Ever been met by the furrowed brow and look of disbelief from a friend or colleague when you share that you are a follower of astrology? You might have even been asked for confirmation that “you really believe in all that stuff?”

Though vedic astrology is a science, it is not always recognised as one. As an ancient science from the east, stemming from the Vedas, it has often been sidelined in the quest for the modern science of the west. As a result, many myths and false beliefs about astrology have arisen. Here are 10 of the big ones that you should stop believing.

1. Everything goes wrong when planets are retrograde

Though planetary retrogrades are infamous for causing delays, confusion and setbacks, they don’t need to be so negative when we know how to work with them. Each cosmic phase has its own qualities, and retrogrades are a time to slow down and reflect, reassess and re-examine the areas of our life that are ruled by the planet in retrograde.

For example, Mercury retrograde is a great time to focus on existing projects, but if you launch new ones during this time you may experience setbacks. Saturn retrograde is a fantastic time to note down all the challenges you’ve been through in the past few months and what you’ve learnt from them. Mars and Jupiter Retrogrades are important times to meditate, either to stabilize Mars’ energy or to connect with your teacher or Guru.

Next time you are tempted to say “What a nightmare – Mercury is retrograde,” try reflecting and reassessing rather than moving full steam ahead into new projects, and you might be pleasantly surprised by the insights you gain. You might even change that old preconceived opinion that everything goes wrong during retrogrades.  

2. Astrology is fortune-telling

The aim of astrology is not to predict your future and tell you what to expect in the coming years. Neither is the purpose to change the course of your destiny. We are all born with our own karmic baggage, and what that baggage is and what we need to drop in this lifetime determines the moment of our birth. Astrology is not a fortune-telling service, but a tool that can guide us and help us stay on track in life. There are certain things in life that we have no choice but to go through, though astrological rituals, when performed with full faith and devotion, can help us move through any challenges that surface and move forward on our own path to success.

3. My astrology is wrong because the magazine horoscopes don’t align with what i’m going through

Flicking through popular magazines, you might find yourself attracted to the horoscope page. The generalized account of what our day or week is going to look like for our career, money and romantic pursuits is a light read that can serve as a form of entertainment, or perhaps even a welcome diversion from our working day.

But astrology is much deeper than what it has been reduced to in the magazine columns, which strip down the intricate birth chart to twelve generic zodiac signs. In fact it is a vast science which allows us to understand our karmic path, and can guide us on our soul’s journey to a higher consciousness.

A competent astrologer who has deeply studied this ancient science is able to interpret your chart for you, and will take into account the position of all the planets, not just the Sun or the Moon. As you understand the lessons you are here to learn, you are aided in your personal evolution. And this is far beyond the overly-simplified description of how your day or week is looking, as found in generic horoscopes.

4. Once I get an astrological reading means I can’t make choices of my own after that

Astrology is not intended to tell you your fatalistic destiny which you then have no choice but to live out without options. Not at all. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains that astrology is a road map that can guide you on your path, not a method of telling you what is pre-destined for you. He also shares what we can do to minimize any negative planetary effects:

“The planets and stars definitely do have their effects on our life, but we can stop or even prevent that. This is why the unique number of 108 has been prescribed when it comes to chanting. There are nine planets and twelve zodiac constellations. When these nine planets move through the twelve zodiac signs, they can create 108 different kinds of effects in our lives. In order to save ourselves from any ill effects of those vibrations, we chant Om Namaha Shivaya.”

So for example, though an astrologer can tell you when your mind might be more chaotic than usual due to a current transit, you can make the choice to put your efforts into chanting, meditating and performing rituals. When you do, the effect will be minimized and you will sail through it. Options are definitely there.

5. Astrology is based on magic

There are many people who believe that astrology is something strange, magical or mystical, and that it isn’t grounded in science. But when we take a closer look, astrology is in fact based on things so tangible and real that we wouldn’t exist without them – the Sun, Moon, planets and stars.

At some point we have all looked up to the night sky and been amazed by the celestial phenomena above us. But beyond the beauty, the movements of these planetary bodies also have an effect on us. Just as the movement of the Moon determines the rise and fall of the tides, women’s monthly cycles, and the times that we sleep and wake, the other celestial bodies also have their own effects.

Ancient civilizations were deeply connected with the universal rhythms – something that has been lost today as we predominantly live in cities and spend a lot of time indoors. Our modern artificial lighting and concrete surroundings make it easy to forget that we are living on a spinning globe in space that is part of a much wider planetary system. The vedic astrological chart is a snapshot of the planetary positions at the moment of our birth and is based, not on something magical or unseen, but on the very bodies that allow us to exist – those that we see when we raise our eyes and look up.

6. It’s quick and easy to learn Astrology

Learning any subject in depth has its own requirements. Someone wishing to excel in learning a musical instrument needs to master scales and intonation. A student of mathematics needs to understand theories and equations, and a student of medicine needs a thorough knowledge of human physiology and body systems. Vedic astrology is no exception. It combines elements of astronomy and mathematics, and when learning it students have to memorize a huge amount of technical information – with no shortcuts.

When analyzing a chart this vast knowledge needs to be remembered and applied. So if you thought you could become an astrologer in a few weeks, or even months, then put that thought aside – and get set up to study for the long term!

7. Saturn is always bad

Saturn, or Lord Shani, gets a lot of bad press in the astrology world. And not all of it is fair. Although Saturn is a planet of restriction, hard work and delays, it is also our greatest teacher.

Saturn is hailed as the Lord of Karma, and the Lord of Justice. Like any other planet, Saturn is not there to punish you, but simply to reflect the effects of your karma. We are all here to pay off our karmic debts and Lord Shani wakes us up to this truth, pulling us from drowning in our comforts and attachments and forcing us to work through our karmas.

When we remain centered through whatever Saturn brings, it not only makes us stronger as we courageously face our fears, it also accelerates us forward in our spiritual path towards a greater freedom.

Stay disciplined and work hard and Saturn will reward you in the long term.

8. Astrology isn’t spiritual or connected to spirituality

Much as technical study is required for learning astrology, it’s not just academic knowledge that makes a good astrologer. As well as a strong intellect, both intuition and emotional intelligence are needed. A strong intuition helps in the correct interpretation of the abstract language of the charts. Emotional intelligence enables the astrologer to communicate the interpretation of the chart effectively, in a way that is sensitive and helpful to the receiver.

Both these qualities come through spiritual practice. Meditation, breathing exercises, chanting mantras and devotion to the divine help to increase intuition and imbibe positive qualities such as compassion, understanding and kindness.

9. Astrology is just a load of generalizations

In the kind of astrology that many people see in newspapers or magazines, the entire population of the planet is divided into 12 zodiac signs, and a prediction is given for each of these twelve signs. If you are referring to this type of astrology, which is produced for entertainment of the masses rather than as a science, then you could argue that it is indeed very generalized.

But real astrologers are scientists, and they are able to accurately interpret the placement of all planets and stars in a chart in a very detailed and specific way. Even the slightest difference in birth time and place creates a different chart, which is why twins, though born at a similar time, can have very different life paths or personalities. The secret to discovering the kind of astrology that is more than a bunch of generalizations is to go to an astrologer who is a true scientist.

10. Astrology and Astronomy are the same

The link between astronomy and astrology goes back to ancient times, and the two are deeply connected, but it cannot be said that they are the same. Astronomy is the study of the sun, moon, stars, planets and other objects and phenomena in space – anything that is beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

Astrology, on the other hand, studies the effect that the planets and stars have on our lives. Since the ancient Vedic texts say that our karma is connected with the position of the celestial bodies at the moment of our birth, astrologers are able to analyze and interpret this as a cosmic map, and guide a person on their path in this human birth – a path which is essentially about learning ones lessons, overcoming karmas and evolving the soul.

But it is important to note that astronomy is a vital part of astrology. Vedic sidereal astrology, which we use in align27, is based on the planet’s actual relationship to the constellations of zodiac stars, as per astronomical observation. That means that if you were to read about a current transit of, for example, Venus in Libra, when you look at a live map of the night sky, you would see that the planet Venus is actually in the fixed constellation of Libra at that time.

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