• I’m a Leo (happy birthday to me!) in Western and an Aries (mesha-rasi) in Vedic astrology. (Instagram: @shambondiggity)Source: Instagram: @shambondiggity
Ultimately for me astrology is about knowing I’m never alone. It’s surrendering to something more.
By
Shami Sivasubramanian

18 Aug 2020 - 9:37 AM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2020 - 2:12 PM

My fondest memories of my childhood are of my grandfather sitting in his wicker chair in Hyderabad on a hot summer afternoon, his half-moon glass perched delicately against his sharp nose, eyebrows furrowed as he stared intensely at a gridded chart with indecipherable symbols. My cousins and I would gather by his feet, waiting for him to tell us our futures, what our husbands would be like, how many children we might have, whether we’d be rich and famous…

And thus, began my love affair with astrology.

I’m a Leo (happy birthday to me!) in Western and an Aries (mesha-rasi) in Vedic astrology. I practice mostly Western astrology (also called modern astrology) since I’m still on the hunt for a good Vedic guru. Both practices find their roots in Ancient Babylon.

Growing up, understanding my horoscope, like everything else I was taught about Hinduism, was a way for me to better understand myself.

Growing up, understanding my horoscope, like everything else I was taught about Hinduism, was a way for me to better understand myself.

Horoscopes (jathagam in Tamil and janmapatrika in Sanskrit) in the Vedic Astrology tradition are a part of the holistic practice that makes up Hinduism. It combines spirituality, energy work, and Ayurvedic medicine.

I grew up at peace with my religious upbringing. There was no clash between what my parents taught me at home and other religions, or with atheism for that matter. Hinduism even embraced science and a fluid gender and sexuality spectrum.

But not everyone has the same experiences with religion. 

According to our most recent census results in 2016, 30 per cent of Australians report having no religion. Ten years before that, it was only 19 per cent.

In fact, the spike in non-religion is so large that in 2016, ‘No Religion’ was reported the largest emerging religion that year. The second largest was Islam at 2.6 per cent.

Religion was once the backbone of society. It’s provided people with a sense of community, a legal framework, an enforcement body, values, moral code, and purpose.

Today, modernity has adequately replaced most of what religion used to offer.

Except for one thing. Faith.

Faith is the idea that you can blindly trust in something – be it yourself, in someone else, or in a process. Faith is backing yourself 100 per cent. It’s loving yourself unconditionally.

Religion uses God as a conduit for self-trust. Spirituality uses the Universe.

Self-love and self-care practices have taken a front seat in recent years, particularly with the rise of Goop, yoga, celeb sponsored Transcendental Meditation (called japa in Sanskrit), and a booming supplement market.

For me astrology falls into the same boat of spirituality. It’s also something I’ve been raised with and I link to my religious upbringing.

However, the appeal to my friends, particularly during a testing time like this pandemic, is that unlike other spiritual practices that talk of the universe in such vague and overwhelming terms, astrology makes it tangible.

Astrology actually speaks to each of the planets, the sun, the moon, its transitory paths, and certain asteroids. It combines the effects of constellations (in Vedic astrology) and the equinoxes and solstices (in Western astrology). It puts a finger on the universe. It gives us a focal point, even if we know there is really no focal point for something that vast.

It puts a finger on the universe. It gives us a focal point, even if we know there is really no focal point for something that vast.

In organised religion, God is that focal point. Unfortunately, many major organised religions are marred by a history of homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and racism which has turned some people off it. Astrology offers an alternative.

That comparison shouldn’t lower astrology in your eyes. As I said, faith is really important. It’s not having faith in the present moment that causes anxiety. It’s not having faith in ourselves that causes low self-esteem and a host of other mental health conditions.

That daily reminder I get from The Pattern helps me set my intention for the day ahead. It reminds me to have faith in myself because the stars are conspiring toward me.

Which brings me to my next point. Until the 17th century, both astronomy and astrology were the same science. Astrology is very mathematical. To cast and read a birth chart (a snapshot of where all the planets were at the time of your birth, i.e. that thing astrologers read) requires understanding the degrees of angles the planets in your birth chart form with each other. The maths in astrology kind of gives the modern person more faith in faith .

Ultimately for me astrology is about knowing I’m never alone. It’s surrendering to something more.

And in doing so, surrendering to myself.

Shami is the co-host of Backchat of FBi Radio and student of astrology. You can follow her on Instagram @shambondiggity.

RECOMMENDED
This is why so many millennials are turning to astrology
The appeal of astrology lies in its refusal of modern day “improvement” culture.
How faith can even soothe the faithless
When Helen Razer visited both a mosque and a Catholic church this year, God did not reveal himself to her, but the gentleness of the women who gathered there did.
Love conquers all. But does it surpass your faith and race?
True love is meant to transcend cultures and borders, but can it overcome religious and racial differences? One interfaith couple - a Jewish woman from New York and a Muslim man from Vienna - believe so. This is their love story.