What is Astrology
Derived from the two Greek words Astra meaning a star and logos meaning logic or reason, the word astrology has come to mean many things to many different people. To the practitioner is the study of the intimate relationship between celestial movements and terrestrial life. To the lay person interested in the topic it is away to somehow cast aside one's sense of responsibility for what happens in one's life and endow the planets and stars above with that task. And of course to the nonbeliever there just isn't anything you can say that will convince them that some distance star in another galaxy can actually have any impact upon human beings here on planet Earth.
Inherent in the laws of physical and celestial nature is a connection to the laws of life and that includes what happens to us, being part of the greater environment and universe. The doctrine of reincarnation and the physics ruled it for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction is the governing Law and ideology of astrology. Karma is for the most part inextricably linked to the practice of astrology particularly in the East in systems such as Vedic astrology. But there are other Western astrologers such as William Lilly, Llewellyn George and others who were pioneers and also subscribe to the doctrine of Karma and transmigration of the soul.
The roots of astrology go back to the dawn of man himself but even as far as 3000 years ago the great Hindu sage Parasara expounded the principles of sidereal astrology also known as Vedic astrology. His monumental work BrihatParasaraHoraShastra is a classic work and basic reading for any astrologer who wishes to pursue this branch of study. Around the same time in Mesopotamia the Chaldeans built some of the earliest "observatories" called Ziggurats which were like watchtowers used for stargazing. Some of these were up to 300 feet in height. And it was the Chaldeans who sliced up the celestial sphere into the 12 star signs as we have come to know them.
There were of course others not just the Indians and Chaldeans who were practising astrology but the Egyptians and also Babylonians had their own wealth of knowledge to contribute. Later down the historic track around the fifth century BC Chaldeans made their way to Greece and in fact had a great impact on Plato himself. Plato in fact referred to the visible planets, the Sun and the Moon as visible Gods shows just how much of an affinity he felt for the subject.
Initially both astronomy and astrology were one and the same with observations that there was some sort of synchronicity between the planetary and stellar movements with events here on planet Earth leading astrology to become deeply aligned with the art of divination, forecasting and other sorts of prognostication.
On the other side of the Earth, the Mayans had developed an incredibly sophisticated system of observing and connecting the planets and in particular Venus to the events locally. They had even forecast highly accurate calendars and these are almost as accurate as any produced today by modern astronomers.
After the 18th century astrology tended to give way to the new scientific methods and this is when astronomy and astrology started to part ways. Prior to this astrology was seen more as a fatalistic doctrine probably because the individual was not is capable of asserting his uniqueness. As this individualism began to grow people obviously felt a greater sense of autonomy so both on a scientific and individual level there was a move away from this concept of predestination to self-determination.
There are many divisions of astrology and several of those branches include natal astrology, which is the study of one's birth chart at the precise time and place of birth. Medical astrology or what is otherwise known as Astro-pathology deals with the diagnostics of health and disease and even discusses ways in which the person can be healed. This is also similar to the Hindu Vedic astrological concept which goes even further in utilising such things as propitiatory methods, appeasing the planets, charitable works and other ritualistic actions which can somehow neutralise the influence of these planetary forces on one's life.
Horary astrology the fascinating branch dealing with the answering of questions and preparation of horoscopes for the precise moment a question is asked. Political and mundane astrology deal with the horoscopes of nations and political leaders and deal with the historic trends of a country as well as the environment for example the prediction of earthquakes, pestilence, floods and even economic modulations. Wars, treaties and other political developments seem to follow astronomical trends for example lunations and in particular solar and lunar eclipses.
Plotting major events throughout history does seem to correlate more or less to these celestial events and more recently connections to the sunspot cycle are being investigated to see how this can impact on humans as for example an increase in heart disease, strokes et cetera during these sunspot peaks and troughs. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that astrology does in fact express the intimate link between the course of human life and planetary movements.
The Zodiac Glyphs or Symbols
The Zodiac is divided motivationally by the elements. The fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius constitute the impulse of duty. The earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn represent the wealth impulse. Gemini, Libra and Aquarius indicate the pleasure principle and Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, the occult and spiritual pathways.
The process of re-incarnation and karma may be evaluated by scrutinising the geniture (horoscope) of an individual. The predominance of planets in, for example, Kama signs would indicate a current incarnation tending towards desire and fulfilment of a passionate nature. Depending on the strength and other dignities of the planets in question, the use of these energies, and whether or not spiritual growth would result, is then ascertained.
The categorisation of human beings is not exactly a cut and dry process, as is generally being presented. Each zodiac sign in unique and the myriads of combinations need to be carefully balanced to assess the karmic grade of the present life. Of course, current high grades may not necessarily ensure high grades in future births. The resultant karmas and their exhaustion need to be analysed to see what benefits or lapses will accrue at the end of this incarnation. As we successively evolve through series of lives, we associate with the star signs under which we are born. In fact we express those very qualities inherent in the cosmic patterns.
Each of the signs of the zodiac is represented by a symbol or glyph, depicting the evolution of the soul through twelve different stages. The glyphs express the deeper more esoteric aspects of astrology and reveal inner evolutionary trends, as individuals and as parts of a vaster network of universal energies.
The glyph represents the horns of the Ram and is an Egyptian symbol. On a more esoteric level, the symbol stands for the upward flow of spirit - as in a fountain, the Universal consciousness in its creative aspect. It can also be said to represent the sprouting of a seed, from which germination results in the tree and fruit. In its seed form it represents potentiality.
As the symbol appears to move upward, outward, then downward it signifies the ultimate sacrifice of spirit in its descent into the realms of matter.
The Taurean glyph on the purely material level of representation, appears to look like the head of a bull, for which Taurus stands. The esoteric view however, is that the circle represents the divine spirit, and the crescent above the flowering, or blossoming of spirit in that materialization process. Taurus is earthy, fixed and stubborn like the bull. Its action in the world is decisive and energy isn't frivolously diffused without purpose.
At this stage of manifestation the spirit enters the phase of duality. As thought reflects the subject - object expression of spirit, the twins become an apt symbol for the "division" of spirit, representing polarity. Within the material world or manifested state, all things oscillate between positive - negative, up - down, right - wrong, in - out etc. Gemini therefore symbolizes this polarity.
The two vertical lines represent male and female - as division. In a sense, the act of reproduction is governed first by Gemini.
The glyph of Cancer represents the breasts of a woman. The symbolism depicts the nurturing caring qualities of motherhood. In the same way, spiritually, all the creative and loving qualities are inculcated by the symbol - which signifies the womb of time, in which all manifestation takes place.
Leo, the 5th sign, represents creativity and childbirth too. The glyph looks somewhat like a sperm cell - the beginning of life. Within the seed is the creative power of life. The early writings depicted the glyph as representing the tail of a lion, which is the emblem of the constellation.
The Virgin represents Virgo. Its glyph is comprised of three vertical lines and another crossing and joining the uppermost portions. In early mythology the goddess of grain and food, Nidaba (Egypt) was represented by Virgo, but the spiritual symbolism is much deeper. These three lines represent the powers of nature acting within the media of time and space - they are action, inertia and harmony. The additional line crossing and joining creates tension - which is the struggle of the spirit in its natural evolution. Virgo is one of the most sensitive and delicate of the Signs.
At the point of Libra, Spirit is established in its material expression and ready to ascend back to its original pristine state. The symbol of Libra is balance, indicative of the equation of matter versus spirit. It is the junction point of the world and that which is beyond.
Though similar in shape to Virgo, the icon for Scorpio differs in that it has an arrow as an extension which points upwards. This upward energy describes the upward movement of the soul in its journey homeward, after the tremendous struggle in Libra. The sign of Scorpio is misunderstood if it is only regarded as death - for Scorpio signifies more the rebirth or regeneration of the being after the death of the ego. Scorpio is therefore the sign of spiritual initiate.
As the symbol appears to move upward, outward, then downward it signifies the ultimate sacrifice of spirit in its descent into the realms of matter.
The arrow at the end of Scorpio's glyph is now airborne and flying towards its destination is Sagittarius. The arrow points upwards, towards spiritual horizons. This ties in well with the meaning of Jupiter who is the ruler of this sign. All the spiritual and higher faculties of man become fully activated at this stage of evolution. The movement of an arrow is direct and Sagittarius too is a powerfully vital and spiritually directed energy.
The glyph of Capricorn is a complicated one and reveals the complexity of those born under its influence. Though Capricorn is a material sign, the emblem represents the influx of spiritual energy directed to material pursuits.
The "V" shape is the inversion of spiritual force and the downward and inward tucking of the arc reveals the introverted nature of that power. It is through self sacrifice, especially in work and money that the Capricorn native excel. This can be transformed into spiritual benefits too.
Though being an air sign - Aquarius has as its glyph the waters of life. The fluid design reveals the spiritual nature of Aquarius. It is often shown as a person pouring water from a pot. This indicates the brotherly, humane manifestation of spirit at this point. Water is cleansing and purifying and at the Aquarian stage, represents the larger human family and a desire for group awareness and healing.
The two semi circles are joined in the center together and represent the incoming and outgoing stages of evolution. Both are actually one and the same - being found to be the case only in the center - the Self. Pisces is the final stage of Spirit's evolution and requires complete self abnegation if the two seemingly unrelated facets of creation are to be unified.
In Sanskrit, the word Jyotish is a combination of the words Jyoti, meaning light and ishta, meaning deity. It is therefore loosely interpreted as the study of the Sovereignty of "Light". The Power or God's Energy and Will is reflected in the configurations of the heavenly bodies. Just as storm clouds symbolize impending rain, so too are the patterns of planets and stars a glimpse of things ordained for humanity, both individually and collectively.
A deeper implication of the word Jyotish though, is the light of intuition. Without this blazing flash of insight astrology remains largely a technical maze. An astrologer or Jyotishi should also possess an inner light or intuition for correct analysis and prediction. This is why most Jyotishis utilize a personal deity or subtle guide in perfecting their inner psychic abilities. This light is the substratum of the Universe and all life and is the underlying power behind all celestial movement.
Sidereal and Tropical Astrology
East and West
The spiritual texts of ancient India, the Tantras and Vedas, reveal the most sophisticated esoteric and secular information. Such recent discoveries as the sub atomic nature of matter, the speed of light and other highly advanced concepts in mathematics and planetary mechanics were all dealt with thousands of years ago by intuitive Vedic seers. These progressive insights are truly astounding and humbling. Jyotish is a Vedanga or one of those Vedic "limbs". It was also thoroughly advanced in its development alongside other Vedic Sciences.
As the New Age is dawning a fresh model of astrology is required. Human consciousness is evolving beyond the Solar to the Galactic level. Sidereal astrology is now re-emerging as a means of reflecting this process and reasserting its glorious heritage.
Western astrologers have developed a useful psychological and humanistic system, possibly based to a large extent on the early Sidereal Vedic model (Tajika system) which greatly influenced the early Greek and Middle Eastern fathers of astrology. The Vedic or Sidereal horoscope also offers unique interpretations of character but is extremely detailed and exact in prognosticating trends and events too. Just as east is meeting west in scientific and spiritual areas, so too is astrology moving in the direction of amalgamating its eastern and western counterparts to usher in a replicable system of human "time tabling".
Western astrology differs in its perspective to that of the Hindu Zodiac. Our western system is seasonal and Sun based. Most astrologers know that the Sun's position in a Zodiac sign doesn't actually mean the Sun is physically located "there" in the sector of those constellational stars. It is based on the moving Vernal Equinox and so the signs of the zodiac are shifting. This can be confusing and challenging to some who find their horoscopes radically altered with the adjustment.
For those who wish to compare their own Western and Vedic personality traits, the approximate Sun sign dates are as follows. The Sun positions vary only one day per 72 years and so these dates are more or less valid for those born after the 2nd quarter of this century.
Apr 14th to May 14th
Please note that the dates for entry of the Sun into signs varies year by year due to precessional values and should be verified by a sidereal astrologer for your specific year of birth. It should be noted that Vedic astrologers primarily emphasise the Moon's rather than the Sun's position. The Moon is the principle of innate desire giving rise to action, and therefore karma.