Your Birth Chart - Choice, or Chance?
Some thoughts about Astrology & Karma, Past Lives and Soul Mates
by Danielle Astrid Ricard
Because of the completely original alignment of the planets, Sun and Moon the moment you were born - not to mention your genetic makeup, and your unique family and social landscape, your bodily existence is entirely new - just as new as the cultural/historical period and events playing out at the exact time and place of your nativity. The second your tiny body emerged from the womb, and you gasped for air and cried for loving arms - you absorbed the spirit of the times and made them your own. You are a snapshot of cosmic history, carrying within you the astrological imprint of the moment on earth - the same soul, born yet again to experience a new cosmic and earthly drama.
A singular moment in time, you interact and make music with your fellow beings - growing, adjusting and fitting in with society in your own inimitable way. Your actions and expression cause ripples and changes. You are evolution in human form - a messenger of social progress and harbinger of changes that will come forth simply because you are here to project your distinctive moment in time.
While you are probably happy with yourself overall and appreciate who you are as a pure soul, if you are familiar with your astrological chart, you might spend time pondering why you must contend with certain difficult traits - like a Moon conjunct Pluto square Mars, or a nerve-wracking Mercury/Uranus opposition. Even if you don't concern yourself with Astrology, perhaps you pace the floor wondering why you attract drug addicts and lunatics into your life (!!), or have family members who seem completely alien to you. You might question the higher purpose of having a parent who yells at you, or of being burdened with a "four" life-path, and a type A personality. Did you really ask for these things? You could chalk it all up to fate, karmic debt, personal choice made before birth, unfinished business, or pure chance. But more likely - it is all of these.
It is a popular notion these days that our charts/births reflect both our choice before birth and what we need in this lifetime in terms of balancing karma and growing as spiritual beings. This does create a sense of greater personal responsibility for our lives, but in some cases, the idea that we choose our birth circumstances places an unnecessary and unfair burden on those who would blame themselves for their shortcomings and personal tragedies, perhaps for past karmic misdeeds. And - the element of chance is entirely missing from this equation.
From the standpoint of Astrology - life is a somewhat orderly progression of human growth and evolution with distinct astrological landmarks (orbital periods) to hold our journeys within a recognizable framework for all of humanity. Yet, there can be no order without the opposite concept - chaos, just as there can be no light without darkness - and so it holds that chaos is necessary for life, and essential to creating new order - evolution. It is simply not possible for the entire birth chart, in all its intricacies to be dictated by karma and/or by the force of one's will and wishes before birth - there must be some element of surprise, of newness, of unexpected challenge!
Then of course, there must be limits to our powers of choice - both in terms of personal evolution and probability. How much one actually chooses, first of all, depends a great deal on one's level of spirituality vs. attachment to the earth plane. One might incarnate from the desire nature, and choose a time and place of birth that assures that she will be near some arch-enemy from a past life, or near to some soul whom she longs to possess physically. In these cases - astrology isn't much of a factor in her decision. One may choose from a heart level, and decide collectively with other souls to be born in close proximity so that all might meet again. Another may choose from a very spiritual level - to be born in a place and time when his particular spiritual, physical and mental gifts can be of service to humanity. Any of these can be a factor - there are as many possible scenarios as there are individual souls. You may have placed your order for a great deal of your chart, and the waiter made some mistakes! You could be drawn in by the force of the planets themselves, or you could be here with very little say in the matter at all - at the behest of higher spiritual beings and the constantly moving and evolving solar-universe we are a part of. Maybe you were born quite spontaneously in response to some call from a soul here on earth. There is no way to determine which factors play a role, or to what degree. What I feel is often overlooked is that a certain amount of what we see in the birth chart is pure cosmic chance - allowing for the kind of surprises that add to the diversity and beauty on earth, and bring further challenges and opportunities for spiritual awakening through human form-making.
Even assuming you had total power of choice in your birth time and situation, there is nothing you can do about where the planets are and how they are relating, short of jumping in when it feels particularly right. You might easily decide on your Rising, Moon and Sun positions - because they change within the space of minutes, hours and months. It's no wonder that these three define us so intrinsically. Venus and Mars do a dance around the wheel forming a variety of aspects and re-conjuncting in the space of a year or so - and so they may be chosen by aspect, sign and/or house placement without much affect on a family or group dynamic you might have chosen. Jupiter and Saturn give us less leeway - but if chosen by house position can help to define your social contributions, although if you're particular about your Rising sign, you'll just have to let them land where they may! For the rest of the planets and the lunar nodes, it may be possible to choose in what houses some of them will land - but the signs? Many planets have a generational influence, so the era in which you were born may present you with unforeseen hardships. A particular astrological choice can make it difficult to be choosy about the family one gets and throw us into unexpected or unfamiliar situations. ("Hey - what am I doing with these people"?) Not only that - but the very unique nature of each moment in time, and thus each birth, makes it impossible to really know in advance what it might be like to be born at a specific future time and place, unless you're Merlin.
So, spin the wheel me must!
We are born with certain goals in mind, both for ourselves and for those whose lives we intend to touch. As for our charts, a great deal of the energy we receive has to do with fitting into society within our era in human history. We notice how we belong with people born within a year or two - and in other ways, how we belong with people within a broader age-range. We appreciate how much diversity there is among us as well - our births are spread out fairly evenly over each year, allowing for different talents to emerge that fulfill all the roles necessary for our social survival, and our enjoyment of life. We find common challenges, and realize strengths that help us to help others. We may choose some of our astrological attributes - but not with any perfection, and so there are bound to be surprises - as well there should be.
This element of surprise is especially reflected in the archetypes of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. They inspire, shock, dissolve, and they destroy and transform. They determine the flavor, struggles and consciousness for long eras in human history, and have their own repeating aspect patterns between each other that spur our collective evolution. In the individual birth chart, they not only call us into the social drama of our day - but also by aspect to the inner planets - pull us into personal dramas that reflect the times, and help us to integrate with and relate to others on the myriad levels of expression necessary for a wealth of human experience and creativity. They can also contribute to a variety of ills, phobias, intense experiences and shocking revelations that may plague us, and/or encourage strength through adversity, and help us to come closer to a spiritual purpose. I doubt that we entirely choose these very difficult configurations; any more than one necessarily chooses to have a birth defect or be victimized by war. Perhaps we choose to accept the possibilities available within the parameters of our wishes, both in terms of astrology and potential connectedness to others.
Our planetary harmonics, sign and house influences encourage and compel us to enter into situations that can serve to enlighten and empower us. Finding and understanding these astrological challenges, whether we choose them or not, can help us to rise above, and make it easier to live our lives in accordance with the highest purpose we are capable of. What is truly wonderful is that for every difficult trait we discover, there are sure to be as many incredible talents and gifts that we may embrace. All we need do is look - with gratitude, a sense of wonder, and a positive attitude.
We are creators of our existence - willing participants in a much larger picture beyond most people's comprehension, compelled by desire to enter into this lifetime, drawn in by the karmic need to right the wrongs of the past, and also by a need to create balance in spirit through new experiences.
The astrological chart is as complex and rich and full of surprises as life itself, and we are not entirely responsible for all its intricacies, although we are responsible for living our lives as consciously as possible. As we go along with this spiritual study, it is uncanny how we somehow learn lessons that are delightfully synchronous with current life situations and our own personal and collective advancement. If we keep our eyes, our hearts, and our minds open - it's all just too amazing for words!
Astrology and Past Lives
Us Astrology aficionados are familiar with a number of ideas and theories about karma and the birth chart. One might believe that Saturn in Taurus means that you had a lifetime in a particular time period, and perhaps you are here to right the wrongs of that past life, or that Pluto in a certain location means that you misused your power over others in a particular way. These ideas are very intriguing, and maybe even true, but what does that really mean to you?
My theory about karma is that each of us has been through many, many lives, and that we can't possibly cope with more than a few major past life issues in one lifetime. Different components of our astrological charts (along with the affects of transiting planets in relation to the birth chart and progressed planetary movement,) serve to attract particular people (or sorts of people) and issues - perhaps from past lives, perhaps not - and force us to recognize and deal with them. Some meetings are undoubtedly destined to be, while others bring challenges and people we must face for the first time ever. Without having an actual memory, there is no way to be sure.
Astrology alone cannot determine past-life connectedness, and in fact is a dubious method at best - particularly computerized readings. Because much of the birth chart reflects, both in terms of evolution and probability, new challenge, opportunity and connections, I encourage the use of one's own intuition, regression or a psychic channel to get in touch with past lives, and feel it can be very valuable, particularly where there are painful memories, and unexplained feelings. Meanwhile, what one may discover astrologically are patterns of existence. Proceeding from a present-life perspective, we can find those issues in need of resolution, and point out ways to make satisfying and conscious use of them so we may thrive, and pave the way for even greater achievements in future lifetimes.
What about my Soul Mate? ...another heretical notion
Most lonely people hold onto the magnificent dream of finding that one person who will make life pleasant and joyous - the one being on the planet who is so incredibly attuned with your spirit that you love her/him to the ends of the universe. A Twin Flame is even better - actually a part of your soul that has split into another incarnation! (personally, I find that one scary.) The Soul Mate or Twin Flame has been through many lifetimes with you, and shares your level of wisdom, morality and purpose. Of course the package includes incredibly perfect sex, being totally and completely in love, absolute understanding, and of course - never, ever parting.
Sound great? Well, I doubt it's ever all that perfect. I won't say that the idea of "soul mate" is a myth, but I will say that it's an over-used term these days. Perhaps some of us do find someone pretty close to the ideal, particularly as we grow older, make wiser choices, and stand up for what we want. Perhaps we do finally encounter someone who is very familiar, safe and comfortable from a past-life, (my definition of a soul mate)... but taking into account that some element of chance, not to mention karma and choice has by necessity entered into this special one's astrological makeup, as well as yours, you are both bound to be somewhat different than you dreamed.... the same souls, yes - but with a new set of traits and challenges to contend with. Sorry to say, it's never easy.
When you take any two charts and compare the aspects between planets through synastry, you will find definite themes that contribute to ease in the relationship, and others that can contribute to stress and incompatibility. Many of these are associated with past-life connection, but when you consider how slowly the lunar nodes and the outer planets move, (generally considered important karmic/past-life indicators in synastry), it becomes clear that there are many, many other people who share those very same synastry connections, and it is nearly impossible for each of them to be an important past-life connection. The probability factor alone makes it a dubious practice to determine past-life connectedness solely through astrology, and I would trust a psychic channel or my own intuition before checking the charts.
Case in point - my Lunar Nodes are in Scorpio and Taurus, and I very definitely attract people with a great deal of passion, depth and intensity into my life (Scorpio), and others who have been very selfish with whom I've had to create some boundaries (Taurus.) Interestingly, my partners from both my marriages have their nodes very closely square (first) and quintile (second) mine. I also believe in my heart that I know them both from the past, but realistically - there are literally hundreds of thousands of other people out there with the same nodes - can they all be important to me, or connected to me somehow? More likely, they possess traits that I am attracted to, and perhaps need.
Anyway, it's funny, because I'm the first to say that I've found my soul-mate, but there are probably hundreds more out there who could also fit the bill! My point is, it's best to determine if someone is your soul mate by trusting your heart, then use Astrology to get to know that person and yourself better!
Article Copyright May 15, 2002 - by Danielle Astrid Ricard
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