A momentary excursion away from my main theme brings me to this speculative discourse on the question of the extent to which astrology is informed by a need to understand and know one’s self.
However, this question, “who am I?” inexorably leads us to the issue of identity. The overriding goal most people seem to have when it comes to their use of astrology is to try to identify themselves.
Astrology is a tool that offers, at the very least, the illusion of providing access to self-identification, and it is used to help define thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
To say I am “a Cancer,” of course, has absolutely no meaning, unless I align that symbolic thought with a host of beliefs, prejudices, behaviors, attitudes, expectations, and so on. Now, a scientist will see me as a collection of DNA, genomes, brain waves, cellular constructs, etc.
Philosophers will see me as a person on a quest to discover the depths and profundity of the existential experience. Also, I get to have a soul, I guess, since Aristotle, who believed women did not possess souls, has been dead for a long time, and his 4th century BCE Athenian sexism is no longer taken all that seriously by most people I know.
Identity politics is crucial to an understanding of who we “are,” yet it cannot begin to explain us beyond our social roles, in my opinion. In other words, to tell you who I am by saying I am a white woman born in the United States of America, at the middle of the previous century, and to situate myself in an economic bracket, and to tell you what kind of work I do.
All of this information is necessary if you’re going to pinpoint my identity in the world and fit me into my social cohort. Okay. What does this have to do with astrology, you wonder? Here’s where astrology and Marxism part company: the astrological chart is not really the way to determine one’s identity beyond the theoretical and purely philosophical.
In other words, to say “I am a Cancer” tells astrologers something about my core personality (if you believe in astrology, that is). Yet it says nothing about my social status, what I believe, who I vote for, what my gender is, my deepest fears, etc. There are those astrologers who do, however, believe that you can see indicators of class, gender, and social identity in the chart.
Not that long ago, I was involved in a study that attempts to determine gender from certain indicators in a chart. The obvious problem with these kinds of studies is that they are too small to represent anything like a proper scientific sampling, and therefore, have very little meaning in the cold, cruel world outside the temple of belief that astrology students and practitioners find ourselves hiding in.
This leaves me with the question, what does the chart actually tell us about ourselves, and is the information useful? We live in a world bounded by prejudices. Doesn’t astrology, with its tendency toward reductionism, mostly work to feed those prejudices?
If I label myself, and declare I “am” a certain sign, aren’t I telling you how to think of me, how to treat me, what to be afraid of, based on prejudices that arise around the mythology of that sign? Are these prejudices now so deeply ingrained in society that we rely on them, superstitiously, to tell us who we should befriend, who we should avoid, and why we are right to fear Scorpios, for example?
I ask this tongue-in-cheek, yet there is a fair amount of truth to the fact that we bring our biases with us to the study of astrology.
My concern, ultimately, is that studying astrology might be making us less tolerant, not more, toward social difference. People who do not fit into our schema can be easily sorted and classified via astrology. Who am I? I know I am more than “a Cancer.”
Thorough astrologers will say, but of course you are; let’s see the rest of your chart.
Yet the chart cannot contain me. I am so much more than my chart, and my chart is bounded by the limits of social constructionism—in other words, that which we say is so, is so. Since we, people existing within the complicated interconnectedness of society, determine what has meaning, what do you think I mean when I say I am a Cancer? Does that statement have any meaning for you? If it does, what meaning does it have, and who do you think I am?
Ultimately, determining your identity is up to you. Do you identify yourself through your chart? If so, why?
Although the caterpillar asked Alice, “who are you?”, I think the more perspicacious question is “where are you?” Are you in the astrological chart? Are you in the social construct that provides the borderlines for your life? Are you located in the “soul,” or the brain? Where can you be found?
- Astrology Jewelry You’re Going To Want! (beyondthestarsastrology.wordpress.com)
- The greatest mystery of all for astrologers: how to argue with a skeptic (beyondthestarsastrology.wordpress.com)
- I used to follow astrology for my life’s answers (arethereanswers4life.wordpress.com)
- Do Most Ministers and Scientists Discredit Astrology? (bookstove.com)
- The Astrology of March 2012 – for Everyone (evolutionarymystic.wordpress.com)
- Astrology February 13, 2012: Mercury Trines Saturn, Enters Pisces (cosmiclifecoach.wordpress.com)
- Astrology – beyond the sun signs (anne-whitaker.com)
- What is the Ultimate Spiritual Benefit of Studying Astrology? (vicd108.wordpress.com)