ASTROLOGY is an information source which mysteriously links the positions of planets in the solar system at birth to the later personality of people born at a particular time, and tracks the influences which affect them through their lives. Science has never attempted to put an explanation on why it should work, so the reasons why remain an enigma. But the information astrology gives is sound and undeniable.
Some would prefer to say that the planets do not directly affect us, they just move in predictable cycles, which dance to the same tune as the influences which are the real string-pullers. Whatever mechanisms are eventually found to explain the cosmic pull, one thing is certain and that is the awesome complexity of it all.
The bleeding Moon
Part of the explanation may be in the direct physical effect of the planets since we know the Moon's gravitational pull shifts literally trillions of tons of water every day on the earth's surface in the tidal flow. Surgeons in Russia and elsewhere will not operate around the time of the Full Moon if possible, since patients bleed more at the time of the Full Moon. Mental hospitals also report more disturbed behaviour. But the explanation undoubtedly needs to be wider than this. My own personal view - still somewhat unstructured - is that astrology taps us into the underlying reality of the highly mathematical universe in which we live. Everything moves to numbers and once you can crack the number code then a great deal more information is available. Astrology is a peek through a crack in the door into this awesomely complex, and mainly unknowable reality.
The template at birth
Astrology freeze-frames a moment in time at the birth of a baby, when it is finally separated from the womb. The position of the planets in the solar system and their relation to the longitude and latitude of birth at the precise time of entry into the outside world is what makes up the individual birth chart which gives a wealth of information about temperament, talents, strengths and challenges and psychological background. That birth chart is a template for the life ahead. Later planetary movements are plotted onto that chart to show when certain influences will affect different areas of the individual's life.
Does this mean we have no freewill?
Many sceptics dislike the idea that we do not have total freewill, seeing astrology as taking away moral choice and freedom of decision. The fact is that we are limited by temperament and family background but we also have a measure of freewill to live within those givens. Astrology does not remove freewill or give you a cop out. Indeed it says the more you understand yourself by gaining insight from your birth chart and the influences affecting it, the more choices you have about how to live your life to the full. As Carl Jung, the Swiss founder of modern psychotherapy famously remarked - freewill is the ability to chose that which of necessity we must do.
Are there any proofs of astrology?
Michel Gauquelin, the French psychologist and statistician, proved that top class army general, sportsmen and other professionals do have birth charts which reflect their 'chosen' profession. The planets at birth did point to later success in a particular field. The more fully people develop their talents, the more they live out the full potential of their birth chart. The recent survey funded by German playboy Gunter Sachs written up in THE ASTROLOGY FILE (publishers Orion, 1998) also shows the scientific proof of the link between star signs and human behaviour. If you are interested in more of the evidence go read The CASE FOR ASTROLOGY by John Anthony West (Viking Arkana 1991).
Natural births: well starred connections.
Gauquelin also found intriguingly that babies allowed to find their own natural birth time without medical intervention were more likely to have chart similarities, especially from their ascendant sign (on the horizon at birth) to their parents' charts, indicating a stronger bonding.
The Secret Power of the Stars
Does history dance to the tune of the stars?
Amazingly so. The massive triple conjunctions of outer planets, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto, which are rare occurrences - only 9 in the last two thousand years - usually have influence over several years and coincide with massive shifts in civilisations, the rise and fall of empires. Two occurred in the 5th Century AD as the Roman Empire collapsed, and the Barbarians took over the European continent, with vast migrations of peoples.
In 623 AD the triple conjunction of Saturn, Uranus and spiritual Neptune in Virgo coincided with the birth of Islam and the start of the Islamic calendar. The 10th Century triple conjunction saw the collapse of the Chinese and European dynasties which had been established at the previous conjunction. In 1306 a quadruple conjunction in Scorpio (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) oversaw the start of the European Renaissance, the end of the Crusades, and the founding of the Ottoman Empire.
The first effective European balance of power came about at the next conjunction in Virgo around 1713 with the end of the War of Spanish of Succession and the Age of Enlightenment begins. Europe descended into the year of Revolutions at the next conjunction involving disruptive Uranus, power hungry Pluto and rigid Saturn in Aries/Taurus around 1850, with the seeds of communism being sown by Marx and Engels. The most recent triple conjunction in the late 1980s, early 1990s saw the effective collapse of communism, and the fragmentation of the Balkans, and the Maastricht Treat being signed, moving Europe towards a single state.
Double conjunctions of two of the outer planets together are less powerful but still highly significant. Similar events occur when the same planets merge influence.
The Saturn Neptune conjunction (three times a century) is traditionally associated with worker's rights and this particular conjunction coincided with many peasants revolts from Wat Tyler's in England in 1381, right up to the Russian Revolution in 1917, to Solidarity in Poland in 1989. They also point up women's power. Saturn Neptune conjunctions reigned over the coronation of both Elisabeth 1 in 1558, and Elizabeth 11 in 1953, as well as Benazir Bhutto becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1989.
Uranus Neptune (roughly every 200 years) together seem to prodce (coincide with) times of great artistic and religious inspiration. The illustrated Gospels of Book of Kells were painted during one in the 8th Century; Giotto painted the frescoes in Padua on another in 1305; on the next Michaelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel; and in 1820 William Blake illustrated the Book of Job.
Neptune Pluto conjunctions, only four times in 2000 years, appears to throw up megalomaniac dictators from Attila the Hun (5th Century), Tamerlane (14th Century), through to Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Stalin who were all born under the late 19th century Neptune Pluto conjunction.
Intriguing but true.
Who first used astrology?
Astrology developed from ancient times as primitive people looked to the stars for omens of events to come. The Sumerians who settled on the banks of the Tigris-Euphrates in what is now Iraq around 4000 BC were the first to use astrology in systematic form. They were the first literate peoples who developed writing. It is believed that they were immigrants from further east towards present-day Afghanistan, and that astrology split even earlier going east into China, forming the basis of a slightly different system and west into the beginnings of what we use today in Western Astrology. Indian Hindu astrology also shares the same root knowledge though with its own subtle variations.
The living stream of astrology.
Astrology spread in a fascinating way from the Sumerians into the advanced Greek civilization (600 BC), where the philosophers like Plato held sway. From there it moved into Egypt, where traces of it can still be seen in the wonderfully colourful frescoes in the pharaoh's temples; and into the later Roman empire. The Sumerians probably also communicated their astrological knowledge to the Indian civilization of 2000 BC, where mathematics was also highly developed. When the Roman Empire crumbled the sophisticated Arab mathematicians took astrology on board and developed it still further around 4 AD to 9AD. It came further west in a major way when the Crusaders, having lived for two centuries and absorbed much of the knowledge and culture of the middle east, came back in the 12th and 13th century. The Templars were almost certainly instrumental in this. At that point the original Latin texts which had been translated into Arabic were re-translated back into Latin, which was the language of scholars in Europe.
Mathematics, Science & the Stars.
Again in the late 16th century it was the mathematicians, such as the Scottish John Napier, inventor of logarithms, who pushed back the frontiers of astrological knowledge. All the early astronomers, Galileo, Kepler, Tyco Brahe were astrologers. It was used extensively in medicine, gardening, and in alchemy, which was the start of modern chemistry.
At this point astrology was taught in all the ecclesiastical colleges in Europe, and was used by all heads of state, Holy Roman Emperors, Kings and even Popes.
Astrology fell into disrepute with the rise of science in the 17th century, going underground into the secret societies, like the Freemasons, Rosicrucians, Theosophists, who kept it alive. It has started to emerge again into public recognition in the 20th century.
Astrology lies at the heart of religion
The five main world religions - Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism - all have astrology as part of their belief system. Daniel, the Christian Old Testament prophet was an astrologer. The bright star which drew the Wise Men, who were Zoriastrian astrologers, to find Jesus Christ in the Bethlehem stable was almost certainly a Jupiter Saturn conjunction. Mohammed founded Islam in 625 AD on a massive triple conjunction. (see the Secret Power of the Stars below). Many synagogues round the world from 16th century Russia to 20th century USA have astrological symbols carved or inlaid into their structure. Buddhist priests laid down the exact astrological timing for the start of modern Burma in 1948.[/expand
Power patrons through the ages.
In the twentieth century world leaders have used astrology, some openly, others more discreetly. US President Ronald Reagan signed many of the treaties marking the end of the Cold War with the USSR at times set by his wife's astrologer. A previous president Teddy Roosvelt kept a copy of his birth chart in the White House office to remind him of his tendency to lose his temper. Boris Yeltsin, the Russian president was a keen follower, as was Indian leader, Indira Gandhi. French President Francois Mitterrand was known to have consulted the stars. Even Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher was not immune. Her brusque press aide Bernard Ingham asked me personally to let No 10 know if she was going to be in danger at any point at the height of the Irish troubles and terrorist attacks.
Hitler though reputed to have relied on astrologers for advice in fact sent most of them to the concentration camps, including the one closest to the Third Reich brought in by Hess, Karl Ernst Krafft. (See "Urania's Children by Ellic Howe). Paradoxically Hitler's rise to power had been foreseen by German astrologer Elsbeth Ebertin in 1923. Without meeting him she wrote of his chart: "A man of action ...destined to play a Fuhrer-like role in future battles. He will expose himself to personal danger by excessively uncautious action and could very likely trigger off an uncontrollable crisis."
Carl Jung, the Swiss founder of psychotherapy, said that understanding a birth chart would give him as much information as two years of analysis with a patient.
In earlier centuries the skilled English astrologer William Lilley advised both Oliver Cromwell and King Charles 1 during the Civil War, as well as predicting the Great Fire of London in 1666. Queen Elizabeth 1 of England in the 16th century, had one of the most famous astrologers of all time (and the first secret service agent), John Dee. Nostradamus, despite his reputation as an astrologer, relied mainly on psychic intuitions for his prophecies. The great founder of the Holy Roman Empire in the 9th century, King Charlemagne, himself skilled in the art, had as his personal astrologer, the scholarly Alcuin, who had been trained in Iona Monastery in Scotland. In Roman times the cruel Emperor Tiberius used to hurl his astrologers, when they displeased him, off the cliff top from his Capri villa. Many Roman Emperors, including Hadrian (of the wall) were themselves skilled astrologers. (See " An Introduction to the History of Astrology" by Nick Campion.)
Put to good use:
In recent times French wine growers, using Rudolph Steiner's astrological calendar have successfully developed a system for planting and horticulture, which has confounded the critics by producing a better glass of wine. Organic gardeners are now following suit. Many financiers on Wall Street and elsewhere in the world's major money centres now have regular astrological advice to guide their investments. Certain branches of psychotherapy, following Jung's ideas, also use birth charts to help patients understand themselves.
Sun sign astrology: too simple to be sound?
The "sun sign" which is your birthday sign (Aries, Taurus, ... to Pisces) is the focus of the simple media astrology, which appears in daily and weekly columns. Serious astrologers tend to look down on it, saying it gives astrology a bad name. They point to the birth chart with its wealth of detail from 9 other planets in the solar system, and their aspects, which gives 2500 times more information. Yet astrology is a highly versatile system, which works surprisingly well at both a simple level and a highly complex one. The Sun sign is the core of your identity, describing major characteristics. Everyone knows in their work area there are clusters of the same star signs, people drawn to that particular career because it fits their temperament and talents. We all get on with particular star signs while others consistently raise our hackles. I have been predicting on sun sign astrology ( as well as the more complex variety) for 15 years and have been regularly intrigued at how the sweep of the planets - the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in relation to the birthday sign does have a major impact on the events of people's daily life. Strange but true.