Love in the Stars?

Aquarius, Virgo, Taurus, Capricorn, Scorpio, Gemini. The list goes on. But how much validity does the zodiac hold? Can we really find love based on the stars? Although lots of people believe it, zodiac signs actually don’t have any scientific basis. But first, what exactly is astrology and the zodiac?

“Astrology has always been ‘how can we use what we see in the sky to make meaning in our lives?’” astronomy professor Dr. Ashley Pagnotta said. The zodiac is classified as the 12 different constellations that sprinkle our sky and where the sun is in relation to those constellations at any given moment

The study of stars and cosmic events historically has been used by ancient astrologers to predict certain events and influence decisions made by kingdoms and rulers. As centuries passed, seeking meaning out of what’s in the heavens has evolved into how we see astrology and the zodiac today.

For example, I am a Cancer born on July 15th. Cancer is a constellation depicted as a crab that the Sun faces in the day during the month of July. At night however, the constellation visible during the month of July is Scorpius. This is due to the Earth’s rotation around the sun relative to the stars’ position in the sky and time of year. 

Being a cardinal water sign, some personality traits said to be typical of Cancers include being highly intuitive, they can easily detect the energy or atmosphere of a room, they are self-protective and highly sensitive to their environments and tend to adopt caregiver roles. 

Cancers tend to be attracted to domestic environments; they enjoy being in safe spaces and find comfort in familiarity. Now take, the word “Cancer” and fill in the blank with whatever your zodiac sign is: Do you think any of these qualities apply to you?

If I had said that these were the qualities of any other sign (say Libra for instance), what’s to say you wouldn’t believe it? How could you tell? You can’t. Each person is different and all have desires. Most of you would say that these qualities used to describe Cancer also apply to you to some extent.

The point I’m trying to make is this: the assumptions about the traits of different zodiac signs and their apparent compatibility are not backed up scientifically. Dr. Pagnotta performed a similar social experiment with her students. Asking them what each of their signs were, she passed out slips of paper with a list of different character traits according to each student’s sign. She then asked the class if they thought these qualities typical of their sign applied to them in some way. 

The students all agreed that their individual slips of paper were applicable to their individual lives and described them accurately. She then had the students reveal their slips of paper to each other. Everyone was given the same exact sheet of paper with the same exact descriptions on them. But despite them being the same, each student got something different from it.

“You can write them (horoscopes or zodiac descriptions) in ways that are universally appealing because we’re all people and we all are uncertain about things and worried about the future,” Dr. Pagnotta said. People want to trust their partners in committed relationships.  Dr. Pagnotta continues, “we have very similar desires and so it’s almost like a psychology experiment of how you write these horoscopes; to appeal to people and be generally useful. You read it and you’re like ‘oh yeah this is great advice!’ or ‘I really needed this today!’ and…everybody needed that today.” 

The truth is, astrology and the zodiac is just a way to confirm the beliefs that people already have or want to have.This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t read your horoscope, they’re fun and interesting to read. It is important to remember that the decisions you make, the way you describe yourself and who you’re compatible with are yours to control.

In terms of love, don’t base your relational decisions off of what astrology says would be your ideal partner; you make it true for yourself.

Even though it might be easier to write off other signs to narrow down your choices in an ideal mate, don’t limit yourself to what your horoscope says. You have control over the decisions you make in your love life, not the stars. As cool as that might be if it were true. 

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