Depth Astrology





This is the tenth 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-Capricorn 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 6 years from now, Insha’Allah, these articles will immediately be published as an e-book for sale.
Skip to Fate and Free Will in Astrology



With Aries-Capricorn, we have the Fire and Earth sign energies brought into sharp conflict through their competing expression in the Cardinal modality.  The character of the interaction between these two signs (and containers present in the two signs) is symbolized by the natural square that exists between the two signs.   Out-of-sign trines and sextiles are also possible, however, between planets in early Capricorn and late Aries, and between planets in early Aries and late Capricorn, respectively. 

Interpreting the Aries-
Capricorn combination may also shed some light on a number of related symbol sets.  These include Aries in the tenth house, Capricorn in the first house, Mars in the tenth house, Mars in Capricorn, Saturn in the first house, Saturn in Aries and Mars-Saturn 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 square suggests an almost irresolvable conflict between the two signs, although the possibility of sextiles and trines suggest possibilities for working together at the "edges" of both signs' range of expression.  As with Aries-Cancer and Aries-Libra, Aries-Capricorn involves two Cardinal modalities, each moving forward but in different directions and using different energies.  While the Aries container, motivated by Fire, typically feels an impulse to rush forward, often with a burning sense of urgency or with an engulfing enthusiasm, the Capricorn container, resonating to its Earth element, typically desires to proceed forward with a clear goal in mind, building step by step and
taking the least risk to ensure reaching that goal.  Aries, on the other hand, is generally all about risk.  It is often through risk-taking that the Aries container achieves his/her primal goal--to actualize a self-identity and, in the process, know his/her identity.  When the Aries container ventures into uncharted territory, as he/she/it is prone to do, it is usually to test the waters in order to see if they are a "fit" for his/her identity.  If the risk turns up empty, there is usually nothing much lost and there is plenty of Fire left to thrust the Aries container toward its next test.  For the Capricorn container, on the other hand, everything may seem to be at risk.  A false move, and the carefully crafted edifice comes toppling down with an incredible amount of resources having been spent and consumed only to achieve no purpose.  For Capricorn, the goal is not something to be found through endless experimentation with new adventures; the goal is clear and before you and the task is to achieve it.  If you are confused about your goal, this may be only because you are transition from an outmoded (or achieved) goal to your next goal (in which case the serious business of finding this goal should not be disrupted by Ariean impulsive frivolities).

Thus, when Capricorn meets Aries, he/she is likely to see the Aries container as a threat to his/her stability and to the chances for success in achieving Capricorn's goal and purpose.  Furthermore, whether or not there is a personal element in Capricorn's ambitions, the Capricorn container is likely to view his/her/its mission as connected to the greater social construct, as necessary for the good order of society.  The Aries container's preoccupation with the personal and, ultimately, with his/her own identity can, therefore, seem selfish and egotistical to the Capricorn container.  When this is Capricorn's perception, reactions may range from annoyance, to condescension, to self-righteous justification used to constrain Aries' activities or to place the Capricorn container's interests above those of the Aries container.  Capricorn may also react to Aries' "wild" energy with fear and concern that this Ram may make a shambles of what Capricorn has worked so hard to construct.  The result can be zero tolerance on the part of Capricorn for Aries' attitude and actions.  Suffice it to say, the greater Capricorn's insecurity about the value of his/her goal and/or about his/her competency to achieve his/her goals, the fiercer his/her reaction is likely to be to the Aries energy.

If Capricorn's attitude toward Aries is marked by intolerance and apprehension, Aries is even more likely to find Capricorn insufferable and to become impatient with Capricornian caution and methodical slowness.  To the Aries container, Capricorn is likely to be viewed as an obstacle and an unnecessary impediment to taking action, to enjoying life and to achieving Aries' desires and ambitions.  The conflict may often be framed in a young-versus-old archetype as Aries tries to introduce and implement new ways of doing things or pursuing new directions while Capricorn resists innovation, holding onto the tried and true and perceiving the upstart Aries as lacking experience, naive and, again, selfish.  To the Aries container, however, none of those things are likely to matter.  Aries tends to regard experience as a false qualification for authority and empowerment, to see his/her
naiveté as moving forward, and to claim his/her right to pursue his/her own direction and goals.  Capricorn just gets in the way.  When Capricorn deals with Aries, the Aries container is likely to perceive Capricorn as obstructive, oppressive (taking away Aries' freedom), overly rigid, old-fashioned and closed-minded.  Rather than having respect for the Capricorn "elder," the Aries container is in danger of blowing off the Capricorn container and treating Capricorn with disrespect.  Any instruction or advice imparted by the Capricorn container to Aries is apt to be ignored or even ridiculed.  In fact, the Aries-Capricorn relationship can often present similarities to that of a child and parent, especially a self-willed child and a domineering parent.

Thus, much of the Aries-Capricorn relationship can be characterized as a struggle between control and containment, on the one hand, and freedom and the right of self-assertion, on the other hand.  Other conflicting elements may involve fear and fearlessness (Capricorn would say recklessness), impulsiveness (Aries would say spontaneity or free expression) and methodicalness; innovation versus status quo, and concern for the primacy of the individual versus the primacy of social norms.  When Aries and Capricorn are actually pursuing different objectives, as opposed to simply power-struggling, the conflict can become even more intense.  The Aries Ram attempts to butt his/her way toward his/her goal while meeting rock-hard resistance from Capricorn.  Capricorn will try to stop Aries at every turn while trying to force Aries to go in the direction he/she prefers, taking care to consolidate its gains at every step of the way, marching inexorably toward his/her own goal and forcing Aries, by carefully planned stratagem if necessary, to go along.  Aries, however, does not get tired and does not give up.  Capricorn can be the immovable object all day long.

So, how can Aries and Capricorn ever work together?  Sharing a common goal or objective certainly helps.  Then, the Capricorn container can feel more comfortable that Aries' energy will be directed productively and Aries may be more willing to take advice and instruction from Capricorn.  This also makes it easier for both Aries and Capricorn to agree to put aside differences and leverage each others' strengths and talents.  When this happens, the results can be formidable.  To do this, Aries must accept that it is less experienced than his/her Capricorn counterpart and must allow him/herself to adopt the role of protégé to the Capricorn mentor.  When Aries allows his/her energy to be guided by Capricorn's greater experience, know-how and planning ability, the application of Aries' energy becomes more effective.  It is like a general directing his/her troops as opposed to an army's spontaneous, enthusiastic but leaderless charge into the enemy lines.  Perhaps, if we can extrapolate from the planetary positioning for sextiles and trines between Aries and Capricorn, this is most likely to happen either when the Aries energy is new and the Aries container is feeling unsure of him/herself and willing to seek/accept guidance, or when the Aries energy is near the end of its cycle and has acquired enough experience of trying, and failing, to attain his/her goals independently so that Aries is willing to make the compromise of accepting more practical guidance. 

The Capricorn container, on the other hand, can open him/her/itself up to the possibility of new ways of doing things in order to gain inspiration (and motivation) from the Aries container.  Capricorn must also be open so that he/she trusts Aries to engage in the active pursuit of their common goal.  It would be to Capricorn's benefit to lay aside fears that the Aries energy will inevitably knock down and destroy what Capricorn has painstakingly built.  If Aries and Capricorn are to effectively cooperate to achieve common ends, then Capricorn must stop looking at Aries as impractical, irresponsible, reckless and self-centered and concentrate on perceiving Aries' positive qualities of abundant energy, enthusiasm, persistence, dedication and innovativeness.  Capricorn must also control his/her knee-jerk reaction to preserve the status quo and admit that improvements can be made to the way things have always been done.  Even when the containers are of the same generation, there may still be a feel of inter-generational dynamic, the classic "generation gap."  Obviously, this can be more pronounced when Aries and Capricorn are actually in different generations.

This healthy cooperation and mutual deference to each others' strengths should not be confused with a dynamic that may occur when one or both containers exhibit insecurity.  An Aries container who is too insecure to assert him/herself or to believe in the validity of his/her own identity and independence may succumb to a domineering Capricorn who may use Aries for his/her own ends.  The naive Aries may look up to the "more experienced" Capricorn but there is a danger of misplaced trust.  An insecure Capricorn, while having an increased risk of reacting to Aries' energy and behavior, can also become overly compliant to Aries' demands, adopting the Aries container's goals as his/her own but being left high and dry when Aries moves on to the next new thing.

The transcendent dimension of Aries-Capricorn lies in rising above the conflict inherent in the relationship between the two signs.  This entails not only the mutual surrendering of individual points of view/ways of doing things, and recognition of, acceptance of, acknowledgment of and submission to each other's desires, goals and approaches to getting there, but also operating at the transcendent level of each sign.  At the transcendent level, both Aries and Capricorn are but different expressions of the quality of Devotion.  For Aries, the journey to true Devotion is that from the pursuit of self-centered desire to the single-hearted pursuit of that One Desire, the desire for the Divine Beloved, the desire to merge into that One.  For Capricorn, that journey begins with the recognition that the values of the super-ego, the values which normally shape Capricorn's goals, are transient and not the highest values.  It then proceeds to the search for and realization of that Supreme Value (which is synonymous with that One Desire) and the dedication to attain the goal of actualizing the Supreme Value--merger into the One.  Aries' approach to the Divine is devotion through the heart.  Capricorn's approach is devotion through discipline.  Both are motivated by Love and both can inform each other.  Devotion of the heart sustains devotion through discipline and devotion through discipline keeps a fence around the  devotion of the heart and guides it to fruition.

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

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