What is your zodiac sign?

What is your zodiac sign?

Posted: 5:33PM on Jul 3, 2019 | By Pynora


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  • 10.2%
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Is Astrology a Science, Pseudo-Science, or a Religion?

Posted: 10:06PM on Aug 20, 2019 | By Pynora

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The stars have long been a guiding light for those bound to Earth. They were once heavenly maps, helping sailors ferry from port to port, and the positioning of stars aided ancient farmers in planning ahead for agricultural ventures. But for thousands of years and beyond utilitarian purposes, humans have been looking to the stars for direction that surpasses the physical realm.

Three different narratives make up the stars—astronomy, or the branch of natural science that studies celestial objects, astrology, the study of the effects of celestial bodies on the human existence, and the calendar.

In the early days, astronomy and astrology couldn’t be told apart. But now, the two have notable distinctions, and many are unsure as to whether astrology is a science, pseudo-science, or religion.

So, what exactly is astrology, and is its classification? Well, we’ll have to take a look at ancient stars to find out.

The Origins of Astrology

No one can quite pinpoint the exact moment ancient humans began to look to the stars for answers to complex questions, but hints of astrology began to surface among select stargazing cultures.

The sky piqued a special interest of astronomical observers in Mesopotamia, where not long after 3,000 B.C., patterns in the sky were noticed and named, birthing the world’s first recorded constellations. The Mesopotamian astronomers were further able to distinguish five “wandering stars,” which, including the sun and moon, became the seven original “planets” in our very solar system.

The foundations of Western astrology can be traced to 19th Century B.C. Mesopotamia, where the Babylonians created the first number system that we derive our system of time from—our minutes seconds, days, and so on. And it was around this time that the Babylonians introduced the zodiac, who’s signs are named for constellations and were paired with dates based on the apparent relationship between their position in the sky in relation to the Sun’s ecliptic—or path. Each constellation—many categorized by the names of animals (the Greeks later coined the zodiac as zodiakos kyklos, which translates to animal circle)—in the zodiac is said to have their own relationship with the gods, thus their own interrelation with divine influence.

Astrology’s Growth

After the zodiac’s introduction into ancient civilizations, elements of astrology began to trickle out or take their own shape in an array of other cultures. From the origins of western astrology in Mesopotamia, fundamentals spread to Ancient Greece, Rome, the Middle East, Western Europe, and beyond. Other cultures like the Maya, Chinese, and Hindus created intricate systems that were meant to predict terrestrial events based solely on celestial observations.

Take the ancient Mayans, a culture surrounded by astoundingly accurate astronomical calculations (even though the Mayans had no tools but the naked eye, their calculations in Venus’s 584-day orbit was only off by 2 hours) and sophisticated mathematics. But beyond the numbers, the central authority of their beliefs were omens from the sky. Priest-astronomers were dedicated wholly to the stars, and many temples and buildings were constructed to help watchers better observe the night sky. The most important planet to the Mayans was Venus, and it was certain movements of Venus that’d signal the Mayans to start battles and wars. Mayans would even sacrifice captured warriors and leaders depending on the positioning of Venus in the sky.

In China, the stars were an indication of prosperous or disastrous times for the emperor. They weren’t as much of an indicator for normal folk, as it was thought that those in lower class societies weren’t as close to the gods.

In the Ptolemaic dynasty, Egyptians borrowed from the zodiac and formed a new system of astrology, where they attached Egyptian Gods to each sign. They believed that stars could predict events like floods and famine, and their temple rituals ran parallel with planetary activity. Egyptians made large contributions to the idea that patterns of stars make up constellations.

And the Sumerians and Babylonians had a long list of beliefs based on the stars. To them, keeping a close eye on the planets and stars was a way to know where gods were in the sky.

Modern Astrology

Today’s devout astrologers typically practice western astrology, which is based on Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos and is a blend of Hellenistic (horoscopic) astrology, as well as Babylonian traditions. A significant number of Americans—26 percent, according to a Harris poll—believe in astrology, and according to a National Science Foundation survey, 32 percent of the population read their horoscopes occasionally.

But who are these horoscopic predictions that you’re reading coming from?

During the first half of the 20th century, a prominent British astrologer, R.H. Naylor, often used natal star charts to read celebrity horoscopes. These charts present the sky as it was on the date and exact time of birth, and the astrologer determines character traits and predictions from the positioning of the stars in the moment of birth.

In 1930, Britain’s Sunday Express asked Naylor to do a horoscope for just-born Princess Margaret. In his extrapolations, Naylor determined that the princess’s life would be “eventful” and that “events of tremendous importance to the Royal Family and the nation will come about near her seventh year.” It was when Princess Margaret was seven that her uncle abdicated the throne to her father.

Celebrity natal star charts weren’t unpopular by any means—in the early 1900s, even the New York Times gave in to the occasional astrological writeup. But these predictions from Naylor set a new wave of astrology in motion. Naylor was asked to make more forecasts, which were subsequently published—the final tipping point was his prediction that “a British aircraft will be in danger” between October 8th and 15th. A plane crashed on October 5th outside of Paris, and suddenly, Naylor had a weekly newspaper column, named “What the Stars Foretell.”

These predictions gave way to the horoscope consumption that we are familiar with today. But even as tabloid astrology has taken hold of much of the world, it’s often shunned by the genuine astrological community, as many of these writings aren’t from real, devout astrologers.

Is Astrology Science?

Although astrology has been practiced for thousands of years, it has consistently failed an overwhelming range of scientific tests that would classify it as a science. And while many devout astrologers practice astrology as if it were a religion, astrology doesn’t fall into a pattern with a system of beliefs that would classify it as such.

Rather than a science or a religion, astrology is generally regarded as a pseudoscience. But don’t completely disregard your horoscope—odds are, more than a few of predictions may come true.

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