The Cosmology of Astrologers in 2023

Unravelling Astrology’s Cosmic Revival

In the realm of astrology, the winds of change have been blowing since Astrologer Bernard Eccles penned his dissertation in 2004. In this, he mused about the fate of astrology, illuminating the decline of its allure, even as New Age and spiritual trends flourished. Bernard’s work dissected the reasons behind this fall from grace, offered potential lifelines, and envisioned a symbiotic future with ecological and neo-pagan movements. Amid this astrological twilight in the early 2000s, he went as far as stating that “unless astrology can find some new and revitalising influence, it seems likely that its present decline will continue. It is not impossible to imagine that by 2050 astrology will be completely extinct.” His words serve as a poignant reminder of astrology’s precarious state.

Fast forward nearly two decades, and the astrological landscape has evolved dramatically.

Today, astrology isn’t just a subculture curiosity—it’s a vibrant, mainstream phenomenon, casting its influence across media, fashion, and music. Social media platforms have become a thriving cosmos for astrology enthusiasts, with many astrologers amassing substantial followings. The rise of astrology memes and dedicated astrology accounts on social media further fuels this resurgence, injecting fresh curiosity into the age-old practice. Astrology has navigated its way into mainstream media outlets and onto the pages of The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, and more. These articles embrace the renewed fascination with astrology and its impact on contemporary culture. It’s no longer a hidden cosmic secret but a vibrant part of our zeitgeist.

The digital age has given birth to astrology apps catering to the insatiable curiosity of younger generations, offering personalised horoscopes, intricate chart interpretations, and a myriad of astrological revelations. And let’s not forget the tangible evidence of astrology’s revival – the surge in sales of astrology-related products. Crystals, tarot cards, and astrology-themed attire and jewellery have all seen a surge in popularity in recent years. This shift suggests that astrology has transcended its niche subculture status, no longer dwelling on the fringes but flourishing as a mainstream phenomenon.

In this cosmic revival, astrology unveils itself as not just a relic of the past but a vibrant and evolving force, capturing the imagination of a new generation. The stars have realigned, and astrology is back in the celestial spotlight, brighter and more relevant than ever before.

In my research project as part of the Cultural Astronomy & Astrology MA, I set out to explore the cosmological beliefs of astrologers in 2023. I aimed to unearth connections between astrology, paganism, and ecological movements, to establish whether Bernard’s vision for astrology’s revival was becoming a reality. This undertaking stands upon the shoulders of previous research – yet strives to understand the correlations that will shape astrology’s future. The survey received an overwhelming response from women, outnumbering men threefold. Just one respondent identified as gender non-specific. The participation rate increased with each age group; a trend often observed in surveys. This demographic profile underscores the predominantly female and Western-centric orientation of the respondents, who represented varying levels of expertise. Just shy of half the participants had been practicing astrology for over two decades, while the other half had more recent beginnings. This diverse range allowed me to draw insightful comparisons with Eccles’ dissertation and assess whether they align with his proposed pairings.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Astrology

Working through the data, a captivating narrative unfolded, revealing profound motivations behind this celestial pursuit. For those immersed in astrology, it’s not a whimsical curiosity but a deliberate and conscious system of practice. It serves as a powerful framework, one that unlocks deeper layers of self-awareness and provides unparalleled insights into the intricacies of human nature and the broader tapestry of our world.

Astrology empowers its practitioners, giving them tools to navigate life’s twists and turns with confidence. It enriches their lives by fostering a connection to the cosmos, and this, in turn, kindles a sense of enchantment, allowing individuals to see the world through a different lens coloured with wonder and reverence. This newfound understanding paves the way for more harmonious relationships and encourages a spirit of empathy that transcends boundaries. This connection to the divine infuses life with a sense of purpose and meaning that is both profound and deeply personal.

Decision-making becomes a more thoughtful and deliberate process in the hands of astrologers. They draw upon cosmic wisdom to make choices that align with their true selves and the grand design of the universe, leading to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life.

Max Weber, the renowned sociologist, once remarked, “it seems clear that ancient astrology represents a form of Planmäßigkeit (regularity), the systematic application of explicit ideas based upon a rationalized account of the cosmos, to the uncertainties of human experience.” In many ways, astrology serves as a guiding light, bringing order to the uncertainties that life often presents.

Exploring Theological Beliefs and Practices

To explore whether the surge in astrology is intertwined with the revival of paganism it was necessary to navigate the relationship between astrology and religion.

Defining religion is no simple task and scholars offer nuanced perspectives based on their research and viewpoints. Historian Mircea Eliade succinctly captures the essence, describing religion as “the human quest for the sacred, for that which transcends the boundaries of the everyday world and imbues it with profound meaning.” Emile Durkheim delves deeper, asserting that every religion serves as both a cosmological framework and a contemplation of divine matters. He highlights essential ideas that shape our intellectual landscape, such as concepts of time, space, class, number, cause, substance, and personality. These are the very ideas that astrology addresses with unparalleled precision: time and space converge in the astrological chart; classes manifest through house descriptions; transits and aspects signify causes and substances; and the archetypes of planets paint a vivid picture of personality. In essence, astrology, in its unique way, encapsulates these fundamental properties, providing a profound framework akin to religious cosmologies. Michael York, in exploring the essence of religion, also touches upon something that feels remarkably familiar when applied to astrology. He describes religion as “a compilation of suggestions and techniques by which we may have become receptive to the supernatural and encourage its operation within our lives.” 

Could astrology not be seen through a similar lens? In my bid to unearth the cosmological beliefs of astrologers, I also sought to discern whether they are part of a unified belief system or operate independently.

Most respondents confirmed belief in a higher power or divine influence but not in the traditional religious sense. For them, God takes on a different form, a departure from the conventional definitions they encountered in childhood or religious institutions, with perspectives citing belief in multiple gods, gods and goddesses, the concept of being born out of and returning to a spiritual force, a benevolent spiritual presence, and a belief in the divine permeating every facet of our existence.

The data revealed relatively stable numbers of pagans and non-orthodox beliefs/practices across experience levels underscoring astrology’s secular nature. However, a noteworthy shift emerged among the under-20 years practitioner group, where 50% more respondents identified with orthodox religions. Intriguingly, while some identified as Christian and practiced astrology, their Christian identification seemed inherited, lacking personal resonance. This prompts deeper reflection on identification with religion based on familial or societal ties, rather than a conscious choice aligned with values and practices, and hints at astrology’s growing acceptance within mainstream circles, drawing individuals with traditional beliefs into its cosmic orbit. Importantly, no respondents, even those with orthodox beliefs, found their faith incompatible with astrology.

Many recognised a connection between astrology and religion, seeing both as avenues encouraging a perspective on the divine and offering ways to make sense of the world. Astrology was noted as forming the basis and symbology of many orthodox religions. Moreover, astrology and religion share ties to seasons and cycles. However, there was a prevailing view that religion seeks to control the masses, while astrology fosters exploration and self-growth. While astrology may have ties to early religions and evident theological similarities, the sentiment among respondents suggested that astrology isn’t yearning to reunite with orthodox religion. Instead, it’s evolving as part of a new and emerging belief system, one that may or may not qualify as a novel religion in its own right. While many reject the notion of astrology as a full-fledged religion, others regard it as their faith, an intrinsic facet of their personal theology.

Astrology, as respondents fervently attested, offers profound insights into the celestial order, crafting a rationalised schema that elucidates the influence of divine powers on human affairs. This echoes religion, which seeks to elevate life beyond the mundane and into the realm of ‘something more.’ For astrology, this connection to the divine is not a transcendent reality outside our physical world but rather an expanded significance inherent in the world we inhabit. The burgeoning interest in astrology appears to stem, in part, from individuals with orthodox religious backgrounds seeking spiritual fulfilment beyond conventional doctrine. This evolving landscape presents an opportunity for astrology to thrive, as it aligns with a more inclusive and adaptable worldview.

In essence, astrology is fostering a shift in perception among those from orthodox faiths, leading to what Bernard Eccles envisioned as an associated and compatible worldview. Astrology’s revival is not about replacing traditional religions but rather offering a celestial route through which individuals can explore and enrich their spiritual journey, forging connections between the terrestrial and the cosmic.

Just as scholars grapple with the elusive essence of religion, the notion of paganism remains equally enigmatic.

Paganism defies conventional structures; it lacks a central administration or ecclesiastical council. It is a smorgasbord of diverse spiritual expressions that take myriad forms. Pagan belief systems are multifaceted, embracing multiform, pantheistic, or polytheistic perspectives, all while finding unity within some form of monistic harmony. Enter the neopagan worldview—a captivating perspective that a cosmic life force courses through not only the external environment but also the human body, weaving all living entities into a magical web of interconnectedness. It’s a worldview where the boundaries between realms of reality blur and co-dependence reigns supreme.

What sets neopaganism apart is its role as a ‘religion without the middleman.’ Here, individuals are empowered to engage in magical practices themselves, bypassing the need for intermediaries like priests or religious authorities. Rituals follow a common calendar, mirroring the rhythms of the solar calendar and ever-turning wheel of the seasons. And much like the cycle of life itself, reincarnation finds a home in the hearts of many neopagans.

This description of belief and practice resonated with a considerable number of respondents, whether they explicitly label it as pagan or prefer more specific terminology to describe their beliefs or faith. Beyond the self-identified Pagans, a broader population undoubtedly exists, whose spiritual journey mirrors the ethos of pagan communities. This includes forms that evoke ancient religions with their divine forces and beings, as well as more naturalistic expressions that entertain scepticism regarding such entities. What unites them is a profound sense of belonging and connection to nature, where the natural world is deemed intrinsically valuable and sacred.

Gazing upon the horizon, it seems clear that spiritualities emphasising this connection to nature are on the rise, transcending geographical boundaries and exercising a growing influence on human consciousness. In the end, whether we embrace the label of paganism or not, there’s an undeniable cosmic connection that binds our spiritual journey with the world around us. The stars may not reveal all the answers, but they certainly beckon us to explore the profound array of beliefs that enrich our lives and deepen our connection to the extraordinary world we inhabit.

Navigating Cosmic Harmony

At the heart of ecological movements lies a call for responsible and sustainable interaction with our finite resources, entwined in a dynamic relationship with our beloved planet. To establish whether the flourishing interest in astrology is linked to burgeoning ecological movements, it was necessary to explore the intersection of these two forces.

A series of thought-provoking statements were posed to participants, designed to expose their primary ecological worldviews. These viewpoints are the lenses through which we perceive our place in the natural world. More than two-thirds found themselves aligned with a deep ecology perspective, embracing the notion of the Earth’s interconnectedness. Just under a quarter identified with a biocentric viewpoint, emphasising concern for the well-being of all life forms, not just our own. Strikingly, not a single respondent upheld an anthropocentric outlook, signalling a clear departure from the belief that humans are the centre of the universe.

Delving deeper, participants were asked about the personal significance of climate change. Three-quarters considered it of significant importance. This suggests a compelling connection between astrologers and ecological concern. Nearly half expressed a cosmic interconnectedness, echoing the ancient maxim ‘as above, so below.’ They saw astrology as a tool to decipher natural phenomena through celestial cycles. Some articulated how astrology aids in understanding cosmic influences on climate change and other environmental phenomena, bridging the gap between celestial forces and earthly events. Others unearthed a connection through the lens of mundane astrology, drawing parallels between global events and astrological transits, such as the grand conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn heralding the onset of the Covid pandemic.

However, despite the majority leaning towards a deep ecological perspective, twenty individuals struggled to discern or articulate a connection between astrology and ecology. Two even pointed to the ‘politicisation’ of climate change or the ‘hysteria and ideology’ surrounding it, hinting at the influence of political views on their response, despite holding ecocentric beliefs. 

Irrespective, these findings underscore a deep-seated connection between astrologers and ecological concerns, united by a worldview that positions humans as integral threads in the fabric of life. Rather than mere coexistence, these results suggest the potential emergence of what has been termed a ‘Dark Green Religion’. Political theorist Daniel Deudney argues that an earth-based religion is essential, as secular understandings alone may not inspire the profound sense of belonging needed to drive the transformative changes upon which our planetary future depends.

This data offers a glimpse into our community’s complex relationship with ecological beliefs. While respondents readily identified their ecological standpoint when presented with the options, it became evident that the connection between astrology and ecology remains uncharted territory for many, perhaps hinting at the budding stages of this intriguing dialogue.

Unveiling Shared Values: Astrology’s Cosmic Future

In this rich web of beliefs, it is evident that labels like ‘religion’ or ‘paganism’ can obscure the commonalities that unite respondents. Instead of becoming embroiled in debates about terminology, we can heed Wittgenstein’s wisdom and focus on what he called ‘family resemblance.’ In doing so, we uncover a set of core values that most respondents share, forming a kind of ‘prototype theory’ that encapsulates the data’s essence. Here, in order of their prevalence, are these defining values:

1. Concern for the Environment and an Ecocentric or Biocentric Worldview: A deep-rooted sense of responsibility towards our planet and an understanding that all life, not just human life, holds inherent value.

2. Belief in the Existence of a Divine or Sacred Cosmic Force: A conviction that the cosmos is imbued with a divine presence, shaping our existence, and guiding our path.

3. Consideration of Self as a Spiritual Being: An acknowledgment that we are more than mere physical entities, with a profound connection to the spiritual dimensions of life.

4. Belief in Astrology as a Vital Framework for Life: A resounding belief that astrology provides a profound and effective framework for navigating the complexities of life.

5. Practicing Meditation: Embracing meditation as a transformative practice that deepens their connection to the cosmos.

6. Belief in Reincarnation: A conviction that life is a continuum, where the soul traverses multiple lifetimes.

Rather than pigeonholing practitioners of astrology into predefined categories, it’s more enlightening to celebrate what unites them. This unity offers valuable insights into astrology’s potential evolution. The prevailing perspective among astrologers resonates with the belief that the cosmos itself is sacred. This profound cosmic worldview sees the universe as an interconnected web of life, where all elements synchronise and coexist in harmony. In this light, astrology naturally emerges as a framework for comprehending these intricate mechanisms.

Patrick Curry encourages us to revisit astrology’s origins as a divination practice and to grasp its essence as a physically embodied, socially embedded, and ecologically rooted discipline. He argues that astrology has made compromises over time, adapting to various worldviews such as Aristotelian naturalism and Christian theology, ultimately losing touch with its divinatory nature. Curry suggests that the bid to gain mainstream acceptance has led astrology into an unnatural space, detached from its intrinsic essence. He posits that astrology, as a divinatory practice, can rekindle the enchantment of humanity by reminding us that our existence extends beyond the terrestrial realm, encompassing a cosmic dimension. Enchantment, in this context, refers to experiencing the world as profoundly meaningful, significant, and mysterious, including our own place within it.

The confluence of scientism with the ecological crisis, largely driven by human actions, has stripped the world of its enchantment, leaving us yearning for reconnection.

A new philosophical Astrology?

High, or philosophical, astrology has languished in obscurity for centuries, yet the resurgence of astrology offers a glimmer of hope for its revival. While a complete return to high astrology may be improbable in our current secular society, the evidence suggests that astrology can provide a philosophical framework to make sense of the universe when science falls short in addressing the divine. Rather than viewing astrology as a mere parasite, leeching off other belief systems, this research indicates that for many respondents, astrology plays a central role, serving as the host and offering profound philosophical underpinnings. 

Eccles’ vision of astrology as a vital component of a burgeoning neo-paganism is reinforced by this research. If neo-paganism evolves into a genuine religion or moral philosophy with a unique way of life, astrology stands poised to provide the symbolic and philosophical guidance it currently lacks. Thus, the potential for high astrology to be reborn, albeit in a modified form, becomes increasingly tangible, with its cosmic perspective resonating with individuals seeking deeper connections, meaning, and a sense of belonging in our increasingly disenchanted world. While the roots of astrology’s resurgence may draw from diverse religious backgrounds, its growth appears most vibrant among those with denominational affiliations. However, this religiosity seems to slumber in a state of dormancy, tinged with growing dissatisfaction with traditional religious doctrines. 

Equally, an overwhelming concern for our environment resounds through the data, coupled with a profound regard for the Earth as a spiritual, living entity. Such a faith would elevate nature to a realm of sacred reverence, echoing the vision Bernard Eccles painted—a harmonious coexistence between astrology and eco- or Neopaganism. Alternatively, it may signify an emerging form of spirituality that becomes synonymous with Paganism, stepping into an increasingly significant role in our religious and planetary future. If religion is about our bonds and connections, few connections could be more critical than our profound relationship with nature. ‘Nature Religion’ then becomes our guiding star.

Astrology, when practiced with true understanding, offers a profound contribution to the world’s re-enchantment and a pathway to a healthier, more vibrant world. Far from fading into oblivion as forewarned by Eccles, we may witness a renaissance—a rebirth of cosmic wisdom and an embrace of our intrinsic connection with the universe. 

In the echoes of time, Jean-Jacques Rousseau beckoned us towards a path less travelled. A return to ‘natural religion’ and an epistemological shift towards nature offer a tantalising escape from the trappings of Western materialism and alienation.

In the words of ecologist and philosopher David Abram, “It is not a matter of going back but of coming full circle.”

1 thought on “The Cosmology of Astrologers in 2023”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *