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The purpose of astrology?
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Papretis



Joined: 27 Feb 2005
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Location: Finland

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:46 pm    Post subject: The purpose of astrology? Reply with quote

Kirk wrote in the politics and astrology? thread in the News section http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4438&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15 :

Quote:
However, debates of a simple for-or-against nature are far less important (and interesting) than discussions of 'why': Why are we even doing this in the first place? And what. What are we looking for? What are we trying to achieve, attain?

I think these are very valid questions. What is the purpose of astrology?

There are basically two conflicting approaches to astrology:

1) The scientific approach. Here itís supposed that planets exert some kind of influence on people and other things, and the nature of that influence can be defined and predicted beforehand. In order to maintain his free will, man is able to resist or transcend that influence in the same way that he is able to either use his genetic and socio-economical heritage to his advantage or to overcome it. The planetary influences act not as guides to follow, but as something to be conscious of and to deal with. Astrology is not about belief but about observing real, objective things.

The pitfall of this approach is that if planets exert influence on people and the world, then its results should be clearly observable, measurable and repeatable. Planetary influences should give concrete and also statistical results in the same way than genetics give statistical results. Also there should preferably be a recognized mechanism by which those planetary influences work. So far the statistical results given by astrology have mainly been poor and science hasnít found anything that would explain the alleged influence.

Also in this case it should be possible to define (actually it would have been defined a long time ago), which house system, which zodiac, how many triplicity rulers, almuten or domicile ruler, etc. etc., because over the time there would emerge systems that give better results than the others. After 2000 years, this is still not the case.

Probably several of you know that this scientific approach is the one Iíve been favoring over the last few years. Iíve learned some basic statistics and played with AstroDatabank, JigSaw and Excel and made a lot of statistical studies. Some of those studies have given some kind of results, but lately Iíve been growing more and more unsatisfied with them.

There is for example the question of the house systems. Studying literally thousands of charts there should emerge the house system that was the true one so to speak. If astrology was scientific, the choice of house system (or zodiac) would not depend on personal preferences but astrologers would have agreed on which system gives results that are most in sync with observed reality. In the age of computers that should not be very difficult to find out. But I can tell you: it is, and this is the reason there exists such a Tower of Babel regarding techniques in general.

2) The spiritual approach. Here itís supposed that planets act as guides for humanity and its growth. Either planets act as transmitters of Godís will, or they are gods themselves. In this case studying astrology statistically is uninteresting, unnecessary and in fact impossible, because the horoscope does not deal with existing reality but with inherent potentials. The more man is able to manifest his horoscope, the better heís in sync with universe or Godís will. In contemporary modern astrology this approach is called humanistic astrology and it has its roots firmly in theosophy with its spirit guides.

The problem with this approach is that it makes astrology essentially not science but religion. Astrologers become the transmitters of the will of the planets (or God, if we think that planets act as agents), that is: priests. Now itís perfectly credible to speak about belief in astrology, because it is a matter of belief Ė either you believe that man should follow advice of the planets, or you donít. From the point of view of existing religions this approach is especially problematic, because then astrology becomes a competitor for them Ė especially such monotheistic ones as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. This is probably the reason why Church so vehemently condemns astrology: you cannot serve two masters.

In this case, if we liked to study the effectiveness of astrology, the only possible approach would be sociological: does following advice of astrologers or astrology make people happier and more balanced? Are people dealing with astrology doing better and more productive choices? Does astrology make a positive influence in their lives? Observing myself and other people I personally know in the astrological circles here in Finland, I would hesitate to say so. Do people involved in astrology have happier and more fulfilling personal relationships than other people? Definitely not! Smile From the purely personal perspective, I cannot honestly say that astrology would clearly improve the lives of its practitioners. I cannot say that it would have improved my own life or relationships since 2004 when I started my studies with it again after 10 yearsí pause.

Iím an Orthodox Christian by heritage, and religion has become more and more important for me since last autumn. The scientific approach to astrology would have been the only way for me to reconcile astrology with my religion. Now it has started to emerge that perhaps the scientific approach simply doesnít work. Astrology is not science, and it does not seem to give measurable, repeatable results, no matter how many ancient techniques we unearth.

So the only option left seems to be this theosophical-oriented humanistic approach where I should consult planets as spiritual guides, and because of my faith thatís simply impossible. Iím probably making here a kind of testament and thatís not easy, many of you know how addictive astrology can be! For some time I've strongly felt that I don't want to be an adherent of astrology any more.

Kirk, you probably approach these things from a different angle, but nevertheless the questions youíre posing are necessary and worthwhile. People need pondering more of the philosophical side of astrology and its practice.
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Olivia



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Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, a lot of astrologers have been - Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. I know that some branches of Christianity today frown on astrology (mostly because free will is paramount in Christianity), but if it helps any, one of the Jewish creation myths (and I do mean sacred myth here) goes that once upon a time, long long ago, God had a hand in human affairs. But now it's time to grow up, so it's to us to work it out. This is the meaning of one of the most important statements in the Torah: The Torah (the guidance and lessons we need from God) is not in heaven. It isn't - it's here, it's ours. But not being completely without compassion, God did leave the planets to help show us what's happening - to us, and to the world. If we are able to understand.

I always liked that. But Judaism has no dogma concerning salvation, damnation, or afterlives of any kind - you can posit an afterlife, or reincarnation if you like, but don't spend too much time on it - there's no proof (and quite a lot of our holy books say this life is it) and our work is here, thoughts of afterlives can be distracting.

But there's no reason not to use the planets as guides. That isn't the same as taking them to be gods. Just a reminder that there is a God.

I don't know how much of that is compatible with Christianity, but there is also a lengthy (and very legitimate) rabbinical tradition of interpreting the bible astrologically.
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Frank



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Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there is a Middle Way between the scientific approach and the spiritual approach - the practical approach.

I do not pretend to know what the actual mechanism of astrology is Ė just as I donít know the details of how my wristwatch works. I just know that both tell me the proper time for things. Both give information helpful for day-to-day life.

I donít see astrology as a spiritual pursuit either Ė anymore than I would consider using a computer as a spiritual pursuit.

I donít have to know all the science behind my refrigerator, nor do I have to pray to it Ė it keeps my food cold regardless.

Iíll continue to do astrology research Ė both statistical and historical Ė because it intrigues me, satisfies my inquisitive nature, and makes me a better astrologer.

Iíll continue to practice astrology because I see real benefit for my clients, friends, family and myself by knowing what ďtimeĒ it is. But the satisfaction I feel from performing well is not spiritual Ė and certainly not religious Ė in nature. Nor is astrology just in the numbers Ė the interpretive art engages both the left and right brain.

Astrology to me is simply a tool. It can be used wisely without either completely quantifying it or worshipping it.
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mattG



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Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whilst I have returned to the church I was christened in I do not feel obliged to question my belief in astrology. The relation between Church and astrology has been problematical in the past. Augustine questioned the value of natal astrology and some forms of divination were banned but astrology was practised during medieval times.

After reading Olivia's post I think I know why I have this attitude. I do not know much about Judaism but I did look at Qabalistic literature a while back.I did not follow it deeply.Either the books were bad or I lacked the Chockmah you need to get anything out of them but reflecting on it now it must have given me the idea of a living divine heaven that man can be part of. It also reminded me of one of the first bible stories they taught us at school. The dream of the angels ascending and descending from heaven.

On the question of happiness I had a similar question. I knew many people who were into Magic and were doing spells for a new job, money or love.Those who did not practise magic had all these things in abundance. I also heard a philosopher admitting that while his subject dealt with human happiness many philosophers were themselves unhappy.

I think astrology works on different levels like the four qabalistic worlds and has different purposes. I once went for a tarot reading and came away thinking that the reader had not said anything psychic but I was pleased simply to have talked about things I could not I could not talk about with friends and relatives.

Matthew
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Ed F



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Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think, as Frank pointed out with his message, that there are too few categories in the first post.

I largely agree with Frank that astrology is a tool. One can then divide that into a number of questions as to what kind of tool and what is its applicability. Personally, I view it as a "mathematics" supporting analogical reasoning. Cornelius sees it as an act of divination. There are many other views.

The practice of astrology is largely at the "craft" stage, and however you happen to break it down, astrology is largely inseparable from its practice - a real clue that it is a tool.

- Ed
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Bill



Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:49 pm    Post subject: The purpose of astrology? Reply with quote

Ed F wrote:
... however you happen to break it down, astrology is largely inseparable from its practice - a real clue that it is a tool.

- Ed


Hi Ed,
In effect, I agree with you and Frank - astrological processes are best considered in terms of the application of a tool (or set of tools).

Some initial questions then come to mind, to which I have proposed some answers mainly to provoke discussion, though they do loosely represent my own thoughts on the matter at this stage:

Q1 - What is the tool for? (the original question in the thread)

At its most fundamental, to bring into view and work with patterns and rhythms associated with the qualitative and subjective experience of change and events.

In this respect, astrology has what I imagine is the same root motivation underlying science - the alleviation of existential anxiety associated with the evolution of the capacity for self-reflection, memory and anticipatory awareness through accumulating a body of stored knowledge about nature's processes and structures.

Pre-conceptual experience includes both a temporal sensibility and the recognition of uniform recurrent events which give an ordered structure to that sensibility. This provides the foundation for a more detailed exploration of order and rhythm in life, whether in quantitative or qualitative, physical or non-physical terms, the outcome of which emerges in conceptual form.

Myth, magical thinking and religion arose too. These are partially explanatory in nature, but also attempt to get to grips with unfathomable topics such as where we come from, what happens after we die, and so on. Religions, in particular the monotheistic ones, have an overt redemptive function in this regard, something which is very covert in modern science and western astrology, but there nevertheless.

All would seem to have been closely inter-related at one stage, in the sense that they all had their place in a shared cosmological model. Once that broke, what one might loosely see as three interconnected conceptual systems became clearly differentiated. The outcome has been three different modes of understanding.

Q2 - To what material can one apply the tool?
Any facet of subjectively experienced reality which does not involve trying to answer the question 'how?'.

Q3 - What does the use of the tool produce?
A descriptive narrative or story whose structure and content re-presents a contextual reality in terms of a particular (astrological) conceptual system. This re-presentation allows one to 'see' the context from a selectively filtered perspective.

The generation of the conceptual system has been motivated by purpose, and formalised in ways that reflect the physiological and biological nature of environmentally-grounded human beings, coupled with the impact of, and response to cultural evolutionary pressures.

The understanding or truths which emerge are structured by the conceptual system and its constituent concepts.

Astrological truths are 'contained' within the conceptual system which generates them. Their functional value is related to the extent to which they contribute to fulfilling the conceptual system's motivated purpose.

The fact that astrological truths are untrue when considered in terms of alternative conceptual systems has no bearing on their utility. Alternative conceptual systems generate truths and understanding which are structured by their own constituent concepts, and similarly can be assessed in terms of functional value in relation to the fulfillment of purpose.

Q4 - What does the use of the tool involve?
Firstly, an understanding of the material to which the tool is being applied.

Secondly, an understanding of the tool's limits.

Thirdly an intentional and focused cognitive engagement with the formal elements which have evolved in the conceptual system being used.

Fourthly, a mapping of these formal elements onto the context, the result of which generates a filtered re-presentation in which aspects of the context are 'foregrounded' against the background noise.

This is what the astrologer 'sees' - an ordered or patterned extraction from the relatively undifferentiated context. The pattern is an astrological one. It is meaningful insofar as it rooted in the context. The formal elements themselves have no intrinsic specific meaning until they are mapped onto the context by the astrologer. The specific meaning emerges in the mind of the astrologer working on the chosen contextual material.

How can the use of this tool generate useful information about a context, allowing one to see more than is evident from using reason or applying common sense?

I don't know. But my strong feeling is that the answer will not emerge from looking to the heavens. By analogy, this would be the equivalent of attempting to understand how an artist can create a powerful portrait painting by analysing the ores from which pigments are made.

If astrology cannot be separated from its practice, the goal of understanding the nature of astrology has to take into account what is happening when an astrologer engages with a horoscope. Not to mention trying to understand the conceptual derivation of the horoscope, what it actually re-presents (it's surely not the heavens), and how it can act as a material anchor for the cognitive work astrology entails.

All the best,

Bill
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Ed F



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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill,

As usual we see the subject very similarly. Can't disagree with a thing you said. I guess Juan is on the same page too.

Cheers,

- Ed
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###



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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This has been a frustrating one. Where to begin? Fortunately, some nice people helped me with that. Very Happy


Astrology as a tool? Tools are picked up, used and put away. Tools serve to help the person in control of them. The focus is on the astrologer and his or her desires and intentions. In reference to the horoscopic chart this sounds more like a 2nd house matter Ė resources used by the chart native or querent as represented by the Ascendant, the person in charge. The 2nd house is trine the 10th. To me this view diminishes astrology as merely something we use to get what we want. Rather than being a something I think astrology is more of a somehow Ė a path toward a goal rather than a tool.

Astrology itself tells us what it is and what it's for. Astrology has for centuries been located above the horizon, elevated in the 9th house. Early in the game it was placed in the house of philosophy, dreams, religion, and divination. These are activities where we can easily imagine the human spirit as elevated and soaring. Just as the Sun in its diurnal motion rises through the hopes and wishes of the 11th house, achieves success and honor in the 10th house and then crosses over into another quadrant to reach its joy in the 9th house, so can we visually experience the easy flow of the trine aspect as our eyes rise from the Ascendant's beginning, cross over the Midheaven into new territory, resting, if only momentarily, in the 9th house. We have risen, crossed into another quadrant, and found the house of Theos, Deus, God through the "perfect friendship" of the trine. Is astrology's 9th house home a mere toolbox? Another centuries-old 9th house signification is 'foreign lands' and 'foreign travel'. Places that we cross over to. Places where we are outsiders, where we must adapt. Astrology as leaving the familiar habits of home. That's a far cry from today's flashy astrological marketplace.

So that 'somehow' is a method for stretching us and moving us to a larger place. It is a practice meant to expand us and our view as we leave something behind Ė something of ourselves.
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yuzuru



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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Bill

I want to say that I liked your post. It was refreshing to see a well thought post in the Philosophy and Science section, which is usually filled by pretensious, confusing, and contentious threads.

From the people who write about how quantum mechanics "explains" astrology to the ones who want to "teach us epistemology", it is rare to see someone giving the trouble to raise the bar in this section.

One of problems is that people here are always saying things about astrology "in general" as if there is such a thing. Other is because discussions usually lack a shared paradigm and starts to shoot in every direction, which leads to a monologue of several people at the same time.
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Bill



Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:05 pm    Post subject: Does astrology have a purpose? Reply with quote

Quote:
Astrology as a tool? Tools are picked up, used and put away. Tools serve to help the person in control of them. The focus is on the astrologer and his or her desires and intentions. ... To me this view diminishes astrology as merely something we use to get what we want. Rather than being a something I think astrology is more of a somehow Ė a path toward a goal rather than a tool.


Hi Kirk,
I think using astrology as a 'tool' to reveal a story, and seeing astrology as a 'path towards a goal' are two different metaphors one can use to conceptualise the process.

Personally I don't see astrology as something I use to get what I want. Apart from anything else, I'm usually using it in relation to the context of another person's life. Whatever, anyone who uses a path to reach a goal is acting on the desire and intention of reaching that goal. It's also an expression of wanting something - to get to a certain place.

I'm not quite sure what the difference is in real terms whether one thinks of astrology as a tool one can to achieve a goal or as a path one can follow to reach a goal. Either way one is involved in a process, which is typically to hopefully illuminate aspects of another person's character and life experience in a useful way using a system of symbols and techniques.

Quote:
Is astrology's 9th house home a mere toolbox?


Are philosophies conceptual systems? Are they created by human beings? Do they have a use? Are they used for a particular purpose by a user? If so, I don't see any problem with metaphorically conceptualising them as tools, and placing them in a metaphorical toolbox which also includes astrology, religion, mathematics, and so on.

Because these can be used to reach a greater level of understanding as part of a journey along the path to enlightenment, they would seem to have a value as tools suited to that helping achieve that goal.

My approach to attempting to understand the nature of astrology is heavily influenced by the fact that I don't believe it or its truths are the product of divinely revealed wisdom laid down in sacred texts, or that astrology is an objective, mind-independent feature embedded in external reality. For me it is neither an aspect of religion nor objective science. I think she wears completely human clothing. Humans have constructed a lot of tools to help them achieve various purposes, some physical and some conceptual. I see astrology as one of them.

All the best,

Bill
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###



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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't raise any bars. I just drink in them.


Hello Bill,

Quote:
Are philosophies conceptual systems? Are they created by human beings? Do they have a use? Are they used for a particular purpose by a user? If so, I don't see any problem with metaphorically conceptualising them as tools, and placing them in a metaphorical toolbox which also includes astrology, religion, mathematics, and so on.


Good questions: ďAre philosophies conceptual systems?Ē ďAre they created by human beings?Ē There's no clear indication that that's all they are. They could well be the creation of a larger consciousness. Maybe they exist beyond the human level and we are able to tune into them somewhat. We might only be visitors. But we can't know with logical certainty. However, if we assume that they are humanly-created systems then we can feel comfortable calling them our tools. Yet, if we confidently tell ourselves that that's all they are, then maybe we're in danger of missing out on something. Worse, maybe we're misusing our knowledge.


Quote:
I'm not quite sure what the difference is in real terms whether one thinks of astrology as a tool one can to achieve a goal or as a path one can follow to reach a goal.


Think of the difference as conveyed by a devout priest or nun acting within the Catholic Church in his or her goal to serve humanity and God. I think many of us, especially those who belong to a church, will feel uneasy describing the Church as the priest's or nun's tool. I think it's highly likely the priest or nun will find the use of 'tool' offensive by perceiving Ė whether consciously or not Ė that such terminology takes the focus away from their service to fellow human beings and God, and places the emphasis on himself or herself. We use and have control of a tool, but we follow a path and are led by it to a destination. We direct tools. Paths direct us. I think we should try considering astrology as a path. It might even tend to decrease the importance of the great technique debates. But perhaps I dream. Sad
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yuzuru



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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't raise any bars. I just drink in them.


some people make this their carreer option Lala Happy
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Bill



Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think we should try considering astrology as a path.


Hi Kirk,
Briefly (am preparing some material for a workshop tomorrow), I am more inclined to see astrology as an aid to navigating the path.

Bill
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Papretis



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Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all,

Iím happy to see so many well-thought responses in this thread. There are a couple of things that I would like to comment.

Bill wrote:
In this respect, astrology has what I imagine is the same root motivation underlying science - the alleviation of existential anxiety associated with the evolution of the capacity for self-reflection, memory and anticipatory awareness through accumulating a body of stored knowledge about nature's processes and structures.

But the big question from the scientific point of view is: how do we know that astrology really brings us accurate body of knowledge about natureís processes and structures? If astrology is a tool, is it an effective tool? Does the information it gives us really correspond with natureís processes and structures? Scientific study has so far revealed that no, it doesnít. From the point of view of established science, astrology tells us nothing that would correspond with tangible, observable reality.

On the other hand we can say (and this is what youíre saying Bill, if Iíve understood correctly), that astrology is a tool for structuring the information and experiences we get, and in that regard itís like any philosophical system of ideas. The problem with this view is that philosophy doesnít contain any premises or limitations given by external reality. A philosopher can create an intellectual structure that follows its own internal laws but is not dependent on any preceding course of regulations Ė unlike astrology where the positions of the planets do give us a preceding course of regulations.

Itís the same problem than with the idea of astrology as a language. If astrology is a language, whoís communicating what to whom? If I used astrology as a mere language, I could communicate something about myself by saying for example that ďI have Mars in Pisces, that describes me wellĒ (regardless of the real position of Mars when I was born), and you would understand what I mean. But again we have a preceding course of regulations given by us from external reality: my Mars was not in tropical Pisces when I was born but in Aries. Itís not me communicating something to you, but the universe communicating something for both of us, and so we enter neatly into the spiritual view of astrology as divination of the will of God / gods.

In fact Kirk answered my question when he wrote:

Quote:
Astrology itself tells us what it is and what it's for. Astrology has for centuries been located above the horizon, elevated in the 9th house. Early in the game it was placed in the house of philosophy, dreams, religion, and divination.

Indeed. Astrology itself tells us that itís religion, not science. Science belongs to the opposite house, the 3rd, where the Moon (=body, mundane things, past --> studying the past --> observing what has happened --> science) has its joy. The Sun has its joy in the 9th house, the house of God, where people study what will be, what is the will of God.
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Eddy



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Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Papretis wrote:
Does the information it gives us really correspond with natureís processes and structures? Scientific study has so far revealed that no, it doesnít. From the point of view of established science, astrology tells us nothing that would correspond with tangible, observable reality.
Hi Papretis,
There is however some scientific evidence. The studies of Gauquelin were done in a scientific set-up. He used statistical studies of relationships between planets and professions like Saturn and doctors, http://www.tig12.net/spip/Michel-et-Francoise-Gauquelin.html (the page is in French but it shows a graph derived from statistical study. He also found a relationship between Mars and sports(wo)men. Gauquelin was disputed by sceptics but later studies proved that there is some effect, http://www.astrozero.co.uk/astroscience/koll1ge.pdf (in English, by Nick Kollerstrom).

How the planets as bodies physically can affect us isn't (yet) discovered by science. The known forces in physics like gravity, electromagnetism are said to be too weak to have any possible effect on human beings or nature. This is a field yet to be explored.


Last edited by Eddy on Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
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