“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra
I’m writing this Sunday morning, November 13, 2016, the weekend after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
The title of this post isn’t about What Went Wrong to allow Trump to win. I’m not ready to touch that topic, and that would take me too far afield from the subject of this website.
What Went Wrong with the astrology predictions?
The majority of astrologers I know of predicted a Clinton victory. That was also my conclusion after looking at Trump’s chart, although I did not publicly post it. I still wonder about that.
There is one predictive technique that has me particularly puzzled here, and I want to look at it precisely because it makes no sense to me.
There’s a hellenistic predictive technique called Zodiacal Releasing, which is supposed to predict peak periods of activity. Chris Brennan has done a lot of very good work to revive that technique. In that system, Trump’s most recent peak period was roughly October 2015 to June 2016.
In other words, according to Zodiacal Releasing, Donald Trump’s peak period is past now.
I do not see any way I can square that with Trump reigning as President for the next four years. In what conceivable way can the period of the Republican primaries be his peak activity, while the Presidency itself is past peak?
There are different ways to answer that, and most of the ones I have seen feel more like ducking the question. Maybe he was born a little bit later than the recorded time, so his Ascendant is different. Maybe there are other astrological factors in play that “trump” this particular technique and over-ride it. Maybe there are more negative factors at play in Hilary Clinton’s chart – but we don’t have her chart, or rather, we have too many charts since there are at least 4 birth times out there. Maybe we shouldn’t have tried to predict this particular election since the charts we have are so iffy. Maybe…
I want to ask a more fundamental question here:
Is there something about the nature of astrology itself that makes predicting things like the outcome of an election a dicey procedure at best?
I think there is.
Like the news media, astrologers are very good at predicting in retrospect. It’s a good way to learn astrology, and it seems to match the way much astrology is practiced. You take a chart, then take a known life or a known situation, and look for how the chart makes sense of what actually happened.
That happens to be a very good procedure for a chart reading with a person. It is good to start by predicting backwards, matching events in a person’s life with events in a chart. This provides a context for understanding a person’s current situation, and for reasonably predicting forwards.
Almost all of the predictions of a Trump victory that I personally saw showed up the day after the election. One very good traditional astrologer posted something about how his analysis had led him to think Trump would win, but he didn’t want to publish it beforehand. Publishing it the day after was okay, though. I count that as an instance of retrospective prediction.
I saw some analyses that day of ingress charts, and charts of election day, that were also very convincing. After the fact.
Astrology is very good at analyzing and giving significance to a known situation. It is nowhere near as consistently useful for predicting the outcome in an unknown situation. (Horary astrology is a special case, and that very much depends on the situation and the questioner for a prediction to work and have validity.)
I’m in the process of preparing for a class on predictive techniques I may be doing next year, and I want to let you in on what I’m finding. I strongly suspect I am not the only astrologer to have this kind of experience.
I am going through dozens of charts of famous people with documented and dated histories, looking for really good examples, and I am applying the traditional predictive techniques I know of, following the rules that have been passed down. With any given predictive technique, in some charts it works so very well it is freaky. In some other charts it kind of fits and kind of doesn’t, or rather I can make it fit with a bit of stretching, fudging and duct tape. And then there are other charts where the technique doesn’t seem to fit at all. (The example of zodiacal releasing with Donald Trump’s chart that I mentioned earlier is an example of the latter.)
When I finally assemble charts for the class, I will choose the ones where the techniques can clearly be seen to be working. I won’t talk about all the charts I discarded.
(Side note – Part of the reason that working predictive techniques with celebrity charts is so hit and miss sometimes, is because we are missing so much information about their lives. We see only that thin slice of events that is exposed to the public eye, and often that is largely media fabrication. We often have very little data on what their life looks like as they live it, from their perspective, with what is important and not important to them. Given that massive lack of contextual data, it is actually rather amazing that the predictive techniques work as well as they do and as often as they do.
All the tools of astrology seem to work much better in the context of an actual reading with a live person, where I can get enough contextual information to understand how the symbolic system of astrology applies to their specific life – again, in context.
However, even in the setting of a live chart with a live person in front of me, I sometimes run into anomalies, where the chart leads me to expect one meaning, and I see a widly different one actually happening.)
I want to make it clear that I am talking about charts that are all Rodden Rating of A or better, meaning that we have a birth certificate with recorded time, or the subject is reporting the time from memory. I am leaving out charts with unverified or conflicting birth times. The assumption is that, if you have an accurate birth time, the chart should “work”.
Given a chart that doesn’t quite seem to work, most astrologers would question whether there was a problem with the reported birth time. What I am doing here is questioning whether there is something about astrology itself at work here.
The practice of astrology deals with questions of value and significance. Astrologers bring their own value systems with them into their work. There is no way that can be avoided.
For most of the people I know the thought of Donald Trump actually being elected President was simply inconceivable. It just didn’t make sense. Granted, that says as much about me as it does about my astrologer friends, but that is the impression I get.
Please consider that phrase very literally – the thought was inconceivable. It was impossible to think that thought. If something is inconceivable, you can’t conceive it.
Given that sort of mindset, when you go looking at astrology charts – which are intimately tied up with issues of value and significance – there is no way you could conceive of something that you can’t conceive of. If you could not conceive of Donald Trump winning, then you would necessarily read the charts in such a way as to see his defeat. It is inconceivable that you could have done otherwise.
I think this should lead us to think about what sort of model we use to understand how astrology works.
Astrology deals with questions of value, of meaning, of significance. The value system of the astrologer reading the chart will determine the kinds of conclusions that are drawn from the chart.
There is no way around that.
This makes sense if we conceive of astrology as a form of divination. It does not make sense if we try to conceive of astrology as an exact science.
If astrology were a science, then a majority of astrologers, given a situation and a chart, should come up with a consensus interpretation, and that interpretation should be verifiable – not sometimes, but every time. In science, a single exception to a rule is enough to disprove the rule. Not so in astrology.
I think it is time we admit that astrology is a multi-valent symbol system, a symbolic tool, and that astrologers use it to find meaning and coherence in life events. It plain old does not work in the same way that science does.
Astrology is not a science, it is a form of divination.
More on that down the road.