October 18, 2022

Is Astrology Science or Magic? To me, it’s Self-Care.


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I had never taken the time to learn and understand astrology—until recently.

Partly because I spent six years in a Christian primary school. I was taught that only God had all the answers, and we must not believe in anything else (astrology included).

Maybe because my parents never talked about astrology at home and I assumed it must not be good.

But mostly because I was too occupied with studying in Hong Kong’s spoon-feeding education system, and later, navigating my new life in Australia.

I used to see astrology as something to read and talk about when we were bored, like reading a novel or watching a movie. There may be some truth in it, but it’s created for entertainment. Some people love it, some feel indifferent, and some despise it.

I was one of the indifferent ones—until I started reading Elephant Journal last year.

This diverse and mindful writing community has shown me how astrology can be a useful tool for self-care and personal growth. Here’s how:

1. Astrology cultivates self-knowledge through compassion.

A few months ago, I had my first natal chart reading.

The astrologer, who didn’t know much about my background, was able to describe my inherent characteristics, life path so far, and potential challenges. Her reading shared similar themes to what I learned from 360-degree feedback and leadership profiling in the past.

She took me on a compassionate journey of self-discovery: what makes me me—my gifts, wounds, high and low points in life; what I need to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; and how best to support my energy in synchronicity with the universe.

I learned that my Sun, Moon, and Rising signs consisted of Sagittarius, Aries, and Libra, and that Virgo aligned with multiple planets on my natal chart. In essence, I feel my best in situations when I initiate changes, take charge, and make things happen.

Not once did the astrologer tell me to “fix” the missing elements on my chart or try to sugar coat the reading with positive vibes only.

Instead, she offered gentle reminders on nurturing my emotional needs amid the hustle and bustle of life. I was encouraged to experiment with different grounding practices and incorporate the ones I connected with into my daily routine.

The experience was a breath of fresh air.

Living in a world that always tells us who we should be or could be, it feels nearly impossible to know and be our true, authentic self.

Astrology has offered me a safe and supportive space to really look within, process and give thanks to difficult experiences, and embrace myself, as imperfect as I am.

2. Astrology reframes my definition of a “good life.”

In society, we talk about work-life balance being the gold-standard for a good life. It’s a rather simplistic and flawed concept that suggests the value of work is “equal” to the value of everything else in life combined.

The circular natal chart is divided into 12 houses. Each represents an area of life: self (identity, pleasure, learning), survival (money, health, work), interpersonal relationships (family, partnership, community), and existential (purpose, karma). The placement of planets and zodiac signs in different houses influences how we see, feel, and express our inner world in the outer world.

I’ve been reflecting my way through the 12 houses, particularly on how I made significant decisions in each area in the past.

Did I always listen to and honour my needs and desires? What happened when I conformed to expectations from family, peers, and society? How could I make choices that are genuine and responsible to self and others?

Initially, I did not resonate with the reading of my Moon sign Aries in my natal Sixth House (the House of Health) which is ruled by Pisces. Guided by the astrologer, I explored how I was conditioned to let study and work dominate my daily routine for decades and that I had not been paying much attention to my health and wellness needs, particularly rest and physical exercise. My chronic burnout and health issues were no accident.

Even if we don’t believe in astrology, the 12-house system offers a useful framework to examine our lives. (And work is just one of many pieces in the puzzle.)

Living a good life means taking care of our diverse personal needs, while fostering healthy, integrated relationships with people around us and the world.

3. Astrology teaches me to flow with nature.

For centuries, our ancestors used astrology to track time and season shifts, seek meanings in human affairs, and predict terrestrial events.

Many believed that the moon could affect human behaviour and mood.

Science has shown that the lunar cycle and other astronomical events influence the rhythmicity in the natural world, like the rise and fall of sea levels and the life cycle of animals and plants. Yet the lunar effect on humans is still to be proven.

The evolution of the modern world—industrialism, capitalism, and technology—has conditioned us to believe that productivity and profits equal success.

Almost all humans work against the harmony of nature (and of our own bodies). We sacrifice rest and leisure. We consume resources excessively, non-stop. We forget the interconnectedness of our relationships with each other and all beings.

In a world that is so hyper-connected with social media and technology, we are feeling lonelier and more disconnected than ever.

Astrology reminds us to reconnect with nature because we are nature.

Nature is never in haste and there is a time for everything:

When the new moon emerges, it’s time to reflect on the reality, set intentions, and prepare for actions.

When the full moon shines, it’s time to track progress, celebrate results, and let go of whatever is holding us back.

When Mercury is in retrograde, it’s time to slow down, recalibrate our lives, and be patient and flexible when the unexpected happens.

Every now and then, practise the pause.

Look up to the sky, hear the birds sing, smell the flowers, sip the cacao, and feel our tender hearts.

So, is astrology science or magic?

To me, it’s self-care.

“It all comes through learning to pause for a moment, learning not to just impulsively do the same thing again and again. It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.

The result is that we cease to cause harm. We begin to know ourselves thoroughly and to respect ourselves.” ~ Pema Chödrön


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