Let's Not Kid Ourselves: Not Even Astrologers Believe in Astrology
Have you ever met someone who wanted to distance themselves from the concept of woo woo practices, like astrology or the acknowledgment of magic, by asserting that they believe in science, or money?
To be transparent, this is a triggering topic for some astrologers (ahem, raises hand). Personally, it’s easy to get snarky about this before realizing that my cat-like reflexes don’t do much for me in circumstances like this. But I do I find it helpful to model the professionals who approach the irony and ignorance (and sometimes arrogance) of this with deeper thought and a show of respect to the process of learning that we’re all responsible for. So the interesting thing about people that lean in to the “I believe in science” or “I believe in money” statements is that it puts science on a pedestal and perpetuates the philosophy of materialism (that “nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications”).
It points out that science is indeed its own culture and not an absolute truth, despite its marriage to the concept of objectivity. But even as a culture of ideas and values that people subscribe to, it isn't something to be believed in, is it? The scientific method is about disproving or failing to disprove. Science stands by evidence, consistency, objective reality (which is really about a collective subjective experience in so far as everyone agrees on standards of measurement and interpretation...so consensus), theories, and experiments. Arguably, people who say things like, "I believe in Science" are obviously not scientists. They say this as a way of declaring belief in numbers, published studies, and consensus findings which they often don't fully understand. Supporting science, even if we don’t fully understand it isn’t the issue. But comparing cultural and spiritual practices to the material aspect of life and trying to negate them for not reflecting the same values is. People who believe in science believe in hierarchy and consensus authority... If there were ever contenders for today’s consensus authority, it would be science and political figures (read money) in the modern world.
So, people who believe in money...often said by someone who is trying to be funny but also demonstrate their perceived super power of following the money and ability to consume, hold on to and accumulate material wealth. They believe what they can touch, smell, and exchange for goods/services.
But we all know money is humanity's invention. We created the currency of paper, coin, and plastic and attached meaning to it. That is certainly something we can (and do) believe in. But the believe is based on our practical use of it. Earning, seeking, attracting, and exchanging money is all a practice. Money is the most flexible of currencies that we can exchange and it is a practical resource.
Funnily enough, astrology, magic, and other forms of divination are also practices that involve attaching meaning to objects and experiences. We (astrologers and magical practitioners) interpret symbols the same way modern people read music, the newspaper, a lab report, or a stock analysis. Astrology and magic are tools of a spiritual nature, but they can also be quite practical—particularly as therapeutic resources and facilitating change in our lives (even if that simply starts in the mind of the practitioner).
There have been entire libraries worth of texts dedicated to the subjects over multiple millennia. Yet, astrology’s classification as fringe, superstition, and pure entertainment (or a social science at most), upon divorce from the hard sciences, has earned it a lot of disdain from the masses in the last few hundred years or so. Much of today's science prides itself on exclusiveness and determining facts from the contents of vacuum like studies. This practice has been held on a pedestal as Truth because facts are truth, and science is about facts.
My guess is that most scientists as well as people who believe in science and money aren't met with astrologers who surprise them by saying, "I don't believe in astrology". But they really should be. There are a lot of astrologers who don't believe in astrology anymore than they believe in money, science, or music--each their own tool and each an art in itself.
The first astrologer I ever came across to say they didn't believe in astrology was Robert Hand. I realized, oh...astrology isn't something to be believed in. It's an experience. What a relief!!!
Since then I've come across several other astrologers who are aware that their relationship to astrology is not based on belief or fact, but experience. Astrology and magic are both trending in the collective as more people search for tools that resonate and help them make sense of their life and the world they live in during these tumultuous times. When people approach me for readings, I emphasize that I don’t offer absolute truths, I don’t make choices for them, and I don’t interpret configurations as “The stars say you should do this.” That could be a completely separate post on its own, which I intend to get to soon. What I want clients to know is that an astrology consultation is a reflective and participatory experience where they get the chance to begin re-framing the events and people in their life through a lens that leans into cosmic metaphor, story-telling, and sacred geometry.
For some, the point might be to have fun with it; but it is largely utilized as a tool for greater self-awareness. By making associations between synchronous significant events, we become more attuned to the world around us and we increase our capacity to articulate feelings that we might otherwise not know how to express. When we consult charts for insight on interpersonal dynamics, we analyze the archetypal imprints and influences that we carry with us into our relationships. Understanding ourselves leads to clarity in communication and is often a path to more compassion and accountability. By observing the relevance of subjectivity we learn about emotional intelligence and how to trust. Astrology isn’t a substitute for therapy. But it can be highly therapeutic if we approach it with an open mind and the intention to reflect.
Wouldn't it be eye-opening to spread the knowledge that no one, not even astrologers, believe in astrology? To be real, that’s probably very misleading. A lot of people have faith in astrology. My adamant defense of its usefulness must mean that—despite dancing around with my words to unpack why it doesn’t require belief—I believe in astrology. Being up close and personal with it, talking to countless people over a decade of immersion in the practice, makes it hard not to believe in astrology. But ultimately, it’s my preferred take on interpreting experiences. Cynics and skeptics like to argue about attaching meaning to experiences as a coping mechanism to life’s brevity and randomness— but the argument does nothing for me personally. It’s not helpful. It’s boring, depressing, and limited in perspective. It might provide some people with a sense of comfort by armoring themselves with a perceived truth— a different way to explain the inexplicable (because it’s all just random). Nonetheless, it’s a choice and a belief in its own right.
So forgive me if it seems misleading when I say I don’t believe in astrology, because I don’t believe in astrology (but it’s obvious that I do).
What kind of conversations could ensue from a starter like that? What kind of change, connection, and unification could come from people who actually make space for kind and thoughtful discussions like this? If we chose to entertain the idea that science, astrology, and money coexist beautifully together, wouldn’t we be supporting the growth and flourishing of creative diversity?
I’m not in the business of converting people to believe in astrology. I don’t care to persuade non-believers into giving astrology any kind of authority. But keeping the lines of communication open with people uninitiated into the experience of astrology’s usefulness does interest me. I don’t think regulating astrology as a practice would help drastically with this cause since that would likely entail some people’s insistence on astrology being a science, which would only create resistance (the same way that the field of acupuncture has done for example). The stronger the resistance, the harder it can be to have intelligent conversations about it. Note, intelligent means not shouting and arguing to make someone come to one side. Intelligent conversations means embracing uncertainty and allowing for respectful disagreements after listening and exchanging ideas. Intelligent conversations means that there’s room for diversity in opinions, but that there will also be some positive influence coming from each side that leads to a broadened perspective.
I want the conversations I have about astrology to be intelligent and inspire creativity and awareness. So no matter how much I believe astrology works, my response to people who say, “I don’t believe in astrology”, will probably always be, “Me neither”! And in true Libra rising fashion, I’d add, “Sounds like we have something in common”!
*Title edited on July 9, 2019 from “Don’t Be Fooled: Not Even Astrologers Believe in Astrology”