Underneath Gendered Stars: How the First Famous Astrologer, Masculinity, The History of Psychology and the New Age Influence our Contemporary Perspective on Astrology as a Social Phenomenon
Astrology has persisted in social life for nearly 5,000 years. It involves a variety of practices and philosophies and has a deep history. Yet, in popular and academic discourse, the conversation typically revolves around scientific veracity and belief. However, using a grounded theory methodology, i.e. 20 semi-structured interviews with casual astrology participants and survey data from over 300 people, this study found the main driver of engagement towards astrology was gender. In short, participants identified “women”, “girls”, “females” and/or “ladies” as those who (and thus implicitly why) engage in astrology most often. This finding was born out not only in interviews but via data collection as well as in the literature. However powerful a finding though, such a fact flies in the face of 4,000 - 5,000 years of astrological practitioners who appear to be almost all male. Therefore, the question becomes what precipitated such a massive sea change in astrological culture? Through a review of the extant literature in astrology and gender, it appears that women into psychology and the popularity of astrology crossed paths at the fringes during their development around the turn of the 20th century. This appears to be the beginning of such a formulation of astrology as a female interest. By following these threads, this thesis submits that astrology became a female (read as: “feminine”) interest because it became intrinsically tied to introspective psychology through legal forces, societal pressures catalyzed by an assertive masculinity paradigm. This in addition to the rise of the first famous US astrologer who just so happened to be a woman - Evangeline Adams. Later in the 20th century, we see the concretization of astrology as a female interest in popular culture through New Age ideas, books and in academic literature. In our contemporary moment, the conversation about astrology and gender is ongoing but no historical contextualization in any of these regards is given. This project attempts to fill the lacuna from which everyone talks of but no one identifies - astrology as a gendered and social phenomenon. In the end, I propose a new field of study - the sociology of astrology - which minimizes the role of belief and scientific accuracy and highlights the social relationships to a phenomenon that has persisted for millennia and feels to be currently rising in popularity once more.