In my experience, astrology is not good at answering “yes/no” questions about the future. It is limited in its ability to predict specific outcomes on the physical level. But perhaps less discussed is the fact that astrology and other divinatory practices can be limited by the wording of the questions asked by the client. For example, some common questions I’ve heard over the years are: “When will I meet my soul mate?”and “Will I ever meet my soul mate?”There are many problems with this question.
First of all, a belief in the “one soul mate” theory is presumed. Astrology itself cannot directly speak to the existence or non-existence of soul mates. But more than that, I have not found that it is possible to predict exactly when or if such a meeting will happen. However, I would not shame anyone for having this question, as the need for love and connection, and the desire for a “soul mate,” is a very human one, and is entirely understandable! Instead, I would offer a client with this question specific information about transits and cycles of opportunity so that he or she is able to maximize efforts in searching for a partner.
Another shortcoming of astrology lies in the idea that it does not address whether it is right or wrong to take a certain action. A client may ask: “Should I break up with my husband?” The chart is not proscriptive in terms of what one should or shouldn’t do, and does not cast judgments on or provide justifications of such actions. It's true that one could use an Horary astrology reading for such a question, which is a chart cast for the time the question is asked of the reader. But I would respond to such a question by offering information regarding relationships from both the natal and the relationship chart, focusing upon their correlation to any current relationship problems. Complex problems require complex solutions, and more often than not, a simple "yes" or "no" isn't adequate. I would provide the information, but emphasize that the choice of what to do, and the power, lies with the client.
What is it that astrology CAN do?
Astrology can help us to understand the nature of our own psyche, and how we are wired. We are better able to navigate life and its daily challenges when we own this kind of self-knowledge and awareness. The natal chart can help us to understand relationship dynamics with friends, lovers, and family. Consciousness and awareness of our own nature and our motives can aid in releasing us from passive victimhood to our own wounds, neuroses, and unconscious behaviors. Ultimately, I see astrology as a tool for healing.
Additionally, observing the movement of transits and progressions can bring us into an attunement with the cycles at work in our lives, and offer us a sense of context and meaning. If we are undergoing a very challenging time that seems to bear the stamp of dark or intense themes for instance, and we know we are in the middle of a Pluto transit, it may be easier to undergo that period with conscious acceptance. With the awareness of the transit, we know that there is a rhyme, reason and season to the presence of Pluto in our lives at that time.
Fate or Free Will?
At the heart of the discussion of whether astrology “works” and how helpful it is lays the consideration of whether one’s life is dictated by fate or free-will. In my experience, both fate and free-will are forces which shape a life. Astrology can aid us in understanding some of the apparently fated elements of our life path. But with knowledge about our natal chart, we can use our free-will more actively and consciously, perhaps avoiding some things that would become our “fate” if we were just living our lives on auto-pilot.
I once received a reading from a psychic who told me that the very act of receiving a reading changes our future. I believe that is true of an astrology reading as well, in the sense that the knowledge we gain allows us to see the places where we might fall into our shadow selves, the places where we can be at our worst, and provides us the means to choose differently.