Do you believe in astrology?
“Believe” is a word that irks me. It implies that astrology is an act of faith, some kind of religion. It is not a religion and it is not a matter of faith.
“But do you really think that someone’s star sign can predict what will happen to them or determine their personality? The whole of the human race cannot consist of only 12 different personality types to match the 12 different star signs?”
I feel weary as I hear these words. There is so much more to astrology than the 12 zodiac signs that it feels like a huge effort to explain everything. Here is my attempt.
Astrology has been around since the Mesopotamian civilization (3500-1800 B.C). It was used by the Babylonians to predict mundane events for agriculture such as rain. It was then developed by the Egyptians who came up with the horoscope to predict what happens to individuals. However, astrology has been used by many ancient civilizations, like the Mayans. One could get curious about the fact that it seems to have sprung up independently in different parts of the world around the same time.
The first thing I always talk about is the birth chart, which is a map of where all the planets were in the sky at the time and place of birth. This will give the rising sign which is linked to the persona or the personality of the person. In contrast, the sun sign indicates what makes a person tick. It has even been described as the soul of the person. Usually one does not start to fully inhabit one’s sun sign until at least the age of 30.
There are nine other planets as well as asteroids which are placed in the 12 houses of the birth chart. The houses relate to different sectors of a person’s existence, for example family life, relationships and career. These planets also interact with each other in challenging or easy angles. Therefore, to assume that astrology is only about the sun sign is simplistic.
That is not to say that predictive astrology based on the solar chart is inaccurate. In my experience my solar chart is also very relevant. Therefore, one should read predictions for the sun sign and the rising sign. If you don’t know your rising sign you can go to a free website and find out.
“But how does it work? Can planets literally make you do things? For example, if I have an aspect in my upcoming future chart that looks challenging, is that planet going to cause the challenging thing to happen?”
We Are All Connected: Field Theory
Faraday developed Field Theory in 1832. It states that the universe is like a fabric, interwoven with time and space. There is no such thing as empty space. The universe including humans, objects, liquids and gases are atom, which are vibrating at different speeds. We affect each other and are affected by each other. We are in and of the field. This explains why the moon affects the tides and women’s menstrual cycles.
Neuroscience: Mirror Neurons
Our interrelatedness is proven by neuroscience and the discovery of mirror neurons. These explain why when one person yawns it is contagious. It is also why we often unknowingly mimic the body posture of someone who we are close to. It is why we are able to empathize and feel another person’s pain and why babies can pick up on their mother’s feelings and vice versa.
To relate this to astrology, it is not a case of the planets causing you to get divorced, but they reflect what is going on inside you. They reflect what is unfolding within you, your growing assertiveness and desire not to be in a disrespectful relationship.
“But how can they reflect this?”
Because to put it quite simply, we are the planets and the planets are us. We are 70 percent water and since water goes around in a cycle, we are the ocean and the ocean is us. We share the sadness of the latest earthquake victims as we sit and watch it on our TV sets. We cannot help but be affected. It is not our happiness and your sadness. It is the happiness and the sadness. The energy permeating through us which causes our molecules to vibrate at a certain speed is the same energy which is present in the solar system. Just as if you look in a dew drop on a sunny day…you can see the world around it reflected.
“So what causes my marriage to break up then? If it is not the planets, if it is not I who had any intention of this before the transit came along?”
Well, that is up to you to think about. A higher intelligence? God? Your soul forging through the events it has chosen for itself in this life time as part of its karmic lessons?
“Does that mean that we can predict exactly what is going to happen during a difficult transit and that we have no free will?”
No, we can predict themes such as growing self-awareness and confidence. This might lead to a person outgrowing their marriage, but it will not force that to happen. The person may make readjustments. For example, studying or developing more hobbies so that they get their need for stimulation met from someone else rather than their partner.
“Can astrology ever tell us anything definitive like, you really should not be with this person, but should be with that one?”
Certainly a synastry or composite chart can give clues about the longevity or potential of a relationship. However, we make our own choices about partners. Some, like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who believes when our soul incarnates into a chosen body it contracts to certain lessons and a certain path, would say that if we choose to ignore our fate in this life time, we will just have to go an additional round or two of incarnations until we stop avoiding our path.
Therefore, if we choose to stay with Mr. Not Right in this lifetime, then we can.
This is a belief which you may or may not accept and we have no way of proving either way. Just as we have ultimately no way of finding out why we are here, if there is a reason, and if God or some other higher power exists.
If we believe that an important task for us on this Earth is to grow and fulfill our potential, then certainly astrology can help to shed light on what our path is, what the challenges are we need to overcome and how we can do this. Particularly in relationships where it is useful to illustrate how we are projecting our shadow material onto a significant other.
We also need to bear in mind that how a transit is interpreted by an astrologer will be colored by their own life experience. Just as two people might interpret an action of a third person differently based on their own experiences, so can astrologers. Returning to the theme of relationships, an astrologer will have their own shadow material and this may bias (depending on how self-aware they are) their interpretation of relationship aspects in a couple’s chart.
Since no two souls are the same, even if two people were born at exactly the same time in the same place, they would be different, depending on how they reflect the qualities of the birth chart. The more awareness one has, the more one can reflect the helpful, constructive qualities of the chart and not the more negative ones. The more awareness we have, the greater possibility we have to create something beautiful from hardship and struggle.
Precession of the Equinoxes
“What about the fact that the signs have actually moved along in the zodiac so that the month when I was born now has a different star sign?”
“The Earth wobbles on its axis as it rotates, a bit like the motion of a spinning top,” explains Beth Napier from the University of California. This causes the precession of the equinoxes, which is why, according to sidereal astrology, the position of the zodiac signs have changed.
However most astrologers in the West use the temporal zodiac in which the signs have not changed.
Furthermore, as astrologer Bob Marks states, “constellations do not really exist at all. Constellations are used as place markers, nothing more.”
You might reply that this is too wishy-washy of an explanation. However think of the different schools of psychotherapy or western medicine versus traditional Chinese medicine. Does the fact that there are different schools mean that one has to be null and void?
I am almost at the end of a two and half year period of the planet Saturn sitting next to my Moon—my emotions, and squaring (a challenging aspect) my Sun-self expression, and Mars—self assertiveness. Nothing could have prepared me for this transit and perhaps I would have preferred not to have known.
At the beginning of the phase (the effects are hardest at the beginning), I suffered as a result of the emotional and practical constraints that I felt. I would often think to myself, life is not fair; why is this happening to me? Poor me!
Now, at the end of the transit I see the benefits of what I learned: a more grounded, greater sense of self. I would have not agreed that I needed to be taught this lesson. I would have claimed that I was already grounded and had a solid sense of self. However, how was I to know if I had never experienced real groundedness? Life is a better teacher and has more wisdom than we do.
Mining for Crystals
The great thing about astrology is that it can help you get the most out of the lesson so that you get the full benefits from it. And there always are benefits, even if it may not feel like it at the time. If a person does not make the most of a transit they have to learn the lessons over and over again in later Saturn transits.
Take the example of a friend whose marriage broke down. She didn’t take the time to examine how she contributed to the break up and why she attracts a certain type of romantic partner. She remarried and this marriage broke down too.
With the help of astrology she may have made better use of the post break-up period to discover the part of her that is fearful of intimacy and attracts unsuitable partners. She would have taken time to reorganize her way of being on a deeper level to ensure better foundations for her next relationship. During that psychological digging process, she may have mined a few additional crystals like greater creativity or sexuality.
It takes more than astrology to learn life lessons, but astrology provides support. It gives indications of how long a difficult period lasts for, what aspects of life we may need to look at, what tools may help us with a journey of self discovery. It is like a compass which navigates us and shows where land is when we need to stock up on new supplies.
So do I really believe in astrology? To me, that question is a distraction since there are very few things we can prove exist definitively. It is a distraction from the real point, which is that astrology works.
As Roosevelt says:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
And in my opinion astrology is a pretty good tool to do it with!
Alexandra, in a butterfly like fashion, has flitted through many incarnations from waitress to tour leader, telephone interviewer to charity project manager. She works as a counselor and astrologer whilst training as a gestalt psychotherapist. She is a board member and editor for the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy. Her eclectic path has led to a compassionate, grounded, left of centre perspective. Passionate about realizing our full potential, she hopes that the honest sharing of her journey illuminates your own path a little more. See if you agree, come read.
Editor: Olga Feingold