What’s the definition of astrology?

Astrology is an ancient practice that studies the movements and positions of celestial objects like the sun, moon, planets, and stars to gain insight into a person’s personality, relationships, and future events. It’s a complex, nuanced field with a long, rich history spanning thousands of years across many cultures worldwide.

Though often dismissed today as pseudoscience, astrology has had ardent supporters and practitioners throughout the ages, from kings and queens to popes, poets, psychologists, and more. Let’s explore exactly what astrology is, where it came from, and why so many remain fascinated by the cosmic patterns in the sky.

A Brief History of Astrology

The origins of astrology can be traced back as far as the 2nd millennium BCE to ancient Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern day Iraq. The Mesopotamians meticulously tracked the wanderings of the sun, moon, and planets, eventually discerning repeating cycles and patterns in their movements. They correlated these celestial cycles with events like weather, agriculture, and politics on earth – thus the first astrological interpretations were born.

Astrology soon spread to Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, and China, developing distinct schools and traditions in each culture. However, a significant evolution in astrology came during the Hellenistic period in Ancient Greece. The Greeks synthesized Babylonian astrology with their philosophical ideas about divination and the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – to create the system of astrology we know today. They established the 12 signs of the zodiac, dividing the celestial sphere into 12 equal sections corresponding to 12 constellations. Your zodiac sign depends on which constellation the sun was passing through at the exact time and place of your birth.

The Greeks also introduced astrological concepts like planets ruling signs, planetary aspects, the importance of birth charts, and more. Later, as astrology moved through India and the Middle East, techniques like the rising sign or ascendant were added. Astrology as we know it today reflects thousands of years of accumulated wisdom and refinements from nearly every ancient culture on earth.

What Do Astrologers Study?

There are a few key components that astrologers use to interpret cosmic omens in a birth chart:

Planets – In astrology, “planets” include the eight planets of our solar system (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) as well as the sun and moon. Each planet is associated with certain personality traits and life domains it impacts based on its placement in the birth chart. For example, passionate Mars governs ambition, sexuality, and war, while communicative Mercury rules thinking, speaking, and writing.

Zodiac Signs – The zodiac is the belt or band of constellations that the sun, moon, and planets traverse across the sky. The 12 zodiac signs – Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces – each rule 30° of the zodiac wheel. Your zodiac sign is determined by which sign the sun was passing through at birth.

Astrological Houses – The birth chart wheel is divided into 12 astrological houses, each governing specific life areas from relationships to career, health, travel, and more. Planets falling in a certain house impact that part of someone’s life. For instance, Venus in the seventh house suggests opportunities or challenges with romantic partners and contracts.

Aspects – Aspects are angular relationships between planets based on the number of degrees between them. Major aspects include the conjunction (0°), sextile (60°), square (90°), trine (120°) and opposition (180°), and each aspect connects planetary energies in different ways. For example, harmonious trines indicate natural talent, while challenging squares suggest obstacles to overcome.

To create a full birth chart, an astrologer will calculate the exact positions of the planets around the zodiac for the time, date and place you were born. This reveals the cosmic patterns in place at that moment that shaped your personality and path ahead.

What Can Astrology Tell You?

For millennia, astrology has provided guidance about nearly every aspect of life and mankind’s place in the cosmos. Here are some of the insights that a complete astrological chart can offer:

  • Personality – Astrology explains why you are the way you are. The positions of the sun, moon and rising sign shape your core personality, temperament and habits.
  • Relationships – Learn what you need in a partner by studying Venus and Mars. Astrological compatibility compares birth charts to reveal your romantic and sexual chemistry with others.
  • Career – Find your professional purpose by seeing which zodiac sign rules your 10th house of career, and where ambitious Saturn was placed at your birth.
  • Money – Financial prosperity areas are highlighted in your natal chart. For example, Jupiter’s placement often correlates to luck and abundance potential.
  • Destiny – Discover your life’s purpose and challenges by noting important dates ahead when planets transit key points in your birth chart. Your chart acts as a road map to fulfill your highest potential.
  • Spirituality – Astrology provides a meaningful framework for understanding mankind’s connection to the cosmos at large. Explore life’s deepest questions about existence through symbolic celestial patterns.

Of course, astrology is a complex metaphysical system that takes much time and effort to apply skillfully. But learning the basics of your birth chart can provide fascinating glimpses into your innate gifts, what drives you, and the hidden cosmic order underlying your life path.

Why Do People Value Astrology?

With astrology’s illustrious history spanning millennia and cultures worldwide, it’s clearly resonated with something deeply meaningful in the human experience. But why does this esoteric practice still attract so much interest today? Some key reasons astrology persists as a treasured tool for self-insight include:

1. It satisfies our need for meaning – By revealing the greater cosmic design at work in our lives, astrology helps satisfy humanity’s innate need to find meaning and feel that our existence is not random, but connected to something larger.

2. It provides a guidepost for self-growth – Astrological cycles act as a framework to understand our purpose and monitor personal development. Checking in on transiting planets can reveal where we need growth versus areas already strengths.

3. It allows self-reflection from an expanded perspective – Viewing oneself mirrored in the planets and stars allows a more reflective, philosophical approach to who we are and how we fit into the bigger picture.

4. It empowers our free will – Unlike a fixed destiny, astrology shows potentials and tendencies to manage. Fate is malleable, not pre-determined. We have free will to work with our cosmic strengths and challenges.

5. It awakens a sense of wonder – At its heart, astrology invites us to see life as an awe-inspiring cosmic dance, with each of us playing an integral role in the mystery.

So for many open-minded seekers of deeper meaning, astrology provides a powerful tool to illuminate life’s path and reconnect to the sacredness of being alive at this moment in space and time.

In Conclusion

Astrology has survived centuries and civilizations because at its core, this cosmic language of symbolism, myth, and meaning taps into the very essence of what makes us human. We are all drawn to understand who we are, why we are here, and what destiny may hold us.

While easy to dismiss astrology as an ancient pseudoscience, those who take time to understand its symbolic wisdom discover a rich trove of self-knowledge and guidance hidden in the stars. Astrology asks us to contemplate mystical truths about time, fate, and humankind’s dance within the cosmic order.

At its best, this celestial compass continues to orient our place in the universe as beings connected to all life, born of stardust, and following our own bright shining destiny.

References

Costello, Darby. “A Brief History of Astrology.” Ancient Origins, Ancient Origins, 16 Nov. 2020, www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/brief-history-astrology-0014436.

Fanthorpe, Lionel, and Patricia Fanthorpe. Mysteries and Secrets of Astrology. Dundurn, 2003.

Guttman, Ariel, and Kenneth Johnson. Mythic Astrology: Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope. Llewellyn Publications, 2007.

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