Turns out in Western astrology, your personality is a lot more than the month you were born in! Did you know that the Aquarius zodiac sign, despite being commonly known as the water-bearer, isn’t actually a water sign? It’s an air sign, and the horoscope your birthday falls on is also your sun sign. Which isn’t the only important sign you need to know.

There are elements to consider and the time and place you’re born plays a factor too in calculating your Big Three. That is your aforementioned sun sign, which reflects the position of the sun when you were born. And your moon and rising sign, which refers to the position of the moon and Eastern horizon respectively at time of birth. 

But why does it matter?

Well, in TL;DR terms:

  • Sun sign = your deepest self
  • Moon sign = your emotional landscape
  • Rising sign = how others see you

It’s why someone who may be a Leo comes across as shy and introverted to their friends. Or why someone may feel like they never connect to the traits of their horoscope sign.  

There’s actually a whole birth chart you should take into account to fully grasp your sense of self as each planet wields a specific influence on the way you are. But that’s far above my newly minted astrology observer status and it’s all rocket science to me.

When did astrology become astro-all-gy?

I’m not sure when it happened but astrology is suddenly all around me. There are my friends who not only taught me the above but infuriatingly will answer “that’s your Aries moon” when I share my opinion in heated discussions. 

And there are those who judge the strength of their romantic relationships via zodiac sign compatibility. According to The Pattern app, Harry Styles and I will be passionate but contrary partners.

I can’t go a day without seeing zodiac memes on my Instagram explore page and if you’re feeling particularly crappy and nothing seems to work this week, have you checked if mercury is in retrograde?

I always chalked astrology and the “science” behind it to the innate human trait of self-identification. We want to know who we are so we can find our tribe and make our way in the world. 

Similar to how some people might wear their Myers-Briggs personality types like a badge of pride, we seek ways to understand ourselves and process the world via the traits attached to our tribe. It’s a sense of control in this increasingly chaotic world, and I can’t be mad at that. 

But what if it’s more than that?

The science of the stars

We’ve been looking at the stars to decipher meaning for a really long time. The zodiac that we know today was derived in Ancient Greece. But Ancient Babylonians and Egyptians are just some of the other cultures who carved meaning from the stars long before that. 

Image: Unsplash/ Nastya Dulhiier

Chinese and Indian astrology also include birth charts that are derived from the time and date of your birth. Knowing is better than not knowing and for some born with a bad reading, there are even cultural and religious rites to counteract the bad juju. 

If astronomy is the left-brained study of the celestial bodies in space, astrology is the right-brained counterpart that discerns star patterns and planet movements and gives it meaning. It’s two sides of the same coin that seek to make sense of the vastness of the universe. 

In fact, while astrology may not be derived from hard numbers and calculation, the belief in the influence of star alignment and personality has grown annually. Enough so that more than half of millennials think astrology is a science

As reported in Time, the reason we turn to astrology is indeed based on something very real called “self-selection”. It’s a psychological phenomenon where humans search for interpretations that match what we already hope to be true.  

“That’s just how we’re designed,” says astronomer Sten Odenwald, the director of Citizen Science at the NASA Space Science Education Consortium.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be up in arms about his mass generalisation. Blame it on my Aquarius ways.