I would like to thank you for your comments on Facebook about my recent blog entry concerning soulmates. I know it may seem odd to some that I am thanking you, because you began with “This was horrible. It should read: Why does your soulmate situation suck? Because you should be working on yourself and not looking for some imaginary partner to come and liberate you from your loneliness or your fears. But I guess that wouldn’t sell astrology consultations or books.”
I admit, that stung. But rather than give in to the usual impulses one encounters on the Internet, I gave some thought to what you were saying and I have some degree of agreement with your comments. I think you and I have been on the Internet long enough to realize that it is a surprisingly rare thing: coming to some agreement with the person who disagrees with you or your work. So — much like the occasional success in the search for The Elusive Soulmate — I honor that.
I think you made an excellent point when you say that many of us are unwilling to work on ourselves to become better people, and somehow magically assume that finding a “soulmate” will automatically fill in all our blanks.
Let me try to define a little what I mean by “soulmate.” You will find lots of books and blogs out there that will tell you who or what this magical person is, and I can’t say I fully agree with any one of those answers that I have read, all the time. “Soulmate” is a little like “art” or “pornography”: it’s inherently hard to define, but I know it when I see it.
I think that a “soulmate” is the ideal you’re aiming for in a relationship. That’s incredibly tricky when you consider that we are talking about relationships with human beings, and not ideals. Human beings have an unfortunate tendency to look better in the picture on the packaging, but once you open up the box and get the actual product… like a child playing with a present the day after Christmas, one is can be more enamored with the box than the gift that was in it.
So yes: I believe that to a certain extent, over-hyping the whole “soulmate” concept can lead to some form of disappointment. However I would suggest this is not perhaps not an entirely bad thing. Life on earth, by its very nature, is bound to have some disappointments. But… and I will be the first to admit that I might be biased because I’m a Sagittarius and we are prone to relentless optimism at times… I see no harm in aiming for the stars and only making it to the Moon, because let’s be honest: making it to the Moon is a pretty awesome achievement.
One of the main reasons I became an astrologer is that, better than any other science or philosophy I have found, it helps to explain in real and practical ways how relationships can go right and how they can go wrong, and what to do about it. I feel that astrology, applied properly, can do at least as much good as any form of counseling I’ve seen, if not more so.
You are right when you say that astrology covers a lot of ground: financial strategy and medical astrology and astrological weather prediction all come to mind. But still, relationships are a major driver for the business. I don’t believe writing about these things as often as I do is aiming for “the lowest common denominator for my target market.” It’s just something that naturally comes up a lot in my line of work.
This brings me to another point you raised: the disparity between the numbers of men and women when it comes to people who actually follow astrology. Just like anyone else who writes for a living to promote their services, yes: when I am writing I am writing for my target market. Although the majority of that “target market” is women, I can’t honestly say that I usually have that demographic fact specifically in mind.
Why does that gender disparity exist? Beats me. I’ve asked other astrologers about this before and never got an answer I completely believe. As you point out, it does seem that culturally women are more “relationship oriented” than men appear to be. We can argue all you want about whether that is biological, cultural, or some combination of the two, or something else entirely… but that does often appear to be the case. And I do mean appear. One conclusion I’ve come to over the years is that I genuinely don’t believe that overall men are really less “relationship oriented” as they let on. They will often express it differently than women, or perhaps not express it as clearly as women do, but at the end of the day I think the impulses men and women feel are much more alike than dissimilar.
And finally: I’m well aware that many women have no interest in finding a soulmate. Many men do not either. I am pleased to be of service to those people too. Much of my work involves career counseling and financial planning and medical astrology, among other things. We are all different despite our similarities, and no two people (or birth charts) are ever exactly alike.
And although part of the reason I write is to promote my services, that isn’t my only motivator. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my time, and frankly most of them paid better than being an astrologer or a writer. If all I was interested in was making money off of readings by selling someone (largely women as you point out) some lies about love, you’d see me writing a lot more articles like “Can Astrology Make Your Thighs Thinner In 30 Days? The Answer Will Shock You!” or “Why Do Matchmakers Hate This Astrologer?” or “Is He Cheating On You? Only Matthew Currie Knows For Sure!”
But you’ve got to admit that for at least as long as recorded history tells us, relationships have been a major concern of humans. Personally, I am encouraged by this. We could all stand to be kinder and more gentle towards each other, and the love between two people can be a beginning step towards making the entire world a better place for all of us.
McDonald’s makes a fortune selling lousy food to people, but that doesn’t mean hunger itself is an invention of modern capitalism. Likewise, the Call Of The Soulmate wasn’t invented by the Marketing-Internet Complex.
Besides: when you get right down to it, despite all the pain and suffering and stupidity and crap we humans inflict on each other in our relationships, some of us continue to follow the mysterious, compelling sound of that song…
…and sometimes, in a few rare and special and precious cases, we find it.