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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 come, etc.

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 mere machine.

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 witches.

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 individual level.
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 art.
 


The Zodiac


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.)



The Planets


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 zodiac.

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.


Visible Planets:


Saturn
Jupiter
Mars
Sun
Venus
Mercury
Moon


Outer (Transpersonal) Planets
Uranus
Neptune
Pluto


Other symbolic points and relationships


Ascendant (Rising Sign)
Mid Heaven (MC)
Dragon's Head (North Lunar Node)
Dragon's Tail (South Lunar Node)
Chiron
Pallas
Juno
Ceres
Vesta
Transpluto (Bacchus/ Persephone)
Pars Fortunae, The Part of Fortune
The Part of Love & Arabian Parts
Aspects
House Cusps
Mid-points
The Galactic Centre
Vertex
Fixed Stars


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 are:

The animal sign - Animal sign finder
Yin and Yang
Life Companion
The natural element
The dominant element

Animal Signs

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:

Rat
Ox
Tiger
Rabbit
Dragon
Snake
Horse
Goat
Monkey
Rooster
Dog
Pig



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 Chinese astronomers.
Water (ruled by Mercury)
Metal (ruled by Venus)
Fire (ruled by Mars)
Wood (ruled by Jupiter)
Earth (ruled by Saturn)



Dominant element

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.


Life Companion

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.
 

 

How does the Chinese Calendar work?


The Heaven Stems:


The Earth Branches:

There are 10 heaven stems and 12 earth branches. With the combination of one stem and one branch, these stems and branches are used to indicate a specific hour of the day, date and year in the Chinese traditional system of time. The 12 branches match the number of the months in a year and the hours of the day. For example, the hour always indicates the 12 hour. Modified by a different stem, it indicates either noon or midnight.

From to , with each of the stems and branches combining once sequentially, it takes 60 years to complete a full cycle. Consequently, almost everyone can meet the exact same year again only once in lifetime. The current year, 1997, is in the (the 4th stem and 2nd branch) year in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.




The Zodiac Animals


This Zodiac Disk tells you several things:
- how the Chinese Zodiac system works within the Chinese Lunar Calendar,
- how the heaven stems and earth branches are combined to name the year,
- the sequential order of the zodiac animals,
- and the zodiac years shown in the world calendar till 2006, a visual way for you to figure out your own animal.

In each of the sectors of the disk, next to the animals are the Chinese characters for them; in the beige-brown circle are names of the earth branches, and in the blue center are the names of the heaven stems. The characters in the blue center trail away -- because this area is too small to present the whole circle which it takes 60 combination.

If you don't read this much Chinese, perhaps you might try to look at the characters as little pictures and see how these little pictures match each other.


Among the 12 animals, the Rat takes the lead in the full circle and the Pig brings up the rear. Each of the 12 earth branches always goes with the same animal, for example:

       
(zi Rat) (Chou Bull) (yin Tiger) (Mou Rabbit)


 





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 animal.

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 established.

2004 is the Year of the Monkey.

Based on your date of birth, find out which sign you belong to.

The Rat
: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996

The Ox: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997

The Tiger: 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998

The Rabbit: 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999

The Dragon: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000

The Snake: 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001

The Horse: 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002

The Sheep: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003

The Monkey: 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004

The Rooster: 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993

The Dog: 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994

The Pig: 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995

  

 

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