We Called It - Wrong!

Astrologers and the Election 2016

Prior to Election Day, the overwhelming majority of astrologers agreed that Hillary Clinton would be elected president of the United States. They got their predictions very, very wrong.

Astrologers are not alone in failing to predict that Donald Trump would win the presidency. The press, pundits, and pollsters all expected a Clinton win. But aren’t astrologers supposed to have some infallible insight into the Cosmos that others don’t?

If only! In reality, astrology is ultimately like any other tool that people use to make sense of the world. For one thing, it is vulnerable to subtle biases on the part of its practitioners, and any assessment of astrologers would show that a great many were rooting for Clinton. Astrology is also enormously complex, and an incredible number of factors need to be taken into account in assessing anything that affects an entire society - even the most competent astrologer might have bitten off more than they could chew in trying to predict the results.

The bias of the astrologer seems rather damning, given there overall performance with the election (a few got it right, including Smiljana Gavranic of Serbia, who called it for Trump
before he got the nomination). I wouldn’t say that bias was the determining factor in all or even most of the predictions, but it’s hard to look at a unanimous conclusion and not think that bias had some effect.

Remember that astrologers generally work independently, without any formal peer review process to check that techniques are being applied appropriately and consistently. Astrologers have to be their own authors and editors. Subtle bias slips into even the most carefully controlled scientific research, something that has been demonstrated time and again. It’s no consolation at a time like this, but astrologers and scientists are human, just like everyone else.

Complexity limits any kind of prediction. A dozen meteorologists can expect a hurricane to track northwest, then it suddenly turns due west. It’s not that meteorologists are incompetent, but that weather patterns are subject to an enormous number of greater and lesser influences, and a relatively small shift in any of these can produce dramatic differences from predicted outcomes. Predicting elections is on a similar scale of complexity to that of hurricanes, perhaps even more so because they involve assessing human motivations.

And here we come to a critical point. I believe that astrologers shouldn’t try to predict elections, because, ultimately, if elections have any validity
they must be unpredictable. If a democratically held election were truly predictable through astrology, then the outcome would already be determined before the first ballot was cast. If that were the case, there is no free will in the electorate, and democracy itself is a (rather elaborate) sham that we are perpetrating on ourselves.

Many astrologers applied traditional techniques in their election forecasts. For example, they assessed charts to see if the ruling party would stay in power. Those techniques might work for traditional societies - cultures that operate with relatively static ethics and belief systems. But they can’t work in societies that have moved into the modern era, or beyond it towards a postmodern, pluralistic viewpoint. These societies are -
need to be - composed of individuals who have transcended the traditional viewpoint. It is an evolutionary step, and with each step in the evolution of consciousness comes a greater degree of free will.

Traditional societies can’t sustain democracy (the Middle East provides some glaring recent examples), and modern societies cannot be judged by traditional means. Over the past year, many astrologers insightfully assessed the condition of the candidates in terms of strengths and weaknesses that they were taking into Election Day. Within reason, this could give an indication of a relative advantage or disadvantage for the candidate. Yet like any strength or liability, it is up to the candidate to capitalize or compensate for the situation that is handed to them [him/her?]. That’s exactly what most astrologers offer to individual clients: a set of prevailing conditions within which they can make their own choices.

Astrologers did notice that during this year’s election cycle there were two prominent aspects that would affect the world in many ways. The planets Saturn and Neptune formed a square for the entire year, creating a great deal of uncertainty and challenges to our belief systems. Uranus, an erratic, revolutionary energy, pulled away from Pluto to go off on his own in the very independent sign of Aries. In the midst of the Saturn/Neptune uncertainty, Uranus signaled a
Year of the Outsider. Even the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, and if that isn’t “outsider” success, what is?

The three most prominent candidates were all outsiders. Hillary Clinton perhaps only because she is a woman. Bernie Sanders was long an independent and was ideologically far from the middle in U.S. politics (although his ideas would not be so radical in Europe and parts of South America). And of course, Donald Trump always seemed like a long shot, for so many reasons.

To step back and see that no matter who won the election, it would be someone who represented an outside influence and a break from the status quo may not be as satisfying as calling the winner (or as deflating as being wrong about it), but it is rich in symbolic meaning - and that is what astrology is truly great at doing at the level of the collective consciousness.

Astrologers work with symbols, and symbols always have a range of interwoven meanings. I often think of the story of King Croesus, who asked the oracle at Delphi if he should attack Persia. “If you do,” the priestess replied, speaking for the god Apollo, “a great kingdom will fall.” Enthused, Croesus attacked, and indeed a great kingdom fell – his own. I take that story as a reminder that there is always something mysterious and unknowable, a trickster’s play, running through the Cosmos, an interpretation of symbols that is beyond even the most insightful astrologer’s horizon.