An astronomer against astrology

"Ten embarrassing questions" for astrology answered

Part two

Astronomer

6. Shouldn't we condemn astrology as a form of bigotry?
(In a civilized society we deplore all systems that judge individuals by sex, skin color, religion, national origin, or other accidents of birth.)

Shouldn't we condemn psychology as a form of bigotry? Sociology? And most of all the science of genetics, which by all means "judge individuals by sex, skin color, religion, national origin, or other accidents of birth." If one would reply that genetics only presents impartial, scientific truth about cells and DNA, the exact same goes for astrology. Whether individuals decide to make personal judgements of people on the basis of these symbols, and the final form and outcome of these judgements, is hardly astrology's fault. Contrary to the general opinion, astrology is not a judgemental or deterministic discipline. It does not relieve people of individual responsibility; in fact it promotes and encourages it.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Shouldnít we condemn some astronomers as bigots or at least prejudiced people? Not because they refer to astrology as an "ancient fantasy" or "ancient superstition", but owing more to their instinctive prejudice against astrologers, believing that "serious practitioners" of astrology generally are those "who have missed out on the lucrative business of syndicated columns".

7. Why do different schools of astrology disagree so strongly with each other?

Oh, do they? Astrologers may differ in method (especially concerning the choice of what is known as systems of "house division") and to some degree about the fine points of interpretation, like practitioners of any discipline, scientific or other. Not when it comes to basic principles and interpretive meanings, as the questioner seems to believe, saying "[they] disagree on which personality traits go with which cosmic phenomena". However, it seems clear that any sound idea-complex incorporates viewpoints at some variation from the standard. Every discipline undergoes constant change and revival as a result of it being challenged by new and controversial ideas.

8. If the astrological influence is carried by a known force, why do the planets dominate?
(For example, the obstetrician who delivers the child turns out to have about six times the gravitational pull of Mars and about two thousand billion times its tidal force.)

9. If astrological influence is carried by an unknown force, why is it independent of distance?

Questions 8 and 9 are related and refer to a wide-ranging issue, so they may be answered together. First, the assumption that astrological influence is completely independent of distance is not entirely true. The sun and moon have far greater significance within astrology than a terribly remote planet such as Pluto. But it is true that the importance of the outer planets to astrology cannot be justified astronomically. In short, the "unknown force" that carries astrological influence is independent of distance because it simply isnít something "flowing" from the planets. Sure, I grant that there is an intimate bond between the sun and the moon and organic life on earth. But while this may provide basic reasons for believing in the influence of the cosmos upon human beings, it is not what makes astrology in its complexity work. For one thing, there is no reason why one phase of the moon should affect personality differently than another, etc. Of course it is unlikely that Pluto (orbiting the Sun at a distance of about 2.5 billion miles from the earth) could wield any magnetic power comparable to that of a close object.

We are operating at the wrong level needed to explain the power of astrology.

Without resorting to a random supernatural explanation or that of divine intervention, I find the most appealing theoretic framework behind astrology should relate to ideas akin to those suggested by psychologist Carl Jung. He introduced the term "synchronicity" as a way to explain connections between phenomena that fail to show a traditional cause-effect relation, but still conform to an underlying pattern of meaning beyond coincidence. For Jung, the concept was vital in bringing evidence for the existence of a "collective unconscious", a reservoir of archetypes, mythic ideas and experiences common to our species. Later he changed the name to "objective psyche", also illustrative to the idea. Astrology has in essence always been a theory of mystical correspondance, "As above, so below."

The sceptic may pose the question: "Well, even if there is such a thing, doubtful as it seems, how could a collective unconscious or objective psyche make the solar system "intervene" with individual personality? Where is the connection?" Well, maybe there is none - from the "absolute" perspective of causality. But thatís where synchronicity comes in. Using the hypothesis of a collective unconscious, symbols are potent components in the shaping of the human psyche. Since synchronicity is a process which unites archetypal forces and external events, it comes to signify a "meaningful coincidence" between the birth at a particular time and the mythic, shaping images represented by the structuring of the planets along the zodiac at this very time. Synchronicity demands that we free ourselves from excessive obedience to the chains of rationality. The horoscope is a symbolical toolbox or map provided by the universe through the aid of the collective unconscious, reflecting the state of the solar system - and through projection also that of a particular individualís psyche. Obviously this explanation won't satisfy a rigid scientist, but it doesn't matter. Astrology is seldom receptive to scientific reduction. It has more in common with the humanistic sciences.

So, the last possibility (though I would hesitate to embrace it) may be this: There is no actual influence coming from the planets that form personality. There is however a process of (collective) unconscious suggestion that somehow convinces us, deep down inside, to psychologically conform to certain archetypes lent from the heavenly symbolism embedded in astrology. And this mosaic of characteristics and dynamics of behaviour can be traced from the planetary status at birth.

10. If astrological influences don't depend on distance, why is there no astrology of stars, galaxies, and quasars?

Look again Ė there is an astrology of stars, and there has been for ages. Traditional astrology used a selection of "fixed stars" in their interpretation, and the procedure still has relevance. Sure there are objections to why certain stars should be used and others not, but this is ultimately a question of conscious limiting of focus to avoid complete galactic disorientation. Personally Iím not sure about the usefulness and relevance of "fixed stars", but the argument goes again: Astrology as a theory of correspondance is intertwined with human consciousness. It's not a force completely independent of human experience. A "serious" scientist may deem this incomprehensible, but the fact remains that astrology provides real insight, and sometimes to an uncanny degree.

Back to part I (questions 1-5)


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