On the surface, astrology seems to be making a comeback, at least online. It is popular with millennials and thousands of astrology apps have popped up in recent years that range from simplistic to technical and sophisticated. But these appearances are misleading.
Astrology continues to hold a very low status in the dominant culture. Writers and editors of news magazines generally ignore the subject and studiously avoid even using the word in any context other than negative or deprecating. Television executives rarely allow the subject to be televised, and then only labeled as entertainment. Scientists and professors attack the subject at regular intervals, using the same old arguments while intelligent responses from astrologers are almost always suppressed. Colleges won’t allow the subject to be taught, and any professors who show the slightest interest in it are ostracized, if not demoted or denied promotion. Scientific studies that show proof for astrology’s claims are pushed under the rug. Only on Wall Street, where greed is king, does astrology sometimes get a hearing, and then only because it is perceived as an asset in the rush to material riches. In short, astrology is a banished subject, an underground study. On the surface it appears to have little or no influence on the cultural mainstream.
Two reasons why the dominant culture has rejected astrology can be found in the underlying assumptions of Western civilization. One of these is that certain doctrines of the monotheistic religions concerning human freedom, and these go back centuries, require rejection of any influence of the planets. These doctrines have a complex history, but suffice it to say that intermediaries between humans and God (except maybe for angels) are a problem theologically. Western religions have regarded humanity as separate from nature, a special creation.
Astrology is also rejected by religion because it is interpreted to deny free-will. This is far from the truth and those who actually study the subject will report that astrology actually offers a deeper view into behavior, personality and character. It describes how humans, embedded in nature, are affected by the cosmic environment of the solar system. This is valuable information that informs, not limits, the choices we make. In astrology, cosmic influences are there to be studied and have no bearing on God or diminish free-will, certainly not more than the fatalities of genetics or childhood upbringing do.
The second reason lies in the assumptions of reductionist, mechanistic and materialist technology-driven science, which are that nature can only be understood in its parts, not its full manifestation. These are the same reasons why alternative medicine and traditional natural healing which treat the body holistically have been ignored. These reasons explain resistance to the deeper messages of environmentalism that promote sustainability, and likewise the centuries of efforts to eliminate or marginalize indigenous cultures and their ecological approach to nature.
Put simply, the fundamental assumptions that drive Western culture tend to suppress subjects that do not conform to a mechanistic model or see humans as a part of nature. Much of modern science, in the service of politicians and corporations, and propelled by the assumptions of modern capitalism, promotes an official agenda that ultimately supports a righteous dominance of man over nature. The unquestioned assumption in much technology-driven science, which is essentially the same as in Western religion, is that nature is there to be conquered, manipulated, and exploited. This is how it has been for centuries, though there are now some signs that this anti-nature program is being forced to change.
These are major obstacles and the subject of astrology has been culturally sidelined. In my book, What Astrology is, and How to Use It, I attempt to address this marginalization by presenting the subject in broad scope and offering practical information. The result, I hope, is that readers discover how knowledge of astrology builds a view of life and the world that is inclusive, cosmic in scope, humbling, inspiring, and challenges some of our deepest assumptions about personal reality. Used properly, astrology takes the dynamism of our cosmic environment and expresses it as a practical guide or road map for living and a power tool for expanding awareness.
This article first appeared in the April 2022 issue of Watkins Mind, Body, Spirit magazine and appears by kind permission.