I love this quote from Chris Brennans new book on Hellenistic astrology:
“Despite the formulaic nature of astrological omens, the astrologers themselves did not necessarily think that there was a direct causal connection between celestial and earthly events. Instead, the celestial omens acted as signs or indications of the future that were sent by the gods, and not as causes of the events that they correlated with. The stars in particular were seen as a sort of ‘heavenly writing’ that was inscribed across the sky. Naturally, as Rochberg points out, ‘the notion of the stars as a heavenly script implies their capacity to be read and interpreted.’ Thus in the earliest Babylonian strata of astrological tradition, astrology was seen to be a type of language.”
This supports what I often say, that the planets do not cause things to happen, rather they merely reflect ones karma. The birth chart is an illustration of ones sanskaras for a given lifetime, and there are various techniques to look more closely at a specific timeframe within the lifetime... We are drawn to astrology to gain insight, understanding, and acceptance of the complexity of circumstances we find ourselves in and the attributes we came in with, as well as the inner and outer events and developments that unfold over time.
It appears that some ancient astrologers placed great value on endeavoring towards acceptance of life as it is and developing forbearance, equanimity, and contentment regardless of circumstances (as revealed by, not caused by one’s astrology). The Vettius Valens (c.175 CE) quote at the beginning of Chris’s book is incredible: “Those who engage in the prediction of the future and the truth, having acquired a soul that is free and not enslaved, do not think highly of fortune, and do not devote themselves to hope, nor are they afraid of death, but instead they live their lives undaunted by disturbance by training their souls to be confident, and neither rejoice excessively in the case of good, nor become depressed in the case of bad, but instead are content with whatever is present. Those who do not desire the impossible are capable of bearing that which is preordained through their own self-mastery; and being estranged from all pleasure or praise, they become established as soldiers of fate”
This strikes me as counter to the modern concept of “manifesting” one’s desires and dreams. I resonate with Valens and appreciate the realism and dignity of his words. I am still certainly a proponent of trying one’s best to improve one’s self or one’s lot whenever possible, as that may also be part of the path, but striving for equanimity and acceptance if or when certain things seem unchangeable is just as worthwhile.