Home2017-2018The stars aligned: a look into astrology

The stars aligned: a look into astrology

By Ryleigh Norgrove
Features Editor

Humans have been looking to the stars for the entirety of our very existence, influencing our science and philosophy and guiding our ships. The GPS has since replaced the sextet in the present day, but the cosmos continue to inspire scientific advancement and cultural norms. Astrology continues to influence our arts and culture.

Astrology is the study of the influence that distant cosmic objects, generally stars and planets, have on human lives. The position of the sun, stars, moon and planets at the time of people’s birth is said to shape their personality, affect their romantic relationships and economic fortunes, among other things.

Astrology is believed to have been invented by the Babylonians, as they used the stars to predict celestial events and design their calendars. In this way, at the beginning of the study, astrology and astronomy were the same science.

This science was eventually introduced to the Greeks, and through the studies of Plato, Aristotle and their peers, astrology came to be highly regarded as a science. It then moved from Greek culture to Roman (like many parts of their belief systems). To this day, we use Roman names for the planets when interacting with the stars.

While the earliest astrology was used to bring a sense of order out of apparent chaos, it eventually served in more utilitarian roles. It was broadened to include forecasts of natural disasters, war and emotional turmoil. As these predictions began to gain credibility it was a natural progression for astrology to be used as counsel for kings and emperors and, in time, for all of us. Astrological enthusiasts generally rely upon their zodiac signs to predict their moods and the events of the day.

The word “zodiac” is derived from the Greek word meaning “circle of animals.” Early astrologers knew it took 12 lunar cycles (now known as months) for the sun to return to its original position. They then identified 12 constellations that they observed were linked to the progression of the season and assigned them names of certain animals and persons.

The zodiac is often manifested in daily horoscopes. A horoscope is a map of the zodiacal circle with earth at the center. The top of the circle represents the sun at its highest point during the day, and left and right of that are the eastern and western horizons.

Your horoscope charts the relative positions of the sun, moon, planets and stars at a specific time and place of your choosing, generally the place of your birth. These are said to reveal personality insights and current trends.

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the phrase, “Mercury in retrograde.” Three or four times a year, planet Mercury is said to go retrograde — meaning it moves in an opposite direction to Earth. Planets move from east to west around the sun, and when Mercury turns to move from west to east instead, that’s what astrologers refer to as “Mercury in retrograde.”

During this time, the planet Mercury is said to “move backwards.” This movement is an illusion; Mercury is just moving slower than Earth, causing the illusion that it’s moving in retrograde. Illusion or not, astrologers believe that during this time, it has an effect on life here on Earth, specifically within the realm of communication and technology. In astrology, Mercury governs communication, travel and learning. For this reason, Mercury retrograde is blamed for everything from miscommunication to technological bugs, botched business deals, missed flights, a mechanical issue with your car or even a broken cellphone.

Interest in astrology has persisted throughout the centuries. Today, with the modern media’s attention upon horoscopes and various retrogrades, astrology maintains its popularity. Some people regard astrology as superstitious nonsense without scientific basis, others believe that position of the sun and moon affects life personal life on Earth. Whatever you believe, the cosmos will continue to influence humanity’s history and culture.

 

ranorgrove@willamette.edu

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