Why Should We Still Believe in Astrology?
What hits you when you see the word ‘astrology’? Prophecy, nonsense or superstition? It is ancient wisdom to predict and interpret our fate by looking at movements and positions of the planets in the sky, but its validity remains a long-lasting debate. A great number of people know it, but few really see its valuable essence. Let us first look at some of the common notions of Astrology, and then try to answer this question: why should we still believe in it?
A Chinese girl Elaine Li used to tell me something about her grandma. ‘You know every New Year my mom would ask me to call my grandma, saying “Tell your grandma we thank her so much for making divination for our family’s fate of the next year.” and stuff like that. I just found it so dumb.’ said Elaine in a ridiculous manner.
Elaine’s grandma is an old Chinese woman in her seventies, and she believes in eastern Astrology. ‘Feng Shui, Zi Wei Dou Shu (紫薇斗数), and something…’ recalled Elaine, ‘She likes fortune-telling stuff.’
Considering its age, Astrology is indeed very old — both western and eastern Astrology were conceived centuries before Christ. In traditional notion, Astrology is a kind of fortune-telling which is typically done by those ‘old women’.
An other example is Professor Sybill Trelawney in ‘Harry Potter’, a witch and professor of Divination at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with an eccentric dressing style and personality. She liked to make prophecies and some of the important ones proved to be true (such as the death of Dumbledore), though many others did not (for example the death of Harry). Yet, this dazed, odd woman was disdained by Hermione Granger, a clever, articulate top student of Hogwarts as well as many others. I think this scene truly reflects real-life scenario — believing in fortune-telling is ‘not cool’ for young people. Of course Astrology is included.
In fact, believing in metaphysics is not only ‘not cool’ for younger generations, but also for those who regard themselves as knowledgeable and level-headed. There is an interesting dialogue between Trelawney and Professor McGonagall in the book:
- Trelawney: “Certainly I knew, Minerva. But one does not parade the fact that one is All-Knowing. I frequently act as though I am not possessed of the Inner Eye, so as not to make others nervous.”
- Minerva McGonagall: “That explains a great deal.” — J.K.Rowling, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’. (http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Sybill_Trelawney)
It is hard not to see Professor McGo’s disregard for Trelawney. Poor Sybill’s divinatory skills inherited from ancestry (her great-great-grandmother is the celebrated prophet Cassandra Trelawney) had nearly faded away, so no one would listen to her insane words. Pitifully, this is also the case with Astrology today.
The moment when every theory was conceived and constructed in reality, they were quite fresh, agreeable, and easy to understand by practically everyone. Nevertheless as time went by, the way this world operates has changed along with our way of thinking. The way we see this world and our life today has deviated from our ancestors’. That is the reason why we no longer wear the same clothes, speak the same old language, and learn the same kind of knowledge as they did. Time can really wash away so many things, including our attachment, familiarity and memory of the past.
So, something that is ‘old’ is not equal to ‘not right’. That is to say, we all need to show respect to our history, as well as this time-honoured theory — Astrology.
Not a Science?
‘Me? I don’t believe in Astrology, because it’s not a science.’ Elaine claimed firmly.
However, does something have to be a science to make people believe? Is science the only thing on the earth that is ‘right’?
While everything seems OK, few would pay attention to spirituality, because we are now living in a world dominated by rationality. But there are indeed particular moments when sensibility breaks down, and what we used to think was good and real could no longer prove legitimacy or shield us from the maliciousness of reality.
That is when many people start seeking asylum from metaphysics. Shawna is a second-year science student. Her performance in IB (International Baccalaureate) was so excellent that she was admitted to the University of Melbourne to study Bachelor of Biomedicine. She told me her story:
‘By the time I was in Year 10 and 11, I didn't feel well emotionally… I spent large amounts of time every day on my laptop reading a whole bunch of Astrological articles. I just found them so supportive. They worked as my spiritual pillar and made me cheer up again. ’
Shawna admitted those astrological articles helped her find her real self, and she is definitely not the only one. Although Astrology is not a science, it is capable of doing things science cannot — serving as a spiritual guide and helping people get through dark times, which is even more significant to our wellbeing than mere facts and figures.
In London, there is famous London School of Astrology. While in Australia, there is Australian Academy of Feng Shui. Mr. Ketis, the founder of Australian Academy of Feng Shui, does not think Astrology is a superstition.
‘Often people who think Astrology is a superstition base [their opinion] on a scientific paradigm,’ said Mr Ketis, ‘but it is an esoteric discipline based on reality. It’s about understanding people’s psyche through the understanding of planet.’
In fact, there is a vast distance between something that is ‘not a science’ and ‘a superstition’. Within the grey zone exist things that are beyond our current knowledge scope, and we cannot arbitrarily discard them into the ‘superstition’ box and ignore them from then on, in the way we do with garbage.
What Do They Think of Astrology?
Liz is a member of ATS (AstroTrans), a Chinese volunteering translation team of foreign horoscopes and astrological articles. She joined the group in 2011, and admitted her initial intention was to improve her English.
‘… but little by little I realised the magic of it.’ reflected Liz emotionally. ‘Chinese people normally don't have religious faith, and I didn’t pay attention to this aspect either. Ever since I started translating English horoscopes, my awareness of belief has awakened and I begin thinking of profound issues about the meaning of my life.’
幻觉(Illusion) is a Chinese professional astrologer who has published her book ’12 Venus Sign, Aiming Right at The One’ (《十二金星星座，看准骨子里的爱》) in 2012. She is also the founder of ATS.
‘In terms of Astrology, you cannot see something first and then define it, as usually do in scientific research.’ explained 幻觉(Illusion), ‘But just the opposite, your judge is based on your own intuition. Sometimes you do need a bit of luck, but you definitely cannot lie, because you are responsible for your client and yourself both.’
幻觉(Illusion) did not think everyone is suitable for astrological interpretation job, because some people are born with this gift, while others are not.
‘When they are unable to understand it, they just simply deem it as a lie, nonsense or superstition. Don't you think it’s unfair for this valuable legacy our ancestor left to us?’ asserted 幻觉(Illusion) seriously.
I assume it is proper to say we only believe those things we believe already. We believe in God because we trust his existence. This is the same with Astrology, and any form of metaphysics. The universe rotates every day, so do we. We breathe while it breathes and we live along with its living. Astrology focuses on the intangible connection between the universe and us, and it is different from any kind of science. In essence, it is the knowledge about our existence, which is still an unexplored vacuum.
Lastly, believing in some ‘unreal’ things in life is not bad, because after all, it is the ‘insane’ Professor Trelawney who correctly made the prophecy of Voldemort’s return and defeat, not Hermione or Professor McGonagall, however ‘smart’ or ‘level-headed’ they are.