Why Astrology then? Why not Astrology now?

Hey fellow 111ers! Welcome to your personal astrology reading site that is totally free for all blog readers -- nope just kidding! We are here to tell you more about the relevance of astrology in various civilizations. If you are one of those shaking your heads right now about how astrology is a bunch of bull… … then we will be here to demonstrate how various cultures actually took this bunch of bull seriously.

Is Astrology even worth discussing?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, astrology is defined as “the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world.”

The sky at night, Sala Calderón de la Barca - ceiling painting by Fernando Gallego (ca. 1480) including the signs of the Zodiac, a number of constellations and the four winds By Pat Reynolds CC BY-NC 2.0

From this, the fact that astrology has stuck around long enough to be included in a dictionary tells us that it must have been a big deal in history! Despite its apparent irrelevance in the modern world, astrology still exists and there are even books written about it. Furthermore, multiple ancient civilisations chose to feature astrology in their respective cultures to guide them in their daily lives. Since this is something that many civilisations (that have no connections with one another) practice, don’t you think that this is an interesting phenomenon worth finding out more about?

Chinese zodiac at Kushida Shrine By OZinOH CC BY-NC 2.0

Kircher's Zodiac By zeevveez CC BY 2.0

If I asked you to name the different types of astrology you are familiar with, I bet Western and Eastern astrology will be two of the common ones you will come up with. For one, you may be a hardworking Taurus in Western astrology, whereas you would be an intelligent Snake in Eastern astrology. Yes, people do identify themselves with the traits of their horoscope sign in their respective cultures. But did you know there are actually over 30 types of astrological systems that existed back then (R. Caff, 2015)? Some obscure examples of these systems include Mayan astrology, Celtic astrology, and Burmese astrology. They show that although we live under the same stars, we all perceive the world differently.

Astrological Systems and their Calendars

Many astrological systems gave rise to their respective calendars. Such examples include the Mayan astrology, which uses 20 Day Signs such as Crocodile, Wind and House, and 13 Galactic numbers to denote a 260-day year. Each society uses astrology to study the seasons and their environment, which in turn affects their roles in society.

Astrology - A fundamental tool of society

Some of the roles astrology played include: agricultural purposes for farmers, divination for priests, and rituals to take for kings. Often, astrology helped people predict the optimal time for the best course of action, and to avoid paths of misfortune. The purpose of astrology is similar to religion since it guides people on how to lead their lives and shape personal identity.

Astrology can also be seen in divination, whereby tablets containing inscribed liver models were seen as a message presented from higher beings (i.e. Gods) to the kings (Koch-Westenholz & Ulla, 1995). Gods often presented themselves in celestial images they were associated with. Depending on the signs presented, kings used them as a guide to how they should rule their nation.

Astrology can also be used to predict future professions of a person based on their birthdates and birth times (p.19). A Virgo for example, is said to have good logic and reasoning, and therefore inclined to take up professions of accountancy (G. Benedict, 2011).

Since astrology played such an important role in the past, why did it eventually fall out of favour with the people? This is because as the millennia progressed, science gradually replaced the usefulness of astrology. Since astrology was associated with superstition, people gradually moved away from it in favour of astronomy, which was more scientifically credible. Astronomy then evolved as a theoretical science.

Astrology’s role today

The role of astrology is not as outdated as you thought! Astrology actually sparked the development of other schools of thoughts. For instance, it became the backbone for psychology and philosophy (“Introduction to Astrology”, p.84). As for astrology itself, it gradually moved away from academia and towards entertainment. Therefore, it did not cease entirely in importance. We are pretty sure that many of you out there enjoy reading your horoscopes for fun, even if you believe in them or not!

Today's horoscope By Aristocrat CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What you have just read was a brief summary of astrology in the past and present. The origins of astrology date all the way back to 3000 BC, where it was used in calendrical systems in order to forecast changes between seasons (Koch-Westenholz, 1995) and harnessed as a tool to understand messages from higher beings. Astrology led to the birth of astronomy, and was also used in other areas of study up to the 17th century (Kassell and Ralley, 2010). By the end of the century however, advances in astronomy were beginning to erode the foundations of astrology, eventually eliminating it from the academic world. Now in the 20th century, astrology is making a comeback through communication channels such as newspapers, and is gaining popular standing among people through these influences (Campion, 2009).

Therefore, you should not belittle astrology! It ought to be respected for its rich history in bringing vibrancy into the identities of people’s lives in the past. We can perhaps appreciate how everyone back then formed their own interpretations of their fates, living day and night under the same starry skies and within the same cosmos… Hopefully, this has shed some light about the diverse world of astrology!

 

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Kei