the surface, modern life seems to operate independent
of natural cycles. Artificial lighting brightens our long
winter nights; we consume out-of-season produce; we order
from round-the-clock pizza delivery and pay for it from
24-hour ATMs. Such modern conveniences can lull us into
thinking we're living in a solar paradise.
underneath this cheerful facade of eternal daylight and
perpetual summertime, there lurks a primitive sense of
real time. Inside each of us is a child of nature who
can tell it's actually dark, who knows it's really winter.
Scientists have named this internal timepiece the "biological
clock," and they call their study "chronobiology."
Seasonal Clock: DNA or Astrology?
great deal of scientific research has gone into studying
the biological clocks that monitor cyclical behavior patterns
in plants, animals and humans. This research has proved
that we all respond to the rhythmic cues of seasonal variability.
tests have shown that there are seasonal changes in our
patterns of sleep, alertness, appetite, mood, metabolism,
energy level, blood pressure, hormone secretion, sexual
activity, sperm count (for men) and the onset of menstruation
(for women). You name it—it's all affected by the seasonal
calendar, which in turn is determined by celestial rhythms.
In other words, human behavior is cyclical, and the cycles
themselves are based on the movement of celestial bodies.
Sounds suspiciously like astrology, doesn't it?
say they are not really sure of the mechanism involved.
Some claim there is a genetic basis for the biological
clock. Most recently, scientists have discovered a "clock
gene" inside mice, and they suggest it won't be long before
they find a similar gene in humans.
of this is hardly news to astrologers. For thousands of
years, astrology has been operating on an understanding
that we are connected to celestial cycles. Long ago, astrologers
recognized this cosmo-biological connection in the essential
principle: "As above, so below." While the scientists
busy themselves with gathering data and devising experiments
to find order in the universe, astrology already has a
map of the whole territory.
look at examples of how science has "discovered" what
astrology already knows. Some chronobiologists have given
a new name to the "law" of rhythms that rule our behavior—the
chronome, a composite word derived from "chronos" (a Greek
word meaning time), "nomos" (rule) and "chromosome" (the
structure inside cells that contains DNA). This naming
process was previously established in astrology, which
identifies time, rule and structure as attributes of the
example is a seasonal health problem recognized by the
medical profession as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).
Known to the layperson as the "winter blues" or the "February
blahs," S.A.D. is a catch-all condition for many symptoms
that recur in the winter, including sleepiness, depression,
lethargy and changes in appetite. In 1984, researchers
gave winter depression the official name S.A.D. in the
diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association.
this makes perfect sense. In 1984, Saturn, the planet
of time, was located in the sign that rules medicine and
the depths of the psyche, Scorpio. It was also the year
that Pluto, the master of deep, dark psychology, entered
his ruling sign Scorpio.
symptoms of S.A.D. are "blamed" on winter, as if there
were something "wrong" with a perfectly natural cycle.
The real trouble arises from the modern resistance to
adapting our behavior to match seasonal changes. Rather
than using the more active nature of daylight or summertime
as the "correct" model for behavior, we should acknowledge
the message of Saturn and Pluto: that darkness and winter
are appropriate times to slow down and focus more internally.
important scientific "finding" involves a mammal commonly
used in chronobiology experiments—the humble woodchuck,
or groundhog. Scientists like to study the groundhog because
its biological clock is so strong that the animal can't
be trained to ignore its internal cycles.
in the laboratory, where scientists attempt to fool groundhogs
with ample food and year-round temperatures of 70 degrees,
the animals still begin hibernating right on schedule
with their regular annual rhythm. And when do they stop
hibernating? According to researchers, right around Groundhog
Day in early February.
we know from astrology, February 2 is a "cross-quarter"
day, the time when the Sun is exactly halfway through
the winter season and is located at 15 degrees of Aquarius.
This is the midpoint between the Winter Solstice (when
the Sun is at zero Capricorn) and the Spring Equinox (when
the Sun is at zero Aries).
cultures have recognized this mid-winter date as the time
to anticipate spring and make ready for the re-awakening
of life. It corresponds to Chinese New Year, and in Celtic
tradition, Candlemas. In the northeastern United States,
it's Groundhog Day and the beginning of sugaring season,
when the sap starts to flow in maple trees.
we continue living according to the dictates of modern
scheduling, we also experience demands from our biological
clocks. The contradiction can make us feel pulled apart
and alienated. Many of us seek to heal this split by renewing
our connection to natural cycles. One of the ways to reset
our biological clocks is to consult the oldest form of
natural timekeeping on earth—astrology.