Astrology, a type of divination that provides for the prediction of terrestrial and human events through the observation and interpretation of the fixed stars, the Sun, the Moon and the planets. Devotees believe that understanding the influence of planets and stars on earthly affairs enables them to predict and influence the destiny of individuals, groups, and nations. Although often considered a science throughout its history, astrology is today considered diametrically opposed to the discoveries and theories of modern Western science.
Nature and meaning
Astrology is a method of predicting worldly events based on the assumption that celestial bodies, especially planets and stars considered in their arbitrary combinations or configurations (called constellations), somehow determine or indicate changes in the sublunar world. The theoretical basis for this hypothesis resides historically in Hellenistic philosophy and radically distinguishes astrology from the heavenly little men (“omens”) that were first classified and cataloged in ancient Mesopotamia. Astrologers originally assumed a geocentric universe in which “planets” (including the Sun and Moon) rotate in orbits whose centers are at or near the center of the Earth and in which the stars are fixed on a sphere with a ray. finite whose center is also the center of the Earth. Later the principles of Aristotelian physics were adopted, according to which there is an absolute division between the eternal and circular movements of the celestial element and the limited and linear movements of the four sublunar elements: fire, air, water, earth.
It was believed that special relationships existed between particular celestial bodies and their various movements, mutual configurations, and processes of generation and decomposition evident in the world of fire, air, water, and earth. These relationships were sometimes considered so complex that no human mind could fully understand them; therefore, the astrologer could easily be excused for any error. A similar set of special relationships was also assumed by those whose physics were most similar to that of the Greek philosopher Plato. For Platonic astrologers, the fire element was believed to spread through the celestial spheres, and they were more likely than Aristotelians to believe in the possibility of divine intervention in natural processes through celestial influences on Earth, since They believed in creating the divinity of it. celestial bodies.
The role of the divine in astrological theory varies greatly. In its most rigorous aspect, astrology postulates a totally mechanistic universe, denying to divinity the possibility of intervention and to man that of free will; as such, it was vigorously attacked by Orthodox Christianity and Islam. For some, however, astrology is not an exact science like astronomy, but simply indicates trends and directions that can be altered by divine or human will. In the interpretation of Bardesanes, a Syrian Christian scholar (154-c. 222), who has often been identified as a Gnostic (a believer in esoteric saving knowledge and the idea that matter is evil and the spirit good), the of the stars rule only the elemental world, leaving the soul free to choose between good and evil. The ultimate goal of man is to achieve emancipation from a material world dominated by astrology. Some astrologers, such as the Harranians (of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Harran) and the Hindus, view the planets themselves as powerful gods whose decrees can be altered through supplication and liturgy or through theurgy, the science of persuading the gods or others. supernatural powers. In other interpretations, such as that of Christian Priscillianists (followers of Prisciliano, a fourth-century Spanish ascetic who apparently held dualistic views), the stars simply manifest God’s will to those trained in astrological symbolism.