My friendly local morning news team are discussing horoscopes today. This is, unfortunately, nothing new; I had to change the channel on New Year’s Day because their guest astrologer was doing my head in with her “Scorpios will come into some money in April” crap.
Today’s angle was the “news” that some astrologers want to change the birth dates that correspond to the different signs of the zodiac (H/T Noah Gray, on Facebook, for the link). Don’t worry, though – other astrologers don’t agree, so if your star sign is critical to your sense of identity (or if you have your star sign tattooed on your arse), you don’t have to change if you don’t want to.
(Even if the dates change, my sign won’t – I’d still be an Aquarius, by the skin of my teeth, under the new rules. You can imagine how relieved I am to learn that this major schism doesn’t affect me at all).
Now, I suppose I can understand so-called news programmes covering astrology. It’s still incredibly popular, after all, even if it has been pretty comprehensively debunked. And it’s a light, fluffy item they can cover with zero research, opting instead to compare old and potential new star signs with the meteorologist and traffic reporter. Whatever – I have the choice to switch off the TV and write a blog post instead, with some nice sensible podcasts playing in the background.
What bugs me is how ubiquitous astrology still is in daily life. People bring it up all the time, and I wish it was socially acceptable to mock them loudly. But unfortunately, the subject mostly arises in situations where I have to grit my teeth and nod politely, or – worse – join in. For example:
- I once walked into my lovely mother-in-law’s house to see that she’d cut the New Year horoscope section out of the local paper, annotated each horoscope with the names of all family members (including me) who fall under that sign, and intended to keep the damn thing stuck up on the fridge (obscuring some awesome new photos of her grandkids) all year. But what can you say?!
- My ex-boyfriend used to blame every single moment of indecision – from whether to move to a new lab to choosing between pizza and curry for dinner – on “maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini*”. (OK, I may have mocked him occasionally, saying “you’re a scientist, FFS!”, but he’d actually get upset about it, so I mostly stopped. Mostly).
- An ex-flatmate once told me that things weren’t going to work out with the guy she’d been on a few dates with because “he’s a nice guy and all, but he’s a Capricorn”. OK then.
- I remember some blog buddies who use Blogger being outraged a couple of years ago because adding your birth date to your profile meant automatically displaying your star sign, too – there was no way to separate the two.
- In a project meeting with a mix of clinical and research colleagues, all senior to me, one person wished another a happy birthday. Another member of the team piped up with “ooh, it’s your birthday today?! That makes you, um, a Virgo, right?!” She then went round the table asking everyone else to say what sign they were.
This last one bothered me more than all the others put together. No-one else seemed to bat an eyelid, but I was astonished – I kept thinking “but we’re scientists! We’re here to discuss a cutting edge genomics-based translational research project!” I have the greatest of respect for everyone who was in the room that day – they’re lovely people and dedicated professionals – but c’mon. REALLY?! C’mon. I have to discuss my star sign politely and with no mocking, AT WORK?!
That’s asking a lot.
There has been one recent exception to my usual polite responses to horoscope conversations. I was at my friends’ daughter’s first birthday party, along with lot of other mutual friends and acquaintances. I may have had an afternoon beer or two, never a good idea for this lightweight. A woman I know well enough to know that this kind of topic is fairly typical for her was saying how nice it was that the birthday girl got to be a Cancer “because that’s a nice sign”. I nodded and smiled, but then she asked me what sign I am.
“Um, Aquarius”, I replied.
“REALLY??!! NO WAY!!“, she replied. “Are you sure?”
“You must be on the border with another sign, though?”
“Nope. I’m right in the middle of Aquarius, with an Aquarius moon and rising Aquarius”, I said.
(I only know this because my auntie bought my sister and me books about our star signs for our birthdays one year when we were teenagers).
“NO WAY!!! I NEVER would have thought you were an Aquarius!!!!” she squealed. “Never in a million years!”
“Well, what does that tell ya about the value of astrology?”
I don’t think she got it.
Maybe it’s because she’s from the sign of the bull.
*I just checked, and under the proposed new dates he’d actually be a Taurus. HAHAHAHAHA! Shall I email him and tell him?
(Rhetorical question. Things did not end well, to say the least (let’s just say that he cheated on me and as a result we both had to take an HIV test – negative, thank fuck) and we’ve had zero contact for ten years; I’m more than happy to keep it that way, whatever star sign he is!)