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Astrology and God
A British 1993 survey of 288 astrologers

Abstract -- a survey of astrologers' beliefs about God made in 1993 by the popular British astrologer Roger Elliot. He used a 28-item multiple-choice questionnaire inserted in The Astrological Journal . The results from 288 respondents (60% female) showed that astrology can take on the role of a religion, but in ways that are very personal. There was searching for a workable philosophy and awareness of a spiritual dimension, but virtually no desire for a new astrological religion. Includes the percentage response to each question.

In 1993 a survey of astrologers' beliefs was made by popular UK astrologer Roger Elliot just before he died. His 28-item multiple-choice questionnaire was a four-page insert in the May/June 1993 issue of The Astrological Journal (circulation then more than 1000 mostly within the UK). A thumbnail of the issue cover, then in the traditional AA colour and size that remained unchanged until 1997, and the header for the insert are shown below.

Questionnaire header

Under the header was this introduction: "This is a brief survey of astrologers' beliefs, writes Roger Elliot on behalf of the Astrological Association. Where do we place astrology -- as a craft or gift, a science or religion? Do we see a God behind our study of the heavens? Is astrology a moral message or a blind force of nature? As you answer, please don't fuss about the precise words used in the questions. Broadly speaking, religion = spirituality = supernature. God = any kind of unifying creative force in the universe. Like me, you may want to tick several boxes for each question -- if so, force yourself to pick the answer that suits your overall attitude. Remember, this isn't a moral test; there is no correct way to complete this survey. If you insist on remaining anonymous, that's fine -- but my report on the survey (in a later issue of the Journal) will be more interesting if I can quote remarks that astrologers add (in an extra letter if you wish). I'd love to hear your views, especially if you feel I have left out important issues -- or if you feel the little boxes don't adequately represent your religious and astrological ideas."

Elliot published the results in the September/October 1993 issue of The Astrological Journal pages 280-290. A total of 288 astrologers responded. Elliot notes that "a large number of famous astrologers chose not to complete the questionnaire", which means that "their goatish absence means that the good sheep who did respond are self-selected, and their views may not be truly representative of astrologers as a whole." The last is especially true since most respondents were from the UK. They were aged between 20 and 92, and 40% were male -- "A mild surprise: I'd have guessed the men would be less proponderant". Many disliked the forced-choice format and sent in (often lengthy) additional notes, some of which Elliot cites in his article.

The typical respondent was "a forty-something female part-time would-be professional for whom astrology plays a significant role. She believs in synchronicity, adopts a scientific truth-seeking approach to the subject, distinguishes it from other occult ideas, and has nothing to do with superstitions." Elliot notes that "young middle-aged and middle-aged readers are richly represented by this survey, well above the national average". Overall the impression given by the respondents "is a search for a workable philosophy as well as an awareness of a spiritual dimension. Within our diverse views there is some coexisting with other ideas. There is virtually no desire to integrate within a new astrological religion. There is little appetite for astrological rituals, and little sense of Mercury or Mars as gods".

Response to each question
The numbers below are the percent response out of N=288. ?? indicates not reported by Elliot. Some totals exceed 100% due to "people's inability to read instructions properly", and altogether "one-quarter of you ticked multiple boxes when only a single choice was required". But a comparison of multiple tickers vs single tickers showed no important differences, so any bias "could be safely ignored".

What role does astrology play in your life?
30 Crucially important
61 Significant
08 Quite interesting
01 Not very important

How do you believe astrology works?
10 Physical effect on embryo
05 Trigger on mother at birth
54 Synchronicity
31 Symbolic truth

How should astrology be classified?
33 A science
17 A psychology
26 An art
24 A spiritual activity

How does astrology link with the Tarot or I Ching?
35 Broadly similar
65 Quite distinct

What keeps you interested in astrology?
?? An aid to practical living
?? An exploration of the soul
?? Its truth

What kind of astrologer are you?
08 Full-time professional
34 Part-time professional
26 Amateur (would-be professional)
32 Purely amateur

If professional, what other services do you offer besides astrology?
?? Nothing else
13 Occult services (Tarot etc)
20 Psychotherapy
09 Physiotherapy/healing/etc
14 Business services (eg financial, vocational)
?? Other (please specify)

Yes, astrology can be taught. But how do you view good astrology?
63 A craft improved by experience
26 A craft improved by intuition
11 Ultimately an unteachable gift

How do you feel about various types of astrology?
57 Happy about them all
15 Happier with "psychic" astrology
28 Happier with "scientific astrology

What was your childhood upbringing?
70 Conventionally religious
07 Unconventional eg New Age)
23 Non-religious

Have your views changed as an adult?
?? More religious
?? Less religious
?? The same

Has astrology moulded your adult religious views?
37 A great deal
34 Somewhat
29 Not really

Do you believe some kind of God exists?
78 Yes
15 Perhaps
07 No

What description of God is closest to your beliefs?
85 The creative force behind nature
03 A personal friend and comforter
06 A moral force
06 historical myth

Do you feel a need to worship your God?
30 Frequently
26 Occasionally
?? No

How do you respond to other religious beliefs?
?? Tolerate them (not stated but about 2/3rds)
?? Argue with them
?? Influenced by them

How do new scientific discoveries affect your religious beliefs?
02 You ignore awkward facts
85 Facts must coexist with faith
06 Change your faith to suit facts

What is your religious niche at present?
27 Christian
10 Buddhist
13 New Age
07 Non-religious
09 Miscellaneous
25 Unclassified
?? Other (please specify)

Does astrology make you think a God is
57 More likely
03 Less likely
40 No difference

How do you think of the planetary forces?
38 Aspects of a single God
09 Gods themselves
23 Expressions of human psyche
30 An impersonal physical energy

Have you worshipped, or prayed to, planetary Gods?
07 Often
17 Occasionally
76 Never

Does astrology suggest your life is predestined?
26 To a large extent
62 To some degree
12 No -- freewill triumphs

Do you see a link between astrology and karma?
44 Yes -- intimately connected
45 Perhaps -- an intriguing idea
?? No obvious link
?? Reincarnation and karma untrue

How do you view astrology as a moral force?
?? Yes -- God's encouragement for us to behave better
76 No -- an impartial force to which we respond with freewill

How do you link astrology with evolution?
25 Strongly -- the world evolves under planetary care
50 Possibly -- the world and planets evolve together
25 Not much -- astrology is cyclical not evolutionary

How do you encourage others to view astrology?
?? Something impartial, like a "personal weather" forecast
?? A moral framework encouraging them to behave well

Will astrology ever help to prove that God exists?
30 Yes, hopefully
70 Probably not

Are you ever superstitious about astrology?
05 Quite often
31 Occasionally
64 No

Relevance to research
So what has Roger Elliott's survey told us? It has told us that astrology can indeed take on the role of a religion, but in ways that are very personal to the individual. This means that research into increasing the religious appeal of astrology could have mixed results. Only some astrologers might be delighted.

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