Questioning Free Will vs. Fate in Astrology

Some people have difficulty accepting astrology due to what they see as a lack of choice. Everything seems to be locked into place. Are they trapped to experience events in their lives based on when they were born? Do they have any free will left?

And then there are those people who fervently believe in astrology and love to blame their misadventures on the position and nature of the planets and signs in their birth chart. “Oh I had to do that. I couldn’t help myself. You see, I have a Moon and Mars conjunct in Scorpio in the 7th house.” Well, this astrologer is not letting you get away with this point of view, or the previous one. I believe in free will.

Astrology, and society in general, has matured and evolved a lot over the centuries, particularly the past two hundred years or so. Once upon a time, if you were the child of a farmer, you were a farmer too, but it doesn’t work that way anymore. These days, the amount of opportunities in our current level of culture creates a far more mobile society, both literally and figuratively. And astrology has grown and adapted.

What a good astrologer will do is look at the themes of a person’s life, examine their strengths and also the areas of their lives where they may have some work to do. Of course there are some margins or boundaries in any chart, just as there are innate limitations in any person’s life. Some people have a natural propensity for medicine, some for sports, some for working with their hands, and some have golden tongues. And a good astrologer can help you consider ways to work around any potential obstacles, if that is what you want to do.

As a professional astrologer, when I make forecasts for the future, there is still plenty of room for free will. I can “see” the upcoming themes of a person’s life, and I offer suggestions for the best way to cope. If the plans they have are in conflict with the upcoming theme, then I discuss with them ways to work with it, or around it, and how to adapt the plans they have.

So let’s look at this question in another context. What is the place of free will when dealing with the seasons? Can you go sunbathing at the beach in winter? Can you plant crops in late fall? Can you build a snowman in midsummer? Can you harvest the crops in February? You could probably do all those things, but it would take quite a bit of extra effort to succeed at them. But would you question “free will” in those situations?


  1. Anthony Picco says:

    I don’t think cooperating with subconscious suggestions implies a lack of free will… We “think and act” with far far more than our conscious mind.

    but the debate rolls on… 😉

  2. Delano Strachen says:

    I had the same conversation with someone and I said you don’t have free will.I said to them you will get up at nine. A few minutes later they got up. I asked them why they said they wanted to check the time. It was nine o’çlock.I said you were impelled to get up. You could have asked me but you didn’t.

  3. James says:

    Hello Karen,

    Good luck with your novel. If Astrology is somehow inherently a part of it, I would very likely buy it.

    Re: “I’m also going to come at this from the position of the skeptic in my novel: The problem, imo, with James’s essential argument is that there are some 6B people on the planet. Certainly his father wasn’t the only one who was having that configuration at the time. Or a minute earlier, or a minute later. Did everybody else who was having it drop dead at the same moment? If not, how do you explain that?”

    It wasn’t a configuration from my Father’s chart, it was my Father’s Death shown in MY CHART. My Mother’s Death was shown similarly.

    To answer your question regarding 6B people on Earth… In the system that I mentioned, topocentric primary directions, a VERY SLIGHT difference in birthtime and/or location will make these aspects break down. Most dynamic systems are based on the Planets’ (realtime) movement relative to the Earth using the Earth’s REVOLUTION. In primary directions, it is based on the Planets’ (directed) movement based on the Earth’s ROTATION.

    As an example… if you had a twin born 4 mins later than you were, in Transits and Secondary Progressions, MANY of the aspects that form will be essentially the same for both of you. In Primary Directions, the aspects will be completely different. Your Twin’s Saturn opposite Sun could happen YEARS away from when yours occurs, if it’s even possible to occur at all!

    If your (collective) Father dies, it will be symbolized in the Primary Directions for both, but in different ways…

    Hope this helps!



  4. I hope some of you are subscribed to this thread, because I just found it. I’m doing astrology research for a novel I’m writing, so I’m rather new to playing with these ideas.

    I’m also going to come at this from the position of the skeptic in my novel: The problem, imo, with James’s essential argument is that there are some 6B people on the planet. Certainly his father wasn’t the only one who was having that configuration at the time. Or a minute earlier, or a minute later. Did everybody else who was having it drop dead at the same moment? If not, how do you explain that?

    And, related but put a little differently, if I knew how to do the the math, I’d be willing to bet I could come up with at least one person (and probably more) who have survived this precise configuration. How do you explain that?

    I realize I’m seeming pretty aggressive, but this is the point at which astrologers really lose me, and I’d like to be able to take this issue on in some way (in the novel.) So far, I’m finding astrology useful as a body of knowledge, categories, vocabulary for thinking about one’s life. It’s when seeming mathematical certainty begins to creep in that I get really lost.

    Also, btw: When it comes to free will, I like to play with the Jew-in-the-boxcar-on-way-to Auschwitz idea. Our free will is circumscribed by all kinds of things–physics, the moment in which we are born, who is holding the gun on us–but even within those constraints, we still have some room to determine how we will act. This is the subject of most of the great Holocaust (and Soviet dissident) lit. One of the most valuable contributions, in that sense, is that we see that free will can be exercised in tiny moments, the smallest of decisions. Because they add up to an undesirable outcome doesn’t mean they weren’t free choices. They are, after all, interacting with others’s choices.

  5. Wow this is generating lots of posts! Good going! …And I will be the Devil’s Advocate and say “Nein, we are all puppets to our Higher Self.”

  6. Great post, Tony. I still don’t know where I stand on this issue

    I would never recommend that people curl up and die in the face of lesser or great odds. My attitude would be, “DO something about it.”

    On another note: Take someone with a cool Sun-Jupiter trine: their hearts are constantly blessed with gladness. What about someone with a Sun or Moon-Saturn square? They are not going to very chirpy.

    If someone runs into “good luck” isn’t that good luck described in the natal chart?

    Perhaps your example of the seasons is good way to look at this. It’s one of the best analogies I’ve seen. Thank you!

  7. Just because we can’t predict what will happen doesn’t mean we have free will.

    1. Excellent. Thank you. I couldn’t find the words yet… thank you.

  8. Hello Anthony,

    It is basically standard primary directions, though the poles (a mathematical “part” of the calculation of positions) HAVE to be calculated topocentrically. It is the only house system that works for this.

    We know this is the case, because empirically, the topocentric house cusps are always where the aspects are.

    There are only three pieces of software that I know of that calculate these. One is Rumen Kolev’s Placidus program (clumsy application of them, but mathematically correct), Isaac Starkman’s Polaris (rectification program) and Alexander Marr’s Astro program, which is an old Dos program, but works with any DOS-wrapper and is FREE. I host it at and the instructions for it at the same location, filename It’s FREE. If you’re using a newer machine, ie. one without FAT32 filesystem, you’ll NEED the dos-wrapper. My recommendation is Dos-Box. It’s what I use. By the way, with Astro, I was able to rectify my chart 1 min 16 seconds from the documented time and EVERYTHING across all systems suddenly fell into place.

    I’m not selling anything. I have merely seen something incredible and am immensely enthusiastic about it.

    Re: Secondary Progressions

    Remember that the really great predictors of the past, Morin, etc., were using Primary Directions as their MAIN technique …and in those days… giving wrong predictions often meant that one’s head and one’s body were suddenly in two different places.

    ie. they HAD to find what would work



  9. Hello from one Anthony to another,

    Topocentric Primary Directions are a VERY, VERY rare system. That is too bad, since they are so reliable. I blame it on bad PR and that the math is a real pain. My files are full of these types of examples, though my Father IS one of the best examples.

    As an example, a teaser really, here are the aspects at a friend’s (and astrologer’s) death of his Wife: (aspects to house cusps are telling in this system)

    Saturn square Pluto 0° 2′
    Neptune sextile IC 0° 3′
    Venus sesquisquare SouthNode 0° 3′
    Uranus conjunct 8th Cusp 0° 5′
    IC sesquisquare Neptune 0° 5′
    Pluto semisquare Moon 0° 6′
    Saturn opposite IC 0° 8′

    Don’t “hang” on any one aspect, just soak it ALL in…and don’t forget the ORBS.

    Another example, same person, death of Father:

    MC square Sun 0° 3′
    12th conjunct Sun 0° 3′
    Sun conjunct Neptune 0° 6′
    Neptune conjunct 12th 0° 7′
    Asc conjunct Saturn 0° 9′

    Another example, same person, death of Mother:

    SouthNode sesquisquare Asc 0° 0′
    IC semisquare 8th 0° 2′
    Mars inconjunct IC 0° 2′
    Mars semisquare Saturn 0° 2′
    Uranus sesquisquare 12th 0° 3′
    Pluto conjunct POF 0° 6′
    Venus conjunct Neptune 0° 6′
    Moon conjunct 8th 0° 9′

    As you can see from these examples, if we take the aspect grouping as “intention from the Universe”, there is NO DOUBT about what will be forthcoming. This is not reading an “imagined” future from an aspect or two, this is AN ACCUMULATION OF PORTENTS that can be easily understood by anyone who is well versed in astrological symbolism. The fact that all of these planets are “aligned” simultaneously with a similarity of “message” and against GREAT ODDS by virtue of their simultaneous exactness, DEMONSTRATES not just the Event, but also the LEVEL of event indicated at that time.

    I’ve been at this for some time (20 yrs) and it is the most mind-blowing thing that I have seen in Astrology.

    Oh, one more, because (hopefully) you’re enjoying this… 😉

    At my Wedding:

    Moon conjunct Node 0° 0′
    Asc conjunct Venus 0° 0′
    5th sesquisquare Moon 0° 2′
    Mercury sextile Asc 0° 2′
    Mars conjunct Asc 0° 4′
    Jupiter semisquare 5th 0° 5′

    Just picture the odds of Moon conjuncting Node to 1/21,600th of a circle EXACTLY at the same time that the Asc conjuncted Venus to 1/21,600th of a circle EXACTLY on the Date/Time that I got married. We TRIED 4 different times to get married at a different time. Every time, something outside our control pushed us to a different time, eventually landing on the date/time that it did.

    Perhaps this all helps to explain why I say most (if not all) of life is NOT casual. The developments proceed on a schedule that would make German train-schedule designers JEALOUS.




    1. Jealous German train schedule designers is pretty amusing… so… what is the math/technique/method for Topocentric Primary Directions? I have always been curious as to why Secondary Progressions were in 2nd place.

      I do find it curious that all the aspects are exact, even if the choice of aspects are all over the place. And I am assuming that when you are referring to “aspects to house cusps” you are referring to the angles, and not the other cusps, as there are so many systems for those divisions…

  10. It was around the time of Evangeline Adams that the pronouncements from ancient astrology started to take on a “this is what the stars show, but people can influence the results” type of presentation. It was brought about, not through some great enlightenment as might be imagined, it was used in order to skate around fortune-telling laws. It (the idea of free will) is a tactic to make Astrology more palatable, it is not a fundamental truth.

    When my Father died, there were THIRTEEN symbolically appropriate Primary Directions ALL WITHIN 0° 11′ orb simultaneously. Winning the jackpot in two separate lotteries on the same day has better odds of happening than those 13 simultaneous aspects, symbolically appropriate and within such tight orbs.

    Nothing in life is casual. It just ISN’T.

    If you die in a terrible car accident, we might perhaps see free will at work, but it will be in whether you are wearing Tuesday’s underwear or not, it won’t be in WHETHER you die.



    1. I appreciate the astrological information about your father’s passing, but the statistical sampling rate is pretty low. Are there studies you can cite that repeat this pattern? I would be interested to see them.

    2. I love this, “Nothing in life is casual. It just ISN’T.”

  11. If we knew better we’d do better, and I don’t know about you but I am not in control of how much I know and when, if I did I would be a saint. So the questions to the brave people that like to tackle this free will dillemma, is how do you define free will, and if we have it but with limits, are we really free? What if I have alzheimers and I can’t remember all my choices do I have free will? How can something that is limited be free? And if we are getting ideas about choices where did those choices come from and why weren’t they there 50 years ago?
    50,000 years ago we started to see human culture, art and new tools, did the people here before that have free will to have human culture if their brain had not developed to even know it was a possibility?
    This is my favorite question.
    What about unseen forces? The paper blowing around might think it was in control since it can’t see the wind. Our senses are not able to perceive beyond it’s range. What it’s range is and what is beyond that is unknown.
    It’s good to push the limits of what we think is possible, but is this the same as free will?
    Love your blog by the way.

    1. Melissa says:

      I think we misunderstand free will. Free will is not about being able to control or prevent the circumstances or variables of our lives. The free will lies in how we choose to respond to the circumstances. You are always at choice on how to respond to something and your choices are many (and yes not choosing is also a choice). This moment we are in is the only moment to be concerned with, so whether you have Alzheimer’s or not is irrelevant. You are making a choice from who you are at that exact moment in time.

      1. I agree. But I also wonder what determines the choices we make. Our personality? Shows in the chart…

        1. I consider there to be a wide range of options in any chart. On the simplest level, each sign has a smoother or rougher manifestation of its traits. You may have a “desire” to, let’s say, go to California from NYC… and you can fly, drive, hitchhike, walk, crawl or never move… but the desire will always be there. Free will is our choice of how to approach the desire.

      2. Here’s a definition of free will
        the power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies
        Unconstrained by external agencies. Is gravity, brain’s evolution, IQ not going to influence how you respond. What if you have a large amount of testosterone and you react by loosing your temper, is that your choice?
        Consider that we do not have the ability to react or respond but are actually just thinking we are choosing. How many factors, biological, environmental, subliminal are influencing our choices and because we are not aware of them we think it is us. What if our thoughts are not even seperate from others, or we are influenced by a movie we saw years ago, are we really so autonomous that our choices are seperate from external agencies?

  12. But what about “Reality”? Can we argue with that? If something happens, well can we say “shoulda”? or…”that wasn’t supposed to happen?” or “I was a fool and made a stupid decision?”…Doesn’t Reality sort of have the final word?

    Like the Buddhist story about the guy and when bad stuff happened to him, and the villagers said “o too bad” and he said “maybe, maybe not” and then fm the bad stuff something good happened and the villagers said “o good show!” and he said “maybe, maybe not”…

    1. I think “Reality” has more wiggle room than we think…

  13. So the next question is:
    When we are deciding something, say to not suntan in winter, because “we don’t want to” or choose not to go to college because “it’s too hard”, are we using our free will? Or is something else, unseen, unbeknownst to us, directing our decisions?


    1. Ideally (that is such a vague but inspiring word) it is a deliberate choice, but sometimes we do fight our own ‘best’ interests… but it is still us making that choice… even if the choice is to be a fool…


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