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Astrology (from Greek :αστρολογία = άστρον + λόγος ) is any of several traditions or systems in which knowledge of the apparentpositions of celestial bodies is held to be useful in understanding, interpreting and organizing knowledge about reality andhuman existence on earth. All are based on the relative positions and movements of various real and construed celestial bodies , chiefly the Sun , Moon , planets , and lunar nodes as seen at the time and place of the birth orother event being studied.

For many astrologers, the purported relationship between the celestial bodies and events on earth need not be causal , nor even scientific . Although thereare astrologers who try to put astrology on sound scientific principles, for many more it is a technology and an art that mergesrote calculations with intuitive perceptions.

In past centuries, astrology often relied on close observation of astronomical objects, and the charting of their movements,and might be considered a protoscience in this regard.

Central to all astrology is the natal chart (also called the horoscope , natus, or birth chart). This is a diagrammatic representation in 2 dimensionsof the celestial bodies' apparent positions in the heavens from the vantage of a location on earth at a given time and place.Interpretation of a natal chart is governed by:

  • the positions of the heavenly bodies relative to each other,
  • their positions relative to the signs of the zodiac ,
  • their positions relative to the horizon , zenith and nadir .

Common traditions of astrology include Western astrology , Chinese astrology , Jyotish ( Vedic astrology) and Kabbalistic astrology .All of these can be subdivided by type, such as natal (the study of a person's birth chart), horary (a chart drawn to answer a specific question), and electional astrology (a chart drawn ahead of time to determine the best moment to begin an enterpriseor undertaking).

The majority of Western astrologers based their work on the tropicalzodiac , but some Western and all Jyotish ( Hindu ) astrologers use the sidereal zodiac .


The Cases For and Against

Astrology is a controversial subject with many voices speaking both for and against its recognition as a valid field of study.The case for and the case against astrology are presented here:

The case for astrology

Astrology provides a direct link to some of the longest held human beliefs. Its continued appeal may rest on its ability tolink an individual's life to the wider cosmos and so give a feeling of uniqueness,meaning and of connection to the totality of things. Astrology also makes use of basic, archetypal qualities found universallythroughout humanity and some people find it a useful intuitive tool with which to describe themselves and others, and therelationships between them.

Anyone can set themselves up as an astrologer so there is a wide range in ability and approach. A serious astrologer will be amember of a society that tries to maintain standards of learning and conduct.

Most serious astrologers scorn trivial horoscope predictions supplied by newspapers as a way to entertain readers. All popular astrology in which people are labelled as of a certain typeon the basis of their sun sign alone is seen by serious astrologers as frivolous and not worthy of defence. An individualastrological reading by a skilled astrologer instead gives a way for the individual to divine his or her own feelings about thepresent. This can give them the opportunity to understand those feelings which may be barriers to possible futures and so betteract in the present to bring about a desired future. In this respect it is more closely linked to tarot , I Ching and modern psychotherapy than to astronomy.

An individual is always seen as the ultimate master of their destiny and given sufficient will and purpose as being able toovercome the most adverse astrological circumstances. However the degree of struggle necessary will depend on the astrologicalcircumstances in which they enact their project.

Most astrologers make no claim to be practising a science and see their skill as an art which gives a structure to a dialoguewith their client. An astrologer's success would need to be measured in terms of the happiness and well being of their subjectsrather than the mechanical prediction of events. Astrology has however taken on new astronomical concepts as they have beendiscovered and added its own symbolism to them. Thus the outer planets discovered since 1781 , because of their slowmovement across the sky sit in the same position in the charts of whole generations. They have been assigned a role ininterpreting the processes of large groups; of nations, institutions, ideas, beliefs and the generations themselves

The case against astrology

Astrology, like other forms of pseudoscience , tries to lay claim tothe prestige of science without submitting itself to the discipline of the scientific method . The key is falsifiability .Some believers in astrology consult a horoscope published in a newspaper, which claims to make predictions for the coming day.Newspapers often publish horoscope columns with the title "Astrological Forecast," implying that they should be considered on thesame footing with weather forecasts. However, astrology has failed carefully designed empirical tests of its predictiveclaims, [1] unlike meteorology , which, although not always correct, has been proved to be statistically more accurate than randomguessing.

As is often the case with pseudoscience , the practitioners ofastrology respond to such disproof either by changing their claims, or by refusing to accept the scientific method as a valid test of their claims. As an example ofchanging their claims, some astrologers may say that astrology is only useful when the astrologer can have personal contact withthe client, in which case the newspaper astrology columns should be abolished. If, on the other hand, the scientific method is to be rejected entirely, the problem is thatastrologers do not agree on any alternative method of determining whether a particular astrological method is any more or lesscorrect than any other.

Relationship to astronomy and science

Astrology is not the same as astronomy . It can be viewed as the predecessor ofastronomy in the same way that alchemy can be viewed as the predecessor of chemistry. Astronomers are often dismayed at beingconfused with their counterparts in astrology. Astrologers incorporate astronomical concepts into their studies. Scientistsdismiss astrology as pseudoscience with the claim that astrology does notfollow the scientific method . Astrology is, however, deeplyintertwined with astronomy , though a divergence between the two dates back to thetime of Galileo . He was one of the first to use the scientific method to test objective statements about the heavens .

Astronomy aims to understand the physical workings of the universe. Astrologers use the astronomers' calculations for thepositions of celestial bodies, and attempt to correlate astronomical events with earthly events. From ancient times to the 17thcentury, astrologers were in constant search of better astronomical tables, and so instigated (and even funded) many importantdevelopments in astronomy. The role of astrology as an important motivation for astronomical research diminished as the works of Galileo and others solved the problems in celestial mechanics thatwere of interest to astrologers. The needs of modern navigation and physics became more important motivators for astronomers.

The most common type of astrology is natal astrology. This form of astrology attempts to combine astronomical data from thetime of birth of the subject with astrological techniques to gain an insight into personality traits. Mundane astrologers believe correlations exist between geological phenomena (such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions )and astronomical phenomena (the movement of celestial bodies in relation to earth).

Many prominent figures in the early history of western astronomy, including Tycho Brahe , Johannes Kepler , and Galileo himself, were practising astrologers. It is a commonly held beliefamong astrologers that Isaac Newton had an interest in astrology; however,there is no apparent evidence to back this claim, as none of Newton's writings mention the subject, and the handful of books inhis possession that contained references to astrology were primarily concerned with other subjects (and mentioned astrology onlyin passing).

There are some biological phenomena that co-ordinate with celestial movements (e.g. circadian rhythms , see Chronobiology ). Someastrologers may try to draw conclusions from this, but it is more likely that these correlations are not fully understood byanyone. Astronomers dispute the existence of some of them, and claim that others are trivial, well-understood relationships eventhough they have little to do with astronomy. Scientific attempts to establish the existence of astrological influences haveyielded mostly inconclusive results. Scientists claim that the effect of tidal forces is far too weak over a small area (such asthe human body) to have any influence on a biological organism. Astrologers counter that gravity may not be the mechanism ofastrological phenomena, whereupon the opponents dispute the existence of any correlations.

Astrological concepts are pervasive in many societies, and endure despite strong efforts by scientists to discredit them. Thisis evidenced by the fact that influenza was so named because doctors once believed it to be caused by unfavorable planetary and stellar influences.The word "disaster" comes from the Latin "dis-aster" meaning "bad star".

Astrology as a descriptive language for the mind

The personality descriptions made in astrological charts can be viewed as a method of describing the subjective inner world ofmind and personality. This has roots in alchemical and Hermetic tradition which were very influential until the 17th century. Many writers, notably William Shakespeare .[ [2] ] , used astrological symbolism to add subtlety tothe description of their characters' motivation. An understanding of astrological principles is needed to fully appreciate suchliterature. Some modern thinkers, notably Carl Jung , have acknowledged itsdescriptive powers of the mind without necessarily subscribing to its predictive claims.

List of Notable Astrologers

See Also

External links

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