Today I’d like to say something about soul mates and karmic relationships (which are similar and overlapping concepts – but also different). There are of course different ways in which we can interpret the concept of a soul mate, but this is how I have come to understand it: a soul mate is not necessarily your ‘perfect partner’ but rather someone who comes into your life and changes things in such a way that you are forced to grow. Forced to explore or confront parts of yourself you didn’t know existed, or were in denial about. This person, simply by being themselves, triggers you and brings up quite strong emotional responses that sometimes take you by surprise. It will not be harmonious, and it will not be easy. Being with this person will likely demand some change or sacrifice on your part. You may have to let go of something important to you before you can have this love. And perhaps you find that, once you have it, it vanishes and the relationship is over – because it has achieved what it was supposed to achieve. Doesn’t sound so great, huh? 

Many astrologers, me included, believe that almost everyone significant we meet in this life is very likely a soul we have known before and – in this life – we are completing another step of a dance with others that possibly began many lifetimes ago. Some people we meet really are new and fresh souls for us with no karmic baggage, and some past life soul-ties may be entirely lovely and uplifting and easy – for example the relationship we have with our best friend from childhood maybe. But romantic and sexual relationships are often those that have the greatest power, through the subtle alchemy they work on our souls, to transform us and force us to evolve and grow. And this process is rarely an easy one. As in the quote below, a soul mate can come in to your life in order to give you a metaphorical slap to the face; forcing you to wake up and wise up and giving you the impetus you need to address some of your issues, make some changes in your life, and perhaps allow yourself to be honest or vulnerable in a way you are not used to. 

Often, people who feel to us like our soul mate (or soul mates, because we could meet several during the course of our lifetime) are people we may have some kind of a ‘soul contract’ with from a previous life, and this can be clearly identified in astrology. When certain planets, points and angles in one person’s chart interact in a certain way with planets, points and angles in the second person’s chart it is clear to see that there is a karmic tie there – a potential soul contract from a previous life where these two made some kind of a deal, either consciously or subconsciously, to find each other again and help one another in some way. It may be that your soul mate has been your lover before. Or perhaps they were your mother, father, sibling, teacher, student, friend etc. Soul mates are always teachers in the sense that they come into our lives to teach us something and we learn from the interaction. And, if there are certain clear indications in the natal charts of unresolved past life karma, then the relationship is a karmic relationship – and this term could be used interchangeably with the phrase soul mate, except for the fact that soul mate denotes a positive relationship (which does not *have* to be karmic) and a karmic relationship could be a soul mate, but it could also be a much more ‘negative’ relationship that feels more like pain and trauma than growth and evolution (although it may indeed be both). 

A classic example of a soul mate relationship where there is a karmic tie or soul contract would be two people who meet and feel an instant attraction and familiarity with one another. It’s like they’ve been struck by lightning. There is an immediate mutual fascination and strange feeling that somehow, they already know one another. They’re not sure why, but they both know they need to get to know one another on a deep level, and they need to connect and merge on as deep a level as possible (hence the need for a sexual relationship and absolute nakedness and vulnerability). The sexual chemistry between them is usually the force that pushes them both towards one another like magnets and this can be quite frightening; sometimes causing one or both of them to shy away and try to distance themselves from the other because it’s scary and too intense. Both of them instinctively know in their bones that if they allow themselves to connect with the other person deeply, their lives will never be the same again. And that could be a good thing, or it could be a catastrophically bad thing. Scary. 

The timing of such a meeting is never coincidence. Planetary transits influence the time at which these two will meet because they can only meet at the point when this ‘intervention’ is able to work its magic. Let’s say person A is in an unhappy marriage. They’ve tolerated it for years and haven’t been able to find the strength or conviction to actually leave. And then, in the moment when their higher self is beginning to be ready to take that step, they meet someone whom they are deeply and inexplicably attracted to and they fall in love. Person B explodes into Person A’s life and, suddenly, nothing is the same as it was before. Person A – through the power of their attraction to Person B – finds the strength and conviction and the optimism about the future to exit their unhappy marriage. Person B’s attention and affection supports and replenishes Person A’s long faded sense of self, sexual confidence and faith in love. Person B may be deeply transformed by this relationship too in their own way, but essentially Person B came along to help person A and be the catalyst needed to bring about soul growth and evolution and propel Person A into a new phase of their life in which they will become closer to living in a way that is true and authentic to their deeper self. 

Person B may owe some kind of a karmic dept to person A and they are repaying it in this way – perhaps. Person B may have a love for person A that spans many previous lifetimes – perhaps they were once person A’s parent or child, for example, and their soul cannot stand idly by while another soul they deeply care for spends a large chunk of this lifetime trapped in a miserable situation. In this respect, soul mates are a bit like angels because they appear when we need them and they are that force, that catalyst, which is needed to move us forward when we are trapped in a habit or situation, or way of thinking or living, which is actually quite unhealthy for us. 

Such relationships have a habit of running their course until the point at which the karmic dept is fulfilled, and then the bond dissolves. Imagine that Person A, as a result of person B’s support and love, finally finds within themselves a kind of self-love and acceptance they never felt before. Imagine that that self-love leads them to realise that they wish to become a spiritual practitioner or healer of some kind, or that they wish to open up their own business or charity helping others, and that the love they once felt for Person B shifts and begins to be directed elsewhere as they embrace their true calling and start to prioritise other areas of their life and not romantic relationships. When they express their gratitude to Person B for getting them to this point then the spell is broken and Person B can move on, as sad and painful as it may be, because their work is done and the relationship has served its purpose because one or both partners have been able to move forwards to bigger and better things in their life.

A soul mate is usually someone to whom we feel incredibly grateful, because they taught us something and gave us something very important. Perhaps they even taught it to us through pain – because not all soul mate and karmic relationships are pleasant. In fact, often, karmic relationships can be really brutal because you are working through an issue you have with someone from a previous lifetime (or many) and it may be that there is something very dark between the two of you that needs to be worked through. People in toxic and abusive relationships are just as likely to have karmic ties to their partner as those who experience relationships that help or uplift them. Okay, so maybe we won’t call it ‘soul mates’ because there is a definite positive connotation to that phrase, but two people who drag each other down to rock bottom through mutual indulgence in toxic levels of sex, abuse, substance use, narcissistic behaviour etc. are also likely to be working through a complex past life connection with a darker tone. But perhaps, ultimately, the extreme pain caused by such a relationship could be a watershed moment in the lives of one or both individuals, who at some point are able to use the relationship as an impetus for making a fresh start, for setting higher standards for themselves; for saying to themselves “Never again” and then beginning to support and counsel others in toxic relationships and discover the healer within them. 

Basically, karmic relationships are the crucibles in which the deeper levels of our characters are formed and our subconscious issues are exposed and – hopefully – resolved, to some extent at least. These relationships often leave a clear mark on us, maybe even a painful scar, but these marks and scars are what make us who we are and lead us to where we are meant to go. A particular type of compatibility astrology called Synastry can be used to see the extent to which two people have these kinds of ties and connections, and whether they are likely to be supportive and expansive, or limiting and potentially toxic. If there are strong indications that two people do have a shared karmic past, the relationship is very likely to be intense, painful and difficult, but ultimately life changing and rewarding in the long term. 

Having had a few karmic relationships myself, with people I do consider soul mates, I have to admit that it’s not really something I’m looking to experience again. Those relationships have got me to where I am now – as the strong, capable and self-sufficient woman I am today. They have led me to the point where I am able to understand with acceptance and gratitude what those relationships taught me and how they have helped me along the path to greater self-love and acceptance, and also how they directly led to my interest in astrology and psychology and wanting to help others to be able to understand and analyse their selves and their relationships with the help of astrology. 

What I am essentially looking for now is not the lightning bolt of chemistry, desire and fascination that often strikes at the beginning of a karmic relationship, but rather something based on true compatibility and mutual respect and understanding. Fewer fireworks perhaps, but a solid partnership that is based on building something together in this life, rather than working through our issues from past lives. Could that kind of relationship be called a soul mate relationship? Yes, I don’t see why not. If you feel at peace in another person’s energy field and you feel that you appreciate one another on a soul level, then I dare say you can call yourselves soul mates. But what I wanted to illustrate with this post is the fact that what many people consider to be soul mate relationships (the passion, chemistry, fascination and deep feeling of familiarity, of completing one another, of the other person coming at exactly the right time to give you what you need etc.) are in my opinion actually karmic relationships and may have a relatively short expiration date because they serve a purpose, and when the purpose is achieved the relationship is done. 

I also think we need to be mindful of what art, culture and the media often tell us about soul mates, and the esoteric concept of ‘twin flames’ which is very popular in the world of astrology. I feel rather sceptical about a lot of this stuff and I do think that we have unrealistically high expectations of what a soul mate should be, and we may also throw away relationships that don’t match those expectations – essentially rejecting a partner with whom we could have a loving, long-term, stable and nurturing partnership in favour of the glittery attractiveness of what may actually be a karmic relationship that will not last, no matter how intense and alluring it is in the beginning. I guess a person probably needs to experience both types of relationship in order to really evolve… unless of course they are one of those rare and lucky people who truly does find their soulmate early in life and manages to hold on to them forever, with both individuals growing and evolving harmoniously together.

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