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Western Astrology: HOW

Officially, and according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, Astrology is "the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects."

Tropical astrology is about how celestial bodies influence our terrestrial beings as defined, observed, and calculated from the point of view of the earth, and sidereal astrology does the same but on a known-universe scale, not from the point of view of the earth. In this article, the focus is going to be on the tropical astrology construction and current status.

Brief explanatory scheme of how houses, signs, elements, and cardinal points are on a Birth Chart

One of the main (if not the most) important elements or tools in astrology is the Natal Chart or Birth Chart and it can be described as a “picture” of the position of the celestial bodies at the moment of our birth and the exact time someone is born. It is what indicates on which point of the zodiac wheel is going to start: a point called the ascendant, then comes the 12 houses of different extension and elements that at the same time interact with the 12th signs of the zodiac and their elements (air, water, earth, and fire) according to our place of birth and its coordinates. In front of the ascendant goes the descendant that starts our 7th house, splitting on a perpendicular angle, are the IC (Imum Coeli) and on its opposite side, the Midheaven (MC).

That way the chart has 4 different quadrants that are related at the same time to different aspects of inner life and the relationship with “the others”. The Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are taken as “personal planets”, especially the moon, sun, ascendant for their speed, and Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto are considered transpersonal/generational planets because their cycles are very slow, so, many generations have the same position of these planets.

Explanatory sheet of how planets are perceived in tropical astrology

Along with the natal birth chart, there are many other elements, such as progressions: evolution stages of learning that advances each year one degree.

On the other hand, there are profections: a complex system on which houses are taken each by sign and according to the age, a different ruler planet, in this case, named lord planet. This "lord planet" is the main character of the year and its transits are going to show the path along the year cycle starting on the persona's birthday.

Another element considered only by Tropical Astrology (not Vedic), are the Solar Returns, which is pretty much like a birth chart but is the picture taken in the context of the moment the sun is going to be in the natal position again during our birthday (exact degree). But here it does not act as an identity tool, it is mostly like a description of the “available” energy for the year. In the case of the solar return, the energy available is according to the way the chart elements, on briefly way to explain it, is it a picture of the sky on the moment the sun reaches the persona's birth position, the exact degree.

Among the most demanded items in astrology, are the synastry and composite charts. The first one is an overlap of the birth charts of two individuals that are supposedly going to give an idea of their interaction with each other according to where each other’s planets fall on each other’s houses. The second one is a mixed chart of two people that is designed by midpoints, and it is the chart of the relationship itself.

Synastry chart of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, one of the ost commented ones for its astrological compatibility

From what is understood, these charts can be made based on any kind of relationship, but people often use them to have information about sentimental partners, which is one of the main attractions that astrology offers to people. There are social platforms on which is common to find comments related to the lucky or unlucky situations according to if one has a complicated planet falling on their partner’s problematic house.

Of course, the increase in the system of beliefs proposed by astrology corresponds to the seek that humankind has always led about the possibility of predicting the future, understanding life, and its events. By reading transits there is a fake feeling of control related to the idea of prediction and/or understanding.

It can become dangerous when this system of beliefs is used to sell hopes and readings that prolong the victim state of the individual.

It is really dangerous to fully apply any kind of belief system to grown-ups, that instead of seeking the origin of their behavioral patterns and their part of the responsibility on certain situations, they might choose the more comfortable path: which is to blame on transit planets, birth chart features, or just "the evil other" whose Pluto is in opposition to the persona´s moon in synastry.

Until Newton, astrologists and scientists were not that far from one another. For a long time, there was almost no doubt that everything that happened in ordinary life was written on the celestial bodies above. There was no space for a suspect that maybe instead of fate there is just this world and we live the consequences of our actions or in regard to the will of the people that are surrounding us. Since Newton, whose discoverments started the division of paths between science and astrology, its differences have been splitting them apart progressively.

Beginning with the experiments of Galileo and his success in measuring the rate of acceleration of falling bodies, the conviction gradually arose that nature as a whole was subject to immutable laws which could be mathematically expressed - a process which Newton brought to a brilliant culmination. In other words, there were universal laws of becoming, laws of change which governed the correlation between particular events. This was an entirely new and seminal idea which was destined to revolutionize the natural sciences.
(Spinoza,1940 in Thorndike, 1955)

But that does not imply that even nowadays, some celestial bodies play an important role in our routines, such as the moon phase for going fishing, menstrual cycles, haircutting, shaving. Even now there is a belief that there are more violent incidents near or while a full moon is happening; sun cycles for harvest, moon phases, and even recently it has been highlighted that Saturn and Jupiter have made possible our subsistence on earth by blocking the transit of threatening asteroids.

The most scientific form of weather prediction was astrological, and abundant literature on the subject, derived from India as well as from the Arabic, instructed one how to forecast rain, winds, and changes of temperature from the movements of the planets -direct, retrograde or stationary -through the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twenty-eight mansions of the moon.
(Thorndike, 1955)

According to Kelly (1997), there was a lot of publications with the statistical analysis made by authors in Europe and the US, and according to the same author, these publications were not many before the 1950s and that their methodology was “too poor” and “no meaningful findings” were made.

Since the 1970s and going along with a phase of general increased interest for the occult, or the “non-traditional” and here is where pre-existing astrology associations got strengthened and new groups were conformed even if it has important critiques.

In any case, there was also a statement made by many astrologers claiming that celestial bodies have an influence on our inner selves than in external events or expressions.

Social instances and behaviors blamed on mercury retrograde (which is an optical illusion caused by observing it from the earth), to justify anger issues with the afflicted position of mars on the birth chart, or abusive relationships for having Neptune on the 7th house operate on a different level, an astrological one. Some users may use it to justify their behaviors, to try to make sense of different events in their lives.

2021 moon cycles with their denominations

There are two certainties related to the use of astrology as a system of beliefs: one is to explain the way people behave and another one is an attempt to understand life events, especially the tough ones.

There is a common pattern in people who starts to use astrology for their self-understanding and life events explanation: an unpleasant experience such as a breakup or even an accident, the loss of a beloved one. It is known that challenging events are going to push people into a system of beliefs as a coping mechanism, which is also what happens with the acquisition of religious practices in non-believer people.

The question also has been "Who believes?" According to a study made by Wuthnow published in 2016, there is a variation in astrology believers.

Some of the observations made by this study were related to the level of education: according to Wuthnow the less educated people are more likely to become astrology believers.

The study also mentions that Mexican descendants in the US were more likely to believe in astrology, and actually, the publication might be too though, for attempting to correlate the astrological believing phenomenon to marginality - Wuthnow's publication is literally named “Astrology and Marginality”.

And at the end, it highlights the fact that astrology might be a system of beliefs that helps people try to understand the universe and the events of their own lives. As a way of religious belief.

In conclusion, one important part of being human is to have a notion of ourselves, death, and the need to find a further explanation and/or understanding about our purpose. To say that “it is god’s will” mutated into “it is a Saturn return”. The main difference is that the morality in astrology is not a system of beliefs that takes some kind of sacrifice or needs a temple to exist. Internet and the news horoscope in the past were enough.

As it has been questioned in the past, astrology adepts are growing at incredible speed even in the “scientifical rationality” times we are living, this makes the phenomenon at least interesting. Astrological medicine was an obvious sequel of this assumption and was free from the objection that prediction of man's fate violated freedom of the will.
(Thorndike, 1955)

Finally, if so many nations lived (and still do) relying on the belief that:

- there is a masculine invisible being that rules everything and punishes the one who behaves “morally wrong”

- followers should give monetary donations to a group of people that for some reason “are closer” to that masculine and invisible deity in order to clean sins

- they should embrace their disgrace as a lesson and thank the unexpected good outcomes of a situation as a blessing, all directed by this masculine and invisible entity

- indigenous systems of living and believing should be attacked and/or eliminated for not living according to the beliefs related to the invisible masculine entity that seems to be in favor of hegemonic whiteness, there is no reason why the “strictly scientifical” community of current times should attack astrology in particular, on which everyone has a natal chart and nobody is going to hell.

There is an important world that is non-tangible but the way humankind makes interpretations of it is subject to circumstances far from the stars and closer to their own will.


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Melisa Silva

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