What's my purpose? Why am I here? Since many of us no longer turn to traditional religion for meaning, Astrology is filling the void.
Life is a struggle sometimes. Like today. There’s a global pandemic raging, the polar ice caps are melting, we’re on the verge of a worldwide economic Depression and a winter storm “bomb” is headed my way.
Fortunately, I have an abiding passion that keeps me sane. No matter how bleak the human world appears, astrology assures me that there is beauty and order to the universe.
I’m not alone. Though confidence in organized religion continues to wane, interest in astrology is exploding, especially among millennials. While pundits scratch their heads and the old guard berates us for abandoning reason, it’s clear that astrology is filling a void that neither science nor religion can fully satiate.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to launch into a defence of astrology. There’s no way to “prove” it’s efficacy or convert nonbelievers. I’m not even sure how or why it works myself. Instead, I want to explore some of the ways that we are using and/or abusing this ancient practice in modern life.
Meaning: Astrology offers a framework for understanding the struggles and vicissitudes of life. It demonstrates the principle of cosmic order, despite the chaos that appears to govern our mundane reality. The elaborate choreography of planetary movements suggests some sort of divine intelligence at work, a force or pattern that includes each and every one of us.
Timing: When we observe the planetary transits that touch our individual charts, we witness divine timing operating in our lives. Every gardener knows that there is a time to sow and a time to reap, a time to feed and a time to prune. Similarly, any serious student of the stars understands there is a season for everything. Observation of the heavens can teach us when to push ahead and when to rest, when to begin and when to let go.
Healing: For me, astrology is an exercise in empathy and compassion. When I read for others, I see their challenges as well as their gifts. I am reminded again and again that no one gets through life unscathed. We all bear the scars of trauma and rejection whether or not they are visible to others. Astrology can be a powerful tool for recovery and self acceptance, as we realize that our difficulties and challenges are an intrinsic part of our own unique journey.
Self awareness: It doesn’t just happen. It’s quite possible to be an oblivious jerk and an astrologer. But for those with a psychological bent, astrology offers endless opportunities to explore the dark continents of mind and soul. It can even shed light on relational issues, enabling the student and practitioner to approach others with sensitivity and humility.
Opportunism: An unfortunate side effect of astrology’s popularity is the proliferation of so-called astrologers spreading misinformation and nonsense. I am increasingly troubled by the hordes of “psychics” and “intuitives” trying to cash in on the trend. From what I’ve observed, opportunists usually tell people what they most want to hear - so if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Stereotyping: Equating individual characters with a bunch of cliches about their “sign” is unproductive and potentially damaging. Pop astrology has done a real disservice to us all by boiling down this complex and highly nuanced craft to a mere 12 one-dimensional sun signs. In fact, when you combine 10 planets with 12 houses, numerous points, asteroids, angles, and aspects, the combinations are virtually endless.
Titillation: For me, astrology is a sacred practice. It’s not a party game and it’s definitely not a trick. It takes years of study and practice to become adept at reading the stars and anyone who disrespects the craft is unlikely to glean or deliver any meaning from its symbols. The oracle will not reveal its secrets to pretenders and frauds.
Fatalism: This is a tough one and I do occasionally get caught in its snare. When life presents us with misfortune and hardship, when relationships fail or we fail ourselves, it’s easy to give up. Astrology seems to confirm the reality of fate. Character, talent, opportunity and challenge can all be predicted from a birth chart. Yet, we’ve all seen people overcome tremendous obstacles. We've all experienced the growth that can only come from pain and loss. So who’s to say? Maybe it’s not about the cards we’re dealt, but how we choose to play them that really matters.