- Cara McSongwe
The Rise of Astrology and the Fall of Organized Religion: The Realm of Philosophical Fantasy
What’s your sign?
If you asked any regular person this question 60 years ago, they would’ve looked around for the closest road sign or stared at you in bewilderment; however, if you’d asked them, What’s your faith, almost everyone would have an answer, religious or not. In this day and age, those two things are starting to flip. People are more likely to know their sun sign than the basic principles of any major world religion.
We live in a world that prioritizes individualism. People are constantly on a journey of “finding themselves” and covet the idea that they live a life that is unique from anything the people around them experience. The movement towards this philosophy has distanced us from the idea of collective thinking and community-driven schools of religion, and right into the arms of a more personalized spiritual growth path in the form of astrology.
Astrology is the study of the influence that distant cosmic objects, usually stars and planets, have on human lives, events, pets or anything that has a definitive “birth time.” The fact that everyone has a slightly different birth chart, even twins, makes it all the more intriguing.
Humans were cursed with the word why; people can’t help but want to know things, especially about themselves. When you present the idea of predetermination in a religious context, people scoff and turn up their nose. Who wants to be put in a box with their future, unless it’s predetermined because they’re important? Everyone wants to be the main character, and astrology lets you do just that in a way religion simply never could. Believing that the placement of the stars and planets at the moment of your birth sets you up for a grand legacy, an epic filled with highs and lows specific to you, is something I can’t fault people for wanting to believe in.
The problem arises when people realize that astrology is just as nuanced as religion, and requires just as much study, if not more. Here is where people start to fall off. Why learn the subtle intricacies and history of astrology when you could know just enough to bash your ex and uplift your best friend? It allows for the retreat into a fortress of feigned spiritual enlightenment where you can judge others. You can’t help yourself because you refuse to learn more.
Ultimately, one is no better than the other. Modern astrology draws in patrons with buzzwords, stereotypical phrases and personality traits to describe and encapsulate much more complex ideas. Astrology was able to accommodate the new age need for self-centered individuality while maintaining a moral high ground. All this said, a hundred years ago, an astrologer could’ve told you this would happen when Uranus moved into Aquarius. We’re lucky they’re not a Capricron, because we never would’ve heard the end of that.
Art by Tien Servidio