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Derailing Destiny...

   "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood," quoth Robert Frost...every time you exercise free will, that's what happens.

...Fooling Around With Fate...

By John Townley

For all the positive free-will spin modern astrologers have put on astrology, it’s still a bit like the weather – everyone’s always talking about it, but nobody ever does anything about it. The planets deal their ever-changing cards, and we play the hand we’ve been dealt as best we can.

Of course, as with the weather, we can be smart enough to know to go inside when it rains, and that smacks a bit of free will, and it’s what most people use astrology for – to know when to batten down the hatches or when it’s a good day for the beach. But astrologically, we can do even more: we can actually go to where it isn’t raining on our lives – or at least change the form of precipitation and where it’s likely to hit us. To a limited extent, we can actually derail destiny, fool around with fate -- if, indeed, astrology has any more effect on either than do common and often critical daily choices.

The Solar Return:  travel for your birthday

That can be done, so far, in two different ways. The easiest, but most temporary, is to choose well where we spend our solar (and to a lesser extent our lunar) returns. If your next solar return/birthday chart has a nasty afflictor squatting right on the Ascendant, no problem – just take a trip and spend your birthday a time zone or two Eest of where you’d normally be, and that bad boy is tucked safely away in the hidden twelfth house or even the relatively friendly eleventh house where it can do you less tangible harm for the year. Or, if it looks like your solar return Sun or Moon is going to be trapped in the twelfth, a time zone or two of Western travel will roll it right up front into the first house where it can really work for you all year. And, it’s a good excuse for birthday vacation travel. If you really get into it, you can investigate all sorts of places that amazingly maximize benefics and minimize malefics for the year. I know so many astrologers and their clients who enthuse about the results – although you can’t compare what actually might have happened with what did in any year, whether you travel or not. But the tales of positive shifts, and their details, can be pretty compelling.

Solar return travel may enable escape from bad aspects, or spiral around and get you eaten elsewhere. What to do?

Since I’ve travelled a great deal for my solar returns, I’ve got a lot to tell, probably the most convincing about when I couldn’t make the needed trip because of happenstances and walked eyes wide open into a disastrous year involving events totally not of my own making but which might have been easily avoided with a plane trip. Like the year of a horrible twelfth house Sun with Saturn rising, Moon in sixth afflicted by Neptune. Looked like illness, for sure. On a limited budget, a flight to a couple of selected towns in the South would just beat it out, putting a more robust Sun right on my Ascendant, but tropical storm Fay came along at the last minute and all possible flights were cancelled, I was stuck in New York with my dreadful return. My subsequent year was spent in and out of hospitals. Was this cause and effect, or just cosmic synchronicity? A bit of both, I expect…the illness was on its way and that, along with Fay, probably conspired with the cosmos at large to shoot down my travel plans. You can’t dodge the bullet with your name on it. And although they say if you are born to hang, you’ll never drown, if you’re born to drown, all it takes is a puddle.

On the up side, every place I’ve successfully visited to get a better solar return has filled me with joy and mystery, even when (perhaps particularly when) it’s an out-of-the-way place I wouldn’t think to go except for its momentarily convenient longitude and latitude. Tales of some of those here. That’s a feeling I share with many of my clients who regularly travel to get a better year. A typical comment from a client who travelled from California to Niagara Falls for his return just last month:

“Everything about this journey had a mystical quality to it. As if, somehow I found a portal to another dimension. And really my only regret is not staying longer.”

Often my feelings, exactly, and the results of being in an unusual place at an unusual time can provide an experiential twist that may not entirely surface until years later, altering your life and taking your breath away when it does. Under any circumstances, it can’t hurt, and a great excuse to take a break and get out of town!

Diverging paths may both wind up at the same place, here lower Manhattan, one just a bit more interesting than the other.

Relocation:  Go There, Stay There

Of course, if going for a visit is so great, why not live there? That’s the other way you can actively change the otherwise-ineluctable effects of the planets. A quick look at an AstroCartography chart showing where around the world your planets would be rising or culminating will tell the tale. You’ll be energized in spots where Mars, Jupiter, or the Sun are angular, slowed down by places where Saturn is the same. If you’ve travelled much, the map is a revelation, explaining a lot about why certain things tend to happen to you when you go certain places. It’s not a total replacement for your natal chart, but it can really put a different spin on what’s available to you in different places. With my Venus/Mars midpoint going straight over New York City, the Big Apple is just too sexy to escape from, for me, though for others it can spell misery. With Mars/Uranus culminating in Poland, that country sets me on fire with instant fame, but also puts me in more danger than I’d like, with some close calls I wouldn’t like to repeat. But with mellow Mercury rising over southern England, I dream of spending my latter days near Glastonbury writing and letting the amazing ambience of the Old Straight Track suffuse my bones…

Whether it's returns, relocation, or space travel, the larger your canvas, the more choices you have.

Futuristic Free Will

Returns and relocations are for the moment the only ways you can take the celestial bull by the horns and wrestle it to where you want to go, simply by changing the houses where planets occur. You can’t change the relations of the planets to each other – well, not so far. In a few generations, we will no longer have those restrictions. When you can go to the Moon (as our children or grandchildren will), you’ll remove the Moon itself in any chart you look at and replace it with a transiting Earth exactly opposite to its former position. Go farther afield, once we’ve terraformed Mars (or at least learned how to make it a bit more friendly), and the entire set of aspects between all of the inner and middle planets will be totally rearranged as long as you are there. And so will the tropical signs themselves, as Mars’s tilt and orbit creates a whole set of Zodiacal signs and seasons totally different from ours here on Earth. You will be able to change everything – houses, signs, and aspects – completely according to where you decide to travel. That travel broadens one’s outlook is more than just a philosophical observation – it’s at the heart of exercising free will in an astrological context. The farther you do go, the further you can go...

Will it ultimately free you to do anything you want? Probably not. Not anymore than I could escape the collusion of tropical storm Fay and my kidney stones. But you can cut yourself a whole lot more slack by giving it your best shot than you ever could by simply staying put and accepting what comes…

P. S. For our service/report combination to work out your own return, see The Birthday Report...

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