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Astrology – Mysticism, Charlatanry or Just Geometry

08 June 2010 / 11:06:09  GRReporter
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Over the centuries, the attitude towards astrology has been swaying between many extreme views - from complete denial, neglect and proclaimed deception to deep respect. There is too much of controversy whether astrology is science or not. Astrology is knowledge. This is the “language of the universe”. Modern science does not have the necessary tools to explain how this knowledge “works”. For the same reasons that there is no science that can explain how the Japanese or Chinese languages function, and to what extent they are scientifically correct.

Astrology puts in the limelight the understanding that each system - a living organism, society, or even the Solar System - has its own internal order and at the same time it is part of another one. Or more simply, every organism has its own truth about existence, because only in this way it can be part of the greater. In astrology there is no “this is bad, it's good”. People put these labels.

When and how did astrology originate? There are many and various historical researches on exactly how long astrology has been part of the human life. I do not want to bother you with boring historical facts and figures. They are not so important - they are dull statistics. Nobody can prove whether the first steps of astrology were made around 1600 B.C. since when the first written astrological records are dating or this is just what reaches us. On one hand there is the western world where astrology has been passing through many hands and has largely been adjusted to religious and social patterns that existed through the centuries.

It is so far considered that its origin is ancient Babylon. Astrology uses planetary positions and it is logical that it can not have occurred before the development of mathematical astronomy. A serious development of astronomy was reached in ancient Greece. That's why many astrologers today say that astrology is a creation of the Greeks. Which is a bit strange because strong rationalism and skepticism prevailed in ancient Greece, there was no cult of  stars, nor honour of gods, they were entirely indifferent to heavenly bodies. The Greeks got familiar with astrology which reached them from Babylon after Alexander the Great entered Egypt.

Very important is the point that mainly educated Greeks, the intellectual elite of ancient Greece, were attracted to astrology. Seemingly it’s lacking any sense a rational intellect to be attracted by such knowledge. Today many believe that astrology is attracts people who lack common sense and mildly fond of all mysteries and mystifications. Just because astrology has almost merged into psychology and sometimes there is no difference between the two. And last but not least, the practitioners themselves continuously strive to give it a mysterious look and content.

But is this so? It is not by accident that two of the most brilliant astronomers of ancient Greece - Hipparchus and Ptolemy - were also astrologers. And that Ptolemy - who lived in Alexandria during the 2nd century A.C. – left behind the most influential astrological text Tetrabiblos, which today is considered the basis of basic classical western astrology. The reason to be involved lies precisely in their rationality, in their intellectual ability to perceive that astrology is mainly rational knowledge, subject to strict objective laws. They approached it with the intention to map the celestial sphere and to analyze it in the context of “cosmic harmony”, which makes the man a part of the universe.
If a person does not have a rational, critical mind, ability to concentrate, fine keenness of observation and mathematical thinking, he could not follow the regularities in nature, the universe and astrology. This is exactly what happened when the Greeks touched to astrology. They understood that they were facing a unique system which describes the regularities in nature, the natural geometry. It is worth mentioning here that stoicism as philosophy played a key role. This was the most successful philosophy in ancient Greece at the time of Ptolemy. Stoicism teaches that if a person has clean and unbiased thinking and is not influenced by his/her emotions he/she is able to understand the universal order, which all living beings are subject to – the “cosmic harmony” that I mentioned above. It is believed in stoicism that everything is governed by the laws of fate (universal cause and effect). Where's the mystery, mystification, emotional and irrational thinking?! Stoics believed that human will must be in connection with Nature, that man must live in harmony with Nature, that man must live in a state in which nothing can disturb the fundamental peace of the mind. Which means that one must know the Nature and how it exists and works. What reminds us of Buddhism, the Indian philosophy of Dharma (Sanskrit term which means "that for which you were born; obligation).

Astronomy and astrology developed together to about the seventh century and were called the same word – Astrology. The two terms split apart only after the seventh century – astronomy and astrology. And this is probably the main reason to allege that chronologically astrology preceded astronomy. What the ancient Greek scientists took for “stars” were the planets – they called them “the wandering stars”. Admittedly, however, astrology in ancient Greece was heavily influenced by the Greek Church and the dominant influence of Alexander the Great.

Later in the years, religious institutions have begun to deny astrology. This is happening nowadays too. And here comes the question “Why?”. I do not want to draw too much attention to the “war” between religious teachings and astrology. Because it should be clear for every astrologer that there is no contradiction between them. But the fact is that astrology has always been subjected to devastating criticism and thrown in the corner. Of course, not without reason as there are controversial formulations, and translations were not always accurate, even changed somewhere – "to get lost in translation" is perhaps the most concise and precise definition.

Is it because people, by reason of civilization development, have become increasingly unable to accept the fact that they can’t control nature and when they are touched by astrology are trying to remake it? Or there should really be limited access to astrology because it gives knowledge, which most of the people (especially in the western world) are not ready for?! And perhaps it should not fall into their hands? These are such curious questions that probably nobody knows their answers.  

On the other hand, there is India. The astrological knowledge has developed quite separately there and it is much better preserved because it was passed down as family heritage, and because of the fundamentally different attitude of the East towards it. Nobody in the East world criticizes astrology. On the contrary - they particularly respect and honour it and consult astrologer only at certain times. The man from the East is rarely curious to get interpretation of the personal horoscope just because it's interesting. It shows a deeply rooted wisdom that to look ahead, you first need to be prepared, to have a reason to do it and accept it humbly.

Astrology there is part of the Vedas – the sacred texts of India. It is believed that they were not created by ordinary people, but by ancient sages with superhuman abilities, known as rishi. It is also called the eye of the Vedas. It is very difficult for most of the people of the West to perceive the Indian astrology as it has preserved the original Sanskrit terminology. But exactly this is what is most unique. And the moment you learn that terminology, astrology somehow acquires a completely different meaning - it comes alive and all of a sudden you are really able to “see”. Indian sages have thought that the sounds in Sanskrit are sacred and penetrate the soul of living beings passing (like music) universal meanings of things in nature, the human, the universe.

One of the most contentious issues in astrology is the precession of the Earth's axis (also called precession of the equinox) [1] and the existence of two zodiacs for this reason - Tropical [2] and Sidereal [3]. And this is the basic difference between the astrological systems in the Western and Eastern world.

[1] Precession - slow rotation of the Earth's axis at angle around the axis of the ecliptic (visible path of Sun), caused by the gravitational forces of moon and sun. It is shown as precession circle on the image. Because of precession the spring equinoctial section moves through the zodiac constellations with a step of 1 ° in 72 years.

[2] Tropical Zodiac - based on the so-called tropics. It means “belonging to reversal”. Tropic is a Greek word that means “turning point”. This term is used for the days of summer and winter solstice. The four basis points of the Tropical zodiac are fixed and connected with the movement of the Sun - spring and autumn equinoxes, summer and winter solstice. This zodiac may also be called solar zodiac, since it depends only on the apparent path of Sun.

[3] Sidereal Zodiac – this is the circle of real constellations. Sidereal means “belonging to the stars”.
Western astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac, whose home is the vernal equinox. Indian astrology uses Sidereal Zodiac - the real constellations. But due to precession the Tropical Zodiac shifts by a sign compared to the Sidereal Zodiac every 2160 years. The vernal equinox point is positioned approximately to 6th degree of the Pisces constellation as of today. In other words, the vernal equinox in the Tropical Zodiac is always 0° in Aries, but it is 6° in Pisces in the Sidereal one for 2010.  

In practice, if a man was born on March 25, the Sun is 4° in the constellation Aries according to western astrology, and according to Indian astrology the Sun is 10° in the constellation of Pisces. In fact, exactly this shift defines the so-called eras/epochs. I guess all of you have heard that we have entered the Age of Aquarius. Is it necessary, however, this issue to be controversial?

Here comes another theme – reincarnation. Although the main text of Ptolemy says nothing about this any intelligent person would ask himself – and what is the meaning of astrology without rebirth? How could that astrology “work”, if the fate of man is not created before his physical birth? The answer probably lies in the very name of both the zodiacs. The Tropical one is called “belonging to reversal” and the Sidereal one is called “belonging to the stars”. In India, to indicate the Tropical Zodiac they use the term Sayan Chakra - spinning wheel. Turning, spinning wheel, in the context of reincarnation, probably means one turning, one existence. To indicate the Sidereal Zodiac they use the term Narayan Chakra - free wheel movement. In the context of reincarnation this leads to existence in a global scale. Therefore, both of the zodiacs have their meaning and application. Which in fact makes the question - which zodiac is the right - unnecessary.

Whatever the path of astrology from antiquity onwards, there is one thing known with certainty. Man has always admired the stars that appear in the sky every night, shining like little diamonds. They called them “the eyes of angels”. Stars have been likened to various figures, then they were grouped and this was how the zodiac was formed.

But the zodiac and the planets will write the next article.

Tags: Astrology Zodiacs Forecasts Galya
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