Astrology and astronomy
grew up together throughout a large portion of human history. The two cannot
in fact be distinguished until only the past few hundred years, and because
so many people mistakenly think that astrology is some kind of science, it
often happens that the two are even today still confused with one another.
Some astrologers like to claim that astronomy is simply an "offspring" of
astrology - for example, reveals a common prejudice by defining "astronomy"
as being "...of relatively recent origin, this discipline has become
separated from and generally hostile to astrology."
The evidence, however, is inconclusive on that score. There is just as much
reason to think that astronomy came first and astrology developed later on.
For example, it is clear that the Babylonians studied the motions of the
stars for millennia before anything like a system of astrological
interpretation developed. Studying the stars without astrology would have
made a lot of sense because it served as a way of telling time - this, then,
would tell the rulers when it was time to plant crops, when floods might
Whereas astrology is the study of how events in the sky affect events here
on earth, astronomy today is the study of the radiation and movement of
extraterrestrial objects. Astronomy is a science, based upon careful
observation and prediction, designed to help humans learn more about the
universe in which we live. Astronomy has also been responsible for the
discovery of asteroids, planets, stars, galaxies and more.
Astrology is not a science. Astrology is not based upon collected data and
carefully controlled, objective observations. Astrology is not based up
falsifiable predictions which are tested and re-tested by independent
observers and researchers. Astrology has not discovered any celestial
objects - indeed, it is not clear that astrology has discovered or revealed
anything at all about our universe.
What astrology is, however, is very good business. Books on astrology bring
in billions of dollars each year, and who knows how much money professional
astrologers earn collectively. This is one reason why astrology and
astronomy stayed together for as long as they did - funding from astrology
helped support astronomical research.
Most of the very early astronomers were simultaneously employed as
astrologers for the rich and powerful. Quite often it was only because of
the prospect of getting better and more accurate astrological predictions
that anyone was willing to invest in the very expensive projects of creating
observatories and underwriting constant astronomical observations.
It was not until the time of Isaac Newton that astronomy and astrology
finally began to part company for good. It was through the work of Newton
and some others that scientists finally began to develop sound mathematical
laws which could consistently and accurately predict the movement of
celestial objects. This scientific understanding on the one hand gave
astronomy enough prominence and respect to provide astronomers with
non-astrology-based income and, on the other hand, gave researchers a way to
understand the cosmos without resorting to mystical, astrological language.
How does Astrology differ from Astronomy?
Astronomy is the science of mapping the positions and movements of celestial
bodies. It tries to discover what these bodies are made of, and where they
came from, using sophisticated technical equipment. This scientific
endeavour grew out of three traditional studies that had concerned
themselves with practical uses for our observations of the stars -
astrology, navigation and chronometry.
Practical science seeks
consistent explanations for events in the world and sorts any data gained in
the process into a body of theoretical knowledge. The idea is that this
knowledge may be used to explain and predict other events with some degree
of reliability. Science is very much a way of looking at the world that
defines what is true and what is false according to the current set of
theories (or organised belief systems) popular with the scientific community
at the time. Science is pragmatic. It does not believe in absolute truth.
Modern science is grounded in a skeptical, materialistic way of looking at
the world. Its success has grown from the reduction of natural processes to
their most basic relations and in constructing "natural laws". These laws,
used for technological development, for prediction and for making sense of
the apparent chaos, are supposedly based on observation, but are really the
consequence of a particular worldview and its dominant theories.
Facts, or Meanings?
Science as taught today is a relatively recent phenomenon, based on a set of
ideas which has been effective in explaining the material world up to a
point. It has rid us of many pre-scientific superstitions and misconceptions
based on false information. But have we thrown the baby out with the
bathwater? Our scientific paradigm (set of theories) has generally been
unable to perceive meanings in the effects of simple natural relationships,
including the effects of our relationship with cosmic influences, such as
the planets and the Moon.
Yet it has not always been so. Thousands of years of detailed observation of
the stars and careful correlation with events on the earth have shown all
things in our world to be interconnected and that the connections may be
mapped by observing the positions of the planets within the frame of the
zodiac. The zodiac ("circle of animals") is a symbolic pattern mapped onto
the starry belt of the heavens, as seen from the earth.
Astrology is a scientific way of looking at the world, but it is one which
is not favoured by the broad mass of scientists at present, because it
explains the world using a different paradigm from those which are routinely
accepted within the orthodox scientific community. This may change, as
scientific theories develop and as extravagant reactions to past excesses
begin to gain a perspective. Astrology, the mother of all science, may soon
return to her rightful place in the universities!
How does Astrology work?
Our bodies react to the world in ways which are still barely understood. We
constantly interact with our environment on many levels, from the sub-atomic
to the metaphysical. These physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual,
levels of interaction vary in depth and intensity according to our character
and training. Our world is really much more like a marvellous mind than a
Our bodies are like sensitive broadcasting and receiving stations. We
respond to a broad spectrum of radiant frequencies, not all of which have
yet been catalogued by science. Bear in mind it was not so long ago that the
idea of radio, movies, x-rays and televison signals would have been
consigned to ridicule at best - or, more ominously, to the stake with the
Some astrologers believe that planetary energies themselves generate events
in our lives - and given recent advances in quantum mechanics, they may be
right. Others believe, following Jung, the great psychologist, that
planetary positions are synchronistically connected with our lives - meaning
that environmental influences generating reactions in human beings may be
tracked in the positions of the planets, although the two may not be
causally related. Perhaps both are correct; in any case, the proof of the
pudding is in the eating. This writer believes we are organically connected
with the cosmos: whatever happens to any part of the world affects us to
some extent as individuals, even in ways which may be quite invisible to the
casual observer. Moreover, we react en masse much more noticeably to
environmental factors which may be more or less insignificant at the
Freewill and Destiny
It should be said that astrology is not generally a way of foretelling
inevitable fate. Paracelsus, one of the world's greatest astrologers,
remarked: "The stars incline; they do not compel". He meant that while
planetary influences create the groundwork and basis for action in any set
of circumstances, there is still the element of free will in us all. We have
become masters of our own destiny to the degree to which we are no longer
subject to the mechanical influences of the conditioned world.
Astrologers, like all good scientists, must use their knowledge in
combination with a developed intuition. A personal horoscope (birth-chart)
does not so much reveal a clear fate as a set of probabilities, often
operating on many levels simultaneously. The astrologer must clarify these
probabilities and place them in perspective.
In astrology, as in medicine, the science is intimately bound up with the
The Zodiac ("Circle of Animals") is the name given to the band of the
ecliptic encircling the earth. It is like a belt in space, about 15 degrees
wide, across which the planets move and form their geometrical
relationships. The Zodiac forms the stellar backdrop for the apparent path
of the Sun, called the plane of the ecliptic.
Astrologers divide the circle of the ecliptic into twelve parts, each
subdivided into 30 degrees, making 360 degrees in all. The twelve divisions
are called the Signs of the Zodiac. These signs are related (but not exactly
identical) to the constellations (star groups) of the same name.
The Signs of the Zodiac
Aries, the Ram (march/april)
Taurus, the Bull (april/may)
Gemini, the Twins (may/june)
Cancer, the Crab (june/july)
Leo, the Lion (july/august)
Virgo, the Virgin (august/sept.)
Libra, the Scales (sept./oct.)
Scorpio, the Scorpion (oct./nov.)
Sagittarius, the Centaur (nov./dec.)
Capricorn, the Sea-Goat (dec./jan.)
Aquarius, the Water-Bearer (jan./feb.)
Pisces, the Fishes (feb./mar.)
In astrology, the planets, sun, moon and other movable points (such as the
moon's nodes) are still all described as "planets", the wanderers of the
From our point of view, the planets travel through the Zodiac in the course
of their orbits around the Sun. Because they seem to be orbiting the Earth,
the stars and planets rise in the east, move around the earth from east to
west, then set in the west (due to the earth's rotation from west to east).
Astrologically, each sign symbolises certain specific characteristics in
nature and, as the planets move through the signs, they stimulate (or
perhaps simply reflect) reactions in both the individual and the collective
here on Planet Earth. The Sun passes through one sign a month on its annual
passage around the Zodiac.
Other planets, because they actually orbit the Sun, seem to travel rather
erratically through the Zodiac. This is really an illusion, generated by our
changing earthly perspective with respect to the planets' placement in their
orbits, but it does have some interesting effects. From time to time, all
planets except the Sun and Moon slow to a halt ("station") and then begin to
move backwards through the Zodiac. This phase is called retrograde motion,
which has specific astrological consequences. Read more on Retro Planets.
Outer (Transpersonal) Planets
Other symbolic points and relationships
Ascendant (Rising Sign)
Mid Heaven (MC)
Dragon's Head (North Lunar Node)
Dragon's Tail (South Lunar Node)
Transpluto (Bacchus/ Persephone)
Pars Fortunae, The Part of Fortune
The Part of Love & Arabian Parts
The Galactic Centre
The Chinese people tended to use astronomy for practical purposes from the
very beginning, unlike many of the other cultures studied here that focused
mainly on religious aspects of the sky. However, they did develop an
extensive system of the zodiac designed to help guide the life of people on
Earth. Their version of the zodiac was called the 'yellow path', a reference
to the sun traveling along the ecliptic. Like in Western astrology, the
Chinese had twelve houses along the yellow path.
The first Chinese written records of astronomy are from about 3000 B.C. The
first human record of an eclipse was made in 2136 B.C., and over hundreds of
years of advanced sky-watching, the Chinese became very adept at predicting
lunar eclipses. They followed a calendar of twelve lunar months, and
calculated the year to be 365.25 days long. They translated this 'magic'
number into a unit of degrees, by setting the number of degrees in a circle
equal to 365.25 (as compared to our use of 360 degrees).
One of the famous observations made by Chinese astronomers was that of a
supernova in the year 1054. They referred to this phenomenon in records as a
'guest star', and mention that it remained bright for about a year before
again becoming invisible. This supernova created what we see today as the
Crab Nebula. The explosion itself in 1054 was also recorded by the Anasazi
Indians of the American Southwest, but for some reason there is no known
record of this occurance in European or any other cultures.
In order to mark the passage of time and the seasons, the Chinese primarily
used the orientation of the Big Dipper constellation relative to the pole
star in early evening. They were also the inventors of the first clock, a
water clock which divided a day into 100 equal parts. During the Ming
Dynasty, between the years of 1436-1449, an observatory was built in Beijing
on the old city walls, and was filled with impressive bronze instruments.
Check Out Your Chinese horoscope
As one of the oldest civilisations in the world, practitioners of astrology
and astronomy were always present in the Chinese imperial court.In ancient
China, astrology was used to predict the fate of a nation. During the reign
of the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907), a whole encyclopaedia was developed about
the art of giving personal astrological readings.
The Chinese astrological chart consists of five different aspects. These
The animal sign - Animal sign finder
Yin and Yang
The natural element
The dominant element
The signs in Astrology are not based on the position of stars, but on a
person's year of birth. Each animal is allocated its own set of years. There
are 12 animals, namely:
The cycle of animals therefore repeats itself once every 12 years. Find out
your animal sign
The five elements
The five elements are based on the five planets that were visible to ancient
Water (ruled by Mercury)
Metal (ruled by Venus)
Fire (ruled by Mars)
Wood (ruled by Jupiter)
Earth (ruled by Saturn)
Each year is ruled by a different element. The element that rules a person's
year of birth is called the Dominant element.
Yin and Yang
According to Chinese philosophy, two primal forces control the whole
universe. These are Yin and Yang. The balance of the universe, the earth, a
nation and even the health and moods of individuals are determined by the
balance or imbalance of Yin and Yang.
The Chinese concept of the companion in life does not refer to another
person, but rather to an inner person within an individual. The inner
companion acts as a guide, guardian or devil's advocate. Your companion in
life is determined by your hour of birth.
The Chinese are firm
believers in astrology. They would prefer to begin any new task -- be it
work-related or personal -- at an auspicious time. In fact, like Indians, many
Chinese will not finalise a deal or fix on the date of a marriage or any other
important occasion until they consult an astrologer.
Chinese astrology is based on the cycle of the moon, which is why each new year
begins on a different date. The year of the sheep began on February 1, 2003,
while the year of the monkey will begin on January 22, 2004.
A person's date of birth is a very important factor in Chinese astrology.
The Chinese zodiac is a 12-year cycle, with each year being represented by one
Legend has it that, on the new year, Buddha called all the animals to come
before him. Only 12 of them did so. First came the rat, followed by the ox, the
tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the
rooster, dog and finally the pig. Buddha rewarded them by naming a year in their
honour and decreed that each year, and the persons born in that year, would have
the characteristics of the animal it represented. Thus, the Chinese zodiac was
2004 is the Year of the Monkey.
Based on your date of birth, find out which sign you belong to.
1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996
1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997
Tiger: 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998
Rabbit: 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999
Dragon: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000
Snake: 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001
Horse: 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002
Sheep: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003
Monkey: 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004
Rooster: 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993
1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994
1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995