Monday, 6 July 2009

The Penn and Teller show - A need for astrological humility

The latest episode of the Penn and Teller show "Bullshit" was about astrology and of course we heard the usual stuff we've already heard a thousand times before. However, instead of criticizing those shows, isn't it about time we started questioning ourselves and the astrology we know? We go on and on about how astrology is not magic, but we are the ones we treat it as such. We feel compelled to answer every question the client asks us, we cling to every little thing he/she tells us and we rush into judgement. "Oh, that's Uranus on your MC "or "That's your Mars/Pluto speaking" and so on.
If astrology were that simple and if our astrological knowledge were that accurate, wouldn't we know ourselves by heart by now? How many of us can honestly claim this? Instead, we change our interpretations about our own chart all the time as we grow as individuals and astrologers. How many times have you rectified your chart using this and that technique, those of you at least who don't have an accurate birth time? Richard Idemon did it constantly. How many schools of thought are there and how many house systems exist, all claiming to be equally effective? Are secondary progressions better than solar arcs? Or perhaps primary directions? Are solar returns stand-alone charts or ar they to be read side by side with the natal chart? And what about the greatest division of all, the one between traditionalists and modernists?Isn't it logical to assume that if one system were 100% effective, it would overshadow all the others? Yet, theories abound and the truth of the matter is, the moment we become too sure of ourselves, astrology escapes us.
Which means that, in fact, we know nothing. Nada. Niente. Rien du tout. Pick your language. If inside the astrological symbols hides the wisdom of the cosmos, it is simply hubris to say that we know astrology. We only know what our experience, intelligence, studies and observation allow us to know at any given moment. One can only be humble realizing the vastness of astrology. No more absolute truths and absolute certainties. So the next time a Uranus transit on the Ascendant doesn't produce the results we expected, we must re-think our astrology and everything we know about transits. The next time an important progression passes by harmlessly, we must re-think progressions and all the relative theories. We must study different authors but we must not treat anything they say as gospel truth, no matter how sure of themselves they seem to be or how respected they are in the astrological community. We must use our own discretion and wit and at the same time look ourselves in the mirror from time to time and say: "I can be wrong".
Which means that we don't go on shows like that. Not only because we can't convince those who refuse to keep an open mind, but also because by appearing on such shows, what we are really saying is that our astrology is foolproof. That we know everything there is to know. That nothing can possibly go wrong. In short, that we are arrogant.


  1. Very well said. Thanks for posting this!

  2. It doesn't help when skeptics like Penn & Teller promote misinformation and half truths, along with well placed sarcasm, to support their position. This isn't so much about the astrologer's arrogance but the spin people like Penn & Teller choose to put on what they put out there. It proves nothing but to prop up a position that is only supported by a firmly closed mind. In Penn & Teller's own words, its just b******t.

  3. True, but people like Penn and Teller are always going to exist. Instead of focusing on the skeptics, shouldn't we try to re-define our relationship with astrology? Why did those particular astrologers appear on a show that was trying to ridicule astrology? They did not expect to be ridiculed, did they? They expected to prove the validity of astrology by getting things right. Yet, they must know from experience that just because you have a Uranus transit on the IC, doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to move house. That's why I talked about arrogance.