(from Encyclopedia of Cults and
New Religions, Harvest House, 1999)
INTRODUCTION AND INFLUENCE
Approximately a billion people
worldwide have some degree of faith in astrology. Science writer,
engineer, and astrology critic Lawrence Jerome has written,
"The twentieth century has seen a tremendous upswing in the
fortunes of astrologers. Easily one quarter of the nearly four
billion people living on the earth believe in and follow astrology
to some extent."1
In America, polls variously estimate the
acceptance of astrology at between 20 million to 40 million people.
A Gallup poll cited by the National and International Religion
Report for July 4, 1988, estimated that ten percent of
evangelical Christians believe in astrology. Clearly, astrology is
not just a passing fad. In the United States alone, it grosses
billions of dollars each year.
Not even many religions can claim to
have the influence that astrology has. The Encyclopedia
Britannica observes that astrology has "a sometimes
extensive... influence in many civilizations both ancient and
modern."2 Professor Franz Cumont, a leading authority on
ancient astrology and curator of the Royal Museum of Antiquities at
Brussels,3 has stated that "up to modern times [astrology] has
exercised over Asia and Europe a wider dominion than any religion
has ever achieved... [and it has] exercised an endless influence on
the creeds and ideas of the most diverse peoples.…"4
In the United States, back in 1955,
there was a revival of interest in astrology. At that time
well-known occultist and philosopher Manly P. Hall bragged,
"Astrology today has probably a greater number of advocates
than ever before in its long and illustrious history.... Astrology
and all its branches is sweeping over America in a wave of
enthusiasm."5 In our own day, astrologers West and Toonder have
concluded that astrology currently "enjoys a popularity
unmatched since the decline of Rome."6 Astronomers Culver and
lanna refer to this modern interest as "the greatest resurgence
in astrology" since the Renaissance.7
Bernard Gittelson, former
public relations consultant representing the West German government,
the European Common Market, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, is
now a New Age human behavior researcher. Gittelson has calculated
that the circulation of newspapers and magazines carrying
astrological columns in the United States, Europe, Japan, and South
America is over 700 million.8 Concerning France and Germany he
states: "In both... it is common for companies to have an
astrologer and graphologist on staff, to be consulted in matters of
hiring, firing, and promotions. I learned this first hand.…9 A
Cable News Network (CNN) report cited astrologers who made the
incredible claim that "at least 300 of the Fortune 500
[companies] use astrologers in one way or another."10
Even our days of the week are reminders of the
influence of astrology:
• Monday = moon day
• Tuesday = Mars’ day (day of Tiw—the
Norse Tyr—the Martian god of war)
• Wednesday = Mercury’s day (Woden’s
day, the Norse Odin, god of the runes)
• Thursday = Jupiter’s day
(Thor’s day, the Nordic Jupiter, god of Thunder)
• Friday = Venus’ day (Frigg’s
day, wife of Odin, goddess of marriage)
• Saturday = Saturn’s day
• Sunday = sun day
An examination of the books in print
on astrology reveals that this occult art of divination has been
applied to literally hundreds of subjects, including pets, babies
and children, gambling, cooking, medicine, criminology, dating and
marriage, biochemistry, meditation, sex, politics, economics,
psychology, feminism, and the Bible.11 No wonder astrologers
confidently assert "there is no area of human experience to
which astrology cannot be applied."12 Many occult practices
(e.g., numerology and tarot cards) have logical connections to
astrology; many world religions and religious cults have their own
brands of astrology (e.g., Hinduism and theosophy). Astrologers have
also attempted to integrate many of the sciences (e.g., medicine and
psychology) with their practice.13
In the field of education, astrology
is offered for credit on some high school and college campuses.14 In
1972, the spiritist, Rosicrucian, and astrologer, Mae Wilson-Ludlam,
taught the first accredited high school astrology course.15 But now
astrology’s influence extends to classes taught at Emory
University in Atlanta,16 Stanford University,17 the University of
California Extension,18 and to the granting of Ph.D.s in astrology
from some universities, such as the University of Pittsburgh.19
In 1988, astrology made headlines
when it was exposed as influencing the highest level of U.S.
national government, the White House. According to Chief of Staff
Donald Regan in For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington, "Virtually
every major move and decision the Reagans made" was based upon
the astrological advice of Joan Quigley, Mrs. Reagan’s
astrologer."20 The effect this had on people was mixed. But as
noted astronomers Culver and lanna in their text Astrology: True
or False—a Scientific Evaluation observed:
"Astrologers... have hailed the acceptance of astrology at the
highest levels of government in one of the most powerful nations on
earth as a confirmation of its legitimacy."21
What is clear from all of this is that around the
world astrology is widely influential today. It has had, and
continues to have, a powerful impact in the lives and thinking of
hundreds of millions of people.
BASIC TERMS AND CONCEPTS
Despite its popularity, astrology is confusing to
the average person because of its complexity and many unfamiliar
The zodiac is an imaginary "belt"
of sky comprising the 12 astrological signs that the ancients
illustrated by mythological figures, both human and animal. In other
words, the mythological "signs" of the zodiac are overlaid
upon the actual clusters, or constellations, of stars. And
importantly, the "signs" exist irrespective of the actual
positions of the constellations to which they are said to refer.
The signs are the 12 "signs of the
zodiac," also known as "sun signs." Everyone is said
to be born under one of these 12 signs (Pisces the fish, Leo the
lion, Gemini the twins, Taurus the bull, and so on). Astrologers
often group the signs according to psychological aspects or types.
The houses are the 12 divisions of the
zodiac that are said to correspond symbolically to every area of
life. The houses are also imaginary, and the planets are said to
travel through the houses, influencing each area of life as they do.
The horoscope is a "map" of the
heavens for the time of birth, or for any time thereafter. On the
horoscope, or chart, an astrologer plots the positions of the
planets, signs, and houses, and then from this "map,"
after interpreting numerous complex rules, many of which vary
greatly from one astrologer to another, the astrologer gives a
Technically, a delineation is the name
given to an astrological "reading." This is an
interpretation resulting from the combination of two or more
astrological principles. Analysis or synthesis is the
"complete" interpretation of the whole chart.
There is also the concept of rulership. Astrologers
believe that each planet "rules" a sign of the Zodiac. For
example, Mercury rules, or influences, Gemini and Virgo; Venus is
said to rule Taurus and Libra; Saturn Capricorn; Neptune Pisces; and
so on. In addition, the signs and their ruling planets are related
to certain houses.
Another important term is aspect, which
refers to the angles between the planets as plotted on a horoscope
chart. Certain angles are interpreted as "good" and other
angles are "bad," while still others are
"neutral" and acquire their "goodness" or
"badness" from other astrological indicators. For example,
two planets angled at 90 degrees to each other (called a
"square") is considered a bad influence. However, two
planets angled at 120 degrees to each other (called a
"trine") is considered a good influence.
In addition to "good" or
"bad" angles, astrological delineations must also take
into consideration whether or not the planets are "good"
or "bad." Saturn and Mars, for example, are considered
"bad"; Venus and Jupiter, "good." But what is
the basis for these angles and planets being defined as
"good" or "bad"? The astrologers don’t know;
they simply accept these definitions as they have been handed down.
Some astrologers say that these definitions result from thousands of
years of observing human experience. Others no longer use the
"good" or "bad" designations. They have
substituted milder descriptions, such as "externalization"
and "internalization," "active" and
"passive," "hard" and "soft"’
"difficult" and "easy." Still, there is no one
final, authoritative tradition that has come down through history
that all astrologers follow. This is why there are many conflicting
another essential concept. By determining when a planet crosses, or
transits, a specific point on the horoscope chart, the astrologer
feels he can advise a client as to "favorable" or
"unfavorable" conditions. Just as there are good and bad
planets and angles, there are good and bad times for undertaking
activities. This was why Hitler planned his war strategy by the
stars and why other world leaders throughout history have leaned on
advice of the stars.
It is evident from all of this that astrological
interpretations are not only complicated but highly subjective. How
does the astrologer know that Venus or a trine is good, that Mars or
a square is bad? How does he know that the first house represents
personality, the second house money, the third house communication,
the eighth house death, the tenth house occupation? On what factual
basis do astrologers make their assertions?
Some astrologers claim their
definitions are derived from numerology, from the meanings allegedly
inherent in numbers, which are then related to astrological theory.
But if so, where is a factual basis for the numerological meanings?
Why don’t all astrologers agree on this? There is also
disagreement concerning how to divide the 12 houses. A given house
for one astrologer may be a different house for another; therefore,
entirely different influences would be suggested.23
Astrological interpretations also
rest on other questionable foundations. An astrologer can choose
from up to 30 different zodiacs,24 28 different signs,25 and ten
different house systems.26
Even after wading through all this, the
astrologer’s headache has still not ended. He must choose whether
to use the concepts of nodes, triplicities, and quadruplicities.
The moon’s nodes relate to the intersection of the moon’s
orbit with the apparent path of the sun among the stars (the
ecliptic). These supposed "intersections" are said to
exert certain influences. And there are also the influences from the
nodes of the planets, the points at which the orbits of the planets
intersect the ecliptic. Triplicities refer to how the four
astrological elements of fire, earth, air, and water each relate to
three signs. For example, Libra, Gemini, and Aquarius are
"air" signs. Quadruplicities refer to how the three
astrological characteristics called "cardinal,"
"fixed," and "mutable" each relate to four
signs. For example, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, and Taurus are
"fixed" signs. And, as you may suspect by now, the
concepts of nodes, triplicities, and quadruplicities, like all other
astrological principles, have many diverse meanings and
If all this is not enough mental
gymnastics, the astrologer can also consider dignities and debilities;
that is, how the influence of a planet is increased (dignity) or
decreased (debility) by its placement on the chart. There are dozens
of such conditions.27 He also determines whether the signs are
positive (active) or negative (passive). And each astrologer must
pay special attention to a client’s moon sign, and to the rising,
or ascending, sign.28
And after all this, the astrologer
still must choose which method of prediction he will use. There are
three common methods: 1) the previously mentioned transits, 2)
primary directions, and 3) secondary progressions.29 And, "No
phase of astrology is subject to such differences of opinion"
as the means of prediction.30
Even with all of this, consider that Noel Tyl
wrote a 12-volume series, The Principles and Practices of
Astrology, which is considered introductory material! No wonder
there is no one final astrological tradition that all astrologers
follow. It is understandable why there are so many conflicting
astrological theories. Yet, millions of people still commit their
lives to following these unproven assumptions.
1. Lawrence E. Jerome, Astrology Disproved,
Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1977, p. 1.
2. David Pingree,
"Astrology," The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed.
vol. 2 Macropaedia, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, p.
3. Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among
the Greeks and Romans, New York: Dover, 1060, p. IX.
4. Ibid., pp. XI, XIII.
5. Manly P. Hall, The Story of Astrology,
Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, 1975, p. 9.
6. John Anthony West and Jan Gerhard Toonder, The
Case for Astrology, Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1973, p. 1.
7. R. B. Culver and P. A. Ianna, The Gemini
Syndrome: A Scientific Evaluation of Astrology, Buffalo, NY:
Prometheus Books, 1984 Rev., p. IX.
8. Bernard Gittelson, Intangible Evidence,
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 338.
9. Ibid., pp. 63-64.
10. In Kurt Goedelman, "Seeking Guidance from
the Stars of Heaven," Personal Freedom Outreach Newsletter,
July-September 1988, p. 5. The figure is probably exaggerated,
though a significant number of major corporations do use astrology
in some fashion.
11. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, Astrology: Do
the Heavens Rule Our Destiny? Eugene OR: Harvest House
Publishers, 1989, pp. 19-20.
12. Derek and Julia Parker, The Compleat
[sic] Astrologer, New York: Bantam, 1978, p. 60.
13. Robert Carl Jansky, Astrology,
Nutrition and Health, Rockport, MA: Para Research, 1978; Omar V.
Garrison, Medical Astrology: How the Stars Influence Your Health,
New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1973; C. Norman Shealy, Occult
Medicine Can Save Your Life, New York: Bantam, 1977; Peter
Damian, The Twelve Healers of the Zodiac: The Astrology Handbook
of the Bach Flower Remedies, York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser,
1986; Marcia Stark, Astrology: Key to Holistic Health,
Birmingham, MI: Seek It Publications, 1987; Kathryn Davis Henry, Medical
Astrology: Physiognomy and Astrological Quotations, privately
published, 1978; Robert C. Jansky, Modern Medical Astrology,
Van Nuys, CA: Astro-Analytics Publication, 1978, 2nd rev.; Henry F.
Darling, Essentials of Medical Astrology, Tempe AZ: American
Federation of Astrologers, 1981.
14. Carol Cocciardi ed., The Psychic Yellow
Pages, Saratoga, CA: Out of the Sky, 1977, p. 130.
15. American Federation of
Astrologers, 50th Anniversary AFA 1988 Convention Program,
Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1988, p. 198.
16. Ibid., p. 175.
17. Carol Cocciardi, The Psychic Yellow Pages,
18. Ibid., p. 125.
19. Letter from Dr. Atlas Laster, Jr., September
23, 1988, containing a copy of a letter by astrologer Harry Darling
M.D., approving his Ph.D. dissertation on astrology submitted to the
University of Pittsburgh ("On the Psychology of Astrology: The
Use of Genethliacal Astrology in Psychological Counseling,"
20. Donald T. Regan, For the Record: From Wall
Street to Washington, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988,
p. 3; "Good Heavens!" Time magazine, May 16, 1988;
"The President’s Astrologers," People Weekly, May
23, 1988, and Moody Monthly, July-August, 1988, p. 10; Brooks
Alexander, "My Stars!: Astrology in the White House," Spiritual
Counterfeits Project, Berkeley, CA, 1988; John Weldon,
"Astrology: An Inside Look," Part 1, News & Views,
21. Roger B. Culver and Philip A. Ianna, Astrology:
True or False, a Scientific Evaluation, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus
Books (1988 update of their The Gemini Syndrome), p. IX.
22. Ankerberg, Weldon, Astrology, pp.
23. Culver, Ianna, The Gemini Syndrome, pp.
24. Cyril Fagan, The Solunars Handbook,
Tucson, AZ: Clancy Publications, 1976, p. 25.
25. Culver, Ianna, The Gemini Syndrome, p.
26. Richard Nolle, Interpreting Astrology: New
Techniques and Perspectives, Tempe, AZ: American Federation of
Astrologers, 1986, p. 64.
27. Culver and Ianna, The Gemini Syndrome,
28. Nicholas deVore, Encyclopedia of Astrology,
Totowa, NJ: Littlefield Adams & Co., 1976, pp. 17, 338.
29. Ibid., p. 315.
30. Ibid., p. 121.