Astrology and Rebirth


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Astrology and rebirth

Esoteric astrology involves the study of more spiritual aspects, such as the development of the soul. There is a belief among some reincarnationists that esoteric astrological readings can aid one in discovering a past life, in which case this aspect of astrology may be called karmic astrology. For such past life reading purposes some karmic astrologers regard it as essential to study not only the common natal (birth moment) chart, but the conception chart and the soul chart. The last of these three charts is said to deal with the time the soul first attaches itself to the mother who would bear the soul’s next body. This attachment might take place not only before birth, but even prior to conception.

According to Joan Hodgson in her Reincarnation through the Zodiac (1978), the time at which the soul will incarnate is chosen by the spirit (soul) so that the planetary and zodiacal conditions are such as to ensure that the raw materials for building the various (bodily) vehicles are supplied by the devas or angels. According to Edgar Cayce the planets, rather than being just physical celestial bodies, really represent the other dimension of consciousness to which the soul goes after death; and it is those states of consciousness that are reflected in the natal chart upon its return to physical re-embodiment. 

In the view of some astrologers the planet Saturn is connected to past karma and, therefore, called the ruler of karma, ruler of destiny, or even the lord(s) of karma. Saturn is also the dominant planet for the zodiacal sign of Capricorn in which one of the two celestial gates is located. According to Beredene Jocelyn’s Citizens of the Cosmos (1981) it is in the interim period, while the soul is sojourning in the zodiacal sphere, that the physical characteristics of our next body are determined. While in Aries the nature of our future head will be determined, in Taurus it will be our larynx; in Gemini it will be our lungs, arms, hands, and bodily symmetry; in Cancer it will be our rib cage, breast, and stomach; in Leo, our heart; in Virgo, our lower metabolic organs; in Libra, our kidneys; in Scorpio, our genitals; in Sagittarius, our hips and thighs, in Capricorn, our knees; in Aquarius, our calves and ankles; and in Pisces, our feet.

The astrologer Martin Schulman, in his Karmic Astrolog y: Retrogrades and Reincarnation (1977), states that the retrograde motion of inner planets point to previous lives.

It is to be noted that in the West the application of astrological principles to rebirth and karma only dates back to the late 19th century rise of Theosophy and related movements. As such Western karmic astrology is still very much in the process of development and many karmic astrologers are in disagreement as to the best way to approach rebirth and karma astrologically. This is in contrast to Indian astrology which, although partly derived from Hellenistic (Greek) astrology, very quickly integrated rebirth and karmic principles into its astrological system. Moreover, the Indian system adds to its seven moving celestial bodies (sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) the southern and northern nodes of the moon which gives the Indian system nine bodies with which to work. That the Indian system has only seven celestial bodies is because, unlike Western astrology, Indian astrology has not made a concerted effort to integrate into its system the more recently discovered transsaturnian planets.

In the integration of the trans-saturnian planets into Western astrology it has been suggested that the earlier known seven moving celestial bodies have the same effect today as they have always had, which is mainly to influence individual lives. The more recently recognized planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) are regarded as collectively effecting long term economic, social, and political events of mankind. The reason for this is that the more personal planets have a sidereal period of from 2.9 months with Mercury to 29.46 years with Saturn. Thus, even Saturn has at least two sidereal cycles during an average person’s life time. In contrast, the last three planets with sidereal periods of 84 earth years for Uranus, 164 years for Neptune, and 248 years for Pluto, take so long to revolve around the sun that their cycles can have little effect on an average life span, and so as far as karmic astrology is concerned, these three planets could have little or no effect upon an individual’s rebirth.

A major issue that karmic astrology must deal with is that astrology in any prediction of destiny has long been considered to be at odds with various religious views of free-will. In fact, one of the earliest Western theologians to deal with this conflict was the Syrian, possibly Gnostic-Christian, scholar Bardesanes (154–222 CE). He proposed that the motion of the stars governs only the elemental (material) world, leaving the soul free to choice between good and evil. Priscillian (died 385 CE), another Christian theologian, and/or some of his followers believed that the heavenly bodies merely manifested the will of God to those who were skilled in astrological interpretations.

Some of the more pessimistic believers of the Greco-Roman period, and in particular those who were involved in Gnosticism, were convinced that much of what was in the heavens, especially as represented in the zodiac, was considered a representation of the “Wheel of Fate.” Moreover, because the constellations reside six months below the horizon and six above it they represented the cycle of birth and death (metempsychosis). At its most ominous it was thought that each heavenly body was the domain of a powerful spiritual force which, in general, was detrimental to higher human spiritual attainment, particularly during the ascent phase of the planetary descent and ascent of the soul. In other words, the seven celestial bodies were responsible for keeping the soul trapped in the embodied cycle of birth and death. This meant that the spiritual goal was to escape from the astrologically dominated world.

The concept of karmic astrology has not been universally accepted by reincarnationists. In fact, some reincarnationists are extremely opposed to the concept. They point out that the ancient belief that found a relationship between the planets and rebirth is entirely understandable given the world’s limited understanding at that time of the true nature of the various heavenly bodies. That limited understanding, however, is in the past, and if there is too close an association of astrology with rebirth then any criticism made against the former could be easily applied to the latter.

Finally, as in the past, karmic astrology has been morally criticized as leading to a belief in determinism, if not fatalism.


Sources: Reincarnation and Freedom (1987) by Lauritsen; Reincarnation Unnecessary by Violet M. Shelley; The Divine Plot (1986), The Eternal Return (1993), and The Elements of Reincarnation (1995) by A. T. Mann; The Forces of Destiny by Penny Thornton; and Zolar’s Book of Reincarnation (1996). Thornton’s book is particularly informative on the subject. There is also a chapter on Astrology and Reincarnation in Bjorling’s Reincarnation: A Bibliography (1996). 



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