Why Astrology is a Socially Acceptable Form of Prejudice

No doubt you’ve had a coworker or friend who likes to talk about themselves and sign-drops at every chance. Oh my God I’m a Libra, I just can’t, they’ll say. Or You know me–Aries charm! Ah! Delightful. These jaunty narcissists can light up a room full of insecure fawners with their self-effacing wit. They’re the same folks who’ll say how they can never date a Scorpio, or how Capricorns are so materialistic, or how all Pisces are sluts–never stopping to think that you or someone you care about might be a Scorpio, a Capricorn, or a Pisces.

Isn’t there a word for this habit of broadly generalizing about groups of people? Oh, right: bigotry! If someone made statements like these about the Jewish, or Latinxs, they’d probably be wearing wraparound sunglasses and pumping their fist at a Trump rally. Why would anyone want to say these things about anyone? People are not reducible to stereotypes about a group, and yet that’s how many amateur astrologers talk about sun signs. Here’s how you can dismantle this immature thinking.

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There’s More Than Just the Sun Up There (and In Here!)

The heavy hitters in your birth chart are the position of the sun and the moon, along with the eastern horizon, where you’ll find your rising sign. If you were born at sunrise on a new moon, these will all three be in the same sign. But most people have two or three different signs shaping the bulk of the psyche. You can think of these as the id, ego and superego. It’s an imperfect example, but a similar idea.

Beyond those three, the eight other planets have their own special places in your personality as well. Each one brings a distinct ingredient to the flavor. Then there’s a bunch of flotsam like asteroids and nodes. These are fascinating if you want to dig deep, but they impact your daily life in less discernible ways.

Then there are the relationships. Every one of these celestial bodies has a harmonious or discordant relationship with every other one. These relationships are the threads that make your birth chart truly dynamic and individual. If Mercury, a messenger god, is in a disharmonious relationship with the Moon, your emotional goddess, you might find yourself having a hard time communicating emotions. And that might have nothing to do with your sun sign.

So the sun sign, which people are referring to when they say I’m a Libra, is only part of the equation. It may surprise some to know that there are more than twelve types of people in the world, but astrology is wonderfully more complex than that, as is life. And we haven’t even talked about the houses, which add a whole other layer of nuance! Your astrological makeup is far more complex and dynamic than simply being a Libra.

Your Birth Chart is a Diagnosis

Sun sign bigots do a disservice to astrology by oversimplifying it, but it gets even worse than that. The point of astrology is not to be a mirror for vanity. The study of astrology is a spiritual pursuit. It helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses so you can heal, evolve.

Let’s say you have a dominant influence, like the sun or the moon, in Leo. That means you have the lion’s strength, but you also have its weaknesses–pride, superficiality, and a tendency to showboat. Don’t wear your sign on your sleeve like the sorting hat just picked you for Gryffindor (and yes, there is a correspondence there!).

It’s one thing to be proud of your strengths. But what happens when somebody says I’m a Scorpio so I just lie to everyone, or I’m a Taurus and Taureans are lazy so I’m just gonna lose myself in the couch and unravel into glacial obesity. See the problem? The weaknesses in your birth chart are where your psychic health is at risk. Psychic health problems translate into destructive relationships, life altering mistakes and even physical disease.

When someone flaunts their sun sign, they’re announcing that they are content to wallow in their disease. Keep your wits sharp. They’re also unwittingly broadcasting how you can have power over them.

Take your birth chart seriously. If the wrong person sees it they can know things about you that you don’t want public.

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But What About Self Acceptance?

You might be wondering if a Taurean staying on the sofa isn’t more a matter of self acceptance. That denying yourself the right to laze is destructive self resistance. You might be right.

Self acceptance is a prerequisite to self improvement. Any effort to improve that isn’t rooted in acceptance is only self resistance and repression. So accept your weaknesses first. A Taurean who resists the sofa because she resents looking lazy is at war with herself. She isn’t making an intelligent, measured decision to evolve. First accept that you have this Taurus tendency to laze, and assimilate it into your person. Now the war can end and you can relax. After you take a break, decide if you want to challenge yourself to grow into a more dynamic, active person, or if you are okay with cultivating routine and exercising inertia.

Even if you chose the latter, now you’re not lazy because you’re a Taurus. You’re lazy because you chose laziness when you had other options available. That’s an important difference. When you make an active, intentional decision about personal growth, there’s no wrong answer.

Here the birth chart is tremendously helpful. You identify a weakness. You have a moment of revelation. Then you have a wonderful opportunity: you can decide to keep the weakness, or trade it in for something else. If you don’t want to have trouble communicating your emotions, you don’t have to anymore. Before you looked at your birth chart, you didn’t have a choice. You were triggered into it without noticing by Mercury opposing the moon. While you can’t move the planets outside, you can move them inside. So you decide to get it together and make an intentional, fully directed effort to become a good emotional communicator. Congratulations on taking up the challenge! You’re overcoming the power of the planets.

The Tarot represents this freedom and self-direction with arcanum VII: The Chariot. The charioteer is free of zodiacal influences, directing them instead of being directed by them. That is true power. It is also the wisdom of turning the other cheek and loving thy enemies. Hitting back or hating your enemy is the ordinary, triggered response (astrologically, that would be an impulse of Mars). But you are not a slave to Mars. You are an intelligent human being capable of making your own decisions. So to turn the other cheek and to love your enemy is a truly creative act. It does not come from the chain of cause and effect that ripples across the surface of humanity, triggering everyone into blind activity. It comes from a conscious act of will.

To act on this level is to introduce the divine into your life. That is the true power of astrology.

Don’t Let it Go to Your Head

As you learn and study, you will find yourself reconciling with difficult parts of your personality, and the grip of the planets will loosen. Remember that your birth chart is an intimate diagnosis, not something to parade around. If a nosey astrologer is asking where’s your Venus?, you can always say that’s personal, or that you don’t share your birth chart with others. Most people will respect this boundary.

And the next time someone makes a glib and prejudiced remark about this sign or that sign, know that you have the upper hand. They’ve demonstrated to you their ignorance and clued you in to their weakness. If they’re trying to show off their spiritual knowledge, they’ve exposed their hypocrisy as well. To treat people as complex, three-dimensional individuals is profoundly more spiritually aware than to box them into little segments of the zodiac.

You know this, and you can see their prejudice for what it is. But don’t let it go to your head. Better to just let them have their moment of bigotry. You don’t even have to correct them. In fact, it’s probably better not to. Especially if you’re a Gemini.

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