mental health, witchery

To the Ardent Atheist: In Defense of Astrology & Tarot

I’m a part of a lot of Facebook groups.

They are generally chaos. Especially the political ones.

On one of these political, anti-Trump groups I’m in, a mod(erator) posted to say that bashing astrology is not allowed on the basis that its a valid spiritual belief, and to bash it is just Cruel.

I agree.

So I smash the heart react, scroll down to post “Thank you for this!” and see a slew of comments to the effect of, “Are you fucking serious?” “This is how Trump got elected. Anti-science bullshit.”

Whoa buddy.

me, disheveled cognitively in response to this madness

I and others mention the role that astrology plays in some people’s coping with the chaos that our world is–especially one in which djt is the president of the us.

Someone responds to this assertion, saying that we should instead read some Camus and accept and/or blame the absurdity of the universe for its lack of meaning, and then find actual scientific solutions to real world scientific problems like climate change.

OK–you can practice astrology and spirituality and still endorse science, still be a scientist, still ground your decision-making and voting and politics in science.

It got me a bit Heated. This argument often does. Self-righteous atheism gets me really, really salty.

Because I once was a self-righteous atheist, terrified of looking “stupid” and being criticized, cynical and angry with the absurdity of the universe. This was, for me, unsustainable. And it was misery-making.

Maybe this belief is sustainable for a lot of people. Good for them.

Here’s the rub though: your atheist, anti-spiritual philosophy is a belief.

You don’t need to agree with astrology–or tarot cards.

But here’s something for you to consider if you are vocally against others practicing astrology, tarot, and general witchery.  

you, hesitantly considering what I’m about to say

Many who appreciate or seek guidance from astrology and/or tarot are people whose ideas, feelings, and self-beliefs were not mirrored or validated while growing up, even into adulthood.

Incidentally, that is a lot of  women, and queer, trans and/or gender non-conforming people. It is also a lot of indigenous people, and people of color.

Incidentally, people with these social identities are especially interested in tarot and astrology. At the intersections–think Chani Nicholas, a queer WOC astrologer who provides insightful meditations on placements and social justice.

It also includes virtually everyone who suffers from a mental illness.

All astrology and tarot does is hold a mirror to your personality, feelings, and experiences. These practices see you. They reflect you back to yourself.

Fuck off with the “Barnum Effect!!” rally cry, as if it matters if it is placebo effect or not when a practice helps heal someone. If it’s efficacious, it’s worth it. If it heals trauma, if it mends self-doubt: it’s worth it.

Consider this:

you, continuing to consider, this time more openly and interestedly because I’m relating it to a universal experience of consuming art and literature


You know the feeling of reading a book and feeling like the narrator is speaking directly to your soul? You know how it feels to read fiction or watch a movie or listen to a song and feel that deep sense of being understood and connected to the human condition?

That’s what astrology and tarot does for people.

It’s like reading a book that was written exclusively for you. And sometimes the writers get the plot exactly right, sometimes they get it wrong. But it can still feel profoundly connecting and meaningful.

Fuck the idea that these practices are bullshit, that it’s inherently dangerous, or that it is a symptom of anti-intellectualism and anti-scientific thought.

It’s not trying to be scientific. It’s not trying to be intellectual. It’s trying to tell a story. It is trying to be a mirror in which you can see yourself clearly, and thus affirm your existence.

If a reliance on astrology and tarot to affirm one’s self-concept is something that you find weak: think on how that belief of yours is reflective of your white-knuckle hold on masculinity (hyper-rationality, refusal of vulnerability, resistance to emotional expression) as the Best Way Of Being.

In short, take a walk through the park some time on a quiet afternoon, and consider how your claim that astrology is anti-intellectual bullshit that reinforces the systems that got Trump elected is actually just you denigrating spiritual practices that are coded as feminine, as queer, and that help people with varying degrees of mental illness.

The day we start basing employment decisions on someone’s 10th house placement and forcibly hospitalizing Cancer moons is the day you can denigrate astrology for being legitimately dangerous and based on nonsense.

For now, would you please just let people make sense of the chaos in their personal lives to cope with the occasionally overwhelming pain of existing?

both of us, looking at the glory of a sunset and processing our emotional and/or cognitive responses to it through different paradigms, neither one of us angry at the other for coping with meaninglessness in different ways
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