The Way I See It: Does Astrology Really Define Me?
Do you believe in star signs and astrology? That the movement of stars and planets have a profound effect on who you are as a person and influence decisions you make in life? Or do you think they’re just part of the universe we live in and don’t change your personality? NCS Grad Clary gives us her thoughts on the topic...
Astrology is known as a pseudoscience, meaning it makes claims as fact that can’t be proven or disproven by scientific method. Karl Popper defined the difference between science and pseudoscience, saying a scientific idea aims to disprove itself to prove its validity. Pseudoscience, though, only seeks evidence that supports its claims. Popper developed his ideas from observing the different methods of Albert Einstein (who was waiting patiently for the eclipse that might disprove his whole theory of relativity) and Sigmund Freud (who was using his small sample of patients to develop and prove his own ideas in the field of psychology). But the idea of pseudoscience itself is sort of neutral, as plenty of things in our daily lives aren’t verified with scientific methods, but we still rely on them. Freud’s ideas, although controversial and unscientific, have been instrumental as the basis for psychology as we still understand it today. Few people would claim that astrology has a truly scientific basis, but that doesn’t prevent us from believing in it or rendering it inherently untrue.
I’m sort of a casually spiritual person; I love tarot cards and incense, and I do have the wildly entertaining Co-Star astrology app, which has previously advised me to avoid spinach, connect with an Air Sun, and start a cult (I didn’t, don’t worry!). My sister, on the other hand, is an astrology sceptic. She says she doesn’t match up with her sign (my attempts to explain that she will relate to her moon or rising signs more than her sun fell on deaf ears). She views astrology as a waste of time; but she’s completely obsessed with the Enneagram personality test! She made my whole family take it, and now she explains everybody’s behaviour by saying things like ‘she’s a rebellious six’ and ‘that’s very typical of a three and an eight dynamic’. Before that, it was Hogwarts Houses; everyone in my family seems to be archetypal versions of Slytherins or Ravenclaws.
So here’s my thesis: we all love to read about ourselves. She chooses the tests with more scientific backing, but other people use Hogwarts houses, or astrology to the same essential end. We have a natural curiosity as humans about ourselves, and if we can explain our own feelings or other people’s behaviour by using words like Ravenclaw, ISFP, Enneagram Type 5 or Mercury In Retrograde to understand ourselves, then so much the better.
It’s why I devoured Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens; every single page told me something I didn’t previously understand about human nature and history. It’s why I watch episode after episode of Star Trek; because it explores the weirdest and most wonderful parts of human nature. Hogwarts Houses are also a really interesting example of this intersection between fiction and real life. Despite no longer supporting J.K. Rowling, I still remember the world of Harry Potter fondly and I take my identity as a Hufflepuff with pride!
And a lot of people think about astrology in the same way. When we relate to fictional characters, there’s a real connection there, even if the characters themselves aren’t real. And it might make sense for some people to think about their astrology chart in the same way; maybe the parts you do relate to and the understanding you can get from that are more important than whether astrology is really true or not.
So, do I really believe that astrology defines me? Sure, why not! There’s no real reason not to think that our placement relative to the stars affects who we turn out to be, and there’s no real reason not to think that’s a load of rubbish. My sister trusts the Enneagram more because of its scientific basis, but that isn’t why she’s so obsessed with it. She’s obsessed with it for the same reason I’m obsessed with astrology - because it helps her understand a little bit more about herself and the world around her.
I personally think of astrology as a starting point to understand myself more. For example, astrology explains why my ambitious Capricorn Sun is so conflicted with my free-spirited Sagittarius Moon. That’s given me perspective and the chance to learn how to balance those different parts of my personality. Just as I’ve found that helpful, my sister finds the Enneagram helpful to understand herself, her friends and her family better.
Anything we can use to constructively explain and navigate the world is, in my opinion, something to be celebrated. So when we read something we relate to, either about Taurus rising or Enneagram type nine, we find comfort in the fact that in this gigantic universe filled with stars and empty space in between, we can explain a little bit more about ourselves.
What are your thoughts? Do you follow astrology or not? Let us know over at @NCS!