The Zodiac Series: The benefits of reading your horoscope

I created this zodiac series as part of Mab Grave’s Drawlloween this past October. For those who don’t know, Drawlloween is one of the many drawing challenges that spurred off from the Inktober challenge. For each of these challenges, the goal is to complete one drawing a day for the month of October using a prompt list. I have preferred to work from prompt lists (such as Drawlloween and Abnormal Inktober) which include spooky words that are relevant to Halloween. Creating a quality drawing every day for a month (that you are not embarrassed to post on social media) is a real challenge. A lot of people completely give up, only finish some of the prompts, or decide to finish the list on their own time after October. The 2020 drawing challenge was my third year in a row, and I am proud to say that it was the first time that I finished the entire thing! I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that participating in drawing challenges has helped me to develop a habit of drawing (nearly) every day.

The zodiac signs were not on the official prompt list. I made them a part of my own personal challenge because I have been interested in researching them a bit more (and I feel as if the Tarot is a bit overdone lately). The primary questions of my research were about how astrology can benefit us.

How do we use zodiac signs, astrology, and horoscopes? 

Most people use the zodiac signs as a personality measure and astrology as a divination tool. I will not speak to the validity of either use. However, I will argue that studying astrology, reading a birth chart, or reading a horoscope encourages self-reflection. The vagueness of the information one can get from astrological records, forces one to think a lot about themselves and their relationship with their environment. Reflecting on the self is an important ingredient to cognitive based therapies. Because I personally do this all the time, I never considered that self-reflection might be difficult for others. But sometimes therapists need to spend time teaching their patients to pay attention to one’s thoughts and feelings before negative thinking can be overcome.

How is astrology beneficial? 

Other than a tool of self-reflection, there seems to be certain personality types which benefit most from using divination tools like astrology and the tarot. The personality trait which appears to have the most consistent correlation with horoscope usage is locus of control. Individuals who have a high internal locus of control have a high belief that their circumstances are within their control. The control in their lives comes from an internal source -themselves. Those with a high external locus of control believe that control in their lives comes from an external source. They have a belief that they have little control over their future, and they are subject to fate (I often fall into this category). Studies suggest that those who are more likely to read their horoscope, might have a more external locus of control. This makes sense if one is looking outside of themselves for a sign for how their future is going to play out.

There is zero harm, but in fact a benefit, of divination tools for my external locus of control brothers and sisters.  One recent study found that reading positive horoscopes increased positive emotions, increased cognitive performance, and boosted creativity.  This occurred regardless of the personality type but the boost to emotions, cognition, and creativity was stronger for individuals with a more external locus of control.  The researchers suggest that individuals who feel like they have a lack of control in their lives are more likely to read their horoscope, and in turn are more likely to gain positive side effects from reading their horoscope. 

This has got me thinking a lot about the power of divination tools like astrology and tarot cards for self-reflection, for boosting positive emotions, and as a self-help tool. Do people use these tools as a way to grow the self just as much as they use them to help predict the future? Can divination tools help someone with an external locus of control feel like they have more control over their life and their future? Can these tools be used for self help in getting though challenging times in their lives? I will certainly be back to this topic in the future.

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