“The intensification of a person’s self-awareness: in astrology, that is all that matters.” —The Inner Sky
How is evolutionary astrology different from sun sign astrology, or the columns you see in the newspaper?
Well, to begin, astrology is the study of human emotion and life’s progression. The most divine to the most depraved—astrology encompasses all of the vast possible manifestations of humanity without ever averting or even blinking an eye. This is why I respect it: it offers a window onto the human world.
These realms of life are reflected in careful reading of the natal chart and the transits, progressions, and other advanced tools some astrologers use.
Evolutionary astrologers, such as Stephen Arroyo, Steven Forrest, and my teacher, Dawn Bogrodi, believe the information available in a birth chart can open a tremendous door to self-understanding and transformation. It’s here, in the elements of the natal and progressed charts, that understanding can escalate to warp speed.
Forrest writes in The Inner Sky: “Each combination of symbols, each birth chart, is unique. Like no religion, like no system of psychology, astrology paints a portrait of the individual.”
Some practitioners of evolutionary astrology believe the chart reflects, not just this life, but also past lives. As Forrest very reasonably points out, however, it actually doesn’t matter whether the roots of an issue lie in this life or in another: very pragmatically, we still have the issue, and the natal chart will help illuminate it.
Moot point or no, the new and fascinating science of epigenetics has shown how trauma is remarkably, and quite effectively, often passed down through subsequent generations, even to the point of changing genetic expression. Forrest, again: “We can call these roots the soul, shaped and twisted by the events of a thousand lifetimes. Or we can see them as a random alignment of the genetic roulette wheel. It does not matter. The roots are there.”
The chart, in a sense, holds the key to unlocking the secrets of our lives, illuminating our loves and needs and unraveling potential self-undoing. As we come to know our birth chart, we get to know ourselves and move into greater alignment with our highest ideals and purpose.
As Forrest notes, understanding the chart “helps us avoid becoming just another character out of central casting. In a flash, the whole pattern of creative tensions, blind spots, and aspirations that makes up our own unique personality comes to a focus.”
And when we are in tune with and aware of who we are, we gain acceptance, which can ultimately lead to inspired action.
“Glimpsing our essential self fills us with vitality,” Forrest writes:
Mindfulness incorporates similar principles. Stop long enough to observe a habit, and you may be able to change it—reaching for potato chips, or a cigarette, instead of, say, walking in nature to de-stress. Evolutionary astrology applies this principle to the self. We witness so that we can change.
Needless to say, this is not sun sign or newspaper astrology, though “cookbook” astrology—a step up from newspaper columns—is absolutely a great way to begin. It can be fascinating to read how one report or author interprets, say, your Moon in the 4th house. But it can only bring you a certain way down the road. The ultimate work of astrological interpretation comes in synthesizing the myriad, often conflicting elements of a chart.
Say, for example, that we encounter a woman with the Moon at the top of the chart, near the MC. Her Mars is conjunct Uranus in the 5th house, directly opposite a Sun-Neptune-Lilith (and, more widely, Jupiter-North Node) conjunction in the 11th house. And she has Venus-Pluto conjunct in the 10th squaring Saturn in the 8th house.
This all suggests a ground-breaking, if not revolutionary, creative mind—a strong woman with a tendency toward socially prominent and intense, if not difficult, relationships that integrate with and aid her career.
Any idea who this is? It is the chart of Frida Kahlo.
For Kahlo, her creative expression (5th house) reflected her internal states, which were also central to her work in the world (Moon on the MC—and, interestingly, at the very end of Taurus, what is considered a critical degree). Indeed, expression may have felt like something of a compulsion with Mars and Uranus conjunct. Yet expressing herself may ultimately have been what kept her balance despite the vicissitudes of her life (that Venus-Pluto conjunction), while that Moon sextiling Saturn must have helped with emotional regulation as well. Meanwhile, Mars-Uranus directly opposite the powerful stellium in her 11th house of sociality shows she was likely to be quite well known for her creative output.
This is the kind of working with, rather than struggling against, the natal chart that evolutionary astrology focuses on.