Now, in summer, there is more chance that you are lucky enough to be away from cities where a look at the clear sky gives an impressive sight: The lights of the Universe stretching like a giant carpet overhead. Stars sparkle in different colours: white like Sirius, blue like Rigel, or orange-red like our parent star, Aldebaran. Planets follow their mysterious paths, shining with a calmer light, comets and shooting stars may appear with the Milky Way stretching out in a huge arc above you. Even a spiral galaxy, Andromeda, can be discerned with the naked eye. The latter is surprisingly extensive and is quite a sight even with simple hand-held binoculars.
According to an old idea planets and star constellations are not only a spectacle for the eyes, but also the source of our destiny. A romantic notion, but do celestial bodies really affect our lives? Well, some quite obviously do: There's the Moon, for example. The ancients knew that it was best to cut trees when the moon was waning, because the wood is drier at that time. Many people sleep restless at full Moon, when acupuncturists can feel with their hands how much more full of fluid their patients' tissues are. If you are attentive, the more subtle effects of other planets can also be perceived. Have you ever noticed the heavy, yet impressing presence of Mars when it’s near Earth? Have you seen the slight shadows cast by Venus on a moonless night? Such phenomena of the natural environment are largely concealed in cities, flooded with artificial light.
That our personality is also determined by the star constellation in the sky at the moment of our birth is quite a leap from these observations. Proponents of the so-called scientific world model indignantly reject this geocentric world view. "Such blatant nonsense! After all, those stars have no relationship to each other! One may be a hundred times more distant from us than another. The constellation only appears to be there from our perspective!"
I only dare to say it in a whisper but it seems to me that we are always looking at things from some perspective.
Other people stare at you wide-eyed at the very question. How could the validity of astrology be doubted? When everything about it fits, when it explains people's behaviour perfectly. You are only doubtful because your Saturn is in Seahorse and ohh, now I see it, your nineteenth house is strongly influenced by Charon. Not to mention the fact that Ganymede was at an unfavorable aspect to Mercury when you were born. If you had any idea about these connections, you certainly wouldn't say such harebrained things!
While I would not brush aside personal feelings and intuition, it is worth bearing in mind that as humans we have an amazing capacity for making associations. Interpreting personality traits is a bit like what happens with the now fashionable mental health issues, narcissism, ADHD, etc.: If you read any of their descriptions with an open mind, a lot of them will fit you. What doesn't, is easy to forget or explain away. If you are a lion and brave, you will easily recognize yourself. But the most chicken person in the world will also be able to identify with the sign. Yeah, well, the shyness is only because of the Niburu effect, but in reality, deep down in my personality, I am brave!
I wonder what other arguments there are for astrology besides the supposed matches. Just the fact that many people have said something for a very long time is not enough. The Mayans swore by human sacrifice, and many millions of Mormons devoutly believe that Jesus visited America. I would ask believers of astrology what I would ask of believers of any theory: What evidence would convince them that their theory is false? If there is no such thing, then the system is irrefutable, i.e. nothing distinguishes it from a religion. It is so because it says so in the scriptures (be it the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita) or Marx and Engels, ‘science’, etc. said it. We all have our favorite ideas, things we have learned or discovered, things that have worked well, and we believe in them deeply. Are we open to questioning them? If not, they have hardened into a religion. If yes, we can evolve.
One of the things I find weird in astrology is that everything is determined by ‘the moment of birth’. For those who are slow to emerge, which moment is decisive? By the way, conception seems to be a way more cosmic moment. Are people born at the same moment all alike? According to Chinese astrology, people born in the same (Chinese) year are of the same sign, so the vast majority of a school class should have similar personality traits. While those below and above should be different.
A completely different, practical problem is that astrology (like other personality typing systems) is used by many people to limit themselves. "I was born under the sign of the Mole, so I will never be able to soar like a Falcon." "I cannot handle complicated situations because my Jupiter is in Spider." Fortunately, it can also be the other way round: Some people cherry pick the good suggestions, and spit out the rest like the cherry pits. Astrology does offer a lot of possibilities; if you don't look for the ‘truth’ but are content with useful stuff, you can find plenty. Nowadays it is said that the most important is not your sign, but your ascendant, which opens up a whole new range of possibilities.
Let's continue doubting, though, taking a closer look at constellations. Some of them are quite obvious. The Big Dipper, for example, makes a really nice dipper shape. Of the zodiac signs, Leo is fairly easy to see the lion in, and the two main stars of Gemini make a natural parallel with twins. What makes Capricorn a Capricorn, though, is a bit of a mystery, to be honest. It looks more like a kind of worm to me.
Pisces resembles a wind-knotted kite:
Not to mention that the zodiac actually contains thirteen constellations, but astrologers of old have left out Ophiuchus, who is just now being rehabilitated by some. On top of that due to precession (the movement of the vernal equinox) Western astrology is almost a full sign off Indian astrology (which uses the actual position of the sun in the sky at your birth). How could both be true at the same time? If you were born on July 31, according to Indian astrology you are a Cancer, but according to Western astrology, Leo. Which is it? Can you be both at the same time?
It would be interesting to know if the north and south lunar modes (Rahu and Ketu in Indian astrology) are the same as the dust moons of astronomers that cannot be seen with the naked eye. That would be a pretty convincing argument that there is some knowledge here. Also if an astrologer who knows nothing about you can tell you the important events of your life from your chart. But not like “When you were a teenager you were in love with a girl who was special in some way”, because that happens to nine out of ten teenage boys. Or “You went through a very difficult time in your twenties.” Everybody goes through ‘a difficult time’ in their twenties. It's simple hypnotic language, huge bubbles that you can unconsciously associate to, finding the information from your life that fits. Of course, the practitioner is not trying to deceive you, he is convinced of a deep cosmic truth. But so is Ahmed, the jihadist.
We also cannot rule out the possibility that astrology was originally just created, but the belief of masses of people over thousands of years has solidified something in human consciousness and it has by now become a kind of reality. A system so rich in profound symbols can certainly be used to heal people or guide them. Current rationalist thinking completely lacks the experience of connection with larger powers of the universe. The world is not just numbers and molecules but also magical, and the human soul needs to feel it.
Well, O.K, but is astrology true or not? Its proponents would launch a crusade for it any day, while others look down at such pseudo-scientific fantasies. Don’t ask me, because I have no idea, and anyways, I prefer questions to answers. But now we have sneaked a little closer to one of the central themes of our newsletter: What, actually, is this world? How can we understand it? How can we find our way around in it?
Although I am not authorized to tell you about the real reality, I am very interested in how we can think about it in a practical and intelligent way. While not claiming that I know the answer to that, you might get a few good suggestions from time to time. And of course there are more awesome things in the world than understanding. It's worth going out into nature at night, away from cities, looking up at the starry carpet that surrounds us. In my language világ meaning 'world' actually comes from the word meaning light. It’s so good to know that car parks and shopping malls make up an unimaginably small part of the world, while everything is filled with light.