What is astrology?
Astrology is an attempt to explain earthly matters according to the way in which celestial objects relate to one another and the Earth. It has been around for approximately 4,000 years, and its development coincided with the first time people started to study the stars. However, it is a common error to conflate astronomy, the scientific study of the heavens, with astrology which is another pursuit altogether. The practice has often been used to try and explain earthly phenomena according to the position of planets and various constellations of stars in the sky. Often – although not exclusively – the alignment of such celestial bodies is associated with dramatic events or even calamities. It is also commonly used to come up with horoscopes, often connected to the make up of the heavens at the point of someone's birth.
Where did astrology come from?
The ancient Mesopotamians were among the first cultures to document their interest in astrology. However, it was also to be found in ancient China as well as being widely practised in India, too, notably among Hindu communities. The Mesopotamian version of astrology began to spread throughout the Mediterranean world, notably taking root in Greek and Roman cultures. It was also something that became a mainstay of Arab culture. The practices of astrologers continued in mediaeval times but started to fall out of favour in mainstream circles during the period known as the Enlightenment.
Can astrology predict the future?
Although many people believe in the power of astrologers to predict or divine the future, there is not much evidence to back this up. However, lots of people continue to use astrology to say something about their lives even if it has little to offer in a predictive sense. Certain zodiacs in Western astrology, for example, are associated with personality types. People who follow the art may well find that they conform to such typologies but whether this is down to human psychology or celestial factors is an open question.
How can astrology help us?
In some cases, people have found that astrology has allowed them to examine their life and behaviours in a removed sense for which they are not directly accountable. This may help you to identify certain damaging habits that you can address, for example. However, for many people, astrological readings and predictions are nothing more than a bit of fun, even for those individuals who have a firm belief in the art.
What does science say about astrology?
In all scientific studies into astrology, it has been found to have little evidential value either to predict future events or to identify personality traits. According to scientists, therefore, it is nothing more than a pseudoscience. That said, many people continue to have faith in its power to explain events and to provide information about human affairs.