Astrologer Ray Grasse posed this question on his Facebook page:
How much free will do we have in dealing with our horoscopes? It’s a complex question, but here’s one way to answer that question.
I had two individuals come to me separately who were born within days of each other, who had extremely similar charts. As it so happened, they both experienced the effects of transiting Saturn over their natal Neptunes around the same time, just one week apart, right before meeting me.
I asked each of them what happened that previous week, since I was curious how the Saturn transit manifested for them. The first one said he reached a tipping point with his long-term substance abuse and joined Alcoholics Anonymous, while the second one sheepishly admitted that he was arrested for drunk driving around that same time!
Think about that. It was the same essential planetary symbolism in both cases, but in the one case the client chose to manifest that energy from the inside out, you might say, by using his Saturnian discipline to take control of his Neptunian escapism, while in the other case the client wound up letting that symbolism manifest from the outside in, by not applying his discipline and letting the world manifest it for him. (It reminds me a bit of the old line by Carl Jung: “When an inner situation is not made conscious it appears outwardly as fate.”) So despite the similarities in their charts and transits, they chose to manifest those patterns in dramatically different ways, one of them more constructively, the other more destructively.
Certainly there is much about our fate we can’t change. We can’t change the family we are born into. We can’t change our basic personality characteristics to which we are predisposed. We can’t change many of the situations in which we find ourselves through fate. What we DO have control over, in my view, is the way we react to our personality dynamics and our situations. Our viewpoints help to create our reality.
I really like that movie Sliding Doors in which one person’s life is split into two pathways. In one, she catches her train home and finds her boyfriend in bed with another woman and her life takes her in one direction. In the other, she misses her train, doesn’t catch her boyfriend in flagrante delicto, and ends up in a completely different direction. In the end, however, both lives end up in the same place.
In Ray’s story, both men had problems with alcohol. One had already taken the path of seeking sobriety, and the other was reacting rather than approaching the problem proactively. The man who had been arrested had sought a reading with Ray, so we can assume that he was looking for some answers which is the first step on the journey to healing and transformation.
We can never really predict how any given astrological factor will manifest. One individual with Pluto (power and the destructive/regenerative force) on the Midheaven, the cusp of the house that rules our vocation and public life, will consistently engage in power conflicts at work, causing him to be fired over and over. Another will suffer through a few of these events and eventually branch out on their own and run their own company. Is this due to free will, or, as some astrologers argue, is it their fate to have greater control over their own destiny?
I don’t think we will ever know the answer. For myself, if everything is predestined there doesn’t seem to be much purpose to human existence which I find a very depressing thought. In my own life I have been presented with situations that have continued to repeat themselves until I made a different choice and transformed my life in the process. To me, THAT is the meaning of life and the real source of joy.