What does astrology have to do with spirituality and religion? A simple question with a complicated answer. First, just as in the general population, astrologers cover the gambit of belief systems: Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Secular, Pagan and everything in between. So in order to answer the question I can only provide you with my working definitions of spirituality, religion and astrology. Clearly, there are many definitions, but these make sense to me and perhaps they will for you.
Spirituality in Contrast to Religion
Though many adherents of orthodox religions regard spirituality as an aspect of their personal religious experience and the words religion and spirituality are often used interchangeably, an important distinction should be made between spirituality “in religion” and spirituality “in contrast to” religion.
We've all been asked: "What religion are you"? "What church do you attend"?
This indicates to me that the "common" meaning of the term religion, describes something that is socially or culturally defined. Such as a specific communal or congregational system whose members are organized around a common doctrine, dogma, or belief system.
Organized religion as “orthodoxy” describes a belief system that includes dogma, an absolute code of right conduct and beliefs that it's followers cannot dispute or doubt. There is organization and authority as well as a belief that there is only “one” right path and those who do not hold to this path are condemned to some horrible end.
But, there are also organized religious denominations that hold to the belief that there are universal truths in all religions.
Over a period of time the phrase “more spiritual than religious” has come to prominence. Saying this implies a individual who has moved away from organized religion with its doctrines, rituals and traditions and has found a personal relationship with God or some Universal creative force. These individuals aspire to maintain a "Christ like" life style through their personal relationship with their creator.
In contrast to the common definition of religion, spirituality is not talk, or doctrines, or theories, nor is it sectarianism. It is the relationship between the individual soul and "God".... Spirituality does not consist of building churches, forming congregations or attending public worship. It is not found in books, or in words, or in lectures, or in organizations. To be spiritual is to realize the divine at work in all of life.
Generally, those who speak of spirituality “in contrast to” religion accept the existence of many spiritual paths and see no objective proof about any single right path to follow. The emphasis is on being true to one's self...finding one's own way to “God”, “heaven”, “the afterlife”, or “the life after life”, rather than following what the various orthodox religions preach is the correct or only road.
Those who walk the unorthodox, unorganized, personal spiritual path have a faith that is more pluralistic, tolerant and considerably less dogmatic than most established religions and sects. Most of those who are of this spiritual bent do not denounce or condemn any belief system...not orthodox religions or even atheism.
It should be noted, however, that some who have embraced a personal spiritual path are refugees from organized religions which accounts for their negativity towards religiosity. Most have come to see sectarianism as the battle cry of the extremists in the world.
The so called “New Age Spirituality”, that is often associated with astrology, is an unorganized spiritual movement that seeks Universal truths and the attainment of the highest individual potential...the God within. It is characterized by an individual approach to practices and philosophies while rejecting religious doctrine and dogma.
Religion and spirituality cover the gambit of belief systems and I haven't even touched on secular religion or secular spirituality. But, as you can see, the problem with defining religion “in contrast to” spirituality is that there is an over lap...and many spiritual individuals are involved in organized religion while many are not.
All of this is to make a point.. astrology itself is not religious or spiritual...
If Astrology is not religious or spiritual, what is it?
Ask me to define astrology and I might answer that it is the world's oldest "science." An astrologer does use an agreed upon classification system and has very precise measurements when drafting a "horoscope", but I also see the interpretation of that horoscope as a creative and imaginative art form. So to me the best definition is that astrology is an imaginative art form based on a science.
The horoscope is to an astrologer much like the microscope is to a biologist, an instrument that allows you to see things that are not readily visible.
The horoscope is an astrologer's tool, but like a hammer, how the tool is used depends upon whose hands it is in. Put a hammer in inexperienced hands and you get a mess, put it in the hands of an artist and you get a sculpture, put it in the hands of a carpenter and you get a house, put it in the hands of a charlatan and you get mayhem.
So when an astrologer attempts to define the philosophical nature of astrology...it almost always comes down to the astrologers own personal belief system.
Liz Greene, who is held in high esteem by astrologers all over the world has this to say:
“Astrology cannot be explained by any single theoretical framework, but must be viewed against a specific religious, philosophical, social, and political background and, equally importantly, from the perspective of individual practitioners working within a particular milieu in a particular place, in a particular decade of a particular century.”
"In a paper entitled ‘Who Holds the Cards? Women and New Age Astrology’, published in a collection of essays called Perspectives on the New Age, Shoshanah Feher interviewed a group of astrologers at an American astrology conference. She asked them how they viewed astrology, and we may assume that how they – or we – view it is also how they – or we – practice it, and the perspectives, attitudes, and motivations implicit in the ways the various placements of the horoscope are interpreted by the individual astrologer."
- 92% of Feher’s interviewees understood astrology as healing art.
- 99% understood it as a psychological tool.
- 61% linked it with a 'metaphysical religion’, suggesting a particular school of belief such as Theosophy, Neoplatonism, Buddhism, or modern paganism.
- 25% stated that they combined their astrology with spiritual disciplines of one kind or another, such as yoga, meditation, or ritual practices."
Yes, it's true many spiritual people are attracted to astrology and many who study astrology become “spiritual”. The vast majority of astrologers see their craft as a sacred science because it reveals a divine order, even an "intelligent design" at work in our everyday lives.
As for me, I feel I'm a better person and astrologer when I'm in touch with my own spirituality and therefore my own true self. And when life seems like a series of meaningless events it's my astrological understanding of this divine order at work in the Universe that gives me faith that perhaps all things...good or bad...are not without purpose in the mind of God.