I don’t believe in astrology — but like most people, I don’t ignore it either. When it is presented in front of me as horoscope, a capsulized preview of my day or my week in a newspaper or magazine, I would read it with gusto and a bit of contemplation, but would barely remember what it had to say a few hours later. My significant other does not believe in it either — but he has developed a knack for reading the stars. “I think of them not as preordained fate, but as guides,” he says, and takes all of it with a bucket of salt.
Like most people, I also find myself identifying closely with my “sun sign,” the sign of the zodiac where the sun was situated at the moment of person’s birth. I also find the qualities associated with being a Leo — its strengths [creative, passionate, generous, warm-hearted, cheerful, humorous], its weaknesses [arrogant, stubborn, self-centered, lazy, inflexible], its likes [theater, taking holidays, being admired, expensive things, bright colors, fun with friends], its dislikes [being ignored, facing difficult reality, not being treated like a king or queen]. All of these are utterly reflective of how I see myself being, and — curiously enough — what others tell me I am as well. [“Arrogant” and “creative” are right up there in the qualifiers I get constantly.]
And I find for company other insufferable and headstrong Leos like Barack Obama, Madonna, J.K. Rowling, Napoléon Bonaparte, Amelia Earhart, Fidel Castro, Greta Gerwig, Viola Davis, Robert De Niro, Bill Clinton, Alfred Hitchcock, Roger Federer, Carl Jung, Pete Sampras, Simón Bolívar, Herbert Hoover, Whitney Houston, Neil Armstrong, Bill Clinton, Wilt Chamberlain, Henry Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Claudius, Usain Bolt, Louis Armstrong, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stanley Kubrick, George Bernard Shaw, Orville Wright, T. E. Lawrence, Mick Jagger, James Baldwin, Claude Debussy, James Cameron, Andy Warhol, Aldous Huxley, Alfred Tennyson, Johann Michael Bach, Robert Redford, Cecil B. DeMille, Martha Stewart, and Manuel L. Quezon. Looking back at the common threads of their lives, “arrogant” and “creative” are also right up there in their usual qualifiers.
There are also moments of sheer predictive impossibilities that sometimes make me a believer: in the summer of 2009, I read Susan Miller’s monthly read for Leos in her famous Astrology Zone website. It read, very specifically, that I was going to spend a week in a beautiful resort far away from where I lived. I laughed at the prediction, knowing that I was broke and had no plans to get out of Dumaguete. A few hours later, my brother Edwin called and invited me to spend the Holy Week with him in Sipalay, all for free, in an incredible resort, for seven days. Coincidence? Only the stars know.
I find many people I know — a lot of them very smart — have the same porous relationship with the zodiac. Patrick Stokes, a senior lecturer in philosophy at Deakin University, explained our fascination for astrology: “I can understand why astrology is attractive to people. There’s something flattering about the idea that your individual life reflects deep cosmic order. It’s also a way of holding off the thought of meaninglessness. And it’s comforting that you can get guidance. You can have a bit of fun with horoscopes. They’re not evil. But if you take the diversity of people and cram them into twelve broad groups, that’s quite distorting.”
But that comfort can also contain red flags. Stokes continues: “Are you responsible for what you believe? Unless you can suddenly go out and find evidence for something, it’s not clear you’re entitled to believe it. Irrational beliefs are not necessarily harmful, but they can quickly become harmful. If somebody seriously starts organizing their life around them, they may be making decisions around beliefs they’re not entitled to hold. There’s also a question of the ethics of people who take money for astrology. If you can’t provide an evidentiary support for something, should you be charging money for it? It doesn’t seem to me that astrology is, strictly speaking, a religious belief, though this is hard to determine. But it doesn’t present as a religion. It doesn’t make supernatural claims. It presents as a science, but it can’t back that up with evidence. So I’m a sceptic … as Aquariuses often are.”
I’m thinking about these things because I’m writing this just as the Lunar New Year deepens on February 12, and with it the culmination of the Year of the Ox — a Metal Ox, to be precise. This comes with the usual preoccupation for the fortunes that can befall the natives of the various animals in the Chinese zodiac.
I was born in 1975, which makes me a Wood Rabbit. And I am told that in 2021, I need to make a important career decision. That in terms of money and finance, which includes professional projects and activities, this is going to be an “interesting year.” I am apparently more ambitious than usual [my Rabbit is a Leo!], and I will be stopping from taking refuge in secondary roles, and that I will dare to call more attention to yourself. “Few delays and syncopations are possible towards the end of the year but don’t worry, the final balance of 2021 is going to be positive,” I am told. “The Rabbit natives are going to face some issue in their career due to their stubbornness in making everything perfect. You will need to accept that, in order to move on, you have to fulfill only passable standards. Be aware of your capacities and accept only the tasks that you can finalize.”
But will I get lucky in love? I am already in love — but apparently I am going to face different challenges this year with my life partner. “Eventually, you will need to find solutions, which is going to create an atmosphere full of frustration. You have to think deeply in order to solve your [love] problems without losing your mental balance,” I am told. “The issues will slowly disappear and you will enjoy peace and happiness with your partner. You will use your charm to hypnotize your life partner and the romance, sex, and passion will appear in your [love] life. All your emotional problems will remain only in your mind and you enjoy harmony next to your partner.”
In terms of health, I am told to avoid stressful situations, or else I will not be able to focus on work and this will impede the progress of my career. However, I will be able to get good results in the creative arts, such as music or theater [or writing?] — because this “will help the Rabbit natives to relax and reduce the tensions caused by professional or business activities.” This is definitely something to ponder on because apparently I have now the opportunity “to use my imagination and to express my thoughts in an artistic environment.”
My favorable directions are southwest and west.
My lucky colors are blue and silver.
My lucky numbers are 2 and 8.
My favorable months are February, July, and October.
And to beware of unfavorable January and December.
But the skeptical would note that if the Chinese zodiac has any efficacy, did its prognosticators see the upheavals of 2020, the Year of the Rat?
So Man-fung Peter, one of the most famous geomancy consultants in Hong Kong, was interviewed by CNN in January 2020, and said this: “According to feng shui readings, [the world is] overshadowed by a major star of illness this coming year. It means it is more prone to man-made and natural disasters. But you won’t be able to tell when it will strike.”