by Catherine Potter ~

When I am teaching astrology or working with a client one of the first things I address is the “fate” versus “free will” question.

Astrology and astronomy have a similar starting place in that they both look at past, present and future planetary cycles. With today’s technology those cycles can be predicted far in advance.

There is an order to how the planets move within our solar system (and beyond), meaning there is a pattern of predictable cycles as well as a vast amount of unknown growth and change. Even the universe is responding sometimes in ways we can’t predict.

Using some of the same information, astrology and astronomy then veer off into different directions.

From an astrological perspective we look to see how the planetary cycles affect us here on Earth. Examples would include solar storms and their effect on our communication systems or the monthly moon’s effect on our tides.

Both of the above examples have predictable cycles. What becomes less predictable is how different people process planetary cycles and the choices they make with them.

What becomes less predictable is how different people process planetary cycles and the choices they make with them.

A challenging cycle for one person might create enough tension and accumulated stress that they break down with it. For another person it may push them to move through obstacles. Same cycle, different results.

I wrote (in the last issue of Mosaic) about a planetary cycle that is affecting all of us – that is prediction. We are fated to experience it, so to speak. But how we deal with it comes under the heading of free will.

Do we override our knowing, do we behave in our most unconscious conditioned way or do we look at new ways to deal with favorable and challenging cycles?

Each one of the above responses will create a slightly or vastly different outcome. Some choices will keep us locked into patterns of behaviors that are generations old. In other words, we keep recreating what our family did or in the case of global cycles, what our cultural, racial and religious biases dictate. In some situations that can be good and in others, very limiting.

In the past astrology was mostly predictive in that an astrologer would tell a client that there was one outcome possible for them. That prediction would have been relevant to the time period the person was living in and the cultural and social norms for that period.

However how we work with the study and practice of astrology must grow along with advancements in science, technology and evolving world perspectives.

What can an astrologer do? They can tell you what the global cycles are many years in advance and what the flavor and collective mood will be.

For an individual, an astrologer can tell you (from birth through death) what your cycles will be, the area of your life they will affect, whether they are challenging or easy, and how long the influence of the cycle will last.

Those predicted cycles will come; we can’t change that. In that way we are fated to encounter certain types of situations at pre-determined points in our lives. What you do with them opens up the door to a variety of possible outcomes and therein lies the free choice.

As well as identifying the flavor of the cycle you are dealing with, a well trained astrologer can offer suggestions and recommendations on how to work consciously with and get the most benefit out of the cycle. They can refer you to other people who can help if a situation is outside their field of training.

The bottom line is that I like knowing when I travel (or I’m about to sign an important document) if Mercury is retrograde. Will I still go on my trip? Absolutely, but I will take a change of clothes in my carry-on bag in case my luggage ends up traveling to a different location than me.

As well, when I have been undergoing tough times in my life or have been at major crossroads, the use of astrology helped me understand what was happening. It also helped me to look at the quality of my choices and interactions with the situations I was dealing with.

From my perspective the ancient art of astrology is as relevant today as any other point in our past. As a tool for self discovery, a model to help understand interconnection or a guidepost at important transition periods in one’s life, it is one of the most valuable tools I have worked with.

Astrology is part science, part art, mundane, mysterious and mystical.

An Astrologer since 1986, Catherine is also a Hypnotherapist and Meditation Instructor. She brings her experiential counselling and teaching style to The Northern Star College of Mystical Studies, Edmonton, Alberta. Call 780-447-3667, and

ART: Lunar Cycles, © Natalie VonRaven. Dynamic characters, big gleaming eyes and high contrast color schemes equally inspire and fashion Natalie’s trademark style. Creating from an eclectic studio in High River Alberta, she composes each piece with bold expression and metaphorical undertones in mind.

NOTE: This article was first published in February 2016 in © Mosaic Mind, Body and Spirit Magazine. This information is for educational purposes only and is intended to supplement your current health program, not to replace the care of a licensed medical doctor.