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The Perils of Prediction

A recent exchange of emails with a client has got me thinking about the usefulness of prediction in astrology. It is assumed, both by the general public and some astrologers, that prediction is our bread and butter. Astrologers are supposed to tell you when you’ll meet your soul mate, when your business will start making a profit, or when your ship will finally come in.

However, there are considerable limitations to what astrology alone can tell us about the future. Some astrologers use intuition to try and make up for these shortcomings, but this is not always reliable. Essentially astrology is an excellent tool for timing events. We can tell you with relative assurance “when” an event is likely to happen. But predicting what that event will be is not so easy.

That bit of uncertainty leaves room for a client’s imagination to roam. When an astrologer foresees a positive period, the client might start envisioning a winning lottery ticket, or meeting the sentient biped of his or her dreams. Even worse, when the astrologer warns of a challenging period he or she could to fill in the gaps with bloody car crashes, a devastating diagnosis or a painful emotional crisis.

The problem here is that people tend to thinks of astrology as predicting events. That is not the case. What astrology predicts are lessons. Sometimes those lessons are coated in sugar and go down easy. Other times they’re hard. They make us work. They call on us to change. They reveal our weaknesses and folly.

It often happens that the lessons described by transits and progression are connected to major events in our lives. But sometimes these lessons come to us in ways that are more private. Sometimes we are not even aware that we are learning a lesson until we look back and see the changes that have been wrought.

That brings me to the second problem with prediction in astrology. Astrologers, like everyone else, are influenced in the advice they give by their personal experiences. Sometimes they may also be influenced by the experience of a teacher, or another client or a text that was written by someone influenced by their own personal experience. However, my lessons are never going to be the same as your lessons. What I needed to learn from a particular aspect is not going to be same thing that you need to learn.

Fortunately, astrologer can look at a person’s natal chart and make judgments about what it is that person most needs to learn. In fact, this function of astrology is, in my opinion, much more important than any sort of prediction. Lessons, like astrological aspects, and like happy and sad events, come at us all the time. What’s really important is knowing the ones that can teach us the most,

That brings me to the third problem with prediction. I can look at a horoscope and see what lessons need to be learned, but I can’t tell the degree to which you may have already learned them. Even if I ask you directly, and you tell me that you’ve learned that lesson, I can’t assume that you’ve really learned all that you need to know.

We can see a lot of things in a horoscope, but not the level of a person’s personal and spiritual development. And even if the astrologer makes assumptions about this level, the universe might have other ideas. That’s why the most important thing that astrology does for us is to help us understand ourselves, help us gage where we are in this vast continuum of learning. When we are occupied with trying to understand what, and how much, we need to learn, prediction is not so much of a concern.

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