By Rachel Swanoski
Astrology is a system of beliefs that suggest that there is a relationship between astrological phenomenon and events on earth. It should not be confused with astronomy, which is the study of celestial objects and the universe as a whole, which does not believe that celestial events are connected with ordinary personal events.
Astrological beliefs date back thousands of years and cross cultural boundaries. One of the most famous examples of ancient astrology is the Mayan calendar, which was developed using highly complicated astrological techniques to predict thousands of years of terrestrial events based on celestial observations. For thousands of years, astrology was thought of as an exact science and was scholarly tradition akin to meteorology and medicine in prestige. However, the discipline began to be called into question as early as the 17th century when advances in physics and astronomy began to cast doubts on some of its basic principles. Nevertheless, astrological beliefs were able to weather this storm and astrology readings are still in popular demand. Whilst scientific testing has neither proved nor disproved astrological skills, some people still “swear by it” and will make life decisions based on day to day readings.
In the Western world, many newspapers carry a daily horoscope. These readings claim to be able to predict future events and explain certain personality traits that have manifested themselves in an individual, based partially on the positions of the sun, moon and planet at the time of their birth. Astrology groups people into 12 star signs, dependent on the time of their birth: Aries (March-April), Taurus (April – May), Gemini (May- June), Cancer (June – July), Leo (July – August), Virgo (August – September), Libra (September – October), Scorpio (October – November), Sagittarius (November – December), Capricorn (December – January), Aquarius (January – February) and Pisces (February – March). Each star sign is thought to have different and unique personality traits, and people of different star sign combinations are often judged to be either more compatible or less compatible with one another. Whilst newspapers usually carry more generalised horoscopes, grouped depending on star signs, it is possible to visit an astrology reader to get a highly personalised reading based on the exact day and time of a person’s birth.
Astrology is sometimes thought to be in opposition to the beliefs of the Catholic Church as it contradicts the principles of free will and the will of God, by suggesting that the actions of people are being controlled by a celestial body that is not God himself. However some Catholics also believe in the astrological belief system, claiming that God created and controls the entire universe, including the sun, moon and planets, and that he therefore controls their celestial positions. It is therefore possible to hold both religious and astrological beliefs.