01 The pseudo-science of the
ancient world. The forerunner of the
modern science of astronomy (sister/sibling). Man has
believed that the stars influence his destiny as long as he has been able to grasp that the
heavens are the ‘Other’. The medieval
03 Judicial Astrology: deals with the influence of the planets (stars) in human affairs.
Shimon Peres ‘Astrologers and fortune-tellers are contacting me all the time with one warning or another’.
04 Horoscope means ‘a map of the hour.’ A birth chart is a map of the planets of our Solar system (plus 12 constellations) at the time of birth. It is the location of these planets along the signs of the zodiac and their symbolic meanings which are said to describe a person’s character. The function of astrology is to learn about the innate character of a person. The chart itself is like a clock-face split into 12 segments. The nine o’clock point indicates the Ascendant. The 12 o’clock position indicates the Midheaven. The positions of the planets in the twelve segments are considered very important and used by an astrologer to tell you about your character etc. The combinations and relationships of the planets etc to each other in a chart are used when writing an astro-analysis.
05 For the sake of simplicity, astrologers refer to the Sun and Moon as planets. A birth chart shows the positions of the planets as seen from the Earth (geocentric view). Western astrology has always been based on geocentric observations. The Druids developed a zodiac that was both geocentric and heliocentric. The position of a planet in a particular house gives the astrologer an idea of its effect in a person’s life.
06 A Angular Houses: those which immediately follow the Asc, Des, M.C. and I.C. (1st, 4th , 7th and 10th). Planets placed in these houses are said to indicate a strong influence.
06B Succedent Houses: (2nd, 5th, 8th and 11th houses).
06C Cadent Houses: (3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th houses). Talent and aptitude are associated with the 9th and 12th houses.
1st house: the self.
2nd house: growth.
3rd house: communication.
4th house: home.
5th house: leisure.
6th house: work.
7th house: relationships.
8th house: beginnings and endings.
9th house: travel.
10th house: aims.
11th house: hopes/wishes.
12th house: mysticism.
07 In a birth chart the positions of the planets fall roughly into various shapes ie, bowl, bucket, locomotive or see-saw patterns etc.
08 The planets are said to rule particular signs ie:
09 Chart Ruler: the planet ruling the Ascending sign. This house and sign is considered of major importance.
10 Rising planet: the first planet to appear after the Ascendant ie, in the 1st house.
11 Retrograde planets: represents a weak point in a chart.
12 The 12 signs of the zodiac are of three types:
1] Fire, Earth, Air, Water.
2] Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable.
3] Masculine, Feminine.
Aries: Fire, Cardinal, Masculine.
Taurus: Earth, Fixed, Feminine.
Gemini: Air, Mutable, Masculine.
Cancer: Water, Cardinal, Feminine.
Leo: Fire, Fixed, Masculine.
Virgo: Earth, Mutable, Feminine.
Libra Air, Cardinal, Masculine.
Scorpio: Water, Fixed, Feminine.
Sagittarius: Fire, Mutable, Masculine.
Capricorn: Earth, Cardinal, Feminine.
Aquarius: Air, Fixed, Masculine.
Pisces: Water, Mutable, Feminine.
13 Astrology computer programs are available that ‘erect’ a chart in a few minutes. To ‘erect’ a chart you will need the following information…….
1] Name of the person.
2] Date of birth.
3] Time of birth (within an hour). Enquire at hospital for the exact time or ask your mother (father!) about their recollections of your birth.
4] Place of birth (ie, city, town, village or hamlet).
14 Aspects: the angles which the planets make to each other, the Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant and Nadir. A major planet or stellum (group of planets) near any of these points can be very revealing. The aspects are listed below. Some of these are considered positive and others negative. An astrologer usually takes into account the nature of the planets involved in an aspect and the houses and signs in which they occur. An ‘Orb’ (whether an angle is exact or slightly off) by a few degrees is allowed either side of a perfect angle. For major aspects this is about eight degrees either side. For minor aspects an orb of about 4 degrees is allowed. An aspect to Fortuna or a Node has to be exact.
14A Conjunction: Two planets or planet and Asc etc are within 8 degrees of each other.
14B Sextile: Major: 60 degrees apart (considered positive).
14C Square: Major: 90 degrees apart (considered negative).
14D Trine: Major: 120 degrees apart (considered positive).
14E Opposition: Major: 180 degrees apart (considered negative).
14F Semi-sextile: Major: 30 degrees apart (easy/positive).
14G Quincnx: Major: 150 degrees apart (awkward).
14H Semi-Square: Minor: 45 degrees apart (difficult).
14I Sesquiquadrate: Minor: 135 degrees apart (stressful).
14J Quintile and Bi-quintile: Minor: 144 and 72 degrees apart (talent/fortunate).
14K Parallel: When two planets are an equal distance above and below the ascendant (acts like a conjunction).
16A The Ascendant is the sign of the zodiac which is rising over the horizon at the time of your birth. This zodiacal sign is said to show how a person presents himself/herself to the outside world and may have a strong influence on his/her physical appearance. It is said to indicate the type of programming s/he received during the early formative years. May indicate employment. The 1st house rules the physical body. Planets near the Ascendant may indicate childhood circumstances. It is said to have a strong influence on a person’s behavior and outlook. The Ascending sign can be quite strong in a person’s life but, other factors can be buried amongst stronger influences in a chart.
16B The Descendant (180 degrees away and opposite to the Ascendant) is said to describe the type of partner that the person may live with. It also indicates the types of associates and friends which the person feels comfortable with.
16C The Midheaven is traditionally associated with the career chosen by a subject (also aims and aspirations in the wider context). Planets near the M.C. can indicate the type of work that the person may be good at.
16D The I.C. (Nadir) indicates the person’s roots (the beginning and end of a life). Parents, home and domestic arrangements.
17 Sun Sign: the sign of the zodiac in which the Sun is placed. The Sun spends a month each year in each sign of the zodiac.
18 Nodes of the Moon: the points where the Moon crosses the celestial equator on its journey around Earth. Planets which are close to a node in a birth chart are considered very important.
19 Midpoints: the point exactly halfway between two planets.
20 Exhaltation, detriment and fall: planets are said to be best placed in their own sign or house.
21 Arabic parts: ie, the part of fortune is calculated by finding the difference between the Sun and ascendant and adding it to the Moon. Other ‘parts’ can also be calculated.
22 The fixed stars: these are also considered to have an effect ie, Algol indicates problems caused by carelessness. Regulus indicates pride, success etc.
23 Mundane astrology: astrology of nations, towns and places.
24 Horary astrology: a question is asked and a chart is ‘erected’ for the time of asking.
25 Electional astrology: used when choosing the right time to start an enterprise.
26 Other areas include harmonic astrology, sidereal Indian astrology and astro-cartography.
27 Horace: Odes, Book 1, xi, 2: ‘Do not make trial of Babylonian calculations’, ie, do not consult astrologers or fortune-tellers. The Babylonians or Chaldeans were the most noted of astrologers. Many international astrologers have been tested by TV and press - with extremely varying degrees of success!
28 Astrological glyphs are powerful symbols.
29 Thema Mundi: ‘horoscope of the world’.
01 Sun. Dynamic energy, generation, motivation, stimulation, yang (masculine energy), subject’s nature (house position), leadership qualities, creativity, games, areas in which the subject shines (house position).
03 Mercury. Communication, synthesis of content, context of timing, winged messenger, speaking, writing, journalism, teaching, mentality, schooling, dexterity, mathematics, relationships with brothers and sisters.
04 Venus. Love, beauty, the creative power, open partnerships, feelings, creature comforts, value in the practical sense, sensual pleasures, feminine pastimes, arts, social life, grooming, dress-sense, fashion.
05 Mars. Energy, vitality, assertion, war, action, desire, projects, adrenalin, energetic outlook, sexuality, heated feelings, anger.
06 Jupiter. Expansion, growth, opportunity, luck, flexibility, acquisition of knowledge, freedom, philosophy (religion), law, travel, exploration, 3rd level education (ie, Oxford, Cambridge etc!), fortune, charities, financial speculation, outdoors, ventures, publishing. Other traits may be indicated when combined with other planets as with the other celestial orbs. Livelyhood, cooperation, humanitarian, good deeds, expansive personalities.
07 Saturn. Teacher, discipline, honoring ones limits/boundaries, following things step-by-step, balancing, serious thoughts, attention to detail, security, framework, hard work, endurance, tenacity, trust, doing the chores, overcoming problems, father figures, great achievers, austerity, unfeeling, misery. Saturn’s sign position is said to indicate the area in a life where some fundamental tension is at work.
Inspiration, delusions, illusions, deceptions.
Inspiration, light, truth, wisdom, art and artists, music, illusion, religion, mysticism, charity, hope, real
or imagined prisons, states of altered consciousness, anaesthetics, muddles,
deceptions, lying. If well-placed in a
10 Pluto. Dismantling the outgrown, renovating, restoring. Associated with transformation, recycling. Beginnings, endings and money. Endurance, ability to change, recovery from failure, illness, loss etc. Hidden things (out of sight), investigation. This planet can heal or change all within its influence. Wealth. Overcoming fear and fearful situations. The unconscious, reproductive organs, unusual sudden situations etc.
Please see individual constellations in the dictionary for mythological and astronomical information. The 12 listed below are the most popular from an astrological point of view. The Sun spends a month in each of these twelve signs. Note: there are a total of 88 constellations in the sky. From your birth-date you can find your sun-sign from the table below:
01 Aries. March 21 to April 21. Fire sign, pioneering work, adventurer, explorer, traveler, Mars. The Ram. Beginning of year.
02 Taurus. April 21 to May 21. Earth sign, Venus, love, beauty, creative power, form maker, builder. Bull.
03 Gemini. May 21 to June 21. Air sign, ability to integrate, synthesize, mediate, duality. Twins.
04 Cancer. June 21 to July 21. Water sign, heart, nuturing, comfort, support, healing, family, home. Crab.
05 Leo. July 21 to August 21. Fire sign, unlimited creativity, multi-faceted. Lion.
06 Virgo. August 21 to September 21. Earth sign, virgin, organize, systematize, create order, balance. The Virgin.
07 Libra. September 21 to October 21. Air sign, balanced thinking, simple, clear, direct (to the point). The Scales.
08 Scorpio. October 21 to November 21. Water sign, passion, feeling (depth), commitment to change and transformation, privacy, mystery, associated with the snake, eagle and scorpion.
09 Sagittarius. November 21 to December 21. Fire sign, visionary, dreamer, direct communication. The Archer.
10 Capricorn. December 21 to January 21. Earth sign, tenacity, step-by-step, cultivate, apply, produce and implement. Goat.
11 Aquarius. January 21 to February 21. Air sign, pioneer, innovative, creative leaning, futuristic. Water-Bearer.
Tarot Symbolism for Aquarius: Key 17 The Star. Fishhook, keyword for the Star, suggests the drawing of ideas from the universal subconscious. The hook relates to the subject selected for research or meditation. Revelation comes through meditation. You must still the conscious mind but keep a line on the subject chosen for meditation.
Aquarius rules this key, which brings the age of revelation. The Star key explains the fifth or celestial essence, which is above and beyond the four elements of fire, earth, air and water. The great star has eight points representing rotation. The seven lesser stars refer to the seven bodily centers which are really whorls of motion and vibration. The ibis is a fishing bird, again emphasizing searching and probing.
“The Four Elements – Water”, Jan Brueghel
“The Four Elements – Air”, Jan Brueghel
“The Four Elements – Earth”, Jan Brueghel
“The Four Elements – Fire”, Jan Brueghel
The woman represents the subconscious mind which shows that all secrets are available if you fish in the proper manner. Her left leg, holding her weight, forms a right angle or square, hinting at the number 4, order and reason. Resting on the water, her right foot shows that the mind sustains her.
She pours water, her mental powers, on land and sea, indicating the pouring of knowledge over humanity everywhere. The water on land divides into five streams representing five senses.
Ask yourself a question and seek the answer with calm expectancy. This is the right attitude for meditation and the proper method for gaining illumination.
Astrological Correspondence: Saturn (and Aquarius). 17 has the 7 of receptivity (the Moon) and the 1 of concentration (Mars). Together they equal 8, the Saturn correspondence and the symbol of the kundalini force rising from the Saturn center at the base of the spine. These are necessary attributes for the subconscious mind to use in meditation.
The Aquarian influence brings the revelation, which 17/8 represents, and
universal consciousness, both of which are the ultimate goals of
12 Pisces. February 21 to March 21. Water sign, spirituality, evolution, feelings, exploratory, love and service. The Fish.
Astrological Symbolism (Chinese)
In China astrology is a revered way of life. Traditionally, a young man offers a prospective father-in-law a card with his name on one side and on the other the ‘four pillars’ (the time, day, month and year of birth) as a formal proposal of marriage. It was held to be the key to the Heaven’s secrets, fit for the Emperor’s ears only! You may determine your Chinese sign by looking at the chart below. In the 2nd century AD the Chief Astrologer held one of the highest ministerial posts at court. In western astrology your sun sign is based on the month of birth but for the Chinese the year is most important because they have a calendar of twelve years. Chinese astrologers used strange mystical characters called ‘the twelve branches’ instead of the now familiar animal forms. It was only later that animal emblems were adopted. Indian astrology places less emphasis on a person’s Sun-sign than on his/her Moon-sign. It is completely different from western astrology. According to legend, the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from Earth. Only 12 came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order that the animals arrived. This is the animal that hides in your heart. During a 60 year cycle each of the animal signs (twelve Earth Branches) is combined with the five main elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each two-hour section of the day is also ruled by one of the animal signs. The sign which rules the ascendant is said to shape the personality. The year of the Fire Horse is dreaded by all (most recently, 1967), as it is believed that those born under this sign will bring disaster to families and future spouses. A new cycle begins in 1996. The 21st century starts in the cusp of the Dragon and Snake years. Jupiter’s motion through the ecliptic and Chinese astrology both have a 12-year cycle which the Chinese call ‘Sui xing’ (the ‘Year Star’). Marco Polo mentioned this cycle in a report of his visit to Khublai Khan’s court in the 13th century. Our Moon also completes a cycle of 12+ lunations.
The astrology of the Celts/Druids is
lunar-oriented! Western astrology is
solar-oriented. The symbol of the tree is
connected with the Celtic Beth-Luis-Nion tree alphabet which has 5 vowels and
13 consonants as mentioned by Robert Graves in his book ‘The White
Goddess’. Druid’s are familiar with
astronomy and astrology and in the past considered it profane to commit their
doctrines to the printed page. The
dryads (tree spirits) associated with the sacred trees of the Druids represent
the spiritual ethos of the creator (Celi).
Each tree represents a symbol of primeval archetypal spirits or an ideal
human archtype. It is said that their
esoteric wisdom has been purposely concealed by Christianized Druids in the
Name Day Zodiac
01 Winter Solstice Dec-22 00:00 Cap
02 Nameless Day Dec-23 01:00 Cap
03 Brigantia Feb-01 10:00 Aqu
04 Vernal Equinox Mar-21 00:00 Ari
05 Beltane May-01 10:00 Tau
06 Summer Solstice Jun-22 00:00 Can
07 Lammas Aug-01 10:00 Leo
08 Autumnal Equinox Sep-23 00:00 Lib
09 Samhain Nov-01 10:00 Sco
In Celtic astrology decanate divisions are used. The Birch Tree sign marks the beginning of the lunar zodiac (the Cancer decan), the sign of the Lunar Goddess. Each sign has three decans.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20 - Feb 18)
You have an inventive mind and are inclined to play original openings. That’s because you hate to study openings. You lie a great deal. On the other hand, you are inclined to be careless and impractical, causing you to make the same chess mistakes over and over again. People think you are stupid. You like to kick people under the table. You are a poor loser and easily lose your temper. (Spassky, Mecking, Reinfeld, Chernev, Loyd, Gligoric, Taimanov).
PISCES (Feb. 19 to Mar. 20)
Look for the good things in life, carry the American Express card and a weapon. The chess world is yours today, as nobody else wants it. You have a vivid imagination and often think you are being followed by the CIA, FBI or State Department. You have minor influence over your opponents and people resent your flaunting of your chess games. You lack confidence and you are generally a coward. You hate to lose, so give up the game and invent another one. (Bronstein, Tartakower, Mieses, Schlechter, Geller, Maroczy, Tarrasch, Fischer).
ARIES (Mar 21 - Apr 19)
You are the pioneer type and hold most people in contempt. You are quick tempered, impatient, and scornful of advice. You are not very nice. You play chess with dead people. People can’t wait until you are dead. You like to take back moves and don’t like touch move rules unless it’s your opponent who tries to take back a move. (Korchnoi, Smyslov, Portisch, Kasparov, Najdorf).
TAURUS (Apr 20 - May 20)
You are practical and persistent in your chess games. You show no original thought. You have a dogged determination and work like hell to win, but you lose a lot of games. Most people think you are stubborn and bull headed. Sometimes you play chess with God. You are not very good at the endgame. You get into time pressure a lot. (Spielmann, Steinitz, Euwe).
GEMINI (May 21 - June 20)
You are a quick and intelligent thinker and like to play speed chess. People say you are too boring. You are inclined to expect too much for too little. This means you are cheap. You have this hidden desire to beat up your father for pushing you into chess. Most of your games are won by swindles. (Karpov, Reti, Short, Kamsky, Petrosian).
You are sympathetic and understanding to your opponents and you give up draws to easily. Your opponents think you are a sucker. You are always putting things off. That’s why you’ll never make anything of yourself. You like to take poisoned pawns. (Bird, Benko, Gelfand, Anderssen).
LEO (July 23 - Aug 22)
Your determination and sense of humor will come to the
fore. Your ability to laugh at your
opponents for making bad moves will be a blessing because you’ve got a day
coming you wouldn’t believe. You
consider yourself a born leader. Others think you are pushy. Most Leo people are bullies. You are vain and dislike honest
criticism. Your arrogance is disgusting. Leo people are thieves. You expect people to
throw gold coins at you everytime you win a game. You don’t like to analyze your games with
your opponents. (Judit Polgar,
VIRGO (Aug 23 - Sept 22)
You are the logical type and hate disorder. This nitpicking is sickening to your friends. You are always adjusting your pieces. You are cold and unemotional and sometimes fall asleep while making love. You are good at blindfold chess, but have a poor memory at everything else. (Philidor, Zukertort, Koltanowski).
LIBRA (Sept 23 - Oct 22)
You are the artistic type and have a difficult time with reality. It’s hard for you to accept losses or that you won’t make it as a chessplayer. Your desire to play good chess is overshadowed by your desire to be nasty and a decent meal. Someone is watching you, so stop staring back at your chess opponents. You suffer from penis envy. (Fine, Rubinstein, Ehlvest).
SCORPIO (Oct 23 - Nov 21)
You are shrewd and cannot be trusted. You will achieve some success at the chess board. You may develop a drinking problem later in life. You lose games to idiots because you get too over-confident. You like to play gambits. (Alekhine, Nimzovich, Tal, Tchigorin, Capablanca).
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 - Dec 21)
You are optimistic and enthusiastic when you play
chess. You have a reckless tendency to
rely on luck since you lack talent.
People laugh at you a great deal because you play so poorly. You collect chess books but don’t read
them. You prefer comic books,
CAPRICORN (Dec 23 - Jan 19)
You are conservative and afraid of taking risks. You hate gambits. You don’t do much of anything and are lazy. This is why you lose games on time. Opponents will win brilliancy prizes from you. (Keres, Browne, Em Lasker, Teichmann).
From Skeptics Dictionary…….
“Astrology, as it is presently practiced (in either its traditional or psychological form), has no relevance to understanding ourselves, or our place in the cosmos. Modern advocates of astrology cannot account for the underlying basis of astrological associations with terrestrial affairs, have no plausible explanation for its claims, and have not contributed anything of cognitive value to any field of the social sciences. Further, astrology does not have the theoretical\conceptual resources to resolve its own internal problems adequately, or external anomalies, or to adjudicate between conflicting astrological claims or systems.” I.W. Kelly, Modern Astrology: A critique, p. 931.
“You shouldn’t dismiss as incredible the possibility that a long enough search might reveal a golden grain of truth in astrological superstition”. Johannes Kepler.
Astrology, in its traditional form, is a type of divination based on the theory that the positions and movements of celestial bodies (stars, planets, sun, and moon) at the time of birth profoundly influence a person’s life. In its psychological form, astrology is a type of New Age therapy used for self-understanding and personality analysis. (This entry concerns traditional astrology. See the entry on astrotherapy for a discussion of psychological astrology.)
The most popular form of traditional astrology is Sun Sign Astrology, the kind found in many daily newspapers which publish horoscopes. A horoscope is an astrological forecast. The term is also used to describe a map of the zodiac at the time of one’s birth. The zodiac is divided into twelve zones of the sky, each named after a constellation which originally fell within its zone (Taurus, Leo, etc.). The apparent paths of the sun, the moon, and the major planets all fall within the zodiac. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the equinox and solstice points have each moved westward about 30 degrees in the last 2,000 years. Thus the zodiacal constellations named in ancient times no longer correspond to the segments of the zodiac represented by their signs. In short, had you been born at the same time on the same day of the year 2,000 years ago, you would have been born under a different sign.
Traditional Western astrology may be divided into tropical and sidereal. (Astrologers in non-Western traditions use different systems.) The tropical, or solar, year is measured relative to the sun and is the time (365 days, 5 hr, 48 min, 46 sec of mean solar time) between successive vernal equinoxes. The sidereal year is the time (365 days, 6 hr, 9 min, 9.5 sec of mean solar time) required for the earth to complete an orbit of the sun relative to the stars. The sidereal year is longer than the tropical year because of the precession of the equinoxes, i.e., the slow westward shift of the equinoctial points along the plane of the ecliptic at a rate of 50.27 seconds of arc per year, resulting from precession of the earth’s axis of rotation. Sidereal astrology uses the actual constellation in which the sun is located at the moment of birth as its basis; tropical astrology uses a 30-degree sector of the zodiac as its basis. Tropical astrology is the most popular form and it assigns its readings based on the time of the year, while generally ignoring the positions of the sun and constellations relative to each other. Sidereal astrology is used by a minority of astrologers and bases its readings on the constellations near the sun at the time of birth.
One of the common arguments in favor of astrology is the fallacious argument from popularity and tradition: astrology is believed by millions of people and it has survived for thousands of years. These claims are true, but are irrelevant to the “truth” of astrology. The ancient Chaldeans and Assyrians engaged in astrological divination some three thousand years ago. By 450 B.C.E. the Babylonians had developed the 12-sign zodiac, but it was the Greeks - from the time of Alexander the Great to their conquest by the Romans - who provided most of the fundamental elements of modern astrology.
The spread of astrological practice was arrested by the rise of Christianity, which emphasized divine intervention and free will. During the Renaissance, astrology regained popularity, in part due to rekindled interest in science and astronomy. Christian theologians, however, warred against astrology, and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V condemned it. At the same time, the work of Kepler and others undermined astrology’s tenets.
Is astrology testable?
A second argument in favor of astrology is that it is testable and there is evidence that the data supports the hypothesis that there is a causal connection between heavenly bodies and human events. For example, according to the so-called Mars effect, great athletes are born not made. This claim is based on a statistical analysis of birth dates of great athletes and the position of Mars when they were born. It is said that the correlation is greater than one would expect by chance. Others disagree and claim the evidence does not show a correlation that would not be expected by chance. However, even if there were a significant correlation between the position of Mars at one’s birth and one becoming an exceptional athlete, that would not imply or even indicate that there is a causal connection between the position of a planet and the kind of endeavors one is likely to be good at here on earth. Correlation between x and y is not a sufficient condition for reasonable belief that x causes y. Even a statistically significant correlation between x and y is not a sufficient condition for reasonable belief in a causal connection, much less for the belief that x causes y. Correlation does not prove causality.
Correlation may not prove causality, but it is extremely attractive to defenders of astrology. For example: “Among 3,458 soldiers, Jupiter is to be found 703 times, either rising or culminating when they were born. Chance predicts this should be 572. The odds here: one million to one”. [Michel Gauquelin, “Spheres of Influence”, Psychology Today (Brit.), No. 7, October 1975, pp. 22-27. Reprinted in Philosophy of Science and the Occult (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982)]. I’m willing to assume that all the statistical data which shows a significant correlation between various planets rising, falling, culminating, or whatever else they might be seen as doing, is accurate. However, it would be more surprising if of all the billions and billions of celestial motions conceivable, there weren’t a great many that could be significantly correlated with dozens of mass events or individual personality traits.
For example, defenders of astrology are fond of noting that ‘the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle corresponds to the phases of the moon’ and ‘the gravitational fields of the sun and moon are strong enough to cause the rising and falling of tides on Earth’. If the moon can affect the tides, then surely the moon can affect a person. But what is the analog to the tides in a person? We are reminded that humans begin life in an amniotic sea and the human body is 70 percent water! If oysters open and close their shells in accordance with the tides, which flow in accordance with the electromagnetic and gravitational forces of the sun and moon, and humans are full of water, then isn’t it obvious that humans must be influenced by the moon as well? It may be obvious, but the evidence from moon studies does not support it.
Astrologers emphasize the importance of the positions of the sun, moon, planets, etc., at the time of birth. But why are the initial conditions more important than all subsequent conditions for one’s personality and traits? Why is the moment of birth chosen as the significant moment rather than the moment of conception? Why aren’t other initial conditions such as one’s mother’s health, the delivery place conditions, forceps, bright lights, dim room, back seat of a car, etc., more important than whether Mars is ascending, descending, culminating or fulminating? Why isn’t the planet Earth, much closer to us at birth, considered a major influence on who we are and what we become?
Other than the sun and the moon and an occasional passing comet or asteroid, most planetary objects are so distant from us that any influences they might have on anything on our planet are likely to be wiped out by the influences of the sun and moon. Earth, and the people and things on earth that a person comes in direct contact with, are likely to be more important as influencing factors in our lives than distant heavenly bodies. What’s more, if it turns out that we can determine specific effects from specific birthplace conditions, then we can control those conditions to bring about beneficial results. On the other hand, even if it were true that the position of the stars and planets is more important to your life than whether your birth was a difficult one under horrendous conditions, there is nothing we can do about the stars and there is a limit to how much control we can have over the time of a person’s birth. (I am glad I won’t be an astrologer in the age of test tube babies. How would I know when my client was ‘born’? The birthing process isn’t instantaneous. There is no single moment that a person is born. The fact that some official somewhere writes down a time of birth is irrelevant. Do they pick the moment the water breaks? - the moment the first dilation occurs? - when the first hair or toenail peeks through? - when the last toenail or hair passes the last millimeter of the vagina or belly surface? - when the umbilical cord is cut? - when the first breath is taken? - or the moment when the physician or nurse looks at a clock or watch [no doubt magically free from the possibility of inaccuracy] to note the time of birth?).
No one would claim that in order to grasp the effect of the moon on the tides or potatoes one must understand initial conditions of the Singularity before the Big Bang, or the positions of the stars and planets at the time the potato was harvested. If you want to know what tomorrow’s low tide will be you do not need to know where the moon was when the first ocean or river was formed, or whether the ocean came first and then the moon, or vice-versa. Initial conditions are less important than present conditions to understanding current effects on rivers and vegetables. If this is true for the tides and plants, why wouldn’t it be true for people?
correlation is not causality
This fascination with correlation is also found in the reasoning of those who try to make every ancient megalithic site into an astronomical observatory of some sort. Defenders of astrology should note what Aubrey Burl wrote of such reasoning…….
…the odds are in favour of a
good celestial sightline occurring fortuitously in almost any circle. Examine a site like Grey Croft,
Also, while it is true that the odds are inconceivably large that anyone would make more than 20 straight passes at the craps table, it’s happened. Given enough craps games, the inconceivable will become the frequent. In short, what seems to defy the “laws” of statistics, may not do so when examined more carefully.
Finally, there are those who defend astrology by
pointing out how accurate professional horoscopes are. A colleague of mine, a history teacher with
a Ph.D. in history from the
Basically, to say astrology works means that there are a lot of satisfied customers. It does not mean that astrology is accurate in predicting human behavior
or events to a degree significantly greater than mere chance. The main support for this argument is in the
form of anecdotes and testimonials. There are many satisfied customers who
believe that their horoscope accurately describes them and that their
astrologer has given them good advice.
Such evidence does not prove astrology so much as it demonstrates the
effects of cold reading, the Forer effect, and confirmation bias. Good astrologers give good advice, but that
does not validate astrology. There have
been several studies which have shown that people will use selective thinking
to make any chart they are given fit their preconceived notions about
themselves and their charts. Many of
the claims made about signs and personalities are vague and would fit many
people under many different signs. Even
professional astrologers, most of whom have nothing but disdain for Sun Sign
Astrology, can’t pick out a correct horoscope reading at better than a chance
rate. Yet, astrology continues to
maintain its popularity, despite the fact that there is scarcely a shred of
scientific evidence in its favor. Even
the First Lady of the
Is it possible that I am who I am because of the position of the planets, stars, moons, comets, asteroids, quasars, black holes, etc., at the moment of my birth? Yes, it is possible. Do I have any reason to think that this possibility is more likely than the opposite possibility, namely, that these matters are insignificant and irrelevant to my ‘destiny’? No. I can’t find a single good reason for believing any of this. But I am a Taurus and we all know how stubborn I should be.
Culver, Roger B. and Philip A. Ianna. Astrology, True or False? : A Scientific Evaluation (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988). $19.95
Dean, Geoffrey and Arthur Mather and Ivan W. Kelly, “Astrology,” in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal, ed. G. Stein (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996).
Jerome, Lawrence E. Astrology Disproved (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1977). $26.95
Kelly, I.W. , G.A. Dean and D.H. Saklofske, “Astrology, A Critical Review,” in Philosophy of Science and the Occult, 2nd ed. ed. Patrick Grim (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1990), pp. 51-81.
Kelly, I.W. “Modern Astrology: A Critique,” Psychological Reports, 1997, 81, 1035-1066.
Kelly, I.W. “Why Astrology Doesn’t Work,” Psychological Reports, 1998, 82, 527-546.
Martens, R., & Trachet, T. (1998) Making Sense of Astrology (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998). $16.77
Randi, James. Flim-Flam! (Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books,1982), chapter 4. Nature, Vol. 318 p. 419 (5 December 1985).