Thursday, August 7, 2008

Astrology - Is it Real?

By Robert Paterson

Maybe I should start out by saying that I'm very far from being any kind of expert in the field of Astrology. I have no training in the subject either.

What I'm giving here is very much a personal view, although I feel bound to say that it is a view that's based on many years of personal experience.

My first encounters with astrology were during childhood when I used to hear people discussing the latest horoscopes in the newspapers. From the tone adopted by people who read them out to each other, it was easy to tell that they thought of the pronouncements of newspaper astrology as being absurd and unbelievable, to be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

Later, I noted that there was a type associated with each of the star signs. What star sign you were under played an important part in determining your character. Could this be true? Surely not. And yet, when people read what their character was supposed to be, it was extraordinary how many times it turned out to be quite an accurate character description. A possible explanation of this could be that the character traits were so vague one was able to fit them to any person. Another explanation is that as it became generally known what were the broad characteristics of those born under each sign, people would unconsciously adopt those characteristics. The self fulfilling prophecy.

Around this time, the musical Hair became famous and the public was exposed to the idea of astrology as some kind of mystical art.

I remember reading a book by Paul Foster Case about the Tarot cards, in which he relates the cards to the different signs of the Zodiac. I read that book over and over again, until I almost knew it by heart. It had a profound effect on much of my subsequent thinking, not always entirely for my benefit actually.

Then later again, I discovered the writings of the Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung, whose writings about astrology and his invention of the concept of synchronicity contributed greatly to the acceptance by the scientific world that the subject might have a claim to be considered as a science. However, despite the eminence of Jung himself, astrology continues to be on the fringes.

On the question of the broadness of the signs' characteristics, this is supposed to be addressed by the so called Rising Sign, the constellation that was rising at the moment a person was born. Since this changes approximately every two hours, it is very important to know the exact time of birth. I remember when my own daughter was born, even during the roller coaster of emotions accompanying the event, I recall that I managed to make a careful note of the time, for this very reason. And I even allowed for Daylight Saving! Such is the powerful influence that astrology has over us.

When I was going through my evangelical period, I read a fascinating book called What Your Horoscope Doesn't Tell You. I'm sorry but I cannot remember the name of the author. It was an attack on astrology from a reformed church Christian viewpoint, written by a man who had previously been a professional astrologer. What made it interesting was that he claimed that astrology works, and that this was bad!

Readers can decide for themselves, and believe whatever they want to believe.

Robert Paterson writes for the blog:


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