Astrology is generally defined as the study of the positions and aspects of heavenly bodies with a view to predicting their influence on human affairs. Until the sixteenth century, the sciences of astronomy and astrology were deeply interconnected and generally considered to be one and the same.
The practice of astrology developed independently in various great civilizations of antiquity. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese, Indians and Mayans had all formed their own advanced sciences of astronomy-astrology long before the common era. Early men, impressed by the multitudes of stars and planetary bodies moving throughout the skies, began to study their movements and characteristics. Soon, wise men noticed correlations between the celestial phenomena and the subsequent events on earth.
Ignorant and superstitious folk have concluded from this correlation that the science of astrology states that we are affected by the movements of heavenly bodies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, the activities of the heavens should be understood as a mirror image of the activities here on earth. This principle has been stated most clearly in the emerald tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, "that which is above is like that which is below."
There are two main branches within the study and practice of astrology, exoteric and esoteric. Exoteric astrology is concerned with the observation and prediction of natural cycles and events. Esoteric astrology primarily deals with the occult aspects of an individual's horoscope, as regards the process of self-development and awakening. Part of esoteric astrology involves rites and ceremonies orchestrated to invoke or utilize the planetary energies.
At the core of astrology is the diagram called the horoscope which shows the position of the planets in relation to the twelve signs of the zodiac at a particular time. It has been observed by many that the horoscope presents a geocentric view, and therefore astrology is a false science. However, as astrology is concerned with events here on earth, not the intricacies of stellar mechanics, it makes sense that the horoscope presents the solar system from the perspective of someone here on earth.
The best known use of the horoscope is what is known as natal astrology, the casting of a horoscope for the time of birth of a specific individual. There are, however, various other uses for the horoscope. Mundane astrology deals with the casting of a horoscope for the time of a creation of a nation (July 4, 1776 for the United States or May 14, 1948 for the State of Israel) in order to view trends and predict wars, prosperity, depressions and more within the birth-life-death cycle of the nation. Horary astrology is a method used for divination, answering questions like: "Is now a good time to change jobs?"
Additionally, astrology has been found to be of use in the medical sciences, particularly pyschology and psychiatry. Each of the planets and signs relate to specific parts of the body and psyche. Therefore, a trained astrologer may see the weakest and strongest parts of an individual's physical and psychological constitution. While astrological diagnosis is unlikely to gain serious support among the medical orthodoxy in the next few years, its application to psychology has been noted by pioneers like Carl Jung, H.F. Darling and Z. Dobbins.
Astrology is a growing science and art. As we continue to discover the keys of the occult, we can learn to decipher the wisdom of the ancients and temper it with our new discoveries.
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