Taking a Step Back

I’m learning a lot about how I want to practice astrology.

I’ve been spending a lot of time analyzing charts from a linear and circular statistics standpoint, rather than interpretation. I think it’s possible to find patterns and correlations within friend groups and social circles — these may not “prove” that astrology is real, but would certainly strengthen its legitimacy. I hope to do a blog post soon summarizing more of the studies I’ve been reading about.

But regardless of how much I enjoy math and data, I do very much enjoy chart interpretation. My issue is that I don’t think it practical to use astrology for predictive work; the symbolism is too broad and it creates too many possibilities, making it very unlikely to accurately predict anything useful. Many astrologers do use it for predictive work, and some are very good at it, but I personally struggle to get on board.

What I’ve really enjoyed is using the birth chart as a jumping-off point, and letting the conversation flow naturally from there, referring back to the chart as needed. I’ve had excellent conversations with individuals by starting the conversation with the elements — which one dominates, which are lacking or struggling, and how the essence of the elements may present in their personality. It has been helpful to start off with broad strokes, and then concentrate on specific areas from there.

Feedback has been great so far. Folks have said they prefer this open, collaborative discussion rather than unidirectional predictions or assumptions. They feel they can disagree with me or my interpretation in ways they couldn’t with other astrologers. As a result, by the time our conversation is over, whatever skepticism they had about astrology as a whole have largely evaporated, and they’re in awe of the potential that has unfolded for them.

Despite the widespread popularity of horoscopes, it seems people generally don’t like to be told who they are. They want help understanding, sure, but ultimately they want to define it for themselves. The funny thing is I don’t think I’m alone in practicing this way, but people seem to have preconceived notions and don’t understand how malleable astrology really is.


 

On a personal note, I am still self-conscious about this hobby and sharing it publicly with others. My intent for this blog was to work through some of that, but as my spotty post history will tell you, I’m struggling to do that.

I set very high standards for myself, and I berate myself if I don’t meet them. I want to do everything and nothing all at once, but focus and follow-through are formidable foes. I’ll draft up a blog post, but upon re-reading it, decide either: a) I don’t deserve to have an opinion, or b) my writing is too vague to make sense of, and I will delete whatever I’ve written.

I’m trying to be less critical of myself; to be less of a perfectionist, and more of a completionist. I’m publishing this post knowing it is not very good, and there are a lot of things I want to change about it, but it is more important that I just publish the damn thing.

So, fuck it. Publish.

Existing Studies of Natal Placements & Statistics

I’m nerding out hard.

I’ve been doing some digging on statistical analysis of natal placements to better understand what’s been done before. It’s frustrating to me when skeptics deride astrology on the whole, implying that it never holds up to the scrutiny of the scientific method. Even statistician Michel Gauquelin, after devoting decades of his career to this research, said, “the majority of the elements in a horoscope seem not to possess any of the influences which have been attributed to them.” 

But once you start studying astrology, you realize that it makes too much sense to ignore. I think there is potential in using statistical analysis as a way to boost the legitimacy of the field of astrology. My goal is not to convince skeptics per se, but cause them to reconsider their scorn for the study.

There is still tons of research to be done, so there isn’t much out there right now. But hoo boy, let me tell you — what’s out there already is super interesting.

First of all, Gauquelin’s work has lived on after his death in the 1990s. His data has been digitized, helping astrological researchers conduct further analyses. Take this quote from Kyosti Tarvainen, past president of the Finnish Astrological Association:

“Thanks to these developments the Gauquelin data today is providing statistically significant confirmation for ordinary astrology in all three major themes of modern astrology: natal astrology, synastry (couple compatibility) and prediction (transits and other forecast techniques)” 

Think of all the different ways to analyze that data! As Astrology News Service notes, Gauquelin’s original research was hyper-focused on Sun sign placements. To have so much data with confirmed birth times, ready and waiting to be analyzed, is blowing my mind. A collection of revelations waiting to be discovered. Exciting as hell.

Second of all, this study on natal placements of serial killers, to put it simply, rules. Authored by Dutch statistician Jan Ruis, PhD, the study found that serial killers tended to have a preponderance of Mutable signs, the 12th house, and Moon aspects in their natal charts. The correlation is interesting, and they concluded that “some of the claims of astrologers cannot be rejected.”

I love that conclusion. Obviously statistical analysis won’t prove causality — this study simply confirms that astrology is not a scam, parlor trick, or wishful thinking. Astrology has been around for thousands of years, it’s nice to have some data to back it up. Legitimacy, hurray!

Finally, check out this research that showed correlation between astrology’s philosophy of the elements and the Eysenck Personality Indicator, a major psychology test. The researcher “compared the key descriptive words Eysenck used to describe Introversion, Extraversion, Emotional Stability and Neuroticism with key words astrologers identify with the Fire, Earth, Air and Water traits.”

I’m working on more research of my own (and honing in on a thesis, I think!), so I’m sure I’ll find more interesting statistics tidbits to share.

 

Happy learning,

Charlotte

Frequency Distributions

Continuing on from my last statistics post…

I’m examining the natal and progressed charts of 9 individuals within a social group, looking for patterns. Already, I’ve noticed interesting clusters around a few certain points of the zodiac, but today I looked at it a little differently: simply, as frequency distributions.

If we examining the archetype distribution at face value, it looks like this chart.

Frequency Distribution by Family (Unweighted) (1)

The purple line shows total values, and it seems that Cancer and Leo are the most dominant. Great, right? This group exhibits a lot of Cancer and Leo energy, right?

Maybe. But maybe not.

In this group, 4 of 9 people have birthdays around Gemini/Cancer season. Because Mercury and Venus are never more than 45 degrees from the Sun, we can expect a higher concentration of data points around the Gemini/Cancer/Leo quadrant of the zodiac (especially since we are also looking at midpoints between these seasonal planets).

In short, all data points are not of equal importance. A midpoint between two conjunct planets is pretty redundant, it doesn’t tell us anything more than what we could discern from examining the conjunction alone. And an aspect to a luminary or chart ruler carries more significance than, say, an aspect to a progressed planet.

To account for these differences, I created a weighted scoring system. Luminaries and angles were worth the most, while midpoints and loose aspects were only worth a little. Doing so showed me patterns were developing in Leo and Aquarius, and Taurus and Scorpio as well. I then tallied up scores by element and modality to better understand the impact.

The result was far more insightful:

Weighted Scores by Element and Modality (2)

As you can see in the chart above, there was an especially high concentration of Fixed signs, with Fixed Earth (Taurus) scoring the highest. While the first chart showed a prevalence of Cancer and Leo, this chart shows that Leo is indeed quite prevalent, but Cancer is not; in fact, Cancer (Cardinal Water) scored the lowest of them all.

This tell us that although this group shares a lot of Cancer placements, most of them are simply attributed to having lots of birthdays in the late Spring.

If you look at the first chart again, notice there’s an additional bump around Scorpio. Because Taurus and Scorpio are directly opposite each other, aspects made to one sign are also reflected in the other (mostly).

If we were to combine the natal and progressed charts of all 9 individuals, a la synastry, I believe we would see a Fixed Grand Cross. Though I am not measuring group behavior or dynamics, the Fixed Grand Cross tells us that this group is steady and reliable, maybe stubborn, and strong as hell. The each bring something different to the table, but put together, there’s very strong Fixed energy.

They’re not a group of doers (Cardinal), and they’re not wishy-washy either (Mutable). Rather, they’re stabilizers (Fixed).

The Head & The Heart

I want to be better about writing but I don’t know where to start. I have a running list of astrological topics to cover but every time I sit down to write, nothing comes out.

I’ve never been good at identifying and asking for what I want. This is one of the few ways I relate to my Pisces Sun — I don’t “want” anything for my own sake, but for others. The fish’s immersive nature creates a nebulous, mysterious ego, one that adapts to fill whatever gaps surround it.

My Leo Moon, by contrast, is pounding on my internal doors with a list of demands: creation, expression, validation, attention, give me all of it, goddammit. I badly want to appease her, but how do I satiate those needs when my ego wants nothing? My Moon is my one and only fire placement, and I don’t know how to handle it; it’s literally out of my element.

Heart on fire, head under water.

In astrology, progressions are the idea that once we are born, the movement of the planets reflect the trajectory of our life, with each day equating to one year. So, the location of the planets 30 days after your birth mirrors your life at 30 years old.

My Sun has progressed from Pisces to Aries, and it certainly feels like breaking the surface, at long last, after an eternity spent underground. I’ve been ingrained with the wisdom and adaptability of Pisces and the knowledge of all that came before it; and I am finally taking a form of my own and setting off on a new path.

Trouble is, my progressed Mercury is still hanging back in Pisces.

In a few years’ time, my Mercury will make its way to Aries, and my hope is then I will have an easier time articulating my individual wants and needs. Maybe then my mind, freshly-ablaze, can help my Leo Moon to get what it wants.

I appreciate what Pisces has gifted me, but I am ready to break new ground and forge my own path. In the meantime, I’m making progress. I am still under water, but I can see the surface. And when I get there, I will be on fire, and I will be unstoppable.

Astrology & Statistical Analysis

My latest astrological focus has been on degree placements and mathematical points — basically synastry, but instead of couples I’m looking at groups of 6-8 people.

There’s been very little statistical analysis of astrology so far, and what’s been done has grossly misunderstood how astrology works, so the results are flawed. One of the most-cited studies, for example, asked astrologers to identify whether or not a subject was mentally retarded based solely on their natal chart; unsurprisingly, results were about the same as random chance.

Reading and accurately interpreting a natal chart is not a solo activity — to be truly effective, the individual must also participate in some way. We can only tell so much from reading a chart alone, we can’t glean anything truly insightful from randomized, anonymous charts — so of course the study had mediocre results.

Studies like this are overly simplified, looking for a certainty that astrology doesn’t have. True, astrology doesn’t lend itself to the precision of statistical analysis given its fluidity and ambiguity, but in my opinion, that doesn’t make them mutually exclusive practices.

I still have a lot of work to do to be able to summarize my study effectively, but here’s the gist: I’m looking at lots of data points for each individual — close to 40 — including natal and progressed placements, midpoints, and karmic points. Because these points have varying levels of significance, I’ve also developed a weighted scoring system to discern the importance of each point.

What I’ve found is a disproportionate significance of key points in the zodiac — in other words, the individuals of the social group share common placements in a few clusters. Because this group defines themselves as a bit of a “chosen family,” my theory is the people with whom they’ve chosen to have close relationships share similar or complimentary astrological placements.

Again, this isn’t just natal placements, this is a cluster of a lot of different placements. Take, for example, the Leo cluster. At 20′ Leo, this group has a:

  • Natal Moon
  • Natal N. Node
  • Progressed Mercury (that person’s chart ruler)
  • Progressed Mars (that person’s chart ruler)
  • Progressed Venus x2
  • Progressed Moon
  • Progressed Sun
  • Midpoint of an individual’s important natal aspect

Those are relatively significant placements for 7 of the 9 participants, all at one point of the zodiac. This is just one example of many, but the clustering of both natal and progressions suggests that these individuals are connecting with each other based on current traits and attitudes that may have changed or grown over time, and these folks click well because of where they are at this time in their lives.

(Side note: As always, correlation does not mean causality — this doesn’t imply that astrological placements are the cause of their close relationships)

For the sake of comparison, I created a small control group of 6 individuals who don’t know each other and did not find any similar placement patterns. This suggests we would not find such clusters by random chance.

 

Again, there’s still a lot of work to be done here, but I think I’ve found something useful. Since each person has all 12 signs of the zodiac in their chart, I think examining the distribution of archetypes within social groups can tell us a bit about the group dynamics, as well as interpersonal emotional and spiritual connections.

 

Do you know of any particularly interesting statistical analyses of astrology? Share them in the comments, I’d love to know more, no matter how flawed.

Jupiter Cycles

I’m finding Jupiter’s 12-year cycle to be an excellent way of introducing someone to how astrology works beyond the Big Three (Sun, Moon, Ascendant).

This has been especially useful for anyone over the age of 24, who’s experienced at least two full cycles. Because Jupiter represents growth and abundance, and it spends about 13 months in each sign, its influence is easier to track on a longer timeline.

When I did this with clients, I started with Jupiter’s transit across their Sun. It helped that both had Sun placements near an angle, which added a bit more oomph to the transit. We started by exploring Jupiter’s journey through the houses, how each realm of life took center-stage, one by one over time. I noted each house transition by year and season to help jog their memory, then asked them to write a couple words about what they remember from each 13-month period.

The results were not dramatic, but rather a very curious, “…huh!” This was delightful. They were able to understand how astrology speaks to us in broad, general themes rather than specific answers. The growth they felt in each house during the transiting year wasn’t because of Jupiter, it was probably for a whole host of other reasons.

“As above, so below.”

The themes we experience in our lives mirror the themes playing out in the sky.

I fucking love astrology.

No Answers, Just Work

One of the most challenging things about introducing someone to astrology is managing their expectations. They think astrology has answers, that it can point to a specific transit and say, “Ah! That’s why you’re experiencing XYZ; here’s what you can do about it…” But it’s not like that.

No transit exists in a vacuum.

We can look at our charts, identify transits, and read a variety of interpretations on them; but we can’t find ready-made interpretations that account for all the other transits we’re experiencing at the same time. Each chart is unique, and it’s impossible to fully comprehend the chart of anyone beyond ourselves, though we may try. With astrology, only the individual can harvest all the wisdom it has to offer, because only they know what they’re experiencing; the tough part is that they must be willing to put in the work to find it.

Each archetype of the zodiac has three levels of maturity, or evolutions. How we use the energy of those archetypes is up to us through the use of free will. Our job when studying our charts is to examine these archetypes from all sides, and consider how we might be utilizing them, intentionally or not.

Then come the added layers of planets and houses, a flux of information that can quickly make you dizzy — astrology is a lot of work. Go slow. Take your time. Meditate.

Astrology requires an honest assessment of ourselves that is both challenging and uncomfortable, and it doesn’t give us clear-cut answers. Approach each transit with an open mind, and keep an eye out for opportunities to grow. That is, essentially, the ultimate wisdom of astrology anyway:

“All things shall come to pass — now grow, grow, grow.”