Disabling work injuries and illnesses are of major concern to governments, health services, insurance companies and to injured individuals, due to both the exorbitant costs involved and to the physical and emotional suffering that the injured people sustain. (California Department of Industrial Relations, 1990).
The review of the literature indicated that most efforts in accident prevention have been directed towards determining what kind of person in what type of industry is more likely to suffer an injury and what type of injuries are most common. (California Department of Industrial Relations, 1990). Apart from the research on Biorhythms (Chhokar, 1987), very little has been done to identify patterns that may indicate when an individual is more likely to suffer an injury.
This study attempted to identify periods of time in workers' lives when they are more likely to suffer an injury based on the principles of astrology. However, there exists an intensely heated debate in the literature regarding the validity of astrology as a field of academic or scientific endeavor: Astrology's opponents claim that astrology's principles cannot be scientifically measured or proven, and they do so even in the light of a large body of evidence to the contrary (West, 1991), while astrology is plagued by very divergent and sometimes conflicting theories and approaches, part of which stem directly from the lack of serious scientific investigation and study.
This study did not intend to settle the debate between astrology's proponents and opponents. It intended to examine some of astrology's basic principles by isolating them to a single event (work injury) and testing them through the conventional scientific method, expressed in terms of probabilities or percentages, as requested by one of astrology's ardent opponents, Crowe (1990).
Because no explicit theory of accidents exists in the astrological literature, a theoretical framework was presented, based on some basic elements in astrology. This framework was used to describe and predict some astrological conditions under which some injuries can occur.
These elements included the Sun as the significator of the physical body, health, vitality, self expression and men in general and in position of authority in particular (Hand, 1976), and the hard aspects to the natal position of the Sun by the transiting Sun. These factors are among the few where there is a general agreement on interpretation in the astrological community.
The Sun's position in a person's chart (given by the position of the Sun on a person's date of birth, known commonly as the Sun sign) was used as a point describing the physical body, the vitality and the health of a person. The hard aspects to that point from the transiting Sun were used as indicators of stressful or conflict periods (Bradley, 1974) when the possibility of injury increases. The hard aspects used were the conjunction (0° separation between the Sun's natal position and the position of the transiting Sun),squares (90° separation between the Sun's natal position and the position of the transiting Sun) and the opposition (180° separation between the Sun's natal position and the position of the transiting Sun). These are specific, identifiable times in a person's life, and a research hypothesis was formulated as follows:
While the null hypothesis would not expect any relationship between a person's date of birth and the date of an accident he/she may be involved in, the present study hypothesized that such a relationship does, in fact, exist, and it is predicted and explained by astrology. It was expected that significantly more people are injured when the transiting Sun forms a hard aspect (conjunction, square or opposition) to the natal Sun than would be expected by chance. In other words, it was expected that people would tend to be injured significantly more frequently on or around their birthday, three months before or after, or six months following their birthday.
In addition to the research hypothesis stated above, this study attempted to answer the following questions:
To explore these questions, 1023 injured people were studied from an astrological point of view. All study subjects were obtained from public records that included their date of birth and date of injury on the job. They all sustained injuries that rendered them disabled for at least three months and all of them filed a Workers' Compensation claim through an attorney. None of the subjects were seen by the researcher and none had any knowledge that a study of any kind would be conducted as all injuries occurred prior to the collection of the data.
The subjects were placed into two main groups: Sample A consisted of 414 people who were injured between the years 1983 and 1991 and who filed a Workers' Compensation claim for their injury. These records were provided by three independent medical-legal transcribers who typed the initial medical evaluations of the injured people for a Los Angeles clinic. No distinction into male/female categories was made in this sample. This sample consisted totally of English speaking workers, Caucasian and Black. No count of nationality, origins or race was available.
Sample B consisted of 609 Hispanic injured workers (Mostly Mexican and some El Salvadorean) who were evaluated and treated at another Los Angeles clinic that deals only with Hispanic people. Clinic staff provided the data to the researcher and there was, in this sample a distinction into male/female categories, thus Sample B/females consisted of 126 subjects, and Sample B/males consisted of 483 male subjects. Neither the medical legal transcribers nor the second L.A. clinic personnel were aware of the research hypothesis being tested.
An additional replication sample was obtained from C.E.O. Carter's book The Astrology of Accidents (1932), which was reviewed for this study. Carter provided dates of birth and dates of injury for 55 of his 168 injury cases. These were used and analyzed exactly in the same way as the main study samples. These subjects ranged from age 1 day to over 60, and all of them suffered either fatal or very grievous accidental injuries either in the USA or in England prior to the year 1929. None of them were injured at work.
As a control group, Lester's (1987) suicide study population was obtained and 206 cases of completed suicide cases reported through the city of Philadelphia in 1982 were tabulated in the exact same manner as the main study samples.
Astronomical tabulations of the actual duration of aspects in the sky were used to control for the expected frequencies of the aspects used in this study (Pottenger, 1990).
The outcomes of the analyses are: As seen in the age group distributions (Tables 1-4, figures 1-4), the age distributions of the research samples, separately and combined, closely resemble that of the age group distribution of all injuries in California for 1989 (Appendix B). This increases the probability that the study samples are a good approximation to the population, and it supports the random nature of the choice of subjects included in the samples, along with the results from the Frequencies for Aspect Research analysis (Pottenger, 1990 & 1992) which indicate that the frequencies observed for the hard aspects from the transiting Sun were astronomically valid. (Appendix D).
Tables 5-11 included only non-cuspal birth dates and dates of injury for the separation by Sun sign (Appendix C). Sample A consisted of 414 such cases, Sample B/females of 120, and Sample B/males of 470, totaling a combined sample of 1005. All other tabulations and calculations were done without deletions.
Regarding the research hypothesis, all subject samples in this study, including Sample C (Replication sample) which consists of subjects from C.E.O. Carter's (1932) study, show a clear and statistically significant concentration of accidents at the expected times, i.e., on or around the person's birthday (0°, or conjunction),three months prior to or three months following the birthday (90°, or square), and six months following the birthday (180° or opposition). The statistical test used was the Chi-Square for Goodness of Fit. The tests support the research hypothesis, and suggest that people tend to be injured at times that are predictable by astrology. Sample D (Suicide subjects) shows an almost totally random distribution of suicide dates with relation to the birth dates (Table 11 and Figure 11),thus further supporting the research hypothesis, as Sample D was used as a 'control' for accidents, because suicide is not seen as an accidental event.
Tables 5 - 11 and Figures 5 - 11 depict the results for all samples when the whole Sun sign was used as an aspecting category to the whole birth Sun sign. As can be seen in these tables, all samples in the main study (Samples A, B/females and B/males, and combined Sample A+B) supported the research hypothesis with a high degree of statistical significance. The lowest P value (P=0.048), which is still statistically significant, occurred in Sample B/females. This result may be the outcome of the sample size (equal sample sizes of male and female injured people were not available), or it may reflect some other differences that will be discussed later when the separation into male/female categories will be considered. However, when all the samples are combined, it is clear that indeed, people tended to be injured much more frequently in their birth Sun sign, three Sun signs later, six Sun signs later and nine Sun signs later, thus fully supporting the research hypothesis.
Although calculated in the Tropical zodiac (Western astrology), these results are expected to be almost identical with the use of the Sidereal (Eastern or Vedic) zodiac, thus supporting the hypothesis from the point of view of Jyotish (Vedic astrology). In Jyotish, the Sun is the signifier of the physical body, health, and general well being among others. It is also a malefic or the giver of adverse results. Aspects by malefics in this system are always evil (Ojha, 1972), while the transits are viewed in a totally different manner and are beyond the scope of this study. Although more calculations according to the Sidereal zodiac are necessary to find out the exact strength of the observed transits from the Sun at the time of the injury, the above findings lend support to the whole Sun sign approach of the Vedic astrologers.
In the analysis of the degrees of separation between the Sun's position at birth and its position at the time of the injury (aspects), all subjects were included without any deletions. The Sun sign was irrelevant in this work with astrological aspects. Both approaches, comparing whole Sun signs and measuring the distance between the degree of the Sun at birth and the degree of the Sun on the accident date, uphold the research hypothesis and are all statistically significant. (Tables 5 - 17).
Table 19 sums up the results for the entire study population, but deals with the data from a slightly different angle. Here, it was decided to look at the entire category of hard aspects and to combine them and then to compare them with the rest of the sample. As four Sun signs are involved, (Sun sign of birth and then the fourth, the seventh and the tenth Sun sign from it, listed as categories 1, 4, 7, and 10), their combination makes up 33.33 of the 12 Sun signs, thus allowing for an expected value to be computed. Seen from this angle, all study results support the research hypothesis with an even higher degree of statistical significance. This suggests that the entire hard aspect category is the prominent factor in these injuries, as indicated by the astrological premises used for this study (Bradley, 1974).
Three aspect orbs were looked at for all samples: 15° orb, 10° orb, and 5° orb, and all but one (Sample B/females, 5° orb category) were statistically significant (Tables 12 - 17). These results further support and substantiate the research hypothesis and add strength to the effect: It is clear that the smaller the orb, the less likely it is to occur by chance. This was found to be true for all samples except Sample B/females, which was the smallest sample of this study. All other study samples (and especially the combined sample), clearly show that the tight orbs are even less likely to occur by chance than the large orbs. (e.g., a 5° orb for the conjunction, two squares and an opposition will be present 40 days of the year. A 10° orb will be present for 80 days of the year, etc.). These results possibly indicate that the days most prone to accidents would be in the 5° orb around the hard aspects to the birth Sun (0°, 90°, and 180°) from the transiting Sun.
The question of applying and separating orbs was studied next. An applying aspect is one that has not yet formed (i.e., when the degree separation is smaller than 90° for the square, smaller than 180° for the opposition, etc.), and a separating aspect is one where the aspect has already occurred but it is still within orb of operation (more than 90° for the square, more than 180° for the opposition, etc.). The analysis did not reveal that applying aspects are overall more frequent than separating aspects (Table 22). Although different values appear in the individual aspect cells, the overall result does not suggest a difference. However, further investigation into this question needs to be conducted, mainly because no exact time of birth was available. When exact birth times and times of injury are available, it is very easy to discern applying, exact or separating aspects. This table indicates another interesting finding: A high frequency of exact aspects (45) compared to the expected value (11) for this sample size. This is only a close approximation, again, due to lack of birth times. However, the expected value for exact aspects (4 out of 365) for this sample is 11, while the observed value is more than 4 times larger. Further investigation is needed with larger pools of subjects to determine if indeed, the actual exact aspect dates, (the birthday, 91 days later, 182.5 days later and 273 days later) are the most accident prone dates for each individual.
As to the question of the difference between male and female subjects, no conclusive results have been reached. As seen in Table 6, the distribution of the female subjects (N=120) according to injury category by Sun sign separation yielded a statistical significance of P< .05, which is an acceptable level of significance in social sciences, although it is not as significant as all other P values obtained in this study. Table 13 indicates that only the 15° and 10° orbs of separation were significant in the female population, and here, too with a high level of significance (P< .0005 and P< .02 respectively). However the 5° orb yielded a non significant finding (P=0.156). Table 19 indicates (second column) that when all hard aspect categories were combined, a highly significant Chi-Square value was obtained (P< .00005) for the female population. These mixed results may only indicate that the sample size (126) was too small, and further study is needed to see if indeed there is a difference between males and females in the injury patterns found. Similar numbers of male and female subjects are needed to test this hypothesis but could not be obtained for this study. Because the overall result of the female group does, however, support the research hypothesis, it is not felt that there is a difference between men and women in the timing of their proneness to injury. Other astrological factors that deal with gender differences (such as Moon and Venus positions in the birth chart) should be further investigated, and for that, exact time of birth needs to be available for these subjects.
As stated earlier, during the process of analyzing the data several people were asked by the researcher to form an opinion as to the possible reason for the distributions found. They were not told that an astrological pattern was being investigated. They all answered without hesitation, that being injured around one's birthday could be expected for reasons such as being drunk, being tired from too many parties, general excitation around the birthday, and lowered spirits due to the feeling of getting older, etc. No one could, however, suggest an alternative explanation for the other three hard aspects, i.e., the two squares and the opposition. In order to measure the strength of the hard aspect effect without the birthday (conjunction),further computation was done on all samples both for the remaining 11 injury categories (Table 20) and the three hard aspect categories combined (i.e., categories 4, 7, and 10 only) without the conjunction (Table 21).
It is clear from this computation which was done on both Sun sign separation and on degree separation, that the research hypothesis is upheld even with the deletion of the first injury category (Sun sign at birth and Sun sign at injury are the same) or the conjunction (0° separation between the position of Sun at birth and the position of the transiting Sun at the time of the injury). Here, again, the results are even more significant when the three remaining hard aspect categories are taken together (Table 21), indicating that the so called 'Birthday effect' suggested as an explanation can only be a partial answer, since there are other significant times of injury that coincide with hard aspects from the transiting Sun.
Compared to Samples A and B with regard to cuspal birth dates and accident dates, (19 cuspal birth dates or accident dates combined for the entire sample of 1023 cases), Sample D included a relatively large number of cuspal birthdays and suicide dates (21 cuspal birth dates and 25 cuspal suicide dates for a sample of 206 cases). These had to be eliminated from the analysis of whole Sun signs. Cuspal birth dates are the dates on which the Sun is changing signs (Appendix C). If birth times could be obtained, the deletion would not be necessary. Precise calculations would put the Sun either at the end of one Sun sign, (29°-30°), or in the first degree (0°-1°) of the following Sun sign. It is obvious that Sample D, the suicide sample, contained a larger than expected concentration of cuspal birth dates, (22 in place of 13). Although this study does not deal with suicide and the data was used as a control group for the current study, it may be speculated that cuspal birth dates may be more prone to suicide than other birth dates. This needs to be further investigated, and may provide some much needed information about the importance of cuspal birth dates.
Tables 23 and 24 represent the distribution into Sun signs at birth for each sample and for the entire study population combined. Figures 12, 13 and 14 depict these distributions graphically. As there are no norms to compare against for the general population, these findings are only descriptive. The data obtained (Table 23 and Figure 12) included a slight preponderance in birth signs for the Sun signs of Leo and Virgo for the sample population (i.e., there were more births between July 23 and August 23 or between August 23 and September 21 in this sample), and less births in the Sun signs of Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn (October 22 - November 22; November 22 - December 21; and December 21 January 19) for this sample. This may or may not fit the distribution of births in the general population for these birth years, and as stated above, it is only descriptive in nature.
As to the distribution of Sun signs for the dates of injury, (Table 24 and Figure 13), the most injuries in this sample occurred during the Sun sign of Aquarius (January 20 to February 19) with the Sun sign of Gemini (May 21 to June 21) as a close second. The least amount of injuries occurred during the Sun sign of Sagittarius (November 22 to December 21) which may be explained by the fact that it is the holiday season in the USA, but no explanation can be offered conclusively, due to lack of norms to compare against.
Figure 14 graphically plots the distribution of Sun signs at birth compared to the Sun signs of the injuries, and although there are some similarities in the distributions, as expected values could not be computed, no Chi-Square test for Goodness of Fit was conducted on these results, and they are, too, presented for descriptive purposes only.
Suggestions for further research:
Astrology includes numerous additional factors which may prove related to accidents. These may provide additional time periods for caution and additional psychological insights into accident proneness. (The computer analysis indicated an unusually high number of hard aspects involving the planet Saturn and the astroid Vesta. Both of these are astrologically associated with work and Saturn is also associated with authority figures. The hard aspects imply a state of tension and frustration connected to the work area). It is hoped that a follow up research on the present data can provide additional understanding of accident causes, and therefore, contribute to their prevention.
The Sun's association with self esteem and Ego strength have been noted in the astrological literature. Dobyns & Roof (1973:19-20) write that the Sun
So, hard aspects to the Sun imply problems to that area. As these aspects were not emphasized in the suicide subjects (Sample D), different psychological motivations may be implied in connection with suicide being an act of conscious intent and will, whereas accidents may involve unconscious conflict. This needs additional research.
There are factors that are only available astrologically when the exact time of birth is known. Astrological theory considers some of these time dependent factors to be extremely important. These theoretical assumptions should be tested, and include considerations such as the Ascendant, the various house cusps, and the exact position of the Moon in the natal chart and in the accident chart.
Astrological theory assigns a relationship between certain astrological factors and parts of the body. For example, Mars is associated with the head and muscles, Saturn is associated with the bones, Uranus with the electrical action of the nervous system. (Brau, J. L., Weaver, H., & Edmands, A., 1977). Further analysis of injured body parts and astrological factors, may provide further understanding of these factors.
If severity of injury could be rated, a corresponding astrological pattern may emerge in further analysis. This approach needs to be investigated.
Although the sample size of N=1023 is a good sample size for the purpose of this study, it can be claimed that it is too small compared to the injured population (in excess of 400,000 for the year 1989 for California alone). Therefore, larger samples should be investigated along the lines of this study, possibly obtaining more detailed records from many clinics throughout California and maybe throughout the whole country. Data about injuries and even fatal injuries should be found and analyzed if access to such data can be gained.
Ideally, a longitudinal approach to the research hypothesis and questions should be applied, i.e., following up a large population through the years and collecting injury data as they come up. Although such study may prove to be extremely significant in its findings if it supports the present research hypothesis, it is very difficult to conduct. However, it is recommended that such study be undertaken because then the predictive nature of astrology can be examined not from a 'hind sight' perspective (which in a sense this ex post facto study is).
Alternative explanations and criticism:
It can be speculated that people are more accident prone around their birthday due to factors such as being drunk, being too tired from parties, from being depressed due to the increase in age, or other disturbing emotions. However, the number of injuries occurring six months after the birthday or three months and nine months after the birthday are still significantly higher than would be expected by chance (See Tables 20 and 21) and there is no particular reason why a person should be more prone to accidents at these times other than predicted by astrological theory.
It could be argued that in spite of all the tight controls that were applied to the selection of subjects, the study samples were not randomly obtained because they were derived only from two clinics in the Los Angeles area. However, the additional use of Sample C (The Carter sample) which was obtained from an old, existing book, and which includes subjects from both the USA and the United Kingdom serves to negate that claim. Sample C results are very significant (Table 10 and Figure 10), although the sample size is very small (55). However, Carter included in his book only fatal or very severe accidents, and most all of them were not work related. This actually further supports the wide range of applicability of this study's results.
Another possible criticism may be addressed toward the selection of subjects for this study. The fact that the subjects were obtained from medical clinics, and that the subjects were all litigating (all filed Workers' Compensation suits) may seem as a limitation. However, it was found out through conversations with attorneys and physicians that the large majority of injured people file Workers' Compensation claims, and this number runs in the hundreds of thousands. The lack of demographic information, as well as information regarding the body part injured, the severity of the injury and the length of employment at the place of work where the subjects were injured could also be collected. However, all of these details do not directly affect the outcomes of this study or those of any future study: What it may add is further details and clarifications for other studies that may choose to deal with these issues from an astrological point of view.
The fact that there was a complete anonymity of subjects in this study is not seen as a delimitation. To the contrary: It controls for many possible experimenter biases. However, the fact that the study was ex post facto, and all injuries occurred prior to the data collection, eliminates this concern altogether.
From an astrological point of view, the only area where limitations have been noted is the fact that only birth dates and injury dates were available, not including exact time of birth and time of injury. Such information may shed further light on the contributing factors to work related injuries.
Applications of the research findings:
From the findings of this study it is clear that following further replications, these results could be easily applied to reduce injuries, especially injuries that occur on the job. As indicated by studies in the field of accident prevention, raising the workers' awareness to the possibility of injuries by educating them about risk factors on the job (Moretz, 1989; Jones & Wuebker, 1988; Barnett & Brickman, 1986; Howarth, 1987) is an approach that has proven to be useful in accident reduction efforts. Providing feedback and regularly informing workers about the status of injuries and risks on the job, (McAfee & Winn, 1989; Sulzer Azaroff & al., 1990; Saaro, 1988; Fellner & Sulzer Azaroff, 1984; Howarth, 1987; French, 1988) has also been useful, as well as enlisting positive employee participation in preventive programs (Sulzer-Azaroff & al., 1990; Berkowitz, 1991; Wallin, 1987; DeBobes, 1986;Saarela, 1990). Involving management in implementation and monitoring of preventive programs, (Berkowitz, 1991) was also discussed as one of the methods used to reduce accidents on the job.
Alerting the individual of a possible accident prone time may prove useful, as it has been found that this awareness alone can cause the workers to be more cautious, thus averting dangers. As seen in the literature review, Sridhar (1990) and Laxenaire & Laurent (1983) stated that among certain individuals the knowledge of biorhythm theory leads to certain variations in behavior and that when people are aware that they are at a biorhythmic low, they can take extra care to avoid errors that cause accidents and that management can reduce work accidents by informing employees of their accident prone days. The same is true for the results of this study, with some reservations and modifications.
It is not claimed that each person will be accident prone during four Sun signs of every year in his or her life. The foregoing results indicate only that for the injuries that had already occurred, there appears to be a hard aspect related astrological pattern according to the research hypothesis. In order to predict more accurately which year or years in the individual's life are more accident prone, the more elaborate and complex predictive methods of astrology need to be used. These include progressions and solar returns that can pinpoint an accident prone year. The hard aspect to the position of the Sun at birth can then be used to indicate when these accidents might actually occur.
Nevertheless, advising workers to be more cautious on the job around these four periods during the year is not difficult, and may prove useful even without the more precise methods used by astrologers. Howarth (1987) suggests that people will adapt to an increase in perceived risk by taking more care and will adapt to a reduction in perceived risk by taking less care (behavioral feedback).
One can keep in mind also the possibility of a self-fulfilling prophecy' effect that may result from such an approach. This is not, however, restricted to astrological predictions, but to the whole field of trying to predict and/or avert negative events, and it is a topic worth studying on its own.
A more interesting and psychologically useful approach would be to look at these hard aspect periods as times for further psychological awareness. As stated by Dobyns & Roof (1973), the Sun also represents the need for ego-expansion, self esteem and the need to be proud and impact the world. At times when our sense of self (the Sun) is challenged or conflicted (hard aspects), the possibility of an injury may be seen as the unconscious working out of this influence, i.e., when a person is not consciously expressing his or her frustration with his or her employer or supervisors (people in authority signified by the Sun), they may end up unconsciously 'acting out' this frustration in the form of an accident. Workers could be encouraged to deal with their feelings of low self esteem or feelings of not impacting the world through awareness and confrontation either in group settings or individually.
Both the above considerations address the first of three possible contributions of this study, i.e., providing a new angle to be added to the existing efforts at accident prevention. It is hoped that this will result in possible considerable savings of funds, time and pain for the individual as well as to society.
The second contribution of this study is that it supports some of astrology's basic premises, and provides a basis for further study of astrological concepts and methods.
The third contribution is in forming a bridge between astrology and psychology, two areas of human activity that seek the same goal: To understand human nature and to predict human behavior.
September 21, 1992 was the date this work was defended. At the end of the presentation this researcher was presented with a newspaper article that appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune that very same day. This article announced findings from a totally unrelated study, which found that people tend to die more frequently around their birthdays...