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Sep 23, 2022·edited Sep 23, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

Okay, so I'm a trained astrologer (as in, I went to school for it for 4 years) which means I have a certain bias around this topic, which I'll be clear about up front. However, I am at best skeptical and at worst horrified by much of the astrology that circulates through popular culture because it's overly simplistic, depends on tropes that are tired and often based in patriarchy and capitalism, and it implies (if not overtly states) that things happen to us *because* of the movements of the stars and planets, which is literally a bunch of bullshit.

So, here's what I really think about astrology in a positive sense. Astrology is language and poetry more than it is science. It is a divinatory tool, so it is a means of interpreting patterns as a means of understanding what's happening in the world, based on the idea that the world is fractal. The same pattern shows up in the veins of a leaf and a river delta. The classic quote from Hermes Trismegestus is "as above, so below"; what is happening in the heavens is simply a mirror or reflection of the patterns of our earthly and internal lives. The planets don't *make* us do anything. No one, no matter how good of a pattern reader they are, can predict the future simply by looking at the movements of the heavens. In fact, the best astrologers, in my opinion, eschew prognostication entirely. Instead, what they're looking for are themes or story lines. How those themes and stories play out for the individual is a mix of soul (which is largely inexplicable) and free will, which is probably more inexplicable than we want to admit, but theoretically is under our control. Though, I don't know about anyone else, I can look back on decisions I made in the past with complete conviction that led to unexpected outcomes that I can say now were both horrible and put me exactly where I needed to be. So, who knows to what extent our conscious actions are entirely under our control?

Anyway, the other trouble with internet astrology is that it's not based on the individual's chart, which is quite complicated, but an overview look at a single aspect of that complicated picture. Usually the Sun sign. Those there's plenty to be found in Sun sign information (I am a Capricorn Sun and am absolutely a Capricorn), those columns can't, by necessity, talk about all the other things happening in an individual chart-- the angles, the Houses, the other planets, etc. Not to mention how the birth chart (the chart for the moment and place of your birth) is constantly in conversation with the changing world. The sign and house placement of the Sun will always have something essential to say about the nature of the individual, but at any given time the Sun may not be the most active aspect of that person's chart in relationship to the world currently, what are called transits.

The only way to use astrology effectively (in my opinion) is develop an ongoing relationship with a really good astrologer who looks at your individual chart over time and helps you begin to learn the language so that you can interpret the complexity of meaning for you in the surface symbols. But even they won't be able to tell you who you are or exactly what is going to happen. Only you can do that.

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"The best astrologers eschew prognostication entirely." I love that sentence.

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So basically a psychologist. Because that’s what you’re doing, wrapped in a lot of mystique and jargon.

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It's true. My training is what's referred to as psychological, or archetypal, astrology. It's a tool like any other psychological tool or system, with its own ways, or jargon as you refer to it, of categorizing experience. But the implication I'm reading into your comment is that having specialized vocabulary and having some concern for the work of the soul makes it somehow hokey or illegitimate. I don't think it's any more odd than, say, Family Systems Theory, which proposes that we have an entire family of selves inside of us that we have to develop relationships with in order to be whole. Call it your inner kindergartner or your inner Mercury. It's all just a way of telling stories to make sense of our internal experience, isn't it? As for the soul piece, if you don't see psychology as concerned with the soul then we'll just have to agree to disagree, as would Jung, Hillman, Maslow, Rogers, Kubler-Ross and many others.

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I had a similar training! I was in "Jungian Analysis" for a number of years and studied and practiced psychology from that perspective. Since then I'm in and out. My chief concern is that people can look to astrology for making decisions, instead of taking responsibility for themselves.

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Sep 23, 2022·edited Sep 23, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

This is a tricky one. I'm the daughter of a former professional astrologer, and astrology has been difficult to shake. I think I've managed to rid myself of astrology as life predictor, but still struggle to get away from astrology as predictor of someone's personality. To paraphrase a tweet I once saw," if astrology isn't real, why do Aries always act like that?"

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That’s a useful distinction, Summer! Thank you.

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Sep 23, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I'm with Hamlet:

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

That's my approach to astrology and life -- keeping open to possibilities.

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Sep 23, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I am a consulting professional astrologer, and have studied astrology since I was 14, some 50 years ago! I can tell you why your experiences compared to other Libras over the month didn’t match up -- because you are so much more than just your Sun sign!!!!! An astrologer will calculate your chart, see where all of your planets are, in what signs and houses, and after that will analyze findings to give you information on your life purpose, tendencies, struggles, gifts, etc.

So please believe me when I say you are more complex than your Sun sign of Libra!

Contact me if you are interested in finding out more about your birth chart?

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I am!

I tend to believe in it as a weather forecast but not pre destination. That being said I am a Cancer Sun, Libra rising and my moon is in Gemini and all of this tracks with my personal lived experience.

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Sep 23, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I moved to LA from NY recently, and am just getting used people like my prospective client saying things like, "I'm a Sagittarius, if that helps." Life is so unpredictable, I find comfort in anything that can point to a pattern. That is what I believe these various signs—astrological, numerical, palm lines, personality groupings of various letters—ultimately offer us. Are they true? I dunno. Are they useful? At times, like when an astrologer nailed the fatal conflict in a relationship: "he's a moocher, and you hate feeling taken advantage of." Oftentimes, when people make sense of my behavior by saying "oh that because you're a Virgo," I feel brushed aside or backed into a corner with a big fat label on my head.

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I never met a Gen Xer who liked a label!

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I'm skeptical! And a Scorpio. And whenever I express my astrological skepticism I'm told this is a typically Scorpio thing to do! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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My take is that this stuff is harmless fun but it's not definitive. The Forer Effect, aka the Barnum Effect, applies to personality tests, where we tend to believe the favorable aspects of a personality type and disregard elements that don't fit us. Same goes for Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc.

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For a wild read on Myers-Briggs: https://digg.com/2015/myers-briggs-secret-history

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It seems to me there is something at least interesting and fun, and maybe a little uncanny, about the characterological and relationships aspect of astrology. For example, men I have gotten involved with always seemed to have a strong Cancer element, and Cancer is on my descendant, the house of relationships (and I have a Mars-Saturn conjunction there, no fun at all).

But I loathe and detest the predictive part of astrology. I've long since turned against throwing the I Ching too. I just don't want anything biasing my experience of what comes at me. I want to be surprised and to rely on nothing but my intuition to interpret it.

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Sep 24, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

So much to say about this topic. I relate to what Asha Sanaker wrote. I am not an astrologer. But I have studied astrology as an interested amateur for more than 40 years, and gotten tremendous value from consultations and conversations with talented astrologers. I never view it as predictive. To me, that is a misuse of this tool which is, as Asha wrote, about patterns and archetypes.

Tool is the wrong word - it is an intuitive system based on observable phenomenon in the heavens, a system of divination. For that, the soul is in charge. It's like a mandala. Just knowing or reading about your sun sign barely scratches the surface. As another person wrote, you need to know your rising, your moon, your progressed chart as well as your natal chart, and all the other parts of this complex shape-shifting mandala. Sadly, astrology has been misused and manipulated for profit.

You can't "believe" in astrology because there is nothing to believe in. If you want to understand your own personality, and possibly get insights into others, astrology can help you if you are open to it. Just like the Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram can help you - they are all systems to develop insight.

I don't look at my Meyers-Briggs (I am an INFJ) and say "Well that means I'll have a shitty day on Monday." I also don't read forecasts for my sun sign (I am a Taurus with Gemini rising and moon in Leo, with Uranus on my ascendant) and think they are much more than an interesting data point, kind of like reading the weather on my iPhone. Blurbs about your sun sign are fun but I wouldn't look to them for much more than that.

For deeper insight, I turn to Isabel Hickey or other serious practitioners. She's old school but very helpful if you want to learn basic, classical astrology. I also love some of Gary Goldschneider's work. And these days for fun, I turn to Susan Miller on Astrology Zone - commercial but interesting. The field is expanding with more psychological and spiritual insights available to anyone willing to explore. Just don't use it to game out or predict the future! Asha has it right, astrology is poetry more than science.

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It’s almost this Libra’s birthday, too! And I have a tricky relationship with astrology as well!! It was cement for my mother and I, till she was diagnosed with cancer and predicting the future lost its appeal. Like you, I alternate between “I relate!” And, “what a sham!” I don’t think I can quit it because nostalgia.

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💕

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Sep 23, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

In my astrology practice I do not predict. I may see potentials coming your way and advise you as to how it may affect you.

For example, I told an 83-year-old woman several years ago that an independent streak was suggested coming up for her. It was just as if she was just waiting for someone to give her permission to stand up and claim her right to “be.” Her daughters, who had arranged for her consultation haven’t stopped talking about it and how it affected her — in positive ways!

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Right?! I never thought of astrology as predictive, but just as sure as my mother taught me palm reading, numerology, and astrological charts, she shut all of that down and returned to the Catholicism of her youth. I still saw a medium after she’d left hoping to connect. It worked, but not in the way I’d thought it might.

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Delightful read of all comments. Hilariously weird as well. I had a "reading" in a group setting when I was perhaps 19. Of course, predictive. Predicted I would go to the USA and marry a tall dark and handsome man. I never did make the US. Married a curly haired incredibly good looking blonde fellow who was about an 1" taller than I at 5'8". The next "Predictor"/astrologist was delighted to tell me how each of my children would become rich and famous at various occupations, my husband and I would retire and live long healthy Golden years. Bill passed away at 56, about 2 years after the Golden years prediction. Sigh. Then, something shifted. I met, read, and listened to some Jungian therapists. One in particular was a deeply committed astrologist as well as analyst. On the recommendation of another Jungian gentlemen, I consulted with the person he recommended. What a good decision. I learned a good deal and continue to learn. No my birth hour, minute and geographic location did not predict my life. No, I am not fated to do/be/live any way, any thing or anywhere. As a useful tool to use to study my self, to have a glimpse into my self or to learn more about possible relationships between and among myself many in my life? I find it fascinating. I do not ever ever choose a GURU. I'll choose my own way and live my own way inasmuch as I can. But I will consult the oracle! I pay attention in fact deep attention, to my dreams and work with many others in that world. And live with the joy that accompanies chances.

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Hi Sari! I love Asha Sanaker's comment as it aligns with my experience as a consumer of astrology. When I was about 26 I had a very generous boss who bought me a high priced astrology reading for my birthday. He knew nothing of my plans to get an MFA in photography, but he encouraged me to try making music, which I did and ended up with degree in music composition. I still see the same astrologer every few years or whenever I feel my life is in transition. It is always uplifting because he makes me feel as though I am right where I am supposed to be. It's not about predictions. It's about knowing that everyone's life is a unique story that is in flux. I think finding a really good astrologer will cure anyone who thinks it's a bunch of nonsense. We live in a culture of nonstop comparison. Astrology won't answer all your questions or help you make tough decisions, but it can rid you of the illusion that if you do this or that thing, you'll attain something that's based on someone else's life. A good astrologer can make you feel excited about who you are and what you're ready for. It's reassurance that you're on the right path.

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Sep 23, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I don’t believe in it as a naturally occurring thing, but I do believe that when you’re told your whole life that you’re this or that, you internalize this or that, regardless of whether or not you purport to believe in it. For example, I voraciously read my horoscope when I was little, and my mom believed in a lot of that stuff, so as a kid I took it for fact, and over time I made up my own mind. But that wasn’t before I had internalized a lot of what it means to be a Leo. So I had grown into Leo-dom, but recognized that it was mostly from what I’d been taught (I feel the same about gender, etc.). I didn’t learn of my Chinese horoscope until I was much older, and no longer a believer. And when I read up on Year of the Ox stuff, I was disappointed to see that none of it seemed to apply to me.

I find that I can pretty quickly spot an American Scorpio (being told you’ve got Scorpio traits your whole life is apparently Quite a Thing), but rarely can I spot a Scorpio who didn’t grow up with astrology.

I do, however, wonder if there’s something to the Mercury in Retrograde stuff. :P

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Sep 23, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I’m a committed and passionate atheist and I think astrology, like religion, is a bunch of happy horse shit that is mostly harmless, as religion is. I lived in LA for decades and did not restrain myself from open and profound eye-rolling when some one (usually female) started babbling about astrology. It’s amazing how many otherwise powerful and brilliant women want to think that the stars and planets define their personality and can predict their future--although it’s more common for people to apply it looking backwards, and avoid it when it didn’t pan out. So yeah go ahead and latch onto something that’s mostly harmless if it allows you to order your world. Just don’t start with all the woo-woo bs about your sign and the power of crystals and other nonsense because you’ll drop several IQ leaves in my judgment.

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I'm a Libra, and a Type 2 on the Enneagram, and an INFP or ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs. I'm 69, a little overweight, an emerging writer. I had my Tarot cards read once and realized that there was no part of my life, coming or in the past, that had sex in it (not entirely true) and sat with a psychic once who passed a message to me from a cousin who was gone (also not entirely true). But I am always looking, wondering, what makes me ME, and how I can be a better version of me. Hope you have a happy birthday, Sari!

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Sep 25, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I’ve always thought Astrology is bunk (and still do) but a few times I’ve had women who barely knew me correctly guess that I’m a Cancer based in just superficial interactions , and that’s stuck with me.

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