In the summer of 2003, I was wandering about the shops of Main Street in New Hope, PA when I came upon a store with a neon pentagram in the window. It was one of those “bottom-floor” stores, in which you had to descend a small flight of stairs to get to the entrance. Curious and eager to explore the “mysteries” inside, I explored the bookshelves— past titles of Wiccan Magic and Spells galore. I was about to walk out when I saw a book titled, The Complete Book of Astrology. When I removed it from the shelf, I opened the book to the exact page that marked the beginning of the description of Virgo (my sun sign). It was on this day that I began my investigation into the science of astrology. Yes, science, as in “knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.” There are those that would scoff, ridicule, and (in some parts of the country) burn me at the stake for such a statement. However, astrology is a valid and reliable system of knowledge that reveals an accurate picture of individual human psychology and societal patterns.
A popular argument against astrology is that it is so general anyone can write a horoscope for any sign from which any reader will glean whatever truth they want from its generalizations and vagaries. This argument is usually supported by citing examples of the horoscope columns found in tabloids or pop culture magazines. Dear Abby’s advice is held in higher esteem than “Anastasia the Astrogazer” or any number of quacks that make a quick buck from writing the dailies. Another argument I’ve heard comes from people who read about their sun sign (solely based on the day they were born) and complain that the description is way off the mark. An even better argument is in the case of two people who share the same birthday and they are nothing alike. The hardcore skeptics of astrology always bring up the case of twins: those born within minutes or hours of each other and live totally different lives.
Many people fail to realize that astrology is more than just your sun sign— that is, the sign and degree the sun occupied at the moment of birth. For example, the sun was at 26 degrees Virgo when I was born; therefore, common knowledge would label me “Virgo.” However, upon further examination, you would also discover that the zodiac sign on the horizon at 10:54pm EST on September 19th, 1979 in Norristown, PA, was Gemini at 18 degrees. Furthermore, the Moon was at 12 degrees Virgo, the planet Mercury at 2 degrees Libra, the planet Venus at 3 degrees Libra, and the planet Mars at 27 degrees Cancer. Astrologers who cast detailed horoscopes will note not only the placement of planets in the sky but also the aspects made between them, in order to give a more accurate reflection of the energies these positions might imply. In the case of two individuals having the same birth date, the difference of an hour can change not only the rising sign at the moment of birth but also the house positions which give each horoscope its distinct “flavor.” And let’s not forget free will—the various internal and external factors and the responses to those factors that influence each human being which contribute to his or her outlook on life. It is important to note that astrological counsel has been sought throughout the ages by royalty, political figures, and the church, as a means to gain and maintain power. The Italian renaissance is rife with evidence of consultations and readings from astrologers such as Ptolemy, Marsilio Ficino, Cornelius Agrippa, and William Lilly. The foundations of American government and the planning and construction of the Capitol city of Washington, DC are steeped in astrological significance. There is compelling evidence that our founding fathers waited until certain planets occupied a certain degree in the sky before scheduling any important ceremonies related to the birth of the United States.