I don’t believe in astrology. I don’t believe in a lot of things, actually, but astrology definitely ranks in my top ten. I don’t like the concept of my life being controlled by anything, and I definitely don’t like the concept of my life being controlled by the positioning of celestial bodies light-years away.
There is no scientific evidence of any kind that supports astrology. This isn’t to say astrology can’t be helpful. Astrology may provide a placebo effect that provides direction and comfort in difficult times. During periods of high stress, people are most likely to turn to religion or spirituality — which includes astrology.
I don’t have a problem with people who believe in astrology. But astrology can be detrimental when it’s used as an excuse for failure or as a concrete indicator of future relationships.
One of the common ice-breakers is the classic “what’s your sign” question. Replying gives people a chance to find things in common and to bond over a shared label. This in itself isn’t harmful. However, it becomes an issue when the answer closes people off to pursuing relationships with the respondent.
For example, my birthday is Sept. 1, which means I fall under the label of “Virgo.” If I believed in astrology, it would be wise for me to avoid relationships with people who are Geminis, as we are, apparently, of very different temperaments.
To set expectations for relationships based off the positioning of the stars and planets is harmful and decreases the likelihood of people to learning about and experiencing new people in their lives. Avoiding someone because of a label intrinsic to their identity is also considered immoral in most other regards — it’s relevant to ask why it is so accepted when attached to the vague spirituality of astrology.
Additionally, astrology becomes toxic when it’s used as an excuse for being a bad person. In the same way it’s ridiculous to claim an absence at a friend’s wedding due to oversleeping as part of “God’s plan,” it’s ridiculous to claim that Mercury retrograde (which is said to cause issues with communication) is to blame for waiting a week to reply to a barrage of texts sent from a concerned friend.
Furthermore, while people can be prone to streaks of bad luck, it’s also harmful to assign an astrological meaning to that. It perpetuates the “you against the universe” mentality. Sometimes, awful things just happen and reading too far into them causes nothing but anxiety and existential confusion.
Overall, astrology isn’t inherently harmful. It’s like many religions: mostly pure at its center, but sometimes manifesting itself in limiting or toxic ways. However, believers in astrology need to stop using it as an excuse for their own failures or as a determinant of the individuals they should avoid.
People need to take responsibility for their actions and avoid looking deep into streaks of bad luck. Only then can we grow into relationships and move forward into our lives free of belief-imposed restraints.
Eamon Morris PZ ’22 is from Orange, California. It’s not his fault that he’s a bad person because he’s a Slytherin and had no choice.