By John Townley
For all the positive free-will spin modern astrologers have put on astrology, it’s still a bit like the weather – everyone’s always talking about it, but nobody ever does anything about it. The planets deal their ever-changing cards, and we play the hand we’ve been dealt as best we can.
Of course, as with the weather, we can be smart enough to know to go inside when it rains, and that smacks a bit of free will, and it’s what most people use astrology for – to know when to batten down the hatches or when it’s a good day for the beach. But astrologically, we can do even more: we can actually go to where it isn’t raining on our lives – or at least change the form of precipitation and where it’s likely to hit us. To a limited extent, we can actually derail destiny, fool around with fate – if, indeed, astrology has any more effect on either than do common and often critical daily choices.
That can be done, so far, in two different ways.
The Solar Return – Travel For Your Birthday
Every birthday, you get a celestial present that you may not know about, unless you’re an astrologer. And even if you are, you may not take sufficient advantage of it. It’s called a solar return – a horoscope for the instant the Sun returns to the exact place it was at the precise time of your birth. It happens every year or within a day of your birthday, so it’s a birthday present that both tells you a lot about the coming year and, if you handle it properly, gives you some extra control over how that year turns out.
The easiest, but most temporary, way to control outcomes is to choose well where we spend our solar (and to a lesser extent our lunar) returns. If your next solar return birthday chart has a nasty afflictor squatting right on the Ascendant (the Western horizon) no problem. Just take a trip and spend your birthday a time zone or two East of where you’d normally be, and that bad boy is tucked safely away in the hidden twelfth house, where it can do you less tangible harm for the year. Or, if it looks like your solar return Sun or Moon is going be trapped in the twelfth, a time zone or two of Western travel will roll it right up front into the first house, where it can really work for you all year.
It’s a good excuse for birthday vacation travel. And, If you really get into it, you can investigate all sorts of places that amazingly maximize benefics and minimize malefics for the year. I know so many astrologers and their clients who enthuse about the results – although you can’t compare what actually might have happened with what did in any year, whether you travel or not. But the tales of positive shifts, and their details, can be pretty compelling.
Since I’ve traveled a great deal for my solar returns, I’ve got a lot to tell, probably the most convincing about when I couldn’t make the needed trip because of happenstances and walked eyes wide open into a disastrous year involving events totally not of my own making but which night have been easily avoided with a plane trip. Like the year of a horrible twelfth house Sun with Saturn rising, Moon in the sixth afflicted by Neptune. Looked like illness for sure. As the solar return paints the picture of the new you for the year, that meant physical difficulty (Saturn on the Ascendant), the life-giving Sun tucked away in a dark corner (the 12th house) and confused feelings (Moon afflicted by Neptune, in the house of health). Not the picture of me I wanted for the year.
On a limited budget, a flight to a couple of small selected towns in the South would just beat it out, putting a more robust Sun right on my Ascendant. But tropical storm Fay came along at the last minute and all possible flights were canceled. I was stuck in New York with my dreadful return. My subsequent year was spent in and out of hospitals, drawn with pain, thanks to repeatedly misdiagnosed kidney stones (that Neptune-Moon 6th house affliction). Was this cause and effect, or just cosmic synchronicity? A bit of both, I expect…the illness was on its way and that, along with Fay, probably conspired with the cosmos at large to shoot down my travel plans. You can’t dodge the bullet with your name on it. And although they say if you are born to hang you’ll never drown, if you’re born to drown all it takes is a puddle.
On the upside, every place I’ve successfully visited to get a better solar return has filled me with joy and mystery, even when (perhaps particularly when) it’s an out of the way place I wouldn’t think to go except for its momentarily convenient longitude and latitude. That’s a feeling I share with many of my clients who regularly travel to get a better year. A typical comment from a client who recently travelled from California to Niagara Falls:
“Everything about the journey had a mystical quality to it. As if, somehow, I found a portal to another dimension. And really my only regret is not staying longer.”
Often my feelings exactly, and the results of being in an unusual place at an unusual time can provide an experimental twist that may not entirely surface until years later, altering your life and taking your breath away when it does. Under the circumstances, it can’t hurt and is a great excuse to take a break and get out of town!
Relocation: Go There, Stay There
Of course, if going for a visit is so great, why not live there? That’s the other way you can actively change otherwise-ineluctable effects of the planets. A quick look at an AstroCartography chart showing where around the world your planets would be rising or culminating will tell the tale. You’ll be energized in spots where Mars, Jupiter, or the Sun are angular, slowed down by places where Saturn is the same. If you’ve traveled much, the map is a revelation, explaining a lot about why certain things tend to happen to you when you go certain places. It’s not a total replacement for your natal chart, but it can really put a spin on what’s available for you in different places.
Astrologers check out midpoints, which are points that equally divide (in degrees) the distance between transiting planets. With my Venus/Mars midpoint going straight over New York City, the Big Apple is just too sexy to escape from, for me, though for others it can spell misery. With Mars/Uranus culminating (directly overhead) in Poland, that country sets me on fire with instant fame, but also puts me in more danger than I’d like, with some close calls I wouldn’t like to repeat. But with mellow Mercury rising over Southern England I dream of spending my latter days near Glastonbury writing and letting the amazing ambience of the Old Straight Track suffuse my bones.
Futuristic Free Will A Possibility
Returns and relocations are for the moment the only ways you can take the celestial bull by the horns and wrestle it to where you want to go, simply by changing the houses (locations on the chart wheel) where planets occur. You can’t change the relations of the planets to each other – well, not so far. In a few generations, we will no longer have these restrictions. When you can go to the Moon (as our children or grandchildren will) you’ll remove the Moon itself in any chart you look at and replace it with a transiting Earth exactly opposite to its former position. Go further afield, once we’ve terraformed Mars (or at least learned how to make it a bit more friendly), and the entire set of aspects between all of the inner and middle planets will be totally rearranged as long as you are there. And so will the tropical signs themselves as Mar’s tilt and orbit creates a whole set of Zodiacal signs and seasons totally different from ours here on earth. You will be able to change everything – houses, signs and aspects – completely according to where you decide to travel.
That travel broadens one’s outlook is more than just a philosophical observation – it’s at the heart of exercising free will in an astrological context. The farther you go, the further you can go…
Will it ultimately free you to do anything you want? Probably not. Not anymore than I could escape the collusion of tropical storm Fay and my kidney stones. You can cut yourself a whole lot more slack by giving it your best shot than you ever could by simply staying put and accepting what comes.
This article originally published on the www.astrococktail.com website. It is reprinted with the author’s permission.
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