If I May: Trying to Understand Astrology

I have always made fun of astrology, and by extension, those who are invested in it. It seemed to me that it was completely arbitrary; each set of qualities could probably be applied to anyone, especially if they were directly told that those qualities are supposed to apply to them. Furthermore, I recently found out that everyone has at least three signs — maybe more, I don’t know at this point. And all of them have different qualities! So, of course amongst those three you’re going to find things that are pertinent to how you see yourself.

To any astrology fans reading this (which I know is at least one because my editor loves this stuff): Yes, I know that the three different signs represent different things. For those who don’t know, your sun sign, the one you’re probably familiar with, is the supposed core of your being — your ego. Your rising sign is how you come across to others, and your moon sign is what you are likely to see yourself as.

However, the more buzzword descriptors that are in play, the likelier it is that these will apply to you. This is not a problem; rather, it is just a bit of a conundrum for me. How can this stuff be significant or poignant in any way if it is so broad? Why bother looking into it at all?

I asked some friends who I was sitting with as I wrote this — coincidentally casual astrology fans — for their thoughts on why they enjoy it. Julia Pike ’19 said, “I love any opportunity to hear about myself.” Esther Isaac ’19 said, “Astrology is so fake but I love it. I love any opportunity to have thoughts I had about myself affirmed.” These explanations were very fair; however, both Pike and Isaac do not ascribe too much meaning to astrology signs. So I pressed on, looking for someone who was a little more serious about the stars Lindsay Turner ’19, another astrology enthusiast, said, “I just think that having an explanation for why people act the way that they do is interesting and fun.” She added: “It’s feasible that the positioning of stars and planets have an impact on how a person behaves and feels.”

Personally, I am not one that believes or wants to believe in destiny or fate. However, I can certainly sympathize with someone who does, especially when it comes to how you are as a person, which is something that is theoretically out of your control. Furthermore, I often hear conversations about astrology in relation to social or romantic endeavors. Here again, I can see the appeal of wanting to attribute occurrences to fate or the stars. Navigating social life, especially in college, can be difficult and stressful. Chalking bad dates, messy break-ups or even odd encounters up to the stars certainly is a way to help with this navigation.

Finally, a slight digression: I used to (and pretty much still do) think that astrology is likely meaningless. For a while, I wondered how people could possibly care about something that I found so utterly inconsequential. But then I remembered that I am a huge sports fan. I spend hours on end thinking, talking and sometimes writing about sports. But when you think about it, sports, too, are pretty much completely meaningless, and certainly largely inconsequential. So who am I to say not to care deeply about the stars?