Often you will find that modern astrologers refer to the nodal axis as being “karmic” or they may single out one or another planet (especially the transsaturnians or chiron) or even the 12th house as being particularly karmic. This is a misconception and shows a heavy lack of understanding of the nature of karma. The entire birth chart is a symbol of individual karma and the manner in which that karma is influenced by factors larger than the individual. Thus while it is philosophically correct to call Saturn the “lord of Karma” , such a statement has little practicality when doing a reading. The entire chart must be considered. Karma is neither good nor bad, it simply is. Those events in our lives which seem like a stroke of good luck are often referred to as good karma, while those that disrupt the day to day flow of our predominantly egocentered existence are referred to as bad karma. This is a highly dualistic philosophy and while it does highlight the fact that we reasonably prefer the check to the bill, it fails to see the deeper meaning in any and all events because it only deals with outer circumstances. On the other hand when we can see any and all events as both the result of our karma as well as an attempt to awaken us to a higher level of consciousness, then we can begin to move beyond the duality of good and evil.
Karma is often less mysterious and simultaneously more complex than most people seem to understand. Karma simply means “action” and therefore it is really just the principle of cause and effect (the natural result of actions). It can be as simple as not doing any preventative maintenance on your car and so the car breaks down rather prematurely. "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). At the same time it can be as complex as a person battling a life threatening disease at an early age or losing a parent suddenly and perhaps too soon. This brings us to the more intricate side of Karma which is that individual Karma is never totally individual. If my parent dies this is their Karma but it is mine as well because it is an event that had a profound impact on my life. Simultaneously there is collective Karma (national, racial, planetary, solar, galactic, ad infinitum) and this too influences our personal Karma.
Yet we are still missing a key piece of the puzzle in our brief treatment of the subject. Karma is not merely a blind law operating without any deeper purpose. While it is a law that operates below the level of the supreme consciousness of existence, it is still has a spiritual and holistic function and purpose. Karma ultimately is the fuel that can allow us to reach higher levels of consciousness. Through its apparent dualistic mode of operation it is always urging us to learn the truest spiritual lesson, that nothing is really separate. This realization can only take place on a non rational level but we speak of it here in order give a more holistic view of Karma. In the life of any spiritual aspirant the constant observation and experience of dualism eventually leads to divine discontent and so fuels us to move beyond this dualism. Therefore actions performed from a truly holistic and enlightened state of mind are said to produce no new Karma because it is not the action itself so much as it is the intention behind the action, which produces the Karma. Thus if all actions performed are done so in the spirit of surrender then there is no attachment to the outcome and thus no desire fueling the creation of new Karma.
Therefore the pronouncement that I’ve heard time and time again from many astrologers that something is deeply Karmic really makes no sense. It is a superficial phrase that adds nothing to a reading (other than a sense of glamour) because if the astrologer understood the philosophical approach discussed above then they would know that everything is Karmic in some degree or another. A statement like that one is merely a set of words containing no truly deep and relevant insight into the chart. What we aim to do instead is to show how a significant transit or planetary placement in the chart is representative of a phase in the process of self actualization and that those events which we can meaningfully link to such planetary symbolism are the outer manifestations of this process and thus are meant to guide the person in a certain manner.