The Myth of Fatalism in Predictive Astrology

Mercurio Since my early years I argued that free will was a human illusion, so the most important factor that attracted my attention in Classical astrology was its predictive goal, which only confirmed my suspicions that human destiny was set since the beginning.

However my own astrological practice, study and maturity have led me to revise partially this concept. More and more I opened my mind to a new conceptualization taking into account  philosophical aspects which can apparently explain why not predictable events come to pass and others clearly predicted  simply do not happen.

Initially I attributed to the astrologer the error for such inconsistency.  I went so far as to elaborate complex theories to explain the fact. However, reviewing and studying the beginnings of astrology, the philosophical thinking of Plato and Aristotle conjunctly to other factors, important points came to light and it is possible that such facts, especially the human capacity to interact with destiny, represented the real answer. This article is not intended to be exhaustive in what concerns to imponderable factors and events that are beyond the careful delineation of the chart and  I´ll focus on the native´s enterprise as having the capacity to modify for better or worse the astrological chart.

I -Modern and Traditional Astrology

The focal point of modern psychological astrology is that the astrological chart  is said to describe the psyche of the native. Thus this line of thinking concludes that if a particular event occurs to a person he or she  will tend to react in a specific way that is characterized according to the configurations of the chart. What will happen to a certain person departing from the natal chart and in which period of the life certain event will take place is not possible to be described.

I do not know if all psychological astrologers think alike, but what is common to hear is that the chart describes the psychodynamics of the native, but one cannot tell whether a certain individual in particular, having a certain chart and therefore a particular psychodynamic, will respond to an event in one way or another, as this will depend on the level of awareness and “evolution”  of a particular native, and it cannot be seen on the chart. So, the conclusion is that prediction is impossible to be made. The only thing you can do is describe the psychodynamics of the soul. This can be good for people looking for a certain type of therapy or to understand their internal attributes in general terms.

At the opposite side is traditional astrology which gives a big emphasis to prediction of events. Because of this it is seen as a fatalistic doctrine opposing the modern astrology that values the free will. In other words, the first one is described as emphasizing the outside world , all that happens outside to the native,  and the second the inside world. In my view such a concept is an oversimplification, and it is false, since traditionally we start by characterizing the predicted external events to after being able to know the reaction of the subject to them. We can also start from the inside: the native´s acts can generate external events.

The question of the prediction of events, one of the important goals of traditional astrology needs to be examined carefully, in order to avoid it to be considered simplistically fatalistic, since the predictability of an event presupposes some kind of  predestination. Western astrology was born in the cradle of Hellenic civilization that has a very sophisticated concept of destiny. The Hellenistic astrologers believed that Hermamene, the fate as normally is understood, is inherent to the natal chart. This chart describes the conditions necessary in order to live one´s own destiny or in other words in order to fulfill one´s own bios.

Now, the natal chart is a necessary but not sufficient condition because we find people who have all sorts of favorable conditions in their charts and do not realize it or excel in their lives, while others, whose charts are far less promising, even not being able to go that far, some certainly go far beyond what is promised in the chart. This can be explained by the fact that the native took the right action, made the right choices at the right time.

In certain way we can say that the game between the Part of Fortune, or the Moon, linked to what happens to us externally, versus the Part of the Spirit, or the Sun, linked to our actions, can be the deciding factor to explain this kind of variation. If a native merely copes with what happens to him, he will be using his Part of the Spirit in a very limited way. Indeed, this Part is solar and its main description, as we see in Valens, is action. This intertwining role between the two Parts can make all the difference.

However, there are actions generated deliberately and not in response to an event or as a consequence of events that occurred and such deliberate actions can generate consequences.

So there is not a dividing wall between what is considered internal or external. The game between 1st- to deliberate and act and 2nd-suffering an event and react, are a much more complete model to practice astrology than the model of only to evaluate the native´s soul through the astrological configurations without taking into consideration the dimension of the external world,

Traditional astrology has techniques for assessing the magnitude of the Nativity, which may be repugnant to modern thought and to what is now said to be “politically correct,” since we are judging and comparing people through value judgments and not according their acts.

Ptolemy has a chapter on the Rank of the Nativity and Medieval astrology also dealt extensively with this. In fact you cannot deny that there are charts with more potential than others and on which the biographers huddled for hundreds of years. Such charts must have something special. However, many people possessing such charts do not become as important as one would suppose, and this has to do with two facts, the internal factor which we have already quoted (lack of action) or because the directions are not conductive to business in the time of the action .

For example, in the power struggle between two prominent politicians if the timing of elections coincide with unfortunate primary directions or profections for one of them, this will give victory to the opposing party, no matter how correct was the attitude of the first one when making decisions. The time, therefore, is an external event of prime importance.

II- The Role of the Stoics in the Astrological Fatalism

Stoicism was a philosophical current developed after Plato and Aristotle´s death. The Academy was founded by Plato and after his death in 347 BC several successors occupied the master´s place. The philosophical ideas began to change since in one special moment the Stoic philosophy was adopted by the members. Such philosophical current was in vogue at the time of Valens.

Accordingly to the Stoics human destiny was fixed and freedom consisted in the wisdom to accept the events. The principle was immutable and irrevocable. The Stoics would today be considered within what is called the fatalistic determinism.

Many modern astrologers and even traditional ones believe that classical predictive astrology is based on the belief of an immutable fate, as taught in the Stoic philosophy. There are some reasons for this idea. We read in Valens that we should be a soldier of destiny and in Firmicus Maternus there is a great Stoic introduction when the author states that it is not fair that good people have a life of suffering and other wicked have a bright future, but there is nothing we can do, because it is fate.

However, apart from these authors who lived 300-400 years after the period of the founding of Hellenistic Astrology none of the initial sources of the 2nd or 1st century BC, such as Hermes, Nechepso, Petosiris, Serapio, Critodemus, Abraham, Orfeus, Anubio, none of them said anything about fate or free will. Would they have the same idea of Valens and Firmicus?

Anyway, the old astrologers had been educated in philosophical schools, be they Platonic, Pythagorean or Stoic, but by what is recorded historically we have no reason to believe that they were all stoic and believe in absolute determinism of the astrological chart, even doing predictions. Besides this, the founders of astrology never bothered to give the reason why astrology works. They simply provided astrological practice. So, we do not know if they believe that fate was more or less important than human enterprise.

Plotinus, an author of the third century AD, accepts that planets can be used for predictions, but that parents and education have an equally great power. Moreover, he points out that twins have different destinies, which may mean that environment is also important in the realization of a birth chart.

Indeed, one can hardly be a tyrant being born on a deserted island for more exalted that the magnitude of the chart can be. In this sense other theses were raised, some downright spiritual character, such as the choice made by the soul before incarnating, but such theories go beyond the intent of this article.


Doing the right thing at the right time is a gift that some people have, as like a guardian angel blowing into the native ears what to do at a certain time, but others, the majority,  have not.

In ancient times to have the security to act on time and properly people sought guidance in the astrology or in divination. The astrological chart casted to the beginning, the inception of an event or certain activity in an attempt to seize the best time to act was called katarché. This type of astrological technique have been practiced since the beginning of Hellenistic astrology and based on its principles and probably influenced by Indian astrology, the Horary astrology was generated.

Now, if everything were considered as fate by the creators of astrology katharché or electional astrology would never have been conceived.

In conclusion, my direct experience in elective charts led me to believe with no doubt that acts that started at opportune moments, chosen according to a good celestial situation, have conducted to dramatically different results, much better than when those same actions are undertaken in not propitious times.

A simple case concerns a company that wanted to capture informatics specialists. When the announcement in the newspaper or on the internet arrived when the Moon (which participates as a significator in all matters), was in signs like Taurus and Cancer, the candidates for the position were people of best level, and if the Moon was in Cancer, a fertile sign, the number of them grew exponentially.

However nothing would happen if the employer would not had announced.

All this may seem quite simplistic for many, but indeed it represents a whole different vision of astrology and the human life.

15 thoughts on “The Myth of Fatalism in Predictive Astrology

  1. Clalia, I think this is a particularly fine approach this issue, around which there has been so much misunderstanding. The fact is, modern or psychological astrologers have no clear idea of what we do and can do with traditional astrology. The sectiom on Katache is a strong validation for making choices within an astrological framework. It’s the one who denies they have this kind of choice who is really giving themselves over to fate. You manage to impart a great deal of knowledge with surprisingly few words

  2. Clelia,

    It may be of interest to know one of the ways this freewill and fate issue was looked at in jyotisha or the ancient and classical astrology in Sanatana Dharma and other paths in Bharata. It is more sophisticated than the usual ‘either-or’ propositions of the tired arguments of freewill vs. fate. Modern paradigm astrologers only say there is no fate because they lack the astrology knowledge and learning found in the classical and ancient astrology texts and have not seen actual ancient astrology aphorisms involving various yogas, play out exactly as listed in the text concerning concrete physical things at exactly the dasha periods they were said to happen in.

    It is said there are 3 types of karma and they necessarily include the premise of reincarnation ( – of which reincarnation is also found mentioned in the Myth of Er or Republic by Plato as well as the Poetic Edda of the ancient Indo-European Norse tradition). Reincarnation, of the jiva or immortal essence, that exists before and after physical death of the biological organism, but one could likely create a metaphysical view without including reincarnation and still make sense of this ‘trinity’ approach, if one was averse to reincarnation for some reason. It could be as simple as stating the energy of this portion of the universe was in such-and-such a state at birth and that energy will produce these events, whether or not previous lifetimes existed, but in neither case does having freewill necessarily preclude the existence of what humans call ‘fate’.

    1) Sanchita karma: The total collection of karma a jiva has from all previous lives whether as an insect or a human or a being from another loka or universe.

    2) Prarabdha karma: The portion of sanchita karma which the jiva will experience in the present birth, represented by the natal chart and derivatives thereof. However, there are techniques and derivative charts in Jyotisha which are said to be a picture of a previous life karma, but in basic and simple terms, we can say the natal chart represents that portion of sanchita karma called prarabdha karma. Prarabdha karma is the fate portion of the present life of the native.

    3) Kriyamana karma: The karma which is accruing at the moment, based on our choice of actions and thoughts and words that we are making at the present moment, and this karma will bear fruit in the future of this birth and/or in a future life of the jiva.

    The gurus oftentimes advocated nishkam karma and also focused on prarabdha karma in their teachings, but only in order to “switch the state of the water from liquid to boil or gas”, i.e., to change the state from jiva to atman and then brahman. This understanding is also found reflected in the story of the “one-eyed” Odin…or Woden of which we still remember him by the word Woden’s-day or ‘Wednesday’…

    One of the other variations on this issue is that for some reason the upachaya houses are said to be more amenable to freewill and less fated than the other houses. The upachaya houses are 3, 6, 10, and 11.


  3. Dear Varuna, I think that the only one able to discuss Indian astrology on ISCA is Peter Clark. I´m not able to go into the deep level of your comments, but I think that in general when a person is born he is bounded by the environment, the country, the parents, the DNA. You can argue that this was a pre incarnation choice: maybe it is, if we follow Plato, but this is a question of faith, in my opinion. I fully agree with you that the debate between fate and free will is as simplistic as the division between body and soul. Man is a unity. Perhaps the limit of free will of each one is something inherent to each one´s chart. Thanks for your comments!

  4. Certainly start something on an auspicious time favors the result of the action, but this does not mean that you can alter the destination to the point that someone who has a miserable home II may be getting rich.
    This attempt to modify the destination using electional astrology, trying to somehow overcome the native configuration, not think I can give but apparent changes, and transient, but the destination remains the same. And the changes are later, earlier, problematic. In addition, elective astrology traditionally always used in conjunction with the natal chart.
    And with regard to free will, the problem is that people act according to their nature, and that is why they are so predictable.
    In Hindu traditions (among others) the deviation of fate is to do something that is not according to the nature of the individual, and the loss of the castes exemplified. In the corpus Hermeticum talking about an avenging angel in charge to lead us to possibilities that would not have happened if we had not done this or that other, there are many ways to express this.
    As the only free will that I think we have is to continue what God has intended for us or try to overcome this.

    1. Dear Raul: perhaps you are right, but I still believe that if we are able to create something brand new this thing is created. The problem is IF we can create something new from the scratch. I have been doing electional astrology for parentes wanting the best for their babies. I do not know what would be without my electional: I´ll never know. The baby was created in the womb 9 lunar months before to be born, so it was not my entirely my deed. But if we believe in the natal chart, the beginning of life as human being perhaps we can create something better like the good fairy that diminished the evil. I believe also that God gave to some people wisdom enough to partake even if a very few moments in some of His/Her talents. But this is only what I think, and is not necessary truth.

      1. Dear Clelia

        The possibility of co creators is always possible for talented people like you say,
        which traditionally brings trouble is that this is done in an unorthodox way, astrologically speaking when it is not promised by the natal chart. The pariahs of India often receive the rites of the Brahmins, but this is considered illegal and therefore these Brahmins lose their caste, and suffer all the spiritual and material problems that brings this lost. And it also the pariahs are harmed!
        The problem is not to make use of the talents, but use them ethically, according to the will of God, which is why the hidden alchemists behind the pseudonym of Fulcanelli believed that cloning is a monstrosity, a deviation from nature, though it be successful.
        That the consequences of illegal acts may be unable to be seen in just one life, does not mean they do not exist, and when the time is right will bear fruit.
          But I understand your point.

      2. Raul: “when it is not promised by the natal chart” , I totally agree with you. And I consider also cloning as a monstrosity; Very good points, Raul! I was suggesting that to do an election can be very useful: if you see by SR, Firdars or Profections that some month will be of pain, you can avoid them let´s say for a trip. But perhaps you can give advice for the client in order to go on and make the same trip in another month. Thanks for the fruitful discussion!

      3. No, Clelia, thanks to you. It is a pleasure for me to address these issues. The tradition is most important. By the way, and if you’re interested, I suggest you read an esoterist (but not astrologer) named Rene Guenon, which tackles these questions about the nature of being and its possibilities (among other things) in an excellent manner.

      4. I have to read this great philosopher! I´m impressed with the kind of thought he had: I´m happy for concluding as far as I read and it is very few, that we both think alike, Thanks for the tip!

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