March 26, 2019

What Is Astrology?
by Jon Stevens

The question seems elementary, but even among those who have great familiarity with the characteristics of the sun signs, there may be limited grasp of the basic principles of astrology. A prevailing mindset toward astrology assumes that it is somehow similar to other psychic disciplines, and it inevitably ends up being placed in the same category as clairvoyance, tarot reading, psychometry, prophecy, spirit channeling, talking to the dead and the like. The truth is astrology is quite different from all these disciplines. Among the psychic sciences, it is in a class by itself.

In this article, with the help of graphic aids, I will attempt to convey an understanding of astrology at its most basic level. This information will serve as a foundation for laymen, students and enthusiasts alike who wish to further their understanding of this study, which in ancient times had been considered "the king of sciences."

Astrology is based on the relationship of all stellar bodies to the earth. It is primarily concerned with all the bodies in our solar system including the planets, the sun, the moon, asteroids and comets. Stellar bodies outside our solar system, i.e., the fixed stars and constellations, are also important, but only insofar as they serve as a backdrop to movements within our orbital system. The diagram below is a representation of the solar system showing the relative orbital paths of the planets around the sun.

Side View of Solar System

As can be seen, the relative shape of our solar system is flat or disk-shaped. In addition, all the planets revolve around the sun in the same direction, that is, from left to right as they pass in front of the sun, and from right to left as they go behind it. This is consistent with the formation of all solar systems which, astronomers theorize, first start out as aggregate clouds of gases and particles. These gases and particles slowly come together through gravitational force, forming a swirling, rotating mass. As this mass gains momentum, it slowly flattens out into a disk shape. An enormous sphere of matter forms at the center of this giant disk producing tremendous gravitational weight. This produces nuclear reaction, and a sun comes into being. In the meantime, aggregate centers form within the periphery of the swirling disk. Over a period of time, these become the planets and moons.

If one were to take a position high above our solar system, that is, from a vantage point looking down at the north poles of all the planets, the view would be something like that represented in fig. 2 below:

Top View of Solar 

This view is similar to what an astrologer sees when he or she views an astrological chart. As shown, the heavens are divided into twelve equal sections (30 degrees each) which we call zodiac signs. Throughout history, these sections, or segments, of the night sky have become associated with different types of meanings or with the different areas of life. When the constellation Aries was predominant in the sky, for instance, it became known as a time for planting crops, making a new beginning, or settling a score with an enemy. When the constellation Libra dominated the night sky, it was accepted as the time of year for marriage, partnerships and social gatherings. The signs, and the major constellations contained in each of them, thus became associated with the different times of the year.

Fig. 2 above represents an view of the solar system which is know as heliocentric, or sun-centered. A chart based on this view (sun at center) is useful for determining the shape of worldwide or universal events. For personal horoscopes, however, a different view of the solar system is appropriate. This view, know as geocentric (earth centered), is represented in fig. 3 below:

Geocentric View 
of Solar System

In a geocentric view of the solar system, astrologers make the modification of placing the earth at the center of the solar system. This modification is based on the understanding that if a person, event, or thing is to be analyzed through astrology, that entity must be placed at the center of the universe. This thinking comes at odds with scientific thinking, and in essence, represents the split between modern astronomy and astrology. Astronomers cannot accept the earth as the center of the solar system and so dismiss astrology as nonsense. Astrologers, of course, don't really believe the earth is the center of the solar system but only place it there for purposes of chart analysis. Hypothetically speaking, if one wanted to draw a chart for a creature who lived on Mars, then Mars would be designated at the center of the solar system.

From fig. 3 above, it is easy to see that the center or focal point of personal horoscopes is a continually changing venue, owing to the fact that the earth is constantly moving around the sun. This adjustment, of always placing the earth at center, is made by astrologers when casting a personal horoscope. Notice too, that in the changeover from the heliocentric view (sun centered) to the geocentric view (earth centered), some of the planets change their zodiac sign positions. In the heliocentric view (fig. 2 above), for example, Saturn is in Aries, and Mercury is in Taurus. In the changeover to the geocentric view (fig. 3), both these planets are found in the sign Pisces. Also, in the geocentric view, the sun is viewed as a planet and assumes a zodiac sign position, just like the other planets. So in fig. 3 above, the sun is shown to be in the sign Aquarius. This is what is meant by the phrase 'sun sign' or by such statements as 'the sun is in Aquarius.' In every such instance, the speaker is referring to the geocentric point of view universally employed in personal horoscopes.

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Video Lessons

Astrology lessons by Jon Stevens:

Lesson #1:
lesson 1
Using a model of the solar system and 2-D motion graphics, Astrologer Jon Stevens explains the rationale behind astrology and how the astrological chart system came into use. View >>

Lesson #2:
lesson 2
Using 2-D motion graphics, astrologer Jon Stevens offers an easy-to-understand primer on houses, i.e., what they are and how they add meaning to the astrological chart. View >>