7.26.2004

Astrology And Psychology

Psychology is an excellent subject...one of my favorites, in fact. Both natal astrology and psychology are interested in the workings of the human mind, so the tendency to view astrology as a rival to psychology is strong.

But there's no reason it should be.

The thing is, although both do well at looking at the mind, they are like two people looking at the same thing from opposite sides. Astrology sees and does things easily which psychology has a harder time accomplishing, but then falters where psychology excels.

To really zero in on the differences it helps to look at what each study can come into a conversation knowing, versus what they must actively try to find out. Astrology can come in knowing the root personality, the core identity with all its habits and desires and logics (or lack thereof). But as people do not grow up in a vacuum, natal astrology cannot say much about how life and environment has affected this core identity - at least, not without an astrologer knowing something of psychology.

For example: Astrology may tell you that a specific person has a fascination with raw power, but it cannot say what life has taught that person about power. A politician's child and an alcoholic's child would each learn something different about what power actually is. Although astro can tell you with certainty that the personality exists and perceives the world in part through this interest in power, it cannot take into account the person's specific environmental history or what affect that history had on the outcome.

Psychology, in the other hand, does this extremely well. The study has a secure handle on how events affect mental processes, how people - in a general sense - react to environments ranging from abusive households to stressful work environments to boring love relationships. Psychologists can come into a conversation knowing all these things about the interaction between people and environments, and then make valid determinations about how a person's history is likely to have impacted their life. To confront problems, they usually suggest changes in the way a person interacts with the world around them (ie. the "fix" is usually oriented by environment).

What they cannot do right away is know what the individual's core motivations and tendencies are...the study comprehends human nature in general. Psychologists use psychoanalytical techniques such as word association and inkblot tests to learn more about uniquely personal factors - but the results of these are actually rather vague when compared to the exacting personality analysis astrology is capable of performing.

In short, the combination of astrology and psychology is a major powerhouse for understanding an individual, because both studies do well where the other one doesn't.





7.19.2004

Psychic Like A Rock

I don't know if psychic phenomenon exists, but I do know it isn't necessary for astrology.  I've never claimed to be psychic in any way, even if I can figure some things out about a person that common knowledge says I shouldn't be able to know.  But if that were the case for psychic ability, then a good psychologist is a psychic too.
 
Not to belittle anyone, but the trappings of psychic powers or fortune telling annoy me when they are placed on astrology.  It is hard to treat a subject seriously when its proponents are sitting in tents at fairs doing twenty dollar readings for twenty minutes, with every indication that this is "for entertainment purposes only."  Charlatans will be charlatans, but a lot of these individuals are likely to be valid astrologers.  I can't for the life of me understand why they are reinforcing the kind of crystal ball stereotype that makes astrology look like a joke.  And neon signs are just a step up from the tents.
 
But, while I am lambasting I might as well turn on horoscope columns, which I consider to be the most utterly useless conventions of modern astrology.  First of all, if the astrologer is even close to serious they know that their singular paragraph is only going to work well for a terribly small portion of the population.  They can't take into account the complexity of individual charts.  There are plenty of cases where the Sun Sign (that's the sign you usually mean when you say "I'm a Aries/Taurus/Gemini/Whatever") is not the dominant influence for a person.  When such an individual goes over those columns and sees that it doesn't really hold true for them, all the column has done is put another black mark on astrology. 
 
In other words, there are plenty of brilliant astrologers, but the way astrology gets displayed is counter-intuitive.  I know it is difficult to overcome a culture of intellectual prejudice, but that's no excuse for encouraging it to be worse.



7.15.2004

Perceptions Askew

Astrology has never really been satisfactorily proven or disproven. Most of those who attempt to disprove it don't know enough about it to understand what it is they are dealing with.

It is kind of like saying nuclear energy doesn't exist because I can't create it in my bathroom using a hammer to smash atoms. Pre- and misconceptions about how astrology works only add to the clumsiness of refuting the study, leaving most serious astrologers who view such attempts thinking "But that's not being done right..." while opponents chortle with glee and consider themselves victorious.

Likewise, it is nearly impossible for astrology to prove itself using the scientific method, the Number One Standard of intellectual advancement in any field of study. The most immediate problem is that you cannot duplicate an exact point in space and time: the source of astrological data. A person may never repeat the same test exactly as before because no two things can occupy the same space at the same time.

Another trouble spot is astrology's reliance on metaphors to get the point across. The mathematics of latitude and longitude and time (defined by planetary locations, with each planet acting as the hand of a vast clock) are easy enough to come by. This information gives an astrologer numerical info: degrees and angles and the like. But "X degree relating to Y degree at an angle of Z" is not a personality trait or event. Those numbers must be translated into recognizable human concepts, so a metaphor is created to do that.

One of the major powers of the human mind is the ability to think metaphorically. But the mind is bound by it's own perceptions and therefore subject to error, especially when translating metaphors. Even good astrologers must constantly guard against being subjective rather than objective. Astrology's basic susceptibility to this leaves its credibility consantly open to attack. And it is not unwarranted criticism.

I was driving in my car yesterday and saw on the back of a Toyota what looked like a stylized Capricorn symbol (if you want to know what it looks like, check out the lower-case "g" in Wingdings font). My first thought was that it was pretty cool, another subtle sign of astrology. Like the Ford Taurus, for example. Then I realized what I was looking at was a capital "V" flowing into a smaller number six.

The car had a V6 engine.

7.13.2004

Who Am I?

Allow me to avoid introducing myself. I think I have good reason.

The question of who we are is a powerful one. We have all sorts of ways that we try to define ourselves, to show that we possess a consistent identity. Yet we are always changing. Most of us are not the same people we were ten years ago. Some of us are evolving as human beings. Others are...skipping down a different path. So who am I?

Well, anyone I want to be.

It might sound like self-help babble, but it's true. And, like so many things about being human, it is not true 100% of the time. I possess certain instincts and natural tendencies that could be considered my self-identity, that core that doesn't seem to change in any of us even when our lives are dramatically transformed. But everyone knows that my natural tendencies will not necessarily be the same as yours.

Here is a statement of fact: Natal astrology can be used to identify that core personality. Just to be clear, natal astrology is personality astrology, not the more popular kind of astrology used for predicting the future (called horary).

But wait a second...fact? I think some people may decide I am pushing it a little far, a little fast. After all, this is my first post, so where is my credibility? Who am I to make such a reckless claim?

I think it's a good question (even though I posed it myself). So, here's my answer:

I once mentioned that I studied natal astrology on a message board. I meant very little by it, but it evoked responses that ranged from curious to hateful. One person wrote that no matter what I might say, I would never be able to convince him that astrology was anything more than a kind of psychological appeasement for people with weak minds.

Fine, except that I was not trying to convince anyone of anything. It had been a casual statement, no more than part of a single line of text. But I realized at that moment that I actually felt no real need to convince other people of what astrology can do. The judgments of others do not alter what I know I am capable of doing. I am familiar with what is a far more intricate and complicated subject than most people know. I am aware of both what I can do with it and where its limits lie. Those things do not survive or fail based on anyone's belief systems.

That makes my attitude a little different from more selfless astrologers who are keen on sharing whatever wonders they have found. This blog is not going to be designed as a learning experience. If you leave and never come back, I will still know what I know. If you do want to come back...well, I do have my ego; I'd be happy to know you did. But more than that, there's always something to discuss, or a new perspective to see (and I mean that for me as well).

That's the point of this blog, above and beyond any discussion of astrology. I think it could help me learn something. Perhaps it will help me be better than who I am now. Whoever that may be.

After all, right now I am just some guy typing on a keyboard.