Hockaday Letter of Recommendation: Horoscopes


//PICTURED ABOVE: This horoscope wheel chart features 12 sections which are known as the houses, and the zodiac signs run counter-clockwise around the wheel.

It’s a great conversation starter: what’s your star sign? You may have read your horoscope while waiting for a friend or you may have googled your compatibility with someone, just to see if your personalities matched one another. 

But how many of you really pay attention to horoscopes?      

I’m not talking about the horoscope memes that have flooded Instagram pages, categorizing “the signs as cat breeds” or “the signs as Emma Chamberlain quotes.” I’m talking about hyper-personalized astrological predictions based on the moon, planets and the 12 houses of the zodiac. 

To the skeptic, horoscopes appear to deceive credulous believers into a blind acceptance of bogus predictions, supposedly written in balls of gas billions of miles away. Studies discredit horoscopes as a means of gaining “an illusion of control,” and they contend that people focus only on the parts that pertain to their lives, thereby accepting all of the horoscopes to be true. 

But, if superstition is so “unhealthy” for us, why did ancient tribes and civilizations all around the world have a system of beliefs and rituals? Without communicating, people everywhere developed lore that helped them find meaning in their lives. Why? We have a natural connection to superstition. It maintains order in our lives. Similarly, our connection to horoscopes boils down to something beyond science and numbers: it brings a sense of comfort in the turbulent world that we live in today. 

Yes, I am aware that they’re vague. Yes, I know that they apply to everyone. But that’s the beauty of horoscopes. They appeal to people from all walks of life, and the advice given can often be helpful in some aspects of your life. In fact, how many times have you read something like “take responsibility when your actions have unintended consequences” and immediately felt like it applied to something in your life? They prompt you to recognize problems in your life and to take initiative to solve them. 

Now, I’m not saying you should cut off all your friends if an astrological site tells you that “someone you trust is causing you pain.” Horoscopes should not be taken as fact. But, if a part of your horoscope seems to resonate with a problem that you are having, it may be worth your time to genuinely consider taking action. To be clear: horoscopes do not regulate your life, you do. It’s your responsibility to confront the problem and your responsibility to take action. But a horoscope is a wonderful tool to help you recognize that problem and to begin thinking about solutions. 

Not only may horoscopes give applicable advice, but they also have an undeniable power in forcing us to reflect upon our actions and characteristics. When you hear “an impulsive decision has affected your romantic or creative life,” you immediately think about your actions and their consequences. You think about how you’ve recently responded to situations, and how your responses or words have affected others. This deep introspection can reveal some truths about yourself, not only bringing clarity to your life but also evoking a sense of harmony in the lives of others. Only when we truly understand ourselves can we seek to improve the world. 

Story by Kelsey Chen

Image provided by Christine Hirlehey