As I met this person only moments ago and he’s just made his first impression on me, I begin to squirm uncomfortably in my seat. I’ve got to know his sign, I think, as something he’s just said has given him more form and identity than just another strange face in the world. A perspective or preference, a specificity of character, and I am curious to know how the planets may have contributed.
It’s the same reason people suddenly ask where I’m from after hearing me call something “mad dope;” although hometown is a much more ubiquitously acceptable influential factor than astrology. I’m aware of how my inquiry could be received. The room is filled with apparently educated, American white people, the most skeptical demographic on the planet, and I know such an inquiry can be social suicide, so I consider all factors.
Just how skeptical do these [white] people seem? Also, how kind-hearted? I’d much prefer to expose a perceived naivete to a room full of skeptical sweethearts than slightly less skeptical assholes, as backlash from the latter is sure to be less tolerable. Finally, how much do I care? If in a room of veteran comedians whose opinions matter to me I am embarrassed to admit I am more likely to remain mum. If a room of… well, I guess just about anyone else in the world, I am more likely to let it rip. I’m sorry, when’s your birthday?
And the music stops. Suddenly the topic of conversation is irrelevant and I am an idiot, or at least a desperate fool following blind faith down a pointless path of pigeonholing people based on some unscientific paradigm. Fuck, I wish I were somebody else.
But I am not somebody else. I am me, and Me was probably never fully skeptical about astrology, but instead somewhat “Agnostic” about it. Indifferent, uncaring, wholly unknowing until I fell in love with a girl, who at the time was one of the most brilliant people I’d met.
In our many hours together on the couch, watching TV, cuddling and doing nothing, as couples do, horoscopes would come up. I knew I couldn’t diagnose her faith as symptomatic of stupidity, as every one of her other contributions proved otherwise; hence, I was simply… open, and would frankly be lying if I said I didn’t eventually begin to observe patterns of evidence to her claims. Of course my devil’s advocate might suggest some sort of love-blind bias at play, insisting on drinking the Kool-Aid from the sweet nectar of my object of affection, dismissive of all logic. Though I’ve other times been in love and thought my girl’s ideas or perspectives to be ludicrous. I even thought a few of this girl’s were rather suspect. Astrology was not one of them. Why?
While the skeptical “Science-ologists” (those who believe that science can prove all that exists) lazily group things like astrology in with yoga and holistic medicine, psychics and theism, none of these things are actually interrelated beyond their attraction of individuals of similar mindsets in present society. And while I am mostly no exception to this stereotype, I can also note the at least potential to call bullshit on some of them some of the time.
Storefront psychics appear in every major city, and they want your money, regardless of qualifications. I do believe some of them somewhere(s) may have some intuitive powers, but most probably do not, and they are running a business.
Organized religion has consistently shown itself to be one of the most hypocritical paradigms in the world. Both indirectly and directly the cause of murdering members of the other “gangs,” it has been obviously motivated by power in numbers, control over behavior, and in modern times even simple financial gain. Ironically and understandably, I think organized religion has been the greatest cause for general skepticism in the world today (similarly, it is the uninformed hacks of the astrology world – the newspaper horoscopes and idiots who offer generalizations in social dialogue at some party – that give it a bad rap). There is plenty of reason to suspect dishonesty in theistic groups.
Even holistic medicine, I suppose one could argue, is in competition with allopathic medicine and would like to convert paying patients over to their “side.” Though holistic medicine has been around for literally thousands of years before “modern medicine,” and one would have to be brain dead to not suspect Big Pharma as the one more likely guilty of financial motive between the two. There is also endless clinical evidence of holism’s efficacy. Nevertheless, one could at least make an [loose] argument against for ulterior motive.
But where is the motive for astrology? Should more people convert to believers, do the 37 professional astrologers across the nation stand to score big? Most of my closest friends and I all believe and almost none of us has ever invested one dollar in it. Is astrology some group with an opposition, a la Christians or Muslims, who would suddenly gain power in numbers; and does it then bring with it any set of commandments that would give its controllers power over the controlled? But there is no hierarchy, and it offers no rules for behavior. Astrology has been around for centuries, so if it was, at its inception, all made up nonsense, one can’t help but beg the question: Why?
Is it so people can have “something to believe in,” allegedly weaker minded souls who require an explanation for everything while the skeptics are brave enough to accept that things just are the way they are, incidentally and arbitrarily? But again, this calls back to the aforementioned broad stroke. Astrology is not like religion, theism or even yoga; so while it might offer a paradigm for partially explaining something or someone, it would be quite the vague stretch to consider it a source of therapy or peace of mind around life’s hardships. As a matter of fact, knowledge of one’s complete chart could be just as easily a source of stress and neuroses in over-consideration of several factors others are unconcerned with. Awareness alone is mediocre therapy at best.
One of the arguments I’ve most frequently heard by skeptics is how absurd it is to believe that everyone born on the same date or under the same sign could possibly have the same personality. Agreed, and all this argument proves, regardless of ultimate truth, is that these people have no idea what they’re talking about (at least most Atheists have done some research on their stance).
Nowhere in astrological theory does it say that one’s birth date is the one and only determining factor of human character. First, there are many other elements of one’s “chart” that come from time and place of birth. Second, and more importantly, astrology does not hold itself as mutually exclusive to psychology, genetics, and/or life experience. Everything is relevant, both internally and externally, when constructing the multi-faceted miracle that is the end result of a human being. I’ve heard “Science-ologists” label all things “New Age” as parts of some “anti-science” movement, which is as ignorant as labeling pro-black as equal to anti-white. No intelligent “New Age person” would critique science as not knowing anything. We just don’t believe that it knows everything.
In debate, skeptics cite the flimsiest of arguments, such as: “If your parents are abusive, you’re going to be fucked up, no matter what.” Agreed again, but does every abuse victim, even those from the same household, have the same personality or character? Of course, sibling dynamics are factors as well, but what a person’s sign and chart might offer us is an idea of peoples’ more subtle and/or fundamental tendencies to response, as well as the etiology of particular traits. Anyone can be an asshole, but while an Aquarius asshole is probably so due to an intellectual impatience and emotional unavailability (especially the men), a Pisces asshole is probably so because he/she has been terribly hurt; traumatized maybe beyond repair and is lashing back at the world with a degree of pain that has detached him/her from a capacity for empathy (otherwise a Pisces will most likely be one of the sweetest people you’ve met). Understanding this difference can be at worst psychologically fascinating, at best a useful tool of awareness in relationships.
Hogwash or not, astrology hypothetically fits more appropriately under the heading of Psychology than Religion. And similar to psychological theories, it is impossible to prove with any technical tools or the human eye; but for some reason the validity of the latter is not questioned.
Skeptics are accepting of exceptions to the rules within all paradigms except the ones they are skeptical of, typically. We all know racial stereotypes bare truth often, though most are aware that none are absolute. It doesn’t mean because we meet a physically tough, even-keeled Jewish guy that we suddenly doubt our tendency to scrawniness and neuroses. Many of us have met subordinate black girls with tiny flat butts, but no one would suggest theirs aren’t generally bigger. We’ve met emotional wrecks who grew up in full, nuclear families, as well as highly functional people from broken homes. Though none of us doubt the validity of any of these sociological or psychological patterns.
Finally, I might argue that an individual not portraying their characteristic astrological traits is someone not living their complete truth, and subsequently probably not very fulfilled or excited about life. A Gemini who isn’t writing or speaking a lot, an Aries with a mundane day to day existence, or a Leo who isn’t the star of the show in some capacity, whether socially, occupationally, or both. Sure, they could be exceptions to the rule or products of other contradictory elements in their [astrological] charts, though I suspect more often they are victims of societal or household conditionings. A Gemini who became too shy to speak up, or a Leo with an overpowering “younger sibling syndrome” that has them subconsciously convinced they are not the star of the show. But they are Leo, the lion, king of the jungle, and will remain unhappy until they are heard to roar in whatsoever is their means of choice. Obama is a fine example of a Leo; JFK, the communicative Gemini.
From my perception there are two parts that make up the skeptic. One is an egocentric omniscience allotted to our five human senses. That which I cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or feel could not possibly exist: “Science-ology.” Of course we cannot prove this perspective wrong, though neither can they prove it right. Curiously, they feel this truth results in their victory in debate.
Skeptics acknowledge that our physiologies adapt to being born and raised in particular parts of the globe due to climate and resources. They agree the sun affects our bodies because it is an effect we can feel and see on our reddened skin; also that gravity is an unseen force from beyond that might impact us more than any other in the universe. However, they cannot conceive how planetary alignment, albeit a similar distance away, could possibly affect our personalities upon entrance to the world. Fine. This suggests it is not the remarkable distance that fuels their skepticism, but the absence of tangible proof.
I think what really sent me flying over the edge into full faith in the unknown is the literally hundreds of times I observed acupuncture’s efficacy in practice. Like any medicine, I observed it often work and sometimes not work. I was explained how and why it worked by acupuncturists who hold Ph.d’s in western medicine. Most importantly, I felt its effects in some of my most skeptical moments. Acupuncture channels are invisible and still technically undetectable by science, yet they so apparently and undeniably exist. This tells me there is much more in the world than meets the [scientific] eye, which can only logically at the least open me to the endless possibilities. Sorry. I know the idea of ghosts and spirits, reincarnation and astrology are quite uncomfortable for the majority of us who grew up with sports, pop culture, career-mind and politics, but if I know I can put a needle in one part of the body that will send a very sensible charge of energy up to profoundly impact another part of the body, then how can I, without research, dismiss anything else? I digress.
The second part of the skeptic is an ironic follower-mentality that shuts them off to the unknown. While they hold that being an Atheist is evidence of their autonomous, individual thought, it could just as easily mean the opposite. Although the masses are Christians who believe very much in God, these are not actually the masses of the group most skeptics exist in or aspire to be a part of. Reminiscent of the hilarious joke in the movie, Superbad, when McLovin gets a fake ID with the name, Mohammed, on it, defending: “Mohammed is the most common name in the world!”
Within the world of educated, white, middle to upper class urbanites there is nothing radically progressive or in the minority about being a skeptic. Of course this doesn’t make them necessarily wrong; as a matter of fact, my opposition could argue that the aforementioned describes one of the most informed demographics on the planet. However, the majority of them do contradict themselves in their claim of perspective being one that requires scientific proof.
Nothing about widely accepted psychological theories, such as the Oedipus Complex, “abandonment issues,” or “separation anxiety,” can be scientifically proven, yet most subscribers to the alleged “rationalist” or skeptical train of thought fully accept their validity. Why?
It is something “their group” has been exposed to and accepting of for their entire lives. They were never asked late in adolescence, or God forbid, early in adulthood, to actually open their minds and reconsider that some paradigm they’ve been conditioned to accept might be flawed. Unlike 50 years ago, Psychology is a school of thought acceptable by intellectuals of the present generation; and isn’t it egocentric and naïve to believe there is not another that will grow to become acceptable 50 years from now?
Evidence: The skeptic who accepts the aforementioned psychological labels and diagnoses might argue it defensible as a result of observed evidence in human behavior. Fine. This same mechanism is exactly how I came to believe in astrology. Skeptics spend decades of their lives aware of psychological theories then observing them in action daily, but then refute one broad stroke painted by some know-nothing “astrology hack” and write off the entire paradigm as fabricated. Meanwhile, if they’d spend even one year of observation with a more neutrally open mind, I’m confident they would observe as much evidence in Libra tendencies as they have in peoples’ abandonment issues, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and the like. It reminds me of when people go for one or even a few acupuncture treatments, don’t get their desired results, and denounce the entire medicine as ineffective. Meanwhile we’ve all heard of failed surgeries, worse than failed surgeries, and infinite instances of ineffective medication, yet no one ever thinks: “Modern medicine doesn’t work.” Why not? Because we have allotted it an enormous sample size because it is the more widely accepted paradigm by those perceived to be intellectuals in the present generation. Such an acceptance is nearly the exact definition of “mindlessness,” ironically.
I cannot prove astrology is real any more than its doubters can prove it fake. Believe it or not, I don’t really have any dog in the fight, nor interest in converting any subscribers. My only interest is in my own freedom of speech without being judged or ridiculed by the uninformed. Ironically, it makes me feel probably how silly astrology hacks make skeptics feel when they attempt to box them into some over-simplified stereotype that doesn’t fit or define them at all. They react by denouncing the entire philosophy as wrong because of the behavior of its poorest students, in wonderful irony, as both parties know equally little about it. This proves that the adamant astrology skeptic is at best pretentious, at worst an idiot, also identical to the hacks he resents. The entire cycle is similar to that of racism, fueled by all parties’ deficient information, over-generalizations, and emotional responses to isolated instances.
In closing, I cannot help but call back to what I feel is my strongest point for why everyone should at least be open to and/or neutral regarding astrology, which is: Motive. Behind the alleged myths of religion and God and sidewalk psychics are obvious catalysts for gain: Numbers, power, money, etc., whereas this does not exist either presently or historically for the expansion of astrology. It is a misnomer to label astrology as “New Age” (as well as all the other subjects we place under the heading), as it has been around for many centuries. So if one desires any credibility in his doubt or denouncement of something as entirely made up nonsense, he must at least take the time to intelligently account for motive. Namaste.