ASTROLOGY

, the art of foretelling future events, from the positions, aspects, and influences of the heavenly bodies.

The word is compounded of ashr, star, and logos, discourse; whence, in the literal sense of the term, Astrology should signify no more than the doctrine or science of the stars; which indeed was its original acceptation, and constituted the ancient Astrology; which consisted formerly of both the branches now called Astronomy and Astrology, under the name of the latter only; and for the sake of making judiciary predictions it was that astronomical observations, properly so called, were chiefly made by the ancients. And though the two branches be now perfectly separated, and that of Astrology almost universally rejected by men of real learning, this has but lately been the case, as their union subsisted, in some degree, from Ptolemy till Kepler, who had a strong bias towards the ancient astrology.

Astrology may be divided into two branches, natural and judiciary.

To Natural Astrology belongs the predicting of natural effects; such as the changes of weather, winds, storms, hurricanes, thunder, floods, earthquakes, &c. But this art properly belongs to Physiology, or Natural Philosophy; and is only to be deduced, à posteriori, from phenomena and observations. And for this sort of Astrology it is that Mr. Boyle makes an apology in his History of the Air. Its foundation and merits may be gathered from what is said under the articles Air, ATMOSPHERE, and Weather.

Judicial or Judiciary Astrology, which is what is commonly and properly called Astrology, is that which professes to foretel moral events, or such as have a dependence on the free will and agency of man; as if they were produced or directed by the stars.

The professors of this kind of Astrology maintain, “That the heavens are one great volume or book, wherein God has written the history of the world; and in which every man may read his own fortune, and the transactions of his time. The art, say they, had its rise from the same hands as Astronomy itself: while the ancient Assyrians, whose serene unclouded sky favoured their celestial observations, were intent on tracing the paths and periods of the heavenly bodies, they discovered a constant, settled relation of analogy, between them and things below; and hence were led to conclude these to be the Parcæ, the Destinies so much talked of, which preside at our births, and dispose of our future fate.”

“The laws therefore of this relation being ascertained by a series of observations, and the share each planet has therein; by knowing the precise time of any person's nativity, they were enabled, from their knowledge in astronomy, to erect a scheme or horoscope of the situation of the planets, at that point of time; and hence, by considering their degrees of power and influence, and how each was either strengthened or tempered by some other, to compute what must be the result thereof.”

Judicial Astrology, it is commonly said, was invented in Chaldæa, and from thence transmitted to the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; though some insist that it was of Egyptian origin, and ascribe the invention to Cham. But it is to the Arabs that we owe it. At Rome the people were so infatuated with it, that the astrologers, or, as they were then called, the mathematicians, maintained their ground in spite of all the edicts of the emperors to expel them out of the city. See Genethliaci.

Among the Indians, the Bramins, who introduced and practised this art in the East, have hereby made themselves the arbiters of good and evil hours, which, gives them great authority: they are consulted as oracles; and they have taken care always to sell their answers at good rates.

The same superstition has prevailed in more modern ages and nations. The French historians remark, that in the time of queen Catharine de Medicis, Astrology was so much in vogue, that the most inconsiderable thing was not to be done without consulting the stars. And in the reigns of king Henry III. and IV. of France, the | predictions of Astrologers were the common theme of the court conversation. And this predominant humour in that court was well rallied by Barclay, in his Argenis, lib. 2, on occasion of an Astrologer, who had undertaken to instruct king Henry in the event of a war which was then threatened by the faction of the Guises.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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ASTRODICTICUM
ASTROGNOSIA
ASTROLABE
ASTROLOGER
ASTROLOGICAL
* ASTROLOGY
ASTROMETEOROLOGIA
ASTRONOMICAL
ASTRONOMICALS
ASTRONOMY
ASTROSCOPE