The History of Astrology
Astronomia - The Synthesis of Divination and Science

The Interaction of the Technology of Astronomy with the Art of Astrology

Ever since the origins of astrology astronomical discoveries have led or inspired the art of astrology. Just as technology has enabled music to have better instruments or painters to create with better materials, astronomy has allowed astrologers to have a deeper understanding of their symbols. Indeed the original word for both astrology and astronomy was astronomia. This merger of science and diviniation might seem odd today but the two disciplines were inseparable in ancient times. In fact those who studied the heavens for portents of the future were motivated to study the science of the heavens in order to better predict planetary movement in order to make better predictions. The study of astrology motivated the discoveries of astronomy and these discoveries inspired the astrologers. The astrologers and astronomers were the same people. The greatest of these was Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria who was the foremost astronomer and astrologer of his day - 2nd century CE. His scientific discoveries about our solar system dominated the West for 1500 years until the time of Copernicus and his astrological system is still in use. (See Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos for more details.)

Direct Observation vs. Abstract Prediction

Originally the study of astronomy was motivated by the desire to make better predictions as to first eclipses and then planetary position. This knowledge enabled astrologers to make predictions independent of observation. This freed them from the vagaries of direct observation. For instance if they knew when an eclipse was going to occur they didn't have to worry about inclement weather to make their forecasts. However the Ptolemaic system of planetary prediction was so good that it forever freed astrologers from the need to observe the night time sky directly. Indeed one of the intents of Planetary Astrology is to get people watching the heavens once again. Although not essential anymore, it is still desirable. Nothing like the Direct Experience of Reality to free us from the virtual reality of thoughts. Sipping wine with old friends and family - Observing Jupiter just below the Moon in the early evening - Whoa!

A Deeper Understanding of our Symbols

Despite the fact that there are planetary ephemerides readily available that can predict planetary positions within a second a degree (a 3600th of the circle of 360 degrees) - that can also tell us where the moons of Jupiter are - that can inform us as to as to how far each of these gravitational bodies varies from the plane of our solar system, the Milky Way - their declension - and that all of these stats are available up to 50 years in the future - despite this obsession with planetary location, there is still much that can be derived from studying the nature of the planets, themselves and their physical effect upon the Earth. Just as the ancient astrologers honed their forecasts based upon the physical knowledge of planetary position, which has not really changed since the time of Ptolemy, we modern astrologers can fine tune our art through a deeper awareness of the physical attributes and dynamics of our solar system, which is made possible by modern astronomical discoveries and understanding. Although there has been an astronomical revolution in the last few centuries, modern astrology has remained essentially Ptolemaic, with the exception of the addition of the modern planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, to the planetary arsenal. Another thrust of Planetary Astrology is to bring the astrological world up-to-date astronomically by supplyng some factual knowledge about the planets which can assist us in the interpretation of the heavenly signs. Remember a more complete knowledge of our celestial symbols is of great assistance when we attempt to generate meaning that is relevant. Although astrology is one of the arts of divination it can still be assisted by the technology of astronomy. (Go to Relative Planetary Gravity for details.)