The Universe as a Map of a Personal Journey – Fate or Free Will?

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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In a previous article on what astrology is, I discussed the cycles of the cosmos, but particularly those of our solar system, the history of primitive to modern man and their study of the night sky, the passage of a body of information from teacher to student down through the ages, and the fact that the universe itself is a gigantic map. According to our scientists, astronomers and physicists, creation itself is an incredible study in mathematics with a possibly infinite set of cycles. Whether we look at our bodies or our experiences, or study the heavens, these cycles surround us, permeate our lives and wrap us in rhythms and sequences, with or without our conscious knowledge. Ancient and modern man studied these cycles and derived meaning from them.

There are those who count and measure, plot and plan, construct tables and statistics, and there are those who say, “But what does it mean in terms of physical and human experience?” We use the map-like features of the universe to develop the scope and variety of measurable experience, constantly expanding our skills, the technology and the knowledge. While commendable, it has little use or application to the common man living out his common life. Most of us will never strap ourselves on the side of a monster rocket and explore outer space. Most of us would thrill at the live vision of a galaxy or the wondrous picture of our Earth hanging in the night sky, but it is not likely that we will personally experience this. Most of us must be satisfied with photos and reports of one kind or another and are jointly thrilled that humanity is making baby steps into the cosmos. None of that has direct application into our personal lives. Humanity is always seeking self-identification with its environment, experience and explorations. The cry from humans is “What does it mean to me?” That’s astrology!

A map suggests a journey…The patterns of the universe are splashed across our night sky visible to all, the evening movie of primitive man. Once night fell and the world closed in to a tiny perspective, that heavenly movie was the world to its viewers. (Remember, this was before we had light pollution.) In the passage of time, man recognized movement, patterns, and cycles. He saw patterns that helped him determine seasons and times of growth or stagnation. He saw symbolism and stories that helped him live his life as successfully as possible. He felt he was not alone, that the heavens understood his journey even if he struggled and that it kept watch over him.

Man had a map that moved or progressed. He could see the moving pictures of his heroes, his stories. He developed an anchor that linked what he saw in the night sky to his personal experience. A map that moves suggests a journey and not a single static experience. Not only was the universe a moment’s snapshot, but that snapshot had movement. A moment of existence became a journey that over time and observation could be recognized and applied as human experience. He observed, and learned. And he passed that information down through generations. What we now know as astrology formed and eventually made its way to us. The snapshot is the natal chart. The natural movement is the journey.

Much of what you hear about astrology is the pop culture variety, sun-sign astrology. I am not denigrating the methods used; I’ve done them myself over the years. Horoscopes are very popular and fun to read, and occasionally personally astounding. However, you have to admit it is a generic approach. It has served a wonderful purpose just by being popular. Most people know their sun signs and those of their family and friends. It is a great conversation point. A high percentage of people will read their sun-sign columns on a weekly or even daily basis. Because your birth provides a map of a moment that is truly personal to your life, it should be specific and not generic. If it is to portray a map of a journey through life, it must have motion and meaning that is specific to the living of your life, a map not only of your moment of embodiment, but also of your personal journey – very specific.

The journey phase of a star map is called “progressions”. You do not remain a newborn infant, crying its first cry after its first indrawn breath. You do not live that moment continually for however many years you are alive. You grow and become, experience and are changed by that experience; you will hopefully progress (although I personally have witnessed regression). The sky pattern is not a single moment in perpetuity. The sky and your life are in constant motion. The snapshot that is birth is in reality the first frame of a motion picture called your life, your personal journey. The moving sky provides the changing diagram of your life through its natural cycles.

A Map Does Not Make Free Will Choices A map is just that, a diagram. When singular, it is a map of a single, static thing. To become multiple, it must show a series, a motion, a journey, the map of a lifetime. The study of astrology itself is a study of cycles. Cycles in the heavens do what cycles do everywhere, even here on Earth, they tend to be circular in nature, locked in step to the natural rhythm of whatever is being mapped – a human gestation cycle, the life cycle of trees or a stock market ticker-tape progression. All that and more are applications of the cycle itself. Our astronomers map those cycles in their ever-increasing study of the universe itself and map their structures and patterns in star catalogs and books of planetary travel (ephemerides).

These heavenly patterns are circular, repeatable, rarely changing in the brief moment we call a human lifetime. They are observable in their cycles, measurable. Astrologically they are a sky map of a journey of an object or pattern initiated at a particular moment in time. A map, even that of heavenly bodies such as a sky map does not make free will choices for itself or for its application in our lives any more than a road map dictates which route to drive. A star map simply graphs the progress of an energy indicated in the heavens and is applied as a pattern for human experience. Again, a map of a locked-in cycle does not have the capability of free will or the facility of choice. A map just measures and diagrams a moment in time and a natural cycle of movement thereafter.

The body of information that I mentioned was handed down through the generations is a collection of observations, much of it thousands of years or at least centuries old, added to by hundreds of thousands of continuing observers as history progressed. It was the only game in town until just recently in our history. It was both a collection of measurable data (cycle, position, etc.) plus a body of meanings for that data and motion so it was both astronomical and astrological in nature. The measure (the science) and its meaning (the interpretation, an art) was recorded and treated as a single thing. If the left hand of a body doesn’t believe in the right hand of that same body, that has nothing to do with whether or not the right hand exists. Such lack of recognition could be a serious handicap to usefulness of the whole, but both hands exist regardless of recognition or the lack of it.

The heavens are a map not only of the universe itself but the universe as human experience. The heavens are not static, they are a journey of experience. The universal map itself moves and allows itself to be a diagram of that changing experience. A map of cycles diagrams the various parts of that cycle but does not have the capacity of free will choice in that motion or diagram. As above, so below… The map diagrams the specific of a moment but is continual in motion to show the various cycles and growth of that moment, the journey of whatever was born in that moment of time. This can all be observed, recorded and transmitted. It is an ongoing study of that birth and subsequent development. It is a map which diagrams life itself, but it is a map only, not an arbitrary maker of decisions. Astrology is a study of energy, patterns and cycles applied to our personal experience. New maps are possible for the whenever we chose.

Published on EZine online November, 2009, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.