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From the Desk's Mystery Series.

©18 The Media Desk
http://themediadesk.com

The Desk takes a shot at an objective look at

ASTROLOGY, and all that goes with it.

An online acquaintance of the Desk asked:
    "You might be able to answer this: 'One of my relatives' reads their horoscope every day and really believes in it. Is there really anything to it?"

      Sure, give us a bit to do some research and we'll see.

      And while we're at it, we'll look at the larger worlds of Astrology/Astromancy (all puns at no extra charge) in its Sidereal, Judicial, Tropical, and other forms, as well as whatever else we find in that file drawer. And, of course, there will be however many tangents and side trips and even a look at the ancient science of melothesia in light of the electrical properties of our Solar System and maybe even what happened to the Thirteenth sign of the Zodiac.
      And, as is the way of things, we'll drop by our old stomping grounds of Alchemy and tie the two together before moving on again to look at a couple of other applications of the subject, such as the famous Astronomical Town Clocks and other topics that come up as we go. Then later, perhaps toward the very end, we'll look at why some Western religious doctrines categorically condemn it in the same breath they do the practice of witchcraft even while they glorify and sing songs about a small group of its practitioners from long ago.
      Then later we'll wonder if it is a case of:

Nisi credideritis, non intelligitis. "Unless you believe, you will not understand."
- Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430), early Christian Theologian. (another quote below)

      The only question is where to begin?
      Should we drop back to see if we can find the beginnings of the various practices?
      Well, OK, we can do that. Before we start looking in caves let's check out Genesis and the Fourth Day of Creation from chapter 1 verse 14 in the NKJV:
"Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years'..."

      And there we have a beginning for what major universities listed on their curriculum from not long after the Roman Empire had a really bad century or two and the rise of 'modern' science and the separation of the art from the science. But even then, the influence of the very idea that the lights in the night sky influenced what happened on Earth in the daytime as well as at night was already ingrained elsewhere in the culture.
      We'll hit a couple of high points and move on.

      If you went to an older, more traditional college, you may have noticed that there were Seven Liberal Arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. Each school of teaching had its ruling planet based on the seven 'classic' planets. So logic or "dialectics" was ruled by Mercury. Music got the Sun. And so on. Oh, yes, at the time this idea was developed, what we call astronomy was Astrology. And it was taught at the universities as a science equal to geometry until rather recently given the timescale we're discussing.
      It is also no coincidence that there are Seven Deadly Sins, which were even depicted by such artists as Bosch in a wheel much like the Zodiac itself.
      Then, as we'll see later, there are the supposed connections between the various planets which 'rule' the star signs, and those are tied to the assorted organs and functions of the human body (melothesia), and their related symbols that are straight off those old charts. As is the various "fire" and "earth" signs with their planets and connections to Alchemy's basic elements and more than a little mysticism. Which we'll touch on as we go.

Now, shall we go back even further? Well, in a manner of speaking that is.

      Every ancient culture worth calling an "Ancient Culture" had astronomers and astrologers on the king's payroll. Or if they didn't work for the king, they headed up the priesthood in the temple across town. And, quite often, they did both.

      Think about what we are talking about here.
      Somebody in that long-forgotten place thought it important enough to look at the stars and keep track of which bright one was where tonight, and then where it was a month later, and then again sometime after that, and when it returned to the first spot, if it ever did. And to do that for long enough to establish a reliable record of what was going on in the heavens. And then to maintain that record for generations. Which is the science of Astronomy.

      Of course, it is much easier to track ancient, even prehistoric astronomy than it is astrology of the same period. For instance, and we'll come to it in a minute and there is a link below if you want to see more about the site in Armenia where the oldest segments could well date as far back as just this side of the end of the last Ice Age. There is evidence there that this is where humans first identified and described the visible formations along the yearly path of the rising Sun through the heavens. One thing that is known is that this part of Central Asia at the time was the natural home to ALL of the various animals and humans and other aspects of the major ancient constellations so named and configured above.
      Because the practical side of the science was often based on oral traditions and seasonal rituals, there is very little hard evidence left from long ago, like the over two hundred monolithic stones at Karahundj (don't send in hate mail about that name for the place, that's the commonly used identifier for the formation and we're only going to use it once more, so, it's over with.) that served as an observatory and calendar.

      Perhaps some other examples.
      It is known that some civilizations had those that tracked the movement of the stars and planets and kept written journals that showed that the sun comes up into this or that constellation when the rainy season was about to begin or it was time to plant grains or the salmon were about to run, so they'd know next year when to be ready for it. Which IS a type of Natural Astrology. And that is still in practice, yes it is, the next time you head to the coast on vacation, check the Tide Table before you go surfing.

Time out for a tangent of clarification.
      During this research the Desk noticed something that simply added smoke to an already murky topic.
      Most people seem to assume that if you have a Wheel of the Zodiac on the wall or ceiling that you are using it as a tool of Divination to cast Horoscopes on people or things instead of just wondering about the tide. Which is precisely where that second term in the introduction come in: Astromancy.
      For once, we're going to go with a short answer then get back to the long answer:
      NO. A Zodiac from those days, such as the one in the Dendera tomb (which may only date from the early Roman period around 50 AD, and is now on display in Paris), probably is simply a Star Chart or, if it moves such as in an Astronomical Clock, it would be an Astrolabe. In the case of the stone ceiling in the tomb, it may have even functioned as a type of Planetarium, marking a date in symbols and information that didn't need a Rosetta Stone to read.
      The divination or interpretation of what those mapped positions of the heavenly bodies mean to you, that's where the "Astrology" comes in.
      Yes, the Zodiac that tracks the sun through the arc of the heavens is used for Horoscopes, but was that the First Best Use of the thing? Probably not, all things considered.
      Oh, by the way, there is an informational page linked below for one of the best examples of an Astronomical Clock from the Golden Era of wheels on the Earth that kept track of the wheel in the sky....
End Tangent.

"... I've been trying to make it home
Got to make it before too long
I can't take this very much longer
I'm stranded in the sleet and rain
Don't think I'm ever gonna make it home again
The mornin' sun is risin'
It's kissing the day

Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'
I don't know where I'll be tomorrow
Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'"

-Wheel In The Sky, song by Journey, album Infinity, Columbia records, 1978

      The earliest of those cultures was ancient Armenia somewhere before 4000 BC, and Sumeria and on into Babylon which was tracking the motions of the major bodies and star formations in a reasonably sophisticated way by about 3000 BC. Not long after they had produced volumes of charts and records of positions of the stars, called ephemerides, that they were able to predict future celestial events, such as eclipses and planetary alignments, with great accuracy. Even more amazing is the fact that many of their names and configurations of nearly fifty of the 'original constellations' are still in use. There is a link below to a good primer for further reading on them.
      About the same time, those in India who were looking up also mapped out the Zodiac as we would recognize it, and applied their own way to resolve the lunar cycles to the solar year as well.

      We can also look to the New World where the Inca spent the time on top of their mountains mapping the stars and observing their movements. North of them the Maya and later the Aztecs also charted those movements and connected various recurring events with the positions of the moving planets relative to the stars behind them.
      They couldn't help it, with only the light of fires and torches, the Milky Way was RIGHT THERE, there was no way to avoid it. Certain patterns in those stars, the major Constellations, as we keep pointing out in our work today, occur world wide more or less as they were listed in your elementary school science book. So, in one way of speaking, Astronomy may be the oldest hard science still practiced today.

      Perhaps the most extensive ancient record is that kept by the Chinese. In existence since prehistoric times, the tradition appears to have been codified about 1000 BC under the Zhou who believed they ruled by mandate of the Sky God who told them what to do. Previously unexplained events such as solar and lunar eclipses had to be studied and understood to maintain their claim that heaven was on their side. Once their astronomer-priests, that is to say, 'Astrologers' got their heads around the events, it was much easier to convince the locals to play by their rules. Again, there is a link below to more if you are so interested.
      OK, we're point out that instead of constellations of stars, the Chinese developed their Zodiac with the snake and monkey and so on, assigning attributes of each animal to a month on their calendar not what they saw in the sky.

      Other ancient peoples used Natural Astrology as we have discussed, and a type of Judicial Astrology which we just saw in China, and which we will define this way: that is when those who are adept at the science of observing the movements of the stars and planets and reading those 'signs' try to discern what influence the heavens have on the lives of people, and by extension, events. Which is our main topic of inquiry in this article, because there isn't much argument that the motions of the sun and moon influence the spawning of certain fish due to the tides or predicting eclipses or the equinox to set the date of Easter.

      And that brings us square up against one of those nasty underlying topics that litter this discussion like those pesky submerged tree limbs in a otherwise good fishing spot.
      Did the ancients of whatever culture we're talking about regard the non-twinkling lights in the heavens AS the actual gods themselves, let's pick on Saturn just because we mentioned it earlier. Was the moving star across the background The God Itself or was it a visible manifestation of that being, or was it just a pretty light that somebody 'back in the day' associated with that deity?
      From this far out, and without going blind reading arcane academic papers about the religious ideas of Ur, we'll answer it this way: "It was probably a bit of all of the above, depending on what was going on at the time, and what whoever you were talking to needed theologically at the time."
      There's one other aspect of the ancient tales that we have to mention during our discussion of the 'moving stars' and their relationship with humans on Earth, and then move on quickly.
      And That Is: The possibility of the Planet Venus's unwholesome past as the Great Destructive Comet of prehistory. While there is no direct evidence of this happening, there is some interesting collateral evidence including the fact that Venus has remnants of a cometary type tail that flows away from the Sun, as well as the fact that Venus itself is hotter than it has any right to be if it really were "Earth's Twin", and that its orbit is ALMOST a perfect circle unlike the 'rest of us'. Not to mention the fact that some ancient charts of the sky do not record what we now call "the Morning/Evening Star". Nevermind the ancient legend about the 'birth of Venus' sometime after the creation of the other planet/gods from the primordial soup.
      Whether Venus did wander into its current orbit fashionably late from elsewhere or not is beyond the scope of our work here today, however, a comet that size passing through the solar system WOULD shake things up a bit and lead to a species-wide fear and suspicion of comets that goes All the Way back to the depiction of comets in cave paintings by our earliest ancestors. And their depiction in Astrology as harbingers of doom. More about Venus's tail at link below.

      While we're in that cave, we'll look at some other paintings that seem awfully familiar as the hotlink shows below.
      Those ancients not only thought enough about the night sky to be able to reproduce such aspects as the Pleiades and various constellations that are still in use today, they were very particular about how they depicted them in relation to the other images reproduced on their ceiling.
      Now, did they draw in those dots from above to predict how their day at work would go and whether or not it was a good day for them to buy a lottery ticket? There's no way of telling. Maybe what is painted is how the sky looked the night before a really good day's hunt. Or, perhaps it is how it looked before everybody spent some time being really hungry because the hunting was bad. Or maybe even the artist painted the stars because they liked stars. We will never know. The only thing that is certain is the race memory of how comets are bad news and because they, as far as the Old Ones could tell, the appearance of a comet couldn't be predicted, it HAD to be a message from the gods. Right? Hang on to that thought, we're going to come back to it in depth when the stars are in a favorable alignment as described by our Astrolabe, which, incidentally is based on the Antikythera Mechanism which not only predicted the position of the sun and moon, and eclipses, it also kept track of the Olympics, but was, as far as we know, it was unable to predict random comets and shooting stars.
      One other thing, as far as can be told, the Mechanism, made about 100 BC based on Greek design, it did not tell you who to bet on at those games. Link below.

      Oh, yeah, as we mentioned before in India, some ancient calendars have years of a slightly different length than ours, and were based on the Solar Year with the periods of the Moon as the months, which, as we've mentioned, don't line up exactly with each other.
      Ancient India and the Sumerian's year was 360 days long, with 12 lunar months, which put them slightly out of synch with the sun and moon so they had the occasional "leap month" to get back in step.
      Other ancients, the Chinese and Egyptians to start with, had years of similar length to ours, 365 days with or without the occasional leap day, others had other ways of reckoning the passage of time, including the Maya which may take the prize for having the longest repeating cycle of those 365 days, up to cycles of 3,400 years and even longer.

      The point of that jaunt around the caves and skies of old is this... SOMETHING "up yonder" convinced the hunter gatherers of the world, and we mean World Wide, that doings above had impact on their lives here below. And then furthermore, perhaps by tracking which planet was where, and what star formation was in the sky where the sun came up on a given morning, that they could predict what the "Ides of March" would mean to the Emperor, and, of course, to their oldest customers: farmers and fishermen. Which is where the one changes into the other and we have Astrology as we think of it today.

      OK. For now, we're done with the science of Astronomy as defined as Humans looking at the Sky at Night and keeping track of what they see. Whether it was a good, or as we'll hear in a classic blues number, a bad sign....

"Born under a bad sign
Been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn't for bad luck, you know I wouldn't have no luck at all

Hard luck and trouble is my only friend
I been on my own ever since I was ten
Born under a bad sign
Been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all"

-Born Under A Bad Sign song by Jones and Bell, as performed by Albert King, 1967, Stax records.

      ... .. .. .."I can't read, haven't learned how to write..."

      Oh, yeah. Had to play that one twice!

      OK, back to work. We were looking at Conjectural science as versus Objective science, or at least we were trying to. And so we shall continue on.... maybe we need to play that Albert King song again....
      THEN we'll look at the earliest evidence of Astrology, which is taking those notes and making predictions or assumptions about the lives of people based on them as a routine societal practice and move on.

      OK, keep your passport handy because we're on our way back to those ancient sites in the Middle East and Central Asia where it seems that some sort of practice of Astrology was practiced in addition to Astronomy.

      The idea that the human body, and the Universe at Large, are related, and connected, and the former dependent for its health and well being on the latter, and even parts of the latter that cannot be seen or even easily understood, is as ancient as.... well, humans.
      To that that we only have to add that all too human characteristic of curiosity, and then mix well with a bit of superstition, and perhaps a pinch of coincidence in the hands of a smooth talking opportunistic adept with a star chart in his hand who happens to be there the day the new prince is born, and you have the birth of Astrology.

Stand By For Scientific Tangent.
      Yes. The Human Body IS connected to the world.
      It has been proven that certain phenomenon either cause or contribute to a range of emotional and medical conditions. Everything from Seasonal Affective Disorder to grandma's joint pain when a cold front comes through have been well documented if not completely explained by modern medicine.
      Do the overall physical realities of the orbits of the planets, the phases of the moon, even the electrical reality of the stream of charged particles out of the Sun, as well as all of the above's positions in the Zodiac and that magnificent arc of the Milky Way (which are NOT the same thing) and the other fixed stars REALLY influence the king's Lumbago?
      Well. For now, from here, doing this... it was enough that the king thought it did and appointed a Royal Astrologer. Which gave the profession credibility, even while it was on the rocks in the academic circles.
      No, that isn't an overstatement. Everybody from Queen Elizabeth the First to various family members of the Medici Family, including the Queen Consort of France's Henry II, Catherine de'Medici, who kept one ready at hand for consultations on matters great and small, and was also was reportedly quite fond of Nostradamus. And do we have to mention Nancy Reagan and Joan Quigley? No, we don't have to mention that.

"I have been criticized and ridiculed for turning to astrology, but after a while, I reached the point where I didn't care."
- Nancy Reagan (1921 - 2016) First Lady of the USA.
End of that tangent. Sort of.

      And Now Comes Alchemy.

      Relax, you'll be OK.

      Various ancient medical texts, including the vaunted Greek/Roman physician Galen of Pergamon (129 - 210) in his work that in English is rendered "The Critical Days" (text available below) proposed a relationship between the observed signs in the heavens with everything from migraine headaches to battle injuries. Even the legendary scholar Avicenna (980 - 1037) (more info below) didn't totally dismiss the practice, only that humans were probably incapable of understanding the relationships between the heavenly bodies and our Earthly ones.

      Which is where Alchemy comes in.
      At the time, as we see in the Desk's in depth look at the topic, the practice of Medicine was more Art than Science. The diagnoses of illness, and treatment of injury depended as much on When the condition appeared, and When it was brought to the attention of the physician, as was what the complaint was. The physician would base the diagnoses on the astrological information for the patient and the day, and devise a treatment based on that information.
      Well, they did until Paracelsus upended their apple cart, but that's another story linked below with Alchemy. Back to our topic.
      The procedure sounds remarkably similar to what you hear in the doctor's office today. "OK, you say your stomach hates you. When did it start and why are you just now coming in to see me?"

"A physician without a knowledge of Astrology has no right to call himself a physician."
- Hippocrates (460 - 370 BC), legendary Greek Physician
to this day medical professionals take a "Hippocratic Oath"

      The Physician was an Astrologer whose treatment came from an Alchemist, which he might also be. Said treatment would also take into account the assorted influences of the various planets and stars as related to the patient and the particular astrological factors of both the disease and the organs affected by it using something like the charts called the "Zodiac Man".
      You still see charts of the Zodiac Man with the various signs and lines pointing to particular body parts in things like yearly almanacs and magazine articles about how the rising of the moon in Virgo influences that indigestion you reported earlier because each planet influences the organs that are connected to the sign it governs, and everybody knows that the Moon rules Cancer while Virgo is Mercury so... well, it's a wonder you can move at all!
      According to these sorts of charts, presented in that almanac we just mentioned and the physician's office of old said that the "first sign" of the Zodiac, Aries, governed the head. Moving down the body the sign Gemini ruled the shoulders as well as the arms and hands. Then comes the bit that your farmer's book changes a bit so as not to embarrass somebody in their editorial office. According to them, and the one in a newspaper this writer remembers, Scorpio influenced "the secrets", which evidently includes the bladder, rectum, and reproductive organs of both sexes.
      The odd bit of this reasoning is that everything south of the pelvis is split up between the remaining four signs, so you have Sagittarius covering the "legs", then Capricorn gets the shins, Aquarius is ankles, and Pisces is left with the feet.
      It would seem that Marcus Manilius in the first century after Christ, and whatever Middle Eastern source he skimmed his information from, didn't do a lot of research into the essential bodily functions and systems when he went through the signs.
      But there was a certain logic to the ordering of the signs in their relationship to the body.
      There. Was.
      And in a moment we'll come back to it. But first, we need to check today's paper.

      This suggests another factor that is used to scientifically refute the validity of all facets of Astrology, what does the procession of the equinoxes do to all of this stuff? Especially now since the beginning of the year has the sun in Pisces instead of Aries?
      Well, if you're reading the horoscope in the paper and living by it.... which most 'reputable' Astrologers regard as either a waste of your time, or even worse, an affront to their dearly held professional practice because it is a generalization based solely on your "sun sign" and is totally void of any specifics.... IF you are doing that, you probably aren't reading this article. But just in case somebody is, and because the original question DID specifically mention that, we'll take a glance that way, and compare a "sun sign" horoscope with one that includes aspects of all of the other planets and even some other factors that you NEVER see in the paper.

      One of those is something called Sidereal Astrology. It uses the actual positions of the various constellations in the Zodiac, and in some cases, those that work with it take into account the Thirteenth Sign, Ophiuchus, 30 November to 17 December, which, while it is in the arc of the elliptic of the sun through the heavens (there is more of it across the sun's path than there is Scorpio!), and the sun spends three weeks every year in that 'house', the Snake Handler was not included in the classic Zodiac for reasons ranging from the practical (to equal the 12 month calendar) to the bizarre (the old astrologers who were creating the thing thought the sign was somehow unclean). The 'usual' Western style astrology, such as what is supposed to be in the newspaper every day, uses Tropical Astrology where the houses of the Zodiac are not directly tied to what's in the sky and it ignores the procession of the Equinoxes as the Earth goes about its own business. Which means the dates for the two are significantly different, and the difference is growing every decade or so.
      Other than the difference in where things are up there, the overall two systems are substantially similar in the way the points are charted and the meanings assigned to them.

      OK, others have looked into the history of the column in the newspapers and magazines, and now, on websites and social pages, one of the better ones is linked below at the magazine of the Smithsonian Institution.
      It appears that they appeared when Princess Margaret of the UK appeared in 1930, the younger sister to the soon to be Queen Elizabeth II.
      At first the predictive bits were weekly, but soon their popularity was enough to make them a daily thing in papers world wide.
      Of course the assessments are vastly generalized and the predictions in them are broad enough that in some aspect some of it is bound to come true. Why are most positive? Think about it, would you make a point to go out of your way to read something that was constantly negative about your future?
      Today's advice includes: for Libra "resist the temptation to overspend". Good advice for everybody.
      Taurus: "Don't fall for a trick." Always a good idea.
      Capricorn: "Envision perfection..." a commercial for the 'power of positive thinking', no?
      Pisces: "Crazy dreams seem possible"... if we're not mistaken, that was an ad on the radio not long ago.
      Gemini: "Join forces with a clever partner". The Desk would love to, but nobody has offered.

      The adherents will say that these are general tendencies for each sign, and, in fact, some columns say exactly that.
      But those that come in with a bit more skepticism inevitably point out that they are in fact so general that if you didn't know better you could say that any single sign's outlook could well do for every other sign.

      If you go back through the last several months and look at the columns, you'll see those 'general tendencies' recycled again and again for different signs. Sometimes they're not even reworded.
      One way they get away with it is that most people who read the things only read their own, and perhaps the one for their spouse or kids. Nobody reads the horoscope for an event, such as: are the stars in favor of a business deal between two companies or, as the kings in the Middle Ages wanted to know, should we start the war tomorrow or wait a week?

      We used the term "Sun Sign" for the horoscopes in the newspaper. And with those, that is all that matters. Where in the Zodiac was the Sun as seen from the Earth, when you were born? Period.
      Some of the more complicated ones, usually in monthly magazines or almanacs, want to look at your 'rising sign', which is which constellation of the Zodiac was appearing on the horizon (day or night) when you were born, and which was setting or descending. Or the MC/IC (which we'll come to in a minute).
      Others want to know where the Moon was.
      The ones we just listed, including the Sun, are the most important aspects for a "serious" horoscope. And you'll notice the rest of them missing in your daily newspaper, although some will instruct the faithful to read their Ascendant Sign and their Moon Sign as well as their Sun Sign to get the full picture of how their day will be.
      Side comment, please ignore this: "Sure, throw even more generalities into the wash and see what comes out."
      Perhaps a quote:

"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable."
- John K Galbraith (1908 - 2006) American Economist

      When you start looking at, one hates to use the word, but OK, we'll go with it for now...
      When you start looking at Credible, maybe, Reputable, or even, Professionally made Natal Charts of someone's birth, many of the pros use as many factors as they can get their hands on, and there is even a quite interesting argument about whether modern astrologers should take into account the positions of the larger asteroids in our solar system in their work. There is a fascinating article from one who says "no" on the site: http://www.historicalastrology.com (link below)
      Many of the charts on that site have all of the planets (to them, Pluto is still a planet), and several other factors involved including the 'north and south nodes of the moon', giving an incredibly complicated picture of what was going on in the heavens when an event happened, and what those influences meant to those of us in the sublunar world.

Time out while we find out what a node is for the moon and those other terms we just tripped over:
      In Astronomy (OK, we're back to the science, but just for a minute), it is when the moon's orbit passes through the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Because the moon's orbit is at an angle, it goes above and below the plane once a month, and the sign where it does so on that Astronomical Clock we mentioned, changes about every 18 months. Fine, an astronomical phenomenon that can be observed, measured, and predicted. We're good with that.
      To an Astrologer that isn't writing a paragraph about Scorpio for the daily paper, where those points are relative to the major Houses of the Zodiac is very important. The North Node contains your destiny while the South reveals certain natural inclinations or abilities. Such information is important when searching for a mate because you want one whose own nodes compliment your own. Or so the experts say.
      Got it? Good now about that Medium Coeli, "midheaven sign", also called MC, that's the sign at the top of a birth chart with the horizon line horizontal across the page, and its counterpoint (the majority of the points on a good chart have an opposite number) at the bottom, the Imum Coeli, together with the horizon signs are called "the Angles". To most, the MC is the "public face" of the person being cast for and encompasses their place in society, and the IC is that inner voice that some may call instinct.
      And, of course, "sublunar world" means everything Down Here on this planet. Enough of the moon and friends.

"When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius..."
"Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation ....."

-The Age of Aquarius, from the musical Hair, lyric by Rado and Ragni, debut 1967. Later recorded by the Fifth Dimension, and others.

      Ahhh, a slightly more optimistically naive outlook than we're used to around here.

      Now back to the old science of melothesia and all of these bodies floating around our solar system and what they have to do with our body down here on Earth.
      There is a serious branch of Cosmology and related planetary and space sciences that are delving into the role that electricity plays in the Universe.
      They point out that Earth and the other planets have magnetic fields. Those bodies with their fields are moving through a charged environment, the flow of electrons and other particles from the Sun in the Solar Wind, and that that movement creates a dynamic environment in space that can be seen by the reaction of things like Comets when one of our space probes gets too close and causes a static discharge from the comet to the probe.
      This is all true. But. We live inside a massive low power magnetic field, which is sufficiently powerful to deflect that solar wind and create such effects as that famous polar light show of song and story. Even if Jupiter has a mind to, how much influence can its field have on something on the surface of the Earth from a minimum of about Forty Five light minutes (or 800,000,000 kilometers/ 500,000,000 miles) away? But, they say the influence is small, constant, and very long term... which sounds reasonable.

      According to the detractors of the ancient practice we're discussing, it really CAN'T have anything to do with our lives. Right? Let's check with the Bard of Avon while we're right here:

Edmund the Bastard to the Earl of Gloucester: "This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune—often the surfeits of our own behavior—we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc’d obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows, I am rough and lecherous. Fut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenl’est star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar-"
Enter Edgar.
"Pat! He comes like the catastrophe of the old comedy. My cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o’ Bedlam.—O, these eclipses do portend these divisions! Fa, sol, la, mi."
- King Lear, Act I scene 2, written 1605, by William Shakespeare (link below)

      OK, we're going to try to make some logical and maybe even realistic objective sense out of the relationship to the planets and our bodies AND our lives as well. Because it makes sense that if they influence one, they do influence the other, right? ... which is why we covered both.
      Yes, there ARE electromagnetic properties to the Solar System. Jupiter is one of the 'brightest' radio sources in the night sky. The sun releases spectacular prominences that are massive magnetic storms that draw live plasma from the surface of the star far out into space and then back to the sun. Our closest star also throws out flares and ejections that can, within minutes begin to raise havoc on Earth, up to several days later with a Coronal Mass Ejection. We've mentioned the Moon's effects on tides, which influence the spawning of some species of fish, and so on.

"We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything more."
- Carl Jung (1875 - 1961) founder of Analytical Psychology.

      Which is why it DOES sound reasonable that the positions of the planets may have some influence on you from birth. Or as others point out that if your chart is done the day you are born they are nine months late for when those bodies may have had the greatest influence on you. But whenever it is done, could They, the stars and planets, have influence on you?

      Let's break that question down.
      "Could They"? Well. Given the properties of the larger system in play, everything from gravity to light to magnetism to electrical energy, air pressure and humidity and on and on, including what you had for breakfast and whether or not somebody ran over a skunk out on the highway and that smell greeted you as you walked outside to go to work today....
      "Influence". Influence is an interesting word isn't it. It even calls up the image of that butterfly in the palace garden in Tokyo flapping its wings at the exact right, or wrong, time and causing a stirring in the air that several days later results in a tornado outbreak in Iowa.
      "could they influence you"? Well. Why not? OK, calm down, take a deep breath, we're going to go the long way around that in a moment.
      Again, we're dealing only in the larger scale, not whether or not you put strawberry or grape jelly on your toast this morning. Some astrologers claimed they could read your jelly decision in the stars. They'd look at the descending sign for this morning's breakfast and say that the stars favor orange marmalade. That's probably a load of organically sustainable free range fertilizer, and always has been. Instead, we're focusing on the larger traits and currents in life. Career choices, perhaps whether or not you went to that Classic Liberal Arts college where astrology used to be on the schedule. Maybe your predilection to marry a complimentary sign, or not. Again, the active word in the question is "influence".

      Except with humans, the 'influence' is NOT predestination or the predetermination of who and what you will be. It does not invalidate Free Will and the Self Determination of Individuals. Influence is Not Destiny. It does not dictate Fate. You may have the talent for music because of your genes, because of exposure to music as a baby, because your ruling planet was in Aries when you were born, maybe all three. However, if you never go to music class, never sit in front of a piano, or are never given a guitar to play with.... or if outside forces intervene, say you are injured in an auto accident and Can't Play, the rest of us will never hear your music.
      And then what about those children who are born at the whim of their mother's doctor's vacation plans which dictated when the C-section takes place and has nothing to do with Nature? Or is that all part of it and the physician's time share availability is part of the Universe's plan for your life? There even the most ardent believer is stretching credibility way beyond its breaking point.
      Once more, then we'll move on.
      So is it possible that being born with Saturn in ascension actually means anything to the life of the child? We'll answer it like this: what if it did? -and- so what if it did? There's nothing you can do about where 'the stars' are when you join us on our little rock in space, you are still a unique individual, and it is far more likely that the genetic heritage you get from your parents and other more or less random life circumstances are far more important than whether or not you were born under a "water sign".

      OK, there's another term from this world. we've been a little light on the puns in this one haven't we?
      We'll take a quick look at those four 'types' of signs and then move on to a big issue with Astrology and Religion and History and whatever else is in play with it.
      Somebody, somewhere, back in the mists of history decided that each of the four classic elements of ancient Alchemy: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, were connected to various astrological signs, and were ruled by the planets associated with each of the elements. So, as an example, Air, which is "light, hot, wet", is ruled first by Saturn by day, Mercury at night, and its least important ruling planet is Jupiter, and, evidently, the Sun and Moon and Venus have nothing to do with it although they are ruling planets for the other signs. They also concluded that Air, is associated with the Zodiac houses of Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
      There is one thing for sure about this system of associating the astrological signs with common substances and traits such as cold and wet: It does simplify some broad conclusions that can be drawn on the fly when dealing with the faithful, allowing the astrologer to give meaningful advice while still being able to say they are drawing their conclusions from how the "triplicity" of their ruling planets.
      It isn't just the West that associated the various signs with certain elements and traits. Wood was used in China, India had five elements, and so on. So the idea that there were underlying themes from each of the signs is apparently as worldwide as the basic concepts of the constellations themselves.

      Time for a deep breath, and maybe a suitable beverage, because now we have:

Astrology AND
The Magi of the Nativity Story

      OK, we're going to bring this whole bit to a screeching halt and examine a bit of early 'Christian' propaganda.
      The "revelation of the magi" is an ancient book of unknown origin written in Syriac (a branch of the language of the Holy Land during the time of Christ: Aramaic) which was re-discovered in the Vatican archive several years ago.
      It tells of the pre-incarnation appearance of Christ to the Magi in the East, during which He invited them to come visit him at his new place in Judea, then He essentially turned into the Star and led them West. As well as details of their journey and adventures afterward.
      Which is a charming story to be sure, but, there's a bit of chronological discrepancy if no other problems with the idea. The Magi didn't fly first class, and the Babylonian Bullet Train to Egypt, with a stop in Jerusalem, was down for repairs, it took them about TWO YEARS to get there from their homeland, wherever it was. Two Years after the Nativity Scene with the shepherds who, being locals, were there even before the paparazzi.
      It is most likely that it is an entertaining work of ecclesiastical fiction written sometime three or four hundred years after the events in it and is not to be any more authoritative than any of the other pseudographs of the period such as the Gospels of Mary, Peter, or Judas, "oh, my". And which is now simply a way for a couple of 'starving scholars' to make a buck.

      Moving on.

      While there is no argument that the "wise men from the East" were NOT 'kings of the Orient' no matter what the Christmas Carol calls them, there is always plenty of dispute as to exactly who and what they WERE.
      Let's do something a lot of those who get the loudest the airing out of their opinions never do and look at the Biblical account and see what it says.
      To start with, and in a minute we'll look at an even OLDER version than the King James, there's only a dozen verses that work out to around three hundred words from the Gospel that describe the event. It is only depicted in Matthew, the other account of the Nativity of the Messiah in Luke NEVER mentions it, at all.
      We know from the text that they were "Wise Men", from the East, who knew what the Prophets had said, and they saw the star and booked their travel accordingly. We also know that they went to the logical place to visit a king First, then they saw the star again and followed it back to where they should have gone in the first place. And then immediately after this is the account of the "Holy Family's" flight to Egypt, to avoid the wrath of a rather ticked off Roman puppet, Herod.
      There's also a few things we do NOT know about the famous visit. We have no idea how many of these Easterners there were, only that they brought at least Three Gifts, probably more. And that they never saw the inside of the stable because they went to a House, because, according to the account, they'd been on the road for about two years! So most of what you see in children's plays that time of year, as well as on overpriced cards and in "music of the season" are simply full of... ... well, "holiday spirit", but precious little accuracy.
      As for the rest of the legends that have grown up around them, including that they were Jews from Yemen, or one was from Egypt (neither of which is EAST of Israel!), that they had names, and on and on, well. Just smile, and nod, and let them keep believing in the fairy tale that Jesus's Birthday is really 25 December and all that goes with it.

Matthew 2: 1 - 12. From the 1599 Geneva Bible
"When Jesus then was born at Bethlehem in Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came Wise men from the East to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is the King of the Jews that is born? for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him.
When king Herod heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And gathering together all the chief Priests and Scribes of the people, he asked of them, where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, At Bethlehem in Judea: for so it is written by the Prophet,
And thou Bethlehem in the land of Judah, art not the least among the Princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come the governor that shall feed my people Israel.
Then Herod privily called the Wise men, and diligently inquired of them the time of the star that appeared,
And sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go, and search diligently for the babe: and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come also, and worship him.
So when they had heard the king, they departed: and lo, the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over the place where the babe was.
    And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with an exceeding great joy,
And went into the house, and found the babe with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him, and opened their treasures, and presented unto him gifts, even gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
And after they were warned of God in a dream, that they should not go again to Herod, they returned into their country another way."

- www.biblegateway.com (link below)

      OK, WHO are the "wise men from the East"?
      Well, that's not as hard to answer as some make it out to be.
      They may not have all been Astrologers, but they had at least consulted with one, or even perhaps had one in their company because they recognized the Heavenly Sign of a Star and could follow it.
      And now we have to look at that word. As near as can be told from this far out, when the Scripture uses the term 'star' in this story it means something new in the sky that ISN'T a comet. They knew what comets and 'falling stars' (meteorites) looked like. So they weren't talking about either of those. And besides, comets come and go in a matter of weeks, not years. The use of the term also indicates that they didn't see it as one of the planets or a conjunction of the planets, of which they knew of five besides the Sun and Moon (and No, the outer planets have NEVER been visible to the naked eye from Earth, so that theory is a non-starter), so it wasn't any of those, or a combination thereof, which they had seen before, however rarely. It was, to take their report at face value, it was either "a new star" or a significant change to an old one, perhaps a 'supernova' such as was recorded in about 4 BC by various sky watchers.

LONG SPACE SCIENCE TANGENT:
      Could the "star" have been the shine off of a Near Earth Asteroid making a close pass, perhaps even coming within the orbit of the Moon?
      Objectively, there is no real way to tell.
      But let's look at it like this. The maximum albedo of our 'sister planet', that is, the percentage of the reflected sunlight of Venus is about .75. Venus reflects about three-quarters of the sunlight that hits it. For comparison, the moon runs at best about a point one two, although it appears much brighter because it is in our back yard when compared to Venus or even Mars at .15. Earth's own reflective value is about .3 or so. The asteroids, even if one had a value approaching Venus (and none do), are, SMALL and Moving way too fast when close to the Earth to stay in one place in the sky for more than a day or so. Which means even if it is the brightest thing in the sky tonight, it'll probably be gone tomorrow.

      The orbits of the smaller and more wayward bodies of the Solar System are notoriously hard to track. Something we've come across in the Astrological use of asteroids. Their mass is minuscule compared to even the minor moons of the planets, and their orbits are subject, to a greater or lesser degree, to change without notice based on everything from the motions of the planets, to solar flares, to, now, Space Junk launched by humans.
      It Is Possible, however, we'll never know as long as we're Here.
end tangent

      Also, they knew the Hebrew Scriptures better than Herod obviously did, because they knew where the Messiah was to be born, and evidently thought the new King would have already has his mail forwarded to the palace before they got there. This most likely means they were from Babylon, where the Jews had spent some time away from home and had left copies of their documents with the local learned men, perhaps up into Media (today's Iran), or even over into the Indus Valley area. That probably points to Priests of the Zoroastrian religion who were not only Monotheists, their religion had, and has, great similarities to Judaism. Also, the term Magi is one of those used to refer to the leaders of that religion.
      Also, consider this. Persia or Parthia, as Babylon was then part of the Parthian Empire which was a dynasty of the great Persian Empire and covered all of the area we just mentioned as a possible home to the Magi, was an enemy state to Rome. They had, at the time of the Magi's trip, been at war with the great power to the West, off and on, for a hundred years. And that war would continue, off and on, for five hundred more years, give or take time off to rearm. The Magi had to cross an armed and hostile international border to get to Jerusalem from Anywhere in the East. Which means they thought the pilgrimage was worth the trouble and expense to make. Which tells you what these first Gentile Believers thought of the appearance of the Promised One.
      It also means that the somewhat breathless gentleman on the radio who condemns any mention that the Magi of Matthew had anything to do with our topic because Astrology was a SIN! Needs to, ... well, he could start with reading this article and then doing a bit of research on his own beginning with the list of links below. Or perhaps he should really start by reading that 1611 Authorized Verion King James Bible he keeps thumping during his talks:

"Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?
Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?"

Job 38: 31 - 33 KJV

Music, then we'll wrap this one up.

      The song takes on a bit of a new light when you think about it in terms of what we've been talking about:

"... A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
The stars aren't aligned
Or the gods are malign
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will."

FREEWILL, Artist: Rush. music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, lyrics by Neil Peart. album: Permanent Waves, Mercury Records. Released: 1980

Conclusion? No.

Three.

      The "Natural" branch of Astrology, that is, planting grains, going fishing, setting traps for upland animals, things like that, by the Signs in the sky, that IS a valid use of where the hard science of Astronomy crosses paths with what we are calling Astrology. Always has been, since the days of the Chinese Emperors who were impressing the locals by their reading of the stars, and probably always will be. In the words of those guys from That cable TV show about myths, this one is CONFIRMED.

"The strongest argument proves nothing so long as the conclusions are not verified by experience."
- Roger Bacon (1214 - 1292) "Doctor Mirabilis"

      The "daily newspaper column" version of Astrology. AKA: "Today's Horoscope", is, pure and simple: Hogwash. This one is not only "Busted", but shattered into a billion pieces with the dust swirling out to sea on a breeze of hearty laughter. Once Upon A Time, maybe, maybe it was something more than it is now. But today, there is no more to it than the saying you get in a Fortune Cookie with your takeout General Tso's BEEF (it's better than the chicken!) from that place down on the corner.

      Now as for the in depth forecasting done of birth charts with twenty or so celestial points of reference, based on centuries of analysis and projections based on intricate understanding of trends, and traits, and values and how it all relates to you, and our Free Will, and our world, and GOD only knows what else. We hate to say it, but, from where the Desk is sitting with a coffee cup of Old Stumpwater and some classic rock on the radio.... Damnit. ... ... Maybe. ... ... Just barely.... ... possibly... in Some Aspects as we discussed about when we talked about 'influence'... almost ... Plausible, but...

"But how is it that they [astrologers] have never been able to explain why, in the life of twins, in their actions, in their experiences, their professions, their accomplishments, their positions - in all the other circumstances of human life, and even in death itself, there is often found such a diversity that in those respects many strangers show more resemblance to them than they show to one another, even though the smallest possible interval separated their births and though they were conceived at the same moment, by a single act of intercourse."
- Confessions, Saint Aurelius Augustinus Augustine (354 - 430)

      We'll leave it right there with the old master.


Links and references and other stuff: outside pages will open in new tab/window, all links were working as of Early December 2018.

"Man is a microcosm, or a little world, because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament, from the earth and the elements; and so he is their quintessence."
- Paracelsus (see Desk Alchemy link below for more)

Where the 'daily horoscope' began:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-are-horoscopes-still-thing-180957701/

https://www.astrologysource.com/astrology-articles/first-newspaper-horoscopes/

American Federation of Astrologers, Inc. https://www.astrologers.com/

One of the source books for Western Astrology: Astronomica by Marcus Manilius about 20 AD
http://www.hellenisticastrology.com/critical%20editions/Housman-Manilius-volume-1.pdf

King Lear Act I scene 2 (written 1605) from: https://www.playshakespeare.com/king-lear

All Scripture from https://www.biblegateway.com/

Interesting article about asteroids and their place, if any, in all this: http://www.historicalastrology.com/

True believers, The Astrotwins https://astrostyle.com

"Almost 40 Years of Creating Excellence in Astrology Software: Since 1979" https://www.alabe.com/

The Astronomical Clock In Prague. https://www.prague.eu/en/object/places/3129/astronomical-clock
Several videos of it are available through a search engine.

It is what it says it is: http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/

Galen and Hippocrates: https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/hippocrates-the-writings-of-hippocrates-and-galen

Some background on Avicenna: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Avicenna

Other Topics mentioned in the article:

https://www.museeprotestant.org/en/notice/judiciary-astrology-a-very-ancient-tradition/

ALBEDO DISTRIBUTION OF NEAR EARTH ASTEROIDS https://authors.library.caltech.edu/70302/1/aj_152_4_79.pdf

Venus's albedo http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/cosmos/A/Albedo

and cometary tail
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15420842-900-science-planets-tail-of-the-unexpected/

Seems some of the old ones saw things differently: https://www.cnet.com/news/mysterious-ancient-star-chart-shows-foreign-skies/

Omens in the Stars: A Brief History of Babylonian Astrology https://keplercollege.org/index.php/articles/history-of-astrology/item/602-omens-in-the-stars

China https://www.chinatravel.com/facts/chinese-astrology.htm
-and-
http://science.jrank.org/pages/7509/Astrology-China.html

Karahundj, Armenia: http://www.armenianheritage.org/en/monument/Karahundj/106 (There, we'll never spell it like that again!)

Sidereal basics: https://therealastrology.com/information/about-astrology/17-tropical-vs-sidereal.html

A Sidereal astrologer with the 13th sign http://siderealist.com/

A primer on the origin of the Zodiac: http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/zodiac.htm

A brief on the "Revelation of the Magi": http://www.tonyburke.ca/wp-content/uploads/Landau-Revelation-of-the-Magi.pdf


MEDIA DESK articles mentioned and otherwise:

Alchemy

Related topic: "Is Magic Real?"

"can you sell your soul to the Devil?"
The Answer Here

A great song and some Scientific Hoaxes

The Desk's Non-Fiction and Mystery Series Index http://themediadesk.com/nonfiction.htm


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      The Desk is solely responsible for the analysis and conclusions hereby presented. If the reader has any issues with anything in the article they may contact the Desk through the usual channels.
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