Over the years of studying astrology one key theme for me has been how to take astrology’s mass popular appeal to the next level, so that it becomes more meaningful and thought provoking to a wider audience.
The Faculty and other astrological groups provide the education for those already seriously interested in the subject to discuss, learn and deepen their knowledge. Personalized chart analysis and forecasting is one of the sophisticated expressions of the astrology discipline. However this level of detail does not lend itself to easily reach a broader audience.
In my opinion, the Internet and App age has not had the revolutionary effect on astrology as, perhaps, is possible. There are now many more options for personalized forecasting but increased access to database driven personalized astrology can provide too much data, possibly confusing users who may not know what a birth chart, ascendant, house or transit is.
Sun sign astrologers or ‘media astrologers’ target the public and help to keep astrology’s popular appeal, providing an important avenue of clients and sometimes students for the various professional astrology organizations and consultants. However media astrologers are often considered to reduce astrology to generalisations and Sun sign astrology is often accused of downgrading astrology’s image.
My interest is how to utilize that mass media appeal and educate those to whom astrology reaches via the popular press to the next level in astrological understanding. The data below is old but impressive and it is based on Sun sign horoscopes. It would be interesting to find out current figures given the change in the communication and technology landscape and track information on personalized online astrology as well as the Sun sign horoscopes. I could not find any more up-to-date data.
In 2007 an MIT Media Lab journal reported that “in 2004 the National Science Foundation bemoaned the fact that 28% of Americans believe in astrology and 18% are “not sure”; 15% read their horoscopes every day or “quite often” and 30% “just occasionally.” A smaller study of students in England suggested that 70% read their horoscopes “regularly,” while a recent ban in China on horoscope delivery by text message reveals the scale at which it affected mobile-phone operations there”.
A 2005 Gallup Poll Survey asking the question, ‘Astrology, or that the position of the stars and planets can affect people’s lives’, revealed that in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada about 25% of those in each country believe in astrology. In a 2009 Harris Poll survey in the United States this figure was reinforced with again about 25% believing in astrology.
These figures are astounding! Many marketing businesses would love to have that reach and appeal. How then can astrology benefit from this positive following? I believe that it is necessary to take the general population’s understanding of astrology to the next level one step at a time. As most people know what their Sun sign is, perhaps the next step is to encourage them to find out what their Moon sign is, rather then diving into seemingly complicated online personalized astrology charts which typically churn out lots of data but lack the finesse of relevance.
Moon sign knowledge could provide individuals with information about their emotional self, natural reactions, instinct, intuition or habits. And the list goes on. Combined with the knowledge of their Sun, this could be a powerful tool to maintain, deepen and perhaps expand the level in belief of astrology and take it one level higher from general Sun sign information.
How could this next step be achieved? Perhaps some dialogue with media astrologers is required to encourage them to help educate their readers. Or for the various astrological organisations to promote this small step at increased knowledge to the wider community, or via the Internet as some sites do already exist but the level of awareness amongst the Public is lacking.
The ability to expand the credibility of astrology is challenging. Consultant astrologers are limited by the number of clients they see. Attempts at raising astrology’s credibility via scientific and statistical studies such as The Astrology File by Gunter Sachs or the Mars Effect Study by Michel and Françoise Gauquelin, continually find extreme opponents. Astrological research is important as it promotes efficacy and research discipline which can only benefit and support astrology, but with the high level of acceptance by the general public already in the UK, USA and Canada, not to mention the arguably higher acceptance of the subject in Asia, it may be interesting to focus on the public to help astrology’s image and credibility.
The recent death of Margaret Thatcher reminded me of Ronald Reagan and his wife’s belief in astrology. Whether or not you liked his politics, it helped to raise the status of astrology. Whilst strong ethics are important in the astrological practice, it would be wonderful to have the likes of Evangeline Adams and her client J.P. Morgan whose famous quote ‘Millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do’, help lift the kudos of astrology.
So with scientific studies seemingly raising contentious debate and with the lack of endorsement by well-known figures, it seems that astrology may need to rely more on those who are already believers, that 25% of the population.
In mundane astrology the Public and popular opinion are represented by the Moon. The first use of astrology was in agriculture, predicting the seasons and weather patterns. The Moon is arguably one of the most understood and accepted planets by the Public and I think astrology should make more use of that.
Interestingly, biodynamics as a form of farming championed by Rudolf Steiner is gaining popularity. Biodynamic farming incorporates the ancient technique of astrological planting. The patron of the Biodynamic Association is Patrick Holden, the former director of the Soil Association. The Prince of Wales, in his 2010 book Harmony, described Moon planting as part of “a profound knowledge neglected by modern techniques”.
It seems fitting that perhaps there may be a resurgence in astrological interest via agriculture and farming. The Public appears to be open to this even though the scientific community is not.
Generally speaking, people do seem to have some appreciation of the extent to which the Moon impacts our life on Earth. Perhaps if we were able to expand people’s understanding of their own Moon, it would usefully reinforce the confidence of the 25% who believe there is something to astrology. It might even help to swing the 45-75% who read their horoscopes regularly, around to the idea that there is a good deal more to the subject than a mere moment of escapism from their daily routine.
Karin Schulte is currently a Diploma student at the Faculty based in Singapore.
 MIT Media Lab - Spring Forward 2007 Ambidextrous - Valuing the Irrational Why are horoscopes so popular? Jofish Kaye explores what people want, other than the truth.