In recent years, Gen Z and Millenials have embraced astrology. They hire tarot card readers, subscribe to daily horoscope emails, and put their zodiac signs on their dating profiles. Something about it resonates with them. Astrology is considered a pseudoscience, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t help you in your life. In fact, practicing astrology can strengthen your faith. It starts with understanding where it all comes from.
Significance of the Skies
Humans have always attached spiritual meaning to the skies above us. We imagine the afterlife, or heaven, as a place in the clouds. We use phrases like “the stars have aligned” when good things happen to us, or we say something is “written in the stars” if we believe it is destined to happen.
The skies above us, particularly the stars, represent fate and constancy. This makes sense, because think about how varied our lives are from day to day. We never live the same day twice—always doing different things, having different conversations, seeing different people. But a few things happen every single day, without fail: the sun rises, it sets, and the moon and stars come out.
It’s true that the sun isn’t always in the same place in relation to us, or that it stays in the sky for longer or shorter depending on the time of year. And it’s true that the moon goes through “phases” depending on where it is in its orbit, and the Big Dipper isn’t in the same part of the sky each night. However, from year to year, the sun, moon, and stars generally follow the same patterns.
Humans have defined time based on these patterns because we can count on the movements of the celestial bodies above us to generally be the same even when everything else is changing. These patterns can therefore give you a sense of the sacred, which is constant and unchanging (if you’re interested, try this guided meditation while watching the sunset).
Definition of Astrology
Once you understand the significance that the skies have had throughout human history, astrology makes a bit more sense. Astrology is the study of how the movements and positions of the planets and stars influence people and their lives. It’s been practiced for thousands of years.
Astrology is sometimes mixed up with astronomy. While both fields include studying celestial bodies in the universe, astronomy stays strictly scientific. On the other hand, astrology looks at how things in space influence people in their daily lives. Both involve predicting future events, they just have different ways to get there. In astronomy, the scientific method is used to make predictions (like when a solar eclipse or meteor shower will occur). In astrology, divination is used to make predictions (for example, horoscopes). Unlike the scientific method, which uses events in space to predict other events in space, divination’s goal is to use events in space to foretell what will happen in one’s personal life.
But divination is just one aspect of astrology. Astrology is complex, and this article is only an introduction. To keep things simple, we’re going to focus on three basic parts:
- The twelve zodiac signs
- The four classical elements
- The three modalities
These are all interconnected. Based on your birthday, you (and everyone else) have an associated astrological sign, element, and modality. In the next section, we’ll review what these are specifically. We’re also going to focus more on Western astrology in this article because it’s currently one of the most popular forms.
The zodiac signs come from the zodiac wheel, which can be divided into twelve sections (so twelve zodiac signs). These sections represent different regions of the sky in which the sun, planets, and moon pass through at different times of the year.
Everyone has multiple zodiac signs, but the most popular one is the sun zodiac sign, which is supposed to represent your personality traits, gifts, love compatibility, and more. The sun zodiac sign corresponds to where the sun was on the zodiac wheel on your date of birth. You can find yours using the list below:
- Aries (21 March–19 April)
- Taurus (20 April–20 May)
- Gemini (21 May–20 Jun)
- Cancer (21 Jun–22 July)
- Leo (23 July–22 Aug)
- Virgo (23 Aug–22 Sep)
- Libra (23 Sep–22 Oct)
- Scorpio (23 Oct–21 Nov)
- Sagittarius (22 Nov–21 Dec)
- Capricorn (22 Dec–19 Jan)
- Aquarius (20 Jan–18 Feb)
- Pisces (19 Feb–20 Mar)
If you’d like to know about the specific traits associated with your sun zodiac sign, follow this link.
The Classical Elements
The zodiac wheel can also be divided into four sections (each containing three zodiac signs). These four sections correspond to the four classical elements, earth, water, fire, and air. There are three zodiac signs associated with each element:
- Earth signs: Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo
- Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
- Fire signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
- Air signs: Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini
So now you know your sun zodiac sign and which element you’re associated with. In our previous post on the classical elements and forest bathing, we describe the four elements in this way:
“Earth is the home and life source of all things. It is literally the foundation that all humans, creatures, and plants stand on. Because of its association with fertility and nourishment, it is a feminine element. The earth element represents stability, health, and security.
“Water is a symbol of rebirth, intuition, and healing. It sustains life in all living things, like the earth element, and therefore, it is feminine. Unlike the earth element, water is characterized by its movement and fluidity. Since running water is generally cleaner than standing water, one of the symbols of the water element is cleansing.
“Fire represents power and assertiveness. It manifests in strong emotions, even opposing ones like love and anger, and when left unchecked, it can destroy things. Because fire is associated with the sun, the light from fire keeps us all safe from a dark and cold world. It is a masculine element.
“Air is the element symbolizing perception, communication, and creativity. Oxygen is essential for the brain, and so air is strongly linked with knowledge. Without air, neither plants nor animals could survive. While air is necessary for life (like earth and water), its majestic power makes it a masculine element.”
Look at the description of the element corresponding to your zodiac sign and see if you identify with it. If you’re a water sign, do you feel like you’re good at following your intuition? If you’re an air sign, do you have a creative instinct?
The Three Modalities
The three modalities are qualities that further define your personality based on your sun sign. Every zodiac sign belongs to one of the three modalities: cardinal, fixed, or mutable. There are four zodiac signs to each modality. With the knowledge of your sun zodiac sign and the classical element it corresponds to, you can now identify your modality:
- Cardinal: Aries, Libra, Capricorn, and Cancer
- Fixed: Taurus, Scorpio, Leo, and Aquarius
- Mutable: Gemini, Sagittarius, Virgo, and Pisces
Susan Miller, a popular and successful astrologer, describes the three modalities as follows:
“Cardinal Signs: If you are a Cardinal sign your job is to initiate the season. You are the leader which brings forth that season. Cardinal signs are pioneering and enterprising. Aries (spring), Cancer (summer), Libra (autumn), and Capricorn (winter), are the Cardinal signs.
“Fixed Signs: If you are a Fixed sign, you are the second month in that season and it is your job to maintain that season. Fixed signs concentrate energy and solidify ideas. Taurus (spring), Leo (summer), Scorpio (autumn), and Aquarius (winter), are the Fixed signs.
“Mutable Signs: If you are a Mutable sign, your sign is the third (and final) month within each season. The role for these signs is to prepare for the transition to the next season and their traits are communication, flexibility, and destruction. Mutable signs are Gemini (late spring), Virgo (late summer), Sagittarius (late autumn) and Pisces (late winter).”
So, what do you think? Based on what you’ve learned about your zodiac sign, do you find astrology interesting? Is it applicable to you?
Astrology and Faith
There is little evidence that astrology “is real.” But it’s still increasing in popularity, and many people claim that it “works” for them. Why? Julie Beck in The Atlantic answers this question:
“While there are surely some people who blindly accept astrology as fact and view it as on par with a discipline like biology, that doesn’t seem to be the case among many of the young adults who are fueling this renaissance of the zodiac…Astrology offers those in crisis the comfort of imagining a better future, a tangible reminder of that clichéd truism that is nonetheless hard to remember when you’re in the thick of it: This too shall pass.”
Astrology can actually help you have more faith and hope for the future. There are plenty of other benefits, too. Reading your horoscope causes you to be introspective, leading you to find meaning in your life. Thinking about your relationship to the universe tends to get you thinking about the power that organized the universe and everything in it: God. It makes you think about your identity and your place in the grand scheme of things. So even though astrology may not be an exact science, engaging with it can be a spiritual experience.
Astrology also connects you to other people. People are excited to find others who share signs with them or someone with a complementary sign. While your sign may not predict your future or perfectly classify your personality, it can still be an interesting lens to see yourself, your relationships, and your life through.
It’s important not to rely solely on astrology for spiritual and emotional support. If astrology interests you, supplement it with other spiritual wellness practices. For example, interpret your horoscope in a way that aligns with the personal intentions you set during your morning meditation. However you do it, you can choose to practice astrology in a way that strengthens your faith in a higher power and in the future.