6 Astrology Myths To Stop Believing
As much as some might scoff at the idea of astrology, there's certainly an argument to it. If we, as humans, are made of the same elements as stars and planets, it would seem almost silly to dismiss the fact that we're all interconnected. And, according to a 2017 study 150,000 stars, humans and the galaxy are absolutely made of the same stuff — 97 percent of the same stuff to be exact — so it would make sense that the placement of the planets, moons, and stars affect humanity in one way or another.
"Astrology has a far reaching history," astrologer and psychic, Cindy Mckean, tells Bustle. "Markings on bones and cave walls recording cycles of the moon were found dating back as far as 25,000 years ago. By 3000 B.C., widespread civilizations developed sophisticated systems for astrology to help them determine when to expect changes in their environment which was extremely useful for agricultural purposes and navigation."
Astrology, according to Mckean, did't evolve in just one part of the world. It was prevalent East Asia, India, the Middle East, Europe, and Mesoamerica, as each culture used astrology in their own way.
"Astrology soon spread to the rest of the world from the main origins," Mckean says. "The type of astrology popular in the West today, Western Astrology, gained popularity through personalization of the horoscope so that people were able to forecast what to expect in their lives."
Although astrology isn't an exact science, it definitely has its merits. All you have to do is look at how your zodiac affects your personality as proof. Here are six astrology myths to stop believing, according to Mckean.
Myth #1: Astrology Is Just A Trend
A trend is a flash in the pan with a short shelf-life that goes out of fashion as quickly as it comes into fashion. But astrology has existed as far back as 25,000 years ago.
"In the Middle Ages, astrology flourished and was part of daily life and culture in many parts of the world," Mckean says. "Cambridge University in England had astrology chairs. The royal court was known to have astrologers on staff. Many popes supported astrology and even when Copernicus, a Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer who formulated that the Earth isn't the center of the universe and that it rotates around the sun, he dedicated his main work to Pope Paul III."
But, by the end of the Middle Ages, when the church pretty much ruled the world and the people on it, all that changed. The church declared astrology heresy, forcing even Galileo to renounce his astrological beliefs so he would not be killed. To believe in or practice astrology under the church's reign, was like playing Russian roulette with someone's life. When The Age of Reason rolled around in the 17th and 18th centuries, astrology's credibility diminished even further. During this time, emphasis on analytical reasoning and scientific methods reigned supreme, pushing astrology into a box labeled sinful and nonsensical.
"Given that astrology articles and Google searches have increased over ten-fold in the past decade, it indeed looks like a trend," Mckean says, "but given the historical existence of astrology for thousands of years, it's more like a reemergence of a highly detailed system our ancestors relied on."
Myth #2: Astrology And Astronomy Are The Same
"Astrology, finding meaning in the celestial bodies, and astronomy, measuring the celestial bodies, were inseparable concomitants," Mckean says. "While they were interlinked as a single study, in the 17th century, they started to be treated separately."
Although both astronomers and astrologers study how celestial bodies affect the Earth and the Universe as a whole, the approach by both is different.
"[A]stronomy studies the contents of the universe outside of the Earth's atmosphere while astrology studies the effects of those external celestial bodies on the Earth as mundane and personal events," Mckean says.
Myth #3: Astrology Is Based On Magic And The Paranormal
"Naysayers, skeptics, and critics often dismiss astrology as illegitimate," Mckean says. "But because modern science hasn't yet defined a phenomena doesn't mean it's not real."
According to Mckean, there have been many times in which astrological phenomena has been explained by modern science. While that should give skeptics something to reconsider, when such things happen, the credit is given to astronomy instead of astrology.
"There is a mechanism to how the positions of celestial bodies affect life on Earth," Mckean says. "The biggest example is how the phases of the moon have an effect on tides. When there's a full moon, tides swell due to the gravitational pull of the moon on bodies of water. Police precincts report how crimes are higher during full moons. Farmers used the phases of the moon to determine the best timing to plant seeds and harvest crops, but they even used the moon along with the position of other planets to determine the best time for day-to-day activities such as cutting hair, cleaning house, buying new equipment."
Mckean also notes that RCA (Radio Corporations of America), which was once the biggest communications firm in the States, used sun spots to figure out how to avoid drops in communication over the television or radio. They did this because, as astronomy determined, solar prominences affect the geomagnetic field of the Earth.
"What was dismissed as 'magical thinking' (the belief in fantasy) about astrology turned out to be a real mechanism that could be measured and timed," Mckean says. "Many of the planetary influences have the same effect on Earth and other planets in our solar system through similar mechanisms: gravitational pull, magnetism, and luminosity."
Myth #4: Astrology Is A Bunch Of Generalizations
"The multi-millionaire and financier J.P. Morgan said, 'Millionaires don't use astrology. Billionaires do.' His family went on to become multi-billionaires," Mckean says.
But J.P. Morgan isn't the only prominent figure throughout history to rely on astrology. Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy used astrologers when it came to making important decisions in their lives . Queen Elizabeth I of England had, John Dee, an astrologer on staff as an advisor to the royal family. And, of course, Nostradamus was much sought after in the 1500s by aristocrats all over Europe for his astrological and esoteric advice. Even today people turn to his 1555 work, The Prophecies, when looking toward the future — don't worry; the world doesn't end until 3797, according to his predictions.
"When prominent heads of state and businessmen use astrology as a tool to help them make decisions, generalizations aren't enough," Mckean says. "There must be a degree of accuracy for it to be useful. While it's true that the daily horoscopes are general, it is because daily horoscopes often only focus on a sun sign, and no other factors in the chart. No one part of a horoscope should be read in a vacuum or as an isolated island. Just as the universe is interconnected, our horoscopes should be read in whole too."
Mckean compares reading only part of one's horoscope to saying the sun will shine in July, but leaving out that the sun might be obscured by the clouds in moon. In other words, you're not getting the full, accurate report.
"However, there is a fair amount of information that can be gleaned by outstanding features in our horoscopes, such as our sun sign — those are generalizations. Because they are so general, it's not one-size-fits-all; it doesn't apply to everyone in that one-twelfth of the population when reading their sign," Mckean says. "Fortunately, most people know that, yet astrology still remains a staple in newspapers and magazines decade after decade."
Myth #5: Zodiac Signs Are The Same As The Astrological Constellations
While it might seem easy to lump these things into the same category, they're not the same. In fact, different studies of astrology use different zodiacs. While Western astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac, in India, where Vedic astrology is studied, the Sidreal Zodiac is used.
"In Western astrology ... instead of following the movement of the visible stars, the Tropical Zodiac uses static zones that track celestial movement in and around the ecliptic, or a visible band around the Earth," Mckean says. "This system was created by Claudius Ptolemy, a Greco-Roman polymath. In creating this system, he used the same name for the zodiac signs as he did for the constellations. Though the constellations have shifted from our vantage point, the zodiac signs have remained static, thus remain on fixed dates, with Aries, or the spring equinox being the start date of the astrological new year."
Mckean points out that if the names of the zodiac signs were removed in Western astrology, the confusion could be eliminated. But because astrology is steeped in tradition (and you don't mess with tradition), when astrology first began the signs actually did line up with the constellations. But this was before the axial precession changed what could be seen of the stars and what could not.
"When the Earth spins, there's a subtle wobble called axial precession, also referred to precession of the equinox," Mckean says. "The placements of the constellations in relationship to Earth coordinates slowly shifts over thousands of years."
Myth #6: The Zodiac Signs Have Changed And There's A 13th Zodiac Sign
"This isn't exactly false, but it's not the system that Western or Vedic Astrology uses," Mckean says. "It's a different system called Constellation Zodiac where zodiac signs correspond to fixed stars. Unlike Tropical Zodiac that has fixed dates for the zodiac signs, this system matches the zodiac signs to the [eponymous] constellations within the ecliptic as the axial precession changes."
It's in this third (and relatively new) system that the 13th zodiac can be found: Ophiuchus (a serpent bearer). Ophiuchus sits between Scorpio and Sagittarius.
"With this system, many of stars in the constellations overlap, thus there is controversy over when one sign starts and another sign ends if they were to correlate signs to constellations," Mckean says. "If one wants to follow a strictly material alignment of signs and constellations, the Constellational Zodiac is a logical choice."
However, according to Mckean, astrology has a spiritual aspect to it that's open to different schools of thought.
"We don't need to see a radio wave, for example, to know that radio waves exist," Mckean says. "The fact that we are able to tune into a certain frequency indicates to us that the radio wave indeed exists. Western and Vedic astrology work in a similar way."
So the next time someone gives you the side eye about astrology, you can list off these six debunked myths.