Cara James

Cara James

Episode 003 | Life Purpose & Vocation in Astrology

Astrology is the most sophisticated resource we have to understand our life purpose, which is distinct from “call” or vocation. Learn about the various ways astrology can reveal what you’re here for!


May 7th, 2020
Dear Listener,

It’s so good to connect with you! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written you in my mind these past few weeks, and how many times I winced at the deep chasm between audio letters. And yet, I know all things unfold according to divine timing, and trust these words find your ear at the exact moment you most need to hear them.

I’ve been steeped in stars these past few weeks thanks to attending a professional astrologers retreat (by Zoom of course) where I learned to integrate some advanced predictive techniques into my practice. My head has been so in the clouds that I’m even dreaming of stars! I remember as a teenager I spent a summer with my grandparents in West Africa, and got to put my high school French to the test, and found myself dreaming in a language I barely knew. Years ago, when I was a nonprofit executive, Excel spreadsheets made their way into my unconscious in the wee morning hours. And now it’s stars and aspect patterns. I’m surprised it took this long actually

How have you been these past few weeks? When I wasn’t busy giving into resistance on writing you, I was having a lot of fun – playing new games in my neighborhood, like Chicken – where you and another walker approach one another and see who will jump six feet out of the way first. Or Pac Man, when the walkers behind you are too close and seem to follow you everywhere, and you try to get away. And lastly, an activity I created called House Bombing. Oh come on, it’s not as dangerous as it sounds! It’s when I walk a significant distance from my house and show up at yours unannounced and surprise you with a safe social distanced hello and then we wow each other with the rich and juicy details of our lives, like how long we stood in line at the store, or how we cooked rice that day, or the real biggie — whose kids are playing with whose! No, not the doctor’s kid? Sacrilege.

I’ve seen all sorts of people at these House Bombings! And I love hearing about their lives from the perspective of their signs

·       My Taurus friend says life has finally slowed down to her pace.
·       My Virgo friend is ready to get back to her routines.
·       My Libra friend is trying to decide what to put in her Instacart.
·       And my Scorpio friend is suspicious that her family had the coronavirus long before it was ever reported in the state.
We’re all so different aren’t we? That’s one of many beautiful things about astrology — which of course goes much deeper than just our Sun signs — we have a framework for understanding the various ways we look at the world.

Long before I discovered astrology, I was fascinated by personality types. It started with Myers Briggs, which highlights 16 different personalities. I learned a lot from it but could never quite figure out which one I was. And believe me, I tried. And then there were the nine types of the Enneagram, which my Catholic friend in Malawi introduced me to, which has a wonderful emphasis on growth, and explains how we react differently under stress, and how our instinctual natures color our personalities. There was more nuance than in Myers Briggs, but I still couldn’t quite pin myself down. And don’t forget the StrengthsFinder, the Gallop study that urges us to play to our top five strengths in the workplace. And while I found some value in each of these systems and could see them alive in the people I knew, none of them really quite captured my unique essence, and certainly couldn’t help answer the one big question I had…
It’s a question you’ve undoubtedly asked yourself too: What am I here for? What is this all about? What is my life purpose?
Countless relatives and cheek-pinchers have asked you a similar question since you were knee-high to a grasshopper: What do you want to be when you grow up?
It’s a strange question really – because it confuses doing with being. Perhaps a better phrasing could be something like “What do you want to do,” or “Who do you want to be?” But even so, they’re big questions to put on a little tyke.

And just as everything that comes out of our mouths is more a reflection of us than the person receiving our words, we have to look at where these questions reside in us. I hear them coming from our solar quest for accomplishment, and our lunar quest for meaning. Both heroes journeys in their own right, and both alive in each of us, despite society’s focus on the former.

In the wake of the virus, it’s a perfect time to review these journeys. For many, the road to success (or what they perceived success to be) has narrowed with the shift in the economy, and the pathway to nurture our inner worlds, our relationships, and creativity has grown more broad. We can thank the powerful conjunctions in the success-oriented sign of Capricorn and the eclipses along the Capricorn/Cancer axis for some of that.
And this is where astrology shines so much more brightly than any personality system – and why it so quickly captivated my energy and attention when I discovered it. Not only does astrology provide the most sophisticated understanding of the complexity of our character, as the hero or heroine of our stories, it also shows the road we walk on, the journey itself, with all of its trials and joys, and how to make the most of every step.
Okay, great, Cara! So look at my chart and tell me: What’s my life purpose?
Can you hear how the question itself suggests a singular answer. What is “it”?
Your answer will only be as good as your question.
Some people spend years of their lives feeling unfulfilled, like they’re missing out on an “it’ because they never sensed a strong “call” to do a very particular thing. Others feel like they know “the thing” but life circumstances have kept them from having the resources or opportunities to act on it. And similarly to those who believe they have one particular and elusive soulmate, it’s easy to be discouraged when you don’t find that one needle in the haystack that a select few seem to have found.

It’s the latin root word “voc,” to vocalize or call, that we hear in the word vocation. We think of vocation as deeper than work, more than a 9-5. There’s even a spiritual or mystical component to it. If we’ve been called, something or someone is doing the calling.
And as much as I love and support the idea of us having a vocation, that worthy work we do in the world (and enjoy helping people explore this), the concept is still limited to an “it,” a role that we wear and an activity that we do.

I’ve had the great honor to read many charts over the years, and find it particularly fascinating to work with adults in their 70s and 80s, who’ve had so many years to explore life. They’ve often beyond work, beyond vocation, and yet are still living into their purpose.

If you pick up an astrology book or google “life purpose astrology,” you’ll find many different ideas. Most will focus on the nodes of Fate, the north and south nodes of the Moon, to describe the karmic journey you’re on, with the North Node pointing toward your destiny. But that’s just part of the karmic story your chart tells. You may also be told to look to your Ascendant, the Zodiac sign that was on the horizon at the time of your birth (thus called your Rising Sign), and look to the Ruling Planet for that sign to understand a large part of your call. Others will point to your Midheaven, the sign and Ruling Planet at the very top of your chart, which has information about vocation. Others will focus on Saturn, a planet related to how you’ll claim your authority, or the asteroid Chiron to see how you can use your challenges to create healing and change in the world around you.
And deeper still, you can get to know your Draconic Chart, which sheds light on what your soul was contemplating before you incarnated, and get even more layers of meaning from a wide variety of Harmonic Charts that go deeper into Karma. You can already see how challenging it could be to land on a singular life purpose with so many potential places to look!
And the crazy thing is, they’re all right!
All of these bits and pieces contribute to understanding who you are. And this is where working with a skilled astrologer, who can synthesize these complex messages, is particularly helpful, so you can more deeply understand your nature and your journey.
Really though, what it all boils down to, is: your life purpose is you being you. Imagine that! It’s you expressing your unique gifts. It’s you wrestling with your inner demons. It’s you having to parent yourself when your mom couldn’t. It’s you learning to tune down your mind and connect to your heart. It’s you wrestling with the conundrum of pursing security or adventure. It’s you showing up in all your sparkling glory and you showing up with mud all over your face. It’s all of the information summed up in your life and in your chart.
It’s you, as a soul, having a very human experience. Life purpose is not about accomplishment, it’s not about vocation, it’s a process of growing as a soul.
In your soul’s growth, you may accomplish a great deal, and society may praise you for it. It may  be important for your soul to do work that puts you in the spotlight in some way. You may start a Fortune 500 company. You may invent a software or technology that promotes health. You may command a stage with tens of thousands in the audience. It’s not necessarily about the thing you create or precisely what you do, but what you learn and experience in the process of leveraging your gifts and challenges. Perhaps these accomplishments serve to put you in touch with individuating yourself after learning in past lives to make sacrifices for a group. Perhaps you saw many people suffer in a past life, and desire all to access health and healing. Perhaps your voice was stifled, and now you’re compelled to let it ring out.
But it’s just as likely that your soul seeks a quieter journey, one of contemplation and connection. Perhaps you’ve had your time on the societal stage and are now learning how rich it is to connect with the land and your roots. Perhaps in a past life you’ve spent years isolated in a monastery up in the mountains, and now desire to create community and share your wisdom in real and tangible ways with those around you. Your soul may have a deep desire to serve others in ways that won’t ever make the news but mean the world to those who receive your gentleness and kindness. And these life paths are just as important, just as valid, as the ones that get more attention.
I saw a client recently who said, “Cara, you’re so lucky! You know your life purpose. You’re an astrologer and get to use your gifts to help people heal.”
Yes, I’m an astrologer. That’s my vocation. That’s the worthy work I do in the world. To understand vocation in the chart, we often look to the part of the sky we call the 10th house. In my chart, we find the sign of Aquarius ruling it, meaning Aquarian professions could provide meaningful work for me. Aquarius rules astrology, so yes, this is a great vocation for me, especially when I take my full chart into account. But before being an astrologer, I was a nonprofit founder and director. I raised a lot of money for humanitarian causes. Aquarius also rules philanthropy. So that was another great vocation for me. When I shifted from one job to another, my vocation changed, but my life purpose didn’t. I just found a different (more fun) vehicle through which to explore my talents and life lessons.
And one of my life lessons, one aspect to my multi-faceted purpose, is about living a passionate life. And this is where I love how various esoteric tools come together. Did you know your astrology chart is essentially engraved into the palms of your hands? A friend of mine does hand analysis, and when she read my palms she said my purpose was to live my passions. In the Lifeprints system by Richard Unger, I’m a “Master at Living Your Passions.”
My astrology chart agrees. Living a passionate life is important to my path. What my hand may or may not have shown is that it’s a lot of work for my soul to live those passions. I can see that loud and clear in my chart. My passions don’t fit with my family of origin. They don’t fit in mainstream society – not yet. They don’t fit with how I desire other people to view me, as an intelligent person. In case you didn’t know, some people think astrology is woo (laughs) – not the cosmic science that has captured the brilliant minds of scientists, philosophers, physicians, and inventors for hundreds and even thousands of years. Yes, you heard that right. Pythagorus, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Hippocrates, Jung and so many others practiced astrology. Living my passions requires me to confront the status quo. And because life likes to throw in twists, I incarnated as a sweet little Cancer Sun Sign & Aquarius Moon who cares a lot about fitting in and belonging. For you, living your passions may be a piece of cake! But doing so may not be part of your growth experiences.
While I love talking about purpose and the twists and turns of your soul throughout lifetimes, most people desire the stability and comfort of having a fulfilling vocation. I did too! It’s how we spend a lot of our time. And as humans, we’re naturally drawn to create form – be that a meal, a shelter, a baby, or a social role.
So looking at the dissonance in my own chart between security and passion, I decided to play with those themes. Years ago, I wrote out on index cards all of the different jobs that I ever wanted. Naturopathic doctor, writer, teacher, graphic designer, and I allowed myself to include some “weird” ones like energy healer and astrologer. And I rearranged and grouped the cards in different ways to see patterns and themes emerge, and analyzed away. And then I stepped back and asked myself a question that was important based on MY chart, “Which of these would be most fun?” The wild ones rose to the top. Then I asked, “Which job holds so much joy and excitement for me that I would gladly do it for free? Which of these wouldn’t feel like work at all?” And astrology raised its hand and said, “me!”
I share this with you as an example of how we can work with themes in our charts. We can see our skills and talents, we can see our natural propensities, we can see how our energy gets stuck and where it wants to flow. And we can also see how the planets and signs of our charts can evolve alongside us, and take on different layers of meaning as we age. And with our chart as our guide, we can step more boldly into the places that scare us, which is where life really begins.
Another client told me that she knew her life purpose, and she had been working at it for years and was meeting closed door after closed door. She really felt helpless, like there was just one thing she was here to do, and it was no longer available to her.
It’s true, cosmic doors open and close. Perhaps that dream didn’t have the energy it once had, or the Divine had another plan. Please don’t limit yourself to doing one thing in this world. You are an infinite being. And don’t limit yourself to “doing” either. It’s okay to be.
In all my studies I’ve found astrology to be the most sophisticated tool to understand ourselves, but it may never be a Myers Briggs or StrengthsFinder. You can’t necessarily take a 15 minute astrology quiz that will tell you your life purpose is to be a veterinarian or a grain merchant. (My brother got that one on an aptitude test in high school, believe it or not). And you might not have that tangible of a takeaway after a 60 minute session (though you might, Grain Merchant you!)
But for those who are spiritually and intellectually curious, those who are drawn to the mysteries of life, those who desire to make a meaningful existence – astrology is indeed the best resource to understand ourselves and to draw out those big questions we must ask as conscious creators of our life experience.
Remember, your life path is so very unique to you. An amalgam of doing and being. Vocation and purpose. Light and dark. Up and down. Solar and Lunar. Yin and yang.
And all that’s required is that you show up as you. How refreshing. And I’ve read enough charts to know the Cosmos will see to it that you just the experiences you need right when you need them. If you’re feeling a little lost, don’t worry. Nothing ever stays the same.
So don’t look to the left or to the right, at other’s journeys. It’s fair to look behind, for a time. Know where you’ve been. Where you come from. And use that knowledge and experience to propel yourself forward on your infinite journey of becoming.
Travel well, my friend.
Cosmically Yours,
Cara James
P.S. I invite you to head over to my website and sign up for my weekly email newsletters to stay even more deeply connected to the Cosmos. And if you’d like to explore your life purpose, vocation, or any other manner making meaning on this rock we call Earth, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Take good care!

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