According to the secular worldview, astrology is pseudoscience, ancient superstition dangerously masquerading as science. In this view, the human mind projects meaning onto the world, which is made of lifeless matter. The world itself has no meaning.
Or does it?
This worldview is supposedly scientific. But as we know from history, paradigms and worldviews do change. Change is necessary to the evolution of science, thought, and culture. A truly scientific perspective is open to new (or old, or different) ideas, always willing to question assumptions, and engage in critical dialogue, never resting certain with any beliefs. In science, there is no finality; there is evidence, but never proof. A scientific approach then will be open at least to the possibility of astrology, open to the evidence or lack thereof, open to the possibility that the worldview we currently hold is inevitably limited, because there are, always, more things in heaven and earth...
So, what about the evidence (or lack thereof)? There have been studies which show a significant correlation between planetary alignment and events on earth (most notably between the position of Mars at the time of birth, and the probability of success as an athlete), although the findings have been controversial. Despite some positive findings, however, the statistical approach ignores the fact that astrology is not just one theory within the materialist paradigm, but represents an entirely different paradigm, or worldview, altogether. You can’t use the methods of one paradigm to prove or disprove another (Kuhn). You have to evaluate a paradigm on its own terms. While astrology is mathematically precise in the sense that the exact positions of and relationships between planets and stars must be calculated, the meaning of these positions must be interpreted.
In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas argues that astrology is archetypally predictive, not concretely predictive. An archetype can manifest in many ways; Mars signifies the warrior. But a prominent placement of Mars doesn’t necessary manifest in a literal warrior, or even aggression. A poetic eye (as well as a scientific one) is required to see archetypal patterns. There are infinite ways the warrior archetype might be realized: an athlete, humanitarian, firefighter, “spiritual warrior,” someone who is argumentative or encounters violence in their environment are just a few examples. This certainly doesn’t mean that “anything goes,” though for in all cases, the warrior archetype is present. There are also multiple ways in which a planet might be prominent in a chart, making statistical prediction even more problematic. Astrology is part art, part science. It requires hermeneutic interpretation as well as mathematical calculation.
There are nevertheless empirical ways to evaluate astrology. Tarnas provides an extensive analysis of the correlation between planetary alignments and (mostly Western) history and thought, showing that significant historical events such as wars, revolutions, the publications of significant works, important scientific discoveries, etc. correlate to the archetypes suggested by the planetary alignments at those times. This is a means of evidence that is more appropriate to astrological thought because it allows for the many ways in which archetypes can be realized, and with the perspective of history, we have more clarity with respect to the archetypal significance of events. (Perhaps in a future post I will summarize some of these findings, but if you are genuinely curious, I highly recommend looking at Cosmos and Psyche.)
Nothing compares to testing it out for yourself, however. One of the great benefits of astrology is that it puts the power in the hands of individuals. Perhaps this is one reason for astrology’s popularity despite the authority’s continuing insistence that it’s nonsense. If you are scientifically minded, the best way to decide for yourself whether or not astrology is pseudoscience, or representative of a worldview in which our universe is deeply meaningful, is to study your own natal chart, and start to pay attention to planetary alignments and transits and see for yourself if they relate to what’s going on in your life.
May we have the courage to think for ourselves, challenge assumptions, question authority, and continue to evolve. <3