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An astrological chart (or horoscope) - Y2K Chart — This particular chart is calculated for January 1, 2000 at 12:01:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time in New York City, New York, USA. (Longitude: 074W00'23" - Latitude: 40N42'51")

Astrology (from Greek: αστρολογία = άστρον, astron, "star" + λόγος, logos, "word") is any of several traditions or systems in which knowledge of the apparent positions of celestial bodies is held to be useful in understanding, interpreting, and organizing knowledge about reality and human existence on earth. It is classified as a pseudoscience because it makes use of observed data about the heavens to draw conclusions that are unsupported by science. All astrological traditions are based on the relative positions and movements of various real and construed celestial bodies as seen at the time and place of the birth or other event being studied. These are chiefly the Sun, Moon, planets, Ascendant & Midheaven axes, and the lunar nodes. A practitioner of astrology is called an astrologer, or sometimes an astrologist.

Many of those who practice astrology believe the positions of certain celestial bodies either influence or correlate with people's personality traits, important events in their lives, and even physical characteristics.

Astrology is not considered to be a science, but is more appropriately a spiritual discipline, and is separate from astronomy, the scientific study of outer space. For many astrologers the purported relationship between the celestial bodies and events on earth need not be causal, nor even scientific. Although there are astrologers who try to put astrology on sound scientific grounds, for many more it is a technology and an art that merges calculations with intuitive perceptions.

The generally established opinion of the scientific community is that astrology is mere superstition, with no actual predictive ability.

The core principles of astrology reflect a general principle, which was accepted in some parts of the ancient world, that events in the heavens should have analogies on Earth. In some places, such as ancient China and Babylon, the apparently untoward movement of a comet across the otherwise orderly movement of the heavens was taken as a portent of disaster: the very word still contains its "star" root, aster. Such ancient beliefs are epitomized in the Hermetic maxim: As Above, So Below. The famous astronomer/astrologer Tycho Brahe also used a similar phrase to justify his studies in astrology: Suspiciendo despicio — "By looking up I see downward."



In past centuries astrology often relied on close observation of astronomical objects, and the charting of their movements, and might be considered a protoscience in this regard. In modern times astrologers have tended to rely on data drawn up by astronomers and set out in a set of tables called an ephemeris, which shows the changing positions of the heavenly bodies through time. It is the interpretation of these science based tables that makes astrology a target for the label pseudoscience.

Central to all astrology is the natal chart (other names for this diagram in English include horoscope, natus, nativity, astrological chart, celestial map, birth chart, sky-map, cosmogram, Vitasphere, soulprint, radix, or simply chart). This is a diagrammatic representation in two dimensions of the celestial bodies' apparent positions in the heavens from the vantage of a location on Earth at a given time and place. Interpretation of a natal chart is governed by:

Common traditions of astrology include Western astrology, Chinese astrology, Jyotish (Vedic astrology) and Kabbalistic astrology. All of these can be subdivided by type, such as natal astrology (the study of a person's birth, or natal chart), horary astrology (a chart drawn up to answer a specific question), and electional astrology (a chart drawn up ahead of time to determine the best moment to begin an enterprise or undertaking). Mundane astrologers believe correlations exist between geological phenomena (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.) and astronomical phenomena (the movement of celestial bodies in relation to Earth). Political astrology has existed for thousands of years as well, while some astrologers use ancient methods which are supposed to be able to predict the weather and weather-related phenomena (storms, floods, etc.), which is collectively known as meteorological astrology.

Astrology has had a profound influence over the centuries on the English language. Influenza was so named because doctors once believed it to be caused by unfavorable planetary and stellar influences. The word "disaster" comes from the Latin "dis-aster" meaning "bad star". Also, the adjectives "lunatic" (Moon), "mercurial" (Mercury), "martial" (Mars), "jovial" (Jupiter/Jove), and "saturnine" (Saturn) are all old words used to describe personal qualities said to resemble or be highly influenced by the astrological characteristics of the planet.

A few Western and all Jyotish (Hindu) astrologers use the sidereal zodiac, which uses the true astronomical positions of the stars. The majority of Western astrologers base their work on the tropical zodiac, which uses a view of the heavens as seen 2000 years ago.

History of astrology

See the main article at History of astrology.

The study of Western astrology and the belief in it, as part of astronomy, is found in a developed form among the ancient Babylonians; and directly or indirectly through the Babylonians, it spread to other nations. It came to Greece about the middle of the 4th century BC, and reached Rome before the opening of the Christian era. For a detailed description, including astrology in other cultures, see the main article.

The validity of astrology

See the main article at Validity of astrology.

Astrology is a controversial subject. The case for and the case against astrology's objective validity are discussed more fully at Validity of astrology.

Astrologers argue that astrology works by a mechanism that is (yet) unknown to science and that it is validated by their personal experience when applied in real life cases. They argue that it does not make the hard predictions that science would require but informs the user of subtleties to decisions that would otherwise be missed.

Skeptics see astrology as repeatedly failing to demonstrate its effectiveness in controlled studies and see those who continue to use it as gullible and deluded, or even as charlatans.

Astrology as a descriptive language for the mind

Many writers, notably William Shakespeare [1] (, used astrological symbolism to add subtlety to the description of their characters' motivation. An understanding of astrological principles is needed to fully appreciate such literature. Some modern thinkers, notably Carl Jung, have acknowledged its descriptive powers of the mind without necessarily subscribing to its predictive claims.

Astrology and the classical elements

See the main article at Astrology and the classical elements.

Astrology has used the concept of classical elements from antiquity up until the present. Most modern astrologers use the four classical elements extensively, and indeed it is still viewed as a critical part of interpreting the astrological chart.

Astrology and alchemy

See the main article at Astrology and alchemy.

Alchemy in the Western World and other locations where it was widely practiced was (and in many cases still is) closely allied and intertwined with traditional Babylonian-Greek style astrology; in numerous ways they were built to complement each other in the search for hidden knowledge. Traditionally, each of the seven planets in the solar system as known to the ancients was associated with, held dominion over, and ruled a certain metal.

A separate article also exists on astrology and numerology.

The seven liberal arts and astrology

In medieval Europe, a university education was divided into seven distinct areas, each represented by a particular planet and known as the Seven Liberal Arts. They were seen as operating in ascending order, beginning with Grammar which was assigned to the quickest moving celestial body (the Moon) and culminating in Astronomia which was thought to be astrologically ruled by Saturn, the slowest moving and furthest out planet known at the time. After this sequence wisdom was supposed to have been achieved by the medieval university student.

See also

External links

Astrology and its history

Validity and usefulness

Astrology in relation to other thought systems

The astrologer's tools

Free natal reports

Western astrology

Chinese astrology

Vedic astrology

Maya-Aztec astrology

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