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"The sky is full of tokens which speak to the intelligent."
Hugh Miller

Karma and the Birthchart

One of the fundamental spiritual laws is that of cause and effect - the Law of Karma.

Often it is this law that is 'blamed' for any accident, misfortune or difficulty we have to face. You often hear it said that 'it must be my karma that such and such has happened' or that 'it must be my karma that so and so is so difficult to deal with'. It can be seen as a kind of retribution, a paying back of some past misdeed or the outworking of past misdemeanours. While indeed this may in some sense and in certain circumstances be true, and perhaps this can be seen in the horoscope by some difficult transits or heavy cross aspects between the charts of two people, it is by no means the whole picture.

Karma is not just the things that happen such as illness or accidents, promotion or meeting a soul-mate, it is also traits of character, inclinations, temperament, responses to outside stimuli, insecurities and talents. Some are clearly defined and apparent for all to see - such as a well-developed artistic gift, whilst others may manifest on a much more subtle private level.

Taken in its entirety, the birthchart can be seen as a karmic representation. The configurations we see there are not random or chance. Their roots are embedded in the past. They are intricate and unique, a complex intermixture of differing factors - inner drives, areas of expertise and of inexperience, likes and dislikes, etc. - brought together by the innumerable experiences, thoughts, actions, impulses and dreams of prior incarnations. It can suggest positive influences stemming from former lives such as a specific forte or likely opportunities or help from others. It can also point to facets of our nature we have chosen to work on or an undesired attribute undertaken to resolve - bringing anger to light, or illuminating fears, dependency or jealousy for example.

Esoteric teaching informs us that on a soul level, we (with help) choose the moment and circumstances of our birth in order to have an opportunity to learn what we need to learn and to live out our karma. The need is to incarnate at a point in time that perfectly corresponds to the inner factors as well as to the outer conditions likely to prevail on Earth during the course of the incarnation. The outer planets - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto indicate the global factors inherent in that particular era on Earth whilst the influence of the inner planets manifests on a more personal level. For example, the Moon shows former distinctive emotional patterns giving rise to the tendencies and habitual responses of the present personality, Mercury denotes the overriding mental attitude and capacity, while Venus signifies the capacity for love and what is valued, and so on.

When a soul incarnates - practically speaking when it takes on a specific horoscope - it is in effect accepting the consequences of all the possibilities inherent in that particular chart, the pleasing and the arduous factors, for the duration of the whole incarnation. The position of the Sun can be an important determining factor here as it suggests the soul lesson undertaken in that lifetime, what is to be worked on and what is hoped to be achieved.

Jupiter the Benefic.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

A chart that provides suitable room for growth and progress is thus sought. With this in mind, it can be helpful to look at the placement of Jupiter as this planet represents the inborn beliefs and prejudices, the impulse to expand the personal life, and the individual realm of influence within society. At the same time, the limitations of past karma the soul has chosen to work through have to be taken into consideration too. Saturn, often called the Lord of Karma, represents the discipline of earthly responsibilities and the problems and boundaries they impose. By studying its position in the chart, much valuable information along these lines can be revealed.

It is said that the soul chooses a particular incarnation from the viewpoint of the higher self, as it knows that in that particular life, certain lessons can be mastered, certain karmic obligations fulfilled, certain gifts expressed and developed, and certain boons granted. Not only does the time and place of birth have to coincide with these realisations but the forthcoming transits and progressions to that particular chart have to match up to the lessons and challenges the soul has chosen too. When you reflect on the apparent infinity of possible configurations that could occur in a chart, it truly brings to mind the boundless intricacies of incarnation.

It can be helpful to bear in mind that some areas of the chart incline to be more emphasised than others and not everything suggested in the radix will come to manifestation. What is important is that every chart offers scope for betterment to the individual - the chance to perfect skills, to grow in spiritual understanding and awareness, and to face any disharmony in the soul patterns. Whether such opportunities are taken up and worked through however are at the choice of the incarnating personality.

What are the tools we possess to help us along our path in life, and how can we best access and utilise them? One way is through a study of the diverse combination of signs, houses, planets and aspects that individualise a birthchart. They can reveal the potential outline of the life, the personal strengths and frailties and the capacity for growth and unfoldment. They help too to pinpoint the lessons we have elected for this lifetime and indicate opportunities being offered to ensure we do not forego the chances we have earned. This observation can also verify whether or not an individual has for example merited an optimistic outlook and a positive approach to such life matters as health, social position and relationships or if they have chosen to pay close attention to such themes during the present lifetime.

It is not by chance that certain planets are in dignity. They represent facets that have been concentrated upon in the past now giving rise to qualities that can be readily drawn upon. When in exaltation, the impress of the planet can be gentle and often very spiritual. In the same way, if a planet is in detriment or fall, then it suggests traits that may have been misused, neglected or acted upon in an erroneous manner, thus the chance to work on them is accorded in this life.

In the same way, the signs on the house cusps indicate ways of being, of reacting to the areas of life experience signified by the particular house in question. This is no coincidence either. If a particular sign accords well with that type of experience then it suggests a karma of positive quality, where the soul is reaping the rewards of past endeavour. If incompatible, then it is an opportunity to work with these experiences in a more positive way even though difficulties may arise. Again, the aspects between the planets are very telling. They suggest how particular energies have blended and worked together in the past, whether in a harmonious or antagonistic way.

Saturn - Lord of Karma.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Clues as to past attitudes can also be gleaned by the placement of the Moons Nodes. The South Node in particular can show where there has been a concentration in former lives and by studying its house placement and sign, a great deal of information as to what has preoccupied the soul can be assessed. Likewise, the placement of the North Node can suggest areas of potential growth for the present incarnation.

Laid out in the birth map is a picture of our predominant virtues and idiosyncrasies, aptitudes and abilities, our disposition and way of dealing with situations. It shows what resources we can draw upon, what excites and inspires us, how we interact with others, how we express our inner motivations and ideals, as well as what limits and confines we impose upon ourselves and on others. These are not accidental attributes. They originate in the considerations, enthusiasms, uncertainties and needs of the past. Disclosed too is the capacity for change, whether or not we have developed the ability to look within, to ponder on our darker side and if we can summon the resolve to transform it.

The natal chart is the foundation of the life while transits and progressions bring its unfoldment to life and give valuable clues as to what challenges, lessons and benefits are being focused upon at a given time. Looked at in this way, it can be seen that Karma is not a static thing - it is changing every moment. Each thought, action, word and impression is modifying our overall karma. It is constantly fluctuating, making adjustments, prompting in us new ideas, impulses, perceptions and stimuli. Some we respond to in a positive manner, to others we may not.

The requirement is to look at challenging configurations - for example a difficult Mars pattern - to think over what might be the cause of any negative tendencies it gives rise to and then to reflect upon how the available energies can be put to better use. Instead of using energy negatively such as in aggressive or combative ways, the trick is to find a way to channel it in a constructive and beneficial manner. With effort and determination, difficult traits can be willingly and deliberately transformed into positive gifts. It might be salutary to think that unless we voluntarily choose to make such changes, then circumstances could occasion change for us. There are always choices to be made. Nothing has to stay the same - a less than positive tendency only remains so if we choose not to transform it.

Change is the nature of things on the earth plane - including the birthchart! New aspects are constantly forming and different areas of the chart are continually being brought into prominence. The challenge is to be alert to what is being emphasised at a given time. By so doing, we have a better chance of realising our highest potential - one we have chosen, worked for and warranted ourselves.

Image of The Sun and Stars