We’ve all met those people. You know the ones. They throw tantrums, ghost on their friends, or have unyieldingly (read: impractical) high standards that they apply to everybody but themselves…and they blame it on their astrology. Is that valid? Is that okay? The answer, like most things, is complicated.
Astrology is the place where the search for meaning intersects with the mundane and the practical, where the esoteric is laid out in a two-dimensional chart. We glean insight from it and we can definitely look to the birth chart as a place where we can pinpoint the causes of some of our issues. The flip side is that we can find a lot of things to blame. We can blame our explosive temper on our Mars in Aries. We can blame our tendency to people-please and avoid conflict on our Moon in Libra. We can blame our spaciness on our Mercury in Pisces. However, we must ask ourselves if that’s any way to live, much less live a meaningful life.
Astrology lived to its highest potential doesn’t stop there. It pushes past the excuses and dares to ask the question “what now?” Okay, fine, you’re spicy with that Mars in Aries. So—what now? Do you just blow up on everybody you know, or do you, perhaps, find a way to channel it productively? Perhaps your ascendant is in the sign of Cancer—the nurturer—so you perhaps can channel that combative, warlike quality of Mars through Cancer, the Mother, and become a protector or defender. Rather than just give into the tantrums or suppress the aggression, you can look to the other aspects in your chart to see how best that energy can be expressed in a way that’s still authentic to you.
You may have guessed it by now, but I’m that Aries with a Cancer rising. I’m also that space cadet with the Mercury in Pisces, but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse to keep people waiting because I can’t keep track of time. (If anything, it just means that I need to make friends with Siri and ask her to set alarms for me.) We need to be human beings who live in this world and be responsible to our loved ones, and astrology is a useful tool that allows us to do that in a way that works with us rather than against us. The search for meaning cannot excuse you from life. Rather, the search for meaning should enhance life.
On the flip side, we can’t spend a lifetime suppressing our natural urges, because doing so also suppresses our talents and gifts to the world. Astrology can also be used, as one of my teachers Debra Silverman likes to say, to issue “permission slips.” Cathartic release can be experienced in a good reading where a wise astrologer can help a client give themselves permission to, for example, be okay with not wanting to have children and to stop beating herself up over it. Or, perhaps, assure someone that their decision to leave the drudgery of their sales job to answer their soul’s calling to enter the health and wellness space. The reverse could also be true—maybe the planets are saying that it’s time for someone return to college as an older adult, and this is what they need to hear to get over their inhibitions about being “too old” (by the way, there’s no such thing).
This brings to mind the issue of destiny vs free will. I wouldn’t study astrology if I didn’t believe in fate and destiny, but I also wouldn’t be an astrologer if I didn’t believe my clients could do something about it. What I believe is that your natal chart casts your potential, and how you realize that potential—for good or ill—is up to you.
The example that comes to mind is the composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who is widely considered to be the greatest composer of all time because he influenced generations of composers who came after him. Mozart even studied Bach and regarded him as a great maestro. Bach’s approach to music was both conventional and genius. He never broke rules—his adherence to musical rules was pristine. Bach always operated inside the sandbox of the rules and he never stepped outside of them, but he extracted every drop of potential he could from every inch of the sandbox. If you told him that he could only work with a certain family of notes, he’d use them conventionally, unconventionally, upside down, sideways, and replace the familiar notes with their cousins for parts of his pieces. He could compose two pieces that sounded beautiful while played separately, but even more beautiful when played together, but each piece still made sense on their own. He did all this without ever breaking the rules or straying from his sandbox.
What a reading (at least one with me) aims to do is to help you establish the boundaries of your sandbox and then help you strategize ideas for maximizing your time in this sandbox. The excuses that people find in their charts are simply them becoming aware of the limits of their sandbox. However, the question must be asked—what now? Do you just make excuses and noise, or do you, like Bach, make beautiful music?
The responsibility of an astrologer is to help their client on their journey towards a meaningful life—not to provide excuses or coddle. They’re the ones who see the reality of what you have to work with and help you to come up with ideas and options that convention has overlooked, and a good astrologer can not only piece together the disparate elements of your chart, but also validate with kindness and hold you responsible to the wish you made to live an authentic, fulfilled life.