is a revision of one that appeared on October 25, 2000 on StarIQ.com.
The original discussion was based on an inaccurate birth time, the bane
of serious astrologers.
usually dismiss astrology as misguided pseudoscience. The leading skeptic
in today’s world is Michael Shermer, a university professor, prolific
author and director of the Skeptics
Society. Dr. Shermer has made a career of exposing and debunking the
claims of mediums, psychics, bigots and practitioners of the paranormal.
His recent books cover topics such as why people deny the Holocaust, why
people believe weird things, how we believe, pseudoscience and the search
for God in an age of science.
Shermer graciously supplied his birth data for this article. Originally
he indicated that he was born at 4:30 am on September 8, 1954 in Glendale,
California. Recently he located his birth certificate and discovered that
his birth time was actually 7:30 in the morning. Although Professor Shermer
may not believe in astrology, a look at his birth chart may help astrologers
understand what goes on in the mind of a skeptic.
Sun, the Moon and the Ascendant: Three Cornerstones of the Personality
is deeply rooted in one’s personality. In astrology, the most powerful
indicators of personality are the Ascendant, the Sun and the Moon.
represents the persona that we project onto the world. In the inaccurate
4:30 am chart, the sign Leo was rising on the eastern horizon, suggesting
a person who is a natural performer, energetic, dramatic, feisty, fond
of challenge and competitive in his interactions with others. Changing
the birth time to 7:30 am gives Shermer a Virgo Ascendant, which indicates
someone who is typically mild-mannered, unruffled, calm and meticulous
with details. Tiger
Woods is a good example of a person with Virgo rising. Not
knowing Professor Shermer personally, I cannot say which Ascendant, Leo
or Virgo, better describes him.
natal Sun signifies one’s core identity. Shermer’s Sun lies in Virgo,
an earth sign and one of the most skeptical signs of the zodiac. Virgo
is skilled at logical analysis, classification and the precise use of
language. Virgo’s ability to parse complex matters into their essential
details leads many natives of this earth sign into teaching, writing,
editing and all forms of criticism. Virgos love to take things apart to
see what makes them tick. Virgos also enjoy instructing others who may
have overlooked the details that catch the discriminating Virgo eye. Most
importantly, Virgo desires to be of service, to do something useful that
will benefit others. With both his Sun and Ascendant in Virgo (making
him a “double Virgo”), Dr. Shermer no doubt feels that he is providing
a valuable service by protecting the public from the fraudulent claims
of charlatans of the paranormal.
key to personality is the natal Moon, representing one’s emotional and
security needs. In Shermer’s chart the Moon lies in Capricorn, which is
an earth sign like Virgo. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung linked the element earth
to the psychological function of sensation. Like doubting Thomas in the
Bible, Jung’s sensation types are natural skeptics who demand hard evidence
before they will believe anything. They pride themselves on their capacity
to make objective evaluations and to analyze matters logically and critically.
To feel secure
in the universe, those with their natal Moon in an earth sign feel a strong
need for empirical evidence to shore up their beliefs. With his key astrological
personality factors (Sun, Moon, Ascendant) all in earth signs, Professor
Shermer is emphatically a skeptical Jungian sensation type who insists
on indisputable reality-based evidence before he will assent to any proposition.
Planets and the Personality
lying close to an angle in the birth chart has a powerful impact on the
personality. The angles of the chart are formed by the horizontal (east-west)
and vertical (north-south) axes. Shermer’s 7:30 am chart has three angular
planets: Mercury and the Sun in the east near the Ascendant, and Mars
in the north near the I.C., or the Fourth House cusp.
which conjoins the Ascendant, was the wing-footed messenger of the gods.
He has come to symbolize communication, writing, verbal ability, quick
thinking, swift motion and intellectual pursuits. Mercury falls in Libra,
the sign of balance and fairness, indicating that Shermer is a person
who weighs all the evidence before reaching a conclusion.
The Sun and
Mars both partake of the element fire, which adds an energetic, pioneering
and competitive spirit to Shermer’s basic earthy (skeptical) temperament.
The prominence of Mars and the Sun has a similar meaning to Leo rising,
which was a factor in the erroneous 4:30 am chart. Shermer is a warrior
(Mars) who does battle with false beliefs.
Third House and the Mind
is shown by the Third House of the birth chart. In Shermer’s case, Scorpio,
the sign of investigation and penetration, occupies the Third House cusp,
indicating someone who studies matters deeply and seeks to bring hidden
issues into the light of day. Scorpio is the sign of the detective, surgeon,
psychologist and scientific researcher.
no planets in the Third House, so we look to the rulers of the Third House
cusp for further information about his thinking patterns. Scorpio has
a traditional ruler, Mars (the god of war), and a modern ruler, Pluto
(the god of the underworld).
among other things, an interest in the occult and paranormal. Pluto, a
ruler of the Third House of mind, lies in the sign Leo, suggesting someone
who wishes to shine and be noticed for his intellectual achievements.
Pluto also conjoins the cusp of the Twelfth House of spiritual matters
and how we believe.
classical ruler of his Third House of mind, lies in the earth sign Capricorn.
This placement of Mars reinforces the earth/sensation-type theme and the
strong inclination toward reliance on empirical data and skepticism. Mars
also lies in the Fourth House of family, home and tradition, which suggests
a significant interest in history and intellectual foundations.
It is instructive
how a difference of three hours in the birth time changed the emphasis
in the interpretation of Shermer’s chart, but kept the basic personality
description the same.