Do we have freewill? If we do, then what is the point of astrology and all esoteric teachings? Two decades of sleepless nights later, the answer came like a gust of wind, disturbing the candles of my mind, and with it a single question that promised an answer if it could be answered: What is freewill?
Rational society claims that we have freewill, that is the freedom to determine the course of our lives. What would be the point of life if everything were predestined? I have held onto this belief all my life, and have taught astrology and tarot accordingly, despite evidence to the contrary.
Evidence #1: When I was about four, my parents had my Vedic Astrology chart interpreted by a well-respected astrologer from India. I never knew what he had said until, after graduating from law school, I landed a job as a journalist. My parents, who had recorded the reading on cassette, only told me then that the astrologer had said I would read law, become a writer and continue to be a perpetual student of philosophy. I only discovered the philosophy part many years later when I listened to the tape myself.
Evidence #2: During my early days as a journalist, I interviewed a geomancer, a Chinese Metaphysician, who asked me if I believed that we had freewill. I said yes. Then he asked if I believed we chose the person we were to marry. I said yes. Then, with a smug smile, he proceeded to explain that given that there were billions of people in the world, we were only likely to meet a handful of people in our lifetime. Of that handful, we would like a few but not the others. Of the ones we liked, how many would feel the same about us? I wanted to beat him with my notebook. Something about what he said struck me as right.
Evidence #3: Some years later, I interviewed an astrologer, who read my chart so I could get a feel for what he did. He told me that I would turn to spirituality as I grew older. Now I was a lifestyle journalist writing about luxury cars, watches, shoes and all the other glamorous stuff, interviewing some of the biggest name in those industries, and travelling the world to do so. Spirituality? Yeah, right.
Here I am now, a composite of these three people’s predictions, as much an astrologer as I am a philosopher, entrenched in the spiritual world, oblivious to the material world and its rules, writing all day, studying all night.
Is it possible then that our lives are predestined? While working on my astrology book, I met Hecate, the Goddess of the Crossroads, Guardian of the Tenth House, and Keeper of the Keys to the constellation of Capricorn, pictured here from The Book of Shadows Tarot As Above Deck (as are all the cards here). Everything written from here on comes directly from her.
Freewill is the choice of whether one will listen to the subconscious mind, the ego or the higher self, for at every moment three paths are available to all. Yet the roads reconvene at a later date should one choose a path that is not in accordance with the higher self, whether that later date lies in the future of this life or in another lifetime. The path is predestined but how, when and if one finds it is the game of life.
The Path of the Eagle
Trending now, in this time and age, is the advice to follow your heart. When you feel elated, then it must be the right path for you. Not so, says Hecate, for the emotions are linked to the subconscious.
This path is the left fork on the road. The journey begins pleasantly. There’s lots of sunlight, enough trees to make the journey feel comfortable, and many companions whom you’ll meet, so there’s always support and assistance.
But the path soon twists and turns, dragging you deeper into the forest where the trees are thickest and the way forward is blocked. In time, usually with help from another, you find your way back onto the path, only to discover that the path is circular and you have been going around in circles.
Most of us do need to travel through here at least once as this is where we learn our greatest lessons, which we can only see when we become like the eagle and rise above our petty desires in order to search for the truth. The Path of the Eagle is not the wrong path—there is no such thing. It is simply a necessary detour to strengthen your connection with your soul by working out your subconscious fears.
The Path of the Snake
This is the familiar path, the one that stretches straight ahead with your chosen destination in plain sight. It is the road that makes the most sense because it is well-lit, there are no forests and is perpetually packed with familiar faces. It has to be the right path because it clearly indicates how to get where you want to go.
But this highway is the path of the ego, says Hecate, which in its rush to reach its destination, is determined to avoid adventure at all costs.
It is the superficial path for night never descends. Mastery of the self is only possible in the darkness, by the light of the moon. This is the path of missed opportunities, a sacrifice made for the pursuit of the luxuries of the material world.
The Path of the Snake is not the wrong path but it is a long road leading away from the soul. It will drain the physical body and lead to frustration, not to mention competition given that everybody else is also on this same road. It is a path that never ends.
The Path of the Dragon
The path that forks to the right is terrifying to those who are at a crossroads. There is barely any light, the path itself is covered in bramble and thicket, and is barely visible to the naked eye. One will have to search for a way in, which will require time and energy. It is a solitary path, as in the path that belongs only to your soul, and therefore is not open to others.
Unlike the path of emotions which makes you feel good temporarily, or the path of the ego which makes you feel powerful temporarily, the path of the soul promises nothing. It is the path of nothingness, a place to merge the eagle and the snake, for when they become one, they become a dragon.
Society will try and slay your inner dragon by reminding you of your foolhardiness, for who goes on a quest with no tangible rewards? There will be no support, except for one or two otherworldly hermits who have made a permanent home along this path, offering a night’s rest and sage advice before you continue on your journey to heaven knows where.
This is the path that is predestined, says Hecate. You will know when you are on it because you will not feel elated or arrogant, but will fall silent and introspective, and like a Grail knight, will willingly dedicate your life to the quest for wisdom. It is the wisdom gained by walking this path that will one day allow you to change the world.
To get to the Path of the Dragon, you will first have to walk the other two paths. The Path of the Eagle, through the pursuit of love in all its guises, will teach you how to rise above your emotions. The Path of the Snake, through the pursuit of power in all its guises, will teach you the value of integrity. When the two are ingrained, the Path of the Dragon will reveal itself, and only then will the real quest begin.
Self-discovery, inner work, and all the tenets of esoteric teaching, including astrology and the tarot, are meant to help you become aware of the paths you are on—you can be on both the Path of the Eagle and the Path of the Snake simultaneously in different areas of your life. Studying the patterns of your life using astrology, which is the meaning of self-discovery, will help you understand the lessons of each path, so you learn faster, although the intensity will remain the same.
The Eagle helps you see clearly the circles you have walked on your quest to experience love. To become one with the eagle, you will be challenged to detach from the pain and pleasure of past romance and all relationships, and search for clues of what you are meant to learn in order to let go of your desire for love and acceptance from other people.
The Snake helps you perceive the futility of wasting your energy to compete in the material world. It teaches the power of regeneration and internal transformation, the alchemy of the self, by detaching from the need to prove your worth.
The Dragon enters your life when both the energies of the snake and the eagle have been assimilated into your consciousness through discipline, dedication and reverence to the spiritual quest. At this stage, the one esoteric practice that is denied those on the other two paths will miraculous reveal its secrets, and that is alchemy.
It is at this point that freewill is removed from your consciousness for your higher self will only see one path, the predestined path, the path leading to the Holy Grail. To walk the Path of the Dragon is a great sacrifice for it requires you to leave your tribe, your old ways of thinking and being, your pursuit of love and power, and search only for wisdom. But none of it will feel like a sacrifice. It simply becomes as plain as day, a deep knowing that this is what you are meant to do and this is all you want to do.
This was the path walked by the Knights Templar, who were slayed on their quest, as was Jesus. Buddha, I am certain, was berated by his clan for abandoning his familial duties. Isaac Newton became a recluse. Not quite sure what happened with Da Vinci but something did. It is not an easy path but it is one that you must one day walk. One that will feel natural, effortless and certain.