Why I always listen to astrologers: They’re surprisingly scientific and systematic. They do math and read history. Then they ask, “Will history repeat itself?” What’s wrong with that?

Uranus, a recent photo from NASA, showing x-rays detected by the Chandra observatory

It suddenly occurred to me today to think about what I was telling clients back in 2019 and even the latter part of 2018. I remember telling any number of people to be careful about money, to keep in mind that something might happen with the economy in general sometime soon. That we should be prepared for an economic downturn. That wasn’t me being prescient. Well, a little, it was, but mostly, it was me paying attention to The Tarot Lady and Briana Saussy and The Astrology Podcast (with Kelly Surtees, Austin Coppock, and Chris Brennan), and various other astrologers who I follow.

I’m not talking about reading your daily horoscope but about listening to what astrologers say about farther out planets (Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Pluto) and about how their movements align with past historical events. I had heard again and again from various people that Uranus had been in Taurus during the Great Depression in the 1930s. And here the Earthshaker was coming into Taurus again, ready to shake up all things bullish (you know, like markets? and money?).

How could Uranus (which is somewhere between 1.6 and 1.98 BILLION miles from Earth at any given time, depending on where both planets are in their orbits) POSSIBLY affect Earth’s economy?

Well, what makes you think that Uranus affecting the economy is a necessary precondition for it being worthwhile to listen to astrology on this?

“But, Bonnie, you LITERALLY JUST said…”

Nope. Sure didn’t. What I said was that the movements of planets have, in the past, ALIGNED with certain historical events. And I chose the word “align” for a reason. Alignment doesn’t imply causation. At all. It certainly allows for the possibility of causation but it doesn’t guarantee it.

It’s also possible that there is a spurious correlation: Perhaps the movements of the planets and events on Earth are BOTH affected by some third factor. Perhaps the movements of the planets are more like the movements of the hands on a clock–except, you know, MUCH more precise, because nobody needs to wind the planets up to keep them moving around the Sun.

I know I have said this before (in Science meets mysticism: You’re gonna need a bigger clock) but I’m reminding you of it again.

Because as long as you think, “Bonnie thinks Saturn has come all up in here and is doing stuff to her!”, then it’s understandable that you would think this is nonsense.

But if I say to you that Uranus, viewed from the perspective of Earth, was located in the constellation of Taurus at the time of the Great Depression, that’s just science and history. You can’t really argue with that. It’s just a simple observation.

So why am I listening to the astrologers and not just the astronomers and historians? Because astrologers are noticing and tracking these particular correlations, and astronomers and historians really aren’t. It just hasn’t occurred to them, I guess, but it has occurred to astrologers. If modern astronomers and historians want to join forces and compare notes, I’d love to hear what they have to say.

Still, though you may still think of astrologers as “not scientific,” I just am going to pound this observation into you again: noticing that two things happen at the same time is not unscientific. Calculating the angles and aspects that planets form with regard to each other is what most people would call doing math. Which is not unscientific either. I get it that you may not want to think about math, I feel you on that (The Tarot Lady always says that when she tries to teach math to students, “that’s when the tears come out!”), but out of fairness, please think about math anyway.

Ancient astrologers, armed with their own observations and branches of mathematics that they, in some cases, INVENTED to make sense of their observations, managed to build incredibly accurate observatories. The movements of planets amid the stars inspired ancient peoples to do all sorts of things that you and I, no matter how skeptical and holier than thou we may feel, could not do. For example, I don’t have it in me to systematize geometry, but Euclid did, and he did so while working (probably, it is thought) in the Library of Alexandria, a library dedicated to the nine Muses of ancient Greek and Roman mythology, goddesses of the arts (of which one, Urania, was the muse of astronomy–which I guess was considered an art at the time). Euclid is known for having introduced mathematical rigor to geometry. Huh. Wonder what got him interested in that? (Hint: Euclid didn’t go to MIT.)

Going back even further, though, in 2016 the Washington Post reported (they pulled it from the journal Science, but I don’t have a subscription to check the original article there–if you do, you can find the link in the WP article) on the discovery that ancient Babylonian astronomers invented calculus to help them keep track of the movements of heavenly bodies.

“…they measured the daily apparent velocity of Jupiter (as seen from Earth) at different dates in its orbit. Then they used these velocities and times to deduce the distance that Jupiter must have travelled during the intervening period. That calculation is equivalent to the geometrical notion of plotting velocity against time, and calculating the area under that plot.”

-Philip Ball, “Babylonian astronomers used geometry to track Jupiter,” Nature, Jan. 28, 2016, https://www.nature.com/news/babylonian-astronomers-used-geometry-to-track-jupiter-1.19261

“It’s geometry, which is itself old, but it’s applied in a completely new way, not to fields, or something that lives in real space, but to something that exists in completely abstract space….Anybody who studies physics would be reminded of integral calculus.”

Astrophysicist Mathieu Ossendrijver, Humboldt University, Berlin, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/01/28/clay-tablets-reveal-babylonians-invented-astronomical-geometry-1400-years-before-europeans/

Let me say that again: ancient Babylonian astronomers INVENTED calculus so they could do better astrology.

You may not agree with their beliefs, but these were not dumb people.

And they were determined. I think you would have to be, to invent calculus. Why were they so keenly interested? Ask yourself that.

The part that you find unscientific, some of you, is the idea that because a historical event happened to occur when the planets were lined up in a particular way, the conclusion gets drawn that when the planets line up that way again, something similar might happen again. But that’s honestly not that unscientific either. It’s just the formation of a hypothesis based on past observations.

That’s what scientists also do: observe things, hypothesize, and then see what happens so as to determine whether the hypothesis has any validity. That’s also actually what astrologers do. It’s just that scientists haven’t thought to track these particular things. But it’s not hard to do; for as long as humans have been literate, we’ve been recording things, and the records of history go back pretty far at this point.

So when an astrologer says to me that they have noticed that the last five times a planet was in a particular position with regard to Earth, a list of events that all have similar themes happened, I don’t honestly find it all that wild to consider the possibility that something similar might happen again.

It’s just a matter of writing down what sorts of events are expected, and then waiting to see what happens, and then reflecting afterwards and looking back to see if what happened does or does not provide evidence that supports the hypothesis.

That’s not crazy.

That’s not being woo woo.

That’s just taking a systematic approach to things.

And you know where I think astrology got its bad reputation? From people who don’t like math. And from people who don’t find history interesting. What do math and history have in common? Meticulous attention to detail.

And if you’re a lazy American who just wants to binge-watch Netflix, then yeah, you might not have the stamina for history or math, and I’m sorry, but it’s not fair to take your laziness out on astrology. “What I don’t understand, and what takes too much effort to look into, must be impossible.” Uh-huh.

One more thing, and this is just anecdotal, but I’ll say it anyway: modern astrologers seem very interested in science and certainly very interested in getting vaccinated against the virus that causes Covid-19. I know at least two astrologers who have mentioned publicly that they are getting or have gotten vaccinated; many others have not said so publicly that I can find, but when someone says the words “vaccine” and “hope” in the same sentence, I conclude that they are pro-vaccine. I myself (though I’m not an astrologer, I am just learning) got vaccinated (J&J) the day after I became eligible. If your mind is prone to overthinking, if your mind is prone to systematizing and analyzing all its observations, if you find the natural world fascinating, all of which I think is true of most if not all astrologers, then, I think, you are also likely to see the logic behind a vaccination campaign, and the hope that a vaccine represents.

In this regard, here’s an interesting item of note:

One of the most successful vaccination campaigns this year has taken place in Bhutan, where the government consulted Buddhist monks to find out the most auspicious time to begin vaccinating, and attributes of the most auspicious person. They then followed the advice and as of April 16, 2021, Bhutan, using the AstroZenica vaccine, had surged past Israel and the U.S. for the position of the nation that had vaccinated the highest percentage of its adults.

My point is not that the time chosen by Bhutan’s Buddhist monks to begin the drive was especially good–my point is that astrologers have a systematic frame of mind in general and could easily see the value of something like vaccination. Having decided to do the thing, they then needed to plan a schedule for it–and planning, the setting up of schedules and calendars, is a place where astrology really shines. Without it, you might procrastinate forever; with it, you say to yourself, I’m doing the thing on the day, that’s the day when I do the thing, and it gets done. Honestly, astrology could be as misguided as fuck–though I don’t believe that it is–and it would still be worth studying for its organizational value alone.

One last thing: the image at the top of this post is from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory; the pink is an x-ray image of Uranus superimposed on a more recent photo of Uranus, according to NASA’s post about this. Yes, Uranus is emitting x-rays. So do other planets; NASA thinks that they are scattering energy that originally came from the Sun. Human scientists still have a lot to learn about these planets. So let’s all learn together and not fuss at each other about the motivation behind our interest. Instead, let’s focus on what we have in common:

  • Observing things.
  • Keeping good records.
  • Checking the good records kept by others as needed.
  • Cross-referencing all the information in an organized way.
  • Asking questions.
  • Forming hypotheses.
  • Taking an interest in the natural world.
  • Appreciation of science.

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