Do you know your sign is wrong? That the stars were used to dialogue with the gods? How were horoscopes born? A short story of a living “science”.
It was by looking at the sky that the Babylonian priests invented astrology, around 5000 years ago. It was to converse with the gods, but also to divide time into years, months, weeks, seasons, and to predict climatic phenomena, that they observed the stars. We owe them the first calendars. Reading the messages from the stars therefore served as much to determine the best time to sow seed as to know whether to go to war with the neighboring country. The first astrological tablets date from IIe millennium before J. – C. Advisors of the kings, the astrologers were powerful men, supposed able to move away the famines, the epidemics by sacrifices of animals adapted to each situation.
The first astral charts – the first horoscopes – established from the twelve signs of the zodiac, appeared in Chaldea, somewhere between the Tigris and the Euphrates, around Ve century BC After the Babylonians, it was the Egyptians, the Indians, the Greeks, the Romans, then the Arabs who undertook to study the language of the stars.
Where do horoscopes come from?
Claudius Ptolemy (c. 100-170), astrologer and astronomer of Alexandria, is credited with the first modern astrological (and astronomical) system. The separation between astrology and astronomy will not occur until the XVIIe century. Distinguishing them is easy: astronomy describes the sky and the planets, astrology draws interpretations and predictions from them. Under the Roman Empire, heaven, which was only addressed to kings, descends to earth: it becomes more democratic, begins to speak to ordinary mortals. But ancient men, unlike us, did not know their birth sign. They obtained lucky stones representing the signs of the zodiac, but did not question the stars to know their destiny. This practice did not begin to spread until the Renaissance, when the idea of an individual destiny crept into people’s minds. In fact, it was post-war women’s magazines and, above all, the creation in 1968 of Astroflash and the computerized decoding of the birth chart, which popularized personal horoscopes and their regular reading.
Read also : Why we love to read our horoscope
Astrology has also been used over the centuries for long-term global predictions. The most famous are the “Prophecies” of Nostradamus (1503-1566), who predicted that an age of terror would descend on France under the reign of a king named François. A great “spook” from the sky would then sow chaos: he found commentators to ensure that he was talking about the fall of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.
Your sign is wrong
When Ptolemy established the astrological system, the sun peaked at the beginning of the year in the constellation of Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. Only, the star of light shifts by one constellation every 2160 years: a phenomenon called “the precession of the equinoxes”. This means that today there is almost a month of difference between our astrological sign and planetary realities. Consequently, our sign is not the correct one! And we all belong to the one before ours. Thus, a person born on March 10, and who imagines himself to be Pisces, must realize that he is Aquarius.
Moreover, the astrologer’s chart of the sky is inaccurate. There are indeed thirteen constellations and thirteen signs – and not twelve. They evade the Serpentarius, a sign located in the sky between Scorpio and Sagittarius, and through which the sun transits from November 29 to December 18. This omission is only due to a concern for simplicity: to obtain a coherent chart of the sky, it is easier to divide by twelve than by thirteen. Moreover, astrologers claim to remedy this drawback by ingenious calculations, using “ephemeris tables”, which allow them to measure planetary movements.
Just as it has survived the attacks of the Christian Church, which considers it a heresy alienating from God, astrology has resisted the blows dealt by scientific rationalism. When hundreds of studies try to prove its lack of foundation, there is always one that validates its use. Thus, Michel and Françoise Gauquelin, statisticians, who were scientific directors of the magazine Psychologies in the 1970s, tried various experiments to prove the links between personality, profession and astrological signs.
In one of them, they had identified 3,000 soldiers and found that they were born at the time when Mars, which owes its name to the Roman god of war, culminates. In another, they had noticed that very many scientists had a birth chart dominated by Saturn, a planet supposed to be linked to reflection. Those who, at first, were anti-astrology have become followers.
In the 1990s, a very serious study conducted by researchers at the University of San Diego, California, published by the British medical journal The Lancet, showed that the Asian community in San Francisco was really predisposed to pathologies linked to each sign , according to Chinese astrology. Thus, individuals born in a year marked by the “earth” element, which predisposes to cancers and tumours, succumbed to these pathologies and had a life expectancy – relatively – in line with the statements of their horoscope.
On the other hand, the white population completely escaped the medical predictions of Chinese astrology. The Lancet had welcomed these results as a confirmation of the psychosomatic dimension of any disease, noting that the situation of exile, of remoteness from the native country, pushes to cling to one’s culture of origin. A way of attesting that astrology constitutes a symbolic system which influences us, as ideas, thoughts, words influence us.