There is a fine line between superstition and belief, and horoscopes walk that line. It’s uncertain where the concept of star signs originated from, although there are multiple theories about the same.
Some trace back the roots of astrology to Egypt, while others believe that astrology and astronomy originated simultaneously in Babylon in 4th century B.C. – round the same time that Aristotle and Plato were trying to make sense of the world, as they knew it.
Fast forward to 2018 where every newspaper and magazine across the world publishes daily and monthly horoscope maps, complete with predictions and advice. Most people use these as a guiding force, while others just dabble for fun. From lucky dates to lucky colors and even numbers – astrology, horoscopes and zodiac signs form a framework a lot of people use as a touch point for the small and big decisions in life.
The zodiac map
The zodiac signs form a map within the horoscope. With its roots in Greek mythology, the twelve zodiac signs are based on the ‘circle of animals’; hence each sign is assigned a mythological animal as its symbol. The zodiac map is drawn keeping the sun as the epicenter and categorizes the various signs into four groups- air, fire, water and earth.
Various countries and cultures perceive these signs differently, but the basic structure of constellations and planetary alignment remains the same. Each sign is assigned a ruling plant whose movements impact its assignees.
In Chinese astrology, there is also a zodiac map designed using animals as a reference point. This version of the zodiac chart, categorizes people based on the year they were born in.
However, just like its western version, the movement of planets and the patterns of the universe are believed to have a direct effect on the people born in the corresponding years as well.
While the structure and breakdown differ from its west to east, the underlying point remains the same. Zodiac signs and charts guide people that believe in it through life.
Many people reject this form of pseudo science entirely, and many more live by it. It is not uncommon in India to meet people that believe in astrology to such a degree that they may even change their names over it. Or the name of their home, company and any other venture.
The addition of an extra letter in a name or a number might cause havoc where paperwork and official documents are concerned but if the addition promises good fortune, who wouldn’t want to make the alteration? Right?
But can we be sure?
The back page of the newspaper is always fun to read. If the predictions in the daily horoscope chart are positive, then its an extra boost for the day. If not? Well then there is always a pearl ring for the pinky finger available to counter the incoming curse. But does a ring or a necklace guarantee protection from bad luck or terrible fortune? Sadly no. Does the addition of an extra letter guarantee happiness? Not so much.
Even the most experienced astrologer can never fully predict the future for any person, just as a climate expert can never fully predict the scale of an incoming storm.
Why do we care?
The need to rely on these planetary alignments is a bigger question to focus on rather than the horoscope itself. What about the human psyche warrants the creation and persuasion of zodiac signs? Why are we so interested in knowing what the future holds? Is it easy to group millions of people into the same identity type just based on the time they were born in?
Perhaps it’s the basic human desire to identify with a group that makes us so interested in understanding our own zodiac signs. Or perhaps it is the desire to be fully prepared for the future that makes us want to consult astrologers, tarot card reads, numerologists and the like.
Something to lean on
As human beings, we constantly need something to hold onto, like a grapevine on a windowsill. To have faith in anything provides a structural support that is easy to come back to as a touch point when life takes us to a confusing place.
For a lot of people, referencing zodiac signs can be reassuring, like a placebo pill- just a little something needed to remind us of our own potential. Who is to decide how much is too much, and how much referencing is too much referencing?
Mercury in retrograde
In the west, when mercury shifts in its oscillating pattern, it is believed to enter a phase of retrograde. Many people blame bad attitudes and unpleasant luck on this planetary movement. Closer to home, a similar brand of astrology has ruined the peace of mind of many women for years. From broken cell phones to potential deaths, a lot of mishaps are blamed on mercury being in retrograde.
Personally, I have always wondered how one planet has been available to cause havoc in the lives of the millions of people that walk this earth. Like many human beliefs, astrology has been around for centuries, and like many modern day devices, it is in desperate need of a software update.