Last Updated 04 Jul 2021

What Astrology Is and What It Is Not

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In the words of Joseph Crane , “Astrology’s purpose is to use the positions of the planets and stars in the sky to gather information on humanity. Astrology is a system that enables us to understand the past, present and the future within a universe”. The word astrology has been derived from the Greek word Astrologia. Astron means ‘constellation or star’ and logia refers to the ‘study of’. Astrology is an exhaustive research of the planets, stars and other celestial phenomena that engulfs us. Hence astronomy primarily revolves around the interpretation of stars and the identification of messages conveyed by the stars.

According to H. P. Blavatsky, “Astrology is to exact astronomy, what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter and enter into the domain of transcendent spirit”. A distinction made between Astrology and Astronomy is that Astronomy is the exploration of the heliocentric view and observing the expanding universe. On the contrary, Astrology is understands the holistic and symbolic significance of the planets and stars

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A Horoscope is a birth chart which contains symbols that astrologers use to discover the influence of cosmic events on personality of a person, and relationships; these symbols are also used to predict the future. Astrology interprets the position of stars as a symbol and develops a deeper understanding of what takes place on earth.

Astrology in ancient history

The inception of Astrology is evident in drawings of cavemen, which were later explained by the Mesopotamians and Greeks, along with some Egyptian influences. The planets and stars were looked upon as ‘omens’ portraying the ‘will of gods’. Astrology was also the origin of many vital derivations which were further developed between 2000 BCE and the fifth century BCE.

Earlier, cave drawings depicted maps of the celestial sky which have been concrete evidence to pre-historic astrology derivations. Later, Mesopotamians (which includes the Babylonian civilization), created complicated graphical Astrological charts in which they religiously believed stars symbolized ‘the Divine’. Furthermore, Greeks developed geometric and kinetic models which helped understand Astrology and horoscopes. Later, in the middle of the Renaissance period, Astrology rose again wherein astrologists were considered the smartest intellectualists, which includes Nicholas Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei .

The 12 Zodiac signs

Ever since the prosperity of Astrology, there are traditionally defined to be 12 signs of the zodiac which are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces; and these are used to make predictions of individuals for the future. A quintessential aspect of understanding astrology is the mechanisms of cosmic objects.

Based on ones date of birth and the alignment of the constellations with the sun at that period is used to decide which one of the twelve star zodiac signs an individual belongs to. The underlying foundation of Astrological study is the notion that planet and zodiac placements can help determine certain characteristics and personality traits to make predictions for the future.

The birth chart, an important tool in astrology, is divided into twelve sections, referred as houses, where each represents one part of the zodiac with its house to contain a different meaning. Astrologers conclude that the movement of different planets into these houses influences human life on Earth and the future shifts of planets into a house will determine what will happen to and individual in the future.

Ophiuchus - the 13th constellation

For many year that astrologers have studied astrology and made future predictions, their predictions were based on the well-known 12 astronomical signs (zodiac) which represent the 12 constellations on the Earth’s ecliptic. However, due to the Earth’s precession[1] over thousands of years, it has shifted on over its axis and has also led to a shift in the constellations that lie on the Earth’s ecliptic. Although for astrological ease 12 zodiac signs are used for predictions, this is considered incorrect in astronomical study.

Numerous astronomers before had suggested the existence of a 13th consellation, Ophiuchus. This 13th constellation being found on the Earth’s ecliptic was only considered until recent hype created by hype astronomers in the west. These astronomers had denounce astrologers of practicing a doubtful art while they hadn’t even got the stars right.

The inclusion of the Ophiuchus has brought in a state of confusion to the astrological field, which has caused a shift in their time allocation. Ophiuchus is the only constellation based on a real person – a snake charmer. The Ehyptions interpret this person to be Imhotep while similar traits are found in the biblical disciple Joseph. The interpretation that Astrologers provide for this 13th zodiac sign is that those born when the sun is aligned towards Ophiuchus are believed to be healers and have a wise, rather intellectual temperament.


Astrologers have endowed us with a deep understanding of the different cosmic events and its influence on our daily lives. With the initial purpose of seeking the importance of the astrological events, astrologers have massively contributed to field of Astronomy as well. The discovery of the 12 constellations has been vital to the understanding of personality traits and relationships and in making predictions of the future.

Until recent hype, a 13th constellation has been an addition to the family of 12 constellations- Ophiuchus. Although the existence of a 13th constellation had been suggested by numerous astronomers before, this discovery came as a surprise to the general public, as astronomers casted doubts on the field of Astrology.

Astrology has been highly regarded for the future prediction it makes through the interpretation of astrological event. This particular aspect has enticed the general public to follow on weekly horoscopes and know about the future. In the wise words of William Shakespeare “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves; we are underlings.


Gurshtein, A. A. (1997). The origins of the constellations. American Scientist, 85(3), 264-273.

Bates, D. (2011, January 15). Horoscope change 2011: Sidereal astrology reveals 13th sign Ophiucus. Retrieved on April 14,2011 from Daily Mail online .

Lewis, C.J., (2010, July 3). How Does Astrology WorkAn Introduction to Birth-Chart Interpretation. Retrieved on April 16, 2011 from

Lewis, J. R. (2003). The Astrology Book: the encyclopedia of heavenly influences. Michigan: Visible Ink Press.

Willis, R. G. & Curry, P. (2004). Astrology, Science and Culture: pulling down the moon. New York: Berg.

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