Debunking the biggest astrology myths

by | Sep 28, 2022 | Astrology | 0 comments

As the interest in astrology grows,  so does the amount of nonsense and blatant fearmongering that shows up  on the internet. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, which  doesn’t just give astrology a bad rep, but also can cause a lot of  stress and anxiety in people who don’t have the background knowledge to  discern what’s true and what’s false. In a way, being a professional  astrologer means having to do a lot of damage control. Both on social  media and in my 1:1 client work, I often encounter people who are  confused or scared about something they’ve read somewhere on the  internet. Sometimes this is just an innocent mishap, other times false  information on the internet can be extremely harmful.

Don’t get me wrong: I love seeing astrology becoming more part of the  mainstream. It’s very common these days for people to know their  ascendant, and almost everyone is aware when there’s a Full Moon. But  when people think the world is going to end because Mercury is  retrograde, you know there’s work to be done. And let it be known:  learning about astrology through memes and clickbait articles is not the  same as consulting an astrologer.  Consulting astrologers do the incredibly challenging job of  synthesising the different, often conflicting parts of your birth chart.  And some of the things you read on the internet are true, they  just are much more nuanced in real life. But some of the information you  find out there is just simply incorrect, and I’m here to put it right.

One small caveat: some of the  things I list below are informed by my background in traditional (mostly  Hellenistic) astrology. You may find different opinions elsewhere, and  that’s okay. I’m not here to call out modern astrologers who may  subscribe to some of the red flags I mention below. However, most of the  things I call out as “incorrect information” don’t have a strong  foundation in the history of astrology, so their accuracy hasn’t been  backed up by years of astrological practice.

Now, without further ado, let’s go over some of the biggest myths in astrology.

Signs are not “natural” rulers of houses

Let’s start with one of the things I love to hate most: the concept  of the 12-letter alphabet/ABC houses (a.k.a. “natural houses”). This is  the idea that there is an overlap in meaning between the zodiac signs  and the astrological houses. In this framework, the First House has the  same significations as Aries and its ruling planet Mars, the Second  House is similar to Taurus and Venus, and so on. This kind of thinking  is so prevalent in astrology that you often read interpretations in  astrology books for placements “in Cancer or the 4th house”, as if they  can be used interchangeably.

While there sometimes is some overlap between the zodiac signs  and the houses (especially in medical astrology), their meanings are  radically different. And if they weren’t, what’s the point of having  both signs and houses. In fact, the rationale for the significations of  the houses is largely based on a range of other things, including  angularity, aspects to the ascendant, planetary joys, and their relation  to other houses. The zodiac signs are at no point a decisive factor in  this process.  If you start thinking about the 6th house as the joy of  Mars and a place that’s blind to the ascendant, there’s no way you can  associate the meaning of this house with health or healing.

While the use of the 12-letter alphabet is often defended as a  teaching tool, I think that it often creates too much misunderstanding  to be of any use to people learning about astrology. So the best thing  to do is just to discard this concept altogether.

Mercury retrograde is not the end of the world

Three times a year, the entire internet starts panicking about the  next Mercury retrograde cycle. You’d start thinking the apocalypse is  happening, what with all the traffic accidents, broken relationships,  and malfunctioning devices. It’s very easy to blame everything that goes  wrong on Mercury retrograde (even when the planet’s motion is direct),  but the truth is that it usually isn’t that big of a deal. While the  retrograde motion of Mercury can definitely mess up some of your plans,  it’s hardly a life changing event – at least not for everyone, and not  every time it happens.

Let’s keep in mind that the Mercury retrograde cycle is one of the  more common and frequent events in astrology. If Mercury retrograde  really was that disruptive all the time, we’d never get anything done! There are a few instances when a Mercury retrograde cycle can be more impactful for you personally, but in general, it’s not something you have to worry about a whole lot.

The ascendant is not “the mask you wear”

When you start learning about your “big three” placements (Sun, Moon,  ascendant), you’ll often encounter descriptions of the ascendant or  rising sign as “the mask you wear”. This makes it sound like your  ascendant is a fake part of your personality you can consciously switch  on and off, as a way to shield others from meeting the “real” you  underneath the mask.

These kinds of descriptions don’t really sit right with me, because  the idea that the ascendant is something inauthentic or performative  couldn’t be further from the truth. Your ascendant sign is the zodiac  sign that was rising on the eastern horizon on the exact moment you were  born. It’s the most personal point of the chart, the moment where the  sky meets the earth, and it represents your basic life motivation and  needs, and the way you meet and filter the world. In that sense, it’s  the most “real” and basic part of your personality, not something you  can switch on and off at will.

Another thing to note about the ascendant is that it’s not  exclusively associated with your physical appearance or outward  expression, that part of your personality that you present to the world.  In fact, the part of you that others get to see from a distance is  often found at the Midheaven (MC), the point that represents the most  southern point at the top of the chart. And for your physical appearance  and body, we’d look to the ruling planet of your ascendant, as well as  the Moon.

Empty houses are not that big of a deal

When I was younger and learning about my birth chart, my father said  my chart was interesting because it contained “a lot of empty houses”.  So when I started studying astrology myself, I became super interested  about the idea of empty houses, until I realised (rather quickly,  thankfully!) that having a bunch of empty houses is not only very  common, it’s also not a big deal in any way.

Look, I get it. When you’re just learning about astrology and start  getting a grasp of the meaning of the astrological houses, it can seem  super terrifying to discover that your 7th house of marriage is empty.  And while it can be tempting to conclude that this means you’re never  ever getting married, astrology actually doesn’t work like that.

Yes, having planets in houses can point to a certain amount of  activity in that area of life, but if you really want to know what’s up  with a certain house, you need to have a very close look at the  landlord, aka the ruling planet of that house. And if that house ruler  is in good shape, you probably have some blessings in that area of life  even if the house itself is empty. (And if that house ruler is not in a  good shape, there are always timing factors that can lighten the  situation!)

And before you go and freak out because your 7th house ruler is in  detriment, keep in mind too that assessing the quality of natal planets  is a complicated job that requires the expertise of a seasoned  astrologer. But rest assured, if your 7th house (or any other house, for  that matter) is empty, it’s really not the end of the world.

(Spoiler alert: I have an empty 7th house and a 7th house ruler in fall, and I’ve been happily married for the past few years).

Outer planets don’t rule signs

This is one of those topics that modern and traditional astrologers  disagree on, which is fine. But modern astrology is still prevalent  these days, so this perspective is not one you’ll encounter often,  unless you’re exclusively consuming traditional astrology content.

And I have to say, the idea that the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune  & Pluto) would rule any of the zodiac signs (Aquarius, Pisces &  Scorpio, respectively) just doesn’t make a lot of sense in my opinion.  First of all, the outer planets move incredibly slow, which would mean  that anyone born between 1983 and 1995 with a Scorpio ascendant would be  ruled by Pluto in Scorpio. That’s a lot of people! And since we know  that the ascendant ruler is one of the most important placements in the  birth chart, that wouldn’t make any of these people very unique (which  is also why we call the outer planets “generational planets”).

In addition, assigning sign rulership to the outer planets also  messes up the perfect symmetry of the thema mundi and the complex system  of essential dignity. There’s a clear logic that explains why certain  planets rule certain signs, and adding the outer planets in to the mix  just ruins a perfectly good system. This is not to say that the outer  planets don’t have any place in astrology: they can be super  important in aspect work, or when they’re on an angle, for example. But  they’re not really believeable or useful as sign rulers, so my advice  would be to only stick to the traditional rulers of Scorpio (Mars),  Aquarius (Saturn), and Pisces (Jupiter).

Cusp signs are not a thing

Another common astrological myth is that you can be born on the cusp  of two seasons, which would allegedly make you “a little bit of both  signs”. I once even heard the ridiculous story of a friend who was told  she had to “choose” which sign her newborn son would fall under, since  he was born right on the day the Sun switched signs. Of course, this is  complete and utter nonsense: the Sun is either in one sign or in the  other, not in two signs at once.

I think the appeal to this one stems from our need to feel special  and unique. After all, doesn’t it sound more exciting and edgy to be a  Libra with a little Scorpio? But as mentioned above, the Sun is either  in Libra or in Scorpio, so there’s no such thing as a cusp sign.  And if this information somehow shatters your carefully curated self  image, I hope you can take comfort in the fact that you very likely have  other placements in other signs, which would make you a well rounded  and unique individual after all. Thank god!

There are some nuances though that make placements at certain parts  of a sign a bit different than other parts. The final few degrees of  every sign are always in the terms or bounds of Mars or Saturn, making  the final part of every zodiac sign a bit extra spicy. And planets can  also fall in the decan of another planets, which would also flavour the  expression of that placement significantly. It’s a very nuanced story in  many ways, but one thing is certain: cusp signs do not exist.

Remember: you are more than the sum of your planetary parts

It’s very easy to misguided by any of the claims I have debunked  above. There’s so much information available out there that it’s hard to  assess what’s true and what’s not. And clickbait articles are popular  for a reason. We all love some quick and dirty astrology facts.

But the truth is often much more nuanced. It takes a lot of skill and  effort to understand your own birth chart. Astrology is way more  complex than some handy facts or cookbook interpretations on the  internet, and mastering the language of astrology takes years of  training. It really is an endless source of discovery, so it makes sense  that we’re all constantly learning and unlearning new things.

That being said, some of the astrology myths I’ve debunked above are  very pervasive on the internet. They can create a lot of anxiety or  confusion about your own birth chart, which can lead to you feeling  shitty about yourself for no good reason. Unlearning some of these myths  in the early stages of your studies will help put your birth chart in a  greater perspective and will also significantly improve your overall  astro fluency.

When navigating the murky territory of the internet, it’s helpful to  keep in mind that any definitive statements about any astrological  placement usually aren’t that black and white. There’s a huge grey area  of information that gets left out in any cookie cutter type of  astrology.

Remember that no online horoscope, astrology app or meme account is  going to be able to explain the contradictions in your chart in a way  that feels uniquely relatable to you. They won’t listen to your stories  and give you the personal advice that an actual astrologer is able to  give you. They won’t be able to hold space for your struggles, sit with  your grief, or cheer on your unique skill-set in a way that feels  validating and empowering. ⁣And if you’re eager to dive into your chart  with more nuance, clarity, and purpose, I’d love to see you in a consult.

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Hi, I´m Britt!

I am a down-to-earth astrologer and embodiment coach, here to offer you guidance on your path of self discovery and healing. My work blends traditional astrology  techniques with insights from modern psychology, mindfulness, and parts work to help you cultivate grounding, self-compassion, and a sense of belonging to this earth.



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