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What Astrology Really Tells You

by Rabbi Rami ShapiroJune 24, 2019
Columnists
12 signs of the zodiac

chekat/Getty Images

“You may be among the millions of Americans who are curious about, if not seriously engaged with, astrology. Me too.”

“What’s your sign?” 

Chances are you know the answer; you don’t even have to think about you it—you just know. But what if I asked you, “What’s your BMI?” Not only might you not know the answer, you might not know what a BMI is. (Body Mass Index, I looked it up.) Why is that?

According to a Pew study conducted last year, 29 percent of Americans believe in astrology. This is a larger percentage of Americans than those who belong to mainline Protestant churches! The National Science Foundation found that 44 percent of Americans between 18-to 24-years-old believe that astrology is somewhat or very “scientific”. This may be more than the number of Americans who believe in evolution. (I say “may” because I didn’t bother to look it up.)

You may be among the millions of Americans who are curious about, if not seriously engaged with, astrology. Me too.

I don’t place any credence in newspaper horoscopes, and I find most books on astrology vapid, but I have had my chart done—twice!—and find the information revealed in it more than a little intriguing. But it isn’t science. It is storytelling.

Here is what I think astrology tells you: You belong. You are not an alien suddenly plopped into to a wild and chaotic universe, you are a manifesting of that wild and chaotic universe the way foam is a manifesting of beer.  

I read my chart the same way I read my dreams: as a gateway into my own subconscious. What interests me isn’t what my chart or dream says, but what insights I glean when I engage with it creatively. When I read my chart I weave a story about myself. I’m not reading a biography, but an autobiography. That is to say what astrology tells me isn’t fixed fate but fluid possibility. It is giving me another way to peer into my life and make meaning out of it. (For a story on Indian astrology, called Jyotish, read “Astrology: Having Mother Nature on Your Side.” 

My chart is my story not yours. Your chart is your story not mine. That is why I don’t recommend you seek out the meaning of your sign in a book, but rather—assuming you are interested—seek out an astrologer with a good reputation who can walk you through your chart and let you create the story for yourself. 

PS: You might have noticed that I haven’t answered either of the questions I posed at the beginning of his essay. I haven’t told you my sign or my BMI. That is intentional. If I tell you I’m a Taurus you may project all kinds of Bull on me. If I tell you my BMI says I’m obese you may bury me in judgments regarding willpower and lack of self-control. So I won’t reveal either. (Or did I? Oh, well.) 

For more on astrology, read, “Do You Know Your Star Sign?” 


Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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