So I was talking with an old online acquaintance the other day, when I mentioned astrology. His response was:
I just don’t get it. You’re so wise and educated about everything else. You aren’t swayed by popular opinion. You always go for objective facts in every other subject. But you buy into this astrology and Tarot thing, hook, line, and sinker. Even though the facts and evidence are mounted against it. Why? On some level you must know it’s bullshit. Why do you believe in it?
The short answer? Because I’ve looked at the objective facts and have formed my own opinion, regardless of the popular consensus among other educated people.
I’m not going to get into Tarot here, that’s a whole separate thing, but yes, I do believe in astrology as a tool that, as long as one recognizes it for what it is, is extremely useful and quite effective at achieving a specific set of goals.
I’ll use the hammer reference that is so often used in debates regarding gun ownership in the US. If you’re not from the US, and not familiar with the reference, it goes like this:
A hammer is a tool. It is neither good nor bad. It can be used to build a house for a homeless veteran, or it can be used to bash someone’s skull in. The result of either scenario is not due to the hammer, but the person wielding it.
Astrology can use a somewhat similar metaphor. Because it is a tool. It is neither good nor bad. It is neutral. It can be used reasonably, by a reasonable person, for constructive purposes, and it can be used unreasonably, by an unreasonable person, for destructive purposes.
And for the record, the facts and evidence are not mounted against it.
*If you’re a skeptic, and you are polite and respectful of those who choose to believe in it, then cool. Carry on. What I’m about to say doesn’t apply to you.*
Most skeptics I’ve talked to actually know literally nothing about astrology, aside from reading the occasional newspaper horoscope or daily horoscope on some free website. They have formed their opinion knowing literally nothing about it.
Which is just as bad as wholeheartedly supporting astrology, knowing literally nothing about it.
Honestly, I don’t care. Your opinions are your opinions. And I’d say most of the skeptics I’ve spoken to have been polite-ish and respectful-ish of my conscious decision to believe in the validity of the practice. And those who have not been polite or respectful, I honestly just shrug off.
The kind of person who forms an opinion on something they know nothing about, and then gives me hell for having a different opinion, is not the kind of person I’m interested in debating with.
Because you can’t win that kind of debate. Meaning you cannot convince a willfully ignorant individual to let go of his ignorance. And usually, willfully ignorant individuals are extremely unwilling to let go of their ignorance, and therefore I don’t bother wasting my time trying to educate them. I honestly just don’t care.
But again, for the record, there does not exist a mountain of empirical, concrete evidence disproving astrology. There doesn’t even exist a moderately large hill of evidence disproving it.
Most people who do a ten-minute google search and promptly assume they are experts in the field will quote the 1985 study by Shawn Carlson, showing that astrology was no better than chance. And then, believers of astrology will answer with Professor Suitbert Ertel’s 2009 reappraisal of the data collected in the study, and his conclusion that (in layman’s terms) Carlson is full of shit.
They’ll then follow with Vernon Clark’s 1961 study showing that astrologers could match and identify personality traits in individuals with a rate of accuracy that was significantly higher than chance. Some may then go on to quote Michel Gauquelin, who studied a few thousand celebrities from Europe and the US, looking for correlations between the positions of planets at an individual’s birth, and any concrete effects it had on their lives, such as choice of profession and independent biographical descriptions.
He found statistical abnormalities in the positions of planets visible in the sky at the time and location of the individuals’ births, for example the position of Mars figured heavily in professional athletes, Jupiter in actors, Saturn in prominent scientists, and the Moon in well-known writers.
Three independent groups in Belgium, America, and France scrutinized his study, looking for errors, and ended up replicating his result. Whether they used the same group he did, or completely different groups, those same statistical abnormalities were there.
So I mean, for every study out there proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that astrology is bullshit, there’s another one proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there’s validity to it. There is no mountain of evidence on one side or the other. Using any particular study as the sole basis for one’s opinion in this subject is illogical and inaccurate.
So here are my thoughts on it, taking out personal experience (which, as someone who did/does this for a living, is extensive af).
Okay, so there are three main fields that focus on all that fancy space shit: astronomy, astrophysics, and physical cosmology (you also have sects of cosmology that are more mythical/spiritual/religious/philosophical, etc. I’m not talking about that here, because that’s not recognized as a legitimate science the way physical cosmology is. But for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to just take out the “physical” and call it cosmology, and you all will understand that I’m talking exclusively about physical cosmology).
At its simplest, astronomy is the study of all the stuff you see in the sky right now (or with a telescope). All the celestial bodies, stars, planets, all the objects out there.
Astrophysics is all about asking why, about discovering the processes that made the stuff we see in the sky, and why those things we see do the things they do.
Cosmology focuses on the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the Universe as a whole. And in cosmology, there are three components that make up the Universe: radiation, matter, and dark energy.
Dark energy is pretty damn interesting, what we know of it, anyway, and the theories surrounding it range from really cool to really fucking bizarre. All we know is that it is why the Universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. The most common theory is that dark energy is an attribute of space itself, that space literally has its own form of energy, and the more the Universe expands, the more space comes into existence, the more dark energy is formed. And the more dark energy is formed, the faster the Universe expands.
This means that dark energy permeates everything, interacts with everything, and has a pretty damn significant effect on the Universe, itself, and everything in it. In fact, dark energy makes up the vast majority of the Universe, at about three quarters.
Cool, right? Except we have no idea what it is, or, outside of pushing things away, what it does, and how it affects literally anything else. And, as being about 75% of everything in the Universe, it’s reasonable to surmise that it does have some sort of effect.
One new theory is that dark energy governs time, the fourth dimension of the Universe (or spacetime, it’s really way more complicated than that, but we’ll call it time, this is already long enough). Because, as fucking weird as it sounds, we cannot fully explain why time only moves in one direction.
Because the Universe (we think) operates according to the laws of physics. I mean, as far as we can tell, that’s pretty constant. But the interesting thing is that like, 99.99% of physics is completely time-reversible. Meaning that it works regardless of the direction time moves. To completely oversimplify it to a laughable degree, think of a planet orbiting a star. Physics makes the planet orbit the star, and the only affect time has on the orbit is the direction. Move time forward or backward, and the result is identical, aside from the direction of the orbit. The past and future are symmetrical.
So if physics allows for time to move in any direction, why doesn’t time move in any direction?
There really isn’t a great answer for that. The only real “explanation” is the second law of thermodynamics, which we also don’t fully understand. It says that, as time moves forward, shit gets more complex and crazy. This is, obviously, not time-reversible, and physicists reluctantly settle on it as the reason why the past and future are asymmetrical, and why time can only move in one direction.
It’s like a ruined orgasm, though. It works, sorta, but it’s not satisfying, it’s just disappointing.
But dark energy could actually offer a more complete explanation.
So some really smart people with a metric fuckton of time on their hands decided to see if the second law of thermodynamics and dark energy could be related, because why the fuck not?
They created a little mini-Universe thing, consisting of a planet orbiting a star with a changing mass. Super limited scope, but they didn’t even know if they’d find anything.
Well they found something. If dark energy didn’t exist, the little planet just kept orbiting the star forever and ever, super boring. And unchanged regardless of which direction time moves. Run the simulation for billions of years, and the past and future are exactly the same.
But toss dark energy in the mix, and it pushes shit apart, which means that the planet would eventually be thrown out of the orbit, and go down a path it could never return from.
And obviously, this is not constant regardless of the direction time moves. Move time forward, and the planet gets further away from the star. Move it backward, and it gets closer. The past and the future are now asymmetrical. And because dark energy is always pushing things away, it requires that time only moves in one direction. Time going backward would mean that dark energy is pulling things together, which is impossible (we think, we actually have no idea what dark energy is going to do in the future).
Dark energy must push things apart, and this only works if time is moving forward. So dark energy, the thing that makes up the majority of the Universe, could literally govern the laws of time.
Now, this was one little experiment, with one little planet and one little star, so no one is getting too excited yet. But it’s interesting to think about what other effects dark energy could have on the Universe.
But at the very least, even if it doesn’t affect anything, everything we experience from space passes through it. Gravity, light, radiation, subatomic particles, literally everything. It reaches everything, it touches everything.
So in that light, it’s reasonable to theorize that we could be literally and physically connected to the celestial bodies that figure prominently in astrology (as well as every other celestial body in the Universe). Which means it’s reasonable to theorize that, to a miniscule degree, those celestial bodies and the energy they produce could possibly have a legitimate effect on us, particularly if they are visible to our part of the world at the time of our birth.
But that’s not the only thing. There’s also dark matter, which is seriously fucking cool.
Here’s what we know about dark matter: if the laws of gravity are correct, it must exist. We can’t see it, but we can see the effects it has on light around it. It bends light around it, using gravity, but we obviously can’t see it the way we can see a black hole (which also bends light due to gravity). We can also see stars orbiting around the outer edges of galaxies much faster than they should be able to.
We know that it doesn’t react with anything that we can see. Just gravity. So, while dark energy is pushing everything apart, dark matter is defying the laws of physics, holding things together in ways we can’t even begin to understand yet.
The most widely accepted theory is that it’s a massive particle that is just too light and too weak to interact with anything we can perceive and detect. But if that’s the case, how is it holding normal matter (ie, planets, stars, galaxies) together even as force and dark energy are pulling them apart?
We can see that it’s clumped together throughout the Universe, and that in the very beginning of the Universe, it created a sort of scaffolding that influenced the location of normal matter as time went on.
Some theorize that it is evidence of extra dimensions, and suggest the existence of a “Hidden Valley,” an entire parallel Universe made up entirely of dark matter, existing right alongside us, completely imperceivable to us.
Some theorize that it connects everything, in one massive chain, to the literal center of the Universe, where the laws of physics, including gravity, originated. It touches everything, permeates everything, connects everything. That it is not limited by the fourth dimension, and harnesses the power and energy of the Big Bang, bringing it infinitely forward and backward through time, affecting everything it touches.
As wild as both these theories may seem, scientists literally cannot even come close to disproving them. Not even remotely. What’s more, we can’t even come up with a plausible reason why they couldn’t be true. We just don’t know.
All we know is that it touches everything, and that it’s everywhere. Just as dark energy is. Billions of these particles (if they are particles) are passing through our bodies every second.
Dark matter and dark energy are these mysterious forces that simultaneously prove and defy the laws of physics, affect gravity and the energy holding us together, potentially govern time itself, and possibly hint at entire realities we could never hope to comprehend.
And I mean, this shit is real. It is recognized science, these are widely known and accepted theories throughout multiple scientific fields. And we have no idea how it affects us.
When you look at all that, and then take into account the radiation, light, particles, and literally everything else we’re exposed to every millisecond of every day, all the shit literally bombarding us from space, is it really that much of a stretch to think that the closest celestial bodies, the ones visible to the naked eye, just might have an effect on us?
To a point?
Cuz uh, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch. You know, because science.
Our personalities are incredibly complex and multifaceted. No, that can not all be explained by the positions of the planets and stars when you were born. No, you will not find all the answers in astrology. No, it is not infallible. And your Sun sign is only one part of your astrology birth chart. There’s a lot more to it. So it’s not 100% accurate. My parents, a Leo and a Capricorn, are sort proof of that (I say sort of because they stayed together until my dad died, but they definitely weren’t all that happy together).
Hell, I’m a walking example of it. I’m an Aquarius, and do well with Capricorns. Consecutive signs are never compatible. Now, there are theories regarding Aquarius and Capricorn combinations, and why those specifically might do better than other combinations (one of the most popular is due to the planet rulers. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which represents discipline and structure, while Aquarius is ruled by Uranus, which represents rebellion and impulsiveness. However, Aquarius is also co-ruled by Saturn, which may temper the Aquarius’ flightiness just enough, and give an Aquarius and Capricorn just enough that they can still relate to one another), but Aquarius and Capricorn should not work at all. Aquarius is Air, Capricorn is Earth (Earth and Water go together, while Air and Fire go together). Capricorn is negative (or feminine, or yin) while Aquarius is positive (or masculine, or yang). And in this case, opposites don’t attract. Negative goes with negative, positive goes with positive. Capricorn is a Cardinal sign, while Aquarius is Fixed (Cardinal and Mutable go together, while Fixed signs usually do best with other Fixed signs). Aquarius is flexible by nature, and considered to be the most “Mutable-ish” of the Fixed signs, but it’s still a Fixed sign.
It should not work. At all. Granted, it’s not the worst possible combination of the zodiac (that would be a tie between Aquarius and Cancer, and Aries and Scorpio), but it shouldn’t work. Of course, I’ve got Virgo rising, which helps, but still.
It’s not infallible. It’s not a science.
It’s a guide. An eerily accurate guide to help people learn more about themselves, to inspire them to want to learn more about themselves, and reflect on who they are and how they relate to the people around them. It encourages people to examine the way humans interact with one another, to examine what makes them who they are, and how to overcome their weaknesses.
And yeah, y’all. It’s eerily accurate. There are obviously exceptions to every rule, and Star Signs are only one part of our astrological chart (for example, my Sun sign is Aquarius, which makes me impulsive and insensitive, but I have Mercury conjunct Venus, which tempers that coldness with tact, politeness, and empathy due to an extraordinary ability to see and understand everyone’s point of view. I also have every planet but one in Quadrant II, which makes me diplomatic and protective of those around me), but using astrology, we really can see clear, objective pictures of ourselves. We can see our strengths and we can learn how to improve our weaknesses.
All I need is your birth date, and I have a pretty accurate idea of who you are. Give me the time and place of your birth as well, and I know enough about you to truly creep you out and make you uncomfortable.
I did this for a living, y’all. And I was damn good at it. People would call me with relationship problems, I’d ask their birthday and their partner’s birthday, and before they could say another word, I could completely pick apart their relationship, telling them exactly what problems they were having, and why they were having those problems, and how to fix them.
Again, not infallible. But I was right well over 90% of the time.
Still skeptical? Alright, I’ll prove it. Each sign has personality strengths, but those are easy and generalized, so I’ll do one better. Just off the top of my head, here’s a list of common weaknesses for each sign, along with things each sign secretly worries about. Scroll to your sign and tell me I’m wrong.
Aries: Impulsive and quick to anger, and once you start, it’s hard to stop. You’ll never shy away from a fight or an argument, even going as far as ending a relationship or friendship, but you often end up regretting it, and want those people back. You pretend not to care, you pretend to be the strong, immovable one, but you can’t handle losing people. The problem is that the regret and guilt set you off even more, which makes you even quicker to anger, and it’s a vicious cycle you don’t know how to stop.
Taurus: Stubborn to a fault, and impossible to reason with when angry. You will push others away when angry, and won’t accept reconciliation. You also tend to bottle things up, letting them build and build until you explode, and once that happens, you truly become a rampaging bull, and nothing and no one can stop you. But deep down, you’re afraid that those you love just don’t want you around, or that they don’t love you the way you love them. You’re steady, stable, and reliable, and put a great deal into your relationships. But you worry that it won’t be reciprocated, and that instability is one of your biggest fears.
Gemini: Argumentative and changeable, you’ll debate anything, anywhere, with anyone, but you don’t like being told you’re wrong, and can take it personally when someone doesn’t agree with you. But deep down, you’ll adjust and change who you are to fit in with those around you, because being untrue to yourself isn’t as bad as being alone. You’ll even take this as far as completely changing who you are around certain people. You can’t handle boredom, and falling into a rut is something you truly dread. Aquarius and Sagittarius are the signs most known for running when they feel trapped, but Gemini is right up there with them. A dull routine will rot your soul.
Cancer: Ruled by emotion, you can be pessimistic and insecure, and those emotions can become louder in your head than reason and rational thought. But you try to hide it, because you think if others see that you’re upset, you’ll be disappointing them. You pretend to be happy, taking care of everyone around you, neglecting yourself. You never want people to think you’re too much trouble, and a fear of rejection or the unknown can keep you frozen in place. You can also be spiteful, just as much as Scorpio. The difference is that Scorpio has better control of their emotions, and is very deliberate in their vengeance, while you will lash out. Even if you’re justified in lashing out, though, you’re generally gentler and kinder than Scorpio, and you’ll feel guilty afterward.
Leo: Not everything is about you. You’re proud and have trust issues, and tend to blame yourself for everything, convincing yourself that you’re unlovable. But you need to learn that you’re not the cause of every bad situation. A bit on the melodramatic side, you work hard to cultivate a reputation as being the best, but this mindset that no one can do it as well as you can exhausts you. You like being the leader, the protector, you like taking care of those you love, you take pride in taking care of those you love, but you don’t have to be perfect for people to love and admire you. Everyone needs a break once in awhile, and you’re no exception.
Virgo: As long as everything goes your way, you’re totally flexible. You’re a perfectionist, and when people see you, they see someone who has their shit together. Underneath, though, you’re less sure of yourself. You have extremely high expectations of yourself, and worry that you won’t be able to live up to it. You put an immense amount of pressure on yourself, and all that constant pressure makes it hard for you to stay positive, and you can get overwhelmed easily. Spending time alone means getting lost in your head with a mind who looks at you and sees someone who can’t measure up to those high expectations. So you avoid being alone if you can, because your mind doesn’t stop, it doesn’t have an off button.
Libra: You need balance in your life. Confrontation and anything that throws off that balance is something you avoid. Often, you’ll outright lie to avoid an argument, and pretend everything is fine. You’ll be untrue to yourself before causing any perceived stress to those you love. Letting down those you love is the worst feeling in the world, and you’ll do anything to avoid it. But sometimes, making the right decision is hard. You can become frozen when presented with a hard choice, spending more time analyzing what you should do, than actually doing it. Your analytic mind can be difficult to turn off, and you fear making the wrong decision, particularly in love.
Scorpio: Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone knows that Scorpios are the darkest sign, the most vengeful and spiteful, the ones who will use that stinger without hesitation when threatened. This is not news (perhaps the fact that more serial killers are born under the sign of Scorpio is news, but I’d bet money that not a single Scorpio is surprised by that). But what most people don’t realize is that all that venom hides arguably the most sensitive heart of the zodiac. Unique among water signs in that, while you’re ruled by your emotions, you have incredible control over them and will hide, not letting anyone get close, and using that stinger to push them away. You don’t trust easily, and you don’t trust many, and allowing people to see that vulnerability means giving them the power to hurt you, and that terrifies you. As loving and sensitive as you are, you crave that fulfilling relationship with someone you love and trust. But the problem is that you’re so afraid of being betrayed, you’re so afraid of losing who you are, you’ll just instinctively push people away. You’re worried that this habit will keep you from ever finding that kind of love, but you don’t know how to fix it.
Sagittarius: So commitment is a thing. Also, emotion regulation is a thing. You are intimately familiar with neither of these things. Explosive and impulsive, you’re pretty open and wear your passions, rather than your emotions, on your sleeve. Because of your openness, it’s really no big secret that your biggest weakness/fear is commitment. It’s not that you’re unfaithful, though. You’re the archer, and a centaur, and you embody both the horse and the hunter. Wild horses can’t be tamed, and hunters need room to roam. Being pinned down, losing your passions, losing who you are, is scary. But what fewer people know is that your openness and your generosity lend to a forgiving nature that can often be taken advantage of. You wonder if people will ever appreciate you, or if they’ll just continue using you.
Capricorn: Everyone knows that Capricorns harbor a fear of failure, that’s pretty well obvious in the sign most widely associated with workaholics and ambitious climbers of the career ladder. But there’s a whole different side that no one knows about, because you’ll do anything to avoid showing them. Judgmental, condescending, and antisocial, this is easily the most misunderstood sign of the zodiac, because you don’t make it easy for people to get to know you at basically any level. Stoic and steady is good, but there’s such thing as too much of a good thing, and you tend to not have a lot of deep connections with people. But while your poker face is convincing, it’s still just a poker face, and you feel deeply and passionately, and can get lonely and moody. But a fear of rejection, judgement, and abandonment keeps you from reaching out. The goat never gets tired on the way to the top, and can handle immense amounts of stress, so you’d rather deal with it alone than risk being hurt. Just as fiercely protective of those you love as any Leo, you have a habit of taking that too far, thinking you can protect everyone you love from everything bad in the world. You’ll do anything to avoid putting a burden on the people around you, and feel guilty if you think you have. You think you’re doing the people around you favors by keeping your struggles and your pain to yourself, and you don’t realize you’re pushing them away. Because of all this, you worry that you’ll always feel isolated, but you don’t know how to fix it.
Aquarius: Oh dude, so many. We all know about the fear of, and disdain for conformity, and the lengths to which you’ll go to break free of it. There are even Aquarians who deliberately buck against the expected Aquarian attitude, just because they hate being put in a box. But you’re pretty good at disguising your true self, so people don’t often know the rest. You’re often cocky and overconfident, elitist, and unapproachable. Impulsive and creative, you have great ideas and can create extremely specific plans, but get bogged down in the details, and then get bored, and then move on to something else. You can’t finish a sandwich. You actually enjoy being alone, one of the most comfortable signs with getting lost in your own head, so that combined with your detached and aloof attitude makes people feel like you don’t want them around or don’t care about them. Also, emotions are things. Like, they actually exist. Maybe show them once in awhile. You’re the master at hiding what you’re feeling, even better than Capricorn, Cancer, and (the most widely recognized master of hiding) Scorpio. But there’s a reason for that. Capricorn is Earth, and Cancer and Scorpio are Water. They have better relationships with their emotions than you do. Emotion is your biggest, most far-reaching weakness. Your defense mechanism when you can’t handle emotion is to lock it up and pull away, but while this allows you to function, and you’re arguably the best sign in a crisis, able to stay calm and think quickly and creatively, it’s a double-edged sword, because you worry that you don’t actually feel emotion the way people are supposed to. You’re so used to burying it, you feel like it’s muffled and muted compared to everyone else. You wonder if you’ll ever feel emotion the way people are supposed to.
Pisces: You need to be reassured in a relationship. Extremely sensitive and tender-hearted, you put everything you are into a relationship. But an avoidance of confrontation, combined with that sensitivity, means that it’s easy for people to take advantage of you. You’re very self aware, so you likely know when it’s happening, but fear of confrontation and losing those you love will keep you silent. You’re notorious for daydreaming, creating elaborate alternate realities in your head when you’re struggling with the world around you. That self-awareness has limits, though, and you’ll often deliberately delude yourself into thinking everything is just fine, rather than dealing with the truth, because dealing with the truth is stressful, and you’d rather be taken advantage of than be alone.
So yeah, there’s validity to this shit. It’s not all bullshit. And I’m not going to discount something based on the opinions of people who know nothing about it. They think that believers of astrology look at it as a science, when it’s not. They think that believers of astrology worship it like a religion, when they don’t.
Astrology speaks to us. It gives us a window into who we are.
At its core, that’s all astrology is. It’s not a science or a religion. It’s a language. Its purpose is to communicate. It’s up to us whether we want to hear the message, and what we do with it.