That’s right, I don’t believe in astrology, yet I’m an astrologer.
This might seem odd to some people. How can an astrologer not believe in astrology? Well, it’s pretty simple—astrology is not a religion, it is a science.
Yes, I said it, astrology is a science. I know most people in the West (including most astrologers) don’t “believe” it is a science. In fact, crazily, even many who “believe in astrology” don’t believe it’s a science.
Let’s get back to the “science” part of it in a minute. First, I want to examine the whole concept of “belief.” Then we can look at whether or not it is a “science.”
What is a Belief?
Here are a few questions—answer them quickly in your head.
Do you believe in God?
Do you believe in yellow?
Do you believe in noise?
You probably answered “yes” to all of these questions. But the truth is, unless you are deaf, blind or both, only one of these questions even fall in the category of belief. The first question, “do you believe in God?” That’s because, God must be a belief, either for or against, because it can’t be directly perceived or known as an experience. Even what we might call “an experience of God,” is a belief that the thing we experienced was God.
Only a blind person will have a belief system about “yellow.” In fact, for the blind, yellow must be a belief, either for or against—as they have no direct experience of light, and therefore no direct experience of color.
A deaf person must have a belief system about noise, for the same reason.
If you are blessed to be neither deaf nor blind, yellow and noise are not beliefs—they are facts, based on your experience. But imagine trying to explain yellow to a blind person, who did not believe in it, or noise to a deaf person. What would you say? How could you convey something intellectually, that can only be an experience?
No amount of explaining, or producing a rational argument, can convince the blind that color exists. What they need is an eye operation, which would give them the experience of color.
Why is this important?
Yoga is a big thing—the big spiritual thing everyone “believes in.” So, we might say that people “believe in yoga”. But is that correct? Would you say that you “believe in” yoga?
No. You don’t believe in yoga, you “practice” yoga. You “do” yoga. In other words, yoga is part of your experience. But guess what, there are people who do not believe in yoga. They do not believe in meditation. They think yoga and meditation are witchcraft, where you open yourself up to demonic spirits. Some of them may have even practiced yoga or meditation and became uncomfortable or restless, then interpreted these practices as satanic and evil.
People say the same things about astrology who have never studied it.
But what would you say to such people, entrenched in their calcified beliefs about yoga, beliefs that deprive them of something so beneficial and beautiful? What could you say? The only thing you could say is “well you just have to try yoga for yourself and see.” In other words, talking to them on the level of their “belief” is a waste of time. They are like the blind or deaf person who needs an operation.
As an astrologer, this is very familiar to me.
People often say something like “I don’t believe in astrology, it’s not scientific.” Or worse, “it’s used to dupe people/rip people off,” or “it’s a superstition.” Sadly these opinions not only come from the right-wing, but from within the yoga community as well.
Even here at elephant journal, astrology is often ridiculed or demeaned. I have been teaching astrology for close to 10 years now. I started as a yoga teacher and I was shocked at how many swamis and high level yogis also don’t “believe in astrology.” Paramhamsa Yogananda himself did not believe.
But I will tell you here and now, as I said at the beginning, I don’t believe in astrology. I practice it. I study it—just like every other person who has embraced astrology as part of their life. To them it is every bit a part of their life experience as yoga is a part of your life. It is a practice, not a belief system.
This is a sentence you will never hear: “I’ve been studying astrology, looking into it and it just makes no sense. It just doesn’t work.” That is the thing about astrology, and all metaphysical sciences, the more you do them, and participate, the more you see them working.
But How Does it Work? What Do These Big Rocks in the Sky Have to Do With Me?
The big question is “how does it work?” What do those big rocks up there have to do with me. Is it gravity? Do the planets emits some sort of rays? As revered scientist Carl Sagan pointed out in his mocking, absurd report on Astrology in his Cosmos series, “the physician in the room has more gravitational influence than the planets.”
The Answer to the Big Questions:
I don’t know.
No one knows.
Does this prove that astrology is not a real science? Because after all, we know how other sciences work, right? A doctor knows how the body works, right?
Our “Belief in” Science:
A doctor does not know how the body does what it does. A doctor does the same thing an astrologer does. A doctor uses his gross senses to perceive chemicals in the body reactions in the body, and then based on that makes a prognosis. It is repeatable and consistent on a diagnostic level based on thousands of years of research.
But the doctor doesn’t know how the body does what it does anymore than the astrologers know how the universe works. For example, the doctor can take your pulse, which indicates your heart is beating and pumping blood, at a certain rate, etc.
But the doctor does not know how the heart does it. He knows where in the brain stem the electrical impulse is sent. But where does the impulse originate? How does the impulse know exactly when to emanate? How does the body keep breathing? How do the cells know exactly what to do all the time?
The pancreas secretes insulin at the right time, but how do the cells in the pancreas know when that time has arrived? What makes it all work? How does our food just digest itself? From where does this cosmic genius emanate? The doctor doesn’t know any more than the astrologer knows.
Just because the doctor or other scientists can perceive results and offer explanations about what and why (the same things astrologers do), does not mean they know how any more than astrologers do. We ask things of astrology we don’t ask of regular sciences, then discredit it because it not scientific.
What Astrology Does:
The diagnostic process I described above is exactly what an astrologer does. Instead of taking the pulse, or looking at chemicals in the blood, she looks at the birth chart. Any beginning student or advanced practitioner of astrology will say correct and uniform statements on an astrologically diagnostic level. Just like a lab intern that sees insulin in your blood.
For example, anyone who has studied astrology at all would say the same thing if they saw Mars in the first house in an astrology chart. They would say the same thing (in their own words), and it would be correct. If it was aspected by Jupiter, they would know what that means and it would be correct. If it was in the tenth house instead of the first house, they would say something different and it would be correct—and on and on.
Because astrologers disagree about advanced predictions, and what different subtleties and nuances are implied for the future, does not mean astrology is not incredibly uniform. Let’s remember, getting a “second opinion” does not usually mean a person wants to get a second astrology reading. It usually means they want to go to another doctor.
Bottom line: doctors contradict each other also. At a very subtle and advanced level, all sciences will arrive at contradictory conclusions. Because the scientists themselves perceive the subtleties of the data differently.
But even though doctors may arrive at a different prognosis, they will still completely agree on the uniformity of the data they are assessing, same as astrologers. We will see the same indications, but what it might mean for the future will be up for debate.
Eastern vs Western View:
Astrology is a great microcosm of the differences between Eastern and Western culture. In January 2011, the Western astrology world was disgraced by the “Ophiucus-13th Astrology Sign” debacle. If you forgot, someone from the “scientific community” decided to tell everyone how stupid astrology is by pointing out “You may not be your sign” because there is another sign along the ecliptic, etc. They pointed out that the actual constellations are no longer there anymore (and those pesky astrologers don’t even know or didn’t even tell you!). This did nothing for astrology in the West, except provide a forum to ridicule. Nothing new, just blind people not believing in yellow.
What many do not realize, is concurrent to the ridicule of astrology in the West, was the glorification and elevation of astrology in India. At that time, the Supreme Court of India ruled that astrology is indeed science and is to be recognized in scientific circles.
Why should you care?
Maybe this article just seems like a rant from a frustrated astrologer. Actually, I am not as frustrated as I am inspired by the possibility that astrology can reclaim a rightful place in this world. Astrology is the science of how and why spirit takes form. The source of every physical action emanates from a place of divine harmony and equilibrium. We see this conveyed in the Yoga sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and every scriptural text.
Astrology is the study of that divine love and wisdom. The Grahas (Sanskrit words for the planets/creative forces of life) are the wise beings that have presided over this corner of the universe for 4.5 billion years—compared to the “epoch of humanity” a scant 100,000 years—1/45,000th of the age of our solar system.
Everything that has lived or will ever live on Earth was created by the sun and moon and other Grahas. This is not just poetry; it is as scientific as it gets. As soon as the sun stops shining or explodes everything here is dead. None of the sutras or scriptures have any meaning then. Astrology is the study of the divine universe that creates beings and situations, so they may know themselves.
Right now, the earth is turning on its axis 1000 mph at the equator and hurtling around the Sun at 67,000 mph. All of this happens with total ease, hardly a speed bump. It so easy to forget the miracle of life, the miracle of the sun, moon, earth and stars that have created it all. But whether or not we remember the sun, moon and planets, they will still keep giving and giving as they have for 4.5 billion years.
To the ancient yogis and rishis of India (and every culture), these cosmic rhythms were remembered, glorified and studied. They gave thanks to the Sun and entered into communion with him and the other
Grahas, and astrology was the result.
The great spiritual scientists of the past knew collectively that planets in the sky would not necessarily capture our imagination here on earth, so they created anthropomorphic deities and stories to illustrate the universal forces. For instance, Shiva energy is to illustrate the Sun and his wife the Moon (Parvati). In ancient India, all Brahmins (educated people) learned astrology, just like we learn math, science, history and other subjects. In this modern era, we are all Brahmins (educated people) and the need to restore our collective connection to the cosmos has never been more important than now.
Intelligence devoid of wisdom is more dangerous than ignorance, and seems to sum up the plight of our modern world.
Astrology is the practice of connecting your limited mind and intellect with the cosmic mind that produced it (and everything else). It is my hope that the modern world returns to the glory of this universal study. Everyone wants to know their place in the universe, and astrology is the study of that. In fairness to all, I think astrology is often taught badly, made to seem more complicated than necessary.