People who don’t know much about astrology often criticise it for being too simple – for putting people into boxes – for stereotyping… which is ironic, because astrology is actually incredibly complex. Equating newspaper horoscopes with astrology is like assuming that all food is actually twinkies, and then criticising food for being anti-nutritious. Understanding astrology, much like understanding the biochemistry of nutrition, takes a very very long time – just to get a reasonably good grasp of one way of doing it. Like nutrition, there are lots of schools of thought, and systems, each has its own merits and some work better for some people than others.
Just think about this: for thousands of years, human beings did not possess small pocket-sized devices with screens, or even large screens in their offices and homes for watching things. Instead, they had little choice but to watch the world around them. For thousands of years, people have watched the patterns in nature, in the swirling of water, the migrations of birds, and in the night sky. The watched the movement of visible planetary bodies and identified the planets from the stars. Based on the movements of the planets, they connected them with their own cultural mythology. Mercury, for instance, is fast moving, darting between the others: the messenger. They watched these patterns and associated them with the changes they witnessed synchronistically in the world around them. There are many cultural similarities in the symbolism of these planetary bodies, especially between Vedic and Western astrology. It was only in the last few hundred years that the contemporary mythology associated with ‘science’ split from more nuanced cultural understandings in Western thought and went on to colonise local knowledge systems where ever it found them, declaring their understandings as not real knowledge. Despite the technological advances afforded by this process, violent dominance is no excuse for justifications of absolute truth. Astronomy the ‘real scientific’study of the stuff we find outside our planet, has been split from astrology for a while now. The former is taken seriously while the latter has been reduced to tacky newspaper horoscopes in most people’s eyes. This may be to our detriment, as a species well known for its short nearsightedness and inability to recognise broader patterns.
For me, it is the synchronicities that make astrology so valid, and the patterns of the psyche that make it so useful. As a teenager I made up a pattern that represented me. I drew it over and over in my school books. It was a cresent moon with lines going in different directions. I was planning to get a tattoo of it at some point. In my early 20s, I took a night class on astrology with a couple of friends. This was the first time I had the chance to see my birth chart and when I looked at it a shiver ran up my spine. The pattern in the centre… well it was the pattern I used to draw over and over. It was the pattern that represented me. If you want to see your birth chart you can look it up here. You need to know your time of birth to get an accurate chart, because the houses change every two hours, based on the earth’s rotation and where the horizon line is.
This is my chart:
The syncronicities have continued, and become more and more convincing. A few years ago I was sitting in an armchair reading a book when I experienced a sudden flood of insights around my intimacy issues. I briefly wondered whether Saturn had gotten into Scorpio, as it was supposed to sometime that year. When I checked a few days later, Saturn had indeed crossed over into Scorpio, at just the time when I was being confronted with my Saturn in Scorpio in the 5th house issues. More recently I have noticed retrospectively that I will suddenly start cleaning, sorting and de-cluttering when the moon is in Virgo. This has lead to better planning of the month to maximise this kind of rare activity.
I wouldn’t say I’m a fundamentalist about astrology, even ‘believe’ is a very strong word. I find it useful. Looking at my chart and the tensions there (represented by red lines), and knowing a bit about the archetypes of the planetary bodies and the parts of the psyche they represent really has helped me to understand myself better and the things that there are no particular scientific explanation for. Looking at the transits, where planets are now in relation to their placing when I was born, helps me understand the things that I’m learning about in my life in the present. I don’t even mind if it’s just confirmation bias or some kind of placebo, because it’s helpful and it’s also quite beautiful. It is a symbolic language and a comprehensive system for mapping the psyche.
If you want to know more about the basics of astrology and how to interpret your chart, you can check out my dear friend Faith’s free mini astrology lessons here.