Journal of Research in Astrology- Volume 24(1) 2006
Editorial - What is this thing called “astrology”?
A number of articles and issues that have cropped up in the last few months have encouraged me to bang the drum, yet again, about the importance of carefully considering which aspect of astrology you want to research, and crucially, the way in which you want to research it.
A very interesting review titled “Born under a bad sign” appeared in New Scientist, (27 Jan. 2007, pp 40-43) which looked at that old debating ground of seasonality versus birth sign influences. Studies that examined schizophrenia and anorexia against births occurring at different times of the year were reported upon and it was concluded that birth during certain seasons can affect mental health although it was not clear how. The main argument of the review was that sunlight played a key role in the development in later life of illnesses such as schizophrenia and anorexia, i.e., people born in October were more likely to develop schizophrenia and people born in the spring were more likely to develop eating disorders, although the actual numbers within the population were few.
This brings me to the title of this editorial: What is astrology? We do not know the origins for some associations of character and health with various signs, and in the northern hemisphere, empirical observation might inform a student of astrology that the conditions just mentioned were more likely to be associated with Virgo and Libra, and Aries and Taurus, respectively. Would the argument, then, that a seasonal effect may underlie these associations so that astrology could be partly explained by it mean that the effect is not an astrological one? Even where studies have shown a reverse effect when the southern hemisphere is considered, is this really a serious challenge, given the complex nature of astrology?
The zodiac, it could be argued, is made up of six pairs of signs, and so the signs and any apparent effects should be interpreted for their axial relationships. In fact, this approach to interpretation is customarily taught to students seeking to understand astrology in terms of character and psychology. I remember, many years ago when I first began to study astrology, making my tutor laugh when I complained about a friend who was born with the sun in Aquarius being the worst case of Leo that I had ever come across. The point I am making here is that given accepted tradition and practice, one might expect a phenomenon at one end of a zodiacal axis to be reflected in the other in some way, in order to support the axial relationship. Yet there is other research that supports the view that astrology holds good regardless of the hemisphere/seasonal effect. A recent article by Noel Decourt (2203) in the French journal RAMS concluded that astrological patterns for particular professions hold good for professional groups from both hemispheres .
In this issue of the journal, Ken McRitchie tackles the age-old challenge of identifying astrological factors that will help develop a plausible theory behind astrology, and there are other ideas emerging that take up the gauntlet of further exploring astrology with new and more appropriate approaches in order to seek a clearer understanding of what is going on. A number of papers have been published in this journal in the last few years that have sought to address the problems to consider when tackling possible theories behind astrological phenomena. New research and innovative research designs are building upon what has already been put forward by people like Michel Gauquelin, Suitbert Ertel, Percy Seymour and Frank McGillion. Graham Douglas has revisited the Gauquelin data and found soli-lunar patterns within the patterns that Gauquelin himself found and which shed further light on Gauquelin’s research results, leading to fresh debate about the value of the findings.
Douglas has created a website (see notice on page 72) to encourage further input and discussion from astrologers, and also from other people who may not be astrologers but may be interested in finding out more about its apparent effects. Douglas believes that there is “very interesting work developing on Schumann resonances”, and when this is taken into consideration with the work of researchers such as David Goodman “a new perspective begins to emerge”. Lance Storm, editor of the Australian Journal of Parapsychology, holds the view that “parapsychology has short-changed itself for too long by overlooking the holistic nature of psi – i.e., humanity’s interconnectedness with the immediate environment and the cosmos”. He says: “I think astrology is the ultimate science in regard to that cosmic connection.”
So, there appears to be a shifting of the paradigm in relation to the perception of what astrology actually is, and this may have far-reaching implications for the way in which it is researched in the future. I hope that Douglas’s website will encourage much discussion and exchange of ideas that will promote future research into astrology in ways that will help us not only to identify apparent effects, but ultimately to develop and test a theory that will show how (and why) these effects happen.
Decourt, Noel (2003). Liaison entre l'activité solaire et la repartition des naissances de personnalités célèbres. Cahiers RAMS, pp11: 10-24.
Additional note: Notes Methodologiques: les tests directionnels. Same issue: pp 25-29