5 BIG MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ASTROLOGY
On Busting Stereotypes and Exposing Cliches
©2009 ANTERO ALLI
Many cliches, stereotypes, and bad rumors about Astrology have been created and maintained in newspapers, Television, films, books, academic and scientific circles, and multimedia sources seeding the collective mindset for many years with sour astrology memes. This has contributed to a smokescreen of delusion and misunderstanding when it comes to understanding Astrology as a viable tool for Self-knowledge and communication. Here now, for your amusement and edification, are my top five misconceptions about Astrology:
1) NEWSPAPER and MAGAZINE COLUMNS
Published as entertainment, most astrology columnists present astrology in the most cliched stereotyped ways. By also emphasizing the SUN SIGN, millions of people have been led to mistakenly identify with their Sun Sign alone encouraging prejudices against and for other Sun Signs resulting in a mass hallucination of misunderstanding, not just of astrology but of ourselves. No wonder hardnosed, Atheist skeptics like Richard Dawkins (author, "The Selfish Gene" and other books) find it so easy to debunk astrology and astrologers.
The only exceptions to this Astrology Column problem that I know of so far are the syndications of ROB BREZSNY's "Free Will Astrology" and ERIC FRANCIS' "Planet Waves". In his weekly column, Rob's poetic treatment of astrology stimulates the imagination, allowing readers space to think for themselves. In Eric's column, an astute political bias broadens the reader's view beyond their own ego towards the collective shifts engaging us all.
2) SCIENCE AND SKEPTICS
To their discredit, too many astrologers insist that Astrology is a Science. So, when scientifically-minded, astrology-bunking skeptics ask for proof it is only natural that a conflict of interests arise. Astrology is often discredited as a science because it is not a science or, it has been mislabeled as a science by well-meaning, misinformed astrologers seeking academic or scientific validation. Or maybe deeper-seated approval from their own fathers. Many centuries ago, when astrology was married to astronomy, it was a science but a lot has happened since the Age of Reason when Astrology was cast aside, along with Tarot and other "occult sciences", as scientifically improvable and dismissed as illegitimate...a "pseudo-science".
Skepticism is not the problem. I think the most accurate astrologers show a keen skeptical eye and a strong capacity for critical thinking. The problem is in the ungrounded assumption that astrology requires belief in order to work. Astrology is not a religion unless we make it one. Astrology does not require my belief for it to work. I don't believe in astrology; I use it because it works.
Many people firmly believe that astrology can predict the future. This regretful assumption all too often classifies astrology with fortune-telling and only furthers its descent into dismissal. Though I personally rely on astrological techniques for interpreting TRANSITS, which track the current and future trajectories of planetary orbits, I am careful to frame my interpretations as tendencies rather than absolutes. I also do not believe that transits, or the planetary orbits, cause any changes. I interpret their orbits as a measure of the timing of change, not the causes. Though my interpretations can carry anywhere from 70-90% accuracy rate, I also choose to view all my perceptions as gambles until time itself lets me know what actually happened. To proceed with dead certainty about the future is to proceed into stone cold dogma. I like what Joseph Campbell had to say about predicting the future, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."
4) TV and FILM MEDIA
Many scripts are written in the entertainment industry with astrologers as unreliable characters. Often times "the astrologer" is depicted as either a kook or someone linked with supernatural powers which, in the language of commerce, usually means there will be terror or horror involved. It's very rare that supernatural or psychic phenomena is depicted in films or TV as a natural, positive, or even ordinary function of the human psyche. Or, The Astrologer is portrayed as a harmless, whimsical nobody easily dismissed or victimized. Astrologers as characters in Hollywood stories never seem to win.
5) ASTROLOGY BOOKS
The sad truth is that too many astrology books are poorly written. I have seen a pervasive problem of redundancy (over-writing) and various writing styles stultified by an unspoken need to "prove" astrology, as if to earn status points from more skeptical mainstream readers. Many astrology books are also written with little or no imagination or humor, resulting in a dreary reading experience on a topic innately rich with colorful mythological and archetypal correlations. Exceptions to all of these dismal symptoms include the wonderful astrology books by Stephen Arroyo, Steven and Jodie Forrest, Martin Schulman, Dane Rudhyar, Robert Hand and some from Liz Greene and Jeffrey Wolf Green. I would like to believe that my book Astrologik might be included in this illuminated company.
Though there are other sources of confusion, these look like the chief culprits to me of the most misinformed assumptions about astrology. These "misinformation memes" continue infecting the minds of the masses as well as the many earnest students and teachers of astrology. Perhaps if we can grow more aware of these bad ideas, we can bypass them in lieu of more critical thinking and a more imaginative, poetic interpretation of the mythologies and mysteries that astrological symbols represent.
Until then, it may be enough to remain vigilant to those tendencies, within and around us, that persist in having us judge anything without firsthand experience. How else can we ground our perceptions in any truth unless we engage the experiment and its processes of ongoing study and application of whatever we are judging? If all perceptions are gambles, as author Robert Anton Wilson suggests, maybe it's a good idea to examine our dice and clean them once in awhile.
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