Regardless of whether you believe in past lives, there’s no denying that in this lifetime, we all have many karmic lessons to learn. They may relate to our relationships, career, self-worth, or just learning how to let things go (just me?). And you’ll know it’s karmic when it keeps showing up repeatedly until you fully learn that lesson. Past life astrology is one tool we can use to better understand those karmic lessons that often stem from our past lives.
What is past life astrology?
“Past life astrology is the belief that our birth chart holds insight about where we came from before entering into this world,” says astrologer and tarot reader Clarisse Monahan. “It points to what lessons and strengths we come into this life with and also where we have some learning and lessons to undertake.”
Vedic astrology, which is linked to the Hindu belief system that believes in reincarnation, also references past lives. “Our accumulated karmas of past [lives] get manifested in this present life,” says Kamlesh Trivedi, a Vedic astrology expert for the Nebula astrology app. “[Vedic astrology] strongly believes that a soul waits for the right constellation or star to be born on Earth.”
How past life astrology can help you in this lifetime
Sounds cool, but how exactly can all the past life astrology insight help us in the present? Monahan says it can illuminate patterns and habits that aren’t serving us, giving us the awareness needed to begin changing those habitual responses.
Trivedi echoes this notion and adds that all karma gets rolled over into our present lifetime—the good and the bad. So if we did negative things or deeds in past lives, it becomes Rinanu-Bandhan, meaning past life debt, which we can rectify in this lifetime. “By understanding this concept, we can make necessary changes in our present life to make our life happier and positive in all relevant areas of life,” he says.
To understand your karmic lessons, you must first examine the past life energy in your birth chart, particularly by looking at three key placements. “Once you start understanding your placements, you can then look at integrating them,” Monahan says.
The 3 birth chart placements to look at for karmic lessons
According to astrologers, the 12th house is the house of past lives and karmic lessons. “The 12th house allows us a glimpse into realms that existed before we came into this world,” Monahan says. “It holds a kind of existentially uncanny shimmer for us to develop stories and myths about where we came from.”
Specifically, Monahan says looking at the sign we have in the 12th house, and what energies or plants we have either in the house or aspecting it, can help us get a sense of our prenatal life (meaning what it was like when we were in the womb).
“Certain planets in the 12th house can point to how happy our mother’s pregnancy may have been,” she says. “The benefics (Jupiter and Venus) in the 12th usually show a very happy pregnancy and that the baby was much wanted. The malefics (Mars and Saturn) can show some potentially some danger/stress with the former and restrictions or burdens with the latter.”
In Vedic astrology, the planet Saturn is referred to as “Shani,” which means judge. “The planet Saturn is the judge of our karma, whether it is past, present, or future,” Trivedi says. “Whatever we do in our life, it is rewarded or punished by the planet Saturn.” This makes it an important planet to examine for past life astrology.
A professional astrologer can help you interpret what your Saturn placement has to say about your karmic lessons. For example, Trivedi says that if Saturn occupies your fifth house (which is the house of accumulated karma) “in a debilitated, retrograde, or combustible manner,” it suggests that your accumulated karma is negative. In turn, that leads to suffering in the present life. “This suffering depends upon the severity or negativity of the placement of the planet.”
Next, look at your south node placement. “[This] points to what we come into this world with and we may lean towards as actions and habits,” Monahan says. Specifically, note how the south node interacts with the rest of your chart. For instance, is it touching a personal planet? Is that aspect a helpful and supportive one (trine or sextile), or is it a hard aspect (square or opposition)? Again, consult a pro astrologer if you need help interpreting the information.
“You can start to build the story around the past life by looking at the planets and signs that are integrated with it,” Monahan says of south node placements. “Some people may have no major aspects from the south node, usually, that means they do not have to deal with too much drama in this lifetime. People with a lot of heavy aspects to the south node may have trouble getting over certain habits or patterns.”
From there, look at your north node, which illuminates the things we must master. “The north node, one’s future self, is a guiding light which can help us focus on integrating the south node in this lifetime,” Monahan says. “The north and the south nodes are always opposite each other and work as a natural remedy to the other.” For example, Monahan says Aries, which is opposite Libra, teaches Libra how to be autonomous and self-sufficient, while Libra teaches Aries the power of partnership and collaboration. Your chart may be different, but no doubt it’ll provide clues to your karmic history—and the lessons to be learned from diving into it.