Astrology's house systems are profuse with a plethora of ways to define the cusps.  Astrologers all have their favorites which they use because they've found them to work.  There is no ultimate end-all, be-all house system.  Nonetheless, the houses themselves and their meaning are clearly defined.  I particularly enjoy the fact that religion is in the 9th House along with higher education, beliefs, other cultures, and politics while spirituality lies in the 12th.  This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, i.e. "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in the garage makes you a car."

Just as there is no end-all, be-all house system there is no end-all, be-all culture or religion.  As we look at a world which is clearly in a state of war it's easy to see how religion and belief systems lie at their core.  A cultural awareness class I attended years ago pointed out the fact that no culture has the right to judge another because they evolved separately, under different leadership, environmental circumstances, traditions and circumstances.  Within the context of any particular culture, they are the end-all, be-all.  Their belief system is based on experience which has influenced its evolution.  Judging another culture as right or wrong is moot because the context is entirely different.  As a culture and its belief system develop spiritually they become less rigid and brutal which makes its easy to look upon those below your own on the evolutionary scale as "wrong."  However, if you had been born and raised in such an environment, it would be all you knew, whether you agreed with it or not.  Of course it's thinking and reasoning which moves a culture or belief system forward.  Being closed to new ideas and knowledge is what causes them to stagnate.  This is likewise true of politics or religion, two topics which traditionally are taboo in polite conversations, because again it's impossible to prove which one is right or wrong.

Thus, religion is a belief system which a certain number of people adopt as their own.  Religions typically go beyond beliefs and recommend behaviors which are inherent in their writings, whether divinely inspired or simply the opinions of those they considered inspired, which constitutes a dangerous difference.  A study of world religions will find similarities, such as belief in a single God, as well as vast disparities, such as how to deal with unbelievers or transgressors.  Their members' spiritual health is always a topic of concern, which is also where the rubber meets the road as far as a religion's power is concerned.

Every religion has a cadre of leaders whom they revere in some way and look to for guidance with respect to spirituality.  Most religions have the ultimate goal of returning their members to their divine maker.  The concepts of Heaven and Hell are important motivators, yet as diverse as religions themselves.  The true test is whether a religion can really influence its members' spiritual health or simply imprint them with a belief system.  In other words, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink; an individual's beliefs must be sufficiently strong to influence his or her behavior in order for the religion to be considered successful or effective.

And this is where hypocrisy comes into play.  This disparity between professed beliefs and behavior has been a major problem for millennia.  While it's clear that no human is perfect and will thus make mistakes, there is still way too much of a chasm between the two in the majority of religions.  At a certain point going to church or confession simply doesn't do it.  And this is invariably what drives a lot of people away from organized religion, particularly when its leaders are the ones who don't walk the talk.  And this is where that gap between religion and spirituality widens even more.

Looking back at astrological houses for a moment, the 9th House as noted earlier is where beliefs, expectations, religion, politics and so forth reside.  The 10th House comprises your public image, reputation, status, what you're known/remembered for and often your career.  The 11th includes your friends, group associations, organizations and goals you have which require the help of others to achieve.  And of course the 12th is your angels and demons, inspiration, enlightenment, the collective consciousness, that which is sacred, and dreams as well as confinement, institutions, seclusion, hidden enemies and self-undoing.  Consider how each progresses to the next.  Your beliefs (9th House) will manifest in your behavior and public image (10th House).  You will associate with like-minded individuals and groups who will help you reach your goals (11th House).  And when all is said and done, you have the essence of your being and what you really are, which will someday leave your physical body and move on (12th House). 

Thus, if a religion wants to help its believers be more spiritual, it needs to take them through all those steps before they'll arrive at true spirituality.  This requires their members' willingness and desire to do so, to indeed have that as a goal they wish to achieve with the help of others.  Some make it and some don't.

Former churchgoers who have "strayed" are typically looked upon unfavorably by their former congregation.  The real question is why did they leave?  Were they unable to keep the pace with the religion's demands, offended by someone, or put off by some other element?  This gets into a very subjective area that involves that individual's perceptions.  Sometimes people have an unfavorable perception toward organized religion when they've never even been a part of one.  Others hang in there for a lifetime, sometimes only because it's part of their cultural norms as well, yet violate numerous teachings on a daily basis.  This in turn will drive others away due to the hypocrisy noted earlier.  In this case, if either individual, the offender or offendee, had been sufficiently spiritual the outcome would have been entirely different.

All of this aside, what I find interesting from the perspective of my own life, is that when I think of people I have known whom I consider "spiritual," they are equally divided between regular churchgoers and those who only set foot inside of a religious edifice for weddings and funerals.  To me a spiritual person is a "good" person.  They treat others kindly, fairly, and honestly.  They are nonjudgmental, generous, and their professed beliefs and behavior are in synch.  As I ponder these individuals, some are Christians while others are atheists or even pagans.  Nonetheless, they have a reverence for life and their fellow Earth travelers.  My pet peeve has always been those individuals who profess to be religious yet will turn around and rip you off or stab you in the back in a heartbeat.  I'm talking about the ones who are blatantly dishonest in their dealings with others, use their "religion" as a reference so you'll think they're honest when they aren't, those who care only when its convenient, if they'll get the proper credit, or it's self-serving in some other manner.  These individuals are frequently also judgmental to the point of bigotry.

According to The American Heritage Dictionary a bigot is "a person who is rigidly devoted to his own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ."  Think about that one for a moment regarding how many races, religions and political parties would see that as a virtue!  And how can that possibly be compatible with spirituality?

I guess the point I'm trying to make with this lengthy soliloquy is that astrology knows what it's doing when it places religion in one house and spirituality in the other.  While one can lead to another, there is no guarantee.  Spirituality can occur in harmony with a person's religious beliefs, but these are not limited to one particularly religion.  Just about every religion on Earth believes it's the one who's right.  And professing belief in a specific religion is not a prerequisite to spirituality, related to the state of one's soul, their reverence for life, or what they hold sacred.  Similarly, just because a religious leader or member of the clergy is articulate, a good leader or charismatic doesn't mean they're spiritual, either.  They may be just as interested in the welfare of their bank account as they are the welfare of their (or your) soul.

Since so many religions, particularly those of the Christian denominations, are against astrology and believe it's "from the devil," the ultimate question with regard to religion versus spirituality gets even more interesting.  Is their primary objection because astrologers understand the difference and can thus see through their fluff?  And I can't help but ask why is it that many of the people whom I consider "spiritual" indeed are "good" Christians, yet believe in astrology in spite of the fact it's on their leaders' taboo list?  Which brings me back to my ongoing argument for the compatibility of astrology and religion, to wit:  If God created the planets, how can the messages we receive from them be from the devil?

I'm still waiting for an answer.


--Timing is Everything--


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