What do you see when you look up at the stars? Living in Miami, it might be a skyscraper or an airplane, but if you’re an astrologer, you’re likely looking for constellations. Astrology is the study of movements relative to celestial objects. In other words, astrology is following the movements and existence of the stars, planets and moons to explain human affairs and other terrestrial events. Astrology is recognized as a pseudoscience, meaning there is little to no scientific or factual evidence that actually supports it. However, this has not stopped the nearly 25 percent of the population that actively follow the stars’ positions to determine their lives.
When most people think of astrology, they think immediately of their birthday. Most people think astrology is simply the study of horoscopes, and while horoscopes are the most well-known part of astrology, the field involves much more than knowing the characteristics of your star sign. Astrology looks at your alignment with the stars to determine your fate and analyze how you would typically encounter the world around you. In ancient history, the practice was specifically used to plan the outcome of a major event, like a harvest.
Since the second millennium B.C., astrology has been utilized in many civilizations including those of the Mayans, Chinese and Indians. Fast forward to early 300 B.C., and astrology was introduced to the royal court of the Hellenistic period.
“Since early 300 B.C., there’s been court astrologers, guys who do horoscopes and made predictions, that worked for emperors,” said Dr. Wilson Shearin, a University of Miami classics professor. But then astrology started to take on a new identity. “As you move into the Roman period … court astrologers did a mix of things from casting of horoscopes to …watching various signs to see what the omens said.”
Before the advancements of modern-day science, people looked to the sky in search of the meaning of life. The first lunar calendar was created to try to measure the change of seasons for harvest using astronomical cycles. Farmers then began to rely on the stars and constellations to address their agricultural needs. Today, the popularity of astrology has skyrocketed with advancements in natal charts and tools to determine the stars’ position in the sky.
Many astrologers today use natal charts to interpret the stars and give better readings. Natal charts allow astrologers to use the location, exact time and an individual’s date of birth to determine a horoscope reading. These charts can tell you how the different planets influence how you process and react to information.
“Astrology is just a new language of how we explain things that don’t make sense,” Shearin said. Oftentimes, even those who do not fully believe in astrology still know their star sign and certain personality traits that are specific to that sign.
“I think the mindset and practices that [astrology] uses and promotes is very healthy,” junior Olivia Stauber said. “All of that stuff relates to each other and emphasizes being positive, sending out love and mindfulness.”
Senior Gina Fleites not only believes in astrology, but also reads the positioning of planets, stars and moons.
“Most people know about their sun sign, but that’s only one small aspect of your personality,” Fleites said. “It’s like saying that the sun is the only star in the sky. Every planet, star and asteroid has a certain type of energy to it – and if you put it into perspective, absolutely everything in the universe is made up of energy.”
Just knowing our sun sign—Aries, Taurus, Gemini or Cancer, for instance—is not enough. We also have a moon, ascendant and element sign that affects the way we do things. Perhaps surprisingly, knowing these signs can give us a better idea of the outcome of the rest of our week or month by examining online horoscope readings. However, be aware that the readings are often relatable on purpose. “It’s supposed to seem vague and generalized,” Shearin said. “It’s catering to millions of people, as opposed to a private reading specific to you.”
Modern advancements in science have also worked against the credibility of astrology. “Even though astrology has never really been considered a science, what happens in the sky does have an effect on our lives,” said Dr. Joshua Gundersen, a Miami astronomy professor. “But to go as far as linking the outcomes of your life to motions of the sky is a bit of a reach.”
Freshman Gianna Sanchez has always been skeptical of astrology, even though the practice was introduced to her at a very young age. “My grandmother got me a few things when I was really young,” said Sanchez. “She’d talk about how even though we were born in different months, we were the same sign.” The usual length of a sign starts in the middle of the month and lasts 30 days until the new sign begins. Someone whose birthday is in late June can also have the same sun sign as someone whose birthday is in early July.
“My cousin is a Cancer as well, and she has the same birthday as my grandmother, but we’re polar opposites,” Sanchez said. “Even our underlying characteristics are different. So, I’ve always thought, ‘How can we both be a Cancer if we’re so different?’”
Even though some may consider astrology a fad without scientific basis, others believe in the gravitational forces that explain our way of life. Today, with astrologers in nearly every country, astrology’s following continues to grow. Ancient civilizations may be gone, but their gift of astrology lives on.
words_kayla foster. illustrations_sarah carraher.