Should white astrologers talk about the riots?

This article is written by AFAN member Deon Mitchell who originally published it on their website and kindly gave us permission to repost here. Click here to view the original. 

Firstly, I do not consider myself an authority on astrology with regards to #BlackLivesMatter, struggles for Black liberation, and other critical events of Black resistance. I am just a Black person and an astrologer. My words are not gospel. Yet Black astrologers like myself have recently been placed in the unique position of watching our peers and colleagues flounder within such a politically charged climate, of which their whiteness is at fault. As Black astrologers, we appreciate the efforts our white counterparts make as they strive to be anti-racist and supportive via their practice. The best of which aim to be accomplices, not allies, and lend their spiritual knowledge, astrological skill, and receptive ears. Though they are unsure how to express solidarity and support beyond an ability to listen, observe, and learn, many astrologers in our community have a sincere desire to help Black people fight against systemic injustices.

Jamila J Pettiford sings during a protest outside Hennepin County Government Centre in Minneapolis on May 29, 2020. © Stephen Maturen, Getty Images via CNN

With that said, several non-Black astrologers are now tasked with reconciling their brand of mundane astrology with current events (re: the murder of George Floyd, the consequential protests and riots, and the explosion of discourse and radicalization on social media). Despite many sincere efforts, it is glaringly apparent to Black people when a white astrologer does not have the range to make these astrological connections.

For example, to an audience of mourning Black people soaking in grief and rage, it is offensive, harmful, and dismissive to attribute the riots nationwide to Venus Retrograde. Considering Venus retrogrades every 18 months, and retrograded last through Gemini only 8 years ago, it is obtuse at best to describe the culmination of centuries of injustice at the hands of a police state to have been sparked by, of all things, the Lesser Benefic. To call protesters who are risking their lives (as both our police state and Covid-19 threaten them) to resist systemic oppression “sensitive” and “emotional” as a result of Mercury’s recent ingress into Cancer is belittling and disrespectful. To fearmonger with the looming Pluto return of the United States as the country now (and not two years from now) is burning down is reprehensible.

I don’t want to say that non-Black astrologers would be irresponsible to make astrological correlations with our current events. That would be inadvisable, as any colossal shifts in our society foster fruitful discussions about mundane astrology. I believe that we should study mundane astrology from the exact same lens that we view history. However, white astrologers can save themselves from being ripped to shreds on Twitter and threatening their reputation as an anti-racist by considering the lens by which they view both our current events and the astrology surrounding them.

Understanding how we interpret the world is a necessary prerequisite for any astrologer, and I believe this self-reflection is overlooked for far too many of us who practice. There is a time at which every astrologer decides they have studied enough to present their abilities and knowledge to the public. As astrologers, we must ensure that we do not cross that threshold without a critical analysis of the outlook that we are ready to impose on our clients, our readers, and our audience.

If you cannot answer the following questions, reevaluate if you have more work to do:

– Do I have any unconscious biases against marginalized groups? What have I done to not only be aware of them but to mitigate their effects in my practice?

– Do I have a tendency to simplify what I do not understand in astrological terms? Do I relay this simplification to my clients without an understanding of the situation without astrology?

– Am I using astrology to cope with the world around me? Does using astrology as a coping mechanism enhance my practice, or hinder it?

I will be the first to say that I am unsure that I could answer those questions myself. I am cognizant of the fact that I am almost, but not entirely ready to interpret mundane astrology for a community of oppressed, marginalized, hurting mourners. It is a huge task to prepare myself for, but the time we currently live in demands this preparation, whether you are willing to or not. White astrologers will never be able to talk about mundane astrology without dehumanizing the situation, being dismissive, or coming across as inconsiderate unless they understand why they are making people uncomfortable. This means refusing to reduce the complexity of national unrest into archetypes, being responsible with symbolism, and curating ideas informed by people who understand the depth of these events with racial or political ties.

Astrologers must recognize that they are not experts on race relations. Most of us never will be. Instead, we must take immense care when informing our community about what we watch happen from the sidelines. We must be aware and acknowledge when we do not have the range to speak on a transit. We must be willing to be criticized and avoid making the same mistakes twice (or letting our peers or colleagues make them, too).

There is a better way to talk about racial injustice with mundane astrology. Just because you can recognize a pattern does not mean you understand the nuances of that pattern enough to translate that information from the sky. The astrologer’s work is to uncover and express the connotation of the wandering stars, as any ephemeris has the denotation. If you lack a fundamental emotional connection to what’s happening on Earth, your connotation has much potential to be very offensive.

I am confident that the astrological community can do better. It’s only a matter of knowing how to start.

Deon Mitchell is a student of Traditional Western astrology from Elkhart, Indiana. Though they haven’t been studying long, they have dedicated themself to studying astrology while dual-enrolled in high school and community college. Once Deon graduates, they plan to formalize their astrological studies and supplement their education in college. They are passionate about understanding queer and trans experiences within the framework of traditional astrology, and they aspire to become a consulting astrologer in the future.

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