Astrology

Astrology

Overview
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. In the West, astrology most often consists of a system of horoscope
Horoscope
In astrology, a horoscope is a chart or diagram representing the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, the astrological aspects, and sensitive angles at the time of an event, such as the moment of a person's birth. The word horoscope is derived from Greek words meaning "a look at the hours" In...

s that claim to predict aspects of an individual's personality or life history based on the positions of the sun, moon, and planetary objects at the time of their birth. Many other cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and the Indian, Chinese
Chinese astrology
Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. The development of Chinese astrology is tied to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty ....

, and Mayan cultures developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations.

Astrology’s origins in Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 cultures trace to the third millennium BCE, with roots in calendrical
Calendrical calculation
A Calendrical calculation is a calculation concerning calendar dates. Calendrical calculations can be considered an area of applied mathematics.Some examples of calendrical calculations:* The number of days between two dates....

 systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications.
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Astrology is a disease, not a science.

Moses ben Maimon, 1135 to 1204, Jewish philosopher
Encyclopedia
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. In the West, astrology most often consists of a system of horoscope
Horoscope
In astrology, a horoscope is a chart or diagram representing the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, the astrological aspects, and sensitive angles at the time of an event, such as the moment of a person's birth. The word horoscope is derived from Greek words meaning "a look at the hours" In...

s that claim to predict aspects of an individual's personality or life history based on the positions of the sun, moon, and planetary objects at the time of their birth. Many other cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and the Indian, Chinese
Chinese astrology
Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. The development of Chinese astrology is tied to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty ....

, and Mayan cultures developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations.

Astrology’s origins in Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 cultures trace to the third millennium BCE, with roots in calendrical
Calendrical calculation
A Calendrical calculation is a calculation concerning calendar dates. Calendrical calculations can be considered an area of applied mathematics.Some examples of calendrical calculations:* The number of days between two dates....

 systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Through most of its history it was considered a scholarly tradition. It was accepted in political and academic contexts, and its concepts were built into other studies, such as astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

, meteorology
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

, and medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

. At the end of the 17th century, new scientific concepts in astronomy (such as heliocentrism
Heliocentrism
Heliocentrism, or heliocentricism, is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe. The word comes from the Greek . Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to geocentrism, which placed the Earth at the center...

) began to damage the credibility of astrology, which subsequently lost its academic and theoretical standing. Astrology saw a popular revival in the 19th and 20th centuries as part of a general revival of spiritualism
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

 and later New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 philosophy, and through the influence of mass media such as newspaper horoscopes.

While astrology may bear a superficial resemblance to science, it is a pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

 because it makes little attempt to develop solutions to its problems, shows no concern for the evaluation of competing theories, and is selective in considering confirmations
Confirmation holism
Confirmation holism, also called epistemological holism is the claim that a single scientific theory cannot be tested in isolation; a test of one theory always depends on other theories and hypotheses....

 and dis-confirmations.

Etymology


The word astrology comes from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 astrologia, deriving from the Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 noun , which combines astro, 'star, celestial body' with logia, 'study of, theory, discourse (about)'.

Historically, the word star has had a loose definition, by which it can refer to planets or any luminous celestial object. The notion of it signifying all heavenly bodies is evident in early Babylonian astrology
Babylonian astrology
In Babylon as well as in Assyria as a direct offshoot of Babylonian culture, astrology takes its place in theofficial cult as one of the two chief means at the disposal of the priests for ascertaining the will and intention of the gods, the other being through the inspection of the liver of the...

 where cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 depictions for the determinative MUL (star) present a symbol of stars alongside planetary and other stellar references to indicate deified objects which reside in the heavens. The word planet (based on the Greek verb planaō 'to wander/stray'), was introduced by the Greeks as a reference to how seven notable 'stars' were seen to 'wander' through others which remained static in their relationship to each other, with the distinction noted by the terms asteres aplaneis ‘fixed stars’, and asteres planetai, ‘wandering stars’. Initially, texts such as Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

's Tetrabiblos
Tetrabiblos
The Tetrabiblos , also known under the Latin title Quadripartitum , is a text on the philosophy and practice of astrology, written in the second century AD by the Alexandrian scholar Claudius Ptolemy ....

referred to the planets as 'the star of Saturn', 'the star of Jupiter', etc., rather than simply 'Saturn' or 'Jupiter', but the names became simplified as the word planet assumed astronomical formality over time.

The seven Classical planets therefore comprise the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 and Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 along with the solar-system planets that are visible to the naked eye: Mercury
Mercury (planet)
Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

, Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

, Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

, Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

, and Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

. This remained the standard definition of the word 'planet' until the discovery of Uranus
Uranus
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus , the father of Cronus and grandfather of Zeus...

 in 1781 created a need for revision. Although the modern IAU definition of planet does not include the Sun and the Moon, astrology retains historical convention in its description of those astronomical bodies, and also generally maintains reference to Pluto as being an astrological planet.

Core principles



A central principle of astrology is integration within the cosmos. The individual, Earth, and its environment are viewed as a single organism, all parts of which are correlated with each other. Cycles of change that are observed in the heavens are therefore said to be reflective (not causative) of similar cycles of change observed on earth and within the individual. This relationship is expressed in the Hermetic
Hermeticism
Hermeticism or the Western Hermetic Tradition is a set of philosophical and religious beliefs based primarily upon the pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus...

 maxim "as above, so below; as below, so above", which postulates symmetry between the individual as a microcosm
Macrocosm and microcosm
Macrocosm and microcosm is an ancient Greek Neo-Platonic schema of seeing the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale all the way down to the smallest scale...

 and the celestial environment as a macrocosm. Accordingly, the natal horoscope depicts a stylized map of the universe at the time of birth, specifically focussed on the individual at its centre, with the Sun, Moon, and celestial bodies considered to be that individual’s personal planets or stars, which are uniquely relevant to that individual alone.

At the heart of astrology is the metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 principle that mathematical relationships express qualities or ‘tones' of energy which manifest in numbers, visual angles, shapes and sounds – all connected within a pattern of proportion. Pythagoras
Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

 first identified that the pitch of a musical note is in proportion to the length of the string that produces it, and that intervals between harmonious sound frequencies form simple numerical ratios. In a theory known as the Harmony of the Spheres, Pythagoras proposed that the Sun, Moon and planets all emit their own unique hum based on their orbital revolution, and that the quality of life on Earth reflects the tenor of celestial sounds which are physically imperceptible to the human ear. Subsequently, Plato described astronomy and music as "twinned" studies of sensual recognition: astronomy for the eyes, music for the ears, and both requiring knowledge of numerical proportions.

Later philosophers retained the close association between astronomy, optics, music and astrology, including Ptolemy, who wrote influential texts on all these topics. Alkindi, in the 9th century, developed Ptolemy's ideas in De Aspectibus which explores many points of relevance to astrology and the use of planetary aspects. In the 17th century, Kepler, also influenced by arguments in Ptolemy’s Optics and Harmonica, compiled his Harmonices Mundi ('Harmony of the World'), which presented his own analysis of optical perceptions, geometrical shapes, musical consonance
Consonance and dissonance
In music, a consonance is a harmony, chord, or interval considered stable, as opposed to a dissonance , which is considered to be unstable...

s and planetary harmonies. Kepler regarded this text as the most important work of his career, and the fifth part, concerning the role of planetary harmony in Creation
Creation
Creation may refer to:In religion and philosophy:*Creation myth, stories of the supernatural creation of the Earth and its inhabitants*Genesis creation narrative, The Biblical account of creationIn science and technology:...

, the crown of it. His premise was that, as an integral part of Universal Law, mathematical harmony is the key that binds all parts together: one theoretical proposition from his work introduced the minor planetary aspects into astrology; another introduced Kepler’s third law of planetary motion
Kepler's laws of planetary motion
In astronomy, Kepler's laws give a description of the motion of planets around the Sun.Kepler's laws are:#The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci....

 into astronomy.

Another core principle is exemplified in an astrological maxim used by Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

 in the 17th century: "The last rule (which has always been held by the wiser astrologers) is that there is no fatal necessity in the stars; but that they rather incline than compel". Bacon advocated an emphasis on what he called "sane astrology" based on the study of subtle influences that "lie concealed in the depths of Physic". His arguments reflect how astrology has always involved consideration of the psyche, a more recent expression of which can be found in the writings of Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 and the development of modern psychological astrology
Psychological astrology
Psychological astrology, or astropsychology, is the result of the cross-fertilisation of the fields of astrology with depth psychology, humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychology. The horoscope is analysed through the archetypes within astrology to gain psychological insight into an...

.

World traditions


Although most cultural systems of astrology share common roots in ancient philosophies that influenced each other, many have unique methodologies which differ from those developed in the west. The most significant are Hindu astrology (also known as "Indian astrology" and in modern times referred to as "Vedic astrology") and Chinese astrology. Both have yielded great influence upon the world's cultural history.

Western astrology



Western astrology
Western astrology
Western astrology is the system of astrology most popular in Western countries. Western astrology is historically based on Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos , which in turn was a continuation of Hellenistic and ultimately Babylonian traditions....

 is largely horoscopic
Horoscopic astrology
Horoscopic astrology is a form of astrology that uses a horoscope, a visual representation of the heavens, for a specific moment in time in order to interpret the inherent meaning underlying the alignment of the planets at that moment...

, that is, it is a form of divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 based on the construction of a horoscope
Horoscope
In astrology, a horoscope is a chart or diagram representing the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, the astrological aspects, and sensitive angles at the time of an event, such as the moment of a person's birth. The word horoscope is derived from Greek words meaning "a look at the hours" In...

 for an exact moment, such as a person's birth. It is founded on the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies such as the Sun, Moon, planets, which are analyzed by their aspects
Astrological aspect
In astrology, an aspect is an angle the planets make to each other in the horoscope, and also to the ascendant, midheaven, descendant, lower midheaven, and other points of astrological interest. Aspects are measured by the angular distance in degrees and minutes of ecliptic longitude between two...

 (angles) relative to one another. These are usually considered by their placement in houses
House (astrology)
Most horoscopic traditions of astrology systems divide the horoscope into a number of houses whose positions depend on time and location rather than on date. In Hindu astrological tradition these are known as Bhāvas. The houses of the horoscope represent different spheres of life, described in...

 (spatial divisions of the sky), and their movement through signs
Astrological sign
Astrological signs represent twelve equal segments or divisions of the zodiac. According to astrology, celestial phenomena reflect or govern human activity on the principle of "as above, so below", so that the twelve signs are held to represent twelve basic personality types or characteristic modes...

 of the zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

 (spatial divisions of the ecliptic
Ecliptic
The ecliptic is the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun. In more accurate terms, it is the intersection of the celestial sphere with the ecliptic plane, which is the geometric plane containing the mean orbit of the Earth around the Sun...

). Astrology's modern representation in western popular media is often reduced to sun sign astrology
Sun sign astrology
Sun sign astrology is the form of astrology most commonly found in many newspaper and magazine columns. It is a simplified system of astrology which considers only the position of the Sun, which is said to be placed within one of the twelve zodiac signs depending on the month of birth...

, which considers only basic relationships of planets to the zodiac sign of the Sun at an individual's date of birth. The full analysis of the birth chart, as performed by an astrological practitioner, involves much more detailed consideration than this.

Indian and South/West Asian astrology



Indian (or Hindu) astrology uses a different commencement point to its 12-fold division of the zodiac than Western astrology but retains the same names and meanings for the signs and shares many of the same traditional principles. The two methods differ mainly in their focus on sidereal and tropical astrology
Sidereal and tropical astrology
Sidereal and tropical are astronomical terms used to describe two different definitions of a "year". They are also used as terms for two systems of ecliptic coordinates used in astrology....

. Hindu astrology relies on the sidereal zodiac which is aligned to the constellations. This uses an adjustment, called ayanamsa
Ayanamsa
Ayanamsa , also ayanabhāga , is the Sanskrit term in Indian astronomy for the amount of precession...

, to take into account the gradual precession
Sidereal time
Sidereal time is a time-keeping system astronomers use to keep track of the direction to point their telescopes to view a given star in the night sky...

 of the vernal equinox
Great year
The Great Year is an archaic cosmological conception, found in different cultures, which acquired new interpretations with the development of astronomical knowledge In the Western tradition Plato has been the main source for the idea, so it was also frequently called 'Platonic year'...

 (the gradual shift in the orientation of the Earth's axis of rotation). Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac, which is aligned to the points where the Sun's position on the ecliptic
Ecliptic
The ecliptic is the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun. In more accurate terms, it is the intersection of the celestial sphere with the ecliptic plane, which is the geometric plane containing the mean orbit of the Earth around the Sun...

 creates the change of seasons. Hindu astrology also includes several sub-systems of zodiac division, and employs the notion of bandhu
Bandhu
Bandhu, Sanskrit for relation or binding, are the connections that, according to the Vedas link the outer and the inner worlds. Vedic texts speak, for example, of the 360 bones of the fetus that fuse into the 206 bones of the adult...

: connections that, according to the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 link the outer and the inner worlds. This principle is similar to that found in Western and Chinese astrology, in considering the connection between the macrocosm and microcosm.

In India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, there is a long-established and widespread belief in astrology. It is commonly used for daily life, particularly in matters concerning marriage and career, and makes extensive use of electional
Electional astrology
Electional astrology, also known as event astrology, is a branch found in most traditions of astrology in which a practitioner decides the most appropriate time for an event based on the astrological auspiciousness of that time...

, horary
Horary astrology
Horary astrology is an ancient branch of horoscopic astrology by which an astrologer attempts to answer a question by constructing a horoscope for the exact time at which the question was received and understood by the astrologer...

 and karmic astrology
Karmic astrology
Karmic Astrology is practiced by the astrologers who believe in karma and reincarnation. Some of these astrologers profess they can read the person's karma in a Natal chart by studying - in particular - Lunar nodes and retrograde planets...

. It remains considered a branch of Vedic science
Vedic science
Vedic science may refer to a number of disciplines: ancient and modern, scientific and unscientific, religious, metaphysical, Hindu, occultist, New Age, proto-scientific, or pseudoscientific found in or based on the Vedas.Vedic period...

. In 2001, Indian scientists and politicians debated and critiqued a proposal to use state money to fund research into astrology resulting in vedic astrology being introduced into the curriculum of Indian universities. In February 2011, the Bombay High Court reaffirmed astrology's standing in India when it dismissed a case which had challenged it status as a science.

The astrology commonly used in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 is largely based on Hindu astrology with some modifications to bring it in line with Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 teachings. Tibetan astrology
Tibetan Astrology
Tibetan astrology is a traditional discipline of the Tibetan peoples that has dialogued with both Chinese astrology and Indian astrology. Tibetan astrology is one of the 'Ten Sciences' in the enumeration honoured by this cultural tradition.-Animals:The animals cycle in an archetypal progression...

 also shares many of these components but has also been strongly influenced by Chinese culture and acknowledges a circle of animal signs similar to that of the Chinese zodiac (see below).

Chinese and East-Asian astrology



Chinese astrology has a close relation with Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy is philosophy written in the Chinese tradition of thought. The majority of traditional Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States era, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and...

 (theory of the three harmony, heaven, earth and water) and uses the principles of yin and yang
Yin and yang
In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

 and concepts that are not found in Western astrology, such as the wu xing teachings, the 10 Celestial stems, the 12 Earthly Branches
Earthly Branches
The Earthly Branches provide one Chinese system for reckoning time.This system was built from observations of the orbit of Jupiter. Chinese astronomers divided the celestial circle into 12 sections to follow the orbit of Suìxīng . Astronomers rounded the orbit of Suixing to 12 years...

, and shichen (時辰 a form of timekeeping used for religious purposes).

The system of Chinese astrology was elaborated during the Zhou dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 (1046–256 BC) and flourished during the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (2nd century BC to 2nd century AD), during which all the familiar elements of traditional Chinese culture - the Yin-Yang philosophy, theory of the 5 elements, Heaven and Earth, Confucian morality - were brought together to formalise the philosophical principles of Chinese medicine and divination, astrology and alchemy.

The early use of Chinese astrology was mainly confined to political astrology, the observation of unusual phenomena, identification of portent
Portent
Portent may refer to:* Portent , a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future* The Portent, a comic book* USS Portent , an Auk-class minesweeper...

s and the selection of auspicious days for events and decisions. The constellations of the Zodiac of western Asia and Europe were not used; instead the sky is divided into Three Enclosures
Three enclosures
The Three enclosures are the Purple Forbidden enclosure , Supreme Palace enclosure , and Heavenly Market enclosure in the Chinese constellation system....

 (三垣 sān yuán), and Twenty-eight Mansions
Twenty-eight mansions
The Twenty-eight Mansions , ', ' or ' are part of the Chinese constellations system. They can be considered as the equivalent to the zodiacal constellations in the Western astronomy, though the Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon in a lunar month rather than the Sun in a solar year...

 (二十八宿 èrshíbā xiù) in twelve Ci (十二次). The Three Enclosures occupy the area close to the North Celestial Pole, where the stars are visible to northern hemisphere observers all year around. The Twenty-eight Mansions occupy the zodiacal band and find their equivalent in the 28 Lunar mansion
Lunar mansion
A lunar mansion is a segment of the ecliptic through which the moon moves in its orbit around the earth, often used by ancient cultures as part of their calendar system...

s of western astrology and the Nakshatra
Nakshatra
Nakshatra is the term for lunar mansion in Hindu astrology. A nakshatra is one of 27 sectors along the ecliptic...

 of Indian astrology. Though marked along the zodiac they are defined by the movement of the Moon in a lunar month
Lunar month
In lunar calendars, a lunar month is the time between two identical syzygies . There are many variations. In Middle-Eastern and European traditions, the month starts when the young crescent moon becomes first visible at evening after conjunction with the Sun one or two days before that evening...

 rather than the Sun in a solar year. The Zhou Bi Suan Jing is an important astronomical text, dating from the Zhou dynasty but completed in the Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

. It presents a complex lunisolar calendar
Lunisolar calendar
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will...

 whose focus reflects a long-standing division between mathematical astronomy "li fa" and portent astrology "tian wen".

The zodiac of twelve animal signs is said to represent twelve different types of personality. This is not derived from divisions of the ecliptic as in Western astrology, but represents annual rather than monthly themes, being based on cycles of years, lunar months, and two-hour periods of the day (the shichen). The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat
Rat (zodiac)
The Rat is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Rat is associated with the earthly branch symbol 子...

, and the cycle proceeds through 11 other animals signs: the Ox
Ox (zodiac)
The Ox is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Ox is denoted by the earthly branch character 丑...

, Tiger
Tiger (zodiac)
The Tiger , is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Tiger is associated with the earthly branch symbol 寅.- Years and the Five Elements :...

, Rabbit
Rabbit (zodiac)
The Chinese Year of the Rabbit is actually the Chinese Year of the Hare, as China has seven native species of hares and no native species of rabbits. The Chinese applied their word for hare to the first rabbits to be taken to China, and the word is now erroneously back-translated into English as...

, Dragon
Dragon (zodiac)
The Dragon , is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar, and the only animal that is legendary...

, Snake
Snake (zodiac)
The Snake is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Snake is associated with the earthly branch symbol 巳.-Years and the Five Elements:...

, Horse
Horse (zodiac)
The Horse is the seventh of the 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Horse is associated with the earthly branch symbol 午.- Years and the Five Elements :...

, Goat, Monkey
Monkey (zodiac)
The Monkey is the ninth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Monkey is associated with the earthly branch symbol 申.-Years and the five elements:...

, Rooster
Rooster (zodiac)
The Rooster is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Rooster is represented by the earthly branch character 酉.- Years and associated Five Elements :...

, Dog
Dog (zodiac)
The Dog is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Dog is associated with the earthly branch symbol 戌...

 and Pig
Pig (zodiac)
The Pig , is the last of the 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Pig is associated with the earthly branch Hai .In Chinese culture, the pig is associated with fertility and virility...

. A complex system of predicting fate and destiny based on one's birthday, birth season, and birth hours, known as Zi Wei Dou Shu
Zi wei dou shu
Zi Wei Dou Shu is a form of fortune-telling in Chinese culture. It remains one of the most well-respected processes for laying out "The Destiny Path" or "Fate".-Terminology:...

  is also still used regularly in modern day Chinese astrology.

The Korean zodiac is identical to the Chinese one. The Vietnamese zodiac is almost identical to Chinese zodiac except that the second animal is the Water Buffalo
Water buffalo (zodiac)
The buffalo is the second animal symbol in the 12-year cycle of the Vietnamese zodiac, taking place of the ox in the Chinese zodiac. Water buffalo are industrious and patient. In general, the year is slow and steady, appropriate for scientists. The hours of the buffalo are from 1 to 3 am....

 instead of the Ox, and the fourth animal is the Cat
Cat (zodiac)
The cat is the fourth animal symbol in the 12-year cycle of the Vietnamese zodiac, taking place of the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac. Cats are 'smooth talkers', talented and ambitious, and will succeed in studies. They are in conflict with the rat. A cat person has a supple mind and patient...

 instead of the Rabbit. The Japanese zodiac includes the Wild Boar instead of the Pig. The Thai zodiac includes a Naga in place of the Dragon and begins, not at Chinese New Year, but at either on the first day of fifth month in Thai lunar calendar, or during the Songkran festival (now celebrated every 13–15 April), depending on the purpose of the use.

Ancient world



Astrology, before its differentiation from astronomy, began when humans started to measure, record, and predict seasonal changes by reference to astronomical cycles. Early evidence of this appears as markings on bones and cave walls, which show lunar cycles
Lunar phase
A lunar phase or phase of the moon is the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, usually on Earth. The lunar phases change cyclically as the Moon orbits the Earth, according to the changing relative positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun...

 were being noted as early as 25,000 years ago. These were the first steps towards recording the Moon’s influence upon tides and rivers, and towards organizing a communal calendar. Agricultural needs were also met by increasing knowledge of constellations, whose appearances change with the seasons, allowing the rising of particular star-groups to herald annual floods or seasonal activities. By the third millennium BCE, widespread civilizations had developed sophisticated awareness of celestial cycles, and are believed to have consciously oriented their temples to create alignment with the heliacal risings of the stars.

There is scattered evidence to suggest that the oldest known astrological references are copies of texts made during this period. Two, from the Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa
Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa
The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa refers to the record of astronomical observations of Venus, as preserved in numerous cuneiform tablets dating from the first millennium BCE. It is believed that this astronomical record was first compiled during the reign of King Ammisaduqa , the fourth ruler after...

 (compiled in Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 round 1700 BCE) are reported to have been made during the reign of king Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great "the Great King" , was an Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 23rd and 22nd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned in the last quarter of the third millennium BC...

 (2334-2279 BCE). Another, showing an early use of electional astrology
Electional astrology
Electional astrology, also known as event astrology, is a branch found in most traditions of astrology in which a practitioner decides the most appropriate time for an event based on the astrological auspiciousness of that time...

, is ascribed to the reign of the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian ruler Gudea of Lagash (ca. 2144-2124 BCE). This describes how the gods revealed to him in a dream the constellations that would be most favorable for the planned construction of a temple. However, there is controversy about whether they were genuinely recorded at the time or merely ascribed to ancient rulers by posterity. The oldest undisputed evidence of the use of astrology as an integrated system of knowledge is therefore attributed to the records of the first dynasty of Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 (1950-1651 BCE).

Medieval Islamic world



Astrology was taken up enthusiastically by Islamic scholars following the collapse of Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 to the Arabs in the 7th century, and the founding of the Abbasid empire in the 8th. The second Abbasid caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

, Al Mansur (754-775) founded the city of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 to act as a centre of learning, and included in its design a library-translation centre known as Bayt al-Hikma ‘Storehouse of Wisdom’, which continued to receive development from his heirs and was to provide a major impetus for Arabic-Persian translations of Hellenistic astrological texts. The early translators included Mashallah, who helped to elect the time for the foundation of Baghdad, and Sahl ibn Bishr
Sahl ibn Bishr
Sahl ibn Bishr al-Israili, often known as Zahel or Zael was a Jewish astrologer, astronomer and mathematician from Tabaristan. He was the father of Ali ibn Sahl the famous scientist and physician, who became a convert to Islam.- His works :...

, (a.k.a Zael), whose texts were directly influential upon later European astrologers such as Guido Bonatti
Guido Bonatti
Guido Bonatti was an Italian astronomer and astrologer from Forlì. He was the most celebrated astrologer in Europe in his century.-Biography:...

 in the 13th century, and William Lilly
William Lilly
William Lilly , was an English astrologer famed during his time. Lilly was particularly adept at interpreting the astrological charts drawn up for horary questions, as this was his speciality....

 in the 17th century. Knowledge of Arabic texts started to become imported into Europe during the Latin translations of the 12th century, the effect of which was to help initiate the European Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.

Other important Arabic astrologers include Albumasur
Ja'far ibn Muhammad Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi
Abū Maʿshar, Jaʿfar ibn Muḥammad al-Balkhī , was a Persian astrologer, astronomer, and Islamic philosopher, thought to be the greatest astrologer of the Abbasid court in Baghdad...

 and Al Khwarizmi, the Persian mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, who is considered the father of algebra
Algebra
Algebra is the branch of mathematics concerning the study of the rules of operations and relations, and the constructions and concepts arising from them, including terms, polynomials, equations and algebraic structures...

 and the algorithm
Algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

. The Arabs greatly increased the knowledge of astronomical cycles, and many of the star names that remain in common use today, such as Aldebaran
Aldebaran
Aldebaran is a red giant star located about 65 light years away in the zodiac constellation of Taurus. With an average apparent magnitude of 0.87 it is the brightest star in the constellation and is one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky...

, Altair, Betelgeuse
Betelgeuse
Betelgeuse, also known by its Bayer designation Alpha Orionis , is the eighth brightest star in the night sky and second brightest star in the constellation of Orion, outshining its neighbour Rigel only rarely...

, Rigel
Rigel
Rigel is the brightest star in the constellation Orion and the sixth brightest star in the sky, with visual magnitude 0.18...

 and Vega
Vega
Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, the fifth brightest star in the night sky and the second brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus...

 retain the legacy of their language.

20th and 21st century


Early in the 20th century, Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, developed sophisticated theories concerning astrology. These included concepts such as archetype
Archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

s, the collective unconscious
Collective unconscious
Collective unconscious is a term of analytical psychology, coined by Carl Jung. It is proposed to be a part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms with nervous systems, and describes how the structure of the psyche autonomously organizes experience...

 and with the collaboration of pioneer theoretical physicist (and Nobel laureate), Wolfgang Pauli
Wolfgang Pauli
Wolfgang Ernst Pauli was an Austrian theoretical physicist and one of the pioneers of quantum physics. In 1945, after being nominated by Albert Einstein, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle or...

, synchronicity
Synchronicity
Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance and that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner...

. Astrologers like Dane Rudhyar
Dane Rudhyar
Dane Rudhyar , born Daniel Chennevière, was an author, modernist composer and humanistic astrologer. He was the pioneer of modern transpersonal astrology.-Biography:...

 pursued a similar path to Jung and others such as Liz Greene
Liz Greene
Liz Greene, is an American-British astrologer, psychologist and author. She is the sister of the late author Richard Leigh...

 and Stephen Arroyo
Stephen Arroyo
Stephen Arroyo is an American author and astrologer.Arroyo has written seven books on psychologically oriented astrology which outline his theory that the individual’s experience of the Solar System’s impacts on their personal energy field, both psychological and physical...

 were influenced by the Jungian model leading to the development of psychological astrology
Psychological astrology
Psychological astrology, or astropsychology, is the result of the cross-fertilisation of the fields of astrology with depth psychology, humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychology. The horoscope is analysed through the archetypes within astrology to gain psychological insight into an...

.

In the middle of the 20th century, Alfred Witte
Alfred Witte
Alfred Witte was a German surveyor, astrologer, an amateur astronomer, and the founder of the Hamburg School of Astrology...

 and, following him, Reinhold Ebertin
Reinhold Ebertin
Dr. Reinhold Ebertin was a German physician and astrologer.-Life and work:Ebertin utilized the research on astrological midpoints of Hamburg School surveyor and astrologer Alfred Witte first published in 1928 in Witte's Regelwerk für Planetenbilder. Shortly after Witte's death in 1941, Ebertin...

 pioneered the use of midpoints, called midpoint astrology
Midpoint (astrology)
A midpoint is a mathematical point halfway between two stellar bodies that tells an interpretative picture for the individual. There are two types of midpoints: direct and indirect...

 in horoscopic analysis. A new kind of locational astrology
Locational astrology
Locational astrology is an umbrella term used to describe various types of astrology at specific locations on the Earth...

 began in 1957–58, when Donald Bradley published a hand-plotted geographic astrology map. In the 1970s, American astrologer Jim Lewis
Jim Lewis (astrologer)
Jim Lewis was the developer of modern Astrocartography. For his work in this field, he received the Marc Edmund Jones award in 1978, and the Regulus Award for Discovery, Innovation, and Research at the United Astrology Congress in 1992.Locational astrology is an old concept, but Lewis developed...

 developed this technique under the name of Astro*Carto*Graphy
Astrocartography
Astrocartography is one of several methods of locational astrology, which purports to identify varying life conditions through differences in location.-Technique:...

. The world map displays lines where the Sun, Moon, planets and other celestial points appear to be on any of the Four Angles
Angle (astrology)
The angles are the four Cardinal points of an astrological chart: the Ascendant, the Midheaven, the Descendant and the Imum Coeli.The astrological chart is a schematic representation of the sky at any given moment of time, projected upon the ecliptic--or the apparent path of the Sun as seen from...

 (Rising
Ascendant
The ascendant , or rising sign, is the zodiacal sign and degree that was ascending on the eastern horizon at the specific time and location of an event. According to astrological theory, celestial phenomena reflect or determine human activity on the principle of 'as above so below'...

, Setting
Descendant (astrology)
In astrology, the descendant is the point directly opposite, or 180 degrees away from the ascendant. The descendant forms the cusp of the seventh house of the horoscope and refers to partners or relationships. The descendant is ruled by the seventh sign of the zodiac, Libra, and its ruler planet,...

, MC
Midheaven
The midheaven is a point of definition in the ecliptic coordinate system. It aims to find the part of the ecliptic that corresponds to the highest point in a celestial object's apparent daily traverse of the visible sky, midway between its ascension on the eastern horizon and descension on the...

 and IC
Imum Coeli
In astrology, the Imum Coeli , IC, is the point in space where the ecliptic crosses the meridian in the north, exactly opposite the Midheaven...

) at a given moment in time. By comparing these lines with the horoscope, an astrologer attempts to identify the potential in any location.

Effect on European culture


Belief in astrology holds firm today in many parts of the world: in one poll, 31% of Americans expressed belief in astrology and according to another study 39% considered it scientific. According to Gallup opinion polls, around 25% of adults in the UK and US accept that astrology or the position of the stars and planets affect people’s lives, whilst other sources report the figure to be much higher.

Astrology has had an influence on both language and literature. For example, influenza
Influenza
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae , that affects birds and mammals...

, from medieval Latin influentia 'influence', was so named because doctors once believed epidemics to be caused by unfavourable celestial influences. The word disaster comes from the Greek δυσαστρία, disastria, derived from the negative prefix δυσ-, dis- and αστήρ, aster 'star', meaning not-starred or badly-starred. The adjectives lunatic (Luna/Moon), mercurial (Mercury), venereal (Venus), martial (Mars), jovial (Jupiter/Jove), and saturnine (Saturn) are all used to describe personal qualities thought to be influenced by the astrological characteristics of predominating personal planets.

In literature many writers, such as Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

 and Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, used astrological symbolism to add subtlety and nuance to the description of their characters' motivations.
More recently, Michael Ward has proposed that C.S. Lewis imbued his Chronicles of Narnia with the characteristics and symbols of the seven planets that govern the heavens in medieval astrology. In 1978, notes from Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell was an American author and journalist. Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937 for her epic American Civil War era novel, Gone with the Wind, which was the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.-Family:Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta,...

’s library revealed that she had based each character from her classic prize-winning novel, Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind
The slaves depicted in Gone with the Wind are primarily loyal house servants, such as Mammy, Pork and Uncle Peter, and these slaves stay on with their masters even after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 sets them free...

(1936), including the central star-crossed
Star-crossed
"Star-crossed" or "star-crossed lovers" is a phrase describing a pair of lovers whose relationship is often thwarted by outside forces. The term encompasses other meanings, but originally means the pairing is being "thwarted by a malign star" or that the stars are working against the relationship...

 lovers, Scarlett
Scarlett O'Hara
Scarlett O' Hara is the protagonist in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and in the later film of the same name...

 (Aries
Aries (astrology)
Aries is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, which spans the zodiac between the zero degree and the 29th degree of celestial longitude. The Sun enters Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which is usually on March 21 each year, and remains in this sign until around April 20...

) and Rhett
Rhett Butler
Rhett Butler is a fictional character and one of the main protagonists of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.-Role:In the beginning of the novel, we first meet Rhett at the Twelve Oaks Plantation barbecue, the home of John Wilkes and his son Ashley and daughters Honey and India Wilkes...

 (Leo
Leo (astrology)
Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Leo. In astrology, Leo is considered to be a "masculine", positive sign. It is also considered a fire sign and is one of four fixed signs ruled by the Sun.Individuals born when the Sun is in this sign are...

), around an archetype of the zodiac. In 2010, a detailed personal horoscope analyzed and illustrated by J.K. Rowling at the time she was writing her first Harry Potter novel
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

, came up for sale. The auctioneer commented that Rowling “displays a detailed knowledge of Western astrology which was later to play an important part in her books".

In music the best known example of astrology's influence is in the orchestral suite The Planets
The Planets
The Planets, Op. 32, is a seven-movement orchestral suite by the English composer Gustav Holst, written between 1914 and 1916. Each movement of the suite is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst...

by British composer Gustav Holst
Gustav Holst
Gustav Theodore Holst was an English composer. He is most famous for his orchestral suite The Planets....

, the framework of which is based on the astrological tones and signatures of the planets.
In politics, in 1981, after John Hinckley's attempted assassination of President Reagan, first lady Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan
Nancy Davis Reagan is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989....

 commissioned astrologer Joan Quigley
Joan Quigley
Joan Quigley , of San Francisco, is an astrologer best known for her astrological advice to the Reagan White House in the 1980s...

 to act as the secret White House astrologer. However, Quigley's role ended in 1988 when it became public through the memoirs of former chief of staff, Donald Regan
Donald Regan
Donald Thomas Regan ,was the 66th United States Secretary of the Treasury, from 1981 to 1985, and Chief of Staff from 1985 to 1987 in the Ronald Reagan Administration, where he advocated "Reaganomics" and tax cuts to create jobs and stimulate production.-Early life:Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts,...

.

Modern scientific appraisal


Contemporary science considers astrology a pseudoscience. Criticisms include that astrology is conjectural and supplies no hypotheses, proves difficult to falsify, and describes natural events in terms of scientifically untestable supernatural causes. It has also been suggested that much of the continued faith in astrology could be psychologically
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 explained as a matter of cognitive bias
Cognitive bias
A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations. Implicit in the concept of a "pattern of deviation" is a standard of comparison; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable...

. Skeptics say that the practice of western astrologers allows them to avoid making verifiable predictions, and gives them the ability to attach significance to arbitrary and unrelated events, in a way that suits their purpose, although science also provides methodologies to separate verifiable significance from arbitrary predictions in research experiments, as demonstrated by Gauquelin's research and Carlson's experiment.

Astrology has been criticized for failing to provide a physical mechanism
Physical property
A physical property is any property that is measurable whose value describes a physical system's state. The changes in the physical properties of a system can be used to describe its transformations ....

 that links the movements of celestial bodies to their purported effects on human behavior. In 1975, amid increasing popular interest in astrology, The Humanist magazine presented a rebuttal of astrology in a statement put together by Bart J. Bok, Lawrence E. Jerome, and Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz is a prominent American skeptic and secular humanist. He has been called "the father of secular humanism." He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having previously also taught at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, and the New School for...

. The statement, entitled ‘Objections to Astrology’, was signed by 186 astronomers, physicists and leading scientists of the day. They said that there is no scientific foundation for the tenets of astrology and warned the public against accepting astrological advice without question. Their criticism focused on the fact that there was no mechanism whereby astrological effects might occur:

Astronomer Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 declined to sign the statement. For this reason, his words have been quoted by those who argue that astrology retains some sort of scientific validity. Sagan said he took this stance not because he thought astrology had any validity at all, but because he thought that the tone of the statement was authoritarian, and that dismissing astrology because there was no mechanism (while "certainly a relevant point") was not in itself convincing. In a letter published in a follow-up edition of The Humanist, Sagan confirmed that he would have been willing to sign such a statement had it described and refuted the principal tenets of astrological belief. This, he argued, would have been more persuasive and would have produced less controversy.

In a lecture in 2001, Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

 stated "The reason most scientists don't believe in astrology is because it is not consistent with our theories that have been tested by experiment." Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, a science communicator, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History...

 asserted that "astrology was discredited 600 years ago with the birth of modern science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

. 'To teach it as though you are contributing to the fundamental knowledge of an informed electorate is astonishing in this, the 21st century'. Education should be about knowing how to think, 'And part of knowing how to think is knowing how the laws of nature shape the world around us. Without that knowledge, without that capacity to think, you can easily become a victim of people who seek to take advantage of you. The founder of the Astrological Institute to which Tyson's criticism was directed responded "It's quite obvious that he hasn't studied the subject."

Astrologers for their part prefer not to attempt to explain astrology, and instead give it supernatural explanations such as divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 or synchronicity. Others have proposed conventional causal agents such as electro-magnetism within an intricate web of planetary fields and resonances in the solar system. Scientists dismiss magnetism as an implausible explanation, since the magnetic field of a large but distant planet such as Jupiter is far smaller than that produced by ordinary household appliances.

Carlson's experiment


A different approach to testing astrology quantitatively uses blind experiment. The most renowned of these is Shawn Carlson's
Shawn Carlson
Shawn Carlson is an American science educator who founded the Society for Amateur Scientists in 1994, which is dedicated to "Helping ordinary people do extraordinary science." In 2010, he founded the LabRats Science Education Program, to inspire students aged 11 to 18 to "love learning about...

 double-blind chart matching tests in which he challenged 28 astrologers to match over 100 natal charts to psychological profiles generated by the California Psychological Inventory
California Psychological Inventory
The California Psychological Inventory is a self-report inventory created by Harrison Gough and currently published by Consulting Psychologists Press. The test was first published in 1956, and the most recent revision was published in 1987. It was created in a similar manner to the Minnesota...

 (CPI) test. When Carlson's study was published in Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

in 1985, his conclusion was that predictions based on natal astrology were no better than chance, and that the testing "clearly refutes the astrological hypothesis".

Gauquelin's research



]

In 1955, Michel Gauquelin
Michel Gauquelin
Michel Gauquelin was a French psychologist and statistician. Along with his first wife Françoise Schneider-Gauquelin , he conducted statistical research in an attempt to develop a scientific basis for astrology.-Early interest:Although he was highly critical of certain areas of the art, Gauquelin...

 stated that although he had failed to find evidence to support such indicators as the zodiacal signs and planetary aspects in astrology, he had found positive correlations between the diurnal positions
Diurnal motion
Diurnal motion is an astronomical term referring to the apparent daily motion of stars around the Earth, or more precisely around the two celestial poles. It is caused by the Earth's rotation on its axis, so every star apparently moves on a circle, that is called the diurnal circle. The time for...

 of some of the planets
Planets in astrology
Planets in astrology have a meaning different from the modern astronomical understanding of what a planet is. Before the age of telescopes, the night sky was thought to consist of two very similar components: fixed stars, which remained motionless in relation to each other, and wandering stars, ,...

 and success in professions (such as doctors, scientists, athletes, actors, writers, painters, etc.) which astrology traditionally associates with those planets. The best-known of Gauquelin's findings is based on the positions of Mars in the natal chart
Natal chart
In astrology, a natal chart is a stylized map of the universe with the "native" at the center. It is calculated for the exact time and location of the native's birth for the purposes of gaining insight into the native's personality and potential...

s of successful athletes and became known as the "Mars effect
Mars effect
The Mars effect is a name often used to refer to a reported statistical correlation between athletic eminence and the position of the planet Mars relative to the horizon at time and place of birth...

". A study conducted by seven French scientists attempted to replicate the claim, but found no statistical evidence, and attributed the effect to selective bias on Gauquelin's part, accusing him of attempting to persuade them to add or delete names from their study.

Theological criticism


Some of the practices of astrology were contested on theological grounds by medieval Muslim astronomers such as Al-Farabi
Al-Farabi
' known in the West as Alpharabius , was a scientist and philosopher of the Islamic world...

 (Alpharabius), Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) and Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

. They said that the methods of astrologers conflicted with orthodox religious views of Islamic scholars
Ulema
Ulama , also spelt ulema, refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies. They are best known as the arbiters of shari‘a law...

 through the suggestion that the Will of God can be known and predicted in advance. Such arguments mainly concerned "judicial branches"
Judicial astrology
Judicial astrology is the art of forecasting future events by calculation of the planetary and stellar bodies and their relationship to the Earth...

 (such as Horary astrology
Horary astrology
Horary astrology is an ancient branch of horoscopic astrology by which an astrologer attempts to answer a question by constructing a horoscope for the exact time at which the question was received and understood by the astrologer...

), rather than the more "natural branches" such as Medical and Meteorological astrology, these being seen as part of the natural sciences of the time.

For example, Avicenna’s 'Refutation against astrology' Risāla fī ibṭāl aḥkām al-nojūm, argues against the practice of astrology while supporting the principle of planets acting as the agents of divine causation which express God's absolute power over creation. Avicenna considered that the movement of the planets influenced life on earth in a deterministic way, but argued against the capability of determining the exact influence of the stars. In essence, Avicenna did not refute the essential dogma of astrology, but denied our ability to understand it to the extent that precise and fatalistic predictions could be made from it.

Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (1292–1350), in his Miftah Dar al-SaCadah, also used physical
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 arguments in astronomy to question the practice of judicial astrology. He recognized that the star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s are much larger than the planet
Planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

s, and argued:

United States


In the United States, astrological education is offered at institutions such as Kepler College
Kepler College
Kepler College is an institution of higher learning which was permitted by the state of Washington to grant degrees between March 9, 2000 and March 9, 2010. It focused on interdisciplinary liberal arts with an emphasis on the history of astrology...

, a liberal arts college with an emphasis on astrology in Lynnwood, Washington, near Seattle, which opened in 2001 and awarded its first 8 Bachelor of Arts degrees in Astrological Studies in 2004. However, unless they are completing a course of study, students attending Kepler College after March 9, 2010, are not awarded degrees but certificates of completion of a course of study. The degrees granted by Kepler are not recognized by national or regional accrediting agencies. Other astrological organizations offer study programs and correspondence courses to certify astrologers.

United Kingdom


In the United Kingdom, astrological education is offered at a number of institutions, some offering a diploma upon completion of the course and an examination. In addition, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
The University of Wales, Trinity Saint David is a collegiate university in South West Wales, comprising the Lampeter campus and the Carmarthen campus....

 at Lampeter offers an MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology
Cultural astronomy
Cultural astronomy is a blanket term used to describe interdisciplinary fields that relate to astronomical systems of current or ancient societies and cultures...

.

India


In February, 2001, vedic astrology, Jyotish Vigyan, was introduced into the curriculum of Indian universities. Undergraduate (called "graduate" in India) post-graduate and research courses of study were established. "Beneficiaries of these courses would be students, teachers, professionals from modern streams like doctors, architects, marketing, financial, economic and political analysts, etc." In April 2001 the Andhra Pradesh High Court declined to consider a petition to overturn the curriculum guideline on the ground that astrology was a pseudoscience, a decision affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2004 which declined as a matter of law to interfere with educational policy. The court noted that astrology studies were optional and that courses in astrology were offered by institutions of higher education in other countries.

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