Can Astrology be real?

When it comes to astrology, the average person, vaguely familiar with the concept, tends to fall into one of two categories: blindly skeptical, or blindly devoted. While differing drastically in perspectives, both sides display the same sense of cynicism in that they are unable, or perhaps unwilling, to see the other’s point of view. Whereas in other areas of inquiry there is a tendency to want to argue for a side of a given debate, even if only to prove oneself right and others wrong, when it comes to astrology conversations tend to unfold differently — that is, they tend to not unfold at all. There is no felt need or reason to engage in discussion when your opinion is obviously correct.

Unfortunately, as we well know, the obvious is often misleading. Life has the potential to surprise us at every turn, for better and most definitely for worse, precisely because we don’t see things coming — at times, that’s because we really couldn’t, such as in the case of an accident. At other times, however, we just really didn’t want to, did we?

But, I digress. Can astrology possibly be real? Let us all (hopefully) agree on the basics first: obviously, astrology cannot possibly be real. What are we even talking about here? Well, the stars, a select number of constellations formed by them (but not actually, since constellations are merely projections and don’t exist as such), the planets, and other celestial bodies in our solar system such as satellites, asteroids and orbital points. When we talk about astrology, we are talking about the fact that these celestial objects, of which there are many, were in the ~exact~ place in the sky that they were in relation to us at the moment of our birth, and the effect that this presumably has in our individual lives. [1] Let us, if you will, take two main points away from this — one in favour of the devoted and another in favour of the skeptical.

First, for the devoted:

As mentioned, there are many, many such celestial objects that feature prominently in astrology. Yet, we all have an opinion on whether or not astrology is real, at least in part, because we are familiar enough with our “zodiac sign” to know whether or not it resonates truly — even though, in reality, we don’t even have a “zodiac sign.” Why not? Because what we have are zodiac signs, plural — for our purposes in this article, thirty, to be exact.

More accurately, what we have (again, for now, for purposes of this article) are thirty placements — the aforementioned celestial bodies, each falling within a zodiac sign, and in a particular place in the sky. [2] Magazine type horoscopes, often referred to by skeptics who don’t relate to the descriptions of their supposed signs or accuse them of being random generalizations, are a joke precisely because they focus solely on the Sun, which is the placement we tend to think of as our all-encompassing “zodiac sign.” They ignore the remaining 29 placements that make up or reflect our personalities — or whatever it is that astrology purports to reflect, or make up.

To illustrate, take a person who “is” Aquarius, that is, a person whose Sun is in the sign of Aquarius. Say this person’s Moon is in the sign of Taurus. In addition to learning about Aquarius Sun, then, they would also need to learn about Taurus Moon for a more personalized description of themselves and a better understanding of astrology in general. Better yet, they would need to learn about all thirty of their placements: whereas the Sun sign encompasses more or less every person born on a given 30-day span, babies born within even one minute of each other may have considerably different placements, making this level of analysis exceptionally personalized.

However, astrology is actually much more complex, and specific, than even that. You see, there are twelve zodiac signs along the ecliptic (that is, along the fairly straight “line” or plane where celestial bodies cross the sky from Earth’s perspective) that are relevant for purposes of astrology: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, in that order. In other words, each of the thirty placements that make up our astrology falls within one of these zodiac signs. Yet, each sign is comprised of thirty degrees. [3] In this way, there are actually thirty different flavours, as it were, of each sign, and so it would not be sufficient for the individual in the previous example to “merely” learn about their Aquarius Sun and Taurus Moon, and their 28 other placements. To really get at the heart of astrology, whatever it is that it claims to offer, they would need to know the specific degree for each.

With this, magazine type horoscopes, and the skeptical along with them, omit a lot more than “just” the 29 placements other than the Sun in their assessment — they also omit how each of these influence, or relate to, or aspect, one another. [4] To illustrate, say our friend’s Sun from the example above is at 20° of Aquarius and Moon at 20° of Taurus. Well, they would not only need to learn about Aquarius Sun, Taurus Moon and their 28 other placements, as we saw, but also about the fact that, at those particular degrees, their Sun and Moon aspect one another at a 90° angle. [5] In astrology, this aspect is referred to as a “square” and denotes a conflict between the placements, a felt sense of incompatibility resulting in a lot of tension.

Acknowledging that we are still in the section of the article that favours the astrologically inclined, hopefully this much is clear: whatever ~tf~ it is that astrology purports to do, it is, quite literally, infinitely more complex, and specific, than the skeptical (or even the devoted, for that matter) are typically ever in a position to appreciate. Just mathematically, I mean.

Since I’m no mathematician myself, I’ve discussed with several who confirmed that the number of permutations (that is, possibilities) for placements in one’s astrological makeup in all of the history and future of humanity (loosely defined : )) is such that, to date, humanity has “used up” something like 0.0000000000002% of possible combinations. Lol. As limited human beings, we struggle with numbers and scales, and, so, rather than spend time drawing on the usual and tired analogies of the total number of grains of sand on Earth, or the more appropriate alternative of number of stars in the ~fucking~ Milky Way universe, the very simple and uncontroversial point, despite the inevitable inaccuracies in the above calculation, is this:

Except for babies who are born within 1-4 minutes of each other and in relatively close geographical proximity, human beings can never be born under the same sky. Not ever. For this reason, in order to make a claim, any claim at all, about the validity (actually, the soundness) of astrology, one must first learn their own. One must first try it, and experiment with it — much like scientists are supposed to do. All (or, I should say, most) of the answers that one could possibly be looking for about astrology, insofar as one is actually looking for answers, can be found there. [6]

But, again, why should one invest time, energy and even resources on learning about something they know to be (obviously) false? Would you? I certainly wouldn’t. And, so, rather than having to learn one’s own astrology in order to make a claim, any claim at all, about its soundness/validity as I argue would be needed, I want to recognize, and absolutely endorse, an alternative: it is also possible to not have an opinion at all on the subject. I am arguing (begging, really) that the skeptical either learn astrology in order to have an opinion about it, or at least refrain from displaying any. As philosophy teaches us, this should be our default attitude regarding anything in life in the first place. This is the scientific method.

Finally, for the skeptical:

Very well, so astrology is ~infinitely~ more complex, and thus specific, in whatever it is that it purports to do than we typically realize. Unlike a general magazine type horoscope that says that you’re a spiritual person because “you’re a Pisces” [sic], perhaps an actual, more accurate astrology reading might spell out that you’re spiritual because Pluto in Sagittarius squared Saturn in Pisces (which happens to be Rising in the 12th house for you) when you were 2-3 years old — and your father passed away during that time. Whereas the first generalization is easily dismissed, the second claim would certainly raise questions about… what an interesting coincidence that is, insofar as that was actually the case.

At the end of the day, however, the issue remains for skeptics — as it should! How can Pluto’s position in the sky when I was 2-3 years old, in relation to where Saturn was when I was born, cause (or reflect) my father’s death and me to be a spiritual person as a result? What?? How??? At the very least, this should be an absolutely troubling proposition, and the astrologically inclined don’t seem all that troubled when making (or simply accepting) such lofty metaphysical assertions.

In other words, how can Pluto, a space rock that has a diameter roughly the width of Australia and is 4-7 billion kilometres away from Earth, literally a spec of cosmic dust, have a metaphysical relation to me and my life circumstances due to its physical relation to where Saturn, another space rock, was at the moment of my birth? It’s not even fair to call Saturn a space rock, seeing as how it is mostly made up of gas! Lol. This is simply, actually unthinkable. It is also laughable, though not at all surprising that human beings would place the moment of our individual births as a meaningful marker in the space-time continuum on a cosmic scale.

Despite this very reasonable skeptical deliberation, let us imagine that the aforementioned astrology reading continued — perhaps because our stubborn astrologer is unruffled by science: you’re spiritual because Pluto in Sagittarius squared Saturn in Pisces when you were 2-3 years old, which happens to be Rising in the 12th house for you — and your father passed away during that time. And, because your Moon and Mercury are in Cancer in the 4th and 5th houses, and Mars in Scorpio in the 8th, forming a grand trine with Saturn while your Jupiter in Libra is in the 7th… well! You might be a talented, passionate and determined artist with an elegant aesthetic that is deeply personal but which must also have a practical application. Your art is your way of processing your father’s death, but it must also please your audience to an exacting degree.

Keep in mind that the astrologer has no idea who she is talking to — it could be a businessman for all she knows, someone looking for a stock-market investment tip, but this is not what she sees. Nor does she know necessarily what she means when she says things like “your art must please your audience to an exacting degree” — she leaves that for the client to know whether or not it resonates. It’s his life, after all. Indeed, he interrupts the reading, explaining that his father was killed when he was a toddler and that he still has memories of going to court daily with his mother for better part of a year. Most vividly, he always remembered the courtroom sketch artist, who drew depictions of the proceedings since cameras were prohibited in the courtroom. Having always loved drawing growing up, he felt a gnawing need to justify his pursuit of fine arts as a teenager and young adult by striving for practical applications that would be financially rewarding. He tried to become an architect, going to graduate school at one point but was not successful and dropped out. A supportive professor, who always loved his candid drawings of people in particular, asked if she could connect him to a friend working at a prominent publication — they had recently been in touch to ask if she knew of anyone available to take up courtroom sketch assignments, and she thought of him. The astrologer is shocked! This, the client explains, is how he went on to become a successful courtroom sketch artist himself — which he has always liked to imagine as a gift to his father.

Skeptics who have made it this far into the article (zero) are not impressed — what a beautiful and compelling (made up) story! Lol. The issue remains… but just as I acknowledged that the issue should remain, remember. After all, insofar as this is true, as I am asking you to imagine it is, how can any of this be true, save for pure coincidence? Alas, we do not have an answer. The skeptical are right to laugh at the devoted who are untroubled by this fact. However, considering the lack of critical thought that goes into simply accepting astrological claims at face value, the unquestioning “astrologer” won’t mind being laughed at — they’re likely to just laugh back.

On reality: Science, technology, and metaphysics

Let us revisit the skeptic’s question above, but only to put a pin on it for now — how can the sketch artist astrology reading be true, save for pure coincidence? Though we do not know the answers, three analogies (if you would ever be so patient!) will unequivocally show that answers would ultimately be beside the point, anyway — which is not to say that it wouldn’t be nice to have them!

***

#1 imagine you live in a secluded region of the world without access to most of the technology we take for granted today: not only have you never used the internet, you’ve never heard of it. You don’t know what a computer is, or even a television. Maybe you’ve heard of the telephone, but you’ve never seen one, let alone used one so you haven’t spent any time thinking about it. I come to visit from across the globe, and while we socialize around the village fire at night I happen to take a video call on my iPhone to speak to my sister back home, thousands of kilometres away on a different continent. Hmmm what’s happening? You wonder, startled.

What is this image and sound? What is this object in my hand? Why am I… talking to it? You haven’t even questioned yet how am I talking to it, or through it. You’re wondering why in the first place — it’s certainly not to talk to my sister across the globe! Lol. There’s no such thing. However, your mind is quickly opening up to the possibility fact that, well, there does appear to be such a thing as video. You’re looking at it, after all. You’re listening. [7] Your senses are the foremost indicator of reality and truth, if ever there were any, so you do have to trust them even if they are prone to error, and even if there is cognitive dissonance at first — that is, even if they’re confusing and challenge you at first.

I then explain exactly what is happening, why and how — well, maybe not exactly. You see, I don’t work for Apple, and I don’t have a background in engineering. I’m not even particularly tech savvy, always late catching up with trends and one of the last to learn new technologies in my circles. I’m still using the iPhone 10. Nevertheless, this device is certainly sufficient for my purposes, as is my understanding of it. I know how to turn it on and off, turn the volume and ringer up and down, download and delete apps, charge it when it needs power. I even know how to airdrop pictures for seamless sharing! I couldn’t explain to you how wifi or wireless technology works if my life depended on it — I would literally die. But I know how to use FaceTime, and this is the knowledge that I am passing on to you as I explain what it is you’re seeing: my sister with her baby video-chatting with me, with us, across the globe in real time. Your mind is blown — frankly, so is mine the more I think about it. Isn’t yours?

Philosophy teaches us that only the astronomer knows that the sun will rise in the morning. The rest of us may assume it, and even be right about it every. single. day. but really ours is just an educated guess. We are unlike the astronomer, who understands how the solar system works to such an extent as to be able to predict, or infer, or deduce that the sun will rise in the morning. However, for our day-to-day purposes, assuming works just as well! We are able to carry on living our lives making any necessary plans (e.g. to wake up in the morning and go to work) by “merely” assuming that the sun will rise. [8] Similarly in the example above, while I may not know the ins and outs of wireless smartphone technology, this doesn’t stop me from using it. More importantly (and this is actually, ultimately the point), my lack of technical understanding doesn’t make me question whether or not an iPhone is even real! Lol. I know it’s real. We’re using it — just don’t ask me how.

***

#2 This important point leads us to the second analogy. Imagine we are good friends that haven’t seen each other in quite some time. For years we were close while working together in our 20’s, but life quickly set us apart after that. Truthfully, because of our differing worldviews, it felt as though our friendship had an expiry date on it, anyway. While I was mostly analytical, practical, cautious, disciplined, and hilarious, you were always the creative, emotional type, engaged in adventurous and spiritual pursuits with a heaviness about you. I was athletic and loved running; you liked to get high and meditate. We appreciated our differences — they pushed us out of our comfort zones, exposing us to unfamiliar things and people we otherwise wouldn’t have met. Ultimately, however, you thought I was boring. I felt you were a little too prone to drama.

Thanks to social media all these years later, we forget about all of that and are stoked to reconnect. We can’t wait to catch up. Turns out we both live in the West end of the city, so we plan a visit. Arriving at your place after work one day, it quickly becomes evident what different directions we took in life — not surprisingly, and not in a bad way, either. I’m a little on edge from a long day of meetings, and somewhat self-conscious to be wearing a shirt and tie. I don’t always dress so formally, I make a point to tell you. Meanwhile, your place is super nice and welcoming — plants everywhere, tapestries on the wall, incense, candles, ambient house music in the background. You know the vibez. I didn’t offer for us to meet at my place precisely because I feel it is… a little desolate. I own, however, which is nice.

Meanwhile, as I thank you for having me and compliment you on the beautiful space, you quickly change tone — you are having problems with the landlord. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into the home, but wish you could move because of these… persisting issues. Realistically, you go on to explain, it’s not even like your landlord could do anything about it — but it would be nice if he at least took you seriously! The bottom line is that your rent is cheap for the current market because you’ve been there so long, so you’re stuck there for now. You even resort to sleeping over at family and friends oftentimes, who are sympathetic and welcoming enough.

What’s the problem with the place, anyway? It really does seem lovely! You finally drop the bomb: it’s haunted. I burst out laughing, quickly realizing you are teary eyed and serious. I’m… startled? Confused? I try not to look it. You explain that there’s a family of ghosts that live in the house, and they are making your life… impossible. It’s scary. You’ve befriended the young boy somewhat, as much as one can become friendly with a ghost, but the grandfather in particular terrifies you. The parents, too. Meanwhile, I’m at a loss for words. I don’t now what to say, I tell you. I mean, there’s no such thing as ghosts. They’re not real… right? What are we talking about here??

You, of course, never actually, seriously believed in ghosts, either. You’ve had this conversation many times before — you know how it goes and do your best not to bring it up! But we used to be best friends, we are in your home catching up, and I asked you what the problem was — so, you told me, despite the inevitable look on my face and how it makes you feel.

Fortunately for you, you won’t have to waste your time trying to explain it further. You see, there’s a spot in the home in particular, your bedroom closet, where you can go… to essentially summon the boy, every time. It never fails. As far as you have been able to tell, the parents and the grandfather appear in no particular pattern, they’re unpredictable, but not the boy. You walk over to your bedroom door, staying within my view as I remain seated on the living room couch where we were. You’re not twenty steps away from me, explaining, as you knock on the bedroom door asking if there is anyone there, that the boy appears seated by the closet door, playing with his toys, whenever you do that. I can’t see the closet from where I’m sitting — I’d have to walk over to you. The closet is to the left of the door — I just have to peak my head in, you explain, and I will see it for myself.

Ahahah, stoopppp this — I react, playfully. I’m not being mean; I just literally think you are joking. I mean, obviously, right? You proceed to knock, and ask — is there anyone here? From the couch, I even hear over the low background music what sounds like the voice of a child in response, as kids often answer with a tone of boredom: yaa, I’m heeere. LOL! Stoopppp, you are such a joker, I say to you. Ugh, you reply — fine, then just come here and see for yourself! You’re actually glad we have finally gotten to here — we’re about to move past the obvious, tired conversation about whether or not ghosts are real, which is a waste of everyone’s time because we all know what we know, and actually get to the matter at hand! I’ll walk over, see the ghost, even interact with it myself, and finally join you in pondering how ~tf~ this could be, and what this might mean for, I don’t know, my understanding of life itself going forward?

Thank you, patient reader (nobody) — I finally get to the point. I do think it is an important one. At this point in the interaction above, what makes the most sense for me to do? Do I simply walk over, less than twenty steps, to join you at the bedroom door and put an end to the story one way or the other? Or, do I… refuse to do that, staying seated on the couch? More importantly, in the unthinkable (right? Or, no?) scenario where I refuse to simply walk over, check it out for myself and settle the question, can I continue to deny the existence of ghosts going forward? On what grounds, if, apparently, I refuse to look at the evidence, one way or another?

***

#3 Finally, the last analogy, this time about dreams — rest assured that I will tie it all together, drawing on all three in relation to our deliberation on astrology.

If you are anything like me [9] and have, or have ever had, a lively dream life, then you know that dreams can be rather unsettling. I recently learned, however, that apparently not everyone dreams, having met someone who swears not really having any experience of it — or at least not remembering any. If that’s you, then I guess you will have to do without this analogy, or perhaps take my word for it — dreams can seem real to a surprising extent.

A few months ago, for instance, I had what one might call a nightmare — not of the fantastical, horrific, death situation variety, but rather a ~very~ stressful one, even if relatively mundane. Importantly, this is worth recounting not because of the dream, but because of my experience waking up from it:

For some godforsaken, logic defying reason as is usually the case with dreams, I had borrowed my dad’s car and was working remotely on my laptop from the backseat while parked illegally in a foreign city, which I did not realize. My dad is very particular about his car — I would never drive it, if only to avoid the inevitable scrutiny afterward for anything not left exactly as it was.

Alas, I had borrowed it. There I am in the backseat, working from my laptop, unbeknownst to the pedestrians around me thanks to the dark window tint. It looked like I was somewhat living out of the car, hence my working from it, as I had a blanket and other belongings there as well. I may have been on a road trip visiting friends, which would explain why I was dreading having to spend the afternoon working as opposed to enjoying a good time. It felt like there was a lot on the line, though — important work that needed to get done. Sometime into this, I realize that there is mad construction happening on the road all around me. It’s like the workers had made their way from up the street and finally caught up to where I was — where the car shouldn’t have been parked. There is quite a bit of commotion around the car, workers yelling, machinery. I’m apprehensive about this, I can’t believe my luck, but ignore it in the hopes that the problem will just go away. It’s not like I have a choice — I literally cannot stop the work I am doing. I’m on a tight deadline that I apparently cannot break.

As I look around the escalating chaos, I finally see the temporary signs that had been erected advising not to park there between such and such hours. Damn! I can’t believe I missed this. A police officer is around, as well as a parking enforcement guy, and I already mentioned the workers — and now a tow truck is pulling up to the car. Despite the major inconvenience and costs that this will incur, I’m actually glad (and shocked) that they haven’t noticed me in the backseat. It didn’t seem like getting out of the car, or signalling my presence would help — it wouldn’t be possible to drive away at that point because of the construction, and I figured I would just get yelled at. Regardless, it’s not like I have a choice. They might as well tow me while I keep working, and I’ll deal with the situation later when I am all done.

This does not go well. The car is ~violently~ towed away, dragged through what looked/felt like fresh pavement that was one or two feet deep, with bits and pieces of the car being ripped apart and flying around! Many are pointing at the car, some are laughing, others are just saying what a shame it is that some idiot left his car there to be destroyed. I’m ~shocked~ at what’s unfolding, how will I ever return the car to my dad? Lol. At the same time, I must somehow focus on the work that I’m doing!

Suddenly, as the freshly paved road is essentially destroyed by my dragging car for miles on end… it finally hits me: wait a second, am I dreaming right now?? It did look rather cartoonish the way the car was being towed, springs fluttering around. I must be dreaming yo! Okay, first of all, if that is indeed the case, I can’t believe I’m wasting my time working, being stressed out about this when I could be doing… literally anything else? My imagination is the limit — I should be able to stop all of this at the snap of a finger and find myself at some exotic beach destination instead, as I often wonder about the metaphysics of dreams…

Let me not get ahead of myself — I need to first determine if I’m dreaming. It shouldn’t be too, too hard to do once you gain conscious awareness like I had. I start scrutinizing everything around me — what am I working on, anyway? What laptop is this, the car, the location, why am I in San Francisco? The objects around me, the weather, everything. There’s no room for error — if I guess incorrectly that I am dreaming when I am in fact awake, then jumping out of the car and killing myself in order to wake up from the unfolding nightmare would actually cost me my life! I’m not too worried about getting it wrong, however. Once I know, I’ll know — if that makes sense. I recall having read recently, though I don’t remember the source, that it’s not possible to actually read in dreams. It was either that, or telling the time — one of those. One way to determine if you’re dreaming is to look closely at text to see if it’s legible, and go from there. God, I can’t believe how destroyed the car is by now — how could they be towing it with such disregard not only for the car but also the road? What am I going to tell my dad?? How am I ever going to finish this work??? Lol I digress.

I immediately look at my phone, and am indeed able to see the time — not the find I was looking for. Likewise, I look closely at the computer, and, yep — feels like I can read just fine. At this point, I think I recall that we can’t use technology in dreams, either, so I proceed to use the laptop — seamlessly, with success. Fuck. The verdict is in. Trust me when I tell you that upon close analysis, I conclude that I am in fact awake. I shift my perspective and attitude. I feel entirely different. I must now consider how I will deal with the disaster of a situation that I find myself in — when, suddenly, I wake up! I wake up. I’m literally breathing (slightly) heavy, my heart pounding more than usual. I’m pretty distraught, and after a few seconds — utterly relieved. Duh — of course I was dreaming! I immediately have the thought that I can’t believe I had just concluded that I was awake.

***

Why is this significant? I hope it’s obvious — not in relation to astrology per se, which I will clarify, but just in general. Thanks to my background in philosophy, which I do hate to highlight, this recent experience actually proved to me beyond any reasonable doubt that human beings are unable to distinguish between dreams and reality — which is to say that we are unable to distinguish between reality and dreams! If I lost, I lost you — sorry. This is just a fact.

The thing about this fact is that, even right now as I type, trust me when I tell you that I am pretty sure that I’m awake. Lol. I actually don’t have any doubt… or, at least that’s how it feels. However, given my newfound understanding of our limited capability as human beings to discern reality from dreams, I do understand that it is more accurate to say that I have very, very, very little doubt that I am awake. That’s thanks to my firsthand experience of having no doubt that I was awake when I was in fact dreaming.

What I’m saying is that this applies to all of us — whether you know it or not, think about this or not, agree with me or not. Sorry! You can never be  o-n-e  h-u-n-d-r-e-d  percent certain that you are either dreaming or awake. [10] Like the sun-rising-in-the-morning example, all you have is a very educated guess based on your own personal experiences to “determine” whether you are sleeping/dreaming or awake! The good news, however, as I’ve mentioned, is that you don’t need more certainty than that — which is not to say that it wouldn’t be nice to have it. ; )

We know that we don’t need more certainty because… well, look at our lives! Look at the world around us! For a species that can’t even tell if we are dreaming or awake, we sure manage to accomplish a lot. Lol. Our standard for truth when it comes to reality may be less than perfect, but it is clearly sufficient. If literally ~everything~ is premised on reality, on there being a reality and our being awake to discern it and experience it, it follows from this that the standard for truth for ~anything~ therein can only be as high as the standard for determining what is reality in the first place! If the totality of my experience is flawed yet sufficient for me to “determine” whether I am dreaming or awake, what is reality vs. isn’t, then it must also suffice for me to “determine” whether my name is Bruno, whether the computer in front of me is real, whether I am actually in my house, whether my house is in the city of Toronto, whether it is snowing outside (I can see outside the window that it is), and whether astrology is true — if that’s what I happen to be trying to derive conclusions about on a given moment!

Queue in the first analogy: your experience of that moment with me around the village fire at night, when my sister video-called me on my iPhone, ought to be sufficient for you to determine whether wireless smartphone technology is real despite any other consideration, however reasonable. If you recall, everything about your being, your very understanding of reality, pushed against the possibility fact of real time telecommunication with someone that is thousands of kilometers away on a different continent. Yet, there it was in front of you. (Un)fortunately, you had no choice but to update, or reconsider, or reframe your understanding of reality. This is an unsettling, mind-fucking experience but ultimately for the best! The alternative is to be missing out, out of loop at best, and living an absolute lie at worst.

Suppose my sister had not video called me that night. Instead of catching us by surprise with a ring, thereby giving us the opportunity to experience the ~miracle~ of FaceTime technology together, suppose I am just telling you about it. I have a device that is like x and y and that does this and that, etc… Obviously, you think to yourself, I cannot be serious. You barely understand what I’m trying to explain to you — you ask, do I mean that I have a device where I can trap someone inside of it, in order to carry them with me whenever I travel to distant lands, so I can talk to them? Sorry, you say — you must not be following correctly. You are not following indeed! Rather than wasting my our time trying to explain it any further… look it, let me just run over to my hut to get my iPhone and you will see for yourself! Prepare to have your mind blown! I say this in the best way possible. : )

Queue in the second analogy: Imagine your reaction around the fire in this alternative example is to say, nope, I cannot show you. The device I speak of must not exist, therefore you will not let me show you it. I don’t know how exactly — perhaps you will try to stop me, or you might just walk away or something. You might even avoid me for the rest of my visit to the village if that’s what it takes! Lol. Much like when you wanted to show me the ghost in your bedroom, where all I needed was to take twenty steps toward you in order to see the ghost for myself, but I refused because there’s no such thing as ghosts. Lol.

As absurd as these silly examples are, this is exactly how conversations about astrology between believers knowers and skeptics usually unfold. [11] That is, they tend to not unfold at all. As I mentioned, as I understand it myself, obviously, astrology cannot possibly be real – just like the iPhone in the first analogy to someone who has never seen it, and the ghost in the second. [12] However, having checked astrology out for myself; having learned what I referred to earlier as my “thirty placements” and their signs, degrees, and aspects; having done this not only for myself but also for family members and close friends, and hundreds of others; I know that astrology is real — just don’t ask me how! Can you believe it?? I ask you rhetorically. ; )

Astrology: charting a new worldview

In the Middle Ages and even in Antiquity, someone could be burnt at the stake for claiming to know astrology – despite the presiding (mis)understanding today that astrology was widely accepted until the Enlightenment period. While astrologers may not be at risk of losing their life in this day and age, at least not for the most part, they are certainly shunned from scientific circles and actually (de facto) banned from academia — ironically, the self-proclaimed guardian of intellectual inquiry and foundation of critical thought. We can’t talk about astrology or even question whether it can possibly be real.

Take anything else — flat Earth theory, for example. Interestingly, we can talk about this in academia, and we have. Lol. Upon close examination, it has been scientifically disproven, not that much scrutiny is required with the technology available today. All you need is a rocket, a satellite with a fancy camera, and there – you have picture evidence that flat Earth theory is false. You can see it with your own eyes. You can argue that only an astronaut can actually see it with her own eyes, and that any pictures that we have seen may be false, but that would make you a conspiracy theorist.

Despite the presiding (mis)understanding that astrology has been just as studied and disproven, and that this is why it does not have a place in scholarly circles today, this is actually not the case. The difference, to stick to the flat Earth example though any other incorrect physical/mathematical scientific theory would do, lies in the nature of the claims being made and the methods used for their evaluation. Flat Earth theory contradicts extensive scientific evidence from multiple disciplines, from geology and meteorology to astronomy and physics. By contrast, while astrology’s claims about celestial influences on human affairs have not been supported by current empirical evidence or scientific laws, they have also not been disproven. Much like the possibility of extraterrestrial life, for instance. To conclude that there is no extraterrestrial life in the universe because there is no scientific evidence for it is to equate absence of evidence with evidence of absence, which is a fallacy related to the vast limitations of our current scientific understanding and technological capability.

To-ward the truth about astrology, [13] namely, about its ability to infer facts about our personality and life circumstances from the position of the stars in relation to us at the moment of our birth, is to-ward the truth about the very nature of life and reality/existence. How can we be astrologically significant when we are astronomically insignificant? In other words, how can astrology work? How could we ever have come to know this in the first place, insofar as astrological systems of understanding have been apprehended or devised (thousands of years ago, no less)? This is ultimately the dilemma that the philosophically/scientifically inclined are posed with when faced with the possibility of astrology if they are skeptical, which is the same dilemma that they are posed with when faced with the fact of astrology if they are believers. This is the knower’s dillema. As presumptuous as it is for me to say — please do read that again.

Mans tryna make astrology as talked about as the existence of extraterrestrial life is all! Terrestrial or not, life is life. Now please go learn your natal chart. [14] : )

“‘Why don’t you get an astrological armlet?’

‘Should I, Master? I don’t believe in astrology.’

‘It is never a question of belief; the only scientific attitude one can take on any subject is whether it is true. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human beliefs.

Charlatans have brought the stellar science to its present state of disrepute. Astrology is too vast, both mathematically and philosophically, to be rightly grasped except by individuals of profound understanding. If others misread the heavens, and see there a scrawl instead of a script, that is to be expected in this imperfect world. One should not dismiss the wisdom with the wise.'”

– Autobiography of a Yogi (XVI-I)

       ♈︎  ♉︎  ♊︎  ♋︎  ♌︎  ♍︎  ♎︎  ♏︎  ♐︎  ♑︎  ♒︎  ♓︎

☽ 

☊ ☋

☿ 

♂ 

♃ 

♄ 

♇ 

FOOTNOTES

[1] Actually, I’m using “astrology” here to refer to “natal” astrology in particular — if we are talking about mine, then, as mentioned, we are talking about the exact place in the sky that the celestial bodies were in relation to me at the moment of my birth. However, there are many other modes, or means of astrology, such as “transit” astrology — in this case, we are talking about where these celestial bodies are in relation to us right now, or at any given time. There are also different systems of ecliptic coordinates to calculate the position of relevant constellations, and many other traditions of astrology, such as Hellenistic and Vedic, but let us consider whether astrology is real first before venturing into these. : )

[2] Or, in a particular “house,” as it is referred to in astrology.

[3] This is very basic astronomy that will be discussed in a future article — for now, you can take my word for it or do some research of your own on the ecliptic in order to learn more. (And, skeptics, remember — I started by acknowledging that, obviously, astrology cannot possibly be real, and will be getting to your many thoughts in a bit). Thanks for your patience! : )

[4] “Aspect” being the term used in astrology to refer to how the different placements influence, or relate to, one another.

[5] Again, this is just basic astronomy.

[6] Except, I lie — all of these answers end up raising more questions. As I will argue, however, these are the real questions that we need to start asking when it comes to the soundness of astrology, and its implications for the scientific paradigm. The issue is that very few people get there — the skeptical and the devoted blindly side with their whims and seem adamant about talking exclusively past each other. Hence my motivation for writing this article.

[7] Note how, in this example, I’m assuming that you were logical enough to skip thinking that a person is actually trapped inside the iPhone. : )

[8] If you have a hard time accepting this at all, then this should clarify: imagine you wake up every single day of your life in the same city, or at least in the same part of the world. And, every single day the sun rises at 6:00am. Therefore, you’ve lived your entire life to date with the very reasonable assumption that the sun rises at 6:00am, and everyday you are correct. Finally, you have the opportunity to travel with a friend, who happens to be an astronomer — not that either of you ever talk about it. It is December, and your destination is Iceland. You land at night, travel to your hotel and are looking forward to exploring a brand new country in the morning. You wake up several times during the night and notice the hours go by — midnight, 2:30am, 4:15am. Finally, your alarm awakes you at 9:00am, but it is pitch black outside. Hmmm wait, what? It is now 9:30am, 10:00am, 11:00am and nothing — still pitch black! Like, is your clock broken? Is the world coming to an end?? Your astronomer friend finally wakes up — in Iceland, she explains, the sun only rises at 11:30am in December because of the latitude. She’s not startled — she knew what to expect, because she knows how it works. The rest of us have just been assuming all along.

[9] A Pisces! Lololol. Fuck you.

[10] I’m making a big deal out of this, but this doesn’t even have to be a controversial take. Just think about how many times you were dreaming, and you thought you were awake — or at least behaving as if you were awake.

[11] I am now refraining from using the term “believers” (or, what I previously referred to as the devoted), just as we wouldn’t say that the traveler in the first analogy is a believer of wireless smartphone technology. He is a knower of it — it would be a fallacy to frame him in a believer-skeptical dichotomy just because others themselves do not know, and therefore do not believe. Indeed, I am claiming to personally know astrology to be true, and you don’t even have to fret because I can show you it if you want! Any astrologer can, so long as they’re not charlatans. : )

[12] Let it be said, in case it isn’t obvious, that I personally do not know, or believe, in ghosts, i.e. that the same can be said for ghosts. Checking on the existence of ghosts out for myself, to whatever extent I may have, perhaps something as innocuous as checking in on a noise in a dark room in the house, has never yielded prove beyond a reasonable doubt that ghosts exist. Unlike astrology, which, for lack of a better term, has clearly shown itself to exist to me upon close examination. Interestingly, I might add, this “for lack of a better term,” which I argue is due to our limited scientific understanding of the world, has definitely something to do with the skepticism that exists about astrology today. Notice how the language I employed might also be used by a religious person in talking about God: God has shown Himself to exist to me upon close examination. However, there is a difference – the religious person cannot show me God in a sufficiently objective, or what we might otherwise refer to as a scientific, way. It is entirely premised on faith, and belief. Unlike astrology, which is (or speaks to something that is) literally real, as any (legitimate) astrologer can show you.

[13] Whether it proves to be true or false!

[14] Or stfu about astro!! xD

*Chart of the moment at time of publishing is way too strong a word x D

Bruno Vompean

Bruno Vompean

Many minds think inside my own and I am always wandering: in here or out there. I take pleasure in the details and enjoy the little things. I also take pleasure in challenging worldviews, deconstructing paradigms so that we may transcend to new realities. I’m a philosopher, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

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