Can the future be predicted?

“ Teach me your mood, o patient stars
who climb each night the ancient sky.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Definition of prediction: a thing predicted; a forecast

(p 1140, The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Oxford University Press 1996)


The question of whether it is possible to foretell the future is one which has preoccupied humans ever since we evolved into self-conscious beings and began to conceptualise past, present and future – around 80,000 years ago, we now think. Prediction has thus been around for a long time. Economists do it. Weather men/women do it. Politicians do it. Physicists do it. But most of the foregoing direct scorn and derision at the people who have done it for longer than anyone else – astrologers.

(n.b. my comments in this article do not relate to popular Sun Sign astrology which is a generalised form of entertainment based largely on the position of only one planet, the sun)

Measuring the Heavens: The Mariners' Astrolabe
Measuring the Heavens: The Mariners' Astrolabe

There is at least six thousand years’  worth of recorded empirical evidence, much of it stored on clay tablets, as yet undeciphered, in the basements of museums across the world, demonstrating that the movements of  the planets in our solar system correlate with particular shifts in “the affairs of men” both collectively and at an individual level.

This empirical observation continues into the present day in the consulting rooms of astrologers across the world. For example, a number of politicians and economists consult astrologers regularly. They are mostly unwilling to admit it – though we astrologers know who they are!

What is my view on prediction, in summary, after nearly thirty years of  observing correlations between individual and collective life on earth and the planets’ movements?

There is no doubt in my mind that astrologers can look at the unfolding pattern of energies through space/time, cut a section through any point or moment of the past, present or future, look at what the essence of that moment is, and speculate regarding what some of the branches manifesting in the wider world, or in individuals’ lives, may be.

However, they cannot predict on a consistent and exact basis how those branches are going to manifest.  Our track record on hindsight is much better than it is on foresight, historically!

There have been some spectacularly accurate predictions made by astrologers in the public realm over the centuries; a famous one was made by Luc Gauricus in 1555 to the effect that King Henry the Second of France ( then aged thirty-seven)  was in danger of death in his forty-second year, by a head injury incurred in single combat in an enclosed space. And five years later Henry duly died of a lance splinter which entered his eyes and pierced his brain. There have also been some spectacular failures, eg to predict that the Munich agreement of 1938 would lead to war.

We do much better at describing the essence of a pattern – identifying the exact branches through which energies may manifest is much more hit and miss. Personally this cheers me, since it appears to suggest a creative balance between fate and free will in the universe – chaos theory in contemporary physics also has strong parallels with the astrological paradigm. Not everything  is pinned down – both the language of astrology and the language of contemporary physics tells us that!

Because of this I am very hesitant about both the accuracy of prediction and the wisdom of doing it at all, especially for individuals, in any more than a “describing the core and speculating about the branches” kind of way. Predicting that a specific branch WILL manifest, in my opinion closes down options rather than opening them up, also taking us into the realm of self-fulfilling prophecy….

I began to study astrology seriously in 1980. Until then, my attitude was not sceptical (ie willing to consider the facts in an open-minded way) but dismissive, to say the least. But in the 1970s I had an encounter with astrologers, involving an unsolicited prediction, which strongly challenged my prejudices.

I leave you thus with the rather interesting tale of how a dismissive, ill-informed maligner of a great and ancient art (me, 1980) turned into a devoted and admiring practitioner. Life sure is full of surprises!


Not the Astrology Column


700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009

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