It’s an age-old question. Is Astrology a Science? Or is it an Art? Does Astrology have a place in the world of the rational? Or is it true that Astrology really is just quackery? What does Science have to say about it? Most of all, what can we say to non-believers to show that Astrology is a real, respectable tradition?
Astrology: A Brief History
To get any of these answers, we need to first go back in time. The birth of Science – aka, the Age of Reason, only began around the 1700’s. Before that, Astrology was considered part of any regular education. Watching the stars and the planet’s movement amongst them (aptly named by the ancients as “wandering stars”), was something that everybody did. Symbolism and Myth were normal phenomenons for explaining the unexplainable, back then.
With that in mind, Astrology was first “discovered” around the time of the Sumerians around the 3rd Millennium BCE. Scribblings on rocks denoting Moon cycles were one of the earliest ways our ancestors noted down the celestial movements.
Over time, this became a much more sophisticated art, with ancient Babylon and Egypt leading the way in studying the planets and stars. In Babylon, they had huge water towers with which to note the skies, and studiously recorded and jotted down the movements of the planets and how that seemed to correlate with certain events here on earth. Thus is the birth of the old adage “As Above, So Below”. With these repetitive observations, it was soon seen that a certain planet’s position could predict the same event over and over again.
And is this not the definition of Science? The dictionary defines it as:
“The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”
So why isn’t Astrology part of Science? As previously mentioned, it was. It was one of the most illustrious subjects studied by mathematicians and astronomers, priests and kings. Back in the day, royalty would not go to war unless directed to do so by their astrologer. It was well-known by the renaissance that Eclipses repeated every 19 years, showing repetitive events.
And, if you want to go by the Bible, then we could say that the Magi who spoke about a King being born, were actually Astrologers – Wise Men, basically. (By the way, that was the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn in the zodiac sign of Pisces, a known sign for the birth of someone prominent).
The Decline of Astrology
So what on earth could have happened to split Astrology apart from Science? Well, Science. That is to say the Age of Reason. This is when humankind radically reoriented the definition of the scientific. Astrologers were rejected and Astrology was relegated to a pseudoscience, where it still lives today. Believe it or not, this was also called the “Age of Enlightenment” and still informs the basis of Western culture today.
More importantly, because Astrology couldn’t stand up to the new way of formulating and testing a hypothesis, it just fell away.
The Split of Astrology and Astronomy: Two Systems
Did you know that modern, western Astrology is not based on the constellations?
Gasp, shock and horror. Yes, this may be a hard pill to swallow. The modern system we use – also known as the Tropical Zodiac - was developed by Ptolemy, an ancient Greek guy in the 2nd century. Prior to that, Astrology was done using the constellations along the Ecliptic (this is the Sun’s path it takes around the earth).
The reason why this was developed is because the new system tracked the seasonal changes, using the Solstices and Equinoxes, which is closer to our experience here on earth rather than an “out there” experience amongst the stars. Eastern (Vedic) astrology still uses the constellations, however.
This may be yet another reason why Science refuses to acknowledge Astrology is real, even though the Tropical system has been used successfully for hundreds of years.
But can Astrology be proved, really? How?
Yes, absolutely, there are already published works of Astrological statistics which show plenty of repetitive data. Not so long ago, the Astrological community showed, using carefully gathered data from hundreds of clients, that, for example, Mars was prominent in the charts of athletes. This was a major win for Astrology.
But no, Science still won’t accept what seems too “out there” to be true.
When you really dig deep into the world of Astrology, listen to the stories of clients, having understood the chart, you’ll see Astrology to be true and authentic. It’s too uncanny for it not to work. Most Astrologers will tell you that Astrology isn’t a belief system – it just is, like the air that we breathe and the sky we live under. It’s a fact of life.
It’s a Science and an Art
Ultimately, Astrology is a blend of Science and an Art. It does require a certain amount of intuition, a flair for telling a story, and a sensitivity to people.
However, you need to do the scientific work first. You need to study the technical part of Astrology – the planets, zodiac signs, aspects, houses and much more – to be able to do readings with any accuracy. Once you’ve got the technical side down, you can start spreading you wings and using intuition to fine-tune your interpretations.
But at the end of the day, you always have to read the astrology. You can’t go off on a “psychic’ tangent and then expect Astrology to be the scapegoat for your predictions. If you’re a psychic, then state that you use psychic energy to make predictions. If you’re an Astrologer, then you need to be sure to use Astrology with a good sprinkling of intuition to tie the story together.
That’s why not all Astrologers are psychic, and few claim to be. They are two different things, you see.
So, What Can You Do About It?
Now that you know the long and illustrious Astrological history, you’re likely to care so much more about it. So, what can you do about it? How can you help restore the glory of Astrology to where it should be?
Fortunately, there’s a lot going on for Astrology. Universities are plentiful, especially in the United States. Online Astrology universities are being born, and there’s even a Masters you can get in Wales called the “MA In Cultural Astronomy and Astrology”. Wonderful, right?
There’s also work being done to restore old, medieval texts on Astrology, called Project Hindsight. Well-known and respected Astrologers are working hard to bring Astrology back to its rightful place and make it less of a quackery.
Now, the problem is that every other person wants to be an Astrologer after reading one book or doing a workshop. Real Astrology takes many, many years to master, and even then, you’’ll never know everything there is to know. It’s an unending journey.
Supporting a random website with generic reports and predictions can be a great Astrological intro, but you’ll need to be sure that you follow Astrologers with a proper track record and traceable educational qualifications. Supporting any old Astrology you find, just because it's cheap, supports charlatans who do bring down Astrology and make it look bad, especially to the Scientific community.
You know how the weather is predictable? Astrology is the same. Patterns are studied and a forecast is given – what you do with that is your choice. But it can be done, just like the weather, or any other predictive work in the world. Economists predict things all the time, based on what they’ve seen before, and so does Astrology.
With that all said, Astrology is still officially a Pseudoscience, so telling people it’s a Science can make you look uninformed. And you don’t want that. Astrology is still powerfully symbolic, using the planetary places and movements to tell a story – your story. And the scientific community has yet to catch up with symbology. It is happening. Science is realizing where it falls short and where the gaps are. we are slowly getting there, and now, more than ever, people are waking up to the gift of what Astrology can offer, as long as you’re in the right hands of someone qualified to do it.
Science itself has also shown its limitations. There are a number of studies coming out that are now proving “woo-woo” or “new age” beliefs that have been trusted – and looked down on - for millennia. Science has relied very much on reason and the rational – what can be seen, as opposed to unseen forces, and as science matures, it is realizing that the concept of what is scientific has to be expanded.