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Most predictive astrology practiced and taught today relies on the illusion of cause and effect. The astrologer produces charts to illustrate the value and amazing accuracy of a particular technique. For example, at the exact moment of a car accident Uranus was square Mars. We all assume this is an example of causality, but in fact, it's an example of coincidence.
When we apply some critical thinking to the example, we discover a series of underlying assumptions. And the assumptions aren't nearly as stable as we think they are.
When astrologers look at charts, we get excited about precise orbs and exact aspects. In the chart of the car accident, transiting Uranus was square natal Mars with an orb of only 20 minutes! This conjures up images of a karmic clock, counting down the seconds to the moment of the inevitable accident.
There's just one problem. We're not actually considering the dimension of time.
The chart is a snapshot. It's a single frame of a movie. Yes, it's impressive that Uranus was square natal Mars with an orb of only 20 minutes in the chart of the car accident. But it's less impressive when you step back and realize that Uranus was in an exact square to Mars for about two weeks.
And that brings us to the next assumption.
Certainly, Uranus square Mars could describe a car accident, but if the aspect is active for extended periods of time, how is that useful? The most we could say is that it suggests an increased potential of an accident. But it doesn't suggest when the potential is likely to manifest.
The problem with most predictive tools is that they show context rather than cause. Most examples of predictive astrology point to one or two contributing factors, but even considered together, they rarely describe a specific trigger for the event: something that makes that specific moment — or even that specific day — different from the time immediately before and after.
But even if the examples are specific and unique, and the timing is precise, we're still undone by the final, and most important assumption.
This is the biggest misconception of predictive astrology. It's so widespread that it's almost universal. The reason for it is a conflict in context and what we think of when we think of astrology.
Virtually everyone involved in astrology today equates astrology with a natal chart. This was our first exposure to astrology, and for many astrologers, it's the only experience of astrology. We assume the natal chart is the heart of astrology and that when astrologers in the past answered specific questions for their clients and made accurate predictions, that they did so using the natal chart.
This is not entirely correct.
Until the modern revival of astrology, the natal chart was not the center of astrology. Astrologers worked with horary charts or mundane charts. Astrologers answered questions and made predictions based on the current and future movement of the planets. Any work done with the natal chart was supplementary.
In the past, astrologers understood that the nature of the question determines which type of chart you use to find the answer.
Marriage and children were some of the most common questions brought to astrologers in the past. An astrologer would consider the natal chart to establish the broader context: how many times you would marry, the approximate ages you would marry, whether you would profit from your marriages, and how many children you were likely to have. These are subjective, long-term questions.
But if you went to an astrologer with more objective, immediate questions, such as should I marry this person, or when will we conceive a child, the astrologer would pay more attention to the horary chart of the moment you asked the question than to any transits, progressions, or directions going on in your natal chart.
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Kevin B. Burk is the Headmaster of The Real Astrology Academy. Established in 2013, The Real Astrology Academy provides astrology information, education, and training to astrologers and astrology students around the world. He holds an NCGR-IV Certification in Astrological Counseling, is the author of over a dozen books, including Principles of Practical Natal Astrology: Talented Astrologer Training Book 1, and helps clients around the world through his counseling practice.