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3 common myths about astrology (and how to overcome them)

I've spent years afraid to let people know who I really am. Part of the reason is because I feel as though I have a lot of weird, unusual or uncommon interests, especially in matters of spirituality, that I believe people won't understand or won't accept (whether or not that is actually true).

Another reason is because, unlike other people I know, who am I hasn't always been obvious to me. I've always felt different, not a part of the crowd, while at the same time, desperately wanting to fit in — living one kind of life (or being born into it), while feeling called to another. As a result, I end up hiding what I love, denying it, avoiding talking about it in conversations, or finding ways to make it more acceptable to protect it, myself and my interest in it.

The older and older I get, though, I hope to learn more and more not to hide who I really am or what truly interests me.

For example, it took me years to understand and accept that.... I am Mormon. Not only did I have no idea what the church was when I was growing up, I also did not mention my interest in the religion to many people once I did learn what it was. I read books about the church, studied it for months on end, spoke with the missionaries online, and moved to Salt Lake City, near church headquarters, before I really even let anyone I was close to know I was interested.

It took some time after that, and still takes time to accept that, I also like astrology and tarot! However, weird, unusual, or contradictory both of those may be.

Before that, it took me years to understand... that I am not a sorority girl. After coloring my hair blonde for years, trying to fit in at parties and bars, and wracking my brain over why I felt uncomfortable in certain social situations, I finally realized that kind of life just wasn't for me — no matter how popular it was among family and friends.

And then after coming to that realization, spent another few years trying to detangle my life from all the structures I had built to support that kind of lifestyle, and all the societal pressures I felt were put on me to be that way. It was not an easy process, nor a particularly enlightened one either. I was very confused on the journey.

But somehow I have made it to a place where I feel much more comfortable with who I am, and who I am trying to be. Astrology and this blog are just two of the ways I hope to make sense of my journey, merge all my identities inwardly and outwardly, overcome my fears of not being accepted, show the world who I really am, and move forward once and for all as a complete person.

In order to do that, though, it's important to dispel some popular myths about the practice I hold dear to my heart.

Here are some common myths about astrology:

1. Astrologers make stuff up.

The spiritual science is actually based on years of research of the collective unconscious. Considered the world's oldest science by some, evidence for astrology dates back to 2000 BC when the Babylonians monitored human behaviors during certain planetary events to create one of the first organized systems of astrology.

As a result of this study over millions of years, each planet, every sign, all the houses and even all the degrees of the zodiac have meaning. When I write my horoscopes, I base them on the meanings of each of these things, add in the meaning of the mathematical angles they all make to each other, and then overlay them on top of each other to relay a coherent message.

A good astrologer engages with their clients and asks for feedback to improve their craft and better understand how each of the planetary alignments play out personally — because each of the astrological alignments themselves hold very little importance unless they impact human behavior in some way.

2. Astrologers communicate with evil spirits.

No, we actually just read charts, much like a scientist reads DNA or a doctor interprets symptoms. A doctor knows that a fever, runny nose and a headache can be the flu, head cold or a number of other infections or illnesses. Astrologers know that Saturn in the 5th house could be stifled creativity, a reckless or barren dating life, difficulty conceiving a child, or a number of other things.

Both of these diagnoses by the doctor and the astrologer were determined by monitoring human behavior over time and passing that knowledge down from generation to generation. How the doctor or astrologer interprets each of these "symptoms," however, is determined by the quality of the professional helping you.

A main difference between the two professions is that medicine and science are more culturally accepted and regulated. There are schools for it, codes of ethics, and certification programs that standardize the practice. While there are schools and certification programs for astrology, they are not required to actually work as an astrologer — making the quality of the reading, the practices of each astrologer, and their beliefs about astrology and life itself, very different from person to person. The spiritual nature of the science also makes a lot of its conclusions very hard to pin down, or elusive.

For example, having a rash on your back is one thing. Having a very introverted demeanor that takes relationships very seriously and has difficulty communicating about emotions is quite another.

3. Astrologers are manipulative.

No, astrologers are human. We make mistakes, don’t understand things fully, or miscommunicate. When this happens, people can think astrologers are unreliable or worse — when in reality, they may have been tired, had a bad day, unsure of how to communicate a complex matter clearly, or hold a separate set of beliefs about life that conflict with your own.

For example, some astrologers believe in free will, some don't. Some astrologers are practicing Christians, some aren't. Some astrologers believe that we have lived hundreds of lives before this one, and been re-incarnated many times, some don't.

The quality of your reading and how it resonates with you depends a lot on the beliefs, qualities and personal conditions of the astrologer giving you your reading.

Of course, mistakes should be avoided as much as possible and outside or unexpected variables minimized, but that is not always the case. Just like a baker cannot always bake perfect cakes, or a doctor sometimes gets medical diagnoses wrong, astrologers too are not always right. But that doesn't mean astrologers (or doctors or bakers or engineers, etc.) can't provide interesting insights, or still be right 99 percent of the time. Nor does it mean that you should expect anything but the best from them.

Here's how to do astrology right and get a reading that truly speaks to you:

1. Learn it yourself.

The only way to guard against miscommunication is to learn astrology for yourself. That way, you can understand where a reading went wrong and make sense of the aspects for yourself. It also encourages personal introspection, and prevents you from having to rely on someone else to give you guidance in regards to your own personal life.

For example, an astrologer may interpret Pluto in your chart as some kind of big or catastrophic ending in your career — but it might also help to know that Pluto, as symbolized by the phoenix rising, doesn't just denote some kind of death or ending in your chart, but also a beginning much more glorious than the life that preceded it.

An astrologer might be able to tell you that, if you asked, but maybe it never came up in your conversation during the reading, or you didn't know what to ask, or the way the astrologer made sense of the aspects is not the same way you make sense or need to make sense of the aspects and your life.

Asking questions of your astrologer and learning the meanings behind each of the planets, signs, degrees, aspects and houses can enrich your experience exponentially and prevent you from getting, or feeling, hoodwinked.

2. Choose an astrologer who resonates with you.

The messenger does matter (spoken like a true Gemini). Many astrologers have different ways of interpreting the planets, signs and aspects. While their way of interpreting the astrological alignments may hold true for them or many of the other people they give readings to, it may not hold true for you.

It's important to choose an astrologer who thinks the way you think, communicates the way you communicate, and believes things similar to what you believe so that you can get a handle on the complexities of the craft. Famed psychologist Carl Jung, who also studied astrology at length, once wrote, "The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed." As an astrologer, I have my default — or favorite! — ways of interpreting the planets and the signs. You may or may not resonate with or understand this way.

It's just like working with a superior at the office. Perhaps your boss has a way of doing or communicating things to you that you do not like or understand, causing there to be many misunderstandings or hurt feelings when getting tasks done. She may be very forward, or blunt, which catches you off guard and makes doing work difficult. A boss that is more gentle may be more suitable for you.

Working with an astrologer can be similar. May be his or her way of doing things, is not your way of doing things. If this is the case and you cannot learn astrology for yourself, seek out the advice and expertise of an astrologer that you can understand and relate to.

3. Listen to your own spirit.

Astrology is meant as a tool to help you more deeply connect with yourself and with a higher power. Many times in my life I have found that astrology has been the key to help me better understand myself, my journey in life, and my relationship to the divine. When I read my own chart, I feel as though I am reading exactly what God wants me to know or hear, without interruption from my own ego or selfish wants and desires. I truly feel as though it is a special moment when God can connect with me.

However, God does not need astrology or a chart to connect with His people. It is just one way, of many, that He can use to communicate with us. As a result, I believe that the spirit — your spirit, the Holy Spirit, God, etc. — can tell you anything an astrologer can, but sometimes we don’t listen to that voice — or our intuition — or don't understand it. Astrology can help with that. However, it also has its faults.

If anything an astrologer says feels wrong or doesn't resonate, disregard it! If something is meant for you and you are open to it, you will know. Never trust someone else's guidance over God's or your own intuition. The whole purpose of astrology, at least in my opinion, is to help you connect with a higher power, as well as your highest truth and potential, and not the other way around.