What is Astrology?

Astrology History

Astrology is a tool for both discovering our truth as well as for aligning with our truth...a condition known as ‘verdiance. Astrology is the study of the correlation between the configuration & movements of astronomical bodies (i.e. planets, asteroids, moon etc.) and the individual & collective conditions and experiences of life on Earth. This ancient art of divination has a rich history and continues to have relevance today. In fact, influential thinkers like Pythagoras, Galileo, and Copernicus were all users of this ancient wisdom.

Astronomy and astrology were not even separate disciplines until recently. For centuries, astrology was taught in the highest institutions and was considered one of the core sciences with numerous applications. For example, though Nostradamus became widely known as a psychic seer long after his death, he was actually an Astrologer who used the practice mostly for medical purposes. During his life, he was widely sought for his unique insight and ability to accurately diagnose and treat his patients using astrology, and not for his allegedly prophetic quatrains.

In the late 17th-century, the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church and the findings of scientists like Sir Isaac Newton (also an astronomer/astrologer) and Copernicus helped to eject astrology out of the major institutions. With Newton’s discoveries about cause and effect relationships in the physical world and Copernicus’ finding that the Earth revolved around the Sun, the Catholic Church saw an opportunity to discredit astrology despite its track record and proven merits. With astrology, it had long been the assumption that to practice it was to believe that the astral bodies caused certain personalities in people and certain events on Earth. It was also assumed that the Earth would have to be the center of the universe for astrology to have any validity.

Newton’s discoveries regarding cause and effect relationships showed that other earthbound forces influenced life on Earth. Combined with Copernicus’ findings, the logical conclusion based on the prevailing astrological assumptions was that astrology could no longer be considered to have any relevance as a science. This unfortunate decision, in essence, threw the baby out with the bathwater as it eliminated all of the merits of astrology based on a potentially flawed assumption regarding the relationship between astral bodies and life on Earth. This decision also gave the Church a chance to remove personal truth from the people and thereby increase their own power as an institution by becoming the only perceived connection to spiritual truth for the populace. For a more in depth look at the history of astrology click here.


Dispelling the Myths


A common myth concerning astrology in our modern society is that it is a practice based on the belief that the astral bodies cause or create activity on Earth. This is purely an assumption and one that few modern Astrologers actually entertain. Most Astrologers, instead, are focused on helping their clients reach a level of self-understanding and self-empowerment that comes from gaining true perspective of oneself. It is not merely a translation as to how the puppet is being controlled by the puppet master, as some people assume. In addition, those who use astrology to understand collective concerns do so in order to understand the flow and evolution of societies and not to reveal fortunes and destinies.

The starting point of any interpretation is the astrological birth chart of an individual, a nation, or an event

for example. Depending on how the interpretation of a chart is approached, a multitude of information can be gleaned from it. An astrological birth chart for an individual can be thought of as both a resume of the soul’s past and as a contract of the soul’s intention for their current life. A birth chart, or natal chart, reveals a copious amount of information about an individual. It goes far beyond the Sun-signs, of which most people are aware. It instead reveals the unique gifts that one brings into this life as well as the intentions for growth and challenge toward mastery.

The birth chart is NOT a map of destiny but is instead a tool for conscious awareness. It helps reveal our unconscious programs and gives us the opportunity to become aware, or conscious, of these patterns. This consciousness gives us the power to choose and the  freedom to escape the predictability associated with unconscious living (see brief video to the right). In addition, tracking the movement of the astral bodies relative to a person’s natal chart as the person’s life progresses can reveal the timing of specific opportunities for growth and development along the way.

All humans experience inner conflict associated with personal growth. When we act unconsciously, our inner conflicts are often projected onto the people in our lives rather than owned and recognized within ourselves. If these people in our lives are also unconsciously projecting, it results in a perceived outer conflict between two individuals. Astrology not only helps reveal our inner conflicts but also helps to highlight when we are likely to allow our unconscious programs to take control and when we are likely to project these inner conflicts onto other people. This level of conscious awareness can work wonders in the world of relationships.

The same concepts can also be applied to collective entities such as nations. Steffan Vanel explores the inner working of the United States in relation to other nations in his book, “The Astrological Karma of the U.S.A.” . Using astrology in relation to nations like the USA is not a new practice. In fact, former president Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy consulted with Joan Quigley, an astrologer, regularly regarding travel and other important meetings throughout his 8 years in office. Some even speculate that US foreign policy was influenced by decisions made after their astrological consultations. The potential for applying this wisdom to nations is intriguing but I choose to focus mostly on using the potential of this ancient tool towards the empowerment of individuals and their relationships.

To me, one thing is clear regarding recognition of our inner conflicts; consciousness leads to verdiance (i.e. alignment with truth) and unconsciousness leads to violence. Unbeknown to most people, many professional psychologists use astrology as a guide when trying to understand the inner workings of their patients. In fact, Carl Jung was an avid astrologer and based much of his famed work (including his psychological archetypes and concepts like the collective unconscious) on concepts derived, in part, from astrological wisdom. The reason for this merging of disciplines is that astrology takes into account the emotional, spiritual, and mental realms of the human experience in addition to the physical and mechanistic realms that most of western culture ascribes to almost exclusively.

“The 'future' doesn't really exist. It is just a projection of the creations of 'now'. Therefore, an accurate future can only be predicted under the assumption that all of the players involved in its creation are 'unconscious' of their role in that creation. As 'consciousness' awareness of our role in creating the future increases, the potential for making accurate predictions of that future decreases.”

– Christopher Robert Taylor

To modern western culture, the only parts of life with value are those which can be measured and objectively observed. Unfortunately, metaphysical concepts like emotions and thoughts, for example, just do not make the cut for this short list of values. The study of astrology values a more dynamic human experience in the world that includes the parts of life that cannot be measured and that are inherently subjective.

In western culture, the answer to depression is often a regimen of narcotics to essentially numb the emotions and/or the mind. With astrology, depression and other mental/emotional imbalances are met with compassion and understanding with an intention of uncovering root causes.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant, and has forgotten the gift.”

– Albert Einstein

Astrologer and author of the book “Astrology and Compassion: The Convenient Truth” had the following to say about the potential use of Astrology in our modern society:

Wisdom includes every aspect of knowledge with the humility to enable true understanding. Without respect for every element in nature we know very little. Modern view holds that only mechanistic relationships are provable and should form the basis of all decisions. Emotional factors and intuition cannot be measured and so should play a lesser role or be ignored completely. Rejection of astrology denies the emerging industrial societies a way of assessing spiritual, mental and emotional development and behavior. By helping us understand our differences, it could enable for better relationships on a small scale and a large scale (war). Astrology should be respected and used in a humane and responsible way.”

Also, according to the PhD work of Psychologist and Astrologer Pat Harris, in the management of psychological pain, astrological counseling appears to be just as effective as psychological counseling with one notable difference…it is drug free. She found that it is also kinder to the patient, more financially affordable and yields possible permanent psychological benefits. The bottom line is that humans are much more than just our physical bodies and the physical experiences that we have. We also have mental, emotional and spiritual aspects to our beings and Astrology recognizes and honors these aspects! Some common branches of astrology include:

Western Astrology (based on the Tropical Zodiac)

Vedic Astrology (based on the Sidereal Zodiac)

Chinese Astrology (based on Jupiter cycles)

Personally, I practice western astrology and I have little experience with vedic or Chinese applications. Depending on your intention, there are many ways to interpret a chart in western astrology. Some astrologers focus on the psychological components of a chart while others look at the chart from an evolutionary perspective. Still others (like Nostradamus, for example) use it as a tool for medical insight and diagnosis while some even use it as a tool for superficial personality descriptions. When using astrology to gain insight into groups, like nations for example, the methods are referred to as judicial or mundane.

I typically combine psychological and evolutionary methods as well as methods for superficial personality descriptions. I will assess individuals and personal relationships and offer insight in terms of current and future growth opportunities. However, I will not diagnose or suggest treatment for any medical conditions.

When used as a forecasting tool, astrology can be an excellent way for assessing the timing of particular experiences. But while physical events are always part of a person’s experience, these physical events simply serve as a catalyst to the more significant inner experience. The timing of these experiences can be mapped with astrology, but the individual has a choice in how they manifest the physical events that will provide them with their experience.

Kelly Lee Phipps has put together an impressive documentary film on authentic astrology entitled "Return of the Magi". I was fortunate enough to view the world premier of this film at the United Astrology Conference (UAC) in Denver, CO back in May 2008. This documentary offers a look at the history and practice of astrology over the years and includes dozens of interviews with professional astrologers with decades of experience.


How Does Astrology Work?


"I believe now that only this direct encounter with empirical data that one has personally investigated can effectively serve to overcome the extreme resistance that virtually every person educated  within the modern context must initially experience towards astrology"

-Richard Tarnas (Cosmos and Psyche)

The honest answer to the question as to how astrology works is that no one really knows for sure. We can speculate and pose theories but, in the end, it’s a lot like our acceptance of the concept of gravity. In case you are unaware, though there are many theories as to why gravity exists, an actual understanding of gravity has never been achieved. We only accept it because of repeated observational verification. Through observation, we know that it works, but the true origins of the underlying forces elude us. So the answer as to how gravity works and as to how astrology works is essentially the same; it just does. And just as it makes no sense to walk off of a cliff and expect not to fall to your death, it also makes no sense to omit astrology from our framework of knowledge if it has proven to be a valuable tool.

Advances in the physical sciences in the late 17th century essentially shut the door on astrology as a legitimate scientific practice. But early 21st century advances in quantum mechanics are beginning to reveal the possibility for a potential reversal in the thinking that ousted astrology.

Quantum physics can be described best with one word…bizarre. Quantum concepts fly in the face of accepted Newtonian laws for the physical universe and yet appear to be a more comprehensive set of concepts in describing the truth about our reality. Newtonian physics explains laws for only the physical universe while quantum physics explains the holistic aspects of all of our experiences including the manifestation of the physical universe itself. It’s as if quantum physics is the tree and Newtonian physics is merely a description of one branch of that tree. While valid in its own right, Newtonian physics has a limited application relative to our whole experience. 

Quantum physics is not easy to explain. But the basic gist of it is that at the smallest level of existence,

everything is potential energy which may or may not manifest physically. Through quantum physics we understand that all single occurrences in the physical world are the result of a conscious subjective choice that collapses into being out of a wave of potential possibilities.

Also, in quantum physics there is a concept known as ‘non-local coherence’. The basics of this concept are that once sharing the same state, quanta (particles of potential energy that make up matter) remain interlinked no matter how physically far apart they move from each other. In fact, through experimentation it has been shown that when one pair of formerly connected quanta is subjected to an interaction, one quantum will collapse into its chosen state of reality. The twin quanta will then simultaneously collapse into a state that is complimentary to the first quantum regardless of physical distance. There is an apparent synchronicity between the two experiences that cannot be explained using traditional linear thought!

Though my attempt to explain the bizarre world of quantum physics in a couple of paragraphs begs for improvement, the implications that these concepts have for explaining the holistic mechanics of astrology are at least worth entertaining. In astrological forecasting, prediction is based on the timing of an experience. But it is up to the individual to choose, and therefore, manifest their physical reality within the framework of the potential available during a particular time period of their lives. This is consistent with what is known about quantum mechanics.

Also, according to quantum mechanics, at the basic level of reality all particles remain interlinked no matter how far apart they may move from each other. This means that, according to the big bang theory, since all components of our known universe were once sharing the same physical state of being, in reality, all things have remained interlinked regardless of our ability to perceive the links or not. This puts the concept of “We are all One” into perspective. In addition, the idea that twin quanta will collapse into states of reality that are complimentary to each other at least begins to reveal the possibility for the explanation as to how the movements of planetary bodies could possibly coincide with experiences related to life on Earth. Perhaps what goes on deep in our solar system and beyond also occurs synchronistically within each of us if we are in reality all connected.

“As Above, So Below

This explanation for the mechanism for astrology could potentially shut the door on the outdated assumption that people who believe in astrology also have to believe that the astral bodies control or cause life conditions on Earth or that to condone the practice of astrology is to believe in predestination. However, I am in no position to say that my theories regarding astrological mechanics are completely accurate. This is just my attempt at an explanation based on modern science. But I understand that even modern science, like Newtonian physics, may have its limits in its ability to explain the holistic web from which our subjective experiences arise.

Regardless of the merits of my theories, those who study and practice astrology do so because of their observed experiences with it. The effects are quite obvious to anyone with an open mind and a moment to explore. To these people, including myself, the practice of astrology is rewarding regardless of any accepted mechanistic explanation for its existence. 

Carl Jung’s ‘Synchronicity’ theory is very similar to my quantum theory in terms of a possible explanation for how astrology works. Its basic premise is that some simultaneous occurrences between two events or experiences exist which fall outside the laws of probability. That is, statistically speaking, even though there is no cause and effect relationship occurring, the simultaneous occurrence of two events (i.e. a planet’s location and a person’s experience) is such that it is outside the probability of statistical chance. Therefore the relationship exists and has significance regardless of causation.

But perhaps Roy Gillet said it best when he said that astrology is a “truth operating with or without total human understanding”.

And just like with gravity, we can accept astrology because of our experience with it, not because it has been explained. Ultimately, the more we know, the more questions are revealed. This expands the known universe which then yields more to know. Regardless of how much we know, there will always be more to know. We must realize that we are only humans lost in the infinite truth…we just can’t possibly KNOW everything

"The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the power of all true science."
-Albert Einstein

In the end, the truth needs no convincing; it only needs to be revealed. When it is revealed, it then becomes self-evident.

Astrology is not about what you are destined to be, what you should be doing, or an oracle used for futuristic predictions. Instead, astrology offers us a way to uncover our truth and to embrace the empowerment resulting from that discovery. And true empowerment is the foundation of intelligent choice.

When we act on our own enlightened behalf, we not only contribute to our own fulfillment but to the fulfillment of the collective as well. 

Remember, it is your personal truth that can be revealed…so don’t be afraid to STEP INTO IT

Bruce Lipton's brief explanation (see link below) of DNA activation and the power of 'choice' in our lives can be replicated as an explanation for how the often misunderstood art/science of Astrology actually operates. His reference to how twins 'diverge' over time based on their choices is similar to how the Astrological charts of twins (i.e. born at the same time and place) can be identical and yet yield two different 'experiences' in life. Never forget the power of choice. - http://www.viewspot.com/brucelipton