Astrology supports self-identity, forms connections

Ellie Ruos and Josie Schneider

Looking up at the stars, junior Jordan Dahiya sees much more than blobs of twinkling lights surrounding a glowing moon. When she looks up, she sees her future. When she looks up, she sees her past. When she looks up, she finds comfort in knowing there was an exact time and place written in the stars for her to start her journey in the physical world.

Astrology is rooted in the study of the Zodiac, a collection of 12 constellations through which the sun appears to travel in the sky, according to Astronomy Teacher David Smith. A person determines what their astrological sign is by recognizing the constellation that the sun appears to be in at the time of the year they are born. Smith says it is best to see one’s Zodiac constellation six months after the month of their birth when it will actually be visible during the nighttime.

“Right now we are in Sagittarius,” Smith said. “The sun is in the constellation called Sagittarius, which means that constellation Sagittarius is up during the day time, and because of the bright sky and everything you can’t see it. So [the sun] would have to propagate out of [that constellation] so that it would be seen during the nighttime, and if [the sun] moves a degree every day, then 180 degrees is 180 days, which is six months later.”

Smith says the Zodiac has been around for centuries. In more recent years, the 12 constellations that make up the Zodiac were recognized amongst 76 other official star constellations named by the International Astronomical Union. Smith explains how the Zodiac suitably fits into 12 months of the year, although there is technically a 13th constellation called Ophiuchus that passes in between Libra and Scorpio.

“People have been looking at the sky for an awful long time,” Smith said. “Most constellation names, at least the star names that we use now, are Arabic names, but they’ve been developed through the Greeks and the Romans and even before them.”

Smith explains that the science behind a zodiacal “rising sign” is based on how far a constellation appears to be from the sun.

“Right now Venus is rising, which means it’s getting higher and higher in the sky from day to day,” Smith said. “If you look at the geometry of it, it’s because from our point of view, it appears to be getting further and further away from the sun, and if you looked at the orbits you would see why that is. So rising would mean it’s getting further and further from the sun during that time period and it varies from month to month.”

Senior Maya Dominguez explains how a common misconception regarding astrology can be disproved: while is it popular to merely check one’s sun sign, Dominguez says there are other factors in defining one’s personality and characteristics. Behind every sun sign, there is a moon sign, a rising sign, a midheaven sign and others. The location of each planet within the galaxy at the time of a birth results in differing qualities and a corresponding sign. She explains that any inaccuracies in a person’s description can most likely be attributed to conflicting qualities in an underlying sign.

“I think that most people just look at their sun signs, so when they see something that doesn’t fit them in the description of their sun sign, they think, ‘This is tomfoolery,’” Dominguez said. “But, you have to look at the rest of yourself, too. Your sun sign is who you are, your moon sign is your emotions and how  you feel and think, and your rising sign is how you come off to other people. There’s definitely a lot of facets to you that aren’t encompassed by just your sun sign. I think that people know about the sun sign [but] they don’t really realize there’s a lot more to it, and that might turn people off from astrology.”

Dominguez relates strongly to her sun sign, Aquarius, which is characterized by independence, humanitarianism and slight emotional disconnect. However, she notes that there are other influences on her identity which can be traced to her birth chart; her Mercury and Venus signs are in Pisces, her moon sign is in Taurus, and her rising sign is in Gemini, all contributing to her personality as a whole.

“[Everyone has] an entire birth chart, which has your sun, your moon, your rising and all the other planets that exist in our galaxy; wherever those were in place [when you were born] also play a role in what you’re like. So, my Mercury sign, which is the sign that rules communication, that’s in Pisces for me. That means I have difficulties communicating myself…it’s just sometimes hard to get [my thoughts] across. Sometimes I find myself telling a story and I’m just totally rambling and being confusing. I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I sound like a crazy person and a person with my Mercury in Pisces.”

Each sign has a sister sign which carries opposite traits; sister signs can either balance each other out or come into conflict with each other, according to Dominguez. The sister signs are as follows: Aries and Libra, Taurus and Scorpio, Gemini and Sagittarius, Cancer and Capricorn, Leo and Aquarius and Virgo and Pisces, according to the Femme Oasis. Dominguez recognizes this relationship to be one negative example to her belief in astrology: a person’s sign sometimes influences how she sees them. As an Aquarius, when she meets a Leo, Dominguez is cautious around them.

“I do have some preconceptions [of people based on their sign],” Dominguez said. “The sister sign of Aquarius is Leo. With some Leos, I feel like I just don’t get along with them… I think that there’s some signs that have traits, and whether or not the person expressed those traits, you might not jive as well with. But it’s definitely a person by person thing, because you can’t really just judge someone off of their sign.  I try not to let my preconceived notions of each sign really affect me, but sometimes they give me some opinions.”

Dahiya started getting into astrology a few years ago after she got increasingly interested in reading her horoscope. Since then, Dahiya has also found a connection with her sign, and has recognized certain traits about herself that she says she directly correlates to being a Virgo.

“I think in all the ways I’m a super-planner [I am like a Virgo],” Dahiya said. “This sounds super self-centered and it’s not supposed to be, but I like things done my way, and I’m not super great on teams because if people aren’t doing it my way then I just assume it’s not right. I have a hard time trusting people to do things that are important. I get super stressed out [when] I put a lot on myself just because I feel like I know how I want it done so I’m going to do it that way.”

Each planet is in tune with a component of human behavior. According to Dominguez, the location of Venus at the time of birth is related to attraction, the location of Mars at the time of birth is related to aggression and the location of Mercury at the time of birth is related to communication.

“If you know that Mars is the God of war, you can kind of relate that to how your Mars sign is about what you’re like when you’re angry, what you’re like in relationships,” Dominguez said. “Wherever the planet Venus was kind of dictates what you’re like in the romantic side of relationships, what you’re attracted to romantically and also aesthetically.”

Dahiya believes astrology has given her a chance to connect with other individuals who share the same zodiac sign with her. Through this connection with other Virgos, Dahiya believes she has gained a deeper understanding of herself, and how she grows as a human being.

“I think that knowing more about other people who are characteristically similar to you helps you better understand yourself  and maybe the reasoning for why you do certain things or struggle with certain things,” Dahiya said. “Being able to identify things that you’re not so good at or maybe the cause of that helps you better understand yourself and how you work, and then you can change the things that aren’t going well for you and appreciate the things that you do well.”

Above all, Dahiya believes astrology provides an outlet for individuals to connect with one another.

“[Believing in] astrology means believing that there are certain universal factors that unite people, and believing that there are ways that we are all connected and realizing that there are ways that we all work,” Dahiya said.

Alternatively, senior Lauren Hayes describes how astrology has strengthened her self-identity. For Hayes, who is an Aquarius, checking horoscopes and looking through her sign descriptions reaffirms the traits she already knows she has, like spontaneity and independence.

“I don’t know if I really fully believe in it as a religion, but I actually think it’s very relatable today and you can actually use it as a guide,” Hayes said. “I always thought it was cool, then this summer, me and my friend were looking it up because of a crush we had and we were trying to see the compatibility and it was super accurate, the descriptions were weird. I started looking at [my horoscope] a lot, and started looking at it every day, it’s really relatable and weird how accurate it is.”

Alternately, Dominguez expresses doubt in the accuracy of horoscopes. She focuses more on the placement of the stars when she was born and how it dictates her personality, rather than the placement of the stars today and the resulting effects on her daily life. Nonetheless, Hayes explains that, more than anything, horoscopes are simply entertaining.

“Start believing,” Hayes said. “You don’t have to use [astrology] as your guide and like pray to it, but it’s fun, it’s accurate and it supports who you are and gives you more of an identity. It’s just fun to see how we all connect.”