Many of our library staff here at the U have birthdays in March. This led us to a discussion last night about our natal or “birth” charts. I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) in the past to learn how to read a natal chart, but I figure that now might be a good time again to give it another try. I think I delved into it about 10 years ago, so it’s been a while. I think I remember bits and pieces of it maybe some major tidbits but not enough to actually piece together what it all means. Another one of my co-workers and I decided we would read up on it this week and share with one another what we’ve learned. I’ve used astrology throughout my life as a general tool, nothing to bet the farm on or anything, but I do keep abreast of where the planets are, and of eclipses, moon cycles, and things like that.
Reading a chart is NOT easy. There’s a lot going on there. I mean there’s houses, squares, trines, nodes, etc. I think a lot of people take astrology at super face value, like OH I’m a Libra, so I must be wishy-washy and bad at making decision. Well, it’s more than just a sun sign, to think that there are only 12 personality types in this world would just be downright strange. I think that the knowledge in one’s natal chart is actually found in the synthesis of the information of how everything interacts with one another. Each chart is an exact snapshot of planetary positions in the exact place and time you were born so each chart is different. I mean, unless you have people that were born in the same hospital as you at the same time. I don’t really know how this conveys for twins, or crazy multiple births like octuplets. I guess I never really thought about it before right this second, I’m sure this is an argument against the whole thing.
Either way, things like astrology, tarot, and other things of the “magical” realm to me just seem like tools. Tools for understanding your internal self and the world around you, and even more so how they relate to one another. They are beliefs that rely upon faith, much like religion, think of it as a prayer, a meditation or visualization tool. Anyhow, my chart looks like this:
Obtained from: http://alabe.com/freechart/
Not a whole lot going on in the bottom half, but I guess I’ll figure out what it all means later. Today it’s easy, you just plug and chug your name, date and time of birth, then place of birth into a free site and boom. It generates your chart. Most sites have a vague interpretation at the bottom, but a lot of these can be overgeneralized, and really I want to figure out how it all works, and what it all means so I’m going to dig deeper this week and try to find out this week, month, or however long it ends up taking.
I looked in our catalog here to see what we have.
Nothing in terms of natal chart reading, but I did find a SUPER cool old book from 1911 with tables of the houses for latitudes 22 to 60. I have NO idea what this means and no idea why we still have it. The tables seem complicated and confusing. How the heck did people do all the things they do without computers? I wonder this often. Time and dedication seem to be the only answers that really come to mind. What took an unskilled astrological individual about 30 seconds probably would have taken hours for a professional back in 1911. I also found a book about Lunar cycles, which included a graph that collected the number of ER and psychiatric hospital visits, as well as traffic accidents in Dade County Florida for a span of a couple years each. Both incidents seem to have dropped when the full moon came around. It’s a small sample, and really kind of an obscure thing to research but interesting none the less. The last book I picked out was called Objections to Astrology by Bart J. Bok and Lawrence E. Jerome. It’s split up into two long essays about why these two basically think that astrology is a crock of crap. I like to look at all sides of the story you know, refute my own beliefs from time to time.
Here’s an interesting snippet from Bok’s essay:
For some people astrology has become a religion. I urge them to examine their beliefs with care. At best, astrology can be looked upon as a self-centered approach to religious beliefs, for it deals primarily with daily affairs and with what is best for a particular person. Astrology, when practiced as completely as possible, takes away from each of us our right and duty to make our own personal decisions. The most complete religious approach is found in people who have “experienced” astrology, who deep inside themselves “know” astrology to be true, and who believe profoundly in the effects of cosmic rhythms and “vibrations”. I do not know how to convince these people that they are on the wrong track, and hence they will have to go their chosen ways (Bok, 1975, p. 30).
Here’s what Jerome had to say about it:
To bow to the magical “dictates of the stars” is to abandon free will and rationality. This is something the humanist cannot afford to do if he is truly concerned with the good of the human species, especially now amid the complexities of the twentieth century, when man needs all the rationality he can muster (Jerome, 1975, p. 62).
I would argue at top that if religion or astrology or whatever your belief system is helps you to become a better person individually then you are doing the world a great deal of good, not just being “self-centered”. Change starts on an individual level and the better you are the better you are to the people around you and then your kids, and their kids and so on and so on. Life is all about breaking personal cycles that effect you internally and therefore your offspring and future generations. Change starts first on an internal level and branches out towards all aspects of humanity around that person. They are so concrete too in saying that people are just plain wrong. It’s wrong, save them they are wrong and they need to be right. I’m not refuting science itself or scientific advances by any means, but couldn’t the world be part science and part faith or “magic” as it were? I think so, why do our rational minds always need to be the ones in control? I wouldn’t say astrology has ever dictated a decision I have made, or greatly altered the course of my life. It has helped me to reflect upon myself, and who I am within this construct of a universe. The fact that Venus squares Uranus in my chart tells me that I may tend to seek out unconventional relationships. Does that alter the course of my life, nope. Does it make me self-reflect about what I look for in partnerships and friendships, take a look at how I utilized my relationships in the past, how I view my relationships and their meaning today, and how hope for them to work out in the future, yeah a bit. To rely solely on our rationality and abandon our intuition would make this world a rather cold and boring place. I think, mind, body, spirit all have to work together, instead of try to stomp one another out. There’s much more to life than black and white, balance can be found in those grey areas.
Bok, J. & Jerome, L. (1975). Objections to Astrology. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books.