Astrology and Culture

Astrology and Culture

Until the 17th century, astrology was an integral part of Western culture. In India, it still is. You will find references to astrological symbolism in literature, art, music and other cultural expressions. In several of his plays, Shakespeare used astrological descriptions as a short-hand description of the personality and attitudes of his characters. The artists of the Renaissance used astrological symbolism in their paintings, sculptures and in the stained glass windows of churches. We still refer to people as firey, airy, and earthy. It is interesting that wetness has not retained a similar adjectival role. And even though astrology is decried in public on a regular basis, nearly all newspapers and magazines still have the horoscope column and polls continue to show that 25% - 30% of people believe astrology can work.

A fabulous moment in history -- Earthlings have gone to Pluto!

For the first time ever, after a journey of more than 3 billion miles and 9 years, a human-made spacecraft buzzed by Pluto within just 7,800 miles of the surface on July 14, 2015.

And we all know astrologers LOVE Pluto! (Or are just too intimidated to say otherwise.) In any case, we at least love to talk about him. So, to celebrate this historic event, Kepler College hosted its own Pluto Flyby Party on July 14.

If you missed the live event, view the recording!

The author of The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, employs the astrological zodiacal wheel in his work and refers to the zodiac as "the twelve-toothed cogwheel" (Purgatorio, Canto IV, v. 64). Dante mentions that his realization of having strayed from the true way came in his thirty-fifth year as "the sun was climbing Aries" (Inferno, Canto I, vv. 37-39).

If you believe psychology is a merely a modern invention of a narcissistic age, you haven’t been paying attention.

While the “scientific” study of psychology in a laboratory may be a relatively modern notion, (re)invented by researchers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the study of the mind has ancient roots in all human cultures.  The Hellenistic world that gave rise to astrology (in the form we know and love) is no exception. In fact, many of the concepts we think of as part of the modern study of psychology have deep roots in the Hellenistic world.

We will start discussing this topic by going back to the roots of Jyotisha-not in the Jyotisha texts themselves, but In related thought and other important texts.

Vedic Astrology, or Jyotisha is considered one of the Vedangas or "limbs" of the Vedas.  As a matter of fact, it is considered the "eye" of the Vedas. The legends of the Vedas do represent the chief gods of the Vedas as being omniscient beings, such as Varuna, the lord of dharma who encompasses the night sky and who judges everyone's actions, and Indra (who succeeds Varuna as chief deity) as having a 1,000 eyes:

Under the cover of a standard medieval romance, Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale is a grim and astrologically-rich contemplation of human passion, fortune, and destiny. This article ponders the purposes of the Knight’s Tale’s uses of astrology and astrological symbolism in the context of these larger issues. Why do gods and humans take on qualities of astrology’s planets? Why is so much timing for the action according to planetary hours and days? Of particular note is the poet’s presentation of “Duc” Theseus and his planetary symbolism. These issues also allow us to understand better the tie between the Tale and its narrator.

Over the past few decades, “chaos theory” and “complexity theory” have emerged as new scientific models for understanding chaotic and/or complex systems. Chaos theory has grown out of physics and mathematics. Complexity theory has developed mainly from studying biological and human systems. These theories share a natural alignment with the spirit and practice of astrology, more so than other attempts to use astrology with the concepts of modern science. The current configuration of Uranus and Pluto makes this an auspicious time to discuss chaos and complexity theory with astrologers.

By outward appearances, Neo lived an unremarkable life. He slept, ate, went to work. Yet a nagging feeling something was not as it appeared persisted. His search led him to take the red pill, and wake up to a more-real reality he never before imagined.

Nice plot for the sci-fi hit movie The Matrix. But screenwriting siblings the Wachowskis consciously tipped their hats to the philosophy of the ancient Greeks. The admonition to "Wake Up!" has a long history in Western culture.

Science Fiction explores possibilities of the past, present and future. So does astrology! Astrologers are often ardent science fiction fans and what better piece of science fiction to consider than Star Trek?

Of course, trying to work with the astrology of science fiction characters poses some interesting challenges to astrology, for example:

• First you have to deal with a larger question: What happens to astrology if humans colonize space?
• And, of course, does astrology even make sense for fictional characters and stories?
• Another consideration is whether or not our science fiction tales reflect an astrological zeitgeist?