What is astrology?

Is astrology a science, divination, art or something else? To me, astrology is a system of symbols that in the hands of an able person can be of immense use in modern living. I certainly do not know why astrology works i.e. whether it is due to the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon on the tides on Earth or whether it is due to the theory of correspondences between the inner meaning of the astrological symbols and life on Earth. I think that is better left to academics and philosophers to figure that out. For me, I’m focused on the practical application of astrology in daily life.

Astrology is a tool to me. A tool for personal development, a tool to understand oneself better, including one’s strengths and weaknesses, a tool to make sense of the often time chaotic inner self and external world. You can substitute the word “tool” for “roadmap”, “compass”, “guide”, “counsellor”, “treasure map” or “key”. They work fine too. You will notice that I have an utilitarian view of astrology. That is right. I believe there are many ways to skin a cat, figuratively speaking. In meeting the challenges of life and maximising the potential of it, astrology is just one of the infinite ways to do it. Other methods include having a faith or religion, other esoteric methods – tarot, I Ching, runes, counselling, life coaching, having friends, etc. However, astrology is a tool that I have an innate preference for and one that I enjoy welding for the time being (besides I Ching).

Astrology helps to make sense of the past, present and future by putting in words what a person is going through. I remembered I went to Sydney, Australia with great expectations, thinking that I would spend the rest of my life there down under. I left just after four months. I thought to myself that it is weird that I dislike Sydney when tons of people love it. It was only after I left Australia for good when I discovered Astrocartography. It turned out that my Pluto IC line is extremely close to Sydney. That resolved my incessant curiosity on why Australia wasn’t the place for me (though on hindsight, if I had been familiar with astrology, I would have gone to other parts of Australia to rid myself of the influence of the Pluto IC line).

Astrology helps a person to understand what he or she is going through, thereby making pain more bearable because now there is a higher purpose to the pain. For example, Neptune transitioned through my 10th house about 2.5 years ago. My career as a Chartered Accountant has not been smooth sailing since then. I was nearly fired at work as well. I learnt that Neptune has an ego denying effect and it compels one to let go and surrender to the universe. It is kind of like the Taoist philosophy of the act of doing nothing and allowing things to be. That was a very tough lesson to learn. But learn it did I over time, especially when I learnt that Neptune will be in my tenth house for the next 10 years at least!

Astrology allows one to plan for one’s future. For example, if someone knows that transiting Uranus will be in opposition to his natal Uranus (i.e. commonly known as one’s mid-life crisis) in two years time and he is currently not living a life that is authentic to him personally, he may more inclined to make adjustments and changes to his life now. This might help him to avoid acting disruptively and quickly and perhaps feeling upset or disturbed at the state of his life. Of course, most people say that mid-life crisis is an imaginary concept and one which they wouldn’t be affected by. That’s actually fine by me. If they do however come to me years later and lament about the havoc in their lives, I will be my most compassionate and emphatic self.

I do think that  astrologers can be seen as purveyors of hopes and dreams although I like to believe that ethical and honest astrologers wouldn’t offer false hopes and dreams to clients. I once met someone who was undergoing through an incredibly hard time and it was due to her string of hard Saturn transits. She was visibly relieved and delighted when I told her that the worst would be over in a few months time, even though she had to make a couple of tough decisions before then. I can imagine astrologers providing slivers of hope to their clients one way or another. To us, it may be our daily work, but to clients, a word of encouragement may mean the world to them and help them to move forward in life. Here lies the potential healing power of astrology (or any other “tools”).

The scientist Richard Dawkins has this view that astrologers say things so vague that it would apply to at least a person. Thomas Sutcliffe described astrology as “psychic plasticine”. Actually, their views somewhat reasonate with me. There are indeed infinite possibilities as to how the symbolism of an astrological chart can be played out. This is where I believe astrology can be somewhat vague as it is almost impossible to pinpoint the specifics of an event, for example, the 9-11 incident (although I understand that Robert Zollar did predict the 9-11 using medieval astrological technique, not modern western astrology’s technique) . Or unless one operates at the level of a lark according to Bradette Brady.  However, astrology is specific in its vagueness. Just recently, I saw someone that had Saturn transiting her third house. She commented that she found daily thinking to be tedious (possibly compounded by the fact that Neptune is in her third house) which is one of the various interpretation of that configuration. I explained to her that in addition to her thoughts, the third house also represents siblings, learning , etc. She injected that her sister is having a tough time now. So, I think the astrological language can be rather tricky as it is the responsibility of astrologers to be skilled and fluent in it, along with counselling skills to help their clients explore what’s really happening to their lives.

I am glad that western astrology evolves over time. That is important to meet the needs of the modern man. Imagine if the sixth house continues to have the meaning of slaves and servants now! Imagine if astrology is not accessible to the common man on the street but still remains as the exclusive domain of political leaders as in the old days! Imagine if you have to visit a priest for a reading as opposed to calling a astrology hotline or reading a Sun sign column in a magazine or newspaper! Imagine if you have to calculate all transits and progressions by hand! Therefore, western astrology is a living system that adapts to time which makes sense to me.

When I think about it, it is actually mindblowing that one can decipher divine messages from “heaven” from a lifeless piece of paper generated from a software. And it is a great privilege to peer into the soul of a person from his or her natal chart. A privilege that I must treat with the utmost respect and responsibility.


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