Why You Should Reconsider Astrology Even If You Think It's Fake

Just don't understand the allure of the astrological universe? This astrologer's take on skepticism could help you open your mind.

I often think that if my dad didn't know his natal chart, I might not be here today. Seriously. In the early '70s, my dad returned to his hometown after grad school armed with not only his Masters degree but also knowledge of his astrological birth chart, which he'd been inspired to teach himself about after a brief visit to a hippie commune. He promptly ran into a family friend who was determined to set him up with her BFF, who they suspected might be my dad's perfect match — in great part thanks to her sun sign, which happened to be the same as my dad's moon sign. During their first meeting, my dad read my mom's chart. And that's when he realized there could be "something really special" between them. Six years later, they tied the knot.

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Now, as an astrologer myself, this is just one of a few stories I like to tell to not only explain my astrology roots but also to point out just how powerful knowledge of your own natal chart (aka birth chart) can be. It's one I'll often share with people who are already head over heels for the language of the sky and want to learn more. But I'll also share it with people who have little to no interest in astrology.

These skeptics generally fall into one of two categories. The first bunch is dismissive of astrology because they never got a legit intro to it — their exposure may have been limited to generalized, amateur-written horoscopes. The second is the full-blown haters hell-bent on blowing it off as about as useful as a fortune cookie or Magic 8-Ball — and they're somehow incensed by its mere existence.

The former is my favorite to talk with because if they're even slightly open-minded, it might be possible to start a conversation about how there's so much more to astrology than just your daily horoscope. I might explain how of course you're not the exact same as everyone else born under the same sun sign. That's just one piece of a larger puzzle — or, as I like to call it, your astrological DNA. By taking your birth date, year, time, and place into consideration, you can cast a birth chart, which is basically a snapshot of the sky when you were born. This enables you to look at far more than just the sun. Wherever the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, etc., were in the sky — and the way they were relating to one another — matters as well, and can serve as a blueprint for understanding your personality, goals, work ethic, communication style, and more.

But the latter — the hell-bent haters — are the skeptics I often just walk away from feeling sorry for. For whatever reason (usually a tendency toward black-and-white thinking paired with an obstinate disdain for all things spiritual and/or metaphysical), they've closed themselves off to looking beneath the surface — and, I often suspect, to looking at themselves.

I can't help but wonder if these same people reject other self-reflective, internally exploratory practices, such as psychoanalytic therapy, which aims to bring unconscious thoughts and feelings to the conscious mind in order to heal old wounds and challenging emotions. Doing that kind of therapy can be truly uncomfortable, and you might often find yourself asking, "How on earth can that uncomfortable email exchange with my boss have anything to do with my childhood?" But simply taking the time to look at yourself, your tendencies, your patterns, and connecting the dots with your therapist over time can lead to bolstered self-awareness, which can be incredibly useful for a variety of reasons, whether that's pinpointing emotional triggers or identifying areas of life where you've held yourself back.

Similarly, astrology offers its own lens through which to understand your inner wiring, spirituality, and aspirations. By piecing together interpretations of your whole natal chart — not just your sun sign — with the help of a professional astrologer and/or through self-teaching, you can better understand yourself, the way you relate to other people, and even why the general energy of any given day could put you on edge or make you feel generous and joyful.

There's a reason people searching for their purpose are especially drawn to metaphysical practices like astrology. It can offer valuable insights and serve as an informative guide. Maybe you'll look to your north node — a point where the moon's orbit intersects the sun's path over Earth — as that represents the area of life you're meant to work toward in order to achieve karmic growth in this lifetime. Or you feel like a late bloomer in the love department, but you'll note on your natal chart that Venus, the planet of love, beauty, and money, was retrograde when you were born. In that case, self-love may have been a little more challenging for you, but zeroing in on it can help you move the ball forward in a partnered relationship.

But you don't have to lack clarity of self to benefit from the details of your natal chart or other astrological readings. We could all use a little validation and support when it comes to charting the course of our personal or professional progress.

For example, a solar return chart, which captures the planetary ongoings at the moment the sun returns to its natal placement aka the exact point in the sky it was in when you were born — which happens generally within a day or so of your birthday every year — can offer a glimpse of themes to expect in the year ahead, so you might feel empowered to start that business or move in with your S.O.

Checking out how current transits (read: planetary movements) are interacting with your natal chart can also explain why you might be going through a particularly heavy, complex, or emotional time. For instance, maybe you're beating yourself up because you should have done XYZ by the time you turned 40, and you're suddenly inspired to overhaul major aspects of your life. That could be thanks to your Uranus opposition — a time during which the planet of change opposes your natal Uranus, marking your astrological "mid-life crisis."

And if you want to learn how to communicate better with your partner, better understand the lessons of a past relationship, or learn more about your connection with a sibling or parent, you might benefit from looking into synastry — the study of how two natal charts interact with one another.

Those are just several examples of many ways astrology can offer valuable intel on your sense of self, relationships, and goals. When it comes to all of those big, heavy-duty building blocks of life, I've always wondered — who wouldn't want more information?

But, okay, say you're super science-brained, and you can't even begin to wrap your head around the idea that the planets are influencing your life and personality. It's all good because you don't have to be a committed student of astrology to reap the benefits of it. It can be like learning a foreign language in that you don't have to be fluent to gain useful information and gain a new perspective. Even being curious, dabbling, experimenting, and asking questions can prove eye-opening, offering you the opportunity to engage in positive self-reflection around your beliefs, your values, and your path — just like therapy or journaling.

But if you're still staunchly opposed, those of us who find a ton — or even a bit — of merit in it would appreciate you finding a way to trade criticism for compassion and understanding around how astrology dovetails with the human experience. Like other belief systems and spiritual studies, the language of the sky has been helping people feel more centered, hopeful, and self-aware for over 2,000 years. Astrology is not a replacement for the living, breathing, tactile world around us, and the science that comes with it. Rather, it's a complement.

Think of it this way: When it comes to at least remaining open-minded about astrology, there's so much to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.

Ultimately, one of skeptics' biggest gripes seems to stem from the misunderstanding that astrology purports to know better than you do about your path. That couldn't be further from the truth. Instead, it's like a flashlight, a road map, a GPS system that can offer certain details, tips, illuminations that will make getting down that path a little bit easier, no matter the direction you choose. And as I've learned from my parents, who've been married for nearly 45 years, the first step can be as simple as learning your moon sign.

Maressa Brown is a writer and astrologer with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to being Shape's resident astrologer, she contributes to InStyle, Parents, Astrology.com, and more. Follow her Instagram and Twitter at @MaressaSylvie

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