Astrological ages and religion
For every point through which the sun passed was determined by at least three gods or demons. The deity of a zodiac sign reigned a whole month, namely as long as the sun was passing through this sign. At the same time, the sun passed through one of the three decades of a sign of the zodiac, each one lasting for ten days.
And on top of that were the single degrees which the sun passed through in a day. But these will not be further discussed here. The old-Egyptian zodiac of Dendera with the Gods of the decades. From: Gundel, board V. The special thing about the Egyptian astrology, as we know it from the Hellenistic period, is that it developed a markedly sophisticated system of medicine: the Iatromathematics. Some astrological writings of this period carried this designation in their titles. Each stone, each plant, each animal was assigned to a particular astral god; that means: in this stone or organism, the power of this god was at work.
Likewise, every human body, every organ, every larger body part, and each of the further subdivisions into which it was divided was assigned to a god of a zodiac sign, a decade-god, or a monomoiriai-god. If an organ became diseased, the cause would be connected with the corresponding deity or demon. This would be healed by administering corresponding plant or animal products inhabited by the same god. Or antidotes would be sought which would battle the demon causing the illness. Like the Sumerian-Babylonian astrology, which attempts to describe the great world-scale events, as well as individual persons, in connection with the divine order of the cosmos, the Egyptian astrology attempts to see this connection above all from the therapeutic or medicinal heilkundlich perspective.
But in Egyptian astrology, wellness Heil-Sein does not just mean recovery from individual infirmities. The truly basic thought is a comprehensive one. Each person is a microcosm in which all the divine powers of the cosmos are present in the various organs and parts of the body.
If these powers are in harmony with each other, the person will be healthy and live in harmony with the macrocosm in which the same divine order prevails. The world view of astrology in the Hellenistic period As Alexander the Great conquers the orient and large parts of the Mediterranean region in the fourth century BC and unites them into one empire, a lively cultural exchange takes place. Astrology, as well, forges ahead unhindered from its Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources to Greece and, later, further westward. In this Hellenistic period, astrology has already coagulated into a fixed world view.
Despite differences from Mesopotamian and Egyptian astrology, and among Hellenistic astrologers as well, there is nevertheless something which they have basically in common: 1.
The Age of Aquarius
Astrology recognizes gods in the planets, fixed stars, signs of the zodiac, and decades who express their will through their corresponding positions and constellations. The earth forms thereby the center of the world; the heavens with their star deities move about the earth as a closed sphere.
Astrology assumes that its truth is proven through experience. This can be established by comparative observation of life on earth with the movements of the sky. These two statements need to be briefly explained. Hellenistic astrology wants to see human beings, nature, and cosmos in one comprehensive accord. The question that we ask ourselves today, namely how this accord of stars, nature, and humans is actually supposed to work, is answered by astrology by way of the principle of analogy and sympathy: according to this, the gods are not only bound to the heavenly bodies, but also invisibly present in the entire cosmos.
Thus, the god of the sun, who grants us light and warmth, is also present in us humans. If we encounter a person who conveys an exceptional "warmheartedness," "the sun" is at work in him. The human heart has become the residence of the sun. In plants which were held to have exceptionally strong healing powers, the sun was likewise at work. All the other planets and signs of the zodiac were also thought to be connected to certain human characteristics and organs, animals, plants, and metals.
In this way, an entire system of analogous relationships between the heavenly bodies and the things on earth was established. Each particular thing we see exists for the Hellenistic astrologers in one animate, divine context. Closely connected to this sympathy and analogy of all cosmic powers is an astrological tradition which might better be called astral-magic Astralmagie. We encounter it in a variety of Greek papyrus scrolls concerned with magic, where only marginal use of astronomical calculations was made.
Hellenistic astrology thus assumes that all of nature has a "spirited" beseelt or animate essence. And without this, the analogy would not work. Those who today cannot believe in this "spiritedness" Beseeltheit of all nature will have difficulties taking astrology seriously. The world view of astrology just described refers only to the visible cosmos.
The gods and demons or divine powers belong completely to this world. From a Judaeo-Christian or Islamic perspective, we would say: the gods of astrology belong to the Creation. They are not themselves creators of the heavenly bodies or of humans, but rather they were themselves created. The Greek philosopher Plato speaks likewise in his dialogue "Timaeus" of how the creator god created first the world and then the gods of the heavenly bodies. Astrology is thus thoroughly capable, by nature, of comfortably adapting its world view to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; for the creator god of these religions, who created the world, also created the heavenly bodies and their gods.
On this basis, the great monotheistic religions were also able to accommodate the polytheistic astrology without thereby infringing upon their central creeds. And so it happened as well that astrology was taken up in all three religions. An important point concerning the acceptance of Hellenistic astrology among ancient scholars is also its compatibility with the geocentric world view of Greek natural science and cosmology.
Claudius Ptolemy AD attempted, in his astrological text "Tetrabiblos," to adapt the divinatory astrology in the Egyptian tradition to the natural-scientific world view by leaving out all references to revelations and limiting himself completely to a sober presentation . But no contradiction arose thereby, for Aristotle, whose scientific authority in cosmological questions remained unchallenged until the early modern period, likewise saw gods in the luminous stars whose effects reach beyond the ether into the sublunar world.
Other astrologers of late antiquity viewed astrology in connection with the wisdom of the priests. Thus, Marcus Manilius reports that it was gods who had inspired the priests on the Euphrates and on the Nile to their knowledge of the laws of the cosmos . Here Saturn and his children, performs official duties by farmer, craftsman, banker etc. From: Garin And it thus assumes that such prognoses and statements can be made in terms of the particular positions of the heavenly bodies.
To demonstrate this with a very simple example: if, in the sky, Mars and Venus stand in opposition to one another, i. Now astrology, from its beginnings on, claims that it relies upon experience. Already the Mesopotamian omen interpretation, as we know it through the omen tablets of Enuma Anu Enlil, makes clear the importance given to empirical confirmation. This reliance upon experience is put forth as the main argument by all the great astrologers of the ancient world, but also of later times.
For example, Johannes Kepler argues in defense of astrology: "Belief in the aspects the positions of the heavenly bodies is meant is conferred above all by experience, which is so clear that only someone who has not examined it with their own eyes can deny it. First it is important to note that astrologers in all epochs rely first of all upon experience when they put forth justification for astrology.
The above-mentioned omen tablets of Enuma Anu Enlil, part of the library of King Assubanipal BC, king in Ninive , show us an amazing system of astronomical observations. The astrologers worked according to the following method: an observation in the sky was registered with date and time of day and its characteristics were described exactly.
Parallel to this, all political and naturally occurring events were likewise recorded. This was continuously repeated, and in this way continuous records spanning many centuries came to be, records which minutely checked the phenomena of the heavens against the events on earth, compared these with older records, and completed them with new observations.
The assyrologist Carl Bezold, who translated a large portion of these clay slabs, describes this so: "Whenever the predicate P applies to subject S in the skies, also on earth the predicate p applies to subject s. However, many of the researchers who have concerned themselves with these texts are in agreement that the Babylonian astrologers seriously endeavored to erect an astrological system that rested completely on empirical data. But here the position of the astrologers must also be considered.
They were simultaneously priests and performed an important political function in the government. The example above shows that the astrological forecast was meant for the king. We can therefore assume that astrology was an important method for making important political decisions. Likewise, since around BC certain philosophers and astronomers have criticized astrology. This critique sometimes only takes aim at particular statements of astrology, whereby it is fundamentally held to be true.
Some critics, however, reject astrology altogether as useless. The practice of astrology in the Roman era The Roman Empire made possible not only the unhindered spread of Judaism and Christianity throughout the entire Mediterranean region; many other religions and, naturally, astrology as well were now able quickly to reach destinations everywhere.
Astrology offered a multifaceted and confusing picture in the time of the Roman Empire. In Mesopotamia and Egypt, it was reserved exclusively for the priests who stood as advisors at the side of the rulers. Only gradually did an astrology which was accessible to individuals in the population develop. Horoscopes were now no longer just produced for kings and important governmental events, but also for individual persons. It has been pointed out earlier that the oldest known birth horoscope dates back to the pre-Roman era, from the year BC in Mesopotamia.
This individual astrology made it possible for many more or less gifted astrologers to turn their trade into a profitable source of income. From around BC, astrology, along with other magical arts, experienced an enormous boom in popularity, especially in the framework of Roman folk religion. Many citizens of Rome carried small, inscribed sheets of papyrus around with them from which they could read which hours of the day were or were not favorable for which activities. Questions about health, but also about everyday affairs such as a trip to the hairdresser, were determined astrologically.
Everything turned on whether a day or an hour was "favorable" or "unfavorable" for a particular action. Behind this was the view that every day and hour was ruled by its own particular gods of the celestial bodies. Above all, an opportunity was provided by the Athenian philosopher Carneades, who came in BC as an ambassador to Rome and argued vehemently against the practical astrology. His most important arguments were: 1.
The heavenly bodies are too far from the earth to exercise an influence. Children who are born at the same moment lead, regardless, totally different lives he offers as an example: when Homer was born, other people were certainly also born, but who became neither poets nor famous. Conversely, many people simultaneously die en masse in catastrophes and wars despite various horoscopes.
The Age of Aquarius - Robert Ohotto
Many among the learned were convinced by these arguments and likewise did not believe in the possibility of producing an exact forecast on the basis of the stars. Nevertheless, the vast majority of aristocrats remained faithful to the world view of astrology and particular astrological practices. The belief in the gods who populated the entire heavens and the earth was not shaken, and not even Carneades doubted their existence.
It was likewise undisputed that each person had a particular destiny which he could not escape. Many philosophers professed this as well. Thus, it was not the astrological world view which was disputed, but rather the arrogance in thinking that precise predictions were possible for every event. Gaius Julius Caesar BC provided an example of this "learned" astrology which rejected the "vulgar" forecasts.
He was also skeptical of predictions. On the other hand, Caesar revered the goddess and the planet Venus personified together as the progenitrice of his family. It was said that he would ascend to the planet Venus after his death. Also belonging to the planet Venus is the zodiac sign "Taurus," under which Caesar was born and which he raised as a heraldic figure to a symbol of the state.
The emperor Augustus did similarly with his birth sign "Capricorn. The subsequent emperors were all more or less followers of astrology. Many had a whole army of astrologers at their side who produced and evaluated especially the birth horoscopes of children from influential families. Paradoxically, some of these emperors banned the practice of astrology several times within the city-limits of Rome.
As a result, many astrologers were forced to leave Rome. There were various reasons for this. Above all, the fear of losing power was great. Astrologers could predict the death of an emperor by simple means or declare some rival of the emperor as successor and justify this with the destiny of the stars.
The Age of Pisces
We know of a similar case from the New Testament: the evangelist Matthew tells of the three "Magi from the east," who come before King Herod and seek the new-born King of the Jews, because they had seen "his star. All kings and emperors had this fear. They knew of the power of astrologers, and they were convinced of the power of these omens. In addition to obviously failed forecasts, spectacular successes were also reported time and again.
The emperor Domitian was initially opposed to astrology; however, this is because an early and violent death had been predicted for him while he was still young. This prompted him to ask an astrologer how he himself would die. He told him he would be torn to pieces by dogs. To disprove the astrologer, he quickly had him beheaded and immediately burned.
But then the stake at which he was being burned collapsed and the body of the astrologer fell to the ground, upon which dogs immediately pounced on him and tore him to pieces. From that time on, Domitian was a follower of astrology. In daily life as in politics, astrology played an almost undisputed role. But how did the science and philosophy of late antiquity stand with regard to astrology?
The inferior interpretation of the stars which was widespread among the population provoked the mockery of some poets with its forecasts. The poet Ennius made fun of the astrologers who professed the ability of showing others the way to riches but who never themselves attained riches. Other poets, such as Petronius or Lucilius, mocked the predictions of the exact hour of death which did not after all come true. Things looked quite different regarding the world view of astrology and forecasts which were kept more general.
Here, the state of the natural sciences as well as philosophy and religion offered enough material not to fundamentally doubt astrology. Not only the religions, but also most natural scientists and philosophers saw the cosmos and the earth below as "spirited. Hardly a philosopher or scientist doubted, therefore, the influence of these bodies. But they distinguished themselves from simple fortune-telling in that they saw the "influence" of the stars more generally, so that the heavenly bodies caused tendencies or merely "indicated" them.
Above all, it was important for them to show that every individual could resist the influence of the stars by virtue of their reason. Among these "learned" astrologers were not just many Roman emperors, but also the majority of philosophers and poets until the end of late antiquity; thus, for example, the politician Cicero, the neo-Platonic philosopher Plotinus, the poets Virgil, Ovid, and Horace. Marcus Manilius around the beginning of the common era and Claudius Ptolemy AD were expressly representatives of the learned astrology.
From Marcus Manilius, we have the oldest surviving complete astrological textbook. This "Astronomica" was written around the beginning of the Christian calendar. In poetic form but nevertheless systematically, it explains the cosmos in a Stoic sense as a divine order with its astrological laws . The astrology of late antiquity, with its two lines of "vulgar" and "learned" forms, is finally not just the model for all subsequent astrology throughout the entire Middle Ages and into the seventeenth century, but also for contemporary astrology.
The basis for both traditions is formed by the writings of the Hellenistic Vulgata, thus the writings which are traced back to Hermes Trismegistos and to Nechepso-Petosiris. Additionally, there was the influence of many Babylonian astrologers. It should be mentioned briefly here that astrology lived on in a hardly modified form in the Middle Ages.
In the sixth century AD, Rhetorios appears in the Byzantine Empire as a compiler of the astrological tradition, following especially the Egyptian-Hellenistic line. They are concerned with mundane problems as well, with the so-called "Great Conjunctions," which were supposed to give information about important political events and developments concerning the entire human race. Claudius Ptolemy as a father of the astrology. Woodcut of E. From: Ptolemy 6. The astrology of the present Now we skip over many important stages along the way to see what unites contemporary astrology with its ancient predecessors.
And we can do this with a clear conscience because astrology lives on through the centuries almost unchanged in its popular as well as its learned versions. Into the seventeenth century, the ancient planet gods remain in the beliefs of most people. Here the heavenly bodies are understood as the instruments of god. Without controversy, popes, kings, and rulers consult astrology in religio-political questions. One of the most outstanding astrologers in England is William Lilly .
We will now take a look at how things stand with the astrology of the present. Right at the beginning, the question presents itself to the religious scholar: why, at all, did astrology survive the great progress made in the natural sciences, which, since Nicolas Copernicus , abolished the old geocentric world view? How, despite the revolutionary findings concerning orbital mechanics, despite the immeasurable expanse and diversity of the cosmos, do people still come to believe in astrology today? Into the eighteenth century, it was held for self-evident among scientists that divine powers were at work in nature and in the cosmos.
Moreover, Johannes Kepler , one of the most important representatives of the Copernican world view, explained why, in his opinion, astrology was still valid, independent of a geocentric or heliocentric perspective . It is enough to know when two planets are seen next to each other and when they stand in opposition and which angle they form in regard to one another. Why does the astrologer, or much less all of nature on earth, need to ask how this happens? In truth as little as the farmer needs to ask how it becomes summer and winter, though he orients himself in these terms nonetheless.
He describes the light, apart from its natural properties color, warmth , as a vehicle which transports the nonmaterial properties contained in the heavenly bodies to the earth. In addition, the angular relationships of the heavenly bodies, whose light rays intersect on earth, form certain mixtures of special characteristics which thus impregnate all organic life at the time of birth.
The opinion among scientists, that nature functioned according to mechanical and not according to magical laws, was accepted only gradually. This applied to chemistry and biology, as well as to physics and astronomy, which until that time were almost unimaginable without divine powers. The first scientist who quite consciously wanted to ban all magic, all belief in the hereafter or in gods once and for all from scientific research was Robert Boyle Esoteric astrology The increased precision of scientific methods and a theology dedicated to rationality are to be credited with the fact that astrology is excluded from recognized culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In , the so-called "Theosophical Society" was founded. Its founders declared that they had been instructed by beings from beyond, by masters. From them, they had received the assignment of making known the esoteric doctrines contained in all religions. They relied particularly on Buddhist and Hindu doctrines, but also on mystical Christian and Jewish traditions which they interpreted in their own way. It was above all their concern to speak, against modern natural science, again of the spiritual nature of the world, filled with magical and divine powers.
All of nature, stones, plants, animals, were once again, as in ancient times, filled with mysterious divine powers. According to theosophical teachings, the accepted natural sciences are incomplete, because they only investigate the outer hull of nature. It is true that they are this as well, but in them lie living essences which work through them.
On this basis, astrology was able to develop anew at the end of the nineteenth century. The planets and the signs of the zodiac were now seen again, in addition to their natural properties, as gods from which mysterious rays radiate. These mysterious rays influence or cause all the events on earth. The Englishwoman Alice Ann Bailey wrote one of the books fundamental to the world view of modern astrology under the title Esoteric Astrology .
Here the various planets and signs of the zodiac, with their corresponding powers and functions, are explained. The visible cosmos with all its heavenly bodies reflects, according to Alice Bailey, a certain heavenly hierarchy. She is also concerned with an astrological-cosmic interpretation of Christ in this heavenly hierarchy. In addition, she advocated the view that a "New Age" would begin with the imminent "Second Coming of Christ. The planets corresponded to certain spiritual beings.
And she also explained the imminent "Second Coming" astrologically in terms of the imminent "Age of Aquarius. Astrology once again raised the claim of providing a spiritual interpretation of the world and at the same time using scientific knowledge for this purpose. The ancient concern of astrology, to be religion and science at the same time, was thereby also taken up once again. However, practical guidance in the production of horoscopes was not provided by Alice Bailey herself.
She was much more concerned to present the entire cosmos as a divinely guided order. William F. As an Englander, he was also a member of the Theosophical Society, and he founded an astrological periodical in London and an astrological publishing house with branches in Paris and New York. Anyone who wanted could receive a "shilling-horoscope" through his publishing house. For a small fee, each interested party would receive their own sign of the zodiac, ascendant, and the position of the planets at the time of birth on copied sheets. Each person could thus read what "his" sign and "his" ascendant meant in a short overview .
The basis for these interpretations were the ancient descriptions of the heavenly bodies. Those with Venus in this position will attract attention with their physical beauty like the Roman goddess of love. In this esoteric astrology, teachings known from Buddhism and Hinduism, in particular, are also integrated.
Along with Christ, Buddha also plays a central role in theosophy. This refers not only to the person Buddha, but also to his doctrines of karma and rebirth, which flowed not only into the general theosophical teaching but also into esoteric astrology. The horoscope thus informs the astrologer about this karma, i. The transition from esoteric astrology to practical horoscope interpretation is thus indefinite, and it is difficult to determine exactly where esoterically motivated horoscope interpretation crosses over into a popular astrology with its everyday forecasts.
Newspapers and magazines now made the swift spread of very brief daily, weekly, and yearly horoscopes possible. The theosophical background often played hardly any role at all anymore, even if references to "rebirth" and "karma" appeared in newspaper horoscopes from time to time. Popular astrology was often only concerned anymore to satisfy a certain curiosity and a need for certainty about character and imminent events. Especially in the s, this newspaper-astrology experienced an enormous increase in popularity which could be built upon in the second half of the twentieth century . Today, everyone can look up their horoscope for the day or week in a newspaper and check how accurate the character descriptions and forecasts are.
Now this generalizing popular astrology is extremely questionable in terms of the foundations and calculation methods of astrology itself. The horoscope alone, which is gained through astronomical calculation and which provides the basis for every interpretation, suggests a very differentiated predisposition for each person.
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This is to be traced back to the fact that the exact positions of the planets and their angular relations to one another, as well as the positions of the zodiac signs and the houses, each have their own special meaning. Depending on the speed of the various planets and the rotation of the earth, these positions change quite rapidly.
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Thus, each horoscope is dependent upon the exact time and place of birth and changes with the slightest deviation. The popular astrology assumes that concrete statements and forecasts are possible for everyone who has the same sign. Of course, esoteric astrology can hardly be blamed for the fact that the popular astrology exists as well; just as little as the ancient learned astrology was to be blamed that astrological fortune-telling existed in the time of the Roman Empire. Today, esoteric astrology is especially widespread in some of the new religious movements such as theosophy, anthroposophy, and above all in the organizations of the "Rosicrucians.
These Ephemerides contain all the important data for a time-frame of fifty or a hundred years . But this esoteric astrology is also incorporated into the non-organized and individualized environment of the esoteric scene. In many astrology schools as well, astrology is taught by way of esoteric doctrines, whereby it is often just a matter of very general references or fragmentary allusions to "karma" and "rebirth. Psychological astrology In addition to theosophy, the developing psychology at the end of the nineteenth century also prepared the way for astrology. This psychological astrology picked up the thread of psychoanalysis, which concerned itself with the "unconscious" regions of the human mind.
The psychologist Carl Gustav Jung attempted to decode the rich symbolic world of our nightly dreams. In the process, he came across images and symbols time and again which also appear in the myths and fairy tales handed down to us. This led him to the idea that the gods of the heavenly bodies in astrology are actually pictures of our mind. The various gods of the heavenly bodies are accordingly not independent beings, but rather images which lie unconsciously dormant in our mind and now populate the vault of the heavens as a mirror of our mind.
Thus, for example, the various tales about the love goddess Venus or the god of war Mars are actually stories which humans repeatedly experienced and then at some time ascribed to gods. They were then projected onto the heavens as stories of gods. It read now in the course of the stars that which actually went on in the human mind.
Some astrologers and also psychologists after him took this up, for example, the well-known psychoanalyst Fritz Riemann . In this way, astrology has found its way into some forms of practical psychological consultation . This psychological astrology does not view human life as subject to the dictates of the stars, as some astrologers of other schools of thought see it. Whether and how these abilities are later realized is ascribed by psychological astrology to other factors such as upbringing and other environmental factors.
The horoscope is therefore used as a basis for a rather consultation-oriented praxis. Here, however, the following should be remarked from the scientific point of view. How exactly can a horoscope interpretation which takes the time of birth as its foundation realistically assess a grown person? Empirical proof is obviously difficult. Most astrologers working in a psycho-diagnostic framework assess the situation likewise so. The horoscope then helps in once again uncovering the buried dispositions. This psychological astrology thus relies upon the personal experience in direct dialogue between client and astrologer.
It thus follows that scientific evidence, in a strict sense, for the correspondence of horoscope and psycho-diagnosis is probably not possible. Among other reasons, astrology is therefore also not a recognized science. In contrast to psychology. It is a scientifically recognized discipline because it works with certain empirical and theoretical methods. It is true that astrology is supported by experience as well, but it has difficulties identifying empirically testable results and consequently enjoys hardly any scientific recognition.
But even if it were recognized through empirical results, theoretical conclusions which conflict with currently accepted scientific methods would follow. This means: if astrology were confirmed with empirical results, there would consequently have to be a connection between the heavenly bodies and very specialized predispositions in a person which could only be derived from the position of the heavenly bodies at the time of birth.
Concerning its empirical side, psychological astrology is thus limited to personal experience. In terms of its theoretical conclusions, namely that there is a connection between cosmos and human, it can hardly do without religious explanations. This discovery of analogies depends, as described above, on personal experience.
Now the explanation cannot, however, be left at this: that an analogous relationship is simply discovered. There must be some kind of connection between the heavenly bodies and humans which establishes these analogies. Many psychological astrologers attempt to clear up this problem by setting up hypotheses. It is interesting to see how, in doing so, they fall back once again on the ancient religious ideas.
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The astrologer Thomas Ring sees in the ancient planet gods and their descriptions "principles" which describe natural and mental processes. These principles are "powers of the living," or "powers of totality," which are at work in the entire cosmos and "encompass everything which lives. The planets are accordingly not just a collection of inanimate material, but are rather equipped with living powers which are also found in the human psyche and in nature.
The connection between the heavenly bodies and humans is thus not one which is, according to current standards, scientifically explainable. But here we have arrived at the ancient astrology once again. In ancient times the belief in a "world soul" went without saying. This world soul, which filled the entire cosmos and enveloped every particular thing, was able to explain the connection of the human being with the most distant cosmic occurrences.
Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton still believed in an "anima mundi," a world soul, which could explain astrological and magical events. We thus see that psychological astrology in fact begins with experiences from the praxis of psychology but, from these, draws religious conclusions. In this respect, it is very close to esoteric astrology. It is therefore also no wonder that the two are often not distinguished at all in modern astrology. In the framework of the esoteric and many new religious movements, the two schools can often hardly be separated.
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To many followers, it also seems to be quite unimportant which explanations are behind astrology. For the most part, an interest in psychological insights and self-knowledge stand in the foreground. The question of the explanation for astrology is answered by many interested parties by, usually only very indefinitely and generally, ascribing it to either a spirituality or to the natural sciences . In the German-speaking world, but also in other countries, there is, in the meantime, a multitude of astrology schools which view their task mainly in the psycho-diagnostic direction.
Nevertheless, no unambiguous classification can be made here. It can, however, be said that the psycho-diagnostic interests in astrology account for the largest portion of modern astrology. Empirical investigations In addition to psychological and esoteric tendencies in modern astrology, there are also efforts to scientifically, i. Here it is not enough to refer to personal experience; rather, representatives of this line of thought want to find empirically confirmed data. We recall that the classical philologist Franz Boll was cited at the beginning of this article as saying that astrology wants to be religion and science at the same time.
Now, the empirical research is the attempt to provide astrology with a basis measuring up to current scientific requirements. Empirical astrology is thus the third path which astrology takes in the twentieth century. In the s, some astrologers began to collect statistical data, and thereby to convince skeptics as well. At this time the astrologer Herbert v. He and other astrologers saw therein a tendency toward the confirmation of astrology. Yet he did not consider his results as definitely confirmed, and thus they are, scientifically viewed, of hardly any value .
He wanted to determine whether individuals with the same job would prove to have similar horoscopes. He presented his findings in his book Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior , which also appeared in German in . Thus it turned out that, statistically, there were not, among professional soldiers or athletes, for example, even slightly more people born under "Aries" or "Scorpio" as in other professions. Popular astrology suggests such results, because it sees in the signs "Aries" and "Scorpio" especially battle-ready and aggressive individuals who are ascribed a high level of physical strength.
However, Gauquelin also came to the conclusion that a careful investigation of individual planetary positions indeed shows a tendency towards certain professions. Thus, in an above-average number of cases, soldiers and athletes were said to have the planet Mars in the zenith position. Similarly, this was true of the planet Jupiter for politicians, the moon for authors, and the planet Saturn for scientists.
This would also correspond to the classical gods of the heavenly bodies, according to which Mars is the god of war, Jupiter the god of religious and political power, the moon the god or goddess of wisdom, and Saturn the god of solid matter. In this study, many astrological assumptions of newspaper astrology and also some more detailed horoscope interpretations fall flat.
For Gauquelin, however, something still remains of astrology. Many scientists have consequently concerned themselves with this investigation. Some of them have rejected it as insufficient. The discussion concerning this study is still being carried on by scientists today and remains open. The typical opinion among scientists regarding this study is summed up in the statement of the English astronomer G. But if they should turn out to be even partially correct, this would be a huge milestone in the determination of cosmic influences on humans.
Here as well the concern was to find even the smallest clues which could help identify an astrological connection. They did not investigate horoscopes, but rather began far more generally. The wanted to determine if and how various organisms, especially plants and marine organisms, react to the various phases of the moon. Above all, they wanted to find out if they also behave so when all external factors, like moonlight, ebb, and tide, are ruled out. It was thus a question of determining whether the "mysterious powers" between the heavenly bodies and life on earth assumed by astrology actually exist.
The results from many, partly very complicated experiments showed two groups of organisms. No rhythms at all which could be connected to the phases of the moon could be recognized in the growth and behavior of some of the investigated plants and animals. But in the case of many other species, a rhythm which accorded with the moon-phases could indeed be determined. Thus, some plants and animals reacted with their growth or reproductive behavior only at full moon, others only at new moon, and still others only at waxing or waning quarter moon.
The individual and quite complicated experiments shall not be described here in detail. But the two biologists are convinced that they have brought together enough material for a scientifically reliable judgment. According to these results, it seems certain that many plants and animals have an "inner clock" which dictates certain patterns of behavior independent of external influences.
This "inner clock" runs conspicuously parallel to certain phases of the moon, even if these plants and animals "cannot see" the moon, i. Now, what does this tell us about astrology? The initial question was whether there are any demonstrable indications of influences of the heavenly bodies at all, beyond the known physical ones. And here the two biologists claim: in many cases there are indeed such indications, in other cases there are none. If we now consider just the positive results, the following must be said: in those places where there is an indication of an influence by the moon, we cannot really speak of an "effect.
We can thus only state that two events happen analogously. We cannot scientifically confirm whether this is coincidence or whether mysterious powers are at work which have remained concealed to science till now. Whether that was really always the case can no longer be confirmed. But the astrologers assumed that they could make these observations. Perhaps they knew or suspected something of this analogous relation which, in certain cases, can be revealed today by exact scientific means.
However, this study does not provide much help for horoscope interpretation. For the evidence of analogies between phases of the moon and the behavior of organisms can only be shown in some cases, and various exceptional cases at that. It remains the case that evidence of analogous events between the course of the celestial bodies and events on earth could very well be shown in the future. This means: the foundations of astrology cannot be called "nonsense" right from the start. Nevertheless, horoscope interpretation, as it is pursued in practical astrology, will hardly be able to be experimentally proven.
Astrology in other cultures Up to now, we have only considered astrology in the framework of European history. But astrology also exists in most other cultures and in all the great religions. In Germany, Chinese astrology, above all, has become well-known. But also Native American, Indian, and Celtic astrology have found a certain audience here. All of these forms of astrology have much in common: the heavenly bodies and nature on earth are filled with gods, demons, and spirits.
There is no object which could not house a spirit or from which magical powers could not be emitted. And thus, the heavenly bodies, above all the sun and moon, are also the residences of powerful gods. At the same time, every people on earth is familiar with astronomical observation of the movements of the heavenly bodies, especially the characteristic behavior of the sun and moon. And from these observations, these peoples develop their calendar and divisions of time.
And they have thus organized their lifetimes, celebrated, and directed their daily routines according to these rhythms. All peoples felt themselves in constant contact and exchange with spirits and gods, whereby the gods of the heavens counted as particularly powerful. We do not want to analyze the individual astrological systems here.
One thing, however, can be said: all the various forms of astrology presuppose a similar spiritual world view. And simultaneously people observe the heavens scientifically and classify them as well as the course of the year with its celebrations and events. All forms of astrology thus want "to be religion and science at the same time," as was said at the beginning about European astrology.
And something else is conspicuous. Chinese astrology came about at around the same time as Mesopotamian and Egyptian, namely around BC. It also has a twelve-part division of the zodiac, with other "animals," however. Is there perhaps a historical connection between Chinese and Mesopotamian astrology? We do not know for sure. A Mesopotamian influence is not to be ruled out. But we know: Indian astrology was demonstrably influenced by Mesopotamian astrology. It has not only the twelve-part division of the zodiac, but also took over their designations. This is easily explained in terms of the lively trade between Mesopotamia and India.
Most astonishing, however, is the fact that the American Incas had the twelve-part zodiac long before Columbus reached the continent. The Aztecs and Mayas in Central America had likewise developed an astrology which shows striking similarities to Egyptian astrology . But how could the Egyptian astrology have made it across the Atlantic ocean?
Or did Native American astrology come to this amazing similarity quite independently? One thing can be said for sure: all the great cultures and religions were and are closely bound to astrology. Astrology and Christianity Let us return now to European astrology. For here astrology has stood in close interrelation with Christianity for two thousand years. How do they act in regards to one another, if Christianity proclaims the one God who created the world including the heavenly bodies, while astrology views the heavenly bodies and nature as full of magical gods and powers?
History The Bible addresses astrology indirectly in some places without, however, clearly explaining in detail. Many are surely familiar with the "star of Bethlehem" which is reported in the Gospel of Matthew Mt 2. There the story is told of three "Magi from the east" who have seen a special star. The Magi understood this star as a sign which announced the birth of a new "king of the Jews.
If this story is historically true, then the Magi were very probably priests who were followers of astrology from the Persian region. For these were well-known throughout Roman Empire at the time of Jesus. But even if it is not true, the authors of the Gospel according to Matthew knew of the "Magi from the east" and built them into the birth story of Jesus. The Christian theologian Tertullian ca. However, now that God had shown himself in the person of Jesus, astrology became superfluous. But all in all, astrology was very controversial in the beginnings of Christianity.
A large number of the early Christians rejected astrology. Many, like Justinus ca. Others criticized the far too unreliable horoscope interpretation. For the most part, however, astrology was rejected because it was classified among the non-Christian, "heathen" religions and their practices, and the "new" religion, Christianity, no longer needed it. However, there was also a thoroughly positive attitude towards astrology. This had less to do with horoscope interpretation as rather with the symbolism and image-world of astrology. Many astrological symbols were already common in some currents of Judaism and flowed quite naturally into Christianity.
The largest number of astrological symbols are found in the Revelation of John. Thus, the astrologically important numbers four, seven, and twelve occur in quite central passages. Right in the first chapter, seven stars are mentioned which are represented as seven angels Rev. The septet of stars referred in the ancient world to the seven known planets: sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. In chapter 12, a woman is mentioned who appears in the sky, clad in the sun, beneath her feet the moon and on her head a crown with twelve stars. She is quite reminiscent, down to the details, of the Mesopotamian Ishtar, who corresponds to the planet Venus and the Egyptian Isis, and who is also connected with the moon.
It has also been handed down to us that in the early period of the church, but also in the Middle Ages and early modern period, the twelve disciples of Christ are identified with the twelve signs of the zodiac . Here the twelve disciples are represented with characteristic markings and gestures of the twelve zodiac signs . Great Christian theologians, like Hildegard von Bingen d. Thomas Aquinas explained the relationship of Christianity and astrology most clearly. According to him, the heavenly bodies affect the physical condition of humans and the sensual inclinations.
However, every human has also the possibility to avoid the influences of the celestial bodies. The more he overcomes sensual inclinations, makes use of his reason, and devotes himself to God, the better is he able to master the passions and with them the influence of the stars.
Thomas did not think that the vast majority of mankind was capable of this. Events such as war were proof enough of that for Thomas . A basic stance of the church regarding astrology resulted. As long as astrologers practiced a "judicial" judgment-passing astrology for individuals, it was not allowed and was combated as a heathen faith. The Renaissance brought once again an enormous boom in popularity for astrology in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This was because interest in science and art, and especially in the ancient world increased.
Pope Leo X valued astrology so highly that he established a professorship of astrology at the papal university in Protestant theologians as well, such as Philipp Melanchthon , ardently practiced astrology. But despite this great sympathy on both the Roman Catholic as well as the Protestant sides, there were also critics. And this criticism was hardly different from that of the early Christian period.
Above all Martin Luther saw a danger in the belief in the powers of the heavenly bodies. Luther did not want to accept any other powers next to the one God who took human form in Jesus Christ . In addition, there were some astrological forecasts which were not fulfilled, and thus Luther made some mocking remarks about astrology. But sometimes Luther was not so sure after all. For he wrote a very detailed foreword in for a very detailed and religio-politically important forecast by the astrologer Johann Lichtenberger .
In it he said that, though the heavenly bodies cannot effect anything, they can yet announce events. Today everyone can look up their horoscope for the day or week in a newspaper and check how accurate it is. Except that the descriptions are always too general to allow such a check. Nor do they have any proper link with the calculations of serious astrology.
Modern psychological astrology In addition to theosophy, the ideas of the psychologist Carl Jung also paved the way for modern astrology. While trying to decode the symbolic world of our nightly dreams he came across images that also appear in the myths and fairy tales handed down to us. This led him to the idea that the gods of the heavenly bodies in astrology are actually pictures that lie unconsciously dormant in our mind. Thus myths about the war god Mars are actually events that humans have repeatedly experienced and have at some time ascribed to gods.
In this way, according to Jung, astrology came about. Jung, and others such as Fritz Riemann in his book Lebenshilfe Astrologie: Gedanken und Erfahrungen , believed that astrology could therefore inform us about the human mind and very generally future events. Not because the stars dictate human life, but because the horoscope hints at predispositions that can be followed up in ways unrelated to the stars.
It becomes the basis for a psychological consultation. For example Hans Bender, in his foreword to Thomas Ring's Astrologische Menschenkunde Freiburg , notes that "a great number of rational people, among them many psychotherapists, use the birth constellation as a practical diagnostic tool. However, if the horoscope hints at predispositions that can develop in quite diverse ways, the horoscope and eventual outcome do not necessarily correspond to one another. So how can this correspondence be tested? Most astrologers agree that testing is difficult and may not be possible, but feel that personal experience in consultation verifies the correctness of the horoscope.
Due to these difficulties in testing, astrology enjoys hardly any scientific recognition. But if astrology were to be confirmed by scientific tests, it would mean that human character would depend on the stars at birth, which is contrary to accepted scientific findings. It would require a return to religious explanations. The dependence would not be explained by physical effects such as light or gravitation, but through "living powers" at work in the whole cosmos. It would be a return to the ancient astrology, to an "anima mundi," a world soul, which could explain astrological and magical events.
In short, psychological astrology begins with human experiences and ends by drawing religious conclusions. So it is very close to esoteric astrology. No wonder that the two are often not distinguished at all in modern astrology. Empirical astrology Recall how Franz Boll held that astrology wants to be religion and science at the same time. Empirical astrology is thus the third path which astrology takes in the twentieth century. For example in his book Astrologie als Erfahrungswissenschaft Leipzig , the German astrologer Herbert von Klockler investigated horoscopes for special astrological correspondences of accidents, crimes, and also particular talents of painters, poets, and lawyers.
He found slight effects that did not definitely confirm astrology, so in scientific terms they were of hardly any value. More comprehensive tests were carried out in the s by the French psychologist Michel Gauquelin. In general, astrological claims could not be confirmed. He did find slight effects but again they did not definitely confirm astrology. More recently an investigation into lunar effects by the biologists Klaus-Peter Endres and Wolfgang Schad in their book Biologie des Mondes: Mondperiodik und Lebensrhythmen Leipzig found that some plants and animals showed no connection with moon phases, while others did show a small connection in their growth or reproductive behavior but not consistently -- for some it was only at full moon, others only at new moon, and still others only at waxing or waning quarter moon.
So even this study hardly helps horoscope interpretation. Astrology and Christianity In early Christianity astrology was generally rejected because it was a heathen practice and the new religion Christianity no longer needed it. But there also existed a positive attitude, largely because many of astrology's symbols were already common in some currents of Judaism and flowed quite naturally into Christianity.
In the Middle Ages the church allowed a "natural" astrology that gave information about weather or found application in medicine, but condemned as a heathen faith "judicial" judgment-passing astrology for individuals. Today astrology still believes in many planet gods who are at work in the cosmos.
So astrology has no problem in recognizing one Creator God as in Christianity who created this cosmos. But it is not so simple the other way around. Today church views on astrology, whether Roman Catholic or Evangelical, could hardly be more diverse. They vary from mocking rejection and serious warning of its dangers, as in the Pope's Catechism, to serious occupation with it, as in theologian Christoph Schubert-Weller's book Sprecht Gott durch die Sterne? Where does astrology stand today? Religious scholarship does not consider whether a religious idea is true or not. It considers only whether there are people who hold such ideas, and the effect of those ideas on their experiences.
Thus the mysterious ideas that astrology teaches can be viewed in the same way as the ideas of life after death, purgatory, karma and reincarnation. Modern astrology has to date received little attention by religious scholars, but most see modern astrology in the context of western esoterica. Thus for Christoph Bochinger it gains currency in the expectation of a "New Age" "New Age" und moderne Religion , Gutersloh , while for Antoine Faivre Access to Western esoterism , New York , and Esoterik im Uberblick , Freiburg , and Wouter Hanegraaff, New Age religion and Western culture: esotericism in the mirror of secular thought , Leiden , modern astrology is a part of western esoterica.