Astrology & Race

Astrology and Identity

Astrologers Tabitha Prado-Richardson, and Alice Sparkly Kat, in their discussions of astrology and colonialism, have related astrology to the concept of identity. Prado-Richardson writes that identity is a process and it is not a stable concept as it is often assumed to be. She cites Stuart Hall’s essay “What is Identity?” to explain the use of identity as both a tool for uncovering sameness, and as a weapon to create difference when it benefits the dominant identity groups at play (race, gender, sexual orientation). Because of this interplay between the personal and the political uses of identity, Prado-Richardson writes, “identity is more than a political affiliation – it is a political project.” As someone who is very interested in astrology,  my gemini sun is a major part of my identity. Because astrology is a component of identity like race, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background, language, and religion, astrology must also be political.  

Alice Sparkly Kat takes Prado-Richardson’s assertion and further explains that identity groups like race, gender, sexuality and also astrology are all orientations from which we can understand ourselves within the context of the world around us. She further argues that because its correlation to identity concepts like race and gender, astrology “can be just as hierarchical, naive, superficial, authentic, scientific, and spiritual as race.”

Like all identity concepts, astrology and the ways in which it is interpreted and distributed, is dependent on cultural and social contexts. In the West astrology has been defined through a lens that values things like capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and neoliberalism. Prado Richardson explains that It makes sense for the west to capitalize on Sun-Sign astrology which focuses the sun placement as the most important placement in an individual chart. The Sun rules individualism and ego – and it is exalted in the signs Leo and Aries which are characterized as masculine, action oriented, and prideful. The sun’s detriment is in Aquarius which is a sign that is known for its focus on community and relationship over self. Individualism, ego, pride, and masculinity are all valuable characteristics in a colonial, patriarchal, and neoliberal culture, so it makes sense culturally that sun-sign astrology is idealized within this cultural context. It is important for us to understand how astrology is intertwined with the same systems that have constructed identity and which have oppressed based on these identity constructs such as racism. Although astrology is not an identity that has been oppressed by institutions, Alice Sparkly Kat asks if modern, western, astrology comes from the same cultural context as racism can it be used responsibly? And how do we do that as astrologers?

To that I would add, can we use astrology in our pursuit of justice and liberation? If so, how?