|Dr. Pat Harris receiving her doctorate for her studies into astrology and fertility, 2006.
|With the topic of astrology and fertility recently receiving favourable reports in the British press, fertility expert and consultant astrologer Dr. Pat Harris explains how she was able to scientifically demonstrate a link between astrology and fertility using the astrological model that she created from her research for her doctorate at the University of Southampton between 2000 and 2006.
Can astrology bring you a baby?
(Dr. Pat Harris explains):
I was asked this question by a literary agent in 2006 when I had finished my research into astrology and fertility and, based on that research, the answer to this question is a very clear "Yes".
Why research the link?
I have been a consultant astrologer for nearly thirty years and working in health psychology for the past fifteen years. I have clients who have been with me for more than twenty years and who keep returning for life management advice. Some of those clients came to me years ago asking if they would marry and have children and when this would be and I used traditional astrology to locate the years when I thought there was a strong likelihood of these events happening in their lives. Astrology did not let me down as I had considerable success with these forecasts for natural conception and so, in the autumn of 1999, when the University of Southampton offered me the opportunity to do a research project for a doctorate, I chose to look at astrology and fertility - looking at fertility treatment outcome, in particular, as the rate of success was poor - 1 in 4 in the UK - and the process stressful and invasive as well as expensive. If a new method could be found to reduce the number of treatments needed to succeed this would be invaluable in every way to women who sought to have children through assisted reproductive technology (ART).
This research project formed the core of my doctoral studies. My thesis title was "Applications of astrology to health psychology: astrological and psychological factors and fertility treatment outcome. " I was registered for the degree at the University of Southampton, UK, from February 2000 until it was awarded to me in the autumn of 2006.
How was the research carried out?
From 2000 to 2002, I collected data from women volunteers in the USA, Australia and the UK, who had undergone fertility treatment and were willing to let me explore their outcomes looking at their birth charts and the dates at which they underwent embryo implants: IVF (in vitro fertilisation), ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), intra-uterine insemination (IUI), donor insemination (DI) and other forms of treatment, e.g.,., GIFT (gamete intra-fallopian transfer) and ZIFT (zygote intra-fallopian transfer).
I used a very sophisticated statistical model - logistic regression, where different variables can be considered together to see if any of them may account for the apparent significance of another. Through the use of this model, I was able to consider many different variables like age, belief in astrology, location of clinic, experience of depression, levels of anxiety and reproductive health problems, together with astrology, to see if any of them had an impact on any significant finding regarding astrology and treatment outcome. From my first, exploratory, study (looking at 114 treatments) I found that astrology, clinic location and fertility history (reproductive health problems) all had significant associations with success and failure of outcome. I then did another study. Between 2003 and 2005 I gathered new data from women patients attending two British NHS clinics and one private clinic for a new study on which I could test my findings from the early exploratory study. I examined 55 treatments in this second, replication, study. I ran the model I had developed in the first study and found that only astrology was significant (94% likelihood of the result not being a chance finding).
The astrological model
I developed the astrological model by referring to prominent astrological authors such as Ptolemy and William Lilly, who had written on particular associations of astrology with times in a woman's life when she was likely to have children. Ptolemy, C.E. 100-170, (1980) associated Saturn with barrenness and Venus with fruitfulness. Lilly (1985), writing in 1647, gave detailed advice on a variety of astrological factors to consider when assessing whether or not a person would have, or indeed be capable of having, children. The modern author, Wanda Sellars (2001) summed up some aspects of astrology used in relation to fertility and reproductive health in an article on traditional indications of fertility. The signs of Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces were judged fruitful or fertile signs, while Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius were judged barren or infertile signs, with Cancer, Scorpio and especially Pisces being the most fertile. She further reported that large families are likely when the moon, Venus or Jupiter is placed natally in the 5th house (the part of the birth chart governing pregnancy and children), and that these planets are generally associated with fertility while the Sun, Mars, Saturn and Uranus are associated with infertility.
Using these authors and other sources for information on ancient astro-fertility associations I divided the 114 treatments in my exploratory group into two treatment outcome groups: successes (resulting in birth of a live baby) and fails (no live baby birth achieved). I checked the astrology in each group using the women's birth charts and time of embryo implant for absence and presence of secondary progressions and transits that are believed, traditionally, to be present when children are born.
By carefully assessing these differences in each group I built up a picture of a collection of astrological contacts that were significantly more likely to be present at embryo implant for a successful outcome, compared with embryo implants that resulted in failure. I selected the number of contacts that produced the biggest difference between the groups (about 99% of the result not being a chance one) in order to test these contacts on a second fresh sample to see if the result could be replicated under very similar conditions. In this respect I followed the views of Kelly et al. (1998) and Roberts (1997) that research should focus on very strong effects when seeking to replicate applications of astrological associations in practical everyday life.
To give an indication of the contacts, some of the rules are as follows. The entire study is reported in full detail in my thesis (Harris 2005), which can be accessed through the British Library.
My research did not directly confirm ancient writings on the fertility indicators in astrology but it did clearly support the association of the planets Venus and Jupiter with fertility and an increased likelihood of having children.
Progressions of the Sun and Venus making exact contact within six months each side of the treatment date.
- Progressed Moon making exact contact with natal Venus within two weeks each side of the treatment date.
- Contacts of progressed Jupiter with the natal planets (those in the chart for the time, date and place of birth) Sun, Moon, Venus and Jupiter and also the Ascendant and Midheaven within three months each side of the treatment date.
- Progressed Ascendant or progressed Midheaven making exact contact with designated planets only and not designated angles (i.e. natal Ascendant and Midheaven) within six months each side of the treatment date.
In my exploratory study, after testing over thirty variables at different stages, I found four significant factors associated with successful outcome: incidence of depression, clinic location, history of fertility problems (reproductive health issues) and astrology. In the replication study only astrology remained significant with a 94% likelihood of the result not being by chance.
Has anything more been discovered since the completion of the research project?
Since that time, I have continued to research and develop my findings, and understand better the nature and type of contacts to a woman's astrological birth chart involving Venus and Jupiter, the traditional planetary baby-bringers.
I have been undertaking work on male infertility and the results have helped to provide more valuable information on the relationship between astrology and fertility.
How much can astrology help women achieve successful conception and pregnancy and can it help those seeking natural conception?
My original research increased the likelihood of a successful outcome when fertility treatment was timed to coincide with my researched astro-fertility windows by 10% and 14%, when birth time of the woman was known to within half an hour, or exactly, respectively. My continuing research on new data has enabled me to increase that percentage to 21% and 23%, respectively.
My astro-fertility model also works very well for women who wish to try to conceive naturally and, as my initial research was based upon evidence of astrology and natural conception in my practice as a consultant astrologer, this is what you would expect to find.
Why does astrology help women conceive and have children?
Over the years, various journalists have asked me what could be the explanation for this apparently real link between astrology and success with fertility treatment outcome. From my point of view as both a researcher and practitioner in astrology and health psychology, I have read many research papers in the last ten years on the links between depression and anxiety and failed treatment outcome and it seems reasonable to suppose that the psychological associations of Venus and Jupiter with happiness and optimism may describe times when women who are seeking to conceive and have babies are likely to be more relaxed and generally in a happier and more positive frame of mind, and this may partly explain the connection.
And the future?
I am currently working on additional data, and with alternative health care professionals, which I hope will further improve the effectiveness of the model and so increase the likelihood of achieving conception both naturally and through IVF and other forms of ART. I hope to publish more news on my findings in 2011.
Pat Harris, PhD, MSc., DFAstrolS., FPAI,
Harris, Pat 2005
'Applications of Astrology to Health Psychology: astrological and psychological factors and fertility treatment outcome'
Doctoral thesis: University of Southampton
Access: The British Library
Kelly, I.W., Rotton, James, Culver, Roger 1998
'The Moon was full and nothing happened: a review of studies on the moon and human behaviour and human belief'
Skeptical Intelligencer, Vol. 2 (3) & (4) pp 23-34)
Lilly, W. 1647 1985
Publ: Regulus Publishing Co. Ltd., UK.
Ptolemy CE 100-170 1980
Ed. By G.P. Goold
(LOEB Classical Library)
Publ: William Heinemann Ltd., London, UK
Roberts, P 1999
'New research in personality and astrology'
Correlation, Vol. 18, (1), pp 21-31
Sellars, W. 2001
'Traditional facts on fecundity'
Astrology and Medicine Newsletter, No.32, July pp 3-5
About the author:
has been a qualified consultant for nearly thirty years (having received her diploma from the Faculty of Astrological Studies in 1982) and has been in health psychology for fifteen years. She is an internationally published writer on astrology and fertility and astrology and health, advising clients across the world on achieving conception, pregnancy and birth of their own babies both through natural and assisted conception, using the astrological model that she created from her research for her doctorate at the University of Southampton between 2000 and 2006. Since 1999, she has been editor of the Astrological Association journal of research in astrology, Correlation, and is the Convenor of Research Grants for the Critical Study of Astrology. Find her at www.astrologyfertility.com
The article made available on this page is copyrighted to Dr. Pat Harris and is offered here for private, non-commercial use. Permission must be sought for reproduction. Published online December, 2010.