What if the “fate vs. free will” debate in astrology is a framing that risks obfuscating other philosophies and models for understanding what astrology is/does?
I prefer instead contemplating astrology as an assemblage of agencies both human and more-than-human that is always emerging from a cloud of determinacy and indeterminacy.
Astrology is a human practice of co-creating meaning with that which is more than human—most notably the sky, the planets, the stars, the asteroids, light, motion, and our place on earth, but also the body, language, myth, archetypes, technology, social systems, cultural biases, etc.
None of these forces are static, stable, resolute, or lifeless. They each have their own movements, their trajectories without teleologies, their irresolvable aggregations of affects, impressions, and relations—all of which conspire to generate the possibility of cosmic stories in which we implicated.
Astrology is co-created, always made, never found, even if it is made from what is found. Astrology is not simply what we find in the world or sky but what we make of what we find—and this is a “we” that is never only human and making through which we are also made. In this assemblage of forces, materials, and intelligences, much is made possible while much remains impossible. Some things are determined in advance, not simply BY the planets but WITH the planets, and also with social systems rooted in domination, exploitation, oppression, and violence—for example—that enable some ways of living while foreclosing others.
Any notion of radical free will that does not account for the constraints of social systems and power acting on and through us—let alone the larger ecological conditions including the cosmos which vastly exceed human control—is naïve at best and willfully delusional at worst.
But any notion of an entirely deterministic fatedness that does not recognize the multiplicity of possibilities within even the most seemingly predictable systems misses the exuberant potentiality of life itself. The planets and other celestial bodies describe powerful currents within the assemblage we call astrology and demonstrate an uncanny capacity for correlation with terrestrial experiences and events.
Yet all throughout the astrological traditions, the planets (and signs and houses, etc.) remain persistently multivalent, irreducible to any single signification or delineation. Even at its most precise, predictive astrology remains inherently unpredictable, and this is in part because the relations we center within our astrological awareness are only ever part of the assemblage.
Rather than fate or free will, we are always one movement within a much larger choreography that is always partially constrained yet never fully determined in advance, a constellation of emergent possibilities that must be met in the living moment, irreducible to calculations or representations but to which we bring our calculations and representations and our felt sensations and intimations and breath and WiFi and two-dimensional charts of the sky and all our shelves and stacks of books and our late night conversations with loved ones and the words of our teachers and glimpses of shining lights between the clouds and our grasping at the ineffable and our sparks of recognition and and and and and this is where astrology happens.