Why your star sign is important

Often attributed to Arthur C. Clarke, the reputed science fiction author (amongst other things) is the quotation I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarian and we’re skeptical. Once one gets past the humour of the apparent self-contradiction, and takes a moment to ponder the thought (and astrology in general) one starts to realize that this statement isn’t as absurd as it at first appears. There are many reasons why your star sign is important.

The first of all commonalities that we share, before undergoing the social subdivision of sex determination, is that of having been born. We were all born and we were all born at some point in time. With only a year to play with and with the number of births per day, it makes sense that these dates be grouped. In ancient times, when the true nature of those diamonds in the sky was unknown, it made sense to group people in accordance with the constellations and the seasonal year. Naturally, ego caused people to believe that human behaviour was dictated by gods and the heavens. This idea held on for centuries, until the advent of the telescope divided the science of astronomy from the lore of astrology.

Sir Isaac Newton’s Law of Gravitation states: any particle of matter in the universe attracts any other with a force varying directly as the product of the masses and inversely as the square of the distance between them. In layman’s terms, this means that how strong gravity is depends on how much stuff is involved and how far apart it is. Double the distance, halve the force. On Earth, gravity is at it’s strongest at sea level, on the surface where there is no distance between us and our mother planet. The higher you go, the less mama holds on. Gravity gets weaker and weaker.

However, there is never none. The equation doesn’t allow for it. This is a difficult concept for some to grasp so I will explain by adopting the analogy of Petchel’s Magic Frog. Australian high school teacher (and occasional big rig truck driver) Michael Petchel sought to explain this idea with his “magic frog.” Petchel’s Magic Frog has been preprogrammed to always hop only half of the distance between itself and the obstacle in front of it. Placed ten feet from a wall, on its first jump it will leap an astounding five feet. On its second it will leap only two and a half feet. Its third places it at fifteen inches, and then seven and a half inches, and then three and three-quarter inches, and so on.

Froggie is very precise and, as such, never actually reaches the wall. He will always inch his way, getting ever closer with ever shortening steps. He will always get closer but will never actually get there. Note that this is a mathematical exercise, not a physical one and, as such we are assuming Plank length does not exist, but this is irrelevant when it comes to Newton’s law which follows the mathematical model. Even between us and the furthest object spotted by any telescope, there is still a minute attraction. In most cases, this is easily overcome by the expansion of the Universe (according to cosmologists, it is getting bigger) which, in itself, is a universal force that could affect personality.

Could it be that who we are is affected by these seemingly insignificant forces? Our bodies are comprised of sixty percent water and we know that gravity affects tides. A woman’s menstrual cycle roughly correlates to the phases of the moon which, legend has it, affects the mythical werewolf. The word lunatic is derived from the Latin luna meaning Moon. According to the most prominent theories, we only exist because our Moon was kind enough to stir the primordial vat for us. The twenty-eight days of the lunar cycle is significant in art, science and culture. The hunt for exomoons continues, however, within our own solar system, our moon is very unique. It is very big, more like a sister planet than a moon; mother Earth’s little sister.

Gravity is one of the most fundamental forces in the Universe. It affects everything. Therefore, could it affect our personalities based, not on when we were born, but when those fundamental parts of our brains (the frontal lobes) were being formed? The answer is that it is possible. Very possible. Is it likely? That is a question that would be better addressed to a neurobiologist, however, I suspect the answer is, not very, and for the purpose of this examination, we will eliminate that confounding variable by assuming that it does not exist (which is not to say that it isn’t relevant; keep reading). The quest to determine the cause of that last third of your personality leads an investigator down the road of all sorts of possibilities. Could it be these subtle gravitational forces or could it be something else (or a little of both)?

I’m an Aries. According to one source, I’m skeptical about organized religion, but can be spiritual. Apparently, I believe in the power of the individual as opposed to the group, believe in free-will, self-determination, and tend to put my faith in myself. This is very close. Given that nature loves equilibrium I actually believe in a balance between the group and the individual (neither communism nor capitalism is effective in their pure forms – a topic for a different Monday). I also have faith in the collective maturity of society (another topic for another time). I am, however, skeptical about organized religion (yet another topic) and offer Solipsology as a sort of counter-religion.

What does this mean about me as an Aries? Am I a stereotypical Aries and can attribute my personality and beliefs to the stars? The theory of the forces of nature upon personality is compelling but those forces are so miniscule that it is unlikely. So what, then? Pure coincidence? Possibly, but that seems almost as unlikely as the pseudo-scientific explanation of subtle influence.

Attempts to scientifically prove astrology consistently fail yet people continue to exhibit the qualities of their star sign and to attest to its veracity. Ignorance and mass delusion is another possibility. So too is alien reprogramming. It is a fun activity to sit around the campfire and to speculate. There is, however, one explanation that has a scientific backing and easily explains the astrological viewpoint, even Arthur C. Clark’s.

Our investigation begins with the question: who is most likely to advocate the truth of astrology? For early astronomers like Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, there was little difference between astrology and astronomy. However, even since the division between the two, astrology is still practiced by occultists the world over. Hitler often consulted an astrologer. And then there’s Mary at the office, otherwise pragmatic, who reads her horoscope every day.

Those who believe in astrology are most likely to consult the astrological tables and daily forecasts and, as such, are probably most likely to be affected by it. Of course Mary acts like a typical Libra; she reads what a typical Libra does and behaves accordingly, most likely subconsciously. It is self-fulfilling prophesy, a concept first introduced in 1948 by Robert K. Merton. Because she believes she is a Libra, she acts like a Libra. And so does Arthur C. Clarke, albeit minutely. Common to the description of a typical Sagittarius is a sense of humour. Sagittarians are funny people.

Just because you are not aware that you have been affected by something does not mean that it has not happened. At some point in my past, I may have been introduced to the idea that Aries are individualists and religious skeptics and may have woven that, subconsciously into the fabric of my personality. That isn’t to say that we all weave that influence in the same way. Hitler was also an Aries, as was Guy Fawkes, the man whose capture exposed the plot by Catholics to assassinate Protestant King James I. I have neither designs to conquer Europe (except with the rationality and respectful peace of Solipsology as a popular movement) and my colonial roots have instilled me with complete indifference to the British monarchy (except as a sociological interest). I did not interpret what it means to be an Aries in the same way as Hitler or Fawkes, but that is not to say I was not influenced by it.

The furthest known object discovered to date is HD1, a galaxy (or cluster of immature stars) some 13.5 billion light years away. It probably no longer exists, however, what this discovery does tell us is that the Universe is at least that big; there is something out there and whatever it is still exerts its gravitational influence on spacetime, and on us. Remember the frog. Gravity is never zero and it is a pervasive, binding and unifying force.

The same is true with personality. Influence is never zero and is a pervasive, binding and unifying force. The debate on how much personality comprises a person as opposed to how much is the product of their genetic makeup is only the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, within the realm of influence, there are a myriad of factors, including subconsciously picking up a trait from a daily horoscope in a newspaper; a quirk you adopted from an astrological assessment that you had read once, long ago and since forgotten about.

Yes, Mr Clarke, you are skeptical, just like a typical Sagittarius.


Published by The High Priest