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
One of the clearest examples of an item of culture originating among intellectuals, but passing to the peasantry. Throughout much of its long history, it derived its authority from complex mathematics and philosophical speculations; its prestige was high in courts and universities in medieval and Renaissance Europe, and as late as the English Civil War it was still important in political propaganda. Its symbols and concepts were also diffused through cheap printed almanacs, and were used in simplified forms by farmers, magicians, healers, and fortune-tellers (Davies, 1999a: 229-46).
During the 18th and 19th centuries astrology became marginalized, and by the early 20th century had virtually disappeared from public view. However, it was given fresh life by a press stunt in 1930, when the Sunday Express invited an astrologer to draw up a nativity chart for the newborn Princess Margaret, and to compile a simple horoscope applying to anyone whose birthday fell that week. Other newspapers copied the idea, encouraging semi-serious curiosity about astrology; like other aspects of the occult, it is currently enjoying a revival.
See also DR JOHN DEE.
The study of the heavenly bodies as predicting the fate of individuals was ultimately due to the Babylonians. The belief underpinning astrology, common to educated people generally, was that the cosmos was a unity, and that whatever happened in the heavens was bound to affect or be reflected in events on earth. As it was possible to predict the recurrence of celestial phenomena by astronomy, so it might also be possible to predict terrestrial events by observation of the heavenly bodies (astrology), and it came to be generally believed that the fortunes of an individual depended upon the aspect of the sky at the moment of his birth, and that astrologers could give guidance accordingly.
Astrology does not seem to have exerted much influence on Greek life until after the third century BC, in the wake of Alexander the Great. By the next century astrology had spread to Rome, and a vogue for it began when a number of manuals began to circulate widely. Believers included Sulla, Posidonius, and Varro (but not Cicero). Vitruvius, Propertius, and Ovid all professed to believe, and Augustus published his horoscope. From the first century AD onwards virtually everyone, Christians, pagans, and Jews alike, accepted the predictability of fate and the maleficent powers of the planets (see MANILIUS). A few held out against this tyranny, usually with the argument that while stars, by reason of the universal ‘sympathy’ pervading the cosmos, may indicate the future, they cannot determine it. Rome particularly was sensitive to the potential political dangers, and at times of national crisis banished all professional astrologers. However, no permanent ban was intended, and the emperors themselves frequently had recourse to horoscopes. It was not until the fourth century, with Augustine's emphatic denial of its validity, and with the advent of the Christian emperors, that the practice of astrology was officially banned. Neverthless for the ordinary man it retained an axiomatic validity until the seventeenth century and beyond. See also PTOLEMY.
In India, Buddhism adopted the Hindu scheme of astronomy but rejected the latter's preoccupation with astrology. The position and movement of the celestial bodies was of interest to Buddhists only for pragmatic purposes such as calculating the time of day, the length of the lunar month and its holy days, and the period of retreat during the rainy season. Such skills were especially important in the case of forest-dwelling monks who were cut off from society. Such monks were to learn ‘the positions of the constellations, either the whole or one section, and to know the cardinal points’. Astrology as we know it probably did not exist at the time of the Buddha—it is largely a Greek synthesis of Fertile Crescent star-lore, created around the 3rd or 4th centuries bce. Nevertheless, early sources such as the Brahmajāla Sutta of the Pāli Canon describe numerous techniques of divination including predicting eclipses of the sun, moon, and stars, and forecasting the events they were believed to herald. The Buddha is singled out for praise as one not devoting himself to such ‘low arts’ (tiracchāna-vijjā). Despite this, in practically all Buddhist cultures, monks officiate as advisers to the laity and employ techniques of divination. In south-east Asia the use of horoscopes is widespread among Buddhists, and they are known in Burma as sadā, and as cata in northern Thailand. In the Buddhism of Tibet and central Asia, indigenous shamanistic practices were incorporated with only superficial modifications, and in China a complete system of astrology and divination based on the Book of Changes (I-ching) found an accommodation within Buddhism.
Students of the study of the purported influence of the stars on our lives profess to see evidence of astrological thinking in their reading of Celtic myth, but there is scant verbal evidence in early texts to demonstrate the widespread practice of astrology. The Irish term néladóir, ‘cloud diviner’, may be synonymous with ‘astrologer’. Another Irish word, astralaíoch, is borrowed from the Greek. Reflecting Christian attitudes towards astrology, Scottish Gaelic speuradaireachd may also mean ‘swearing loudly’ or ‘blasphemy’. Manx planartys; Welsh sêr-ddewiniaeth, astroleg; Breton hudsteredoniezh. See also DIVINATION.
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).
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 (1257–c. 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 (1350–1420), 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 (1497–1560) 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 (1664–1665) 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).
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. 1700–1850." British Journal for the History of Science 33 (2000): 25–48.
Smoller, Laura Ackerman. History, Prophecy, and the Stars: The Christian Astrology of Pierre d'Ailly, 1350–1420. 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, 1496–1500." Universitas 5 (1993): 1–5.
—STEVEN VANDEN BROECKE
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
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
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
While astrology flourished in England it was in high repute with its kindred pursuits of magic, necromancy, and
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 stockholders—and 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 us—and 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
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.
"Faithful horoscope-watching, practiced daily, provides just the sort of small but warm and infinitely reassuring fillip that gets matters off to a spirited start." - Shana Alexander
"The stars which shone over Babylon and the stable in Bethlehem still shine as brightly over the Empire State Building and your front yard today. They perform their cycles with the same mathematical precision, and they will continue to affect each thing on earth, including man, as long as the earth exists." - Linda Goodman
"We need not feel ashamed of flirting with the zodiac. The zodiac is well worth flirting with." - D. H. Lawrence
"You stars that reigned at my nativity, whose influence hath allotted death and hell." - Christopher Marlowe
"Look you, Doubloon, your zodiac here is the life of man in one round chapter. To begin: there's Aries, or the Ram -- lecherous dog, he begets us; then, Taurus, or the Bull -- he bumps us the first thing; then Gemini, or the Twins -- that is, Virtue and Vice; we try to reach Virtue, when lo! comes Cancer the Crab, and drags us back; and here, going from Virtue, Leo, a roaring Lion, lies in the path -- he gives a few fierce bites and surly dabs with his paw; we escape, and hail Virgo, the virgin! that's our first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes Libra, or the Scales -- happiness weighed and found wanting; and while we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio, or the Scorpion, stings us in rear; we are curing the wound, when come the arrows all round; Sagittarius, or the Archer, is amusing himself. As we pluck out the shafts, stand aside! here's the battering-ram, Capricornus, or the Goat; full tilt, he comes rushing, and headlong we are tossed; when Aquarius, or the Waterbearer, pours out his whole deluge and drowns us; and, to wind up, with Pisces, or the Fishes, we sleep." - Herman Melville
"This is the excellent foppery of the world: that when we are sick in fortune -- often the surfeits of our own behavior -- we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star!" - William Shakespeare
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Astrology (from Greek: αστήρ, αστρός (astér, astrós), "star", and λόγος, λόγου (lógos, lógou), "word" or "speech" lit. to talk about the stars) is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs in which knowledge of the relative positions of celestial bodies and related details is held to be useful in understanding, interpreting, and organizing information about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial matters. A practitioner of astrology is called an astrologer, or, less often, an astrologist. Numerous traditions and applications employing astrological concepts have arisen since its earliest recorded beginnings in the 2nd millennium BCE. It has played a role in the shaping of culture, early astronomy, and other disciplines throughout history.
Historically, astrology and astronomy were often indistinguishable, with the desire for predictive and divinatory knowledge one of the primary motivating factors for astronomical observation. Astronomy began to diverge from astrology after a long period of gradual separation in the 18th century, and has since distinguished itself as the scientific study of astronomical objects and phenomena, placing no significance on these phenomena's supposed astrological correlation.
Proponents have defined astrology variously, as a symbolic language, an art form, a science, and a method of divination. The scientific community generally considers astrology as a pseudoscience or superstition. While there is no scientific evidence behind the principles of astrology, belief in astrology is widespread
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