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How Horoscopes Work

How Horoscopes Work

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03/18/2014

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How Horoscopes Work
by Ed Grabianowski
Introduction

The earliest humans looked at the star-filled night sky and knew that the shapes and patterns of the constantly shifting cosmic panoply must somehow be important. Their attempts to explain the seemingly arbitrary events of life (changing seasons, wars, economic hardship, weather) and link their lives to the stars above resulted in a combination of religion and science --astrology.

Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
Believers call astrology a science, while non-believers call it nonsense.

The belief that the relative positions of stars and planets have some influence over the lives of humans persists to this day. Believers call it a science, while non-believers call it nonsense. You probably know it as the horoscopes that can be found daily in almost anynewspaper.

In this article, we'll delve into the world of astrology, past the simplistic sun sign newspaper horoscopes and into planetary influences and oppositions and detailed star charts. We'll examine astrology's long past and see if we can use astrology to peer into the future. And finally, we'll find out why many people view astrology as mere superstition.

Astrology Basics

Astrology is the study of the influence that distant cosmic objects, usuallystars and planets, have on human lives. The position of thesun, stars, moon and planets at the time of people's birth (not their conception) is said to shape their personality, affect their romantic relationships and predict their economic fortunes, among other divinations.

What most people know about astrology is their "sign," which refers to one of the 12 constellations of thezodiac. This is a form of sun-sign astrology, which is the astrology upon which newspaper horoscopes are based. It is probably the simplest form, because nothing more than the date of someone's birthday is needed to generate a sun-sign horoscope. Many astrologers will tell you that this form of astrology is so simplistic that it produces very limited results.

Typical newspaper horoscope

To produce a more accurate reading, astrologers check to see what sign each planet was in at the time of birth (see the next section). The planets and signs combine with other elements, such as houses and angles, to form a complex and often very specific profile of a subject's personality, life and future prospects.

There is no single unified theory or practice of astrology. Ancient cultures all practiced their own forms, some of which combined and evolved into today's common western astrology. Eastern cultures continue to practice their own forms of astrology: Chinese, Vedic and Tibetan astrology are among the most well-known.

Even within western astrology, there is a considerable diversity of methods and philosophies.
Some divide astrology by the end result that is intended:
\u2022
Mundane Astrology - This is used to examine world events and make predictions about
national affairs, wars and economies.
\u2022
Interrogatory Astrology - This branch can be further subdivided, but generally refers to
astrology that seeks to make specific predictions or analyses about the subject's
objectives or events within the subject's life.
\u2022
Natal Astrology - This is what most people think of when they think of astrology. Natal

Astrology seeks to make predictions and analyses based on the date of a person's birth. It's based on the idea that everything that happens to something is expressed at the very beginning of that thing, sometimes known as the Law of Beginnings(Burk, pg. 5).

In the next section, we'll find out what astrology can tell us and how astrologers get that
information.
What's Your Sign?
I don't believe in astrology; I'm a Sagittarius and we're skeptical. - Arthur C. Clarke

People's sign, or sun sign, is determined by which zodiacal constellation the sun was in when they were born. If it seems confusing to think of the sun being in a constellation at any time, think of the stars and planets that are visible from Earth as if they exist on a giant sphere that encompasses our planet. This is known as the celestial sphere, and it is used by astrologers and astronomers alike to make measurements of the things we see in the night sky.

As the Earth revolves around the sun, the sun appears to move across the Celestial Sphere, following a path known as theec liptic. Each day, the sun moves about 1 degree along the ecliptic, which is offset from the Earth's axis of rotation by 23.5 degrees. This degree variation is what accounts for seasonal changes in the amount of sunlight the Earth receives.

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