The natal chart shows us the plan for a lifetime. Whatever we call this arrangement: essence, personality, individuality, or something else, this blueprint is the foundation upon which we will build who and what we will turn ourselves into over the course of a lifetime, be that long or short. It underpins us for the duration. Lack of conscious co-operation can make it dysfunctional, in which case we will suffer over and over again for the same basic reasons; or if we learn from the suffering, we may start the process of building our higher bodies within the physical vehicle.
This is the deal offered to the human kingdom: commitment and conscious effort on behalf of the evolution of consciousness in return for the opportunity to survive death. Learning from experience, and that includes suffering, is the only way to engage with it. We will not escape suffering that comes with the human condition, but we can learn how to stop unnecessary suffering.
From time immemorial, our spiritual traditions have encouraged us to work on ourselves, and to recognise and avoid the most obvious common dangers, so that we will grow up and stand up straighter and taller in this system in which we find ourselves and make a contribution to it.
Each tradition offers a seemingly different route up the mountain, but the closer we get to their esoteric hearts the apparent differences diminish, and we see then that the mountain is one and the same, made from the subtle bodies that a human being in incarnation can build within the physical vehicle and that give us access to higher levels of consciousness. A fully developed Man is considered to have 6 bodies within the physical.
This is not ultimately a matter of belief, but a self-evident process based on self- observation and experience. It is results, the greater mastery of the ending of unnecessary suffering, that drive us onwards. Later on, we will do it for itself and to assist evolution. Belief simply gets us started.
Increasingly, with the decline of organised religion, we lack the knowledge that enables us to understand the process we are a part of, and to make that start.
Western children are no longer told about the paths up the mountain or helped to recognise that there is a point to our lives. They are sent out into the world with a mobile phone and a few spiritual truths which have become the clichés of marketing agencies and journalists, to wander directionless on its dangerous foothills. In the UK and US, suicide now kills more teenagers each year than cancer. Young people are killing themselves from finding no point to their lives and to themselves.
Working consciously on ourselves in everyday life with focus and commitment, we can build two subtle bodies. With the formation of the second (which, with the physical vehicle, represents the third body) we are self aware and in charge of ourselves and our lives, in touch with and able to act as agents for energies from beyond the Three Worlds. This is I AM awareness and is as far as everyday life can take us. To go beyond this, we will need a specialist lifestyle and a dedicated teacher. A life dedicated to service can be that teacher, but we must allow it to be so.
In spirituality, Freedom and Liberation do not mean the same thing. Liberation removes us from incarnating; Freedom gives us objective consciousness, knowledge, and mastery of Self. For Liberation, go East; the Western goal is the freedom of I Am. Although we may learn much in the way of self-knowledge and discipline within them, the shadow of this confusion hangs over the Western branches of the Eastern traditions. In the West with Western teachers, they are hybrids, talking about Liberation but, in fact, committed to Freedom which is the default setting for Western consciousness, and which could be both the point and redemption of it, if we learn to handle the challenges that it presents. Consider, for example, the young people with Pluto in Sagittarius whose evolutionary development makes them look around for purpose, but who cannot find it in our world. What can we offer them?
Freedom comes with the building of the fourth body; but for those of us, as spiritual aspirants in everyday life, our attainable goal is the building of the Human Soul within the third body. Then, although we may have no great power or any interest in having power, we can manage ourselves and, as receptacles of higher energies, we can make ourselves useful.
The Natal Blueprint
The natal chart shows the materials we have to work with during our lifetimes of, according to tradition, 3 score years +10; but now in the 21st Century, for the physical being at least, quite a bit longer.
This plan shows how best we may deploy these materials in the Worlds, but it does not predetermine the outcome. Underachievers, fanatics, murderers, overachievers, crazy wisdom teachers, saints and children who throw themselves off cliffs are made, not designed. They are made from the way we engage with the life we draw towards us; how we use time, circumstance, experience, and choice. These experiences create being, the quality aspect of who we are. The natal chart shows those with the kind of strong wiring that can bring through energies that support the realization of Freedom in this lifetime, but in their spiritedness, they may drive their vehicles off the road before this happens.
We know from watching young plants grow how susceptible they are to the conditions they meet: whether the soil is nutritious, whether there is sufficient but not too much water, whether there is enough light, whether the slugs and snails can be kept away, whether they are protected against frost. We have seen what happens to their growth if the wind blows consistently from just one direction.
We have a similar kind of vulnerability to the forces that we meet with as we grow: circumstance, experience and choice will support or interfere with the plan which is both the sum of its parts and contains an internal logic to which each part contributes. All too often that coherence is lost, and certain parts develop more strongly and more rapidly than others. This is how the persona and split personalities come into being and how, like a cuckoo in the nest, they come to overlay the plan.
But unlike a plant, we can move, and we can choose. Indeed, we are using choice, often unwisely and often hardly conscious of it most of the day, choosing the words we use, the impressions we want to create on others, the company we keep, what to eat, what to do with our leisure time, and what to open and shut our ears, eyes, and minds to.
What we could achieve if we operated consciously on this very basic, everyday level, gently picking at the end of the energy that we call free will, as if trying to find the end of a roll of sticky tape, is of very real and of abiding significance. Yet it lacks novelty in the eyes of those new to spirituality, and is perceived as commonplace and small, anything but inspirational. So, when the suffering makes us start thinking about our lives, we won’t bother with the opportunities to hand. We will try to run before we can walk and end up in our heads, engaged in an intellectual make over. Intellectualism does not create being, and we will have to retrace and take these practical steps some day. To this end, life which is quite the best teacher, can be sure to knock us off our perches as many times as required.
Whether we choose to acknowledge the materials we have to work with or the design of our lives, they are still at work every day we are alive. Better surely to know what they are and how to become aware of them, manage them, straighten out our own lives, and get a grip on the plan. This is the best possible place to start living consciously and intentionally and making more intelligent choices.
An accurate horoscope exists to remind us of what the plan is. It gives us the opportunity to restore it before it is too late to straighten out the energy fields we are living in, so that we may understand ourselves better, manage ourselves better, and discover how to be better at being ourselves. This is an ongoing process that we could and should be involved in up to the hour of our death, which is when we lay the ground for the next lifetime. An astrologer who knows what they are doing can see the thoughts with which an individual concluded a previous lifetime and how they are built into the present incarnation.
Within established spiritual traditions, there is only grudging acceptance of the value of horoscopy because there is a very limited understanding that astrology is a language, not a static schema. A predisposition to deal with life in a certain way does not need to be a limitation; it could be made into a great strength.
It is for us to make this language useful to the process we are caught up in, something to which a significant number of us professionals have dedicated our lives and creative resources. Intelligent Western Astrology in the 21st century bears no resemblance to the pre-determinism of the astrology that had to struggle passed conventional religion to enter the 20th, although, regrettably, slovenly astrology and charlatanism still exist, and surely will for as long as calling yourself an astrologer attracts easy money.
If you are thinking of having a reading, share with the astrologer the kind of questions you will want to ask, not to get answers at this stage – they belong within the reading – but to ascertain whether the astrologer has the skills to find them.
Astrology and the Stages of Life
Growing up is a hazardous business. It always was, although time may have changed the nature of the most critical dangers which may be encountered at an increasingly young age. The blueprint does not change, but in time it releases challenges and opportunities.
Charts drawn up for babies and readings given to parents can be helpful, especially when there are decisions to be made that will have an obvious impact upon the child’s life and development.
Youth is a critical time, and a parent will surely do a better job of holding the space if they know for whom they are holding it, especially if health or behavioural problems have manifested. If self-responsibility and guts are going to manifest in adult life, the seeds will need to be sown in childhood. The teenage years will unfold from this point and with them the persona which is always a form of defence against the perceived change represented by others. At least, try to find out who is trying to emerge through the teenage fogs into individuality. Readings for children should be given to parents during the teenage years, unless the child has left home and is self-supporting, even if it is too soon for the child to hear it. A young person may not be able to handle a truth which may be far, far away from his inauthentic, media inspired dreams. As young people, we are full of inauthentic ideas with which we have to make a new relationship. We literally have to work through them. Life breaks up the ground and prepares us for acceptance and gives us our best experiences and feedback.
At age 12, a child’s resistance to the parent’s influence over his life is likely to become evident. What is going here? It is about the opening of a child’s awareness to the realities of being in a material body with new appetites, in a material world with new challenges. This awareness enters the energy field, like a splinter enters the flesh, and like a splinter it can become septic. The child experiences the entry of the splinter as a dimming of the light, something they will not want to put into words even if they knew how. Being less open is one of the ways in which we try to protect ourselves from intrusion and interference when a parent or teacher’s example and grip on this new reality may not look so great or admirable now. This is the age when parents so often feel that their children are beginning to move away from them.
So, what is the solution to it? In truth, there is no solution to it. It is part of the human condition. It is not a personal failing; no one has failed, not the parents, not the child. It is the way it is, another thing we have to live with, and there is an intelligent way of helping the child understand that he will be challenged to waken his spiritual being. This is not life gone wrong; it is life doing its work.
For this reason, I consider that the early twenties are still too young to be given a serious astrological reading. The twenties are and should be the years of experimentation. This is where the learning and, with greater lifestyle freedom, the first steps into authenticity are found. An old head on young shoulders, may simply be persona, and often flags up a rebellion yet to come. Wisdom comes from experience, not the mouths of others. It is an aspect of being.
For as long as the questions are about when the things we want to happen will arrive in our lives, leave life to deliver the message. Astrology comes into its own when the questions shift to why it has never arrived. From the time a person begins to question themselves and the way they are handling their lives and opportunities in life, they are ready for a serious reading.
Between the ages of 27-29, we face the Saturn return which is essentially a clear out of inherited attitudes and ideas.
At 35, having undergone this clear out, we should be able to plant the seed of the new and go through the portal to a life that is creatively authentic. By age 35, a person needs to be ready to move on, and a reading should bring recognition and confirmation of a questioning that has taken place prior to this. I have found that ages 32-35 are years of serious self-questioning because the challenges which are being issued by life so often result in a reassessment of what matters.
Ages 42, 49, 50, 55, and 63 each bring their challenges, but they are less critical because the grip of inauthentic ideas will be less tight. The challenge now is how to ground what we know we are and have to offer; it is about opportunity and intelligent organisation of lifestyle.
At age 64, we emerge into our karma-free zone. More about this later in the article on opportunity.