Astrology Explained: History and Common Types of Astrology

In 2009, Harris Interactive polled more than 2,300 adults and found that 26 believed in astrology. An estimated 53 percent of people who read a newspaper or magazine with an astrology department will read their horoscope and maybe the horoscope of a significant other. Fundamentally, when you talk about astrology and horoscopes, you are referring to a set of beliefs in which a persons birth date combined with the movement and position of the sun, moon, planets and stars on that date can predict and explain character traits and matters of destiny. There are three main types of astrology commonly practiced today including Chinese, Vedic and Western astrology. There are also multiple ancient astrological theories and beliefs that have died off with the civilizations that invented them.

Chinese Astrology
Chinese astrology, which can be traced back to the 2nd century BC Han Dynasty, combines two theories of thought Chinese philosophy and astronomy. Chinese philosophy arises from the idea of harmony between the earth, the heavens and water and astronomy is the study of stars and constellations. Believers in Chinese astrology posit that a persons fate can be determined by the alignment of planets and their relationship to the sun, moon and other celestial bodies at the time of his or her birth. Based on this theory, each individual is assigned a zodiac animal that rotates on a 12-year cycle.

Vedic Astrology
Vedic astrology is a relatively new name for an ancient philosophy, also known as Hindu or Indian astrology, documented in early sacred Indian scriptures. Vedic astrology is based on light patterns believed to predict an individuals fate. Unlike western astrology, Vedic beliefs suggest that karma and luck are predetermined based on celestial formations. In Vedic astrology, a persons natal chart maps his or her exact moment of birth by the alignment of planets, which is represented by signs of the zodiac. A reading of an individuals chart can reveal personality and life events.

Western Astrology
Western astrology, which can be traced back to before the 2nd century AD, is partially based on a four part book by astrologer Claudius Ptolemy titled Ptolemys Tetrabiblos. For the most part, western astrology is a type of fortune telling or interpretation of a persons life. A horoscope, which means, to mark the hour in Greek, refers to a personalized chart that represents the position of the sun, moon and planets at the moment of an individuals birth. Most horoscope readings found in American newspapers are based on western astrology.

The zodiac, which is divided into 12 constellations, provides insight into a persons daily life and unique talents. To construct a western astrological horoscope, a reader converts an individuals time of birth into universal time and calculates the exact location of the sun, moon and planets. The astrologer then does a number of different calculations to determine the placement of the planets with respect to the horizon and can determine the houses in a persons birth chart. The first house of an individuals horoscope represents identity, appearance, well being, attitude and temperament, health and physical traits. What is described here, however, is a far deeper process than the average horoscope for today found in newspapers and internet horoscope sites. What most people know about astrology is their sign, which refers to one of 12 different arrangements of stars, the sun and moon on the zodiac. To determine a persons sign, you simply need a birthday. This form of astrology is the most simplistic and feeds in to the notion that astrology is for entertainment and amusement.


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