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The Astrology of Fate by [Liz Greene]

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The Astrology of Fate Kindle Edition

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About the Author

Liz Greene is the cofounder of the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London and a contributor to the most respected astrology site on the web:, as well as a regular contributor to She is the author of Astrology for Lovers and Relating: An Astrological Guide to Living with Others on a Small Planet. Greene currently resides in Zurich, Switzerland

--This text refers to the paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Astrology of Fate

By Liz Green

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 1984 Liz Green
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-87728-636-3


IntroductionPart One MOIRA1 Fate and the Feminine2 Fate and Pluto3 The Astrological Pluto4 Fate and the Family5 Fate and Transformation6 The Creation of the WorldPart Two DAIMON7 Fate and Myth8 Myth and the ZodiacPart Three PRONOIA9 Fate and Synchronicity10 Fate and the Self 313NotesGlossary of Mythological NamesIndex


Fate and the Feminine

Das Ewig Weibliche zeiht uns inan.


She may be met in the old, wild, barren places: heath and treeless mountaintop,and the mouth of the cave. Not always one, she is sometimes three, emerging outof mist or clothed in it. Banquo, stumbling upon the apparition with Macbeth athis side, cries:

    What are these,
    So withered and so wild in their attire.
    That look not like th' inhabitants o' the earth,
    And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
    That man may question? You seem to understand me,
    By each at once her choppy finger laying
    Upon her skinny lips: You should be women,
    And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
    That you are so.
    ... You can look into the seeds of time,
    And say which grain will grow and which will not.

The curtain opens upon the first act of Wagner's Götterdämmerung 'amid gloomysilence and stillness', and there, crouched upon the crag before the cave thatis at once the womb and the tomb, the passage outward into life and downwardinto death, are the tall female forms swathed in dark veil-like drapery:

Let us be spinning and singing;But where, where tie the cord?

Daughters of Nyx the goddess of Night, or Erda the Earth-mother, they are calledMoirai or Erinyes or Norns or Graiai or Triple-faced Hekate, and they are threein form and aspect: the three lunar phases. The promising waxing crescent, thefertile full face and the sinister dark of the moon are in mythic image thethree guises of woman: maiden, fruitful wife, old crone. Clotho weaves thethread, Lachesis measures it, and Atropos cuts it, and the gods themselves arebound by these three, for they were first out of inchoate Mother Night, beforeZeus and Apollo brought the revelation of man's eternal and incorruptible spiritout of the sky.

The spindle (of the universe) turns on the knees of Necessity; and on the uppersurface of each circle is a siren, who goes round with them, hymning a singletone or note. The eight together form one harmony; and round about, at equalintervals, there is another band, three in number, each sitting upon her throne:these are the Fates, daughters of Necessity, who are clothed in white robes andhave chaplets upon their heads.

Plato's intricate geometric vision of the cosmos, with Necessity and the Fatesenthroned at the centre governing all, is echoed by Aeschylos in PrometheusBound:

Chorus: Who guides the helm, then, of Necessity?

Prometheus: Fates triple-formed, Erinyes unforgetting.

Chorus: Is Zeus, then, weaker in his might than these?

Prometheus: Not even He can escape the thing decreed.

And the philosopher Heraclitus, in the Cosmic Fragments, declares with less thanhis usual ambiguity:

Sun will not overstep his measures; if he does, the Erinyes, the minions ofJustice, will find him out.

Greek thought, as Russell states, is full of fate. It can, of course, be arguedthat these sentiments are the expressions of an archaic culture or world viewwhich died two thousand years ago, prolonged through the medieval epoch becauseof ignorance of the natural universe, and that we know better now. In one sensethis is true, but one of the more important and disturbing insights of depthpsychology is the revelation that the mythic and undifferentiated consciousnessof our ancestors, which animated the natural world with images of gods anddaimones, does not belong to chronological history alone. It also belongs to thepsyche of modern man, and represents a stratum which, although layered over byincreasing consciousness and the hyper-rationality of the last two centuries, isas potent as it was two millennia or even ten millennia ago. Perhaps it is evenmore potent because its only voice now is the neglected dream-world ofchildhood, and the incubae and succubae of the night which are better forgottenin the clear light of morning. We understand, from our much more sophisticatedknowledge of the physical universe, that the sun is not a 'he', and that it isnot the snake-tressed screaming Erinyes who prevent it from overstepping itsmeasures. At least, the ego understands: which is to say, that is only one wayof looking at it.

The language of myth is still, as ever, the secret speech of the inarticulatehuman soul; and if one has learned to listen to this speech with the heart, thenit is not surprising that Aeschylos and Plato and Heraclitus are eternal voicesand not merely relics of a bygone and primitive era. Perhaps it is now more thanever important to hear these poetic visions of the orderly nature of theuniverse, because we have grown so dangerously far from them. The mythicperception of a universe governed by immutable moral as well as physical law isalive and well in the unconscious, and so too are the Erinyes, the 'minions ofJustice'. Fate, in the writings of the Greeks, is portrayed in images which arepsychologically relevant to us. Fate in the archaic imagination is, of course,that which writes the irrevocable law of the future: beginnings and endingswhich are the inevitable products of those beginnings. This implies an orderlypattern of growth, rather than random caprice or chance. It is only the limitsof human consciousness which prevent us from perceiving the full implications ofa beginning, so that we are unable to foresee the inescapable end. The secondcentury gnostic text, the Corpus Hermeticum, phrases this with beautifulsuccinctness:

And so these two, Fate and Necessity, are bound to one another mutually, toinseparable cohesion. The former of them, Heimarmenê, gives birth to thebeginning of all things. Necessity compels the end of all depending from theseprinciples. On these does Order follow, that is their warp and woof, and Time'sarrangement for the perfection of all things. For there is naught without theinterblend of Order.

It is a very particular kind of fate with which we are dealing here, and it isnot really concerned with predestination in the ordinary sense. This fate, whichthe Greeks called Moira, is the 'minion of justice': that which balances oravenges the overstepping of the laws of natural development. This fate punishesthe transgressor of the limits set by Necessity.

The Gods had their provinces by the impersonal appointment of Lachesis or Moira.The world, in fact, was from very early times regarded as the kingdom of Destinyand Law. Necessity and Justice — 'must' and 'ought' — meet together in thisprimary notion of Order — a notion which to Greek religious representation isultimate and unexplained.

In order to grasp the particular flavour of Moira, we must dispense with thepopular conception of preordained events that have neither rhyme nor reason butwhich happen to us out of the blue. The famous 'you will meet a tall darkstranger' formula of the parlour teacup reader or the newspaper astrology columndoes not have very much bearing on the profound sense of a universal moral orderwhich the Greeks understood as fate. This moral order is very different from theJudaeo-Christian sense of good and evil, too, for it does not concern itselfwith man's petty crimes against his fellows. To the Greek mind — and, perhaps,to some deep and forgotten stratum of our own — the worst sin that man couldcommit was not any found later in Christianity's catalogue of deadly vices. Itwas hubris, a word which suggests something including arrogance, vitality,nobility, heroic striving, lack of humility before the gods, and theinevitability of a tragic end.

Before philosophy began, the Greeks had a theory or feeling about the universe,which may be called religious or ethical. According to this theory, every personand every thing has his or its appointed place and appointed function. This doesnot depend upon the fiat of Zeus, for Zeus himself is subject to the same kindof law as governs others. The theory is connected with the idea of fate ornecessity. It applies emphatically to the heavenly bodies. But where there isvigour, there is a tendency to overstep just bounds; hence arises strife. Somekind of impersonal super-Olympian law punishes hubris, and restores the eternalorder which the aggressor sought to violate.

When an individual is afflicted with hubris, he has attempted to overstep theboundaries of the fate set for him (which is, implicitly, the fate portrayed bythe positions of the heavenly bodies at birth, since the same impersonal lawgoverns both microcosm and macrocosm). Thus he strives to become godlike; andeven the gods are not permitted transgression of natural law. The core of Greektragedy is the dilemma of hubris, which is both man's great gift and his greatcrime. For in pitting himself against his fated limits, he acts out an heroicdestiny, yet by the very nature of this heroic attempt he is doomed by theErinyes to retribution.

These themes of natural law and the transgression of fate-imposed limits could,and do, fill volumes of drama, poetry and fiction, not to mention philosophy. Itwould seem that we curious human creatures have always been preoccupied with thedifficult question of our role in the cosmos: are we fated, or are we free? Orare we fated to attempt our freedom, only to fail? Is it better, like Oidipus orPrometheus, to strive to the utmost limits of which one is capable even if itinvokes a tragic end, or is it wiser to live moderately, walk with humilitybefore the gods, and die quietly in one's bed without ever having tasted eitherthe glory or the terror of that inexcusable transgression? Obviously I could goon for several thousand pages on this theme, which is what most philosophers do.As I am not a philosopher, I shall instead focus my attention on the curiousfact that the 'minions of justice', in whatever mythology or poetry one findsthem, are always female.

Perhaps one of the reasons why there is an inevitable association between fateand the feminine is the inexorable experience of our mortal bodies. The wombthat bears us, and the mother upon whom we first open our eyes, is in thebeginning the entire world, and the sole arbiter of life and death. As a directpsychic experience, father is at best speculative, but mother is the primary andmost absolute fact of life. Our bodies are at one with our mothers' bodiesduring the gestation that precedes any independent individuality. If we do notremember the intra-uterine state and the convolutions of the birth passage, ourbodies do, and so does the unconscious psyche. Everything connected with thebody therefore belongs to the world of the mother — our heredity, ourexperiences of physical pain and pleasure, and even our deaths. Just as wecannot remember that time when we did not exist, a mere ovum in the ovary of themother, so we cannot conceive of the time when we will no longer exist, asthough the place of emergence and the place of return are the same. Myth hasalways connected the feminine with the earth, with the flesh, and with theprocesses of birth and death. The body in which an individual lives out hisallotted span comes from the body of the mother, and those characteristics andlimitations ingrained in one's physical inheritance are experienced as fate:that which has been written in the hieroglyphs of the genetic code stretchingback over aeons. The physical legacy of the ancestors is the fate of the body,and although cosmetic surgery may alter the shape of a nose or straighten a setof teeth, yet we are told that we will inherit our parents' diseases, theirpredisposition to longevity or the lack of it, their allergies, their appetites,their faces and their bones.

So fate is imaged as feminine because fate is experienced in the body, and theinherent predispositions of the body cannot be altered regardless of theconsciousness that inhabits the flesh — just as Zeus cannot, ultimately, alterMoira. The instinctual drives of a species are also the province of Moira,because these too are inherent in flesh and although they are not unique to onefamily or another they are universal to the human family. It seems that wecannot overstep that in us which is nature, which belongs to the species — howevermuch we repress it or feed it with culture. In this sense Freud, despitehimself, emerges as one of the great affirmers of fate as instinct, because hewas compelled to acknowledge the power of the instincts as a shaper of humandestiny. The instinct to procreate, differentiated from what we call love,exists in every living species, and that it operates as a force of fate may beobserved in the compulsive sexual encounters and their consequences whichpunctuate virtually every human life. It is no wonder that the Norsemen equatedfate with the genitals. Likewise the aggressive instinct exists in us all, andthe history of war, which erupts despite our best intentions, is testimony tothe 'fatedness' of that instinct.

The soul too is portrayed as feminine, and Dante's great poetic edifice to hisdead Beatrice stands as one of our most awesome testimonies of the power of thefeminine to lead man out of mundane life and into the heights and depths of hisinner being. Jung has a considerable amount to say about the soul as anima, theinner feminine which can lead a man both into the torments of hell and theecstasies of heaven, igniting the fire of his creative individual life. Herefate seems to come from within, through the passions and the imagination and theincurable mystical longing. Whether an actual woman carries this role for a manin life or not, the soul will nevertheless drive him towards his fate. This soulsets limits, too: she will not permit him to fly too high into the remote realmsof intellect and spirit, but will ensnare him through the body's passions oreven the body's disease. In myth it is the goddesses, not the gods, who presideover disease and decay — as Kali does over smallpox — and in the end theyrestore even the most spiritualised of men to the dust from whence he came.These inadequately covered connections are perhaps some of the threads whichlink the mythic image of fate with the feminine. However we wish to understandthis triple face of fate, she is imaged as an eternal presence, spinning thecycles of time, the birth gown, the nuptial veil, the shroud, the tissues of thebody and the stones of the earth, the wheel of the heavens and the eternalpassage of the planets through the eternal zodiacal round.

We meet the feminine face of fate also in the humble fairy tale of childhood.The word 'fairy' comes from the Latin fata or fatum, which in French eventuallytranslated into fée, enchantment. So fate not only avenges the transgression ofnatural law; she also enchants. She spins a spell, weaves a web like the spiderwho is one of her most ancient symbols, transforms a prince into a frog andsends Briar-Rose into a hundred-year sleep.

A long time ago there were a King and Queen who said every day: 'Ah, if only wehad a child!' but they never had one. But it happened that once when the Queenwas bathing, a frog crept out of the water on to the land, and said to her:'Your wish shall be fulfilled; before a year has gone by, you shall have adaughter.'

What the frog had said came true, and the Queen had a little girl who was sopretty that the King could not contain himself for joy, and ordered a greatfeast. He invited not only his kindred, friends and acquaintances, but also theWise Women, in order that they might be kind and well-disposed toward the child.There were thirteen of them in his kingdom, but, as he had only twelve goldenplates for them to eat out of, one of them had to be left at home.

The feast was held with all manner of splendour, and when it came to an end theWise Women bestowed their magic gifts upon the baby: one gave her virtue,another beauty, a third riches, and so on with everything in the world that onecan wish for.

When eleven of them had made their promises, suddenly the thirteenth came in.She wished to avenge herself for not having been invited, and without greeting,or even looking at anyone, she cried with a loud voice: 'The King's daughtershall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall down dead.'

Who then are these 'Wise Women' who are gracious and generous if acknowledged,yet vengeful and merciless if ignored? 'Little Briar-Rose' is a fairy tale, andtherefore a tale about fate. I cannot resist associating those numbers twelveand thirteen with some very ancient things, for there are thirteen lunar monthsin a year and twelve solar; and the king in this fairy tale, being a king andnot a queen, has opted to set the solar measure above the lunar. Thus his ownproblem with the feminine is visited upon his daughter in the form of apunishment, and the Erinyes, in the guise of the thirteenth Wise Woman, claimtheir retribution.
(Continues...)Excerpted from The Astrology of Fate by Liz Green. Copyright © 1984 Liz Green. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

--This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B007L4STBK
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Weiser Books (January 15, 1985)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 15, 1985
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 2856 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 386 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 129 ratings

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