‘So you’re a Gemini?’: Why astrology is both a beauty and a curse
Marcianne Elaine Gaab
Libras are indecisive. Aries are impetuous. Scorpios are walking red flags. Pisces are emotional train wrecks. Capricorns are reincarnations of Jesus. Geminis are personifications of Regina George. These are just some of the characteristics we often associate with people based on their Zodiac signs.
Zodiac signs have been given a new life. What was once a weekly feature in the newspaper has snowballed into a cult, partly thanks to the internet. These days, you can deduce more about a person by simply looking up their birth date, birthplace, and (if available) time of birth. It has penetrated into pop culture that even Spotify curates playlists based on your astrological sign.
Thus, the human race has evolved to a point where “What’s your Zodiac sign?” or “Oh, you must be a Leo,” are the new conversation starters. Some people — the hardcore Madam Auring, as I call them — need not to utter a word. They can just choose to entertain or ignore a person based on how they dress, walk, talk, and the like.
But at the same time, I found it off-putting how hasty generalizations are used to disfavor certain Zodiac signs and dissuade others from pursuing people for the sole reason that their astrological sign leaves a bad taste (i.e. Gemini, Virgo, Capricorn). What makes it more frustrating is that whenever one would criticize another’s belief in astrology, the other would most likely respond with a “that’s very [insert Zodiac sign] of you.” It’s an unhealthy cycle with no end in sight.
The world of astrology is astonishing, really. But also worrisome. Is the alignment of the stars valid enough to rationalize our quick judgments about people? Or is it simply part of our journey towards self-awareness?
The fault is not in our stars
I am a Pisces with a Sagittarius rising and Aries moon. This statement alone would provide a hypothetical description of myself, my strengths and weaknesses, my potential love interests, and even my luck on career and wealth.
What makes it more interesting is that all these can be construed the moment a child is born — a time when they have yet to gain knowledge about the world let alone explore their self-consciousness.
In his book Being and Nothingness, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre theorized that our existence precedes our essence. Sartre referred to “essence” as anything beyond our control, such as natural events, our genetic imprint, and the placement of the stars. His existentialism theory posits that the core of who we are is not built from a pre-existing mold. There is no single, universal script for who we are and how we should be. Rather, we are merely blank slates thrown into the world who give meaning to our lives through the discoveries, decisions, and mistakes we make.
But Zodiac signs are the antithesis. It asserts the inevitability of our lives based on the relative positions of the stars and planets at the time of our birth. Some accept the fact that things have to be in a certain way and, thus, delineate themselves from choices and situations that may lead to unfavorable circumstances.
This is what Sartre termed as “living in bad faith,” that is refusing to acknowledge or explore the myriad of options available to us. We restrict ourselves of that freedom when we subject our lives at the mercy of the universe, making us more like objects rather than conscious human beings. Abandoning such preordained rigidities is, what Sartre calls, living authentically — when our choices and actions coincide with our beliefs, values, and desires as individuals.
Moreover, Sartre argued that human beings can only gain self-awareness through the gaze of another. While it is advantageous in some way, the gaze of the other can often be objectifying. And this is very much prevalent today, especially with the modern-day influence of astrology. Ask a friend right now and I am certain that they were, at some point, judged or even bullied based on their Zodiac signs. Thus, just as we limit ourselves to what the stars dictate, stereotypes imposed by others on our Zodiac signs rob us of this freedom to live authentically.
While the concept of existentialism remains an unresolved debate, this Sartrean belief serves as an anchor to our core being. It allows us not to be defeatist towards preconceived notions set by forces out of our control. From what I’ve learned from an unhealthy binge-watch of Doctor Strange, there are multiple realities before us — each with its own pros and cons. Even if the reality we choose today ends up a dud, it’s never too late to reassess and make better choices.
Astrology is self-awareness
Introspection, however, is not entirely a crime to our individuality.
Astrologer Chani Nicholas argues that, “Astrology is one tool for getting to know ourselves, what drives us, and how we can be of use in the world.” Astrology as a form of self-awareness was also encapsulated by psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s school of thought.
Jungian psychology states that there is a constant interplay between the unconscious and conscious realms of the psyche or the complete personality of an individual. However, a significant portion of who we really are exists mostly in the unconscious, which we should tap into and integrate it into our awareness through individuation.
For Jung, our understanding of the celestial bodies, their positions, and their relations to one another “gives a picture first of the psychic and then of the physical constitution of the individual.” Essentially, he acknowledged it as “a system of original and fundamental qualities in a person’s character, and can therefore be regarded as an equivalent of the individual psyche.”
In Jung’s model of the psyche, the self represents the combined, authentic totality of the unconscious and conscious. It is the core of our being — who we are, what we desire, what we are capable of, and the like. It drives individuation, our path towards wholeness and fulfillment. As such, Jung believed that a person’s birth chart provides insights into what our soul intends for us to achieve.
Moreover, in seeking the connections of planetary movements with our psyche, we experience what Jung coined as synchronicity — a “meaningful coincidence of two or more events where something other than the probability of chance is involved.” Just like the dreams and déjà vu occurrences we have, astrology through synchronicity aids us in our quest towards individuation by getting in touch and awakening our inner self.
A relatable scenario is when horoscope readings tell you that a fortune could come your way; then, days later, your boss offers you a raise. Or when water signs are warned of the trauma that might re-emerge during the Mercury retrograde and then they unsurprisingly happen. Good or bad, these are examples of synchronicity in action.
To believe or not to believe?
Astrology has lived through the ages and will continue to do so. As living, thinking human beings aware of their consciousness, we have the free will to seek out the essence of our lives through means that we believe are authentic.
Nonetheless, whether you think astrology is arbitrary or determinate, our pleasure in astrology should never come to a point where we weaponize our prowess in foresight to shame others for their Zodiac sign. At the same time, they should never be used as a scapegoat to rationalize our wrongdoings.
Instead, astrology should be used to spark a dialogue between two parties. And so, the moment our conversations shift from “You’re a Gemini so it’s not gonna work,” to “I’ve had bad experiences with Geminis,” is the moment we become more open to our own reality and those written in the stars.
It’s a shot in the dark, but who knows? Maybe a Pisces-Taurus or Scorpio-Leo pair wouldn’t be that bad after all.