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The earliest humans soon learned that the fertility of the soil was dependent upon the favor of the Sun, as well as that of the rains, both of which were bestowed from the heavens. On the other hand were the adverse effects of lightning, wind, and hail, as well as floods. These phenomena were quite mysterious, as well as wonderful or dreadful, as the case might be. Then, as now, people felt themselves at the mercy of these powers; and, since these good and bad energies all seemed to originate in the skies above, it was most logical that they should come to regard the heavens as the seat of the great gods. From this conviction evolved a theory of complete accord between phenomena observed in the heavens and occurrences observed on Earth.

There is no doubt that the ancients held the celestial bodies in great regard, perhaps even in veneration. The Book of Job in the Old Testament affirms that "the morning stars sang together" when the foundation of Earth was laid. Later, Job was asked, "Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on Earth?" (38:33). It is clear, also, that the ancients believed that the stars influenced the turn of events here on Earth. In Judges (5:9) it is recorded that Barak, commander of the Israelite army that was faced with a decisive battle with the Canaanite forces under Sisera, took heart when he was told by the prophetess Deborah, "From heaven fought the stars, from their courses they fought against Sisera." Deborah was not the only seer who had knowledge of the stars. Amos (5:8) speaks of God as "He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into morning." In Malachi 4:2, the righteous are promised that the "sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings (rays)."

Babylonian priests developed and perfected a system of interpreting the phenomena observed in the heavens for the purpose of determining the will of the powers of heaven. The Greeks enlarged the scope of astrology to include all the known sciences.

Empedocles, a Greek philosopher of about 450 b.c.e., developed the idea that the universe is composed of four basic elements: fire, water, air, and earth. Following the conquest of Babylonia by Alexander the Great (356323 b.c.e.), it was found that Chaldean astrologers had divided the signs of the zodiac into four triangles of three each and called the groupings by the same names as were Empedocles's four elements. Aries, Sagittarius, and Leo were termed fire signs; Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, water; Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini, air; and Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo comprised the signs of earth.

In essence, astrology deals with the relationship between the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets and the life of an individual. Astrology has its philosophical root in the premise that each individual is a universe in miniature and mirrors within himself or herself the astrological pattern found in the heavens at the time of the individual's birth. From the standpoint of astrology, this means that the nature or personality of all individuals is determined by the pattern of the heavens at the time of their birth, plus their reactions to the stimuli found in their environment during growth and maturity.

The quality of personality that determines how individuals react to their environment is called temperament. Hippocrates (c. 460c. 377 b.c.e.) described four kinds of temperament: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic. The four temperaments of Hippocrates were symbolized by linking choleric to fire and sanguine to air. Water was the symbol of the phlegmatic temperament, and earth was that of the melancholic. The choleric and sanguine modes of reaction were characterized by easy excitability and quick alteration of interest, the interests being feeble in the former and intense in the latter. Conversely, the phlegmatic and melancholic temperaments were characterized by persistent but slow excitability of interest, the interest being feeble in the phlegmatic and in the melancholic, intense. (In usage today, only the negative aspect of these temperaments are common. Thus choleric today means easy to anger; melancholic, depressed; sanguine, over optimistic; and phlegmatic, too slow.)

Although different schools of astrology may designate different calendar dates for some of the signs, there is seldom a difference of more than a day or two. The interpretations of the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual characteristics of the individual signs may also vary widely, but there are some general observations regarding the personalities of individuals born under the various Sun signs:

Aries, the Ram, March 21 to April 20, is a fire sign. The name comes from the Greek god of war. Individuals born under this sign have some aggressive traits about them that makes them dominant in friendship, partnership, and marriage. If they are deprived of their desire to dominate, they are liable to become discontented and difficult to get along with. Their views about life are definite, and they have little use for airs and graces. Aries people are a robust lot with a strong resistance to disease of any kind. However, once they do succumb to illness, they are inclined to run high temperatures. Neuralgia and migraines may also hinder them.

Taurus, the Bull, April 21 to May 21, is an earth sign. The word comes from the Latin meaning "bull." Taurus people like to have things their own way, but they are not quite as aggressive and as dominant as those under the Aries sign. They are passionate in nature, and love means much to them. They also make splendid mothers or fathers. Taureans are generally not bookish types; they prefer life itself to fiction. Although Taureans are inclined to be generous, they will fly into a rage if they learn that they have been deceived.

Gemini, the Twins, May 22 to June 21, is an air sign. According to the ancient Romans, the sign of Gemini represents the twin sons, Castor and Pollux, who were born to Leda, the queen of Sparta, after Jupiter seduced her, the king of the gods. The twins were high-spirited, strong, and inseparable. Geminis are among the most intelligent citizens of the Zodiac; but they have a dual nature, and they frequently have difficulty in choosing between two courses of action. They are active, and they love freedom, change, and variety. In matters of health, nerves are liable to plague Geminis, and they often prefer to live close to meadows and woods where they are able to gain vigor from the wind and the rains.

Cancer, the Crab, June 22 to July 22, is a water sign. The ancient Chaldeans named Cancer after the crab, because of its backward or oblique movement, which brought to their mind the sun's immobility during the summer solstice as it enters this sign. Cancers have great imaginations, and they glory in fantasies of love and romance. Cancers hate to be flustered, and they like to take their time over important decisions. Cancer people usually strive to be cheerful and avoid depressions. Because of their natural affinity for water, whenever possible they make their homes on the coast or close to a lake or a large body of water.

Leo, the Lion, July 23 to August 23, is a fire sign. Leo, the fifth sign of the Zodiac, represents the lion, king of beasts, and according to Roman astrologers, the savage lion of Nemea, slain by Hercules. The typical Leo is a rather impressive person who dearly loves to be in the limelight. Leo people generally have plenty of energy and strongwill power, and they make trustworthy and loyal friends. Leos cherish high ideals and love means a great deal to them. Because they tend to be adaptable, they make good marriage partners. Leo people are excellent and convivial hosts, who love to entertain others with big parties.

Virgo, the Virgin, August 24 to September 22, is an earth sign. Virgo was named in honor of the Greek goddess of Astraea, goddess of innocence and purity, who was placed among the stars. A typical Virgo is cool, calm, and collected and never loses his or her head in emotional matters. Virgo people belong to the intellectual class of individuals, and it is not an easy task for anyone to sway them once they have made a decision. On the negative side, they tend to be overly critical of others. They are quick to give vent to their opinions, and they can indulge in biting sarcasm if so moved.

Libra, the Scales, September 23 to October 23, is an air sign. Libra is the only symbol of the zodiac that does not represent either an animal or a human. Long associated with harvest time and the fair measurement of crops, the scales may hearken back to ancient Egypt and the belief that the god Anubis weighed the souls of the dead to determine their worthiness. Libra people are often attractive and conform to the idealistic picture of the model man or woman. However, Libras tend to be rather moody and thin-skinned, and they hate anything painful or ugly. Luxury has a great attraction for them; and with their tendency to avoid the unpleasant aspects of life, many Librans live to a ripe old age, having the ability to recuperate from illness more quickly than those born under other signs.

Scorpio, the Scorpion, October 24 to November 22, is a water sign. Diana, the moon-goddess of the Romans, commanded Scorpio to kill the hunter Orion when Eos, goddess of the dawn, fell in love with him. After his death, Jupiter set the scorpion and Orion, still armed with his armor and sword, in the stars. Scorpios are definitely possessed of a passionate nature, and they are highly successful in winning the affections of those whom they desire. Scorpio people do not tolerate contradiction, and they can become exceedingly bitter once they are aroused to fury. On the other hand, they can be devoted friends and marriage partners once they have been made to feel secure. Scorpios are blessed with great reserves of strength, which they may draw upon in emergency situations.

Sagittarius, the Archer, November 23 to December 21, is a fire sign. Sagittarius is represented by Chiron, the wise centaur, a half-human, half-horse creature, who taught the ancient Greeks and Romans philosophy, music, and medicine. Freedom and change are the watchwords of Sagittarius people. They often find their minds divided, and they hate to have to make a choice between two coursesthus they usually end by trying to get the best of both. Impulsiveness is second nature to them, and movement and change are essential to their peace of mind. Sagittarians are often able to retain their physical youth into advanced maturity, and they are relatively free of health problems as well.

Capricorn, the Goat, December 22 to January 20, is an earth sign. Capricorn was named first in honor of the ancient Babylonian god, Ea, a part-goat, part fish entity, who emerged from the sea to bring learning and culture to the valley of Mesopotamia. The Romans transformed Ea to Pan, a half-goat, half-human god who ruled the woodlands and the fields. Capricorns are individuals of deeply rooted habits who tend to become industrious and economical individuals with great powers of endurance. Although generally kind, Capricorn people tend to be somewhat moody, often brooding over imagined slights and injuries. Capricorns are liable to feel sorry for themselves, and they may develop into super pessimists unless they are careful. A Capricorn needs to keep things carefree and light.

Aquarius, the Water Bearer, January 21 to February 19, is an air sign. Aquarius hearkens back to ancient Egypt and the god Hap, who represented the Nile River, the sustainer of all life. Aquarians are difficult to describe, for they are often moody, untidy, and rather eccentricwhile at the same time being highly gifted and intellectual men and women, who contribute much to art, literature, and allied subjects. Aquarians do not fit into the general concept of conventional living, and they make for most interesting, albeit unusual, friends and companions. Aquarians must be free of mental and emotional tensions if they are to be healthy.

Pisces, the Fish, February 20 to March 20, is a water sign. Pisces, the fishes swimming in opposite directions, has been known by that designation since the astrologers of Babylonia named the constellation Two Fishes as long ago as 2000 b.c.e. Although Pisces people are industrious workers, they do not possess a great deal of stamina. It seems that fate often picks on Pisceans, and they are more liable to come into contact with suffering. For this reason, nursing, social work, medicine, and missionary work tend to attract Pisceans, and they are generally willing to make sacrifices for other people. Pisceans must always try to keep their own emotional life on an even keel in order not to disturb their health.

While many people associate astrology only with the brief summaries of the zodiacal signs in their daily newspapers and probably don't affix a great deal of serious attention to the advice provided by astrology columns, there are millions of men and women today who still regard the celestial bodies with the same veneration as did the ancients. Zolar, once described as "the dean of American astrologers," wrote in the preface to his book It's All in the Stars (New York: Zolar Publishing, 1962): "Astrology, in its purity, though forming a system of divination, is totally unconnected with either fortune telling or mediumship. It is a divine science of correspondences, in the study and application of which the intellect and intuition become blended in a natural, harmonious manner. They commence to vibrate in unison. When this union becomes complete, the ignorant man becomes the prophetic sage."

Joseph Goodavage, author of Astrology: The Space Age Science (1966), began his book with the following declaration: "Over many thousands of years astrologers have deduced a connection between the motions of the planets and positions of the stars with every kind of terrestrial activity. Their ability to predict future trendseven actual eventshas been repeatedly demonstrated."

The "Star Gospel," outlined in The History of Creation and Origin of Species (1967) by Reuben Luther Katter, attaches religious interpretations to the 12 signs of the zodiac. Katter stated that the Star Gospel, also called Adamic Theology, antedates the Old Testament by 2,500 years. The Star Gospel uses the same 12 zodiacal signs as does astrology, but begins with Virgo and ends with Leo. Katter stated that, according to tradition, Jacob and his 12 sons carried zodiacal tablets and banners into Egypt and carried them out in the exodus. Like astrology, the Star Gospel holds that the 12 signs stand for 12 positions of the Sun in relation to Earth.

While Western astrology evolved from the Egyptians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, and Greeks, Chinese astrology developed independently of outside influences and was formed around the belief that the emperor was divine. Some scholars of astrology place the beginning of Chinese astrology during the reign of Emperor Fu Hsi around 2800 b.c.e. and attribute the naming of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac to a legendary Emperor Yao.

The figures of the Chinese zodiac bear no similarity to those of the West. Each sign is represented by a different animal and is composed of a 12-year cycle. The interpretations of these signs emphasize different animal characteristics from those typical of classic Western stereotypes. For example, while a rat fills a European with revulsion, the Chinese zodiac sees the rodent as hard-working and industrious. In addition, there are five elements wood, fire, earth, metal, and waterrather than the four of Western astrologyearth, air, fire, and water. The animals of the Chinese zodiac are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. According to tradition, when the Buddha (c. 563c. 483 b.c.e.) lay dying, he called upon the animals to come to bid him farewell. The first 12 to arrive were the ones who are immortalized in the Chinese zodiac.

Astrology has been an integral aspect of daily life in China for centuries and remains so today. Although Communist doctrine and its rationalistic leaders have attempted to stamp out the influence of astrology and to depict its tenets as nothing more than superstition, the average man or woman in China will still make major decisions based on the guidance received from astrology.

Throughout Western history astrologers have claimed an association with the movements of the planets, comets, and eclipses with every important event that has taken place. Among the more familiar are the appearance of comets at the birth and death of Julius Caesar (c. 10044 b.c.e.); the advent of World War I (1914) heralded by solar and lunar eclipses; and the birth and death of Mark Twain (18351910) coincident with the appearance of Halley's comet. In addition, astrologers have proclaimed the influence of the "stars" on the lives of everyone from Alexander the Great (356323 b.c.e.) to President George W. Bush (1946 ).

Many of the great philosophers who shaped the ideals and concepts of the West employed astrology as an aid in developing their thoughts. Individuals such as Pythagoras
(c. 580c. 500 b.c.e.), Aristotle (384322 b.c.e.), and Ptolemy (127151) were all astrologers. Nicolaus Copernicus (14731543), who gave science its first rational view of the universe, was a doctor, theologian, astronomer, and astrologer.

In the Middle Ages, magi, alchemists, scholars, and even the papacy embraced astrology. Pope Julius II (14431513) trusted his astrologers to set the date for his coronation; Pope Paul III (14681549) was guided throughout life by his horoscope; and Pope Leo X (14751521) established a chair of astrology at a major university. Church scholars began to associate the signs of the zodiac with the 12 apostles, and cathedrals throughout Europe were decorated with zodiacal symbols.

Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546 1601), who built the first astronomical observatory in the Western world, practiced and defended astrology. Brahe's exact planetary figures allowed his pupil Johannes Kepler (15711630) to work out his great Laws of Motion. Sir Isaac Newton (16421727), who followed in Kepler's footsteps, used an eclectic mix of science and astrology to arrive at many of his theories.

Admiral George Dewey (18371917) and President Grover Cleveland (18371908)consulted astrologers throughout their lives. Psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung (18751961) used astrology charts to assist him in diagnosis and treatment of his patients. John J. O'Neill, science editor of the New York Herald Tribune, the first science writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, began as a skeptic and ended up a believer in astrology. Astronomer Gustaf Stromberg (18821962) of the Mount Wilson Observatory believed in the charts of astrology as well as the science of astronomy. French psychologist and statistician Michael Gauquelin (d. 1991) spent more than 30 years investigating astrology, exhaustive research that led him to give verification to the importance of the planetary positions at a person's birth. British astronomer and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society Percy Seymour (19011980) set forth his theory that astrology is neither magical nor mysticalbut in factmagnetic.

During World War II (19391945), Allied intelligence knew that Adolf Hitler (18891945) and a number of his inner circle of the Nazi High Command, such as his deputy Rudolf Hess (18941987) and S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler (19001945), took a keen interest in astrology. During the dark days of the blitz of London, someone in Great Britain's newly established Psychological Research Bureau (PRB) decided that if they had an astrologer in Britain who could make the same calculations that the Nazi astrologers would make, the Allies might be able to ascertain what Hitler intended to do next. Louis de Wohl (19031961), the son of an officer in the Royal Hungarian Army, a novelist by profession, was known to be an expert in the field of astrology who had studied the subject for more than 20 years. De Wohl was solicited by the PRB to chart a course in the stars that would help bring about the downfall of the Third Reich. His known opponents on the Nazi side were astrologer Karl Ernst Krafft (19001945), graphologist/astrologer Elsbeth Ebertin (1880 1944), and Wilhelm Wulff (18931984), Himmler's personal astrologer for the SS.

While de Wohl made some startling hits, such as predicting the date that Germany would invade Holland in 1940, overall he scored only an average number of accurate predictions. However, for whatever astrological accuracy he may have lacked, he more than compensated when he devised the ingenious plan of forging 50 astrological quatrains allegedly from the pen of Nostradamus (15031566) in which the great seer predicted the downfall of the Third Reich. These astrological leaflets were then dropped over Germany with the desired demoralizing effect. De Wohl had done such a superb job of imitating the old French seer's unique style in the "newly discovered quatrains" that even Joseph Goebbels (18971945), Hitler's propaganda minister who earlier had employed a similar deceit to predict Nazi triumph, was fooled.

Former President Ronald Reagan (1911 ) and First Lady Nancy Reagan (1921 ) were devotees of astrology long before their tenure in the White House, as were other actors of their Hollywood set, such as Tyrone Power (19131958), Susan Hayward (19181975), Marlene Dietrich (19011992), Ronald Colman (18911958), and Robert Cummings (1908 ). The Reagans continued to confer with astrologist Joan Quigley regarding important dates and meetings while in office. While some Americans were shocked to learn that their first lady was using the advice obtained from an astrologer to plan her husband's day-to-day schedule, citizens of India seemed to accept calmly the fact that Indira Gandhi (19171984), prime minister from 1966 to 1977 and 1980 to 1984, used astrology to assist in decision-making until her death by assassination in 1984.

Many astrologers feel that the figure of a ship upon the ocean, with no visible paths to follow, no clearly defined turns or alternative routes, and with no landmarks on which to guide itself, is appropriate to describe the methods by which they may assist an individual in a situation that requires decision-making, for, in the majority of decision situations, there can be more than one alternative. The astrological diagram of the zodiac places each individual facing a moment of decision in the center of destiny, represented by a circle, universally known as the symbol of infinity, as well as perfection. The astrologer then draws radial lines from the individual's position to the circumference, or, poetically, the perimeter of eternity, thus symbolizing the unperceived number of possibilities accessible to him or her. Even if the individual is aware of only 12 of these, as might be illustrated by the houses of the zodiac, it is enough to cause him or her to wish for some sort of "navigator" to help interpret any directional signs that may be present. The art (or science) of astrology, as practiced by a competent astrologist, may serve as one star to be used in making a fix on the chart of destiny.

The astrologer and the celestial navigator have a number of things in common. Both look to the heavens for their points of reference; both make use of charts and tables developed during centuries of observation and recording. Both arrive at their conclusions through mathematical computation. The navigator charts a course, but does not establish a destination. The astrologer casts a horoscope, but does not determine character or destiny.

The role of astrology, so say the astrologers, is comparable to a ship's compass. The compass points the way to a predetermined destination, but it does not establish that destination. As a helmsman turns the ship's wheel to bring the vessel into accord with the compass, so the individual's free will must bring the vessel of his or her life into accord with the findings of astrology, if he or she is to benefit from them. By placing each individual at the center of the zodiac, astrology affirms that person's rightful place at the hub of the wheel of life, and it maintains that there is more in heaven and Earth than is conceived of through various philosophies of the five senses.

Modern astrology recognizes that human beings were not created to be mindless marionettes able to move and act only through the remote direction of forces they cannot comprehend, much less influence. At the same time astrology requires its adherents to accept responsibility for themselves and for their actions. In one sense it imposes an even greater responsibility, for having been made aware of their greatest potentials, according to the best knowledge and techniques available, those who steer their lives by the stars can no longer plead their failures due to blind chance and the fickleness of fate.

According to the astrologer, free will includes the prerogative of individuals to avail themselves of the best advice and direction from any and all sources they deem creditable before embarking on any course, before setting foot on any path, before making any decision, great or small, and to follow through once he or she has decided. Astrology, as practiced today, not only affirms the pre-eminence of free will, but insists upon it; and, according to its adherents, astrology, rightly used, serves as a dependable compass, pointing the way across time.

Delving Deeper

Adams, Evangeline. Astrology for Everyone. New York: Dell Books, 1971.

Forrest, Steven. The Inner Sky: Dynamic New Astrology for Everyone. New York: Bantam Books, 1984.

Goodavage, Joseph. Astrology: The Space Age Science. New York: Signet Books, 1966.

Goodman, Linda. Linda Goodman's Sun Signs. New York: Bantam Books, 1985.

Lee, Dal. Dictionary of Astrology. New York: Paper-back Library, 1968.

Quigley, Joan. Astrology for Adults. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1978.

Woolfolk, Joanna Martine. The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need. New York: Madison Books, 2001.

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The art of divining the fate or future of persons from the juxtaposition of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Judicial astrology foretells the destinies of individuals and nations, while Natural astrology predicts changes of weather and the influence of the stars upon natural things.

The characters used in astrology to denote the 12 signs represent natural objects, but they have also a hieroglyphic or esoteric meaning that has been lost. The figure of Aries represents the head and horns of a ram; that of Taurus, the head and horns of a bull; that of Leo, the head and mane of a lion; that of Gemini, two persons standing together; and so on. The physical or astronomical reasons for the adoption of these figures is explained by the Abbé Pluche in his Histoire du Ciel (1739-41), and Charles F. Dupuis, in his Abrégé de l'Origine de tous les Cultes (1798), endeavors to establish the principles of an astro-mythology by tracing the progress of the moon through the 12 signs in a series of adventures he compares with the wanderings of Isis.


Traditionally, the cases for which astrological predictions have chiefly been sought were nativities, that is, in ascertaining the fate and fortunes of individuals from the positions of the stars at the time of birth, and in questions called horary, which comprehend almost every matter that might be the subject of astrological inquiry. Sickness, the success of business undertakings, the outcome of lawsuits, and so on are all objects of horary questions.

A person is said to be born under that planet that ruled the hour of his birth. Thus two hours every day are under the control of Saturn; the first hour after sunrise on Saturday is one of them. Therefore, a person born on Saturday in the first hour after sunrise has Saturn for the lord of his or her ascendant; those born in the next hour, Jupiter; and so on in order. Venus rules the first hour on Friday, Mercury on Wednesday, Jupiter on Thursday, the Sun and Moon on Sunday and Monday, and Mars on Tuesday.

In drawing a nativity or natal chart (horoscope) a figure is divided into 12 portions representing the astrological houses. The 12 houses are similar to the 12 astrological signs, and the planets, being always in the zodiac, will therefore all fall within these 12 divisions or houses. The line that separates any house from the preceding is called the cusp of the house. The first house is called the ascendant, or the east angle; the fourth, the imum coeli, or the north angle; the seventh, the west angle; and the tenth, the medium coeli, or the south angle. After this figure is drawn, tables and directions are given for placing the signs, and because one house corresponds to a particular sign, the rest can also be determined. When the signs and planets are all placed in the houses, the astrologer can augur, from their relative position, what influence they will have on the life and fortunes of the native.

History of Astrology in the West

The precise origin of astrology is lost to history, but its practice appears to have developed independently in both China and Mesopotamia, and was quite known early in India. One of the most remarkable astrological treatises of all history is the fabulous Bhrigu-Samhita of ancient India, said to contain formulas for ascertaining the names of all individuals, past, present, and future, and their destinies. Unlike popular Western astrology, the key to a Bhrigu consultation is not the birth sign and conjunction of planets, but the moment of consultation of the oracle.

Marco Polo found astrology well established in China, although Chinese astrology developed apart from Western history and only recently has been imported into the West. Western astrology seems to have originated in Mesopotamia, and all of the cultures of ancient Iraq and Iran contributed to its creation. Among the earliest records of astrology are the cuneiform tablets from the library of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (669-626B.C.E.). Astrologers were making periodic reports to Ashurbanipal on such matters as the possibility of war and the probable size of the harvest. Astrology had been present in the region for at least a millennium but was given a distinctive boost by the Chaldeans who took over the Tigris and Euphrates valleys in 606 B.C.E. The Chaldeans mapped the sky, improved the methods for recording the passing of time, successfully predicted eclipses, and accurately determined the length of the solar year (within 26 minutes).

Thus astrology was well developed in Chaldea when (in the second millennium B.C.E.) the biblical Abraham migrated from Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31) to Palestine. The conflict between the emerging religions of the Israelites and Babylonian astrology can be seen in Isa. 47:13 and repeatedly in the book of Daniel (e.g. 2:27, 4:7). A primitive astrology had developed among the Greeks, but during the conquests of Alexander in the West beginning in 334 B.C.E. Chaldean astrology flowed into the Mediterranean basin. Alexander's conquests also introduced astrology into India, although the Indians took the Chaldean notions and developed them in a unique direction.

In Egyptian tradition the invention of astrology is attributed to Thoth (called Hermes Trismegistus by the Greek), the god of wisdom, learning, and literature. He is the Mercury of the Romans, the eloquent deliverer of the messages of the gods.

In imperial Rome astrology was held in great repute, especially under the reign of Tiberius (14-37 C.E.). Augustus (27 B.C.E.-14 C.E.) had discouraged the practice of astrology by banishing its practitioners from Rome, but his successors recalled them; and although occasional edicts in subsequent reigns restrained and even punished all who divined by the stars, the practices of the astrologers were secretly encouraged and their predictions extensively believed. Domitian (51-96 C.E.), in spite of his hostility toward them, was in fear of their pronouncements. They prophesied the year, the hour, and the manner of his death, and agreed with his father in foretelling that he should perish not by poison, but by the dagger. The early Christians gave some sanction to astrology in the Gospel of Matthew, which opens with the visit of the three magi (Persian astrologers) who, having seen the star in the east, have come to worship Christ.

After the age of the Antonines and the work of the third-century C.E. Roman scholar Censorinus, we hear little of astrology for some generations. In the eighth century the Venerable Bede and his distinguished scholar, Alcuin, are said to have pursued this mystic study. Immediately following, the Arabians revived and encouraged it. Under the patronage of Almaimon, in the year 827, the Megale Syntaxis of Ptolemy was translated, under the title Almagest, by al-Hazen Ben Yusseph. Albumasar added to this work, and the astral science continued to receive new force from the labors of Alfraganus, Ebennozophim, Alfaragius, and Geber.

The conquest of Spain by the Moors carried this knowledge, with all their other treasures of learning, into Spain, and before their cruel expulsion it was naturalized among the Christian savants. Among these Alonzo (or Alfonso) of Castile has immortalized himself by his scientific research, and the Jewish and Christian doctors who arranged the tables named for him were convened from all the accessible parts of civilized Europe. Five years were employed in their discussion, and it has been said that the enormous sum of 400,000 ducats was disbursed in the towers of the Alcazar of Galiana in the adjustment and correction of Ptolemy's calculations. Nor was it only the physical motions of the stars that occupied this grave assembly. The two Kabbalistic volumes, yet existing in cipher, in the royal library of the kings of Spain, and which tradition assigns to Alonzo himself, indicate a more visionary study. In spite of the denunciations against this orthodoxy, which were thundered in his ears on the authority of Tertullian, Basil, and Bonaventure, the fearless monarch gave his sanction to such masters as practiced the art of divination by the stars, and in one part of his code enrolled astrology among the seven liberal sciences.

In Germany many eminent men pursued astrology. A long catalog could be made of those who have considered other sciences with reference to astrology and written on them as such. Faust has, of course, the credit of being an astrologer as well as a wizard, and we find that singular but splendid genius, Cornelius Agrippa writing with as much zeal against astrology as on behalf of other occult sciences.

Of the early developments in astrology in England little is known. Bede and Alcuin have been mentioned. Roger Bacon included it among his broad studies. But it is the period of the Stuarts that can be considered the acme of astrology in England. Then William Lilly employed the doctrine of the magical circle, engaged in the evocation of spirits from the Ars Notoria and used the form of prayer prescribed therein to the angel Salmonoeus, and entertained among his familiar acquaintance the guardian spirits of England, Salmael and Malchidael. His ill success with the divining rod induced him to surrender the pursuit of rhabdomancy.

The successor of Lilly was Henry Coley, a tailor, who had been his amanuensis and was almost as successful in prophecy as his master.

While astrology flourished in England it was in high repute with its kindred pursuits of magic, necromancy, and alchemy at the court of France. Catherine de Medicis herself was an adept in the art. At the Revolution, which commenced a new era in France, astrology declined.

Modern Astrology

Astrology has now permeated every activity of modern life, from daily household activities to politics and stock market speculation. Leading names that have emerged in the astrology revival include Luke D. Broughton, Evangeline Adams, Manly Palmer Hall, Elbert Benjamine Heindel, and Llewellyn George. More recently, figures have included Sydney Omarr, Jeane Dixon, "Zolar" (Bruce King), "Ophiel," andSybil Leek. Also still popular in its various editions is the mass circulation almanac of "Old Moore," which first appeared nearly three centuries ago.

The psychologist C. G. Jung related astrology to "synchronicity," an acausal connecting principle in nature (as distinct from normal cause and effect), and believed that horoscopes offered useful psychological information on patients. Astrology was widely used during World War II as a psychological weapon by both Germans and British.

The most noticeable aspect of the occult revival of modern times has been the widespread popularity of astrology, particularly among young people. It is estimated that there are more than ten thousand professional astrologers in the United States, with a clientele of more than twenty million people. Most American newspapers run an astrology column. Even the respected Washington Post includes a horoscope column.

In 1988 the revelations of former White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan (in his book For the Record ) caused widespread media comment with the claim that Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers on questions relating to presidential schedules of her husband, Ronald Reagan. Joan Quigley was cited as her astrological consultant. Caroline Casey, daughter of a former congressman, was also revealed as a leading astrologer to politicians, high-ranking officials, and Georgetown socialites.

None of this would be surprising to Indian and other Asian celebrities, since the astrologer is still an indispensable figure in Asian society, consulted on marriage dates and partnerships, business enterprises, and affairs of state. But the extent of American involvement with astrology surprised and infuriated many commentators, who condemned "occult superstitions." In May 1988, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Donald Regan was asked whether he had ever heard of American stockholders using astrology for guidance. He replied, "Recently a study was made of Wall Street people and stockholdersand 48 percent admitted that they used astrology of one sort or another in the stock market."

One astrologer responded, "What's new? Queen Elizabeth I set her coronation date by her guy, John Dee, and consulted him every day. Kings have always used usand popes! Some of those guys were do-it-yourselfers, like Fixtus IV and Julius II. Others just kept their astrologers in the closet, like Nancydid."

There has been little new to add to popular belief in astrology in the present revival except its linking with modern technology in the use of an IBM computer for rapid calculation of horoscopes. For some time the giant Astroflash computer was a familiar sight to commuters at the Lexington Avenue entrance to Grand Central Station, New York.

In spite of its pseudoscientific basis, deriving from outmoded theories of the planetary system, astrology can point to documented successes, particularly by astrologers who combine their calculations with an intuitive faculty of interpretation. There is also scientific evidence for the influence of lunar and solar rhythms on human activity.

One interesting development in modern astrology has been the research of the French statistician Michel Gauquelin and his wife Francosise Gauquelin, beginning in 1950. They claimed to find a significant correlation between the position of planets at birth and the chosen professions of a large sample of people from all walks of life. The research of the Gauquelins, whose collaboration lasted until 1980, is so significant that it is the most frequently cited research validating astrology.


Collins, Rodney. The Theory of Celestial Influence. London: Stuart & Watkins, 1955.

Eisler, Robert. The Royal Art of Astrology. London: Herbert Joseph, 1946.

Gauquelin, Michel. The Cosmic Clocks. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1967.

. Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior: The Planetary Factors in Personality. New York: Stein & Day, 1973. Rev. ed. New York: ASI Publishers, 1978.

. Dreams and Illusions of Astrology. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1978. Reprint, London: Glover & Blair, 1980.

. Scientific Basis of Astrology. New York: Stein & Day, 1969. Reprinted as Astrology and Science. London: P. Davies, 1970.

Hone, Margaret. Modern Textbook of Astrology. London: Fowler, 1951.

Howe, Ellic. Astrology & Psychological Warfare during World War II. London: Rider, 1972.

Kenton, Warren. Astrology: The Celestial Mirror. London: Thames & Hudson, 1974.

Lee, Dal. Dictionary of Astrology. New York: Warner, 1968.

Leo, Alan. Casting the Horoscope. London: Fowler, 1969.

Lewis, James R. The Astrology Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994.

McIntosh, Christopher. The Astrologers and their Creed. London: Praeger, 1969.

Rudhyar, Dane. From Humanistic to Transpersonal Astrology. Seed Center, 1975.

Sachs, Gunter. The Astrology File. London: Orion, 1998.

Thompson, C. J. S. The Mystery and Romance of Astrology. London, 1929. Reprint, Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1969. Reprint, New York: Causeway, 1973.

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ASTROLOGY. Defining early modern astrology is a thorny issue. The early modern distinction between "natural" and "judicial" astrology, still widely used among scholars, served to express moral and religious qualifications. Hence, its meaning was highly localized. A more useful starting point is obtained from astrology's status as an academic discipline, which endowed it with more universal pedagogical narratives. Following Hellenistic and Arabic antecedents, Italian professors such as Peter of Abano (1257c. 1315) distinguished between a "science of motions" and a "science of judgments." While this distinction roughly mirrors that between our "astronomy" and "astrology," a closer look reveals important overlaps. For instance, late medieval astronomical textbooks often included considerations of the distances and size of celestial bodies, astrological aspects, planetary conjunctions, eclipses, and lunar mansions. It is therefore best to approach late medieval astrology as a "science of the stars" that comprised both celestial motions and judgments. Paraphrasing Gervasius Marstaller (1549), we might define our topic as follows: "Astrology aims at predicting and/or studying the power of celestial bodies on earth and measures their positions by means of astronomy."

This definition reflects astrology's position within the disciplinary hierarchies of the late medieval university. The emphasis on prediction reveals the simple fact that astrology was mostly taught as an auxiliary tool for medical prognosis. A practical ability to calculate astronomical data and assess concomitant celestial effects was widely expected from medical graduates. The reference to a more "theoretical" study of celestial effects reflects the pervasive influence of Aristotelian logic, epistemology, and physics, which was institutionalized in the arts faculties. Just like medical physiological textbooks, most introductions to astrology (typically Ptolemy or Alcabitius) sought to express basic parameters like planetary effects, or the nature of zodiacal signs, in terms of Aristotle's four manifest qualities (hot, cold, wet, dry). When this proved unconvincing, astrological effects were counted as "influences," based on "occult qualities": one could perceive their results on earth, but not their manifest action in the celestial bodies. This did not necessarily undermine astrology's academic status. Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly (13501420), for instance, promoted a "concordance of astrology and theology" that proved highly successful in several universities.

Many developments in the early modern period can be interpreted as attempts to safeguard astrology's status as it branched out beyond the university. Most academic astrologers were trained to perform a wide range of astrological tasks: they discussed large-scale predictions (mundane astrology), individual fates (natal astrology), or even particular events (horary astrology, subdivided into elections and interrogations). Courts and local town authorities increasingly drew upon political astrological consulting in the late Middle Ages. Beginning in the 1470s, print technology brought these political particulars to a wider, predominantly urban, audience through a new astrological genre: the annual prognostication. The propagandistic value of such initiatives contributed to the formation of close alliances between prognosticators and court culture in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, and the Low Countries in the late fifteenth century.

Such alliances proved to be a liability in times of political or religious crisis. The self-fulfillment of popular prognostications, and their ability to stir unrest, provoked several astrological debates, where both prognosticators and their university learning came under attack. Undoubtedly the most influential example of such criticism was Giovanni Pico's massive Disputations against Divinatory Astrology (1494). By the early sixteenth century, humanistic astrologers in both Italy and northern Europe addressed the Piconian challenge through reform proposals. These were often, but not exclusively, directed at the courtly audience that supported the rise of the prognosticators.

In the course of the sixteenth century, astrological reformers accomplished two significant feats. By advocating a return to ancient, mostly Ptolemaic astrology, they inaugurated a departure from the Arabic traditions that dominated the late medieval "science of judgments." And by tackling both astronomical and astrological reform, they legitimized a gradual change in the definition of astronomy. For example, it is now becoming clear that the astronomical innovations of Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler can be interpreted within the framework of Pico's attack. Their reversal of the traditional subordination of mathematics to natural philosophy seems to flow from an attempt to rescue the physical basis of astrology. Likewise, educational reformers like Philipp Melanchthon (14971560) strongly emphasized astrology as a part of physics.

This development also provoked a gradual separation of the "science of motions" and "science of judgments." Although Copernican astronomy also presented theological challenges, these were easier to negotiate than the social and religious problems of astrological judgment. As a result, reformers gradually abandoned public astrological predictions: first horary astrology, then natal astrology, and finally weather prediction and some forms of medical astrology. Likewise, "astrological" prediction was gradually ousted from official university curricula. After the 1560s, and well into the second half of the seventeenth century, Catholic and Protestant church authorities issued numerous condemnations of "judicial" or "superstitious" astrology. The "science of motions," on the other hand, was flourishing. It is important to realize that this emerging "astronomy" retained several astrological interests, such as the nature of the heavens, the size and distance of celestial bodies, and the origins of comets.

The pace at which such changes occurred depended on local circumstances. In England, central licensing through the Stationers Company (1603), the absence of strong academic links, and the subsequent explosion of astrological consulting during the Civil War propelled astrological reform projects into the late eighteenth century. Possibly due to local academic structures, Italian medical astrology also seems to have enjoyed a longer lease on life than elsewhere on the Continent. In the seventeenth century, influential astrologers Simon Forman, William Lilly, and Jean-Baptiste Morin remained highly visible, while astrological almanacs even outsold the Bible.

But although extraordinary phenomena like eclipses (1652, 1654) or comets (16641665) still provoked general unease, a gradual popularization of astrology occurred in the second half of the seventeenth century. The new royal scientific societies rejected astrology from their research agendas. The upper class no longer found its way to reputed astrological practitioners by the late seventeenth century. After 1650, ecclesiastics and university physicians increasingly left the writing of popular almanacs to surveyors, engineers, or local teachers. Their products became increasingly pseudonymous or anonymous, showed a rapid decline in astrological content, and were mainly distributed in rural areas by peddlers. By the early eighteenth century, the middle class and the nobility were closing ranks in the condemnation of an "irrational" astrology, which, at the same time, became socially innocuous. Paradoxically, this situation may have contributed to the survival of local pockets of astrological beliefs, both "traditional" (such as Ebenezer Sibly) and "modernized" (for example, among British colonial army doctors).

See also Astronomy ; Brahe, Tycho ; Copernicus, Nicolaus ; Dissemination of Knowledge ; Kepler, Johannes ; Melanchthon, Philipp ; Occult ; Philosophy ; Popular Culture ; Universities .


Curry, Patrick. Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England. Princeton, 1989. Innovative in its systematic focus on the social and political meaning of seventeenth-century astrology, but with a somewhat narrow selection of relevant backgrounds.

Grafton, Anthony. Cardano's Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer. Cambridge, Mass., 1999. An entertaining introduction to Italian astrology in the Renaissance.

Harrison, Mark. "From Medical Astrology to Medical Astronomy: Sol-lunar and Planetary Theories of Disease in British Medicine, c. 17001850." British Journal for the History of Science 33 (2000): 2548.

Smoller, Laura Ackerman. History, Prophecy, and the Stars: The Christian Astrology of Pierre d'Ailly, 13501420. Princeton, 1994.

Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. New York, 1971.

vanden Broecke, Steven. The Limits of Influence: Pico, Louvain, and the Crisis of Renaissance Astrology. Leiden, 2003. Investigates the links between astrological practice in the university, court, and city, and the implications for elite astrology, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Westman, Robert S. "Copernicus and the Prognosticators: The Bologna Period, 14961500." Universitas 5 (1993): 15.

Steven vanden Broecke

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astrology took its place in the body of Western knowledge with the spread of astrological lore from Babylon to Greece several centuries before Christ. This transmission began with Berosus, a priest of the temple of Bel, who settled on the island of Cos, the home of Hippocratic medicine, where he established a school of astrology at the end of the fifth century bc. However, the full application of astrology to medicine called iatromathematica, was developed subsequently in Hellenistic Egypt.

Both Greek medicine and Greek astrology shared the predominant Aristotelian physics of the day: that everything was composed of the 4 elements of fire, air, water, and earth in varying proportions. The 12 signs of the zodiac were divided into four groups of three, each group or ‘triplicity’ being associated with one of these elements, whose qualities of heat, cold, dryness, and moisture they symbolized. A particularly Egyptian feature was to give to each zodiac sign signification over certain parts and organs of the body, the first sign, Aries, signifying the head, through to the twelfth sign, Pisces, for the feet. Moreover, the four humours, which Hippocratic medicine held to constitute the human body as the elements composed the physical world as a whole, were assigned planetary significators, along with the organs which contained them: Jupiter ruled the blood, the liver, and the veins; the Moon, phlegm and the brain; Mars, yellow bile and the gall bladder; and Saturn, black bile and the spleen. The Moon in addition represented the humours as a whole, while the Sun denoted the vital spirit of the body, radiating from the heart via the arteries. Venus governed the genitourinary system, while to the seventh planet, Mercury, was given rulership of the mind.

The continuous movement of the planets in their courses, and their mutual interactions, were seen to correlate with the constant changes in the physical world: the cycle of the seasons, its mirroring in the four ages of Man, and the alternations between health and disease in an individual or community. The birth horoscope was used to identify the individual temperament, whether sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, or a combination of these, from which followed advice on the correct diet and lifestyle to maintain health and avoid the diseases to which that particular temperament was liable. The horoscope cast for the time of a person falling ill, called a decumbiture, was employed to help identify the nature, origin, and location of the disease, the likely prognosis, the kind of treatment to be given, and the most propitious times for its administration. The critical days in a disease, when an alteration in the condition for better or worse was anticipated, were calculated from the movements of the Moon and Sun for acute and chronic conditions respectively.

Medicine, as systematized by Galen in the second century ad, combined with late Stoic and Hermetic doctrines concerning the influence of the seven planets in the zodiac on terrestrial matters — encapsulated in the notion of a ‘cosmic sympathy’ and in the phrase ‘as above, so below’ — produced a positive science of astrological medicine for medieval men. A more fated attitude took hold among Arab, Jew, and Christian, that everything was ‘written in the stars’.

When astrological medicine was transmitted to Western Europe in the later Middle Ages; it required harmonizing with Christian theology. The position came to be accepted that the stars incline but do not compel, keeping intact Man's essential free will. For, although the human body might be subject to alteration and change occasioned by the movements of the planets in the zodiac, Man's immortal soul remained free from such influences so that he could indeed command the stars, insofar as he commanded his passions. This theme, that ‘the wise man rules his stars, the fool obeys them’, was powerfully developed by Marsilio Ficino, a fifteenth-century Florentine priest and physician steeped in Plato. The notion of a pre-ordained length of life, calculated from the points of life (apheta or hyleg) and destruction (anareta) in the natal horoscope, was overturned by correct physical habit and spiritual development, which nurtured the health of the body and soul, so extending the lifespan. However, the planets were still held accountable for epidemic diseases. The medical establishment in Paris blamed the triple conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn for the outbreak of the Black Death in 1348. The spread of syphilis at the end of the fifteenth century was thought to be caused by the conjunction of many planets in Scorpio in 1484, while the very name ‘influenza’ is testimony of the belief in the celestial origin of that disease.

Nicholas Culpeper, the famous seventeenth-century herbalist and astrologer, was one of the last to practise with integrity the combination of Galenic medicine and astrology, before the celestial art was relegated among the educated to a superstition, along with alchemy, which depended on astrology for its correct operations. Culpeper popularized astrological medicine by issuing inexpensive books in straightforward English on these learned subjects, with the effect of extending people's knowledge beyond the simple rules for seasonal blood-letting, purging, and bathing, and the times for doing so according to the zodiac sign occupied by the Moon, which were common to many popular almanacs of the time.

This astrological medicine, now very much marginalized, was carried on by a small number of enthusiasts. Ebenezer Sibly, an eighteenth-century doctor, believed that Enlightenment learning derived from observation and experiment was improved by a knowledge through astrology of the occult properties of substances. His Solar and Lunar tinctures, for men and women respectively, achieved some efficacy and popularity as medicines, while his edition of Culpeper's Herbal carried on the iatromathematical tradition. In Victorian England, the astrologer A. J. Pearce, whose career stretched into the 1920s, used to assist his father, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a homoeopath, by providing astral diagnoses of his patients. Today, on the fringes of the popular revival of astrology, the iatromathematical tradition continues.

Graeme Tobyn


Tester, S. J. (1987). A history of Western astrology. Boydell Press.

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Astrology, the study of the planets and their position in order to predict future events, has its origins in ancient Babylonia. The basic principles of astrology as set out in the Tetrabiblos of Ptolemy, the Alexandrian astronomer of the second century, formed the basis of astrology as it was practiced in the Middle Ages. Planets, the wanderers of the night sky, were believed to have certain characteristics that had a corresponding affect on earth. Saturn, for example, was considered a cold, dry, and harmful planet, while the moon was viewed as warm, moist, and beneficial. The position of the planets relative to each other, and their motion along the ecliptic plane or zodiac, also came into play.

The complexities of this system made it a difficult and esoteric science, understandable only to educated men and out of the reach of commoners. An occult mystique surrounded astrologers, who seemed to have access to hidden knowledge of how the universe really worked. The church condemned astrology as heresy, and as the practice of magicians and charlatans. But astrology was strongly defended by medieval authors such as Guido Bonatti, the official astrologer of the city of Florence, who set out his opinions in the influential book Liber Astronomicus. At the mercy of a capricious natural world, and the workings of fate that were often difficult to explain, nobles and kings sought the assistance of astrologers, who promised to turn the wheel of fortune in their favor.

In the fifteenth century, the printing press began spreading astrology to a wider audience. In addition to his Bibles, Johannes Gutenberg produced almanacs that were widely imitated throughout Europe and that served to make the dangerous, unpredictable natural world a little more predictable. Almanacs were calendars, with a schedule of holy days and saints' days, advice on planting and harvesting, weather forecasts, and prognostications of important events. Worldly predictions made almanacs suspect to kings and their ministers, however, and in many corners of Europe it became a crime to publish astrological data and predictions. The church remained adamantly opposed to astrology as an occult practice, and in 1586 Pope Sixtus VI condemned the practice in a famous papal bull (decree).

Nevertheless, nobles and royaltyand many of the popeswere devoted believers in astrology; many of them employed astrologers at their courts and made no important decisions without taking into consideration their advice. Important matters of state, and especially of war, never were decided without the advice of astrologers, who claimed to eliminate chance and misfortune with their complicated charts and obscure language. Lucas Gauricus was the official astrologer to Pope Leo X and Pope Clement VII. Philipp Melanchthon was a renowned German astrologer whose advice was often called upon. Catherine de Médicis, a queen of France, was devoted to astrology and employed Michel de Notredame, or Nostradamus, the most renowned astrologer of France. Nostradamus published an important work on astrology in 1555. At the respected universities of Pavia and Bologna, astrologers held professorships and vied with astronomers for student followers. Bologna, Milan, and Mantua were important centers of astrological research during the Italian Renaissance.

Traditional astrologers cast personal horoscopes based on the position of the planets at the time of one's birth. There were many variations of this practice. The English astrologer William Lilly practiced horary astrology: the prediction of events based on the time when a person poses a question, not when he or she is born. Lilly's accurate predictions gained him the support of King Charles II and a salary from the government of Oliver Cromwell. His predictions also got him in serious trouble with the authorities, who accused him of setting the 1666 Great Fire of London after predicting this event.

Astronomical observation brought about new theories of the true nature of the universe during the Renaissance; the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus theorized that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around. This heliocentric theory was a drastic change from traditional beliefs and initiated a gradual decline in the acceptance of astrology among scientists and philosophers. The philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was skeptical of astrology, but many astronomers, including Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe, offered their services as astrologers to nobles and princes. The influence of astrology among scientists waned at the end of the Renaissance and disappeared altogether in the Enlightenment, which followed.

See Also: astronomy; Brahe, Tycho; Melanchthon, Philipp; Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni

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astrology, form of divination based on the theory that the movements of the celestial bodies—the stars, the planets, the sun, and the moon—influence human affairs and determine the course of events. Celestial phenomena have been the object of religious sentiment since earliest times (see moon worship; sun worship). The Chaldaeans and the Assyrians were the first to discard their sky gods in favor of a nondeistic system of divination founded upon astronomy and numerology. They saw the heavenly bodies as exerting an influence upon the lives of individuals and the destinies of empires. Generally, future events were believed determined beforehand by a universal order that was a result of the motions of the planets and stars. The practices of astrology spread throughout the ancient Middle East, Asia, and Europe, but with the rise of Christianity, which emphasized divine intervention and free will, interest in astrology subsided, although astrologers continued to flourish. During the European Renaissance astrology as a form of divination regained popularity, due in part to the rekindled interest in science and astronomy. The European astrologer, considered a scholar exploring the mysteries of the universe through science and reason, was held in high esteem in the community for many years. However, in the 16th and 17th cent., Christian theologists waged war against astrology. In 1585 astrology was officially condemned in a bull of Pope Sixtus V, and in 1631, Pope Urban VIII reinforced this with another bull. At the same time the astronomical work of such men as Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo was undermining the tenets of astrology. Astrology, however, continued to be practiced. All of the aforementioned scientists remained practicing astrologers, as did other great thinkers such as Descartes and Newton; moreover, Copernican theory did not find sudden and widespread acceptance. Gradually, however, astrology declined, although this form of divination is still very much alive. One's horoscope is a map of the heavens at the time of one's birth, showing the position of the heavenly bodies in relation to the 12 "houses" or signs through which they pass (see zodiac) and their positions in relation to each other. Each house has as its "lord" one of the heavenly bodies; the one in the "ascendant" is the one of greatest significance to the inquirer, supposedly endowing him with his temperamental qualities, his tendencies to particular diseases, and his liability to certain fortunes or calamities.

See E. McCaffery, Astrology: Its History and Influence in the Western World (rev. ed. 1942); L. Thorndike, History of Magic and Experimental Science (rev. ed. 1958); M. Gauquelin, The Cosmic Clocks (1967); C. McIntosh, The Astrologers and their Creed (1969).

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astrology. The idea that the motion of the stars and the planets might affect human life dates from ancient times, although astrology as a rigorous, ‘scientific’ system originated with the Greek mathematician Ptolemy in the 2nd cent. ad. In the Middle Ages, astrology, by then rendered compatible with Christianity, was thought to fall into two broad subcategories: natural astrology, the everyday influence of the planets in normal activities, such as the practice of medicine; and judicial astrology, which aimed at predicting events and giving advice.

The influence of astrological thinking was considerable, and many educated Britons between the 15th and late 17th cents. accepted its principles. It was especially important in medicine, where the casting of a horoscope was thought an important aid in diagnosing disease and in prescribing remedies. It also had ramifications in physiology, botany, and metallurgy. More dangerously, astrology acquired political overtones, and more than one astrologer found himself in trouble for predicting the death of the monarch or other significant events.

The golden age of astrology in Britain was the 17th cent., with several astrologers gaining considerable reputation, status, and income. The two most important figures were William Lilly (1602–81) and John Gadbury (1627–1704). Lilly, who also operated as a medical practitioner and almanack writer, acquired a wide fame and a good income, some impression of the seriousness with which astrology was taken being conveyed by the fact that his predictive talents were enlisted by Parliament during the civil wars. Gadbury, conversely, rejected his early parliamentarian sympathies, became an ardent royalist, and flourished after the Restoration of 1660.

The early 18th cent., however, marked the point at which educated opinion, under the influence of new scientific thinking, was beginning to reject astrology. Yet it continued to enjoy a wide currency outside the educated élite, while even at that social level the issue was one of the recategorization of astrological terms rather than total rejection. More research is needed, but even preliminary investigations have uncovered groups of provincial astrologers who found a ready clientele among the middling sorts in their localities, and, as modern tabloid newspapers and women's magazines demonstrate, this ancient science, while having moved downmarket, is not entirely dead.

J. A. Sharpe

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Astrology. The belief that the stars and planets have effects on human life and affairs. It is entangled in astronomy, and while the two, in some religions, reinforce each other, they may also be in serious conflict.

In Hinduism, decision-making on all serious matters (e.g. the date and time of a wedding) and on many everyday matters is referred to astrology (jyotiṣa).

In general, Buddhism adopted the Hindu scheme of astronomy but rejected the latter's preoccupation with astrology. The position and movement of the celestial bodies were of interest to Buddhists for pragmatic purposes only.

Astrology and divination are stigmatized as practices unworthy of a monk, and the Buddha is singled out for praise as one not devoting himself to such ‘low arts’ (tiracchāna-vijjā). However, the practice of divination by monks was never eradicated. In practically all Buddhist cultures monks officiate as advisers to the laity and employ techniques of divination.

Sikhs return to a more basic condemnation of astrology. Although some Sikhs may consult horoscopes, astrology is condemned by the Rahit-Maryādā in accordance with the Gurūs' teaching. See CALENDAR; SAṄGRĀND.

In both Judaism and Christianity, astrology is officially condemned (e.g. Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), 2116), because it detracts from the sovereignty of God, as though stars and planets can be lesser creators in God's world; but unofficially, at the level of folk-religion, the consulting of horoscopes is simply one example of how tenacious these beliefs are.

In Islam, the contest between astronomy and astrology (ʿilm al-nujūm) became explicit in al-Ghaz(z)ālī: he commended astronomy as a part of the study of the signs of God in God's creation (aya), but strongly condemned astrology as spurious. Even so, the same term was still being applied to both, ʿilm ahḳam al-nujūm, and the practice of astrology did not abate, at least at the popular level.

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24. Astrology

See also 124. DIVINATION ; 174. FUTURE

Archaic. the casting of horoscopes. apotelesmatic, adj.
astrology. astroalchemist, n.
1. the study that assumes, and professes to interpret the influence of the stars and planets upon human existence.
2. Obsolete, astronomy. astrologer, astrologist, n. astrological, adj.
Obsolete, a person who is skilled in genethlialogy.
the art or practice of casting genethliacs, or astrological nativities.
the lore that underlies the art of casting genethliacs, or astrological nativities. Also genethliacs . genethlialogic, genethlialogical, adj.
1. the art of casting horoscopes.
2. the position of the sun and stars at the time of a persons birth. horoscoper, horoscopist, n.
the teaching and studies of the priestly caste in ancient Media and Persia whose belief in the advent of a savior involved them in intensive astrological research, including the following of a star to Bethlehem (See Matthew 2:1-12).
1. the time, place, and circumstances of a persons birth.
2. the configuration of the planets at the time of a persons birth and a representation, as a chart, of that configuration.
coincidence in stellar or astrological influence; the condition of two or more persons having been born under the same stellar configuration.

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astrology the study of movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. Ancient observers of the heavens developed elaborate systems of explanation based on the movements of the sun, moon, and planets through the constellations of the zodiac, for predicting events and for casting horoscopes. By 1700 astrology had lost intellectual credibility in the West, but continued to have popular appeal. Modern astrology is based on that of the Greeks, but other systems are extant, e.g. that of China.

The term (in full natural astrology) originally denoted the practical uses of astronomy, applied in the measurement of time and the prediction of natural phenomena. The commonest sense today (in full judicial astrology, relating to human affairs) dates from the mid 16th century.

The word is recorded from late Middle English, and comes ultimately (via Old French and Latin) from Greek astron ‘star’.

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"astrology." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . 12 Dec. 2017 <>.

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astrology Study of the influence supposedly exerted by stars and planets on the natures and lives of human beings. Western astrology draws specifically on the movements of the Sun, Moon and major planets of the Solar System in relation to the stars that make up the 12 constellations known as the zodiac. Astrology originated in ancient Babylon and Persia c.4000 years ago, and rapidly spread through Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. In Europe, the growing influence of Christianity saw the demise of astrologers. Popular horoscopes still appear in some daily newspapers.

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42. Astrology (See also Zodiac.)

  1. Chaldea ancient Mesopotamian land where study of astrology developed. [Ancient Hist.: NCE, 499]
  2. Ecclitico manipulator and false astrologer; dupes Buonafede. [Ger. Opera: Haydn, The World of the Moon, Westermark, 6869]
  3. Mannering, Guy cast fateful horoscope for young Bertram. [Br. Lit.: Guy Mannering ]
  4. Nostradamus (15031566) French astrologer/seer; wrote Centuries (1555), famous book of prognostications. [Fr. Hist.: NCE, 1969]
  5. Urania muse of astrology. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 1119]

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as·trol·o·gy / əˈsträləjē/ • n. the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. DERIVATIVES: as·trol·o·ger / -jər/ n. as·tro·log·i·cal / ˌastrəˈläjikəl/ adj. as·trol·o·gist / -jist/ n.

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"astrology." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . 12 Dec. 2017 <>.

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astrology XIV. — (O)F. astrologie — L. astrologia — Gr. astrologíā, f. astrológos astronomer, f. ástron STAR; see -LOGY.
So astrologer XIV. f. (O)F. astrologue, based on L. astrologus — Gr. astrológos; see -LOGUE (-LOGER). astrological XVI. f. F. -ique or late L. -icus — Gr. -ikós.

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"astrology." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . 12 Dec. 2017 <>.

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This entry includes two subentries:


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"Astrology." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. . 12 Dec. 2017 <>.

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astrology •haji • algae • Angie •argy-bargy, Panaji •edgy, sedgy, solfeggi, veggie, wedgie •cagey, stagy •mangy, rangy •Fiji, gee-gee, squeegee •Murrumbidgee, ridgy, squidgy •dingy, fringy, mingy, stingy, whingy •cabbagy • prodigy • effigy • villagey •porridgy • strategy • cottagey •dodgy, podgy, splodgy, stodgy •pedagogy •Georgie, orgy •ogee • Fuji •bhaji, budgie, pudgy, sludgy, smudgy •bulgy •bungee, grungy, gungy, scungy, spongy •allergy, analogy, genealogy, hypallage, metallurgy, mineralogy, tetralogy •elegy •antilogy, trilogy •aetiology (US etiology), amphibology, anthology, anthropology, apology, archaeology (US archeology), astrology, biology, campanology, cardiology, chronology, climatology, cosmology, craniology, criminology, dermatology, ecology, embryology, entomology, epidemiology, etymology, geology, gynaecology (US gynecology), haematology (US hematology), hagiology, horology, hydrology, iconology, ideology, immunology, iridology, kidology, meteorology, methodology, musicology, mythology, necrology, neurology, numerology, oncology, ontology, ophthalmology, ornithology, parasitology, pathology, pharmacology, phraseology, phrenology, physiology, psychology, radiology, reflexology, scatology, Scientology, seismology, semiology, sociology, symbology, tautology, technology, terminology, theology, topology, toxicology, urology, zoology • eulogy • energy • synergy • apogee • liturgy • lethargy •burgee, clergy •zymurgy • dramaturgy

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"astrology." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 12 Dec. 2017 <>.

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