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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” (horoskopos, pl. horoskopoi, or “marker(s) of the hour.”) Other commonly used names for the horoscope in English include astrological chart, astro-chart, celestial map, sky-map, star-chart, cosmogram, vitasphere, radical chart, radix, chart wheel, or simply chart. It is used as a method of divination regarding events relating to the point in time it represents and forms the basis of the horoscopic traditions of astrology.


In common usage, horoscope often refers to an astrologer’s interpretation, usually through a system of Sun sign astrology or based upon calendar significance of an event, as in Chinese astrology. In particular, many newspapers and magazines carry predictive columns based on celestial influences in relation to the zodiacal placement of the Sun on the day of a person’s birth, identifying the individual’s Sun sign or “star sign.” This system is distinct from horoscopes as traditionally employed, as only the zodiacal placement of the Sun is considered in interpretation. While this modern usage is perhaps the most popular in the colloquial lexicon, this article will focus primarily on the traditional concept.

Introduction

The horoscope serves as a stylized map of the heavens over a specific location at a particular moment in time. In most applications the perspective is geocentric (heliocentric astrology being one exception). The positions of the actual planets (including Sun and Moon) are placed in the chart, along with those of purely calculated factors such as the lunar nodes, the house cusps including the midheaven and the ascendant, zodiac signs, fixed stars and the lots. Angular relationships between the planets themselves and other points, called aspects, are typically determined. Which elements are used or emphasized over others varies by tradition.

Etymology

The word Latin horoscopus, ultimately from Greek ὡρόσκοπος “nativity, horoscope”, literally “observer of the hour [of birth]”, from ὥρα “time, hour” and σκόπος “observer, watcher”. In Middle English texts from the 11th century, the word appears in the Latin form, and is anglicized to horoscope in Early Modern English. The noun horoscopy for “casting of horoscopes” has been in use since the 17th century (OED). In Greek, ὡρόσκοπος in the sense of “ascendant” and ὡροσκοπία “observation of the ascendant” is in use since Ptolemy (Tetrabiblos 33, 75).

Concepts in Western Astrology

The native is the time and place of the event (a birth, for example) being charted, and is considered to be at the centre of the celestial sphere.
The celestial sphere is a sphere of arbitrary radius upon which the items appearing on the regard to their distance from the native.
The plane of the equator is the plane of the earth’s equator projected into space.
The plane of the ecliptic is defined by the orbits of the earth and the sun. For practical purposes the plane of the equator and the plane of the ecliptic maintain a constant inclination to each other of approximately 23.5°.
The plane of the horizon is centred on the native, and is tangential to the earth at that point. In a sphere whose radius is infinitely large, this plane may be treated as nearly equivalent to the parallel plane with its centre at the earth’s center. This greatly simplifies the geometry of the horoscope, but does not take into account that the native is in motion. Some writers on astrology have thus considered the effects of parallax, but most would agree that (apart from that of the moon) they are relatively minor
Angles
There are four primary angles in the horoscope (though the cusps of the houses are often included as important angles by some astrologers). The ascendant is the eastern point where the ecliptic and horizon intersect; the ascendant is generally considered the most important and personalized angle (along with the midheaven) in the horoscope by the vast majority of astrologers and the placement of its ruler, called the chart ruler is considered to be greatly important. Its opposite point in the west is the descendant. In creating a horoscope the ascendant is traditionally placed as the left-hand side point of the chart. During the course of a day, because of the Earth’s rotation, the entire circle of the ecliptic will pass through the ascendant and will be advanced by about 1°. This provides us with the term rising sign, which is the sign of the zodiac that was rising in the point on the ecliptic that is furthest above the plane of the horizon (not to be confused with zenith, which is normal to the horizon and so directly above the horoscope location). Its opposite point is known as the imum coeli (not to be confused with nadir, which is the opposite point of the zenith on the reverse side of the horizon). For events occurring where the planes of the ecliptic and the horizon coincide, the limiting position for these points is located 90° from the ascendant.

The zodiac

The astrological symbols/glyphs used in Western astrology to represent the astrological signs (Zodiac)

The zodiac refers to the 16° wide band on the celestial sphere containing the signs. It is centered on the ecliptic,occurs at the exact moment that the Sun crosses the celestial equator and enters the zodiac sign of Aries. Astrologers in India and some Western astrologers use the more ancient sidereal zodiac, which corresponds to the ancient position of the constellations as they were viewed thousands of years ago. Many people are confused regarding the difference between the sidereal constellations and the tropical zodiac signs. Because of a “wobble” in the earth’s axis of rotation over a period of about 26,000 years (this 26,000 year period is often called a “great year”), the point at which the vernal equinox advances in the sky rate is approximately 0 deg, 0 min, 50.23 seconds a year. Precession of the equinoxes thus occurs at a rate of roughly 5 arc minutes of a degree every 6 years. Sidereal and so the signs relate to the seasons and not the stars. It is also important to note that some astrologers don’t use the signs of the zodiac at all, focusing more instead on the astrological aspects and other features of the horoscope.
The sun sign is the sign of the zodiac in which the sun is located for the native. This is the single astrological fact familiar to most people. If an event occurs at sunrise the ascendant and sun sign will be the same; other rising signs can then be estimated at approximately two hour intervals from there.
A cusp is the boundary between two signs or houses. For some the cusp includes a small portion of the two signs or houses under consideration.

Houses

The houses are a series of twelve divisions of the plane of the ecliptic. Astrologers have devised many systems of calculating these house divisions. In the case of the equal house system the ecliptic is divided into twelve equal houses of 30° each. The first house begins at the ascendant and the others are numbered counterclockwise from that point. The first six are therefore below the horizon, and the other six are above. The positions of these houses remains fixed relative to the native. The signs and planets all move through the twelve houses during the course of a day, and the planets move through the signs over the course of months or years.

Construction of a horoscope in Western Astrology

To create a horoscope, an astrologer first has to ascertain the exact time and place of the subject’s birth, or the initiation of an event. The local standard time (adjusting for any daylight saving time or war time) is then converted into Greenwich Mean Time or Universal Time at that same instant. The astrologer then has to convert this into the local sidereal time at birth in order to be able to calculate the ascendant and midheaven. The astrologer will next consult a set of tables called an ephemeris, which lists the location of the sun, moon and planets for a particular year, date and sidereal time, with respect to the northern hemisphere vernal equinox or the fixed stars (depending on which astrological system is being used). The astrologer then adds or subtracts the difference between the longitude of Greenwich and the longitude of the place in question to determine the true local mean time (LMT) at the place of birth to show where planets would be visible above the horizon at the precise time and place in question. Planets hidden from view beneath the earth are also shown in the horoscope.
The horoscope 12 sectors around the circle of the ecliptic, starting from the eastern horizon with the ascendant or rising sign. These 12 sectors are called the houses and numerous systems for calculating these divisions exist. Tables of houses have been published since the 19th Century to make this otherwise demanding task easier..

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Okie. Information overload.

The next one would be something much lighter and comprehensive.

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Horoscopic Astrology

Horoscopic astrology is a system that was developed in the Mediterranean region and specifically Hellenistic Egypt around the late 2nd or early 1st century BCE. The tradition deals with two-dimensional diagrams of the heavens, or horoscopes, created for specific moments in time. The diagram is then used to interpret the inherent meaning underlying the alignment of celestial bodies at that moment based on a specific set of rules and guidelines. A horoscope was calculated normally for the moment of an individual’s birth, or at the beginning of an enterprise or event, because the alignments of the heavens at that moment were thought to determine the nature of the subject in question. One of the defining characteristics of this form of astrology that makes it distinct from other traditions is the computation of the degree of the Eastern horizon rising against the backdrop of the ecliptic at the specific moment under examination, otherwise known as the ascendant. Horoscopic astrology has been the most influential and widespread form of astrology across the world, especially in Africa, India, Europe, and the Middle East, and there are several major traditions of horoscopic astrology whose origins are Hellenistic, including Indian, Medieval, and most other modern Western traditions of astrology.

History of astrology

15th century image from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry showing believed relations between areas of the body and the zodiacal signs.

Origins

The origins of much of the astrological doctrine and method that would later develop in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East are found among the ancient Babylonians and their system of celestial omens that began to be compiled around the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE. This system of celestial omens later spread either directly or indirectly through the Babylonians and Assyrians to other areas such as India, Middle East, and Greece where it merged with pre-existing indigenous forms of astrology. This Babylonian astrology came to Greece initially as early as the middle of the 4th century BCE, and then around the late 2nd or early 1st century BCE after the Alexandrian conquests, this Babylonian astrology was mixed with the Egyptian tradition of decanic astrology to create horoscopic astrology. This new form of astrology, which appears to have originated in Alexandrian Egypt, quickly spread across the ancient world into Europe, the Middle East and India.

Effects on world culture

Astrology has had a profound influence over the past few thousand years on Western and Eastern cultures. In the Middle Ages, when the educated of the time believed in astrology, the system of heavenly spheres and bodies was believed to reflect on the system of knowledge and the world itself below.
Astrology has had an influence on both language and literature. For example, influenza, from medieval Latin influentia meaning influence, was so named because doctors once believed epidemics to be caused by unfavorable planetary and stellar influences. The word “disaster” comes from the Italian disastro, derived from the negative prefix dis- and from Latin aster “star”, thus meaning “ill-starred”. Adjectives “lunatic” (Luna/Moon), “mercurial” (Mercury), “venereal” (Venus), “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, some of which are derived from the attributes of the ancient Roman gods they are named after. In literature, many writers, notably Geoffrey Chaucerand William Shakespeare, used astrological symbolism to add subtlety and nuance to the description of their characters’ motivation(s). More recently, Michael Ward has proposed that C.S. Lewis imbued his Chronicles of Narnia with the characteristics and symbols of the seven heavens. Often, an understanding of astrological symbolism is needed to fully appreciate such literature.
Some modern thinkers, notably Carl Jung, believe in astrology’s descriptive powers regarding the mind without necessarily subscribing to its predictive claims. In education astrology is reflected in the university education of medieval Europe, which was divided into seven distinct areas, each represented by a particular planet and known as the seven liberal arts. Dante Alighieri speculated that these arts, which grew into the sciences we know today, fitted the same structure as the planets. In music the best known example of astrology’s influence is in the orchestral suite called “The Planets” by the British composer Gustav Holst, the framework of which is based upon the astrological symbolism of the planets.

Astrology and science

Pseudoscientific concepts
Claims:
Position of the planets determines personality and human events.
Related scientific disciplines:
Astronomy, Psychology
Year proposed:
antiquity
Original proponents:
ancient priests and astrologers
Current proponents:
Philip Berg, Michel Gauquelin, Linda Goodman, Sydney Omarr, Joan Quigley, Jackie Stallone, Athena Starwoman, Shelley von Strunckel, Richard Tarnas

The Ptolemaic system depicted by Andreas Cellarius, 1660/61
By the time of Francis Bacon and the scientific revolution, newly emerging scientific disciplines acquired a method of systematic empirical induction validated by experimental observations, which led to the scientific revolution. At this point, astrology and astronomy began to diverge; astronomy became one of the central sciences while astrology was increasingly viewed as an occult science or superstition by natural scientists. This separation accelerated through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Astrology is now regarded as unscientific both by scientific bodies and by individual scientists and has been labeled as a pseudoscience. In 1975, the American Humanist Association published one of the most widely known modern criticisms of astrology, characterizing those who continue to have faith in the subject as doing so “in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary”.Astronomer Carl Sagan found himself unable to sign the statement, not because he felt astrology had any validity at all, but because he found the statement’s tone authoritarian.Sagan stated that he would instead have been willing to sign a statement describing and refuting the principal tenets of astrological belief, which he believed would have been far more persuasive and would have produced much less controversy than the circulated statement.
Although astrology has had no scientific standing for some time, it has been the subject of much research among astrologers since the beginning of the twentieth century. In their landmark study of twentieth-century research into natal astrology, astrology critics Geoffrey Dean and coauthors documented this burgeoning research activity, primarily within the astrological community.
Claims about obstacles to research

Astrologers have argued that there are significant obstacles in carrying out scientific research into astrology today, including lack of funding, lack of background in science and statistics by astrologers, and insufficient expertise in astrology by research scientists and skeptics. There are only a handful of journals dealing with scientific research into astrology (i.e. astrological journals directed towards scientific research or scientific journals publishing astrological research). Some astrologers have argued that few practitioners today pursue scientific testing of astrology because they feel that working with clients on a daily basis provides a personal validation for them.
Another argument made by astrologers is that most studies of astrology do not reflect the nature of astrological practice and that the scientific method does not apply to astrology. Some astrology proponents claim that the prevailing attitudes and motives of many opponents of astrology introduce conscious or unconscious bias in the formulation of hypotheses to be tested, the conduct of the tests, and the reporting of results.

Early science, particularly geometry and astronomy/astrology, was connected to the divine for most medieval scholars. The compass in this 13th century manuscript is a symbol of God’s act of creation, as many believed that there was something intrinsically divine or perfect that could be found in circles.
Mechanism

As astrologers have been consistently unable to present physical mechanisms for astrology, few modern astrologers believe in a direct causal relationship between heavenly bodies and earthly events. An editorial published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific reports that they can find no evidence for a scientifically defined mechanism by which celestial objects can influence terrestrial affairs.Some researchers have posited acausal, purely correlative, relationships between astrological observations and events, such as the theory of synchronicity proposed by Carl Jung. Others have posited a basis in divination. Still others have argued that empirical correlations can stand on their own epistemologically, and do not need the support of any theory or mechanism. To some observers, these non-mechanistic concepts raise serious questions about the feasibility of validating astrology through scientific testing, and some have gone so far as to reject the applicability of the scientific method to astrology almost entirely. Some astrologers, on the other hand, believe that astrology is amenable to the scientific method, given sufficiently sophisticated analytical methods, and they cite pilot studies they claim support this view. Consequently, several astrologers have called for or advocated continuing studies of astrology based on statistical validation.

Research

The Mars effect: relative frequency of the diurnal position of Mars in the birth chart of eminent athletes.
Astrology has repeatedly failed to demonstrate its effectiveness in numerous controlled studies. Effect size studies in astrology conclude that the mean accuracy of astrological predictions is no greater than what is expected by chance, and astrology’s perceived performance has disappeared on critical inspection. When testing for cognitive, behavioral, physical and other variables, one study of astrological “time twins” showed that human characteristics are not molded by the influence of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of birth.  

Skeptics of astrology also suggest that the perceived accuracy of astrological interpretations and descriptions of one’s personality can be accounted for by the fact that people tend to exaggerate positive ‘hits’ and overlook whatever does not fit, especially when vague language is used. 

They also argue that statistical research is often wrongly seen as evidence for astrology due to uncontrolled artifacts. A large-scale study, with a sample size of about 15,000 “astro-twins”, was published in 2006. It examined the relationship between date of birth and individual differences in personality and general intelligence, and found no evidence that a connection existed. It also found no relationship between the zodiacal signs and participants’ personal traits.

French psychologist and statistician Michel Gauquelin claimed to have found correlations between some planetary positions and certain human traits such as vocations. Gauquelin’s most widely known claim is known as the Mars effect, which is said to demonstrate a correlation between the planet Mars occupying certain positions in the sky more often at the birth of eminent sports champions than at the birth of ordinary people. A similar claim is made by Richard Tarnas in his work Cosmos and Psyche, in which he explores correspondences between planetary alignments and historically significant events and individuals.
Since its original publication in 1955, the Mars effect has been the subject of critical studies and skeptical publications which refute it, and studies in fringe journals claiming to support or expand the original claims. Gauquelin’s research has not received mainstream scientific notice.
The Forer effect is seen in astrology when most people simply accept their horoscopes as custom even if, by logic, it would mean that 1/12 of the world would have the exact same day or week.

Let’s start with something everyone should be quite familiar with. 

From Wikipedia

Astrology (from Greek ἄστρον, astron, “constellation, star”; and -λογία, -logia, “the study of”) is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs in which knowledge of the apparent relative positions of celestial bodies and related details is held to be useful in understanding, interpreting, and organizing information about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial matters. A practitioner of astrology is called an astrologer or an astrologist.

Numerous traditions and applications employing astrological concepts have arisen since its earliest recorded beginnings in the 3rd millennium BC.It has played a role in the shaping of culture, early astronomy, and other disciplines throughout history.

Astrology and astronomy were often indistinguishable before the modern era, with the desire for predictive and divinatory knowledge one of the primary motivating factors for astronomical observation. Astronomy began to diverge from astrology after a period of gradual separation from the Renaissance up until the 18th century. Eventually, astronomy distinguished itself as the scientific study of astronomical objects and phenomena without regard to the astrological speculation of these phenomena.
Astrology can be defined as the study of the positions of celestial bodies in the belief that their movements either directly influence life on Earth or correspond somehow to events experienced on a human scale. Modern astrologers define astrology as a symbolic language, an art form, and a form of divination. Despite differences of definitions, a common assumption of astrology is the use of celestial placements in order to explain past and present events and predict the future. Generally, the scientific community considers astrology a pseudoscience or superstition. Despite its rejection by virtually all scientists, 31% of Americans polled expressed a belief in astrology and 39% considered it scientific according to another study.
Traditions
There are many traditions of astrology, some of which share similar features due to the transmission of astrological doctrines between cultures. Other traditions developed in isolation and hold different doctrines, though they too share some features due to drawing on similar astronomical sources.

Current traditions
The main traditions used by modern astrologers are:
Vedic astrology
Western astrology
Chinese astrology
Vedic and Western astrology share a common ancestry as horoscopic systems of astrology, in that both traditions focus on the casting of an astrological chart or horoscope, a representation of celestial entities, for an event based on the position of the Sun, Moon, and planets at the moment of the event. However, Vedic astrology uses the sidereal zodiac, linking the signs of the zodiac to their original constellations, while Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, over the centuries the twelve zodiacal signs in Western astrology no longer correspond to the same part of the sky as their original constellations. In effect, in Western astrology the link between sign and constellation has been broken, whereas in Vedic astrology it remains of paramount importance. Other differences between the two traditions include the use of 27 (or 28) nakshatras or lunar mansions, which have been used in India since Vedic times, and the system of planetary periods known as dashas.

In Chinese astrology a quite different tradition has evolved. By contrast to Western and Indian astrology, the twelve signs of the zodiac do not divide the sky, but rather the celestial equator. The Chinese evolved a system where each sign corresponds to one of twelve ‘double-hours’ that govern the day, and to one of the twelve months. Each sign of the zodiac governs a different year, and combines with a system based on the five elements of Chinese cosmology to give a 60 (12 x 5) year cycle. The term Chinese astrology is used here for convenience, but it must be recognised that versions of the same tradition exist in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and other Asian countries.

In modern times, these traditions have come into greater contact with each other, notably with Indian and Chinese astrology having spread to the West, while awareness of Western astrology is still fairly limited in Asia. Astrology in the Western world has diversified greatly in modern times. New movements have appeared, which have jettisoned much of traditional astrology to concentrate on different approaches, such as a greater emphasis on midpoints, or a more psychological approach. Some recent Western developments include:

Modern tropical and sidereal horoscopic astrology
Cosmobiology
Psychological astrology
Sun sign astrology
Hamburg School of Astrology
Uranian astrology, subset of the Hamburg School

Esoteric traditions

Extract and symbol key from 17th century alchemy text.
Many mystic or esoteric traditions have links to astrology. In some cases, like Kabbalah, this involves participants incorporating elements of astrology into their own traditions. In other cases, like divinatory tarot, many astrologers themselves have incorporated the tradition into their own practice of astrology. Esoteric traditions include, but are not limited to:
Alchemy
Chiromancy
Kabbalistic astrology
Medical astrology
Numerology
Rosicrucian or “Rose Cross”
Tarot divination
Historically, alchemy in the Western World was particularly allied and intertwined with traditional Babylonian-Greek style astrology; in numerous ways they were built to complement each other in the search for occult or hidden knowledge.

Astrology has used the concept of the four classical elements of alchemy from antiquity up until the present day. Traditionally, each of the seven planets in the solar system known to the ancients was associated with, held dominion over, and “ruled” a certain metal.

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Basically the last part meant that Astrology is also incorporated  into many other different kinds of divinations. Will touch on this eventually on how the different divination elements are used inter-relatedly for readings.

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The Zodiac

The zodiac is the belt or band of constellations through which the Sun, Moon, and planets transit across the sky. Astrologers noted these constellations and so attached a particular significance to them. Over time they developed the system of twelve signs of the zodiac (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces), based on twelve of the constellations they considered to be particularly important. The Western and Vedic zodiac signs have a common origin in the tradition of horoscopic astrology, and so are very similar in meaning. In China on the other hand, the development of the zodiac was different. Although the Chinese too have a system of twelve signs (named after animals), the Chinese zodiac refers to a pure calendrical cycle, as there are no equivalent constellations linked to it like the Western or Indian zodiacs. The common choice of twelve zodiac signs is understandable considering the interaction of the Sun and Moon was central to all forms of astrology.
The majority of Western astrologers base their work on the tropical zodiac which divides the sky into twelve equal segments of 30 degrees each, beginning with the first point of Aries, the point where the line of the Earth’s celestial equator and the ecliptic (the Sun’s path through the sky) meet at the northern hemisphere spring equinox. Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the slow changing of the way Earth rotates in space, the zodiacal signs in this system bear no relation to the constellations of the same name but stay aligned to the months and seasons.
Practitioners of the Vedic astrological tradition and a minority of Western astrologers use the sidereal zodiac. This zodiac uses the same evenly divided ecliptic but approximately stays aligned to the positions of the observable constellations with the same name as the zodiacal signs. The sidereal zodiac differs from the tropical zodiac by an offset called the ayanamsa, which steadily increases as the equinoxes drift further. Furthermore, some siderealists (i.e. astrologers employing sidereal techniques) use the actual, unequal constellations of the zodiac in their work.

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I wonder whether there’s a maximum word count for each entry for WordPress. 
Splitting up into different entries.