Sun sign astrology in a postmodern world

Astrology as a multicolored tapestry of selves

I must be in a good mood or something, because today I would like to say that sometimes it’s okay to pay attention to sun sign astrology.

See, the problem is not with the idea that there is one symbolic part of the chart that matters more than any other and carries more weight. Remember though that the idea of a unified “I” is a Western notion that we have inherited from our culture’s biases, prejudices, and myths.

We privilege the supremacy of the Individual; don’t fool yourself into thinking that the Collective I is privileged in this country (the USA) because if it were, we would have adopted socialism as our basis for government, and you know perfectly well we haven’t.

The Modernist notion of the individual “I”, symbolized by Sun energy, dominates the chart. We get our concept of Self (with a capital S) from this idea, that there is one unified Self, coherent, explainable, somehow fixed in time and space forever. That’s where the mythology about the Sun sign comes from.

What’s wrong with this idea?

Well, here’s the problem, and it’s relatively complex. One part of the problem is that we are human, therefore we are complicated. Although I do not think that astrology is “the answer” to our problems, I do think it’s one language we can use to illuminate our problems, especially our psychological perspectives on ourselves and others.

(Now, there are hidden and obvious problems with that perspective which I will discuss another time.) The real problem, in a postmodern world, lies in comparing what we’ve been taught to believe,with reality.

In reality, since we are complex, we cannot realistically be viewed as having a single continuous, coherent personality that never alters and is fixed in time and space by the movement of the stars.

Even though that’s a really attractive belief, it’s not reasonable to think this way, yet we do it anyway for reasons I will talk about, again, another time (when I discuss “magical thinking” and other cognitive problems scientific-types use to criticize astrology and astrologers).

There are reasonable concerns the psychological community has about those who need the reassurance of a set system of belief, a set system of thinking, that permits people like astrologers to talk about things like Sun signs with great sincerity.

Anyway, the problem nowadays with a focus on Sun sign astrology, aside from all the rational arguments against a belief in astrology in the first place, is that we live in a fragmented, postmodern world, in which it is accepted that we have multiply-layered personalities and identities (not that we are schizophrenic or something) which tend to coexist.

For example, I am a mother, but I am also a lover. I am a daughter, but I am also a worker. You are, perhaps, Chinese, but also an American. The question in a postmodern world is, how do you negotiate meaning amongst all these different aspects of your identities and personal realities?

The second question has to be, how good is astrology at taking these multiplicities of reality into account?

I think some of us, who are more open to the concept of multiple realities coexisting will say “astrology is flexible enough to allow for multiple identities,” but for most people multiple identities coexisting within one personality structure is a concept that seems too foreign and threatening to entertain seriously.

Today’s task is to think about the extent to which you are comfortable with the notion of postmodern fragmentation. I know how hard it is to accept that we all contain different selves, but in fact, we change the way we talk, think, and behave, depending on who we’re with.

We do not maintain a consistent personality in any given hour of the day. Think of the times you’re talking to your parents on the phone, and to your kid who is in the same room. At one and the same time, you’re switching back and forth from one voice to the other, expressing different aspects of your S/self simultaneously.

Think of this question as a meditation on the idea of who you really are… or, perhaps more accurately, who the many yous really are….? Then consider how scary it is for most people to think in these terms, and you’ll understand why astrology is still a very comforting belief system.

And this is why Sun sign astrology is not necessarily a bad thing. It provides us with a feeling of centeredness; we believe in the identity Sun sign astrology gives us, even if it’s not entirely accurate, and we atomistically try to make the rest of the chart “fit” our personalities.

But what if we really are not a coherent person, and in fact, are made up of multiple selves? Is that something you can see in the chart? Has postmodernism destroyed astrology?

I leave you to ruminate upon that thought today….

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