FOR MILLENNIA, ASTROLOGY has been used to predict events. More recently, people have begun using astrology as a tool for personal development and growth, seeking insight into their personal patterns, limiting beliefs, and potential.
Astrology can help us live in alignment with the elements and cycles of nature, choose optimum timing for everything from farming to relationships to work life, and engage in psychological exploration and past life lessons. Astrology can help us heal our disconnection with the natural cycles of the universe and live in harmony with the cosmic cycles as they work within us.
At its highest level, astrology is a tool that brings each of us into a higher spiritual connection with the universe and the cycles of the universe, helping us make conscious choices to live up to our highest potential. My approach to consciousness is humanistic and psychological, and the inner landscape is my focus. We each have every planet and sign working within our soul consciousness. The language of astrology has inadequately expressed that up until now. Times are changing, and so must the language of astrology.
Why does astrology work? That’s an eternal question, but my response is that it’s based on thousands of years of observation. Even though it has been through periods of decline, humanity has always returned to the study of astrology, because skilled interpretation of the movements of the cosmos provides answers to the meaning and cycles of life.
What is Astrology
Astrology is an ancient science that uses observation of the planetary cycles and movements over time to record patterns and events triggered by the movement of the cosmos.
As the Moon’s cycles so clearly affect the Earth’s tides, menstrual and other biorhythmic cycles, and our emotional energies, the other cosmic bodies, luminaries, planets, asteroids, and beyond work within us as well. Everything in the universe is connected, a fact long known by astrologers but now being recognized by scientists using quantum mechanics, which suggests that every atom affects other atoms. In quantum physics, everything is made of waves and particles and works according to entanglement theory, which suggests that no particle is entirely independent. In a nutshell, everything in the universe works together and the movements of the cosmic bodies activate energy within us and the natural world. In other words, we are entangled with the entire universe. All the energies intertwine in an intricate dance of planetary magic and science, and the language of astrology interprets that dance.
The roots of astrology go back thousands of years. Archaeologists have found evidence that humans may have tracked lunar cycles from the earliest of times, such as cave paintings marked with lunar cycles. Some of this evidence may date back as far as 30,000 BCE.
Astrology is often said to be based on calendrical systems, but I would suggest that calendrical systems are based on the movement of the cosmic bodies—the earliest calendars were based on the movement of the Sun, the star Sirius (Egyptian calendar), or the Moon (Greek calendar).
In other words, witnessing and recording the planetary cycles came first, and then calendrical systems came from the movement of the cosmos. This means that astrology is at the root of all our lives.
Astrology has evolved over thousands of years and there are several different astrological disciplines, including but not limited to Vedic (Jyotish Vidya or Hindi) astrology, which is based on the sidereal zodiac rather than the tropical zodiac used by western astrology; Chinese astrology, which is based on a 12-year cycle; Hellenistic astrology, which is a Greco-Roman tradition practiced from the first century BCE until the seventh century CE and currently experiencing a revival; and modern western astrology, which is my own practice and is based on the tropical zodiac. Western astrology originated from Ptolemaic and Babylonian astrology, which takes a more psychological and developmental approach.
Key figures in astrological history include Ptolemy (second century CE), who wrote one of the key astrological texts, the Tetrabiblos; Carl Jung (1875–1961), who was a pioneer in using astrology in the field of psychology; Alan Leo (1860–1917), often called the father of modern astrology; and one of my personal favorites, Dane Rudhyar (1895– 1985), who coined the term “humanistic astrology” and helped pioneer modern astrological practices.
This book is based on the modern western tradition. However, all traditions have validity and only differ in their approach—some being more predictive, such as Vedic, and some taking a more personal growth or psychological approach.
Modern western astrology is centered on creating a chart or horoscope that is cast for a specific time, date, and place using the tropical zodiac, which is based on the symbolic relationship between the Earth and the Sun. The tropical zodiac divides the ecliptic into 12 equal parts of 30° each (the signs) and is oriented to the seasons, with the zodiac beginning on the vernal equinox, when the Sun moves into Aries. The ecliptic is an imaginary line, or plane, in the sky that marks the apparent annual path of the sun along which eclipses occur.
ASTROLOGY’S HISTORICAL ORIGINS
Apart from the early evidence of the tracking of lunar cycles in cave paintings and on bones, the recorded history of astrology really began with the Sumerians in Mesopotamia 6,000 years ago, who noted the movements of the cosmos, as well as Vedic or Jyotish astrology, which began at least 5,000 years ago in India.
From around 2,400 to 331 BCE, the Babylonians, also known as the Chaldeans, created the zodiac wheel with planets, the 12 houses representing areas of life and development.
After Alexander the Great conquered the Babylonians, the Greeks further developed astrology, giving the planets and zodiac signs their modern names. In 140 CE, Ptolemy published Tetrabiblos, which contained planets, houses, aspects, and angles, all techniques astrologers still use to this day.
Over the centuries, the study and use of astrology waxed and waned in the west, but it flourished in the Middle Ages, when it was a part of mathematics, astronomy, and the medical world. There were royal astrologers, and the oldest universities had astrology chairs.
As the church gained power, astrology began to decline. The Age of Reason, including the Protestant reform movement in the 17th and 18th centuries, began to promote reason and skepticism over what came to be seen as entertainment only. Astrology, therefore, lost popularity until its resurgence in the late 19th century.
Western astrology as we know it today began its resurgence in the late 19th century. Alan Leo is generally credited with the beginning of the renewed interest in astrology and the development of a more spiritual and esoteric approach as a theosophist. Theosophy is a teaching about God and the world based on mystical insights. Alan Leo introduced the concepts of karma and reincarnation into his work as an astrologer and began the move away from event-oriented astrology into character analysis.
Another theosophist, Dane Rudhyar, was also involved in this resurgence. He really began the psychological approach to astrology and coined the term “humanistic astrology.” Rudhyar’s work was based on theosophy and eastern philosophies primarily, and he was influenced by the psychology of Carl Jung. Rudhyar’s work is the basis of much of the modern astrology developed in the 1960s and 1970s.
Most modern western astrology is focused on the psychological and humanistic side, though there is currently a resurgence in some more ancient and predictive techniques, especially among younger astrologers.
The gender assignments of planets and signs are problematic in the modern world. The feminine has primarily been designated as passive, receptive, weak, dark, and destructive, whereas the masculine has been designated as powerful, action-oriented, light, positive, and dominant—and there has been no consideration of other genders. The planet names are based on the Roman and Greek pantheons, which were firmly patriarchal in nature. Only the Moon and Venus of the main essential bodies were designated as feminine. This isn’t true of many older cultures, where the planets were seen differently. For example, there were many Sun goddesses in ancient cultures, and the Moon was often seen as the sperm to the Sun’s ovum. In this book, I am moving away from these binary definitions, as we are all the Sun and the Moon and other planetary bodies, and each cosmic body has both strengths and weaknesses that are not gender-specific.
Here, we’ll be integrating, and expanding on, the theory of an old Hellenistic technique called sects, which defined planets as diurnal (of the day) and nocturnal (of the night). In this system, the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn were diurnal, and Venus, Mars, and the Moon were nocturnal. Mercury bridged the gap. In the vein of some current astrologers working to create a more inclusive and nonbinary approach to astrological language, we’ll be using the words “day” and “night.” These delineations make sense, as day and night are visible—day is more “yang,” or outward oriented, and night is more “yin,” or inward oriented. As the planetary table in the astrological tables section shows clearly, the five personal planets—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn—all have both day and night qualities depending on the energy of the sign of traditional rulership. This adds a deeper interpretation, moving us away from the inherently patriarchal and binary language of astrology that has been used until now.
The solar system is a living, breathing, and pulsing organism that inhales (diurnal) and exhales (nocturnal), with all planetary bodies, signs, houses, and aspects having either day/inhale energy or night/exhale energy—sometimes both. I associate day with the energy of the inhalation, because we inhale the breath of life to give ourselves the outgoing energy for the day. At night we release or exhale to recharge. This reflects the quantum entanglement of the solar system within each living organism—and within each of us.
Famous Astrology Followers
Throughout history, astrology has been popular with leaders, rulers, and other famous people. Catholic popes were interested in astrology in the Middle Ages and relied on the predictions and advice of astrologers for the timing of coronations and to help them make important decisions.
A college for astrologers was founded in Paris by Charles V, Catherine de Médicis was known to consult with Nostradamus, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan regularly consulted with astrologers.
J. P. Morgan was one of many business leaders who consulted astrology before making business decisions and once said in a court deposition, “Millionaires don’t have astrologers, billionaires do.” Additionally, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan once said, “It’s common knowledge that a large percentage of Wall Street brokers use astrology.” Other celebrities and well-known people who are known to have consulted with astrologers include Lady Gaga, Madonna, Albert Einstein, and Theodore Roosevelt.