The art of divining the fate or future of persons from the
juxtaposition of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Judicial astrology
foretells the destinies of individuals and nations, while Natural
astrology predicts changes of weather and the influence of the
stars upon natural things.
The characters used in astrology to denote the 12 signs represent
natural objects, but they have also a hieroglyphic or esoteric
meaning that has been lost. The figure of Aries represents
the head and horns of a ram; that of Taurus, the head and
horns of a bull; that of Leo, the head and mane of a lion; that
of Gemini, two persons standing together; and so on. The
physical or astronomical reasons for the adoption of these figures
is explained by the Abbé Pluche in his Histoire du Ciel
(173941), and Charles F. Dupuis, in his Abrégé de lOrigine de
tous les Cultes (1798), endeavors to establish the principles of an
astro-mythology by tracing the progress of the moon through
the 12 signs in a series of adventures he compares with the wanderings
Traditionally, the cases for which astrological predictions
have chiefly been sought were nativities, that is, in ascertaining
the fate and fortunes of individuals from the positions of the
stars at the time of birth, and in questions called horary, which
comprehend almost every matter that might be the subject of
astrological inquiry. Sickness, the success of business undertakings,
the outcome of lawsuits, and so on are all objects of horary
A person is said to be born under that planet that ruled the
hour of his birth. Thus two hours every day are under the control
of Saturn; the first hour after sunrise on Saturday is one of
them. Therefore, a person born on Saturday in the first hour
after sunrise has Saturn for the lord of his or her ascendant;
those born in the next hour, Jupiter; and so on in order. Venus
rules the first hour on Friday, Mercury on Wednesday, Jupiter
on Thursday, the Sun and Moon on Sunday and Monday, and
Mars on Tuesday.
In drawing a nativity or natal chart (horoscope) a figure is
divided into 12 portions representing the astrological houses.
The 12 houses are similar to the 12 astrological signs, and the
planets, being always in the zodiac, will therefore all fall within
these 12 divisions or houses. The line that separates any house
from the preceding is called the cusp of the house. The first
house is called the ascendant, or the east angle; the fourth, the
imum coeli, or the north angle; the seventh, the west angle; and
the tenth, the medium coeli, or the south angle. After this figure
is drawn, tables and directions are given for placing the signs,
and because one house corresponds to a particular sign, the
rest can also be determined. When the signs and planets are all
placed in the houses, the astrologer can augur, from their relative
position, what influence they will have on the life and fortunes
of the native.
History of Astrology in the West
The precise origin of astrology is lost to history, but its practice
appears to have developed independently in both China
and Mesopotamia, and was quite known early in India. One of
the most remarkable astrological treatises of all history is the
fabulous Bhrigu-Samhita of ancient India, said to contain formulas
for ascertaining the names of all individuals, past, present,
and future, and their destinies. Unlike popular Western astrology,
the key to a Bhrigu consultation is not the birth sign
and conjunction of planets, but the moment of consultation of
Marco Polo found astrology well established in China, although
Chinese astrology developed apart from Western history
and only recently has been imported into the West. Western
astrology seems to have originated in Mesopotamia, and all of
the cultures of ancient Iraq and Iran contributed to its creation.
Among the earliest records of astrology are the cuneiform tablets
from the library of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (669626
B.C.E.). Astrologers were making periodic reports to Ashurbanipal
on such matters as the possibility of war and the probable
size of the harvest. Astrology had been present in the region for
at least a millennium but was given a distinctive boost by the
Chaldeans who took over the Tigris and Euphrates valleys in
606 B.C.E. The Chaldeans mapped the sky, improved the methods
for recording the passing of time, successfully predicted
eclipses, and accurately determined the length of the solar year
(within 26 minutes).
Thus astrology was well developed in Chaldea when (in the
second millennium B.C.E.) the biblical Abraham migrated from
Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 1131) to Palestine. The conflict between
the emerging religions of the Israelites and Babylonian
astrology can be seen in Isa. 4713 and repeatedly in the book
of Daniel (e.g. 227, 47). A primitive astrology had developed
among the Greeks, but during the conquests of Alexander in
the West beginning in 334 B.C.E. Chaldean astrology flowed
into the Mediterranean basin. Alexanders conquests also introduced
astrology into India, although the Indians took the
Chaldean notions and developed them in a unique direction.
In Egyptian tradition the invention of astrology is attributed
to Thoth (called Hermes Trismegistus by the Greek), the god
of wisdom, learning, and literature. He is the Mercury of the
Romans, the eloquent deliverer of the messages of the gods.
In imperial Rome astrology was held in great repute, especially
under the reign of Tiberius (1437 C.E.). Augustus (27
B.C.E.14 C.E.) had discouraged the practice of astrology by banishing
its practitioners from Rome, but his successors recalled
them; and although occasional edicts in subsequent reigns restrained
and even punished all who divined by the stars, the
practices of the astrologers were secretly encouraged and their
predictions extensively believed. Domitian (5196 C.E.), in spite
of his hostility toward them, was in fear of their pronouncements.
They prophesied the year, the hour, and the manner of
his death, and agreed with his father in foretelling that he
Astrological Society Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
should perish not by poison, but by the dagger. The early
Christians gave some sanction to astrology in the Gospel of
Matthew, which opens with the visit of the three magi (Persian
astrologers) who, having seen the star in the east, have come to
After the age of the Antonines and the work of the thirdcentury
C.E. Roman scholar Censorinus, we hear little of astrology
for some generations. In the eighth century the Venerable
Bede and his distinguished scholar, Alcuin, are said to have
pursued this mystic study. Immediately following, the Arabians
revived and encouraged it. Under the patronage of Almaimon,
in the year 827, the Megale Syntaxis of Ptolemy was translated,
under the title Almagest, by al-Hazen Ben Yusseph. Albumasar
added to this work, and the astral science continued to receive
new force from the labors of Alfraganus, Ebennozophim, Alfaragius,
The conquest of Spain by the Moors carried this knowledge,
with all their other treasures of learning, into Spain, and before
their cruel expulsion it was naturalized among the Christian savants.
Among these Alonzo (or Alfonso) of Castile has immortalized
himself by his scientific research, and the Jewish and
Christian doctors who arranged the tables named for him were
convened from all the accessible parts of civilized Europe. Five
years were employed in their discussion, and it has been said
that the enormous sum of 400,000 ducats was disbursed in the
towers of the Alcazar of Galiana in the adjustment and correction
of Ptolemys calculations. Nor was it only the physical motions
of the stars that occupied this grave assembly. The two
Kabbalistic volumes, yet existing in cipher, in the royal library
of the kings of Spain, and which tradition assigns to Alonzo
himself, indicate a more visionary study. In spite of the denunciations
against this orthodoxy, which were thundered in his
ears on the authority of Tertullian, Basil, and Bonaventure, the
fearless monarch gave his sanction to such masters as practiced
the art of divination by the stars, and in one part of his code
enrolled astrology among the seven liberal sciences.
In Germany many eminent men pursued astrology. A long
catalog could be made of those who have considered other sciences
with reference to astrology and written on them as such.
Faust has, of course, the credit of being an astrologer as well as
a wizard, and we find that singular but splendid genius, Cornelius
Agrippa writing with as much zeal against astrology as on
behalf of other occult sciences.
Of the early developments in astrology in England little is
known. Bede and Alcuin have been mentioned. Roger Bacon
included it among his broad studies. But it is the period of the
Stuarts that can be considered the acme of astrology in England.
Then William Lilly employed the doctrine of the magical
circle, engaged in the evocation of spirits from the Ars Notoria
and used the form of prayer prescribed therein to the
angel Salmonoeus, and entertained among his familiar acquaintance
the guardian spirits of England, Salmael and Malchidael.
His ill success with the divining rod induced him to
surrender the pursuit of rhabdomancy.
The successor of Lilly was Henry Coley, a tailor, who had
been his amanuensis and was almost as successful in prophecy
as his master.
While astrology flourished in England it was in high repute
with its kindred pursuits of magic, necromancy, and alchemy
at the court of France. Catherine de Medicis herself was an
adept in the art. At the Revolution, which commenced a new
era in France, astrology declined.
Astrology has now permeated every activity of modern life,
from daily household activities to politics and stock market
speculation. Leading names that have emerged in the astrology
revival include Luke D. Broughton, Evangeline Adams,
Manly Palmer Hall, Elbert Benjamine Heindel, and Llewellyn
George. More recently, figures have included Sydney
Omarr, Jeane Dixon, Zolar (Bruce King), Ophiel, and
Sybil Leek. Also still popular in its various editions is the mass
circulation almanac of Old Moore, which first appeared
nearly three centuries ago.
The psychologist C. G. Jung related astrology to synchronicity,
an acausal connecting principle in nature (as distinct
from normal cause and effect), and believed that horoscopes
offered useful psychological information on patients.
Astrology was widely used during World War II as a psychological
weapon by both Germans and British.
The most noticeable aspect of the occult revival of modern
times has been the widespread popularity of astrology, particularly
among young people. It is estimated that there are more
than ten thousand professional astrologers in the United
States, with a clientele of more than twenty million people.
Most American newspapers run an astrology column. Even the
respected Washington Post includes a horoscope column.
In 1988 the revelations of former White House Chief of Staff
Donald T. Regan (in his book For the Record) caused widespread
media comment with the claim that Nancy Reagan consulted
astrologers on questions relating to presidential schedules of
her husband, Ronald Reagan. Joan Quigley was cited as her astrological
consultant. Caroline Casey, daughter of a former
congressman, was also revealed as a leading astrologer to politicians,
high-ranking officials, and Georgetown socialites.
None of this would be surprising to Indian and other Asian
celebrities, since the astrologer is still an indispensable figure
in Asian society, consulted on marriage dates and partnerships,
business enterprises, and affairs of state. But the extent of
American involvement with astrology surprised and infuriated
many commentators, who condemned occult superstitions.
In May 1988, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee,
Donald Regan was asked whether he had ever heard of American
stockholders using astrology for guidance. He replied, Recently
a study was made of Wall Street people and stockholdersand
48 percent admitted that they used astrology of one
sort or another in the stock market.
One astrologer responded, Whats new Queen Elizabeth
I set her coronation date by her guy, John Dee, and consulted
him every day. Kings have always used usand popes! Some
of those guys were do-it-yourselfers, like Fixtus IV and Julius
II. Others just kept their astrologers in the closet, like Nancy
There has been little new to add to popular belief in astrology
in the present revival except its linking with modern technology
in the use of an IBM computer for rapid calculation of
horoscopes. For some time the giant Astroflash computer was
a familiar sight to commuters at the Lexington Avenue entrance
to Grand Central Station, New York.
In spite of its pseudoscientific basis, deriving from outmoded
theories of the planetary system, astrology can point to documented
successes, particularly by astrologers who combine
their calculations with an intuitive faculty of interpretation.
There is also scientific evidence for the influence of lunar and
solar rhythms on human activity.
One interesting development in modern astrology has been
the research of the French statistician Michel Gauquelin and
his wife Francosise Gauquelin, beginning in 1950. They
claimed to find a significant correlation between the position
of planets at birth and the chosen professions of a large sample
of people from all walks of life. The research of the Gauquelins,
whose collaboration lasted until 1980, is so significant that it is
the most frequently cited research validating astrology.
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Stuart & Watkins, 1955.
Eisler, Robert. The Royal Art of Astrology. London Herbert
Gauquelin, Michel. The Cosmic Clocks. Chicago Henry Regnery,
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Factors in Personality. New York Stein & Day, 1973. Rev. ed.
New York ASI Publishers, 1978.
. Dreams and Illusions of Astrology. Buffalo, N.Y. Prometheus
Books, 1978. Reprint, London Glover & Blair, 1980.
. Scientific Basis of Astrology. New York Stein & Day,
1969. Reprinted as Astrology and Science. London P. Davies,
Hone, Margaret. Modern Textbook of Astrology. London Fowler,
Howe, Ellic. Astrology & Psychological Warfare during World
War II. London Rider, 1972.
Kenton, Warren. Astrology The Celestial Mirror. London
Thames & Hudson, 1974.
Lee, Dal. Dictionary of Astrology. New York Warner, 1968.
Leo, Alan. Casting the Horoscope. London Fowler, 1969.
Lewis, James R. The Astrology Encyclopedia. Detroit Gale Research,
McIntosh, Christopher. The Astrologers and their Creed. London
Rudhyar, Dane. From Humanistic to Transpersonal Astrology.
Seed Center, 1975.
Sachs, Gunter. The Astrology File. London Orion, 1998.
Thompson, C. J. S. The Mystery and Romance of Astrology. London,
1929. Reprint, Detroit Singing Tree Press, 1969. Reprint,
New York Causeway, 1973.