by SARAH ELTAYEB
Planets in retrograde and questions of birth charts plagued us all long before the pandemic began. Whether or not you’ve blamed a bad day on one Mercury retrograde or another, you can’t deny we’ve all heard our fair share of astrology talk.
My name is Sarah and I’m definitely guilty of contributing to the astrology talk. Sure, hearing I’m a junior international affairs major with a Middle Eastern studies minor could tell you something about me, but finding out I’m a Gemini sun with a Cancer moon and Libra rising would say so much more. Talking about astrology started as little jokes about Leos and Libras among me and my friends, but eventually I got so deep into it that here I am writing an entire column on it.
Over winter break, a friend of mine began a deep-dive into the UMW Archives and discovered an old “In the Stars” column that peppered horoscopes into editions of The Weekly Ringer. Considering how far we have come in terms of astrological popularity and newspaper naming, we’ve decided to bring it back.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the study of the heavens was a universal endeavor that spanned many of the great civilizations of history, but it was the Arabs who maintained and developed the study of Greek astrology when the Roman empire fell. The discipline was largely abandoned by Western civilization, and the Middle Ages saw a flourishing of astrological scholarship until its subsequent decline during the Inquisition and the rise of the Church. Eventually, 1920’s newspapers begin publishing horoscopes that divine the days of readers based on their sun signs and astrology enters the mainstream.
The study of astrology is one that melds the worlds of science and the divine. Early astrologers looked to the stars to predict earthly events based on the positions of the planets, including the sun and moon, within the constellations. The discipline was held in high esteem and was often practiced in close conjunction with astronomy, meteorology and medicine. The scientific community has since, time and time again, disproven the legitimacy of astrology and deemed it a pseudo-science. There is no evidence that having Libra placements makes you any more indecisive than the other signs of the zodiac, but we as humans enjoy a good cause and effect explanation.
The personal aspect of astrology comes in with your birth chart, which is just a snapshot of the sky at the exact moment you were born. The day, time and location of your birth all determine where each celestial body is in the sky. Astrological signs all correlate to a respective constellation, so the sign each planet is in comes from the planets’ positions at your time of birth. It’s helpful to picture a wheel when thinking of the signs, as each sign is based on the yearly rotation around the sun.
Each celestial body then exists within a house. While signs correlate with a yearly cycle, houses reflect the 24-hour cyclical rotation of the Earth. The significance of signs and houses are inextricably linked; signs relate to how energy is expressed, planets relate to the type of energy being expressed and houses relate to the specific facets of life in which the energy is expressed. If your life was a play, the planets would be the characters, the signs the way each role is performed and the houses the physical settings of each scene.
Again, astrology is widely regarded as a pseudo-science, but amateur astrologers often employ the example of the ocean in trying to argue its legitimacy. If the moon’s gravitational pull has enough sway to raise the tides and our bodies are composed of roughly 60% water, how could the planets not influence our lives?
I grew up in a culture that sums up your weather preferences to the time of year you were born. I can’t deny that I like a humid summer night, and whether that’s because of the fact that I was born in late May or because I’ve got a ton of Cancer in my chart and like warmth and sweetness, I couldn’t tell you.
Regardless of the countless scientific studies that have disproved the impact of the planets on our daily lives, astrology, if nothing else, presents an opportunity for self-reflection and analysis. You don’t need to believe that any one planetary placement predisposes you to a specific disposition, but analyzing your chart may be an effective means of reflecting on, at the very least, coincidental tendencies tied to your zodiac sign.
As Allen Edwall once said, “The one thing a birth chart does not show is the will of the individual and how he may exert it. … The wise man rules his stars, the fool is ruled by them.”