Some people think Astrology begins and ends with a Sun Sign description of your personality — a list of qualities, characteristics, and possible short-comings that may seem assigned to you essentially at random based on the day you were born — a day when, of course, the Sun was traveling through a certain, often easily-determined, sign of the Zodiac. That then becomes your Sun Sign — and dime-store astrology seems to imply you’re stuck with it.
Your Sun Sign position is what you’re really telling people when you announce — or admit — or have the information pried out of you by rude and relentless questions — that you’re a Scorpio, or a Capricorn, or a Gemini. (For different reasons, those are the signs least likely to give up that piece of self-revelation without a fight.)
This over-emphasis on Sun Sign traits as the basis of pop-culture Astrology is understandable. It’s a misconception based mostly on convenience. The Sun in its celestial travels follows a stable, predictable course. It stays in each sign approximately one month. It never retrogrades. It rises and sets day after day, season after season, very reliably. In fact everything about life as we know it depends on exactly that. The Sun … being there … doing its thing.
The Sun’s position on any given day is, as I said, almost always easy to determine — as long as you don’t run afoul of those pesky “cusp” days, the days close to when the Sun moves from one sign to another. Those vary in ways many people find confusing — even upsetting — again, because convenience drives common knowledge. Once you understand Astrology, these little questions and niggles smooth out nicely. But most people don’t want to go that far. They use Astrology in its elementary cookie-cutter form as a bit of light entertainment, barely scratching the surface of what this wonderful body of knowledge can give them … with their little hit-and-miss journeys into self-knowledge — through the vehicle of their Sun Sign description.
Sure, that list of Sun Sign qualities will hit the target more often than not — which is why Astrology remains such a staple of dime-store wisdom and newspaper feature forecasts. But there are sincere people who are not just cynics, nay-sayers, and wet blankets who can honestly say their Sun Sign description misses the essence of them by a country mile. Such instances fuel the opposition voices who call Astrology a superstition, a pseudo-science, a fraud … and point emphatically to the fact that Sun Sign analyses don’t always work. These people, too, have a point.
The Sun’s position in a horoscope, and what it says about the elements in a person’s character, is a very important piece of the picture, but it’s only that — a piece. And that’s the reason why Astrology as a whole seems to miss the mark badly in some people’s opinion. But take a picture of a beautiful woman, slice out a section that represents perhaps 3% of the total image … show it to someone, and chances are he will indeed wonder what all the fuss is about. (He may even wonder what he’s looking at. It may be hard to tell. Without that 3%, the picture is flawed and incomplete … but that 3% alone doesn’t begin to convey the whole experience.)
The trouble is … to get the whole picture of what Astrology can tell you about yourself, you have to learn the craft — or get someone who knows it well to interpret your horoscope for you. Meanwhile, Sun Sign Astrology, as a representative of the whole body of knowledge, continues to weave its way through the cultural awareness … mainly, as mentioned because it is quick and easy to get a person’s birthday and relate it to one of the twelve divisions of the Zodiac. People like things that are quick and easy. It’s why McDonald’s has sold billions of hamburgers that no gourmet would ever call “good food.”
People want their fun moments of light self-analysis to work the same. So they want their Astrology the way they want their drive-in meal: fast, hot, and familiar. (And if it’s also cheap… hey, that’s another plus.) Sure that hamburger will get you from breakfast to dinner. It will keep you alive. But it may not be nutritious, good for you, or even tasty. But at least when you step up to the counter and get your order, what you usually find in the sack is a complete sandwich. Consider instead how you’d feel if you got 3% of the sandwich … and had to make do with that. Kind of leaves you with an empty feeling doesn’t it? But at least it gives you something to think about — and maybe wanting more.
(c) 2007 Rebecca Brents, All rights reserved.