Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Astrology (Greek astron, star; and logos, discourse) is related to astronomy as alchemy to chemistry. In the infancy of our race, before the human mind learned to distinguish between the phenomena of inner consciousness and those of the external world, observers attributed to the material universe the volition and passions, the mental and moral powers possessed by themselves. Hence arose the first impulses of natural religion and the confused collections of false analogies that preceded the elaboration of the several sciences. The sky, the sun, the moon, and the other heavenly bodies became necessarily the earliest and most universal objects of speculation. In the East, where the presence and power of these phenomena were constantly appealing to the senses, their spiritual and moral influence obtained the readiest recognition. The Chinese, the Hindus, the Semitic nations, the Egyptians, the primitive Greeks, the Etruscans, all in different degrees exhibited this phase of development, and either left it behind or were arrested at one stage or another. In one case crude fire- and nature-worship would be the result. Elsewhere the deification of nature took a wider and subtler form. Among the monotheistic Semites a belief in the mysterious connection between the signs of the sky and the destinies of man grew up side by side with religious faith. As in the case of alchemy, long observation led to the discovery of some true laws and principles and to the registration of certain recurrent changes, but priests, professors, or charlatans hid away their knowledge in unintelligible words and symbols, the motives of the concealment being power or profit. So far as the civilisation of Europe is concerned, the systematised error and superstition known as astrology were not of home growth, but were imported in the main from Chaldrea or Arabia, though the cosmogonies of the Greeks, the divinations of the Etruscans, and the mysteries borrowed from Egypt and Persia had prepared the soil for them. The chief ideas that governed the elaborate scheme as it loomed forth on the dark ages may be thus summarised: - By a process of anthropomorphism to each of the planets there were assigned certain human characteristics, the sun and the moon holding higher positions in the scale. Each sign of the zodiac had also its distinct moral attribute. The celestial sphere was divided into twelve sections termed houses, measured off upon the ecliptic. It will be obvious that the constellations and planets appear from time to time in different divisions, and in different combinations. The houses themselves possessed varying powers, the strongest being the compartment just about to rise above the horizon at any moment, and termed the ascendant, whilst that just rising was called the horoscope. Moreover, all natural objects, plants, animals, minerals, and even countries were symbolically connected with this or that celestial body. Here, then, we have ample materials for the prediction at any given point of time from the aspect of the heavens of the course of future events. Adepts, too, were not above changing their rules to suit the occasion, and brought to their task considerable political and personal knowledge, so that with the use of ambiguous and technical verbiage they not unfrequently hit the mark, and still more often produced the effect desired by their patrons. The system which we have briefly sketched had many outgrowths and amplifications which it is impossible to trace out here. So long as astronomy had not assumed the consistency of a science, men of undoubted intellect and honesty failed to free themselves from the bonds of superstition. Tycho Brahe, Kepler, La Bruyere, and Beza, nay, even Francis Bacon himself yielded to the fascinations of mystery. Copernicus struck the death-blow of error when he proved the sun and not the earth to be the centre of the solar system, but the folly of ages was not to be cured by the first touch of truth. In England, Swift's satire on Partridge did more to discredit charlatanism than any scientific exposition. But Napoleon professed a belief in the stellar influence; Zadkiel's Almanac flourishes to this day; and there still exist obscure professors ready to cast horoscopes for a trifling pecuniary consideration.