Here in the West, we consider astrology to be, in the words of Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, pure “hokum” (i.e., nonsense).
With amazement and fascination I watch as astrology is rebranded in modern terms and sold as personality assessments. That’s the funny thing about capitalism – you don’t have to believe in something to sell it.
With even more puzzlement, I see the invoices for these personality assessments. Why pay thousands when astrology is free?
Admit, I will, that although astrology has been around for thousands of years, people still insist on killing either other and stealing each other’s stuff. I suspect these personality assessments will fare no better. My own anecdotal feedback is that personality assessments in corporations are used simply for control and do not help people get along because it contains too many variables to manage.
In more simple language, people never get along for long periods of time.
Here’s your five-minute astrology lesson. Astrology is:
- Fire – energetic and enthusiastic
- Earth – practical and serious
- Air – social and communicative
- Water – sensitive and emotional
- Cardinal – initiators
- Fixed – sustainers
- Mutable – changers
The four elements times three modes equal the 12 zodiac signs.
The elements interact this way:
- Fire is compatible with air
- Earth is compatible with water
However, the polarities are in compatible elements yet are the same mode which makes them opposing:
- Fire Aries is opposite air Libra (cardinal)
- Earth Taurus is opposite water Scorpio (fixed)
- Air Gemini is opposite fire Sagittarius (mutable)
- Water Cancer is opposite earth Capricorn (cardinal)
- Fire Leo is opposite air Aquarius (fixed)
- Earth Virgo is opposite water Pisces (mutable)
Any personality profiling system in segments of three, four or 12 can be traced to astrology.
Astrology stops the sky when you are born and looks at ten planets in 12 signs in 12 houses and their geometrical relationship to each other. In that way, it is complex and nuanced.
Because astrology is complex it is difficult to learn quickly. Perhaps this can be likened to knowing another person. Do you ever know another person? If so, how long does it take to truly know them?
While psychologist Jung didn’t sell his product per se, he broke out human nature into four quadrants:
- Intuition (fire)
- Sensation (earth)
- Thinking (air)
- Feeling (water)
A friend recently showed me a motivational book with test that essentially is the four humors with some modern language attached. For example, the traditional melancholy is “detailed.”
In a motivational book, I suspect honoring the poor, melancholy poet who wonders the point of life on earth and lives in someone’s attic to be contrary to our continual-improvement model of modern Western society.
Anytime you see these words, you have gone back to ancient Greece:
- Sanguine (air)
- Phlegmatic (water)
- Choleric (fire)
- Melancholic (earth)
The True Colors profile has these four quadrants:
- Orange (fire)
- Gold (earth)
- Green (air)
- Blue (water)
I’m not sure who created/owns this model, but it’s similar to the four elements/humors although it seems to cross over to the modes at times:
- Expressive (fire)
- Driver (earth / fixed)
- Analytical (air)
- Amiable (water / mutable)
The Myers Briggs personality assessment has 16 profiles, which are the four elements times four. I suspect the formula is a breakout of degree of elements combined. This one may be more effective because, like astrology, it is more nuanced.
The test determines the polarity of four segments. This one’s tricky because the signs are a bit more nuanced than these categories. I may change my mind later on this . . . (a mutable thing to do).
- Introvert or extrovert – fire/air (extroverted) or earth/water (introverted)
- Sensing or intuition – earth/air (sensing) or fire/water (intuition)
- Thinking or feeling – earth/air (thinking) or fire/water (feeling)
- Judging or perceiving – earth/air (judging) or fire/water (perceiving)
This profiling system has 34 segments which don’t correspond to our elements or modes. As with Myers Briggs, the more complex is probably the more accurate. Strengths Finder will show you your top five strengths as well as sub-strengths but never attempts to synthesize them into one label such as “Performer” or “Healer.”
If you could be any combination of the 34 strengths, I believe that is 1,156 combinations.
Astrology, in contrast with ten planets in 12 signs in 12 houses (the horoscope) is 1,440 combinations if you don’t consider that each sign has 30 degrees and can alter the relationships between planets. Also, outer planets take generations to move through a few signs so those in the past will also have charts very different from those in the future.
I don’t know how to calculate how long it takes the 10 planets to return to the exact same sign (and degree) placements as when you were born. It must be a very long time.
In summary, horoscopes are unique but yet all contain the same total energies and also reflect generational energies.
Astrology for free
Astrologers may consider themselves lucky that astrology isn’t “believed” in our culture. If it were, we would be regulated, our querents would need insurance, we’d spend our nights filling out paper work and we’d have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on certification.
We’re lucky we’re still an informal, committed guild.
On the other hand, possibly in trade off of credentials we could also have pharmaceutical companies fund astrological research.
Possibly the pharmaceutical companies could develop a drug to give to Leos so that they don’t need so much attention (sleeping pills?), or a dose of something to make Scorpio and Capricorn less serious (rather than alcohol which sometimes heightens the effect) or possibly a medication to help air signs plant their ideas on the earth (rather suggesting they garden or clean the house).
Next time your boss assigns you the task of analyzing the personalities of your team, suggesting astrology will probably get you nowhere and raise the ethical concerns that personality-profiling seems to casually avoid.
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