The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 189, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Lisa Ardere
Episode originally released on January 9, 2019
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released November 27th, 2023
Copyright © 2023 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and this is the 189th episode of The Astrology Podcast. So I’m recording this today on Sunday, December 16, 2018, starting at 2:54 PM in Denver Colorado, and like I said this is the 189th episode of the show. So joining me today is Lisa Ardere—
LISA ARDERE: Hi.
CB: —who’s a fan and listener of the show, who’s traveling through Denver. And we had a conversation yesterday at the coffee shop about this recent discussion that’s been happening in the astrological community. I mean, the way it’s being framed is like why are more men not into astrology or why are more women into astrology than men.
LA: Yeah, I think the point that many of the authors are making is why do straight men discount astrology more so than other populations.
CB: Right. And I really liked the answer that you gave to that question as we’re just talking about different speculations that different people have about it. ‘Cause this has actually been a discussion in the astrological community in one form or another for at least the last 10 years that I’ve been around, so I thought it would make for a good discussion. It’s kind of a difficult discussion because there’s so many different perspectives on it and sometimes it can get kind of tense, but I thought we could try to talk about some of the different perspectives on it and maybe just explore the issue even if we don’t come to a definitive conclusion and answer.
LA: Sure. There are a lot of variables and factors that go into this thing that we’re picking out as a phenomenon.
LA: So I don’t think we’re going to find one simple answer because I think there are a lot of things contributing to what’s going on here.
CB: Yeah, and sometimes the difficult thing is sometimes people want there to be a clear answer, like a singular answer to things. But sometimes things are complicated especially when you get into difficult questions involving gender and societies and things relative to both of those two topics.
LA: Sure. I mean, I think in anything that you look at, I mean, you can’t just look at a person’s natal chart and say, “Oh, well your Sun’s in Scorpio, so this is why your life is like this.”
CB: Yeah, and that’s astrology in a nutshell—things are actually complicated or more complicated than they seem at first. And that’s one of the things I think that new students of astrology realize very quickly once they get into the subject. So of course when it comes to a broader topic like this it’s gonna be complicated as well. Okay, so let’s start. Like what’s your background? Where are you from, and what’s your background in astrology?
LA: I am originally from Oklahoma, currently living on an island in the Puget Sound in Washington. I’ve been studying astrology for about three-and-a-half-years. Started off in more like modern psychological studies and over the past year or so have been studying traditional techniques, Hellenistic astrology.
CB: Okay, awesome. And you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while I think, right?
LA: Yeah, like in the last year-and-a-half probably.
CB: Okay, cool.
LA: I tried prior to that, but I needed to beef up my chops a little bit more before I could really hang with the cool kids.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s a common experience that I’ve seen in the iTunes reviews, that people find the podcast at first and just think it’s like way over their heads and they can’t deal with it. But sometimes eventually they come back once they’re a little bit further in their studies and realize that there’s more for them in the long term even if it was a little hard to pick up in the short term.
LA: Sure. For me, it was really sort of inspiring to see that there’s so much more to it than Sun signs or “Lookout for Mercury in retrograde.”
CB: Right, Mercury in retrograde.
LA: Right. But it was a bit of an impetus for me to increase my skill level and learn more. And I’ve definitely benefited even from that one time when I was like, “Uh, Chris is talking about Mercury being active in his chart and I don’t know what that means.”
LA: “And who’s this Australian lady?”
CB: Right. “And who’s this other guy that keeps talking about weird, occult, magical stuff?”
CB: Austin. Yeah, and then you are the famous author of the famous bingo card for The Astrology Podcast.
LA: I did do the bingo card. I did not expect it to gain the popularity that it did, but I’m delighted that people liked my joke.
CB: Yeah, it definitely resonated with a lot of people. There’s a lot of things that we do way too commonly. So now we’re all a little paranoid about repeating any of those on the forecast episodes.
LA: Well, I really hope that it came across that I was doing it in good humor and not as a subtle jibe.
CB: Sure. No, no. It was taken very well.
CB: So actually I should get those printed up at some point.
LA: I’d like to expand them, and I’ll send you a ‘volume two’ of The Astrology Podcast ‘monthly forecast bingo card’.
CB: Yeah, I look forward to that. And you have a Twitter account. You’re active on Twitter. What’s your handle there?
LA: My handle is @lisaardere, which is not the most intuitive thing to spell. So it’s L-I-S-A-A-R-D-E-R-E.
CB: Okay. Well people can check that out because that’s where you originally posted the bingo cards.
CB: I’m sure we’ll see ‘version two’ there before too long.
LA: I expect you might.
CB: All right, so let’s get into this topic. So it started about a month ago. November 15, 2018, there was an article published in VICE UK by a journalist named Hannah Ewens, and it was kind of a weird title, but it was titled, “Why Straight Men Hate Astrology So Much.” And what it was is she kind of went around and did interviews, it was only with men. I mean, it’s an inflammatory, kind of ‘click-bait-y’ title but the underlying topic that she’s trying to address is a question that actually has been one for probably a few decades in the astrological community, which is why does it seem that there’s more women who are into astrology than men. And that’s been a question that I’ve heard professional astrologers talk about as a legitimate question and discussion topic at different points in the community and different speculations are put forward. And this generated a ton of discussion last month online, some of it was good, some of it was kind of tense. There was a great response by Samuel Reynolds, who wrote it for astrostyle.com, titled, “Do Straight Men Really Hate Astrology?” where he tried to sort of address the topic. I don’t know if he was trying to take them to task, but he was kind of trying to steer the discussion a little bit in a different direction it almost seemed like. How would you characterize his response?
LA: I really liked his response. It seemed like he wanted to maybe come at it from more of a perspective of let’s look at what’s actually going on here, instead of just attributing this to a gender and sexuality as a whole, and just saying, “Well, that’s just the way straight men are,” to sort of look at the contributing variables there. And I felt like he gave a pretty balanced take according to his views. He talked about how toxic masculinity plays in there, and how maybe straight men aren’t into astrology or maybe even like poetry as much anymore, they’ll put money down on a ball game, which is another type of prediction.
CB: He was trying to say that they’re characterizing astrology as fantasy but then they have their own sort of things of that nature.
CB: He listed off some other ones that like video games or other stuff like that.
LA: Mm-hmm. And then you know went on to make further points about how he gets it if the astrology that maybe these straight men are coming across is ‘poor-practice’ astrology; not to put down anyone’s practice. But to say that there’s only one delineation for an aspect of synastry, to say, “He’s got Mercury conjunct Neptune, so he’s a liar,” or something like that—if that’s your only experience with astrology and somebody’s saying that about you and then deciding not to go on another date with you might be kind of a turn-off.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that’s probably even more advanced than what most people are encountering in their first pass at astrology or their understanding. I mean, part of this discussion I guess, the initial starting point, should maybe be do we accept the basic premise of the argument, that there are, generally speaking, more women who are into astrology than men. I try not to take it for granted that even the premise of what we’re talking about is necessarily true. But is that true? I mean, do you personally see that as something that’s true based on your observations or would you question that premise?
LA: It’s a premise that I would question basically because the question itself assumes that there are two genders and that men think and believe this way and women think and believe this way, and I think that there’s a lot more nuance. I think that gender is very nuanced, sexuality is very nuanced, and a lot of this has a lot more to do with the ways that we’re socialized, the people that were exposed to throughout the courses of our lives, like what a person’s gender identity is.
CB: Sure. Yeah, so that’s one major critique that you might make right from the start, that it just sets it up with only two genders being identified and then asks people “Do you believe in astrology?” That’s usually I think the way a lot of those polls are phrased when they try to quantify ‘belief’ in astrology in society.
CB: So there’s a sort of issue there right away in terms of people that don’t necessarily fit into traditional or binary gender norms in terms of being one objection.
CB: Okay. And in addition astrologers commonly often question or object to even the phrasing of how some of the polls are done when people try to quantify belief in astrology by asking people, “Do you believe in astrology?” And one of the issues with that is a lot of astrologers might object to that out of hand and say, “I don’t believe in it. It’s just something that I think exists or that I’ve observed exists in the world.”
LA: Certainly. And where is the line between belief and non-belief? Like do you believe in astrology if you check your Sun sign horoscope in the newspaper every other month?
LA: Or do you need to know more about astrology to believe in it or not? Or is it actually a thing that you even believe in rather than a set of principles that you’re practicing?
CB: Right, there’s another category. I know of some religious people or some Christians who believe that astrology is a phenomenon that exists sort of abstractly in the world, but that it’s evil or that it’s like the work of the devil or something like that.
CB: So that’s a whole category. You wonder how they respond to a question like that. Do they say, “No”? Or do they say, “Yes, I do believe in astrology,” or “I believe that astrology exists?” So there’s often questions like that that come up when people try to do polls like that just to quantify belief in astrology in general.
LA: And there are people who might be interested in learning more about astrology, like figuring out how they feel about it, but they feel that the topic is too controversial for them to really be interested in getting into it. Because like what’s the point of figuring out if you believe something if everybody’s gonna start a fight with you about it.
CB: Right. Yeah, definitely. I mean, all that being said, one of the interesting things that the original VICE article did do—that I thought was useful in the way she was trying to frame or at least set up the discussion—is she did cite some polls. For example, she cited a 2005 Gallup UK poll that said just over twice as many women in the UK ‘believed’ in astrology compared to men, and then she said it was 30% compared to 14% of men from a data pool of 1,010 people. And then she said a 2017 study by Pew Research Center found that 20% of adult men in the US believed in astrology compared to 37% of women. So at least according to those two polls attempting to quantify belief in astrology in society over the course of the past decade—despite even those objections to the accuracy of those polls and some of the potential issues with them—it does otherwise seem to indicate that there’s about twice as many women theoretically in society that might believe in astrology as some sort of phenomenon compared to half as many men potentially.
CB: So that might still be a useful sort of starting point in terms of like some objective piece of data. And then just circling back around, I mean, when I look at the astrological community, part of the reason that this often comes up as a discussion topic is it does seem like there are more female astrology enthusiasts that are into astrology compared to men just in the community in general, or when I look online and places like Twitter and things like that. So when I see polls like that, that doesn’t necessarily surprise me, or that kind of fits what I would otherwise expect, all other sorts of objections aside. Is that the case for you as well? Or how do you feel about that?
LA: My experience with it has been I definitely find more open interest in astrology from people who don’t identify as CIS-men.
CB: And when you use that term, could you just explain it for anybody that isn’t familiar with it?
LA: Okay, so CIS is just the concept that you identify with the gender that you were assigned at birth.
LA: So a man who has male on his birth certificate and feels like a man might be less likely to openly express interest in astrology or might be more inclined to openly disbelieve or disparage astrology. However, if I’m having a private conversation with someone, I wouldn’t say that that necessarily holds up.
LA: So I would be curious to see—if I could be a fly on the wall in each of the rooms of these people as they’re taking this this quiz—is this a quiz made up of people who are like, “Oh, this says ‘do I believe in astrology’; sure, I do?” Or, “No, I don’t and I’m gonna tell them about it?”
LA: But I see a general trend towards people at least being more interested in astrology, people of all genders.
CB: Okay. Yeah, I mean, I’ve been surprised over the past year and really excited to see that there is definitely like growing interest in astrology, especially among younger people in their teens and 20s. It seems like there’s a whole new generation of people coming into the field that’s all genders; men and women seem to be becoming more interested in the younger generations. And that was something I was initially kind of skeptical about ‘cause I wasn’t sure if it was just like a media thing or if—yeah, I just wasn’t sure ‘cause I thought there were mixed signals about different things. But over the course of the past year it’s really shifted my perspective, and I’ve seen much more people talking about astrology in a way that I didn’t even a few years ago. And definitely 10 years ago when I was in that age group, I didn’t see as many people talking about astrology.
LA: It’s definitely more a part of the cultural consciousness than it was 10 years ago, whether people believe in it or not.
LA: And I think it’s because there’s a lot of information available. There’s a lot more internet than there was 10 years ago.
CB: Right, and that was one of the questions. I wasn’t sure if it was just that it was more visible because we could see people talking about their hobbies and their idle thoughts through things like Twitter—whereas like 10 years ago you didn’t necessarily have that—and if it was just more visible, something that was always always there, or if it was actually growing in popularity in some quantifiable sense.
LA: I think that’s less likely to be the case than the fact that because things do travel so quickly through the internet that astrology has become more of like a cultural meme that people are engaging with much more frequently than they were 10 years ago. And because there’s more exposure to it, people are able to either keep or change their opinions. If you’re not exposed to a concept there’s not really an opportunity for you to make up your mind about it.
CB: Right. Yeah, and one of the other big changes that I’ve noticed is 10 years ago everybody would know their Sun sign, their basic zodiac sign. But now through the availability of chart calculators like astro.com and Cafe Astrology and stuff a lot more people know not just their Sun sign but also their rising sign and often their Moon sign as well. The concept of ‘the big three’ has become much more ubiquitous than I feel like it was 10 years ago, and that was a really surprising development that I wasn’t anticipating.
CB: Yeah. Okay, so in terms of the premise of this though, before we can go on, I kind of thought we were sort of on the same page about at least the perception that it seemed like there were more women that were into astrology and it was more of a question about like why that is, but you sound a little bit more skeptical about whether that’s actually genuinely the case.
LA: I think that I would generally agree with you that more non-CIS men are interested in astrology than CIS-men are interested in astrology, with the caveats that I raised. I have questions about the poll and the cultural perspective, and I do think that things are shifting. But in this snapshot in time I do generally agree with it.
CB: Okay, okay. Yeah, ‘cause, I feel like most astrologers sort of recognize that with many of the caveats that you’ve said and that we’ve talked about, but there’s still most of the discussion that ends up being just why is that or why would that be, and so different speculations are put forward. I mean, one of them that people talk about pretty commonly is just the sort of cultural conditioning and the sort of marketing of astrology, where it tends to be oftentimes marketed it seems like to women more through things like magazines or through fashion magazines or other things like that, whereas there’s sort of a cultural component to it at this point in time that might be a little bit more geared towards women that could lead to that as sort of a byproduct of that rather than it being something that’s like for some reason naturally or inherently supposed to be that way. Yeah, what do you think about that?
LA: I definitely agree on that point. People who consume media that’s marketed at women are far more likely to come across not just astrology or a horoscope or something like that, but storytelling and imagery and more spiritualist concepts; whereas I think that we’re not really in a time, culturally speaking, where that’s really allowed for men.
CB: Sure. Yeah, like more health- and beauty-type magazines or other types of media oftentimes tend to be marketed more towards women, and oftentimes you’ll see horoscope columns or other things like that in those publications.
LA: Right. I didn’t look at a lot of magazines before I came. I feel like I’ve seen a men’s magazine with the horoscope column in it before, but definitely like on the last page and very small.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I’m trying to think of a more recent example. So, for example, Broadly, which is VICE’s women’s issues section of their media empire that they’ve been creating over the past few years, has a very active astrology section, which has been great.
LA: I believe they just put on a conference recently.
CB: Yeah, Annabel Gat, their head astrologer, put on a conference in New York just I think last weekend, so that’s sort of an example. And that whole project seems to be going really well and seems to be really vibrant and is sort of like a good example of the vibrancy of astrology at this time. But again, that’s because it’s happening within the context of Broadly, it is being marketed partially more to women, even though it’s certainly not restricted to that and there’s plenty of men that follow Annabel’s column and love it. So it’s not that it’s always restricted in that way, but there’s something certainly about the marketing where—I don’t know why that is necessarily—it’s being geared more towards women in some instances than men it seems.
CB: And so that might have sort of a weird sort of feedback loop in the way that it continues to perpetuate that sort of distinction a little bit. But even beyond that there’s other questions. I mean, the first question that usually comes up in these discussions in the astrological community is people ask, is there some inherent reason why women would be more interested in astrology, or that astrology would appeal more to women than to men, and is that why we’re seeing this disparity? So some people try to ask is there something inherent about it instead of it just being a purely cultural phenomenon at this point in time in our current culture due to whatever. Is there some other factor that is the reason? I mean, some people try to frame it like women being more susceptible or men being less susceptible; usually skeptics will say susceptible to belief in astrology because they see it as a negative thing or as a shortcoming or something in society.
LA: Sure. I don’t think that that really holds up. I mean, if you look back historically all of the ancient and traditional astrologers and authors of astrological texts, they’re men.
LA: So I don’t think it’s something like different in the brains of men versus the brains of women. That’s not really something that I ascribe to.
CB: Yeah, I mean, that’s the funny thing, historically, if you go back more than a century. And I talked about this in Episode 86 of The Astrology Podcast where if you go back more than a hundred years it’s like because of the way that that culture was prior to modern times when men and women didn’t receive the same education, pretty much virtually all of the astrological texts that we have from prior to the modern period, or prior to the early modern period, and all the astrologers we know from certain eras, like for the first thousand years of astrology, are all men. We don’t even know the names of female astrologers or have any texts that survived that were written by women as far as we know. So that’s an interesting inversion then in modern times and that just sort of leads to a deepening question about why it is so different now, where it would have been something largely practiced by men up until the modern period and then suddenly we have this interesting reversal potentially that’s happening at least in our society.
LA: Well, I think there’s a long-standing phenomenon of devaluing things that are for women going on back possibly all the way. So, as you’re saying, the education wasn’t available to women in prior centuries so astrology wasn’t a women’s thing. But once we reached like the ‘60s and ‘70s, and we’re having more like women practicing and writing about astrology, it’s possible that once it permeated the cultural consciousness as a thing that women can do, now it’s ‘a women’s thing’ and it’s not for everybody else. Sort of like how there’s maybe a bit of a stigma around men who do more more feminized nurturing roles for work today.
CB: Right. Like I’m trying to think—I saw some chefs actually discussing this on Twitter. I don’t know how I came across this, but they were discussing cooking, for example, being a supposedly traditionally like feminine thing, but then in the actual cooking profession when it came to chefs it tended to be more dominated by men until recently. So there was this weird inversion in terms of the gender roles when it came to that as a general phenomenon versus a profession, which is kind of an interesting thing.
LA: Right. And, I mean, you you have to zoom all the way out and have a whole conversation about like the power dynamics that are playing out on all layers of the way that we interact with each other on a small scale, like in the home versus all the way up to big-time, very important people doing jobs.
CB: Yeah, and like climbing whatever the corporate ladder is in in terms of different work environments and the advantages that that men are given in that versus those that women have, or the obstacles that women run into with certain things like even pregnancy and maternity leave and stuff like that and not being afforded freedom or being given rights in terms of that until somewhat more recently. Or working on it, I mean, even now.
LA: Many arguments could be made in that direction, that there’s perhaps a long way to go before we reach any sort of justice about work and like public life and how that’s not really made easy for people who choose to bear and nurture children.
CB: Right. I mean, that sort of brings up a related topic which was more common 10 years ago in the astrological community. Part of the context that I would see it brought up was in in professional circles where sometimes there would be more women attending astrology conferences and there would be a clear tendency for more women to be like clients of astrologers or consult with astrologers just from professionals’ anecdotal standpoint, but then when you’d go to a conference sometimes you would see more men speaking at conferences. Some of the men tended to be not well-known or leading, I don’t want to say or necessarily go that direction, but there was definitely a perception I felt that was especially more dominant 10 years ago and has changed a little bit because people have been making deliberate efforts to balance it out. But there tended to be more men in speaking positions or leadership roles than it seemed in the astrological community 10 years ago, which I saw as almost a reflection of or similar to the thing that I saw those professional chefs mentioning, and I wondered if it was somehow connected to some of the same dynamics.
LA: I believe that argument could be made, sure. Say two people are interested in astrology and want to know more about it, and one of them has five hours a week of free time and the other one has an hour a month of free time. If the person with an hour a month manages to get to an astrologer for a consult that’s a big win for them, whereas the person with five hours per week of free time who’s interested in astrology could study books and go to a conference and learn a lot more and eventually become a professional who’s respected in the community and attained speaking positions.
CB: Right. I mean, there’s even though there’s stuff that I’ve heard discussed about the sort of social conditioning of men and women and feeling confident or feeling comfortable putting yourself out there and like saying, “Give me that speaking position,” or “I believe I should have that speaking position” versus being selected for it or not feeling comfortable being put in that position where you have to just like ask for it in that way or sort of be, not forceful. I’m trying to think of the term. But there might be some things surrounding just different social conditioning between men and women that might contribute to things like that as well in terms of the professional sphere and why we were seeing weird sort of byproducts like that in terms of things like conferences.
LA: Yeah. I mean, a person who’s socialized to to be assertive and to ask for what they want and to push a little bit against boundaries that are set up between them and their goal is more likely to get a speaking position than a person who was socialized to anticipate other people’s needs and sort of shrink their boundaries inward.
CB: Right. Yeah, I mean, that makes sense to me. And there’s so many little things like that—like we said earlier just to reiterate at the point—that all contribute across the board in a cumulative sense. It’s not necessarily any one thing but it’s all of these little things like that that probably add up to some of the larger disparities that start seeming more evident.
LA: Sure. Yeah, I mean, I think there are more more factors than we’ve addressed here, I mean, even perhaps going beyond gender socialization. We’re living in a time where the dogma of our age is more of a scientism type of thing. So like people who would be dogmatically adhering to a religion in a different century are now dogmatically adhering to what they believe to be science and rationality.
CB: Right. Yeah, that was a point that you made yesterday that I really liked. You pointed out that it might be similar to or connected to things like the division between the STEM field versus the humanities when it comes to academia and some of the divisions that you see there.
LA: Sure. Yeah, I see a general devaluation of the humanities. We live in a time where growth and like profit-mindedness and attaining newer and greater heights is far more valued than the ability to knit together disparate experiences into a story that will sort of encompass everyone who’s involved in it.
CB: Right. Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. Because I do see that as being a very stark thing with the rise of, over the past few decades, not just scientific materialism and some of the things that grew out of the Enlightenment to a certain extent in the Scientific Revolution, but also, yeah, just the development and the popularization of like skepticism and scientific skepticism as a sort of worldview. And the way that you were framing it yesterday was really interesting because you were framing it more as taking the place, for some people, the sort of authority that religion would confer in the past ages.
LA: Yeah. And I want to be clear, I encourage and practice healthy skepticism.
LA: But what I’m talking about in this instance is more of a belligerent skepticism and an inability to take in another point of view and process it and then decide if you’re going to change your view.
LA: A lot of people who I hear arguing, “That’s not real, there’s no science to prove it,” would maybe not have their minds changed if they saw a study on the fact because, “If I don’t already believe it then it can’t be proven.”
CB: Yeah, I mean, ironically that’s the thing that I’ve been so surprised by and I’ve really wrestled with over the past 10 years. There’s much more faith involved in the dismissive type of skepticism that is more pervasive than you would expect because it’s supposed to be rooted in science, which is supposed to be more process-oriented and observational and, not preliminary. I’m trying to think of the word that’s connected with preliminary. Like it is our current understanding unless other data becomes available at some point in the future which counteracts the prevailing hypothesis.
LA: Right. So science is a method of observation to predict what might happen in the future and sort of controls results moving forward and see what trajectory we should be on based on the evidence that we have. However, in more of the dogmatic scientism, until other data becomes available has sort of just completely been severed in the way that people think about it.
CB: Yeah, and instead it just becomes more of like, “This is the way that things are for sure and we know this 100%, and therefore this other area of knowledge cannot be true because it contradicts what we think we know at the present time about this.” Yeah, it does become a bit more dismissive. I think the connection you were previously making was that there’s a tendency for people that are more into the STEM fields to adopt more of that type of ideology and more of that sort of quick, dismissive sort of approach to skepticism, which I think it’s true and generally agreed on. There’s a sort of gender disparity in the STEM fields where there tends to be more men that go into STEM. What is that short for? Science—
LA: Science, Technology, Engineering—
CB: Yeah. So if there’s more men that go into that, there’s more men adopting that form of dismissive scientific skepticism. And what I mean by that, the way I see it manifest when it comes to astrology is most of the time almost every skeptic I’ve ever met knows very little about astrology, and they just develop enough basic familiarity with it. They’ve heard some theories or they’ve heard some counter-arguments against it that seem compelling just based on a shallow understanding of astrology. They have just those three or four basic, sort of stock, what seem like reasonable objections to astrology and use those in order to dismiss it without necessarily knowing that much about the actual subject.
LA: Right, right. Yeah, there are definitely the anti-astrology talking points like heliocentrism, and also not every person in the population falls into 1 of 12 categories.
CB: “Not everybody has the same day” is one of the ways they phrase it. It’s like if my horoscope is correct then there’s gonna be 12 different types of people that will all have the same day each day.
CB: So there’s a sort of dismissiveness, but it’s like a sort of shallow dismissiveness to dismiss something without knowing much about it, and it’s usually primarily directed towards Sun sign astrology because that’s about all a general person would know about astrology if they haven’t taken any time to look into it further. It’s just the basic thing of like what you would see in a horoscope column or something like that and the basic premise that there’s 12 signs. They have certain qualities and there may be some predictive sort of ideas associated with that.
LA: Definitely, yeah. Or like, “It’s Mercury retrograde and my computer is working fine, so take that astrologers.”
CB: And that’s interesting ‘cause that’s such a more recent one; that really was not a concept. I don’t think that was in the language 10 years ago, in the public discourse. Or maybe it just started to enter into it about 10 years ago through astrologers starting to have more leverage or more ability to talk about things besides just the basic horoscope column and to start to integrate more general astrological terminology into their language, partially by breaking out of just being restricted to doing newspaper horoscopes. Astrologers started writing columns online and that gave them more freedom to start talking about other things that were going on. And so they started referencing other things that would happen frequently, and one of those of course is Mercury retrograde.
CB: So then it becomes sort of like a more common thing that enters into the public discourse.
CB: But it’s funny. What I almost view as a more advanced concept compared to just Sun sign horoscopes has now become the one of the cliché things that makes people’s eyes roll sometimes.
LA: Yeah. To go back to like the talking points thing, in conversations—primarily online, but certainly in person as well—they’re not really conversations necessarily. It’s not an exchange of ideas I guess is what I mean. More often I’ll hear two people in the same room asserting separate points at each other.
CB: In debates about astrology.
LA: Sure, and other conversations as well, but that’s what we’re talking about here.
CB: Politics, yeah.
LA: Yeah, if a person who doesn’t believe in astrology comes to the conversation and they’ve got their ‘anti-astrology’ gun loaded with, “I’m not gonna have the same day as my buddy who’s also a Leo. You can’t tell me otherwise.”
LA: And I think it definitely plays into a tribalism type of thing where it’s like, “I’m of the smart people who don’t believe in astrology, and you’re of the ‘who-be-do-be’ people who do believe in astrology.”
CB: Right. And then it goes further ‘cause then it usually leans into, “We’re doing the good work and you’re what’s wrong in the world.”
LA: Oh, yeah. “You’re contributing to charlatanism, and you’re just trying to make a quick buck off of people,” or “You’re in league with Satan.”
CB: Right, that’s always fun. But to circle back around, I mean, I haven’t read into this much; I’m just generally aware that there is that gender issue in terms of STEM studies in academia versus the humanities. But that then leads to one of my observations, which is I always just got the impression that men, generally speaking, or CIS-men were more likely to reject astrology out of hand only knowing very little about it and never move past that point, or that there were fewer men that would look past the basic facade of astrology of the popular Sun sign horoscope general understanding and would look beyond it and find out that there was more to it or that it was more complicated than it might seem at first, and that that was kind of the barrier of entry was. It seemed like there were more men having a tendency to reject it, whereas for some reason more women seemed like they would not immediately reject it out of hand. They would sometimes take the time to look beyond the initial thing to eventually find out that there is more to it, and then they would pass that threshold into the full-fledged astrology category. And maybe it’s connected with whatever is connected with that gender divide in terms of the STEM fields, or maybe—I don’t know.
LA: So one point I do want to make about STEM is that it’s not that it’s just men going into STEM.
LA: It’s more CIS-men are making it through to successful positions in STEM.
LA: There are lots of school children, little girls, who are interested in science. However, as they progress through academia they are met with barriers that men aren’t, and that can stymie their growth in the field. And Samuel actually spoke to this in his sort of rebuttal, that people who are not men are maybe a little more likely to run into a barrier and need to examine it to figure out how to get around it.
LA: Whereas someone who hasn’t run into a barrier like that, who has been on a straight trajectory the whole way through, if they come up against something that they don’t believe in there’s no need to examine this. “We can just barrel over it and continue on our trajectory.”
CB: Right. I mean, that is a really interesting part of this. I don’t know if this is partially what you’re saying or where you’re going with that, but the idea of having one’s experiences valued or devalued. And there’s something about people in society that more commonly had their experiences devalued, not immediately rejecting something that seems weird like astrology just because it seems weird or out of the ordinary versus those who haven’t had that experience as much, perhaps being quicker to just reject something out of hand. I mean, is that partially what you’re saying? ‘Cause I know that’s another part of this discussion that sometimes comes up.
LA: Sure. Yeah, I think that that can play into the whole people who seek validation of their experiences versus people who don’t feel that need or have that need sort of quashed earlier on in their lifetime.
CB: Right. I mean, that leads to the other part of the observation it usually comes into and part of the question that astrologers sometimes discuss or try to answer. It’s not just CIS-men or CIS-women, but also in terms of the LGBTQ community there tends to be more of them represented in people that are into astrology in terms of the astrological communities in some instances.
CB: It seems like, or at least sometimes that’s the general observation and assumption sometimes that’s made. Sometimes I see people speculate that perhaps it’s due to that phenomenon of having one’s experiences not validated, and therefore not being as quick to reject seemingly weird things that are outside of the mainstream let’s say as somebody that hasn’t had those experiences.
LA: Sure. I mean, so we can think about astrology as sort of like a storytelling technology, a series of archetypes, all of which are played out in each person in one way or another. A person who comes up against archetypes within themselves that fit into maybe the more popularly-ascribed archetypes that are allowed for if you were born with this type of body—these are your tasks, and these are the ways that you’re allowed to feel, and these are the jobs that you’re allowed to do—if that set of archetypes works for you then you don’t necessarily need to question that or see how other jobs, other tasks, other feelings can be a part of your experience. Whereas if someone doesn’t necessarily feel like that gender or sexuality or set of allowed feelings really matches with what’s going on on the inside, it’s like, “Well, well maybe there’s maybe there’s more to me than than what’s allowed,” and that’s a whole process to even get there.
LA: But going through that process perhaps would make a person more inclined to accept that there are a lot of different pieces of a human being and they’re all there, regardless of what the person looks like or what socioeconomic status they were born into or any number of things like that.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And then one of the things that’s changed in modern times that’s also worth talking about in terms of this discussion—and I don’t know what role it plays—but it’s often commented how there’s been a shift in 20th century astrology compared to earlier forms of astrology where earlier forms tended to be more predictive. But then starting in the early 20th century, there was a shift and there was a push to make astrology more focused on character analysis and psychological analysis, starting with people like Alan Leo that pushed it more towards character analysis and then eventually through people like Dane Rudhyar, and then later in like the 1970s and ‘80s astrologers like Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas and other psychological astrologers that are explicitly trying to reformulate astrology in a psychological context.
And to the extent that modern astrology is more focused on character analysis and psychological analysis and psychological reflection, is there something about that? I don’t know what the answer is but that’s one of the speculations that’s sometimes put forward. ‘Cause I’m trying to recount all of the different speculations that I’ve heard over the years by different astrologers, and one of them has been the framing of modern astrology because it’s more character-based and psychologically-based. There’s a question that sometimes asked about if women are inherently more geared towards psychological introspection and somewhat more introspective, as well as caring more about how other people are feeling on some level or wanting to analyze or be introspective with respect to others, and if that’s somehow connected with why psychological astrology or astrology as character analysis or psychological tool would be more appealing to women in its present form versus what men perceive it to be in that context.
LA: Sure. I think that that goes back to part of the socialization conversation earlier on. How do I be nurturing? How do I make myself accommodating for a person? That leads to more introspection than this is what I need to do to achieve this status. So I’ll be interested to see in the future, as more ancient techniques become popularized, if there’s maybe a few more men becoming interested in astrology through the marketing machine, basically if you’re gonna look at someone’s zodiacal releasing periods and say, “Let me tell you when’s a good time to do big things at your job,” or whatever. Like market it towards men, “I can predict when a good thing’s gonna happen for you or when an important thing is going to happen for you,” or something like that. If you’re not socialized to be interested in what’s going on inside of your emotions or to interpret what your thoughts mean—to just take your thoughts or emotions as things that need to be acted upon—then introspection is maybe a little less compelling.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. And that will be interesting in the coming decades with the revival of traditional astrology and growing interest in the more predictive forms of astrology if that does have some effect and if that does cause any shifts, or even if that’s actually a relevant motivating factor. I mean, I’ve always wondered because I’ve always been interested in astrology, I think on some level. And then especially once I discovered natal astrology, I was extremely interested and decided to devote myself to it. But I never felt normal and always did feel a little bit more introspective in maybe having tendencies or not exhibiting tendencies that I noticed or like associated with other guys my age or something like that. And especially when I was like in my 20s and was not just the youngest astrologer, but also tended to be like one of the few males in my age generation that was studying astrology, I wondered what did make me different, or what set me apart from other men, where fewer men were interested in the topic from just what I could see.
CB: So, yeah, it would be interesting if that was a piece of it, or if that did have any change, and if some of what we’re seeing now is just temporary based on different societal or other factors that just relate to right now. And then in like three or four decades it’s just radically different and this conversation itself becomes like an interesting relic of this time period in some way.
LA: Yeah. I’m inclined to say that with greater access to information more people are experiencing validation regardless of gender online by finding people who they wouldn’t necessarily find just in their hometowns to match up experiences and feelings about. A lot of communities have sprouted out of the internet, or a lot of movements have sprouted out of the internet. So I think that it’ll be interesting to see whether the entrenchment in views and polarization bubbles on the internet wins out over the possibility that you can be exposed to so many different kinds of people and learn so many different things about yourself, instead of like having this this feeling inside of yourself that eventually gets quashed down because you’ve got to go plow the field or whatever. You can sort of explore that more and associate yourself with people who also feel the same way.
LA: I mean, I don’t think it’s going to be an either/or thing, we’re gonna see both of those things. So I think that this conversation will continue to be relevant so long as power dynamics are relevant, you know.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And there’s been some changes just in the past few decades where things like psychology or like seeing a therapist or other things like that have been de-stigmatized a little bit more than they probably were a few decades ago. And so maybe things like that will also change or will open up some additional, not venues, but just additional openings for something like astrology, which is often used as a sort of counseling tool in some ways. Certainly a lot of astrologers actually not just use it in that way but sort of market it in that way in some ways.
LA: Definitely. And I think that de-stigmatization and opening towards more of these things is only gonna be useful to people of all genders. I certainly don’t think that CIS-men are benefiting from not being allowed to have emotions or express emotions other than anger.
CB: Yeah, exactly. So there’s different cultural things surrounding that that are changing, and certainly in the past decade things have been changing. I mean, one area that we haven’t gotten into much is just the expanding discussions about gender and a push towards, even within astrology, of sometimes rejecting just purely binary labels and becoming more inclusive about things outside of that.
LA: Sure. I mean, it’s not common for people to acknowledge that there are more than two genders and that many people aren’t male or female, lots and lots of people. And we see that sometimes in conversations on Twitter about people really struggling with the gender assignments of planets and finding new ways to talk about that, like active versus passive or diurnal versus nocturnal, things like that. But, I mean, the fact is that the energies are present within all of us to varying degrees. The labels that we are assigned are not always the labels that work for us. And I think that opening to that a bit more, maybe dissolving those rigid boundaries a little bit is helpful.
LA: When a person doesn’t identify as an either/or, but perhaps somewhere in between, or maybe not on that scale at all, if we allow for that in our language as as astrologers, as people who are helping people make sense of their lives through this you know language that we’re translating for them, that’s a that’s a service that a lot of people that I’m describing need. Astrology should be for everyone, not just people who identify this way or that way.
CB: Yeah, and that’s part of a maybe a broader conversation that’s outside of the scope of what we can get into today, but that’s actually really interesting to me that question. ‘Cause there have been astrologers doing really great work in terms of trying to figure out how to take some of the traditional or contemporary or standard astrological models, having some of those questions about like what’s appropriate, what’s not, what’s inclusive versus what’s not, and if people are like running into or meeting an astrology that isn’t inclusive enough for them or that might sort of turn them away from it because of some of the assumptions that it’s making about about things like gender.
LA: Mm-hmm. I mean, lots of assumptions. There are lots and lots of assumptions along with all these things. And I think that the more that we can de-center gender binaries, heterosexuality, and whiteness as the norm, higher socioeconomic status—the more that we can include and remember that there are people who don’t fit into these categories, the better off we will all be.
CB: Sure. Yeah, and that’s definitely a process I’ve been seeing the astrological community move towards. But it’s like some things change faster in some areas and like slower in other areas—
CB: —and there’s still a lot of work to be done. But part of it is just starting to have some of the discussions, like this one, and just ask the question and try to talk through it and realize what assumptions we’re making about different things and what assumptions other people are making and sometimes just exploring what the different answers are to some of these these things, and then eventually maybe as a community that starts to move things towards a different consensus in certain areas.
CB: All right, I’m trying to think if there were any major points that we meant a touch on. Did you have anything in your notes? I know we scribbled down like a few things really quickly before we did that.
CB: We weren’t super-prepared ‘cause I was just actually so excited. ‘Cause we just met up, for what, like an hour or two yesterday and didn’t really talk because we were passing through town. And I sort of mentioned this as an episode I’ve been thinking about doing, but I was a little nervous about it. ‘Cause it’s such a complicated topic to get into, I, myself, am trying to be better about it, but it’s still a learning process of words that I use and the way that I talk about certain things. And it can be such a delicate topic that you don’t necessarily want to accidentally offend somebody or say something inappropriate, since the goal is really just genuinely to talk about and ask questions and try to explore something. But I was so excited about some of the answers that you had and the way that you articulated some of it yesterday that I thought it would be great to have this discussion. I’m glad that we got a chance to.
LA: Yeah, definitely. Thank you for having me.
CB: Yeah, thanks for doing it on such short notice today. We just sort of rushed to get it together for a certain electional chart.
CB: But did you notice anything else in your notes that we hadn’t touched on?
LA: No. I mean, I think the only little bullet point that I made that I feel like we sort of touched on a little bit more sort of in a roundabout way was that people who come to astrology for help and guidance tend to be not having the best day.
CB: Oh, yeah.
LA: They tend to be in crisis.
CB: That’s a good point.
LA: And people outside the umbrella of financially-secure, white male may have more frequent crises than the alternative.
CB: Sure. Yeah, that’s a really good point in terms of availability of astrology, but also the reason why somebody is consulting an astrologer. And that’s definitely true that there’s probably fewer clients that just like go to an astrologer as like a blow-off thing to do versus having a specific reason to go to an astrologer or having a specific issue that you want to discuss or that you’d like some insight or a different perspective on. And definitely having some major issue or some crisis is a pretty common motivating factor.
LA: Right. I I think that if a person feels like they have all the answers, they’re not gonna go looking for a different one.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And definitely makes more sense in terms of explaining then maybe some of that disparity, or just like another additional data point that might move it in a certain direction when we’re talking about some of those overall statistics, even if it’s not the singular reason or something like that.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense.
LA: Sure. Like everything that we spoke to and more contributes to the fact that these crises happen more frequently for some people than others. Some people are taught that they have the answers, whereas other people are taught that they don’t on down the line. It manifests in every aspect of life. So why wouldn’t it also apply to astrology?
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And I’m trying to think if there are any other common, not even ones that we would necessarily endorse, but just ideas that are thrown out there by astrologers when they’re trying to discuss this topic, including ones that are not necessarily like good ideas. I remember somebody like on Twitter, when this article came out a month ago, said something to the effect that, “Well, women have more of a connection with celestial cycles because they get their periods every month and that roughly coincides with the cycle of the Moon, and therefore they’re more open towards the idea at least that there can be celestial ‘influences’,” or something. And I remember a few people like really strongly rejecting this guy’s—
LA: I may have been one of them.
CB: You may have been one of them? Okay. Do you want to expand on why?
CB: First, let’s start off, did I explain the premise of what he was saying correctly?
LA: Yeah, I think that this was not something that was presented as—it wasn’t a denigrating thing.
CB: No, he was genuine.
LA: Yeah, it was just maybe a not fully thought-out idea.
LA: So there are lots of people who menstruate and not all of them identify as women. Menstrual cycles are based off of hormones that come from the ovaries and the pituitary gland and infrequently correspond to lunar cycles.
LA: I don’t know a lot of people who are menstruating and saying, “I am at one with the universe.”
CB: Right. I guess it’s just ‘cause it’s tied in with a lot of other things, like ideas of celestial influence, if that’s what astrology is based on. And there is actually a common argument that I think goes back to Ptolemy, or it’s like a roundabout thing that goes back to Ptolemy, where people sometimes associate astrology with celestial influence. Astrologers or astrology enthusiasts will adopt the argument of the Moon coincides with the tides, and when the Moon is in a certain state you’ll have high tide and low tide. Therefore by extension it makes sense that the rest of the planets should also similarly influence us or have some influence on earthly events as well, which turns out not to actually be a very good argument. While the Moon is very close to us, and therefore has a major gravitational effect, the other planets are so far away and gravity drops off dramatically at different distances pretty rapidly, so that other planets have relatively minimal gravitational impact on us in addition to other stars and other things like that. So it’s not actually a good scientific, physical explanatory mechanism for astrology. It almost seems like a spin-off of an argument in some sense.
LA: Totally, yeah. I mean, I’m sure that there are women who would disagree with my point. But I don’t think that I’m making the argument that this body that’s close to us, that has a measurable and definite effect upon the gravity of our planet, has no effect upon humans. I just don’t think it has an effect upon only humans with a certain chromosomal alignment.
CB: Sure. I mean, is there anything to the idea that women who do experience—that would have a regular, recurring physical cycle of some sort—and therefore might be open to the idea of other cycles in their life? I’m trying to think of men that don’t experience that, if they do have any similar experience of cyclic phenomenon. I can’t think of anything physically necessarily except for aging and getting older and some of those processes over a much longer period. I guess you have the annual cycle of like the seasons, which is something everybody experiences. And everybody experiences their birthday from one solar return year to another.
LA: Certainly sleep cycles.
CB: Oh, yeah, sleep cycles. That’s a really good one.
LA: There are people who go through emotional cycles throughout the course of a year or a month. I think that there are lots and lots of cycles experienced by people of all genders, and they come from lots of different things. Like if a person goes to the gym three times a week, this is also a cycle.
LA: For me, that argument of women and the Moon, because of menstrual cycles, it just seems kind of not a thing.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I just thought it would be worth discussing ‘cause I’ve definitely seen it invoked before by different people.
LA: It’s a pretty popular thing. There are groups of pagan-adjacent people I think who feel really strongly that that is real. And that is a fine belief to have, I don’t share it, but that’s fine.
CB: Yeah. And you actually mentioned the word ‘pagan’ and that reminds me of an article somebody sent me a few days ago, and I wish I could remember where it was from. I think it was in The New York Times. It was like an op-ed piece talking about paganism being on the rise as an alternative to Christianity or towards more established forms of religion amongst millennials and the younger generation. I didn’t read the whole article, but I think it was commenting on this thing that we saw really strongly over the past year while Jupiter was going through Scorpio. One of the interesting side effects of that is there was this weird rise in interest in magic and occult-type—I don’t want to say ‘cause it’s such a weird, broad term that could mean so many different things. But we certainly saw it in the astrological community, a rise in interest in astrological magic was definitely a topic of conversation this year.
LA: Sure. Yeah, definitely astrology and magic have been disconnected for a really long time, and we’re just starting to knit those together. Members of both of those communities are just starting to see a knitting together of that a little bit more, which is really cool ‘cause they started off together.
LA: But, yeah, I think there’s a lot of different perspectives and points of view and things that need to be examined with that. And this sort of plays in a little bit to the argument of is astrology divination or causal.
LA: I feel like we could talk for a thousand years about all of this and never really come to a set answer.
CB: Right. The title was “The Return of Paganism.” The subtitle is “Maybe There Actually is a Genuinely Post-Christian Future for America” by Ross Douthat, opinion columnist for The New York Times, December 12, 2018. But it was just interesting ‘cause I remember one of the comments on Twitter was about ‘witches’ or ‘witchcraft’ and other forms of divination or occultism being sidelined, or being practices that were somehow like on the fringes of society historically. This person was I think associating astrology with that in some ways to the extent that it’s kind of on the fringes of society now, and, different communities that similarly have traditionally found themselves on the fringes of society perhaps being more open to those things versus sort of like established things being less open to that, I guess.
LA: Sure. If your access is barred to the traditional ways of doing things, people will find another way.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. All right, well, I think that’s it. We’re at like 75 minutes. Usually I shoot for like two hours and I have to stop myself, but I think I think we’ve covered everything. I’m trying to think—I hope I don’t, immediately after we stop, just remember some other major topic or like a point of view that we left out. I certainly don’t want this to be like the end of the discussion, but I was hoping that this would be like the beginning of—or not the beginning obviously.
LA: Sure. I mean, we definitely have not mentioned every relevant factor at play here, and I feel like we could even do more looking at the question itself. But but I feel like for the purposes of this conversation we’ve covered all my bullet points that I noted down in my notes app—
CB: Like 15 minutes ago.
LA: —feverishly 15 minutes ago.
CB: When I was like, “We’ve got an hour before this rising sign changes. Let’s do this.” Well, thank you.
LA: Yeah, definitely.
CB: I really appreciate it. Thanks for joining me today. I think you’re only like the second or third guest that I’ve had in the new studio. So thanks also for that. It’s been fun. Yeah, now you’ve seen this is where the magic—
LA: This is where the magic happens.
CB: Yeah, the bingo cards originate from this general area.
LA: Perfect. Yeah, this is where the ‘astrological sausage’ gets made.
CB: Right, behind the scenes. All right, cool. So once again, where can people find you? There’s your Twitter. Are you working on a website?
LA: Yeah, I’m working on a website. It’ll be going live mid-January. It is ardorastrology.com. That’s A-R-D-O-R-astrology.com.
CB: Okay. And I’ll put a link to that and your Twitter profile in the description page for this episode on theastrologypodcast.com.
LA: Thank you.
CB: And I’ll make sure I link to that especially once your website is up, so people can find out more information about you and your work. I definitely recommend it. I definitely recommend following you on Twitter because I really appreciate a lot of your posts and tweets there and stuff.
LA: I make a lot of jokes.
CB: Yeah, you make a lot of jokes, a lot of bingo cards. People have to stay tuned for version two of The Astrology Podcast bingo cards.
LA: Absolutely, forthcoming.
CB: All right, cool. Well, I guess that’s it. So thanks everybody for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast. You can find out more information at theastrologypodcast.com. And I think that’s it. So thanks for listening or watching, and we’ll see you next time.