Astrology

Astrology, Destiny, Free Will and Karma By Robert Gover

Robert Gover (born November 2, 1929) grew up in an endowed orphanage (Girard College in Philadelphia), attended the University of Pittsburgh on athletic scholarship (swimming the butterfly), received a degree in economics, worked as a journalist, became a bestselling novelist by age 30, lived most of his life in California where he began his study of astrology, and now resides in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  His latest novel is Two Brothers.  He describes it as an “economic novel.”  One brother becomes a millionaire, the other a skid row bum.  A third character was an economics professor till he studied astrology—he was subsequently confined in an insane asylum.  Robert’s first novel, One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding, is a satire on racism and remains a cult classic.  He has published 10 novels and 2 works of nonfiction, including Time and Money: the Economy and the Planets.

The study of astrology naturally leads to an ancient and enduring question about destiny and free will. Is one’s destiny foretold by one’s horoscope? Or do we willfully shape our personal destinies?

It seems to me the answer overlaps these absolutes: we are at once powerfully influenced by forces mapped by the astrology involved, yet at the same time we have the ability to apply free will and wisdom to respond to those circumstances. Our lives seem like a series of free-will choices…although some would say that our presumed free will is pre-programmed.

There is one widely held belief that fate is the reaction to our previous exercise of free will: karma. And that karmic reactions, which may unfold over many lifetimes, shape our immediate circumstances.

Is there a matrix of predestination within which we exercise free will? The oneness or yogic enlightenment achieved by rare individuals argues that free will overpowers the predestined. There seems to be an ongoing dialogue between free will and predetermined fate, yet it sometimes seems difficult to find a distinction between the two. We are each constantly coping with seemingly free-will choices to be made, but within whatever circumstances we find ourselves. And how much do those circumstances define karma?

There is the zeitgeist created by the outermost planets, and within that context is the zeitgeist created by the world’s ruling elite. An example of this elite-created context is what happened when Saturn, Uranus and Neptune traveled in close proximity through late Sagittarius and early Capricorn in the late 1980s. The old Soviet Union disintegrated and the Russian Federation was born, while in the West the “free market” economic theories of Milton Friedman gained ascendancy over Keynesian theory. Meanwhile, China, which considers itself a communist society, became the most successful capitalist economy in the world—with all the wondrous wealth and social problems capitalism creates in its early stages.

If nations have karma the way individuals do, we might view the economic changes the West, Russia and China went through as karmic. Or, if you prefer, we might lay these economic structural changes at the feet of each nation’s ruling elite. Or describe them as reflecting each nation’s unique character.  Even as both Russia and China declared themselves communist, they adhered to their different basic characters, so that each one’s version of communism reflected that basic character. Likewise, Scandinavian socialism today reflects their character, and American social services reflects the USA’s basic character—novelist Gore Vidal described it as “socialism for the rich, free enterprise for everyone else,” rooted in slave-owning Founders declaring themselves free.

Personally, I rely on the phrase “Belief Trumps Evidence” to explain much of this overlap between astrologically created mundane conditions and our individual and/or collective character and karmic responses to conditions. We are usually unaware of our most cherished assumptions, however, and how our beliefs influence our reaction to conditions.

I became more keenly aware of this in my own personal responses to the Uranus-Pluto cycle. During the early 1960s when Uranus and Pluto came conjunct in early Virgo, my first novel became a surprising worldwide bestseller. By 1965 I’d become a millionaire bestselling novelist with a promising career ahead. By the late 1960s both Uranus and Pluto came conjunct my MC square natal Saturn in Sagittarius and my career was secretly sabotaged by powerful people behind the scenes for ideological reasons—a textbook reading of Pluto’s involvement. But I would not learn about this till decades later.

As Uranus followed by Pluto moved through tenth house Libra, where I have Venus and Mercury both trine Jupiter in Gemini seventh house, I was busy with a variety of partners both personally and in connection with business. Pluto in Libra squared my natal Pluto in Cancer, although natal Pluto also trined my Sun, Mars and Moon in eleventh house Scorpio, and that combination brought some amazing ups and downs.

By 2000 both Uranus and Pluto had moved over my Ascendant at 10 Sagittarius, trine my fourth house Uranus in Aries, and I had been through the worst. What had begun so dramatically as a promising career had crashed and burned. Then I had turned a corner and was headed into calmer conditions.  One knowledgeable gentleman quipped, “It’s a wonder you haven’t committed suicide.”  I explained that it was my study of astrology that saved me.

I had begun a study of astrology in 1965 and had realized one of the basic truths astrology teaches: The only constant is change. Today’s conditions are as changeable as the weather, although on a different time rhythm.  So I was aware that the depths of despair I was in during the 1980s was not permanent, although it seemed hopeless and helpless at that time.

My personal fate, like everyone else’s, was constantly evolving in sync with the ever-orbiting planets. Having Sun, Mars and Moon conjunct in Scorpio trine Pluto in Cancer, I knew that the transits of Mars and Pluto were potent factors in my life. And having Uranus in fourth house Aries trine my Sagittarius Ascendant, I knew that Uranus, too, played a major role in my personal destiny. I knew these things from personal experience.

Knowing this did not mitigate the circumstances I seemed destined to endure. I say “seemed” because of what I call the overlap between personal destiny as mapped by the astrology and those other factors which might be summed up in the word “character” that shape one’s ability to cope with adversity. I had also become more keenly aware of karma, and had undergone hypnotic regression into past lives, which had opened new windows of comprehension.  In other words, transformations happening in my individual consciousness reflected transformations happening in my external circumstances.

Yet there is the belief that those other factors—early training and karma—are foretold in one’s birth pattern, if one has the ability to read it.  Can you really separate personal free will from predetermined destiny as indicated by your horoscope?

What about two individuals born at the same time and place, one an heiress, the other an orphan?  How do you read those contrasting economic conditions in a birth chart?  Or twins separated at birth and nurtured in different economic circumstances?

As I came to specialize in mundane astrology, and the birth chart of the United States became my primary focus, the seeming overlap between what is destined or “written in the stars” versus those other factors–the forces of early training, education, character building, intelligence, historical knowledge, and karma—became even more mysterious. A birth chart for July 4, 1776, no matter what time of that day one chooses, foretells in an uncanny way the ups and downs of the American nation, yet it does not explain some of the stupid blunders and brilliant moves the nation has undergone.

I was reminded of this overlap recently when I read John Perkins’ book Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the Global Economy Imploded—and How to Fix it. John Perkins comes from the world of high finance that built the American Empire, and his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man described how this empire was created by using bank loans, called “foreign aid to developing countries,” to enslave nations by sinking them deep into debts so huge they are impossible to repay: “Gotcha capitalism.”   And this included the American nation. For the first time in human history, an empire was built not by invading armies, but by nattily dressed, glad-handing bankers from the financial realm defined nowadays by the words Wall Street. What protects them from the rest of us is our ignorance and the fact that their minions now control the mass media, the source of information for most of us.

As I was reading Hoodwinked, I was stopped cold by the following paragraph:

“The United States experienced four recessions during the past three decades: one that began in 1980 and lasted nearly two years; one in 1990 that lasted less than a year and was followed by the longest economic expansion on record; one that began in March 2001 and ended in November; and the current one that can be traced to events in 2006 and really got underway in the summer of 2007.”

Perkins goes on to say: “We bounced back from the first three recessions because we were protected by many of the regulations that I had learned about as a business student.  Unfortunately, over the past two decades, those laws had been constantly eroded, dropped, or negated. Then, as a nation, we reached a stage where our corporations behaved like spoiled and rebellious adolescents.”

But astrologically, the second half of the 20th Century showed no time that would be anywhere near as difficult as the great depression of the 1930s.  The USA from 2006 was under a Saturn-Neptune opposition that signaled the building of the bubble, then through 2008 under a Saturn-Uranus opposition that signaled the crash. The astrology explained this better than any rational argument. The astrology even explained the rational arguments.

The worst depressions in the USA’s brief history all happened under a grand cross formed by Saturn in Capricorn, opposite the US Sun in Cancer, and another of the outermost planets in Aries, opposite the US Saturn in Libra.  Using economic metrics to distinguish great depressions from lesser depressions or recessions, this recurring pattern has repeated three times. The fourth great depression happened in the 1780s with Saturn opposite the US Sun square Neptune conjunct the US Saturn in Libra, creating a T-square pattern.

Sun square Neptune

From an astrological perspective, although we were not in danger of another great depression during the last half of the 20th Century, what loomed in the first years of the 21st Century was indeed another time that could become a lot worse than the great depression of the 1930s. We are now into that period, and heading into the worst years of it—2012 through 2015 and, if the right remedies aren’t applied by our elites, perhaps well into the 2020s.

Saturn arrives in Capricorn every 28 to 30 years on average. When there, the economy goes through changes or restructurings, but without another of the outermost planets involved in a grand cross, no great depressions occur.  Saturn returned to 12 Capricorn without coinciding with great depressions in 1813, 1901, 1960 and 1989.  (See 2 triwheel charts)

Saturn arrives

grand cross

And that brings us back to that chicken-and-egg question about free will and predetermined destiny.  To what degree were we as a nation overcome by the destiny described in our nation’s birth chart?  To what degree is our present plight the outcome of those old enemies of wisdom: hubris and ignorance?

Perkins lays the blame at the foot of economist Milton Friedman’s theory, and rightly so, I believe.  Friedman’s theory is called monetarism, the “trickle down” idea that by shifting money to the “job creators”—global corporate CEOs and big bankers—we could bring universal affluence to the whole world. Friedman’s beliefs arose in reaction to the theories of John Maynard Keynes, whose book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was so influential in the 1930s and into the 1970s.  Keynes overthrew the notion that “free markets” can create prosperity and said, in effect, that large-scale government spending was the remedy for unemployment, the key factor of depressions.

Keynesian government spending was applied during what most view as the worst great depression in US history, the 1930s. But in the USA it was applied too sparingly to pull us out of the great depression—until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which thrust the nation fully into World War Two. Government investment in production of war materials was then cranked up to full tilt and very quickly unemployment became a problem of the past.

Yet if we inspect the astrology involved, we can see that the pattern which coincided with the onset and depth of what is now called The Great Depression had changed by 1942 when the nation’s full production capacity was put into the war effort. Many argue that the US could have pulled itself out of the Great Depression much sooner.  Ironically, it was Nazi Germany that forthrightly applied Keynesian theory, although they called it by another name.  Germany’s economy recovered so robustly during the 1930s that it went on to create the greatest military-industrial complex to that point in history. Once the USA got fully into war production, it created a military-industrial complex that eclipsed Germany’s.

Can we explain this difference by karma? Was it Germany’s karma to rally round Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party and bring the worst war in history to the rest of humanity? What role did free will play in this series of events that characterized the 1930s and 1940s?

Asians usually put more emphasis on destiny while Europeans and Americans emphasize free will. Hindu guru Ramana Maharshi said, “Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.”

Yet even in India there is a keen awareness of free will. The Indian Seer Yogananda Paramahansa is quoted as saying: “Occasionally I told astrologers to select my worst periods, according to planetary indications, and I would still accomplish whatever task I would set for myself. It is true that my success at such times has been preceded by extraordinary difficulties. But my conviction has always been justified: faith in divine protection, and right use of man’s God-given will, are forces more formidable than are influences flowing from the heavens.”

Among mundane astrologers there is no doubt that planetary cycles and patterns create earthly conditions or prevailing moods, sometimes called the “spirit of the time,” or zeitgeist. But within any given zeitgeist, a few thrive economically while others struggle or fail. Even during the depths of great depressions, certain individuals prospered. Can transit-to-natal charts show us why?  Let’s look at one famous example.

planetary cycles and patterns

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., father of President John F. Kennedy, is reputed to have made most of his fortune as the great depression of the 1930s was tightening its grip.  Does his birth chart indicate he had opportunities during the worst of those times?  Did he do so by an application of free will?  Or was it his karma?

Numerous transit-to-natal aspects indicate Joe Kennedy did not have any pure opportunity at this time. But his chart has most of the planets in the Eastern sector, indicating he was a willful shaper of his own destiny. With Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus conjunct in his 12th house Virgo, was it his analytical skills coupled with past experience that enabled him to make the right moves and prosper when those around him were failing miserably? Given how the T-square formed by Saturn, Uranus and Pluto hit his other natal planetary positions; it might be assumed that he was in for more than his share of difficulties. Was he saved by the grand trine from transiting Saturn in Capricorn and Chiron in Taurus to his Sun and Moon in Virgo? His Mars conjunct Jupiter in Scorpio was blessed by a trine from transiting Jupiter and Pluto in Cancer. Did that tip the balance in his favor?

Given the whole symphony of transits to his natal chart at this time, and without going into progressions or solar arcs and a myriad of other astrological possibilities, I think the strong indication is that it was primarily a combination of his willfulness, intelligence and cunning that enabled him to buck the tide of those dire times and create his own opportunities.  It appears that Joe Kennedy’s chart indicates that free will intelligently applied can overcome mundane circumstances. Or was it his karma to apply such intelligence? He was, after all, a “rum runner” during Prohibition, before he joined the ruling elite.

What does Joe Kennedy’s amazing success during the 1930s tell us about the effectiveness of this or that economic theory? Apparently, some economic modalities work a lot better than others, and it’s a matter of applying the best one for the conditions of a given time.  If patterns in the heavens above us create the conditions of a given time, then it is up to each of us to deal with those conditions as wisely as we can, attuned to the Great Creator’s will as we interpret it.

One cunning move that Joe Kennedy made was to anticipate the thirst for alcoholic drinks when Prohibition was repealed in 1933.  He and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s son James went to Scotland and bought distribution rights for Scotch whiskey. He also bought importation rights from Schenley Industries of Canada. Today, this would be comparable to an American securing the rights to import cocaine from Latin American cartels if or when the ban on that drug was lifted. Well, not quite comparable, since alcoholic drinks were legal elsewhere in the world during Prohibition in the US, but cocaine today is illegal in just about every country—despite the fact that the innocent coca leaf contains an amazing abundance of nutrients as well as cocaine.

The best I could manage during my personal depression—as Pluto transited through Scorpio and conjunct my Saturn in Sagittarius and my world was falling apart—was to know, from my study of astrology, that this too would pass. If I was patient and persistent, I could find a brighter future.  I knew, too, that good luck is found at the crossroads of preparation and opportunity, so I did what I could to prepare myself for whatever opportunities might eventually manifest.

My main preparation back in the eighties, although I did not know it then, was to delve more deeply into the astrology of the USA. I knew that certain patterns of the outermost planets were due to repeat as we entered the 21st Century, similar to the series of aspects that had unfolded for the great depression of the 1930s.  It logically followed that, if there is indeed validity to astrology, my nation was in for another challenging time. And given that Pluto would be in Capricorn from 2008 through 2024, where it had not been since the years leading up to and through the American Revolution, it logically followed that the 2000-teens were gong to be as transformative, if not more so, than any previous period in US history.

I also knew from my study of astrology that hard angles from Pluto would radically change whatever was ripe for change. What had become the most out of balance was the economy.

As the trickle-down theory of Milton Friedman became the worldwide fad during the 1980s, redistributing wealth from the 99% to the 1%, it logically followed that the whole world was in for a revolt against an entrenched oligarchy. I felt Freidman’s monetarism was itself a holdover from the economic assumptions of medieval times. Whereas “divine” kings and aristocracies had been toppled during the late 1700s, the next toppling would be the oligarchs and plutocrats who had arisen in our time.

Yet I had also learned from astrology that the stars alone do not determine our destiny, and that karma and/or free will intelligently applied can make a huge difference. The oligarchs that make up the 1% are united and cunning in their quest for more and more personal wealth. Could the 99% overcome their seemingly superior power? Might Uranus bring unpredictable surprises that would topple those oligarchs? Or was it humanity’s karma to endure another dark age?

What is now called the “Arab Spring” soon manifested to give us hints.  Almost simultaneously, working class people in Wisconsin rebelled against their governor’s move to cripple unions representing government employees. The financial crash of 2008 had also stimulated interest in state-owned banks across the country, based on North Dakota’s state-owned bank. There was a movement afoot in the nation’s capitol to audit the Federal Reserve, the nation’s privately-owned central bank, creator of our money, which had never before been subjected to an outside audit. When that audit showed the Fed had used trillions of the nation’s dollars to save the bankers who had caused the crash—but withheld any help for the millions who had been victimized by the crash—it started a quiet movement in Congress to nationalize the Fed. And then came the Occupy Wall Street Movement in New York City which quickly spread to other cities, simultaneous with rebellious outbreaks in Russia and China and other countries.

By the end of 2011, as the Uranus-Pluto square was poised to tighten to within a 7-degree orb and be almost exact by 2015, it was clear that humanity had split into two warring factions: The 1% who benefit from the existing financial system and the 99% who are victimized by it.

What can this tell us about karma or free will? 

This worldwide conflict between the traditional haves and have-nots had been exacerbated by the monetarism of Milton Friedman. Then, when Uranus moved into Aries, the have-nots were suddenly demanding such profound changes that no one could be sure how the conflict would be resolved. A similar class conflict had characterized the 1930s under the previous Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Cancer, but not to the degree that was demanded with Pluto in Capricorn.

Coming out of the great depression of the 1930s, some nations were better off than before and others struggled to gain a toe-hold on prosperity.  Germany showed the most intelligent willfulness, but it then went on to instigate horrendous destruction. The US did not apply the amount of Keynesian investment needed until it was swept into World War Two, and then went on to a mixed blessing—unprecedented prosperity coupled with a military-industrial (M-I) complex that now sabotages our economy.

Ironically, the M-I complex is a perversion of Keynesian theory. What it produces at taxpayer expense is destroyed in wars or becomes obsolete.  Although it does not create lasting wealth or benefits, it enjoyed popularity because it made the rich richer and it employed a lot of workers. I use the past tense here because the M-I complex is doomed, for sooner or later the world will rebel against any nation’s military dominance. Even if the M-I complex isn’t overthrown by revolt, it will disintegrate from lack of money as the US economy can no longer sustain it. It’s only a question of how much death and destruction it will take with it as it crumbles into the dustbin of history. Wars of the future are more likely to be waged with disinformation than bombers and tanks and ground troops.

When bankers in suits and ties can conquer more effectively than armies, and when the most effective military operations are by remotely operated computerized drones and control of information, we have definitely entered a new phase of human existence.

So what does this present period of transition we are living through tell about free will and predetermined destiny? 

We humans sometimes describe ourselves as the most successful life form on this planet, for we have gained dominance over all other life forms in our earthly environment. Yet at the same time, we have blundered our way into destroying the source of our sustenance.  We hear it said that we are “destroying the earth.”  No, we’re not. The earth will endure. What we are destroying is our ability to live on the earth.  We assume we are the most intelligent creature in our known reality, but aren’t we really the most narrow-minded enemy we have ever encountered?  Could intelligent beings from outer space be as stupidly destructive as we humans?  Hasn’t science verified that the earth has been through more drastic changes than we humans could possibly put it through? Is this sorry situation the karma of the human race?

I pose such questions for others to ponder. But it seems to me that our free will—or our karma—is in an ever-evolving dialogue with the conditions described by the mundane astrology of any given time.  It’s good to remember that the term mundane applied to astrology is derived from the Latin, Mundus, meaning the whole world. It is the most ancient branch of astrology, and the most enduring.  Still, the messages of the ever-changing planetary patterns are as difficult to read today as they were two thousand years ago. But with the help of powerful telescopes, computers and astrological history, we may be getting better at it.

To delve more deeply into what we are living through now and destined to cope with in the near future,   It seems that we contemporaries are destined to re-learn the abiding truth that we are not in charge of planet earth, that there are invisible forces which shape our circumstances. The best we can do, then, is apply will power—but aligned with these unseen forces as best we can decipher their intent.

 

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