My Response to Astrology Critics

Posted on January 25, 2011
Posted by Jim Sher

 

I wrote an article in last week’s newsletter that critiqued the work of Parke Kunkle who claimed that the way that the signs are presented in astrology today is wrong and has been for many centuries. Of course, his real purpose, noticeably unexpressed, was to debunk astrology, using arguments that are basically the same ones used by scientists for many years. We did receive one lengthy reply to my article from Mike which was well thought out and which, I believe, deserves a proper response. You can read his reply at the end of the article here:

The first thing I must add is that I agree with some of his critique. Astrologers have put themselves in a position where they are open to parts of the valid critique being made here. The critical question is this: Can astrology make consistent, reliable and concrete predictions? The answer, despite the claims by John Frawley and others is that it cannot. Much of Mike’s critique is actually due to his own misunderstanding of what astrology can be when it is practiced in the proper manner. But he is hardly alone in this view. Let’s get really truthful about this. If astrologers could make concrete and reliable predictions, they would be flooded with clients, some of whom would be rich, and they would, in turn, become rich themselves. Unfortunately we know that few astrologers are rich. In fact, every rich astrologer I know either made their money in a field other than astrology or they inherited it. To practice and even be amazed at the wonders of astrology does NOT mean we must give up our common sense.

The next area to examine concerns Mike’s critique of astrology as a ‘vaguely worded set of personality profiles.’ This is where he begins to go off the rails due to his own lack of knowledge and experience with high quality astrological practice. He clearly knows nothing about it, which is not entirely his fault. Like most people who rely solely on ‘rational’ thinking as the only way of knowing or revealing truth, it is easy to prematurely dismiss any field of study that they “know” (or believe) is invalid on its face. Why would Mike study any field for 1-2 years in order to test its depth or possible promise, if he has already dismissed it out of hand? He won’t, of course, and neither will the vast majority of scientists and their followers.

Astrology as an Archetypal Language

As I have written many times in this newsletter, astrology is archetypal in nature. This means that all of us, because we are human, share basic human themes. So, what is an archetype? One definition is that an “archetype expresses the most primordial and common responses of all human beings to the most basic of life situations. They can appear as symbolic images in dreams, as well as in all myths or religious conceptions. These images have enormous psychic power and can sway vast collectivities, resulting in wonderful heights and the lowest of depths. They have a dark as well as light side and manifest in different ways depending on the times and culture of the specific person or collective.”

This informs us that all of the building blocks of astrology (the signs, planets, houses, aspects, etc.) are the same for each of us. The truth is that we share much more with each other than we tend to think. Our similarities may be greater than our differences. What makes us different and unique from one another then is the very specific way all of the common building blocks come together. To understand this requires interpretation and as in all professions, there are practitioners with a wide variety of skills. But what is important to know is that a natal chart is very complex. We are so much more than our Sun sign and it is very unfortunate how few people understand this. In fact, in some charts, the quality of the Sun can be quite weak. So, why do scientists even attempt to judge astrology? It would take 1-2 years of effort and study before a person could begin to be able to interpret a natal chart. Are scientists going to spend this amount of time on a subject that they ‘already know’ is way off base? Of course not. For some reason though, they believe they have the right to opinions about a subject of which they know practically nothing. This is their arrogance and demonstrates, seemingly without their awareness, that they approach science as they would any belief system with its own dogmas. This has been its history and it still happens today.

Consciousness Does Matter

If we approach astrology as an archetypal language, it will immediately infer there are freedoms available to us potentially. Archetypes manifest in a multiple of ways, from higher to lower ways of expression. Astrology does not control us as some people think if we bring consciousness to bear in all of our behaviors, attitudes, beliefs systems and motivations. Again, psychology tells us this over and over again.

It is better to think of astrology in terms of levels of abstraction from the general and thematic down to the specific way an archetypal principle manifests for a particular person. I am referring to some of the amazing work of Alfred Korzybski who wrote a seminal book called “Science and Sanity”, which outlines the importance of the principle of levels or ladders of abstraction. This approach is so different from the way most people think about astrology. This is what Mike is doing when he speaks about the problem of personality profiles. His concern is valid. He just doesn’t know that higher quality astrology is aware of this and consciously discriminates between how we are both similar to and different from each other. In other words, astrology does not strictly speaking yield a perfect understanding of a particular person’s personality. It does accurately describe tendencies and alternative ways of being that can range depending on how conscious (self-aware) or unconscious the person is. In other words, if we are open to learning, to self-discovery and alternative ways of being, we can move to higher ways of being-in-the-world.

One example is a person with Mars on their Ascendant. That person could a very assertive, even acerbic personality. But with awareness and understanding, that assertiveness can move from being mere belligerence and argumentativeness to discrimination and the careful picking of one’s battles. It is more up to us than we may think. We do not have to be slaves to our chart…. unless we make no effort to become self-aware.

At the end of his critique Mike comments on the fact that a planet has no more influence on us than a person sitting next to us. Again, this assumes that astrologers believe that the planets are causing us to do something. I know that this is how astrologers do speak and I have done it myself. But the truth is that astrologers do not know how astrology works only that it does. There are other theories for why it worked, including the notions of ‘synchronicity’ which is a concept popularized by Carl Jung. Scientists have been criticizing him from the beginning, but the quantum physicists are much more cautious as they do not pretend to know how connected every bit of matter is to every other bit. To them, the universe is much more unknown that scientists think. Sometimes, I think that what scientists lack most is simply a lack of imagination, though this is not at all true for many of them

At the end of Mike’s critique he attacks astrology with the famous P.T. Barnum quote that a sucker is born every day. To me, he has come full circle for it is he who, in his ignorance, has fallen prey to his faith in science and rigid logics, by exposing his own bias and even blindness.

As I have said before, people resonate with astrology not out of mere superstition, but due to the fact that it does speak to our psyche and soul. The recent controversy reveals how much astrology is valued and will always be. So to scientists everywhere, surrender, you’ve lost, and take note that “Resistance is futile.” Your uneducated attacks only serve to give us life.


Astrology Paradigm shift Philosophy of Astrology
Jim Sher

Jim brings over 35 years of experience as a therapist and transformational counselor to his practice of astrology, metaphysics, meditation and philosophy. He operates as a teacher and counselor and specializes in the use of discourse as a part of his teaching approach.

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4 responses to “My Response to Astrology Critics”

  1. One thing I like to ask people who scoff at astrology is “do you know what they call people who study astrology in order to debunk it?”

    “No, what?”

    “Astrologers.”

  2. marybeth-trotter@yahoo.com' Mary Beth says:

    i am finding all of this discussion/debate fascinating. perhaps the next appropriate article would be an overview – or even better, an ongoing series of indepth articles – of the archetypes: from the ancients and down through recorded history, their origins in astronomy and astrology and their consequent shifts through the experiences of the collective as history unfolded and continues to do so. even though their morphs over milennia have made them on the surface hardly recognisable as connected, i am sure their identity thread will be a delightful revelation to many readers.

    very thankful for all the great work you and your team are doing here.

    p.s. i cant help but wonder if the I Ching interest mentioned in a previous newsletter will play into this as well. 😉

  3. brucestanley@gmail.com' Bruce Wayne Stanley says:

    Well said. It’s interesting to note astrology’s sudden rise to public prominence, especially after watching Lynn Bell’s “The Stars, The Planets, and The Citadel” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wwl17IwJAu4&playnext=1&list=PL728FC1A5BE94BF13&index=47

    Although it manifested itself via the strange “My sign has changed” story, suddenly several professional astrologers were sought out for their “expert” opinion, which changed the direction of the story a bit.

    Jim is correct, however, in that quite a few articles were recently published that wanted to go a step further and declare astrology as a hoax: http://www.fastcompany.com/1718907/infographic-of-the-day-how-horoscopes-hustle-you#disqus_thread

    I gave Fast Company a tongue lashing in the Comments section; saying that the article was over-reaching, that it only demonstrated the Author’s lack of knowledge of the subject, and that (rightly) criticizing the watered down corporate news horoscopes does not debunk the full study of astrology. They approved it, but it has since been taken down. As we’ve all been witnessing recently, established power does not like to get called out by its followers!

  4. deannadelrey@yahoo.com' Anna D. says:

    As usual, very well said Jim. And I love Sandra’s post – thanks for sharing that! It is a logical fallacy to assume the truth of one’s conclusion. As you say, how many of those who who confidently assert that astrology is “false” have taken the time to learn–really learn–about it? As for the predictive value of astrology, are any competing systems 100% accurate? To ask the question is to realize how silly it is. The better question is, does this system give me valuable insight about a topic of interest–be it understanding my own nature, my relationships with others, or the pattern of world events? In the case of astrology, many thoughtful people, including the well-educated, have found that it does. This has been true for centuries.

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