Sunday, February 13, 2011

Comments on Steven Forrest's "Why Astrology's Image Needs a Makeover" Editorial


Thank you so much Steven for bringing up this sensitive topic. I am very grateful to have this new ANS web service available as a public platform for news and opinion on astrology, and for the opportunity to see my own work posted. Yet it may be only the beginning of a makeover that astrology has long needed and deserved. As fulfilling as astrology is in many respects, there are aspects of astrology that the public is not comfortable with and this in turn makes us feel uncomfortable with our association to astrology.

As I read through the first few articles on this website, two articles strike me as most significant. One is that old story that we are all so weary of, which is the claim, by skeptics, that the zodiac signs have changed and we are not in the signs we thought we were in. Indeed this is a straw man argument and signs should not be confused with the constellations that have the same names. But the public (and the skeptics of course) never seem to learn no matter how often and how well it is explained. The other significant development is the growing popularity of Western astrology in China. I have seen the unbridled excitement and enthusiasm over this myself, which at times threatens to run roughshod over the whole practice.

I’m completely with you pondering a makeover of astrology’s image. And we all know it just ain’t gonna happen by printing ourselves new business cards, LOL.

You know what, I admire the Chinese zodiac. It’s better than the one we’re stuck with. They’ve got some fine animals in theirs, except some of them suffer from the humiliation of human domestication (e.g. pig and chicken–the wondrous bamboo pheasant in its native habitat) or our conflicts with them (rat for example). And the dragon in the West is much different than the Chinese dragon, which is fun loving and social.

The signs are values and animals exemplify different values depending on how they have adapted. For example, elephants have strong family values, while wolves and dogs value their competition within the pack. Geese and swans value fidelity, and so on. These animal signs are strongly intuitive and user friendly.

What do we have in the West? Well, we have the twins, crab, scales, goatfish, waterbearer, and so on. Tradition and the vast literature regarding the signs is one thing, but if we weren’t so accustomed to them, we’d have to admit that the Western signs seem pretty weird, arcane, freakish, mysterious, strange, superstitious, and outright creepy. They make a lot of people feel uncomfortable and I don’t think uncomfortable is good for astrology. Maybe this is where the image of astrology needs a make over.

It represents a serious change, but It has happened throughout history. Cultures see something they like in each other and in this case it has the added bonus of terminating forever some of the stupid shenanigans and public confusion between signs and constellations perpetrated by astrology’s detractors. Adopting the Chinese zodiac, perhaps with a few modest variations to give the animals their dignity, could do wonders.

Aries becomes dog (wolf), Taurus becomes pig (bear), Gemini becomes rat (or squirrel or bat), Cancer becomes buffalo (or bison), Leo becomes tiger (or cougar), Virgo becomes rabbit, Libra becomes dragon (or swan or goose), Scorpio becomes snake (or rattler), Sagittarius becomes horse (or mustang), Capricorn becomes sheep (or bighorn), Aquarius becomes monkey (or crow?), and Pisces becomes chicken (or elk?). The suggested changes in parentheses are North American totems, but local animals would suffice wherever in the world you go. If you play around with the glyphs with a little imagination, a transformation will happen right before your eyes.

Yes, that’s what I’d call a true image makeover!

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