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Astrology: From Judgement to Compassion

Way back at the beginning of time. Okay, my time. Okay, the time when I had aged out of childhood and not yet adapted to adulthood. Way back then, I knew already that I wanted to be a writer. I was voraciously reading Writer’s Digest and had decided I needed to start out by writing articles and getting paid. What to write … what to write …

I also was consuming Scientific American and Omni Magazine at a terrific rate. It was in Omni Magazine I found my inspiration. Some guy named “The Amazing Randi” wrote an article denouncing astrology as a pseudo science and labeling all those who practiced it charlatans, and all those who believed in it morons.

I set the magazine down, filled with satisfaction. Here was my chance. Randi was right about astrology.  He’d taken a thousand words to state a very valid opinion, but he hadn’t offered any proof! I was stunned by his oversight.

This was something I could do. I could research astrology thoroughly. I could learn the silliness from the inside out and then, the masterstroke, I could write the definitive article denouncing astrology! I hadn’t yet learned to think big enough to imagine a book, but I knew my career would be made it I could do this one little thing.

There are no words to describe my inner glee.

So I bought a book on how to draw up a horoscope. (Thank you, Sydney Omarr.) It became clear from reading it that this research was going to take more resources than the $3.95 that first book had cost. “Well,” I thought, “this is an investment in my future.” So I borrowed a friend’s car and drove to the nearest big city where the nearest bookstore I could find that had what I needed was New Moon (RIP) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I needed an ephemeris, a table of houses, an astrological atlas of the US, time changes in the US—the total came to $50. Think of $200 plus in today’s money. Stunned again, I fumbled for my check book. “Are you sure I need all this?” I pleaded.

“Oh, yes!” the clerk answered cheerfully. “And I highly recommend this Table of Midheavens and Ascendents. Because sometimes all you want to do is a quick and dirty chart to see what’s what.” Then she cocked her head and smiled benignly. “You know, we have a beginners’ class starting up in a couple of weeks. You could sign up for that.”

I staggered away thinking, “This is an investment in my future.”

And it was, just not the way I’d planned.

I read Sidney’s book through twice. I struggled with the math but managed to draw up a couple of accurate charts (of course mine was one of them). Then I showed up for my class (think $100 plus or so in 2015 dollars).

I buried myself in a special language and was relieved to find that astrology did, at least, have a logical basis. It was rooted in mathematics. It was also really complex. There were quizzes and take-home tests (to make sure we were understanding the material).

Having been through boot camp, I was ready to tackle doing charts for friends and co-workers, keeping in mind that I knew these people and liked them, so of course, my readings were accurate. Then, a new woman was hired at the restaurant I worked at. Her very essence seemed repugnant to me. What a perfect test. If Randi’s thesis was correct I would not be able to accurately describe her personality and life.

With her permission, I went home and drew her chart. I pored over my reference books (did I mention I’d been buying a few interpretation aids. Don’t ask how much they cost). I made careful notes and tucked my ace carefully up my sleeve.

We met at a table in the back of the restaurant. I went meticulously through my notes and with every statement I made she nodded her head. Every now and then she said, “yes, that’s true.” Until, finally, I was forced to pull out my ace and slam it (metaphorically speaking) down on the table.

I said, “And your father either died or left when you were very young.” A very specific event attached to a narrow range of time. How can such an uncommon event be predicted by someone, me, who knew nothing about this woman’s life? It couldn’t.

She said, “Yes. That’s true. My father left home when I was six years old and we haven’t seen him since.”

Somehow, I managed to finish her interpretation. Somehow I finished my day of work. But inside, my world view, the structure in my life that helped me make sense of the world, was crumbling. A part of me wanted to make a stand and say, “No. That’s a bunch of hokum,” and pretend nothing had happened.

But long ago, in my teens, I’d observed adults holding onto beliefs in the face of incontrovertible evidence that refuted those beliefs. I swore at that point that if I were ever faced with such a thing, I would accept the proof and change my beliefs. It was time to put up or shut up. Easier said than done. (Let it be said, I haven’t turned my back on science, just come to understand that it doesn’t know everything.)

So, in integrating my hard-won astrological knowledge I had to figure out what it really meant in my understanding of the world. And the first thing it did for me is plant the seed of compassion. Compassion arises from a sense of shared humanity.

My first vision of shared humanity came out of the unavoidable astrological truth: in the horoscope of every human (or cat, or penguin) there are two lights (the sun and moon) and eight planets (Earth is where we stand and not included). The moon did not disappear from the sky when Jinjer was born just because she prefers not to deal with emotion. Saturn does not disappear from its orbit when a slacker is born just because he or she prefers to avoid responsibility.

In my science and logic-fixated brain the world was very black and white, right and wrong. Anything that came from logical thinking was ipso-facto right. Anything that came from emotion was just wrong.

And just because someone prefers to avoid emotion, or intellect, or responsibility does not mean that those things are not part of her or his makeup. These are the little surprises along the way that keep us from being bored. If we try to ignore them, they sneak up and bite us in the butt. Sometimes they draw blood.

We are used to thinking of astrology mostly in terms of sun signs from Aries to Pisces. More people nowadays are aware of having a moon sign and and ascendent as well. The Big Three they’re sometimes called.

Also part of the lineup are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and under-respected Pluto.

We all have them like we have teeth and toes and ribs and …

Just like some of us have teeth that wear like iron and others have teeth prone to rot, some of us love beauty for beauty’s sake, while others only see beauty in something designed to get the job done.

We are all the same. We are all different.

What this meant for me was to realize that when I am engaged with someone, let’s say my Piscean brother (the definition of emotion), astrology enables me to see that his whole approach to life is different than mine. Not wrong. And because of the way he works, the past affects him in a more emotional way than it does me. It’s not him trying to drive me crazy.

I began to feel compassion toward him rather than annoyance.

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