According to Ludwig Wittgenstein, “Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death.” So, does that mean that astrology cannot predict someone’s death? And even if it can, should it?
For astrologers, my time of birth is taken as the moment of my first breath – not when my head appeared, not when the cord was cut but the first breath which is my first act independent of my mother. I take a breath. I connect with the world. I am born.
The astrologer draws a chart – a picture of the sky – for the moment of birth. This represents me, my consciousness in this physical body. The positions of the sun, the moon and the planets, the angular relationships between them, the ascendant and midheaven, the cusps of the house are all symbols of my energy as a physical, sentient being. These symbols can be read and interpreted and help us make sense of who we are.
My birth chart may offer suggestions as to what karma I have brought with me from other lives and what issues I am to face in this life, but it does not reference those lives in any way in terms of where or when I may have lived, nor does it give any clues to my identity in those lives. A birth chart refers to one life. This life.
A birth chart can reflect major life events such as getting married, the births of children, public success, moving to another country, being made homeless, being imprisoned, etc. In terms of an actual astrological consultation, it is possible look back and correlate astronomical events with life events. These correlations can give us an idea of the issues we are involved in, resolving or revisiting as we travel along another level of the spiral of personal development.
Looking at the future however, is another matter entirely. A particular astronomical event can be read not as something that happens to me but as a window of possibility for action. “The stars incline, they do not compel.” as the astrologer Ptolemy (c.100 AD to c.170) is recorded as having said. An astrologer can point out a time of risk, a time of transformation, a time of limitation or a time of profound healing. Some of these ‘windows’ can relate to external events. Others relate to inner experiences and learnings in my own ‘universe of meaning’.
But these events do not include my death. For as Wittgenstein says, my death is not an event in my life. I do not live to experience my death. As such, it cannot be indicated in a birth chart.
But rather than the event itself, what is important for the soul is the meaning of the event. For the soul’s journey is the process of becoming conscious. So, while my death is not an event in my life, it may be a meaningful event for others, for those I leave behind me, for those I am close to. My death is someone’s loss.
An astrologer may be able to see a time of a loss in someone’s life but not the nature of that loss. Loss can have different meanings and learnings for different people. It can be a bereavement or a liberation. It can be life-changing or a mere blip on the radar. Just as every birth is different, so is every death, leaving behind its own meaning as a ship leaves a wake.
And even if an astrologer could predict a death, should they? This article explores this question and looks at the business of prediction in greater depth.