Childhood, Free Will and Harsh Aspects Cindy Asks: “I seem to be having trouble with understanding childhood and the free will aspect of astrology. For example, [in your book, Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart] you quoted ‘If our life is ‘harsh’ it is something we created ourselves.”[sic] I understand and believe that we have free will to change the way we feel about difficult experiences in our life, but what about when we are children? My mother was repeatedly sexually abused by her father as a child. How could she possibly have created this herself or have any choice how she feels? The only thing she could feel as a child would be fear. It seems there would be circumstances in our life that we have no control over. It also seems that she would have ‘harsh’ planets or aspects in her chart. If this is the case wouldn’t it make sense to have some fear regarding these planets and aspects?” Kevin Answers: Cindy, First of all, let me clarify something: that quote is most certainly not mine and does not appear in Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart—or anything else I have written, for that matter. What I wrote is this: “Always remember that there are no ’bad’ planets, and that there is no such thing as a ’bad chart.’ We have absolute free will, and part of the cost of that gift is that we must learn to take full responsibility for the world that we have created for ourselves. We choose how we work with and experience the energies in our birth charts—and if we aren’t happy with the choices we’ve made up to this point in our lives, we have the ability and the authority to make different choices from this point on.” Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s delve into your question, which operates on a number of levels and presents some particularly intriguing philosophical challenges. The heart of the question is the issue of perspective. We each are in the middle of a human experience where we have chosen to incarnate on Earth. In order to take on a physical body and experience the unique lessons of Earth, we have to forget a great deal—including the fact that we are eternal, multi-dimensional beings, and that we are all part of the entirety of creation. We each made a conscious choice to incarnate. We each chose our parents and our life circumstances in order to experience specific lessons and to explore specific facets of the human experience. Once we get here, however, we almost always forget this, particularly when it seems that we have selected difficult, painful and exceptionally challenging life circumstances. Your mother chose her chart; she chose her parents, and she chose to be in a relationship with her father. Her father also had free will, and the opportunity to learn and grow through his relationship with his daughter, your mother. Your mother chose her father knowing full well that there was the potential for sexual abuse. She chose to incarnate to assist her father in overcoming his own challenges and issues with abuse. She agreed to enter into this relationship understanding that if she did experience abuse, she would then have her own lessons and challenges to learn from and overcome. Does this mean that your mother is responsible for being abused as a child? Absolutely not. From our perspective here on Earth, she is without blame; it was not her responsibility, nor was it her fault, and she could not do anything to prevent it. It is essential that we understand the distinction between taking responsibility for our choices (both the conscious ones we remember and the spiritual ones that we don’t) and placing blame. Would it be possible to see the abuse in your mother’s chart? Almost certainly. I would expect to see hard aspects from Pluto to any number of personal planets, most likely the Moon or Venus. However, millions of individuals would have the exact same aspect in their charts, and it would not have anything to do with any kind of abuse in their past. Just because abuse is one way that an aspect could be experienced does not mean that it is likely—nor does it mean that we should fear any part of our chart. As a child, your mother would have had a very difficult time defending herself against such a horrendous violation of trust. She made the best choices she could at the time as to how to survive this abuse, and as an adult, she has the ability to choose how much power that abuse still holds over her. She can choose to be haunted by those experiences, to pick at her wounds, and to carry fear and resentment with her. She can also choose to release the pain, to learn to trust, and to learn from these experiences, unfortunate as they were.