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The Astrology Portal


Introduction

Detail from the astronomical clock of the Piazza San Marco, Venice.

Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects. Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, and has its roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and some—such as the Hindus, Chinese, and the Maya—developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from which it spread to Ancient Greece, Rome, the Arab world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person's personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.

Throughout most of its history, astrology was considered a scholarly tradition and was common in academic circles, often in close relation with astronomy, alchemy, meteorology, and medicine. It was present in political circles and is mentioned in various works of literature, from Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer to William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, and Calderón de la Barca. Following the end of the 19th century and the wide-scale adoption of the scientific method, astrology has been challenged successfully on both theoretical and experimental grounds, and has been shown to have no scientific validity or explanatory power. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, and common belief in it has largely declined. While polls have demonstrated that approximately one quarter of American, British, and Canadian people say they continue to believe that star and planet positions affect their lives, astrology is now recognized as a pseudoscience—a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific.

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Natal Chart
In astrology, an aspect is an angle the planets make to each other in the horoscope, and also to the ascendant, midheaven, descendant and nadir. The aspects are measured by the angular distance along the ecliptic in degrees and minutes of celestial longitude between two points, as viewed from the earth. They indicate focal points in the horoscope where the energies involved are given extra emphasis. The astrological aspects are said to influence affairs on Earth according to millennia of astrological tradition.

As an example, if an astrologer creates a horoscope showing the apparent positions of the heavenly bodies at the times of a person's birth (a natal chart), and the apparent distance between Mars and Venus is 92°, the chart is said to have the aspect "Venus square Mars" with an orb of 2°. The more exact that an aspect is, the more important it is said to be according to astrological precedent and tradition. The difference between the exact aspect and the actual aspect is called the orb.

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Harmony of the World
Credit: Ebenezer Sibly
Harmony of the World, a heliocentric universe showing the planets' correct distances and the zodiacal signs. At the bottom are various references to biblical passages.

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