Here’s a riddle: what does everyone secretly read but love to deny anyway?
The long debated pseudoscience of stars has always been taboo to mention aloud. Ask someone their star sign, and you risk being accused of “acting like a girl” — but studies have always suggested that horoscopes are well read by everyone.
Seventy-five per cent of the population reads their horoscope in the newspaper, while a quarter of them actually believe in them. Those figures have stayed consistent for 80 years. Canada, the U.S, and the U.K sit among the top 7 countries whose population researches astrology.
Growing up in an irreligious home, the only notion I had of something other was in astrology. When my mother met my friends and lovers she always asked me what their star sign was. I would find out for the sake of her questioning. When she congratulated a woman on her pregnancy she would always calculate the month the baby would be born in. As I aged, we would make bets on the signs of people we met, never missing one a round. I never thought much about the fact that we never made an error — and neither did she. My mother told me one day how her friends used to gather on the beach after class. The five of them had read each other’s palm lines one day, scoffing and giggling at what each others hand revealed about their luck. The fifth girlfriend didn’t have a lifeline creased into her palm, and when she died a year later in a car accident, no one was joking around anymore.
While my relationship with astrology or universal energy has been massaged for years, I was never sure of what to make of it – but it always bothered me to think that it was far saner to believe in a hovering instructional God, than in energy bouncing around the stars above our heads.
Hundreds of rituals and inventions that have come from ancient civilizations have been archived and forgotten, but astrology has stayed with us pulsing in and out of popularity.
Even with the printing of newspapers becoming arduously more expensive and underfunded, the astrology section still remains viable on the last page to almost every publication. While people love to poke fun at it, it seems every person knows their own star sign.
Contrary to popular belief, publications have a certified astrologer in residence, not a basement blogger. While sometimes the writing can be tacky or excessively entertaining, these star masters are in fact drawing charts of the solar system every day. Horoscopes are a lot like forecasting the weather, the chart tells them what is happening with the planets and how it is affecting our signs today.
Darleen Downing is an astrologer in California, who is widely known as The Mystical Sister. She has identified as a witch since the age of 16, practicing the metaphysical arts for over 15 years. She is trained and certified in esoteric arts, including astrology, numerology, tarot and practical magick. She has practiced yoga and meditation for 10 years, and is certified in Reiki healing. She is the astrologer in residence for Wear Your Voice — an intersectional feminist digital publication. She firmly believes that engaging in spirituality is a powerful tool for self-actualization of ones true desires and happiness.
“Astrology actually works, and people see evidence of that from reading their horoscopes from week to week and keep coming back for more. A good astrology column is a source of self-development and creates an arena of guidance for understanding ourselves. This is something people respond to,” Downing says.
The Mystical Sister provides feminine clients clarity and healing through private sessions since 2009, working with clients from New York to Nashville to the Bay areas. Whether it’s assessing your natal chart or suggesting a specific yoga routine, she is hoping to guide you.
“Being a witch for me at this time is overlapping from the personal into the political. As a witch I believe in fighting for the rights of marginalized people, protecting our planet, and putting a deep emphasis on the practice of self-awareness and healing for myself and others. I was thrilled to accept the offer for Wear Your Voice when it came my way, because it’s an intersectional feminist platform and I am an intersectional feminist astrologer,” says Downing.
She became extremely interested in astrology after reading Eric Francis’ Planet Waves. She says she noticed something so therapeutic about his horoscopes that really turned her onto the possibilities of what an astrology practice could uncover. She was encouraged to take up the study by Annabel Gat of Root Astro, who writes horoscopes for Broadly.
While other countries, such as India, centralize traditional astrology, the Western world quickly devalues the occult science—often the practice is not fully understood.
“I think people have shrugged it off because at its core, astrology is a practice of self awareness and self development, and we are coming out of a very industrial and commerce based age that put little or no emphasis on a reflective sense of self,” says Downing. “As a society, we were taught that our time should be spent spending and making money, and we weren’t encouraged to use tools that help us in thinking about ourselves or our relationships with others, which is what astrology does.”
As Millennials abandon religion, and the obsession for scientific certainty grows – it seems spirituality is making a resurgence – a flickering shot of colour in the crack of a black and white urban society. From planetary stick n pokes, to moon jewelry, crystals and sage burning, engaging in mystical elements has become a trend. Earthly activism is awakening loudly as well, as youth are engaging in conversations about ethical living and sustainability – going from recycling to waste free lifestyles in one giant leap. The planet seems to be coming into focus socially, environmentally and politically – and humans seems to be blurring out. This generation has been actively fighting traditional gender roles and stereotypes, destroying binaries and bringing fundamental attention to androgyny.
Downing suspects the resurgence of astrological material as a hint to the rising of introspective behaviour.
Perhaps the narcissism millennials are constantly charged with is manifesting into self-awareness after all.
“I think we are in a beautiful time right now where there is a lot of awakening to awareness and self development, especially through mystical practices and I think people are interested in using astrology as a tool, which is wonderful, so it’s already something that’s on peoples radar,” says Downing. “People are starting to awaken out of that [industrial] modality of thinking, especially in light of current world politics and social developments. I think the younger generations are increasingly self aware and there is a real power in that.”
Astrology is the study of celestial bodies, interpreting their movement as having an influence on human affairs and events in the natural world.
The ancient study began in 3000 B.C in Babylonia and was built upon as it was passed down through battle — from the Greeks, to the Romans, the Arabs and then to India where astrology was embroidered with Hindu ideas. For more than 2,000 years astrology and astronomy were thought to be the same science.
The earliest astrology was used to bring a sense of order out of the chaos reflected on the Gods. It was the earliest sense of divinity in the world, as the foundation for astrology predates the sacred writings of nearly all religions and philosophies. It was used to predict weather patterns for agricultural purposes, and eventually included forecasts of natural disasters and wars.
As creatures on planet Earth, we exist within the framework of space and time. Humans respond to and are shaped by their natural environment. The solar system is nature’s giant clock. We follow the motion of the Sun to know what year it is, the moon to know what month it is, and Earths rotation on the axis to know what time of day it is. These celestial motions are continuous and entirely predictable. It is this continuation of space and time that enables the mystics to say: as above, so below. Our vessel takes on the nature of space and time that is relative to us, and so understanding our place in the universe can help us tune into a natural rhythm.
The zodiac is derived from the Greek word meaning “circle of animals”. Early astrologers knew it took 12 lunar cycles (now months) for the Sun to return to its original position. They then identified 12 constellations that they observed to be linked to the progression of the seasons and assigned them characteristics according to their appearance or suspected energy. For example, the rainy season was always occurring when the Sun was in a particular constellation, which was then named Aquarius.
Each sign or constellation takes up a division in the zodiacal circle, each 30 degrees wide. A round chart is drawn where in the Earth is planted in the center. The top of the circle is the Sun at its highest point during the day. Left and right are the eastern and western horizons. The planets have yearlong elliptical orbits through the zodiac and are known to possess distinct powers, being massive bodies of energy in motion. When a planet moves into a division of the zodiac, it will vibrate and emit its energy in the mode of that sign. Being organisms on Earth, it is understood that these frictions can affect us in some way.
While people often know which zodiac their birthday falls into, there are actually three signs you must know to understand your cosmic makeup.
We are multidimensional humans in a multidimensional world, where the energy of every planet and star is engaging with us. Planets that have greater orbits have less of an individual affect, and affect generationally. The truth behind your astrological imprint lies in how these three signs interact.
In addition to your sun sign — the position the Sun was in at your birth, which represents your self expression or motivation — you have an ascendant or rising sign, and a moon sign. Your rising reflects the zodiac sign that was ascending on the eastern horizon the moment you were born. It represents the way others see you or our stage in life. Your moon sign is the position the moon was in when you were born, and it represents your private emotionality, temperament and the ties that come from your childhood. It is said that the Sun and Moon form a mindset—the conscious and unconscious or the projective and the reflective—that is then hosted by the vessel of the Ascendant. The Sun and Moon after all, illuminate the earthly stage.
The most notable resistance to astrology is met by people who believe their Sun sign sound nothing like them. This is because the two other signs may add, subtract, or cancel something out. For example, your Leo sun may assume personable qualities of a confident entertainer, but your Pisces moon is introverted and insecure. Sometimes astrological pairings of signs are catastrophic to our inner harmony and cause tension in the self, and sometimes they weave together like a force. People are often unaware of parts of their exterior or find it difficult to accept something about themselves. Much like psychology, hearing things about yourself can be uncomfortable and can sound generic.
Both psychology and astrology involve a scientific method, but generally crutch on a lot of social surveying and patterning to prove their case – which is challenging for accuracy.
Downing says a huge myth she is constantly facing is people trying to figure out exactly who they are supposed to date by using simple star sign compatibility.
“People forget that we each have a unique astrological imprint including a rising and a moon sign that can alter how we participate in romantic relationships,” says Downing. “You may not want to dismiss someone as a potential date or mate because you’ve read somewhere that your sun signs are incompatible.”
To know your three signs you must know the date, time and place of your birth. The numbers are plugged into an equation to create a chart called your Natal or Birth Chart.
It provides the astrologer with a snapshot of the universe at the moment you were conceived. This becomes a sort of time signature, your original state of oneness with Nature. Computer programs have made this extremely easy – but proper interpretation of the chart is both an art of intuition and a science. Your chart is best left in the hands of an accredited astrologer to translate the shapes, distances and placements drawn.
There are hundreds of variables for theoretical influences, making combinations and predications infinite.
Each zodiac sign has a specific description that can boil down to a few key words. It is represented by a planet, an animal or symbol, and an element. For example Capricorn, ruler of Saturn, symbol of the Goat, is an earth sign. All these components are taken into consideration. Your three signs could make you a full water being, or perhaps two fires and an air.
To complicate the process, there is also a distinct series of astrological houses mapped across the zodiacal chart. Houses are divisions in space of the energy field of the Earth, such that there is a 12-fold division, paralleling the 12-fold division of the zodiac. In the course of 24 hours, every celestial object will appear to swing around through them all, taking an average of 2 hours to pass through. The houses are connected to more mundane earthly affairs. Examples include: romance, health, money and security, communication, etc. The 12 can be split into four groups of three, being air, water, fire, or earth houses. Over decades, the names of the houses have reformed to connect to our more civilized reality. Career success was certainly not used in the ancient study.
“In the olden days the houses had very specific meanings, which of course were often times much more complicated and bleaker than how they are interpreted now,” explains Downing. “Some of these meanings have evolved, because life in say, medieval times were much harder and different than they are now. I think astrology has progressed as our consciousness has. It’s almost running a similar parallel to the evolution of psychology or psychoanalysis in some ways, say as a therapeutic practice. However astrologers still follow ancient rules, and the signs and planets are still steeped and based in ancient archetypes and myth.”
The interpretation of an individual requires combining these meanings in an ingenious manner: the planets are specific energies, modulated by the energy of their sign, which play themselves out in the department of your life represented by their particular house position.
In other words, the planet is the basic quality, the sign is how it is expressed, and the house is where it is expressed.
The biggest rule in reading is that no factor of the chart can be judged in isolation.
To complicate further, there are apparent angles between planets or points which can be hard or soft, that are visible on your chart. They are known as aspects, and there are five: conjunction, sextile, square, trine and opposition.
And on top of all this, one must keep in mind additional aspects which includes stars, asteroids, eclipse nodes, midpoint parallels of declination, retrograde distances and harmonic aspects.
Scientists have long been battling the legitimacy of astrology, often with the fist of their pride, not wanting to give the stars a place in our reality.
Some will undoubtedly dismiss astrology as superstitious nonsense. Others will acknowledge the gravitational forces exerted on our planet by the Sun and Moon but will deduce the possibility of energy on other planets. Others can’t tie up all the threads, but see the philosophy as something that cannot be ignored. For centuries it has been ridiculed and respected in the same breath, never losing its ground.
One thing we can confirm — is that scientists have already proven that our bodies are made up of the same celestial ingredients as the stars and planets.
While assuming our bodies have a divine connection to space is a bigger leap, Cosmobiology refines some of these notions. Forget about anecdotal horoscopes momentarily, and think about the universe.
Cosmobiology is the study of biological aspects of social behaviour in animals and humans. There is a documented connection between the rhythms of organic life on Earth and the motions in the cosmos. For example, certain marine animals follow the phases of the moon even when they are cut off from its light swimming miles away from the wash of the tides. The Moons strong gravitational pull governs the Earths tide according to its orbit. As humans, we are 60 per cent water, with that percentage being much higher for infants. Our water retention, blood, digestive motion, cellular moisture and menstruation is responding to moon energy. Cosmobiology confirms the influence of the Moon, and also of the Sun – using modern scientific methods, statistic analysis and computer programming.
The Earth has a rotating molten-iron core that generates a magnetic field, whose strength has been diminishing throughout history – being tracked since the 1800s. The Sun too, has a magnetic field that changes dramatically within its 11-year cycle.
The Sun releases sunspots and solar flares that eject mass bursts of matter and energy into the solar system. These highly energized particles inject into Earth, which is surrounded by a bubble of air reaching 350 miles into space. The Sun’s blasts vibrate Earth’s magnetosphere and cause geomagnetic storms. Disruptions occur in electrical fields: radio communication, satellites and climates — but also in bioelectrical fields, such as the rhythms of animals and blood dynamics. Our blood pressure changes, our chemical state alters causing higher rates of depression, heart attacks and death.
Cosmobiology really took off when doctors and clinics started noticing heart attack occurrences would double during rainstorms or moments of malfunctioning telephone lines.
Highly active sunspots were correlated to these disruptions. There are plenty studies written on the Solar Hormone Theory, exploring the relationship between sun radiation and magnetism to human behavior and conditions such as cervical cancer, pregnancy and miscarriages.
While electrical and bioelectrical fields are being disrupted, the residue creeps into our emotional systems, social and political.
Human aggression as seen in international conflicts, terrorist attacks, wars and revolutions have occurred in cycles that can be linked to solar and geomagnetic activity.
In 1960, German scientists analyzed 362,000 industrial accidents over a two-year period and found an increase of 25 per cent in accident rates on days of strong electromagnetic radiation. They analyzed 21,000 traffic accidents and came to the same conclusion.
Clumsiness is scientifically increased on days of high radiation and geo disturbance.
Hundreds of other experiments have lead to similar discoveries. In 1967 scientists replaced the part of the brain in cockroaches responsible for waking them up at midnight and sending them to sleep at 6 a.m. Without this division, they lost all sense of time and died. The scientists then swapped these parts between a British and Australian roach, and everything was back to normal, because the suns radiation synchronizes and recalibrates the biological clock. This showed that our biological clock too is functioning in harmony with our astrological clock.
While the powers of the Sun are undeniable, even though it is 150 million kilometers away from us, somehow people cannot give a shred of recognition to planetary energies. As we enter a statistic-based world, driven by mad scientists who are perpetually stomping on the mystics, I worry about the dissemination of astrology, but Downing believes it will never lose it’s ground to the authorities of science.
“I believe that the more we understand about our universe and the planets and energetic vibrations of those planets, the more we will see evidence that astrology is real, and these planets and transits truly are affecting our moods, senses and directions in life.”