarius can support each other in the process of letting go of ego.  Aquarius, by giving Aries an ideal to engender devotion, can stimulate Aries to rise above the concerns of the self and lose him/herself in something higher.  The brighter, higher and purer the ideal that Aquarius manifests to Aries, the farther the devotion to this ideal will take the Aries container toward the selflessness which becomes the realization of the True Self.  The Aquarian container, on the other hand, can learn from Aries to let go of his/her/its mental constructs by risking action.  Action, and particularly action in the service to humanity, removes arrogance and frees the Aquarian container from self-absorbed contemplation of lifeless mental constructs and beliefs that have become idols.  By actualizing the Truths gifted to Aquarius by the Higher Mind, the Aquarian container is able to see these Truths as real and, so, to more fully appreciate the unique Treasure that is the Realized Self.

Of course, all of the Aries-Aquarian dynamics can play out internally, as well as between two people.  The Aries-Aquarius energy will also be modulated by the planets involved, whether in your own chart or someone else’s.  The depositorships of Mars and Uranus may also come into play.  -- Gargatholil


                                               Fate and Free Will in Astrology                                                                                                                                                                                   

There seems to be a subtexted but active "debate" among astrologers regarding the role of fate and free will in astrology.  With Bernadette Brady's article in this month's issue of The Mountain Astrologer, "Fate, Free Will, Horoscopes, and Souls," the debate may have been brought out into the open.  While this is not a response to Bernadette's article (I was contemplating writing this post before The Mountain Astrologer announced this topic), I have incorporated some points (and counter-points) from the article.

From my viewpoint, much of the debate has been generated by reactions of "New Age" astrologers to predictive astrology as practiced by "traditional" astrologers.  The New Age complaint typically is that traditional astrologers prescribe (or describe) our fate from one's horoscope as if it is an inescapable destiny.  Our fate, they say, is not determined by the stars (only suggested); we are not slaves to destiny, but free to modify our destiny by the choices we make.  Going even farther, our New Age brethren and sistren, would argue that we create (or at least co-create) our reality and that the horoscope ideally can shine light on the path to illuminate the easiest way we can change our reality by growing in consciousness.  In my opinion, while both schools may contain some grains of truth in their views on fate and free will, neither realize the extreme complexity of the matter and, so, both get it wrong. 

We can begin by saying, as Bernadette's article brings out by her reference to the positions of a number of Classical philosophers, that this question goes far beyond astrology.  In fact, it is one of the central questions with which philosophers and theologians have dealt over the course of millennia.  It is a question that is intimately bound up with "the Problem of Evil."  The conundrum goes like this: if God (or the Divine One Power), is Omnipotent, then how can He/She/It be Loving, because He/She/It allows evil and suffering to exist in the world while having the power to abolish it.  If God is Compassionate and Loving (and if being Compassionate and Loving is equated with remedying evil and suffering), then He/She/It cannot be Omnipotent (or suffering would have been ended) and, if there is a Power that God does not control, then He/She/It cannot really be God.  (My deep apologies if this dilemma is news to any of you.) 

How does the Problem of Evil relate to Fate and Free Will?  If the Divine is All Powerful, then everything that happens is happening according to the Divine Will, which means that everything is fated.  Jesus said, "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered," by which we can take that nothing is left to chance, nothing is beyond the Divine Will.  The Qur'an states, "Not a leaf falls but that He knows it.  And no grain is there within the darkness of the earth and no moist or dry thing but that it is written in a clear record."  That record is what is referred to as the Tablet and which Edgar Cayce identified as the Akashic Records.  The Adi Granth of the Sikhs similarly states that "Not a leaf falls but by his Hukum (His Order or Will)."  The Sufis, deriving from the Truth of Allah's radical Oneness--that there is nothing but God and that, consequently, the Creation, including our selves, is all Divine Manifestation--point out that it is impossible that anything could happen independently of God's Will.  As the Hindu mystics say, it is all the Lord's lila, the Divine Play.  Or, as some mystics have said, we are all puppets; the difference between the realized souls and the unrealized souls is that the realized souls know that they are just puppets while the unrealized souls think that it is they who are dancing.

Christian theologians, on the other hand, have attempted to resolve the conundrum by saying that while God is Omnipotent, He has created free will and has given it to humanity.   The theological implication of this doctrine also absolves God from ownership of evil, since evil can now be consigned to the free choices made by us human beings.  This has a certain logic (and, as we shall see later, in my opinion, a grain of truth).  If God is Omnipotent, then He/She/It certainly has the power to create free will, to share the Divine Power of choice.  For, if God did not have the freedom to create free will, to give up His/Her/Its freedom to create all of the events and circumstances of the Manifested World, He/She/It would be constrained by that inability and, thus, not All Powerful.  The seeming paradox, however, is that God ceases to be Omnipotent once the Divine voluntarily gives up His/Her/Its Absolute Power in order to confer free will on humanity.

This paradox, however, only exists when we assume that God and humanity are separate beings.  If we go back to the radical Monotheism of the Sufis, there can be no being other than Allah and so, while in one sense we are non-existent because only Allah exists, in another sense we exist only because He/She/It is manifesting through us.  In this sense, the Divine has given up none of His/Her/Its free will; He/She/It has only changed the locus of His/Her/Its complete freedom to choose.  Does this mean that we are free will beings co-creating our own reality?  Maybe only up to a point.

Enter karma.  Karma is frequently conceptualized as fate or as fate connected to our actions in past lives.  Actually, karma is a Sanskrit term denoting action and can also be conceived as the spiritual law of cause and effect.  Its premise is that every action has an effect or consequence and that the doer must, at some point in time, experience the consequence of each action performed by him/her.  Underlying this premise is the Truth that we are all One, so that whatever I do, I do unto myself.  The karmic law is exemplified in Jesus' saying, "As you sow, so shall you reap." 

Now, there is no Etch a Sketch option with karma.  If you do the crime, you do the time.  Period.  And karma does not just apply to the big bad deeds, or to the big good deeds--it applies to EVERYTHING we do.  We are reminded of the saying attributed to Euripides, "The millstones of the gods grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine."  It may take many lifetimes for a karmic consequence to manifest, but it will manifest, no matter how seemingly insignificant.  Or, to quote Jesus again, "You will never get out until you have paid the last penny [variant: You surely won't be free again until you have paid the last penny.]"  Included (big time) in what are actions are our desires and attachments.  If we have a desire, it will be fulfilled.  That is the consequence of our having that desire.  If we are attached to someone or some thing, we will be brought back to that someone or thing, some time, some where.  Of course, that desire may be fulfilled in a way that we never intended or long after we have stopped desiring whatever it was. 

With respect to predestination (or fate) and free will, the analogy of a chess game can be employed.  Let us posit this chess game within an environment that is, initially, karma free.  So, before we begin the game, we have absolute free will regarding our choice of whether to play the game or not.  Once we decide to play, however, we have accepted the constraint of the rules of the game on our free choice.  Within those constraints, we are free, with our first move, to move anywhere on the board.  This first move, however, constrains the next move and that next move constrains the move after that.  Gradually, the possible choices of next moves are more and more limited until, at the end, there are no more possible moves for the king who is checkmated.  Now, imagine a chess game being played on a board that is exponentially larger than our normal chess board compounded by the game being played on a mind-boggling number of levels or dimensions.  And, imagine that this chess game has already been played for aeons of time.  The same principle applies but, under these circumstances, the possible moves at this point in the game are extremely constrained, so much so that our next move has practically been dictated for us by all of the other numberless moves we have made in the past.  That is the reality of our karmic situation.

So, now, what does all this have to do with astrology?  Let's get back to the two schools with which we started off.  Traditional predictive astrology, at least at its extreme, sees the horoscope as a map of one's predestined fate and the task of the astrologer is to correctly interpret the map so that the events of the future can be divined.  Bernadette Brady remarks that Cicero described fate as the result of a cause that has been set in motion.  Cause produces effect which, itself, becomes a cause of another effect, creating a chain of determined events.  Cicero concluded that astrology could not be a valid predictor of fate because from a defined cause (i.e., the horoscope), there could only be one outcome and, obviously, there were different outcomes for people with the exact same horoscope.  Bernadette questions Cicero's definition of fate but it was not Cicero's concept of fate that was wrong; it was his understanding of the astrological symbol set.  If we view astrological symbols, together with their interactions, as signifying not definite outcomes but potentialities, then those who share the same horoscope but have different fates are simply manifesting different facets of the potential inherent in the horoscope. 

This concept--of that which exists being but the manifestation of potentiality--has a foundation in mystical, as well as in modern scientific thought.  Ibn al-`Arabi, a 13th century Sufi, spoke extensively of the created world being the selective manifestation of infinite potentialities which Allah, in His Mercy, brings into existence.  An implication of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is that all observable events derive from a field of possible events (a probability field).  So, if the horoscope signifies only a probability field,  an astrological prediction can be nothing more than one possible outcome within that probability field.  Does this mean that we are then free to choose how we will manifest the potential that has been given to us as symbolized by our chart?  No, not at all.  Because, potential is only a function of our uncertainty.  Our karma has predetermined a path for us.  We just don't know what it is.  Just because we cannot be certain of a particle's location does not mean that the particle has no location.

From our vantage point of uncertainty, we are allowed to see a range of potential outcomes suggested by the horoscope.  But our fate is not uncertain.  It has been determined by our karmas.  We are co-creating our reality but we have no choice but to co-create the reality that is our fate.  We choose--and, hopefully, we choose most positively--but, in reality, we have already chosen (not in some free astral space but by the actions we have performed) and we are now simply actualizing our choice.  Another way to see this is that, while the astrological horoscope presents a cluster of potentialities, which potentiality will manifest for a particular individual is already destined.

Bernadette Brady then distinguishes between determinism and fatalism, defining determinism as the belief that what has happened has been determined by fate (consistent with Cicero's definition of fate) and defining fatalism as the belief that what will happen is fated.  Bernadette's implication, saving the New Age tenet that we can be masters of our destiny if we only raise our consciousness to do so, is that we can believe in determinism (astrology's power to explain what has already happened) without buying into fatalism.  The distinction between determinism and fatalism is dissolved, however, if we examine the nature of time and causation.  If events up to the present moment have been determined, they have been determined, as Cicero says, through causes set in motion and, importantly, this is a chain of causation with each effect becoming, in turn, a cause to the next effect.  So, what does this mean with respect to future events?  The present is only a marker through time.  It once was the future and will soon be the past.  Therefore, there is no qualitative distinction between past, present and future; it is only a question of relative position in the flow of time.  If the present has been determined by events in the past, and the present is qualitatively no different than the past (in fact, it will soon become the past), then there is no reason the expect that the role of causation will suddenly change at the present moment or, in other words, just as the past determines the present, so the present determines the future.

From a deterministic and from a mystical viewpoint, the implication of this is that the future already exists.  Islam talks about the Tablet already being engraved and, from the Hindu and Sikh traditions, we can hear that our fate is stamped upon our forehead before we are born.  An explanation for this is that, if the Divine Exists in Eternity, He/She/It exists outside of time (and space) so that the entire fabric of time (our past, present, and future) appears to the Divine all at once.  Quantum physics also tells us that the future already exists.  So does Einstein's theory of the time-space continuum.  At one end of the continuum--absolute zero where there is no motion and, hence, no time--it is all space existing in the eternal present.  At the other end of the continuum--the speed of light--it is all time existing in a point (no dimension) of space.

Bernadette Brady also discusses the view of the Theosophist and astrologer, Alan Leo, that ultimately we must rise above our horoscope if we are to achieve soul freedom.  Her criticism of Leo's Dualistic approach of separating mind and soul is that it robs astrology of its relevance.  From my perspective, Leo is correct--as far as he goes.  If we see the astrological symbol set as representing an increasingly diversified probability field centered on a core, ineffable, essence, and if we recognize that, at their most transcendent level, each essence is a faceted expression of the Real, we can see that all astrological symbols (and, in fact, all horoscopes) proceed toward Unity.  If we view the soul's descent into manifested diversity as a function of a chain of choices that increasingly narrow the sphere of future choice, then our retreat back toward Unity would naturally result in our experiencing progressively greater freedom. 

This may seem as if it gives weight to the New Age view that, as long as we are progressing toward higher consciousness, we are free to create our own reality.  The issue is in recognizing, honestly, just where we are.  We have been playing this karmic game for so incredibly long now that, for the most part, even our choices are predetermined by our karmic conditioning, what to say of the events that we are destined to experience.  Even if we posit parallel sets of potentialities and that we can slip in and out of multiple dimensions of parallel choices, still which universes we will enter into is destined.  So, it is not so easy to rise above our horoscope and gain soul freedom.  Picture an almost infinitely large onion.  We can make transcendent choices and, when we do, we are able to peel away a layer of the onion.  Peeling away a layer does not make the onion disappear.  Peeling away a layer does not counteract the deterministic/karmic effect of all of the other layers that we have not yet peeled away.

Thus, while our aim may be to progress to the point where our horoscope is no longer relevant, that is a long way, leaving the horoscope still very relevant.  It defines our probability field, those potentialities that are, theoretically, open to us.  Which potentials will manifest is, for the most part, already destined.  The astrological chart shows us the pattern and potential but we cannot know in certainty what the concrete manifestation of that potential will be.  In the face of this fatalism, do we just give up?  Well, we are not check-mated yet, are we?--which means that we still have some degree of limited free will.  As with the future, we do not know which of our choices are destined and for which of our choices we can exercise some degree of free will.  The astrological chart symbolizes both the potentialities that will lead us into further entanglement and karmic bondage and those that will lead, step by slow step, to more soul freedom.  While most directions may be fated, in some we may have real choice.  Since we do not know which are which, we can prudently act as if all are free will choices--but without any expectation of a result. 

It is in this way that we can participate in the evolution of reality, the goal and the process at which Bernadette Brady arrives in her Mountain Astrologer article as a resolution to the fate-free will conundrum.  However, by participation, we mean something much more subtle and nuanced.  To assume that we can co-determine the evolution of reality, even within the democratized paradigm where our choices and their effects are constrained by the choices of everyone else, is to assume the existence of a collective free will.  However, if we individually lack all but the narrowest limited free will, how can pooling our choices result in an effect that is independent of destiny (unless by some intricately contrived device, each of our bits of limited free will choices were to lock together to drive destiny forward, such contrivance being itself an expression of the Hand of Destiny).  Rather, I think that our participation is that of an agent/observer.  As agent/observers, we participate in creating the destined reality open and aware, peeling at the onion, in harmony with our own destiny and the Destiny of the Cosmos. In the end, it all comes down to the puppets.  In the words of The Incredible String Band, "All the world is but a play.  Be thou the joyful player."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          © Gargatholil

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Applies to all pages on this site