Defined, Historical Background, Principles, and Anything Else You Wanted to Know but Didn't Ask
ASTROLOGY - The use of Astronomical Phenomena to predict earthly and human events, in terms of an assumed theoretical system. In its earliest forms it consisted of simple omens that Seers read from the sky. In its mature form it analyzes the supposed effects of the Sun, Moon, Planets, and Stars, on Earth for a specific time and place.
Although earlier, sometimes the meanings of astrology and astronomy overlapped, Astronomy now concerns itself only with determining the positions and physical properties of celestial bodies. Astrology, on the other hand, assumed that a generalized celestial influence affected weather, crops and other phenomena related to whole nations of people.
ASTROLOGERS - Make specific predictions for an individual (for instance) based on planetary positions about an individual.
Humans have looked to the sky for guidance on earthly matters since the Third Millennium BC. Astrology probably started with the Phoenicians who explored the Mediterranean Sea using the stars as their guide and began naming Constellations of stars that looked like figures of gods. They read good or bad omens in them by what happened on their voyages.
The ancient Babylonians named their gods by the seasons and by the activities of the sun, moon and stars. They knew of five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) in ancient Babylon. Seers were consulted by the rulers to determine good or bad times based on planetary and stellar observations. They associated seasonal changes with groups of stars (Constellations).
Up until about 300 BC, Astrology was used to make general predictions not for individual horoscopes, except for royalty. The earliest known horoscope incorporating the principles of mature astrology dates from 409 BC.
From Babylon Astrology spread to India and China where different but related traditions grew up.
Astrology reached Greece about 500 BC but didn't flourish until after the death of Alexander (323 BC). During that time of great u ncertainty Aeno founded the Stoic School, believing that man was powerless in the face of his personal fate. Zeno said, "If man can understand how the universe works, he can live in time with it."
Astrology flourished in Imperial Rome under the reign of Tiberius. The Roman names of the planets and signs of the Zodiac are still used today. In the 2nd century AD the astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy, prefaced his "Tetrabiblos" with a defense of Astrology that proved influential. He also is credited with refining Astrological calculations. Early Christians were not opposed to the study, but later rejected it because of its pagan roots.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Astrology declined in the Latin West but flourished in the hands of the conquerors of the Eastern Empire. In Europe, with the establishment of the Roman Church, Astrology was rejected. (St.) Ignatius viewed both Astronomy and Astrology, indeed all science, as an enemy of belief. His influence kept Astrology out of Europe until the 12th century. Though banned, it continued to be practiced and developed by non-Christians and Arabs.
In the Middle Ages when Western Europe was strongly affected by Islamac Science, Astrology regained its popularity. Among its many adherents were Thomas Aquinas and Dante.
By the time of the Renaissance, the first Chancellor of the new University of Oxford, Roberto Grosseteste, thought Astrology could be used for almost anything from agriculture to alchemy to medicine to weather forecasting. Chaucer was well-versed in the Zodiac, and even Martin Luther wrote about it favorably. In the 15th and 16th centuries Roman Popes consulted Astrologers.
At the end of the 17th century, Astrology was considered a pseudo-science by almost all learned people. Scientific knowledge in the 18th century began to shake superstition off its heels. New planets were discovered, Uranus in 1781, Neptune in 1846 and Pluto in 1930. Though these planets were given Roman names to match those of their heavenly cousins, they were associated with modern inventions such as the industrial age (Uranus) and nuclear weapons (Pluto).
Since the 18th century, new discoveries and technologies have raised doubts about whether the heavens were created to direct changes on earth. No longer is there a Sun-centered Universe. Today, Astrology is opposed to the Modern Christian Doctrine of divine intervention and human free will.
Evangeline Adams, who brought Astrology to the masses in the 20th century and counseled Enrico Caruso, Mary Pickford, and J. P. Morgan, was arrested in 1904 for Fortune Telling. After hearing her conduct her own defense, a New York judge ruled to raise Astrology to the "dignity of an exact science." Nowadays, no one gets burned at the stake for believing in Astrology, but the Church still isn't very keen on it.
In 1928 the American Federation of Astrologers was founded with the intention of disassociating Astrology with Magic. Newspaper star columns were launched in the U.S. and Europe during the 1930s. Today Astrology continues to be disdained by some, while others use it either to make important decisions, or simply as a form of entertainment.
In addition to the purported effects of planets on the weather, body types and personality, Astrology also has to take into account the new relationships continually being set up among celestial bodies. To do this it uses the 12 SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC.
ASPECTS are special angles that allow for a discontinuity in astrological influences. For example, there is supposed to be an effect when two planets are 60 degrees apart, but then of relatively little effect until a separation of 90 degrees occurs. Ptolemaic Astrology recognized four aspects: 180 degrees, 120 degrees, 90 degrees, and 60 degrees. More were added by Johanas Kepler and other astronomers.
An Astrological column in a newspaper today is generally based on the Sign of the Zodiac in which the sun was located when a person was born. A simplified form of Astrology, it implies that all people born under the same sign anywhere in the world at any time, share common characteristics and that their daily activities should be so guided. A more individual analysis is possible when casting the Horoscope by noting the relationship of the Sun, Moon, Planets and Signs of the Zodiac to the time and place of one's birth.
Starting with the ascendant, the ecliptic is divided into twelve divisions called HOUSES. Unlike the Zodiacal signs which represent the annual cycle of the Sun, the heavens rotate behind the imaginary grid of houses once every day )reflecting the Earth's daily rotation), and in a unique manner for every place on Earth. Each of the twelve houses is significant for some phase of human existence. The Astrological judgment is rendered by examining what celestial bodies fall into which houses. Only individuals born at the same place and at the same time would have exactly the same Astrological inheritance.
Horoscopes can be cast on numerous occasions to decide the fate of both nations and individuals. Most familiar is the casting of a Horoscope based on the conception or birth of a child, the so-called Natal Horoscope.
From a Horoscope the Astrologer may determine, through a technique known as directing, when a predicted event may befall the subject. In all methods of directing a point on the ecliptic is chosen, and an arc related to it is used to give a time span. For example, one degree of arc may be taken to mean one year of life.
Through the technique of election, an Astrologer counsels an individual on the choice of propitious moments. The election is usually related in some way to the person's nativity. Even without knowing his or her nativity, a person could supposedly come to some understanding of the effect of the heavens on his or her life through hoary questions. For example, a Horoscope is cast at a time when a pressing question arises, such as whether a business enterprise will be successful.
For centuries, critics have attacked Astrology on scientific grounds, questioning the means by which celestial influences could occur; and on moral grounds, since many view humans as creatures of free will.
On their side, Astrologers, past and present, have often sought to imply that empirical evidence establishes the existence of heavenly influences. They held that erroneous predictions could be attributed to the complexity of the study. Some practitioners have even thought that Astrological Theories should be modified.
Although Astrology has persisted to the present day, enjoying greater popularity in some countries than in others, it has never attracted more than an occasional scientist to its ranks since the 17th century. Periods of resurgence may correspond with times of uncertainty, especially when science and technology seem unable to provide acceptable solutions to pressing problems and when many people seem to seek a more mystical and spiritual mode of understanding the world. Many contemporary works of Astrology use the terminology of recent psychological theories.
If you have seen your star chart or that of a friend and then want to know "But what does it all mean?" A good reference for interpreting Horoscopes and Aspects is Heaven Knows What by Grant Lewis. Its companion volume for transits and planetary sign positions is Astrology For The Millions. Two other fine books for interpretations are Planets In Aspect and Planets In Houses by Robert Pelletier. A detailed book on synestry and relationships is The Astrology of Human Relationships by Frances Sakoian & Louis Acker. A recent comprehensive book of transit interpretations is Robert Hand's Planets In Transit. History and background: The World Book Encyclopedia.
Glossary of Basic Astrology Terms
Ascendant: The ZODIAC SIGN rising on the eastern horizon at the time and place of birth, also the longitude (in degrees) of the point on the eastern horizon.
Aspect: Relative position of two or more planets, such as conjunctions.
Calendar: from the Latin, "Calendae," the first day of a Roman Month when future market days and feasts were proclaimed. A calender is a system, defined by rules, for designating the year, and assigning days to these units. It's also a way of grouping days in ways convenient to regulate civil or religious life. The rudiments of a calendric system were constructed long ago when stone alignments and stone circles (Stonehenge) were used to determine the length of the solar year by marking the progress of the Sun along the horizon.
Early calendars (Babylonian about 2000 BC) were based on Lunar cycles, 28 to 29 days. Some had 12 or 13 months (Jewish) which later proved inaccurate. In 46 BC Julius Caesar recognized the fact that a Solar Calendar would be more accurate and developed the Julian Calendar. It had provisions for 365 or 366 days. It remained fairly accurate until the time of Pope Gregory in 1582 when a more accurate updated version (Gregorian Calendar) went into effect.
In the 1582 Gregorian Calendar, the month October lost ten days to make up for previous inaccuracies. Since that time the calendar has remained fairly stable with only minor adjustments necessary in years ending with '00 (i.e.There was no Leap Year in 1700, 1800, or 1900, it appears in 2000, and will again in 2400.)
Modern international society requires that the same calendar be used worldwide. Almost all Christian countries use the Gregorian Calendar, late comers were France 1805, Soviet Union 1918, and Turkey 1927.
The average length of a Gregorian Year is that of a Solar Year (365.2422 days) so that the seasons begin at about the same time each year. The Gregorian Calendar is a determinate calendar; that is, it is defined solely by numerical rules and can be formed for any year in advance. This was not ture of previous calendars which depended on observational rules. Since the Gregorian Calendar, numerous proposals have been made to improve the calendar. The basic problem, however, is that the week, month and year have incommensurable ratios, and correcting some problems, causes others.
Celestial Sphere: An imaginary sphere surrounding the earth, on which the stars seem to be placed and which seems to rotate from east to west. The earliest Star-gazers believed this to be the case, with the stars as crystal studs, or holes through which fire was observed. The distance was immaterial. The earth was put at the center, forming the so-called geocentric celestial sphere. The yearly path of the Sun across the celestial sphere is called ECLIPTIC. Because of the Earth's rotation, the celestial sphere appears to rotate once every sidereal day. This is about 4 minutes shorter than the mean solar day because of the Sun's motion.
Conjunction: When two planets are very close to each other in the sky, as side by side.
Constellation: Star Groupings given names in definite parts of the sky.
Cusp: The point of division between signs or houses.
Day: From earliest times a day began after the sun set in the West and ended just before sunset. The work day began at sunrise. It was broken down into a 24 hour period. After the Julian Calender was established days began at midnight and mid-day was at the time the sun was at its highest point in the sky. Even though, because of the changing seasons, some days seemed longer than others, the 24 hour period wasn't changed. Instead, Roman Holidays were declared around the days now associated with Christmas and Easter, the former celebrating the fact that the Sun was again moving into the northern sky and the latter, welcoming the new season of planting and fertility. The names of the days of the week still reflect the names of the Roman gods.
Ecliptic: The ecliptic is the plane of the Earth's annual orbit around the Sun, or the intersection of this plane with the celestial sphere. The Sun appears to make a complete circuit around the ecliptic every year. The constellations around the ecliptic make up the Zodiac. The ecliptic is inclined by an angle (the obliquity of the ecliptic) of about 23.5 degrees to the equator; the inclination influences the character of the seasons. Planetary perturbations cause the ecliptic to change very slowly; for precise work the time of observation (EPOCH) relative to the ecliptic must be stated.
Elongation: Distance, in degrees, of a body from the Sun.
Epoch: An instant in time selected as a reference point.
Equal Houses: The division of the ZODIAC into 12 segments of equal width (30 degrees) starting from the ascendant point.
Ephemeris: A listing of astronomical data, typically, daily planet positions.
Geocentric: Having the Earth as the center, the basis for most Astrology.
Geocentric longitude: Distance of a body from the zero point of the ECLIPTIC. The zero point is where the Sun is crossing the ecliptic plane and going above the plane (direction of the Earth's North.) Occurs once each year, at the beginning of Spring, thus the early Roman practice of starting the New Year in March. Later, after the Julian Calendar was established and because newly elected officials took office on the 1st of January, that day started a New Year.
Horoscope: Forecast of a person's future based on planetary conditions. A natal horoscope is based on planetary conditions at the time of one's birth.
Houses: 12 divisions of the natal chart, starting from the ASCENDANT point.
Heliocentric: Having the Sun as the center. Some Astrologers use this approach.
Julian Day: A system where each day is assigned a sequential number. A Julian Day is the unit of a chronological system, created by Joseph Scaliger in 1582. Any date is measured by counting the number of days from an arbitrary zero day (January 1, 4713 BC, Noon, Greenwich Time). It is now used mostly in Astronomy to calculate the number of days between two widely separated periodic events, s uch as eclipses. As an example of a Julian Day (JD), at just past midnight, July 4, 1776 would be JD 2,369,915.5 and JD 2,369,916 would be July 4, 1776, Noon.
Month: From earliest time a month meant from Moon to Moon or about a 28 day period. From observations the month was said to begin when the seer's first observed the new crescent Moon. Months were originally divided into 4 seven-day periods (weeks). This necessitated the early erroneous calendars sometimes containing 12 Months and others containing 13 Months in order for the year to begin at the proper planting and growing times. Modern Technology has determined our year to be 365.2422 days long, which means that each of the 12 months in the year should be 30.4369 days. This however, would be mass confusion, so in order for the months to adapt to the year, 7 months have 31 days, 4 have 30 days and February has 28 except in leap years when it has 29.
Node: Where a planet crosses the ECLIPTIC either ascending or descending.
Orbital eccentricity: The degree of roundness of a planet's orbit. (0.0 = a circle, 1.0 = very elongated.)
Orbital inclination: The tilt of a planet's orbit in relation to The Earth's orbit.
Opposition: When two planets are 180 degrees apart in the sky.
Placidus Houses: The division of the ZODIAC into 12 segments, starting from the ASCENDANT. A method devised by 17th century Astrologer, Placidus de Tito. Placidus houses are unequal in degree's width.
Sideral time: Time based upon the Earth's motion relative to the stars.
Solar Time: Time based on the apparent motion of the Sun around The Earth; normal time.
Space: The void and expanse between objects or bodies.
Time: In general, Time is a facet of human consciousness felt both in psychic and physical experience, and an aspect of the environment observed metaphorically as a one-way flow, providing, together with space, the matrix of events.
Week: The Babylonians used a non-Astronomical 7-day interval, the week, which was adopted by the Jews. The seventh day, the Sabbath was given a religious significance. The Romans associated a seven-day cycle with the Sun, Moon and the five known planets, thus the names of the days of the week. Sunday (the Sun's day) became the first day of the week.
Year: The ealiest civilations usually began their new year when the Sun reached the Zero Point on the ECLIPTIC (about the 21st of March.) This signaled the time of Fertility (The Babylonian god Astarte, and planting of crops. In ancient calendars, years were generally numbered according to the years of a ruler's reign. About 525 AD, a monk, Dionysius Exigous, suggested that years be counted from the time of Christ's birth which was designated as 1 AD (anno Domini, the year of the Lord.) The year before 1 AD, was designated 1 BC (before Christ). This proposal came to be adopted throughout Christendom. The 1st century of the Christian era began in 1 AD, the 2nd in 101 AD, the 21st begins in 2001 AD.
Zodiac: The Zodiac is the portion of the CELESTIAL SPHERE that lies within 8 degrees on either side of the ECLIPTIC. The apparent paths of the Sun, Moon and the principal planets, with the exception of some portions of the path of Pluto, lie within this band. Twelve divisions or signs, each 30 degrees in width, comprise the 12 Signs of the Zodiac. These signs coincided with the zodiacal constellations about 2500 years ago. Because of the procession of the Earth's axis, the vernal equinox has moved westward or about 30 degrees since that time; the signs have moved with it and thus no longer coincide with the constellations. These signs are considered to be of great importance to ASTROLOGERS.
Zodiac Signs: Starting with the Zero Ecliptic Point, the year is divided into these twelve signs of the zodiac:
Aries - March between 19 & 22,
Taurus - April 19 to 22,
Gemini - May 19 to 22,
Cancer - June 19 to 22,
Leo - July 19 to 22,
Virgo - August 19 to 22,
Libra - September 19 to 22,
Scorpio - October 19 to 22, and
Sagittarius - November 19 to 22,
Capricorn - December 19 to 22,
Aquarius - January 19 to 22, and
Pisces - February 19 to 22.
In any given year the Zero Ecliptic point ranges between the 19th and 22 of March.
Researched and Compiled with Original Observations by the Author
©April 2000 Leo C. Helmer
Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.