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Free will and fate in the practice of Horary Astrology by Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo
    by Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo
    Costa Rica

I'm still a tenderfoot practitioner of horary astrology but I've seen how accurate it can be. A few years ago, I had two clients named Fiorella and Estrella (fictitious names). They didn't know each other, lived in very different circumstances but they both had a similar question: "Am I going to win this legal battle against my ex husband and get the money I'm fighting for?" After doing the rigorous analysis that characterizes horary astrology, I arrived at the same conclusion in both cases: "No, it seems you're not going to win this legal battle and you're not going to get the money you're fighting for".

What was their reaction? Fiorella wasn't happy with the answer. She felt that she deserved the money that the ex husband was stealing from her. But she chose to quit the battle despite her feelings. She had been in Al-Anon for a while (a 12-Step fellowship) and after saying the Serenity Prayer, decided to let go and let God decide the situation. I've run into her a couple of times after our appointment and she has enough money for a decent living, is relatively at peace and enjoys life in life's terms.

Estrella wasn't happy with the answer either, but she chose to get angry at the astrologer (me) and said something like this: "I'm not giving up my life style and I'm getting this money no matter what". Over two years later, she asked me for another appointment. Though my intuition told me not to take her back, I didn't listen to myself and gave her the appointment anyway. She had spent plenty of time, energy and money in fruitless court fights. She was more miserable and much poorer and sicker than the first time. And, of course, she had gotten even angrier with the stupid astrologer who accepted her back (me!).

The cases of Fiorella and Estrella pose some fundamental questions to the astrologer. Is fate written in the stars? Is there free will? If so, how wide is it? What is the role of the astrologer? And, what is the purpose of the astrological consultation? In trying to answer these questions, I'm going to review and define a workable concept of astrology. Having a relatively clear picture of what astrology is would provide a strong foundation for a consistent astrological practice.

I've heard many times that astrology studies the influence of the stars on human and terrestrial life. There are other ways to express it, like synchronicity between celestial phenomena and life on Earth. But in practice, most astrologers work with a set of symbols that have nothing to do with the physical planets or constellations. As Bill Sheeran and Juan Antonio Revilla pointed out, astrology is "about symbols derived from planets" and "astrologers make use of celestial motions to build mathematical models of human life". [1]

So I choose to define astrology as a system of interpretation of celestial mechanics and as such, it is made out of symbolism created by the human mind. Whichever astrological approach one chooses to practice, it has been developed in a historical and socio-economical context that permeates that astrological system in particular. Therefore, the word astrology encompasses a variety of systems of symbolization and interpretation, which brings different methods, techniques and purposes.

In this sense, I cannot assume that fate is written in the stars because the stars per se don't tell me anything. The astrologer is the one who has something to tell, based on the symbolism that a community of astrologers has created. Since we don't work with physical planets, we work with a very complex system that exists thanks to the human mind. We would have a better understanding of what we do and why we do it if we were aware of these facts, and the context in which the astrological system was created and the context the astrologer and the client live in.

So if fate is not written in the stars but rather is something interpreted by the astrologer according to a set of symbols, what is fate? I would call fate those things that happen in our lives that we have no control over. Free will, on the other hand, would be the exercise of our right to make choices in the course of our existence. When an astrologer makes a prediction, there is always room for the client to make a decision. And I believe that free will lies in our capacity to make choices. Let's go back to Fiorella and Estrella. They both faced similar dilemmas and received the same answer, but their personal choices set completely different courses of action.

Having some clarity regarding the concepts of fate and free will has paramount importance for my practice as an astrologer. I used to not like to make predictions since it seemed against free will. Then I realized that everybody makes predictions. Is it going to rain or not? The meteorologist usually answers this question, with a margin of error. Where is my business going to be more profitable, in city X or city Y? The expert on market research would answer this question, also with a margin of error. They all use their own frame of reference and coordinates. The astrologer does exactly the same thing, no more, no less, and as in the other fields, with a margin of error.

So, why is a prediction by a market researcher acceptable while a prediction by an astrologer is considered a violation of free will? It may have to do with the spread-out idea of astrology as the study of the influences of the stars, which makes us object of mockery and suspicion. By choosing the workable definition of astrology as an abstract system of interpretation, with symbols and coordinates, I don't need to defend myself against accusations of violating someone's free will. I just offer a prediction based on that frame of reference and the client is free to choose the subsequent course of action.

So if free will is our capacity to make choices, would it be enhanced by our awareness of the choices in front of us? I do think so. Sometimes, the range of choice is so minimal that it only gives us chance to choose a different perspective on the same issue. But a little change of perspective may have the power to bring a major change in one's life. So this little range of action of our free will is extremely powerful. It's something not to be dismissed and something to be taken into consideration in our astrological practice.

In this sense, as an astrologer, my role would be to show when there is the need to take an alternative route and when it would be favorable to continue in the same road. Or by being aware of certain personality traits, how one can turn them into assets or diminish their destructiveness. But the decision of what to do with this information is up to the clients alone. This is their free will and not their fate. My purpose as an astrologer would be assisting them in their decision-making process by bringing useful pieces of information. Someone can say that, by doing so, we influence people's destiny. We all do, astrologers and non-astrologers alike. Any contact with another human being, as minimal it may be, might be enough to alter anyone's existence.

Ana Luisa
June 9, 2010

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1] The reader will find these definitions in the thread "Chronobiology" in
The contributions by Juan Antonio Revilla and Bill Sheeran are most enlightening on the topic of the nature of astrology. I strongly recommend their reading.
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About the author:

Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo
lives in Costa Rica and has practiced astrology for 12 years. Her studies began in the late 1980s but she quit for long time in order to focus on psychology. She came back to astrology in the year 2000. Her "initiation" on traditional astrology happened in 2006 by reading the only John Frawley book translated into Spanish - The Real Astrology. She has gone deeper on the traditional approach ever since.

She is a regular writer for the magazine Perfil since 2003. Her column, the "Consultorio Cósmico", receives inquiries from many readers from Costa Rica and abroad. She also wrote the horoscope for The Tico Times for five years. Her tutors have been Grace Alvarado (Costa Rica), Juan Antonio Revilla (Costa Rica), Branka Stamenkovich (Serbia) and Sue Ward (England).

Ana Luisa has also been a psychologist for over 22 years. Her experience on this field covers diverse areas such as psychotherapy, research, workshops and teaching at University level. She currently works part-time as a psychotherapist and part-time as an astrologer.

Email Ana Luisa at: or

© The article made available on this page is copyrighted to Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo and is offered here for private, non-commercial use. Permission must be sought for reproduction. Published online June, 2010.

Horary Astrology