It’s All in the Stars—A Look Into Astrology At Stuyvesant

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By Shirley Tan

What’s your sign?

Are you a sultry Scorpio? A lazy, lustful Leo? Do you feel a kinship with the crabbish Cancer? Or are you a sensual creature like Taurus, you sly bull! And here’s the real question: is your lucky day Thursday?

In a high school filled with young scientists, astrology is easily labeled pseudoscience. Is Mercury in retrograde? Many Stuyvesant students couldn’t say for sure. Nor do they care.

“Floating balls of gas in space have nothing to do with personality characteristics,” sophomore and Aquarius Ethan Brovender said. “It’s fake as [EXPLETIVE].”

Sophomore and Scorpio Ezekiel Deveyra had more empathy for Zodiac believers. “Using your horoscope is a way to cope with the troubles of everyday life,” he said. But for many believers, the daily horoscope isn’t just a coping mechanism. It’s a celestial cheerleader.

“Honestly, the horoscope gives me confidence,” sophomore Debolina Sen-Kunda said. “Like if it says that ‘you’re going to be appreciated for your leadership,’ it just gives me confidence that tomorrow, I could actually do something. And it actually helps me! It promotes me to participate in class and to talk to people.”

Sen-Kunda, formerly an Aquarius, now identifies as a Capricorn after the addition of “Ophiuchus,” a new Zodiac sign, which scrambled the old sun sign dates and catapulted Sen-Kunda and other believers into an existential crisis. “For two years, I was looking at the wrong horoscope!” the born-again Capricorn exclaimed.

The Greek astronomer Ptolemy discovered Ophiuchus, meaning “snake-bearer,” back in the second century, though Ophiuchus wouldn’t join the official Zodiac canon until later on. Since the days of the Ancients, Earth’s axis has shifted, meaning that the proposed dates on which certain constellations overlap with the sun are no longer accurate. This precession of the equinoxes also means the addition of a new Zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, to account for the time between November 29 and December 17 when the sun overlaps with the snake-bearer constellation. Those born under Ophiuchus are thought to be egotistical, secretive, and sexually magnetic, though the internet seems a bit confused about the finer details of the Ophiuchus personality. In fact, findyourfate.com suggests that Ophiuchus is characterized by “explosive temper” and “good humor,” which would seem to be a contradiction.

But no matter how much findyourfate.com and other credible sources may vouch for Ophiuchus’s legitimacy, some will never accept the 13th sign among the ranks of Aries and Capricorn: the old blood of astrology.

“I have disowned the new 13th astrological sign,” English teacher Lauren Stuzin wrote in an e-mail interview. Were Mx. Stuzin to accept the adjusted Ophiuchus dates, their birthday might fall under Leo, though they make it clear that they are not a Leo. Mx. Stuzin is a Virgo. A vehement Virgo. “I am truly Mx. Virgo,” they said. “Virgos are obsessive and organized; they love to help others, but often struggle when helping themselves. Many of my fellow English teachers are also Virgos (of course, I checked).”

To Mx. Stuzin, horoscopes can be just as poetic as they are gimmicky. “I don’t take this stuff as gospel, but there have been times when a horoscope has shifted my perspective on any given day, or just sort of helped me contextualize things I was thinking or feeling or otherwise generally resonated with me,” they said. “For instance: ‘Try to find comfort in the fact that nothing lasts forever;’ ‘Don’t ever apologize for being alive.’ Maybe those resonate with you, too, and maybe they don’t.”

For others, the daily horoscope has no spiritual or emotional implications. It’s just a hobby. “It’s just really fun to see what people think the stars have in store for me,” said junior Jasveen Wahan, who described herself as a “Gemini sun Virgo rising Virgo moon.” For Wahan, the role of the horoscope is to act as a reassuring presence, not to deliver self-fulfilling prophecies. “It’s comforting, sometimes, to think that the stars have something in store for you,” she said. “It’s nice to think that there’s something in control of your life; it’s nice to be able to blame your issues on certain planets.”

But scapegoating the stars might be one of the more dangerous aspects of astrology.

“The issue is when people become negligent to realizing their true actions and brush it off as a consequence of their horoscope,” said Deveyra, touching upon astrology’s complicated relationship with “locus of control,” the idea that people are happiest when they feel that they have agency in their own lives. Looked at from a psychoanalytic angle, horoscopes can feel almost threatening.

For many stargazers, horoscopes can be fun and benign as long as they are treated as suggestions, not celestial mandates. Making horoscopes more of a hobby and less of a religious rite keeps the locus of control with the believers, not the stars.

“I treat astrology as suggestions, not entirely fact. Sometimes astrology will be accurate for me, sometimes it won’t,” senior, Leo, and amused skeptic Debi Saha said.

But even in the face of disbelievers, there remain some for whom astrology is divine word.

“The love horoscopes come true,” Sen-Kunda said. She added though, that distinctions must be made between the Western horoscope and the Eastern. “There’s the Western way, and there’s also the original way. The original is about the date you were born and the time, and the time is really what determines it. I really have faith in that because it’s scientifically proven. The Western system doesn’t make sense.”

Can her opinions be trusted? Perhaps not. She is, after all, an Aquarius.