There’s an old saying, “When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Broadly, it means that when we’re skilled with a particular tool, we tend to use that tool in every situation, without considering if it’s the right tool for the job at hand. Most people encounter this when dealing with health issues. A surgeon will almost always recommend surgery to fix any problem. Surgery is the right tool for many health issues, but it’s not the right tool for every issue. If you break a finger, you want a doctor who will put it in a splint, not one who will schedule you for an amputation.
Hammers are powerful, versatile, tools, but not everything in the world is a nail. Astrology is also a powerful, versatile tool, but it’s not the right tool for every situation. Not everything in your life is a nail.
Perhaps the biggest area of misuse of astrology is in the field of relationships. Normally, I make a point to remind people that “relationships” includes all relationships, not just romantic and sexual relationships. In this example, however, astrology is only ever misapplied to questions about romantic relationships.
Don’t get me wrong: astrology is a very powerful tool to help you understand and improve your relationships — including your romantic relationships. You can look at the natal chart and identify how you seek to meet the essential relationship needs: Safety (the Moon) and Validation (Venus), and also notice any patterns or obstacles that may interfere with meeting these needs in relationships. And you can compare the two charts of individuals in a relationship and see how easily they will meet each other’s Safety and Validation Needs, and even plot a course to help them to avoid some of the bigger challenges in the relationship dynamic. That is the nail.
Far too many people try to use relationship astrology to determine if a relationship will happen, usually based on how “compatible” the two birth charts seem to be. This is definitely not a nail. In almost every possible sense, it’s a screw. I’ve got amazing synastry with Lady Gaga, but that’s not enough to overcome a restraining order.
I know of one astrologer who frequently posts charts and questions about an on-again-off-again romantic relationship. She insists on soliciting advice about electional charts on when the best time would be to explore reconciling with her partner, and horary charts asking if they will get back together or not. This is a prime example of when astrology is not the right tool for the job. Clearly, there are much bigger issues that need to be addressed, and they’re not in the birth chart.
Is It Your Business?
While it’s true that astrology can be used to find the answers to a myriad of questions, it can’t be used to answer every question. There are built-in limitations that prevent the frivolous use of astrology. In Horary astrology, there is a list of strictures against reading the chart. Many astrologers ignore these, arguing that having Saturn in the 7th house (for example) or a void-of-course Moon doesn’t prevent you from interpreting the chart. But it’s not a question of if you can interpret the chart; it’s a question of if you should interpret the chart. In my experience, when one of these red flags shows up, it matters. Something isn’t entirely above board with the question, and it’s suggesting that you may not be looking at a nail.
One of the most significant considerations in horary astrology is that the person asking the question must have standing to do so. You can’t use astrology to spy on other people. If your sister is up for a promotion, and she asks the horary question, “Will I get the job?” it might be a valid chart. But if you ask, “Will my sister get the job?” it’s not valid. Even if your intentions are pure, the outcome of the question does not affect you in any way, and is none of your business. You do not have standing to ask the question in the first place.
I take a very hard line on this, but then again, the style of counseling that I do is very big on integrity, choice, and staying in your own business, so that’s how I’m inclined to approach almost every question. From my perspective (and personal experience) many people turn to astrology in an attempt to avoid facing a painful and unpleasant truth. Astrology is a distraction; a straw-grasping attempt to stay in denial and perpetuate a fantasy, rather than to let go of the attachment, evaluate what actually is, and make an empowered choice.
If you’re completely objective, and you don’t know the answer, astrology can be the right tool — such as when one of my students was wondering if she should buy a particular house. If you’re emotionally invested, and you already know the answer (but don’t want to accept that the answer is no), astrology is not the right tool.
Do you know what’s missing from your astrology education?
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