history and philosophy of astrology

Do Not Associate Astrology With 2012

Over the past few years a well-meaning group of astrologers called the Cosmic Intelligence Agency has led a campaign to “make 2012 the year of astrology.”  Their goal is to use some of the hype surrounding predictions about the significance of the year 2012 to draw greater attention to astrology and the astrological community as a whole.   At one point they even went so far as to see if they could lobby the United Nations in order to officially designate 2012 as the year of astrology.

I would like to respectfully point out that this isn’t a very good idea, at least in my opinion.  Let me explain why.

Most of the hype surrounding 2012 hasn’t really been generated by astrologers, since astrologers weren’t the ones who originally designated 2012 as a significant year.  Rather, most of the claims surrounding 2012 have been made by writers associated with the New Age movement such as José Argüelles, John Major Jenkins, Carl Johan Calleman and Daniel Pinchbeck.

While it is true that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, the Mayans themselves didn’t really say much about the significance of this event.  Additionally, there aren’t really any terribly unique astrological alignments that stand out in a way that makes that particular year seem incredibly significant on its own.  As a result of this lack of significant astrological alignments, there weren’t really any predictions about the importance of 2012 made by astrologers before the subject became popularized by the New Age writers mentioned above.  Virtually all claims by astrologers about the significance of 2012 have been made as a result of a preconceived notions that something important is supposed to happen that year because that is what the New Age writers have told people that the Mayans predicted.   So most contemporary predictions about 2012 by astrologers are attempts to justify why 2012 could be important from the perspective of contemporary astrological theory, trying to account for the preconceived notion rather than identifying something that stands out as astrologically significant in its own right.

So what’s the problem with this?  Well, if the predictions for 2012 didn’t really originate with the Mayans, and they didn’t really originate with contemporary astrologers either, then that means that they are mainly derived from a handful of New Age authors who have published a wide array of different speculations over the past few decades.  These authors have a variety of different agendas, and their predictions for 2012 range from the fantastic to the absurd.  The sheer number of different predictions about what will happen in 2012 means that many of them, if not all or most of them, will not pan out.  By “not pan out” I mean that once 2012 is over and we have moved into 2013 many of these predictions will have turned out to be flat out wrong.  This is where the problem lies.

My concern is that to whatever extent the Cosmic Intelligence Agency is successful in publicly associating astrology with 2012, to the same extent astrology will be seen to be discredited in the public eye once 2012 is over and many of the predictions about it are seen to have been false.  Instead of helping astrology, this campaign to promote the notion of some sort of connection between astrology and 2012 could actually end up doing great damage to the reputation of the subject.  And astrology is already in a rather precarious position from a societal standpoint, since the majority of people already think that it is disreputable to begin with, so it certainly doesn’t need any additional damage at this point in time.

Now, I realize that the intentions of those who wish to make this association between the two subjects are actually quite good, and they sincerely want to help promote astrology and put it in a positive light, and they think that this is a good way to go about doing that.  To those of you who hold this opinion I would just like you to consider the possibility that this could backfire.  Some of you may say that it is worth the risk, especially if you believe in some of the New Age hype surrounding the subject, but I personally do not.  This is not because I think that its too risky, but rather I don’t see any particularly good astrological reasons to place so much importance on 2012.   Most of the cycles that astrologers have pointed to recently as being astrologically significant during that time frame seem more indicative of much broader, long term types of developments that will take place over the course of years, decades and centuries.  I suspect that those who are expecting a defining moment in world history to take place on December 21, 2012 will find themselves to be deeply disappointed.

So, rather than attempting to associate astrology with 2012, I would suggest the exact opposite, that astrologers should actually go out of their way to disassociate astrology with 2012, and to distance the astrological community from what is sure to be quite a disappointment for many people.  There is nothing dishonest about this since, as I pointed out earlier, this fad didn’t originate within the astrological community, and its main proponents are not astrologers.  To be clear, this doesn’t mean that astrologers can’t look at various mundane astrological trends for next year or the years that follow and speculate about their potential significance for the world at large, but I just think that we should be much more careful about going out of our way to contribute to the 2012 hysteria and associating our practice with it.

The only real hurdle here is that there is often quite a bit of overlap between astrologers and those who are into the New Age movement, and sometimes it is hard for people to distinguish between the two.  I would like to be very clear in pointing out that the astrological community and the New Age movement are not one and the same though.   Astrology has been around for far longer, and has been a part of more civilizations and cultures than have even existed in the brief period of time that the New Age movement has been around, and I dare say that astrology will still be here long after the New Age movement has become a relic of the past.  The hype surrounding 2012 belongs to the New Age movement, not to the astrological community.   It is one of the last great pieces of millenarian lore that is so typical of that movement, and perhaps even of some of the cultural fears that our society has shared collectively during this time around and just after the year 2000.   And like the Y2K phenomenon, 2012 is another trend that will come and go.  Let’s not allow astrology to become the victim of a passing cultural fad.


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