“What’s your sign?”
That question is most often met with either an eyeroll or an enthusiastic recounting of one’s astrological big three: sun, moon, and rising signs.
With astrology, most people are either very in – or very out.
At a surface level, astrology is a system in which a person’s birth date and time determine their sun sign and therefore certain characteristics they may possess.
As senior Aris Sherwood, a Pisces, says, “I haven’t met a Leo that wasn’t exactly like a Leo.”
According to deep believers in astrology, each planet influences different aspects of a person’s life and personality depending on their time and place of birth and each planet’s movements influence everyone in varying ways.
Not everyone believes in astrology that deeply, though. Some people, like Aquarius and first-year student Libby Keith, find astrology interesting and use it as a way to connect with others.
“Astrology is really important to my identity because it allows me to, like, see the world in a new light,” said Keith. “I’m able to create my own identity through astrology, and I’m able to connect with other people based off of like, our interest in astrology or just like our compatibility as specific signs.”
Grace Nelson, who is, like Keith, a first-year student and an Aquarius, views astrology as a “tool for personal growth” and a way to learn more about herself. However, while Keith has her big three signs on all of her social media accounts, Nelson prefers to keep her interest in astrology private.
“There’s such a stigma against it. I mean, I can kind of tell when people are just like, ‘oh, this again’ or, like, just kind of rolling their eyes at it,” Nelson said. “I think, honestly, one of the things that people just hate most about astrology is that fear of judgment and the potential vulnerability that comes with it.”
This fear of judgment was recognized by senior Ryan Boeke, an Aries.
“I think it’s a bad thing when you’re basing people’s characteristics off of their sign … If you are solely judging people based off of this information, but not getting to know them,” Boeke said.
Keith spoke to this as well, mentioning that her boyfriend, a Cancer, is meant to be incompatible with her.
“I mean, for the most part, you can’t really base if you like somebody based off of their astrological profile, but I mean it gives you, like, insight on what kind of person they might be,” Keith said. She added, however, that astrology should be taken “with a grain of salt.”
“Every individual person is different in some way, shape or form,” she said.
Another reason people shy away from astrology?
“I like to believe in self-sovereignty,” said first-year Pisces Perry Ragouzis. “And in believing in self-sovereignty, I don’t like to think that big giant balls of gas will control my life.”
However, Ragouzis feels no ill will toward people who do believe that “big giant balls of gas” have an influence on their lives.
“I have nothing against it, obviously, just as I have nothing against any other organized religion. It almost seems like that’s what it is – a form of organized religion. You practice faith, you have faith in the signs,” Ragouzis said.
In this, Ragouzis, Nelson, and Sherwood agree.
“People, like, try to compare it to science when it’s more comparable to religion and spirituality – it’s under that sort of umbrella. So, it’s just kind of not something you can compare to science,” Nelson said.
Sherwood compared belief in astrology to belief in religion and pointed out the importance of being respectful to other people’s belief systems.
“Just try learning a bit more about it and just be kind and respectful because at the end of the day, it is a belief system and it’s something that people care about,” Sherwood said.
Philosophy professor Brendan Lalor, a Scorpio, doesn’t see any “predictive or explanatory value” in astrology, but he believes that astrology, when not taken literally, can be “potentially cool.”
“My sense is that they deal in a lot of archetypal symbols that have deep resonance in the human psyche, which can prompt insights when assembled and considered together by anyone, not just those born at the right time,” Lalor said in an email. “Astrology presents opportunities to consider our lives from different perspectives and to look at old problems from new angles.”
This kind of view of astrology is one appreciated by astrology lovers who wish more people would give it a chance.
“I think honestly, it just requires an open mind. I feel like people are just looking for something to hate on. It’s harmless for the most part. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are ways that people have kind of used it in a negative sense, but that can be said about anything,” Nelson said.