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by Gary Brand - written September 5, 2000,
published in the October 2000 edition of Echo* newspaper
Classic photo of Earth taken by the Apollo 17 crew while
traveling toward the Moon Classic photo of Earth taken on December 7, 1972 by the Apollo 17 crew while traveling toward the Moon.  This was the first time an Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph Antarctica.  Courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center/Visible Earth (
 very significant part of history has been suppressed.  You didn't hear or read about it in grade school, high school or even college.  Why not?  Because it is misunderstood, ignored or maligned by academics and scientists.  When skeptical scientists do investigate astrology, like Australian analytical chemist Geoffrey Dean, Ph.D., who also calls himself an astrologer (G.D. (1977)), and British psychologist Hans J. Eysenck, Ph.D. (H.J.E.), they end up intrigued by some of their findings.  Eysenck and Nias (1982) admit the negative bias that most scientists have toward astrology:  "... many of the people in the scientific establishment [of today] would have fitted well into the [Inquisition] panel which condemned Galileo!"  They also state that "it is against this background of undisguised hostility, rather than of receptiveness to new ideas and experiments, that open-minded scientists have had to fight... to defend their right to do research in this field [astrology].  As a result, established scientists have often found it best to say nothing [about astrology], rather than incur derision; only a few have had the courage to admit that 'there might be something in it'" (Id., p. 5).  Eysenck and Nias begin their book with a quote from Herbert Spencer:  "There is no bar to knowledge greater than contempt prior to examination" (Id., p. 1).

In the not-so-distant past, astrology was part and parcel of everyday life in the civilized world as it is to this day in India.  Astrology has developed in all of the higher, more advanced civilizations throughout history.  With such historical depth, it has survived in western cultures for over 2,000 years, despite periods of persecution or disfavor.  A number of Popes like Paul III, Sixtus IV and Julius II studied astrology themselves and Popes Urban IV, Urban VIII and Alexander VI consulted famous astrologers like Gauricus and Johannes Campanus to enhance their papacies.

It is not a precise, hard science like chemistry, physics or math but it is no less a science than psychology or anthropology.  Experienced, professional practitioners of astrology are certainly no less and are often more accurate in predicting individual human behavior than are psychologists or behaviorists.  It is a science partly because it fits the definition in Webster's dictionary: "systematized knowledge derived from observation, study, and experimentation carried on in order to determine the principles of what is being studied" (Webster's).  It is also a complex system, like other sciences, that has developed through more than two millennia of application.  British astronomer Dr. Percy Seymour has written a book titled The Scientific Basis of Astrology (1992) in justification of astrology in which he proposes a theory that our internal clocks are linked to planetary magnetic influences (pp. 264-265).

In ancient Babylonia/Chaldea, astrology was applied to large-scale events like wars, floods and famines and their possible effects on the king, who embodied the state and its well-being.  In Hellenistic Greece, the most civilized culture at that time, no one was held in higher esteem than astrologers.  In this climate, astrology rapidly developed into a codified system based on principles expounded by Empedocles, Plato and Aristotle.  Aristotle said, "... this world is unescapably linked to the motion of the world above.  And all power in this world is ruled by these motions" (J.S., p. 39 (1971)).

After Julius Caesar's assassination but before Caesar Augustus became Emperor, he consulted the astrologer Theogenes because he feared for his life.  The Roman historian Suetonius tells us that "Theogenes sprang up and threw himself at his feet" because he recognized that Augustus would soon be a great ruler (Id., p. 41).  Greek astrologer Thrasyllus, who served Tiberius for 40 years, predicted that Tiberius would succeed Augustus only after years of waiting (Id., p. 42).  At the height of the Roman Empire, astrology enjoyed a popularity described by Juvenal about 100 A.D., "there are people who cannot appear in public, dine or bath, without having first consulted the ephemeris" (tables used by astrologers that list the daily positions of the planets).

Astronomers and biographers either make no mention of it or they deride the fact that Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe, acknowledged giants of astronomy and physics, practiced astrology professionally and Sir Isaac Newton attended Cambridge University to study it.  A common assertion by the unenlightened is that Kepler, Brahe and other court astrologers were forced to supplement their income with astrology but this is simply not true.  Arthur Koestler disparagingly acknowledges that both Brahe and Kepler were court astrologers who believed in astrology and he states that the royal income of Brahe and then Kepler as Imperial Mathematicus to Frederick II of Denmark was one of the highest in the country.  Kepler, who proposed the use of several innovative astrological aspects, said of astrology, "an unfailing experience of mundane events in harmony with the changes occurring in the heavens [movements of the planets] has instructed and compelled my unwilling belief" (N.D., p. x (1980)).  The Latin title of "Mathematicus" means both mathematician and astrologer (J.C.T., p. 179).  Because the math involved in computing an astrological chart and the theory behind it is complex, astrology was a primary reason for learning mathematics and astrology was taught in the major universities of Europe until the 18th century.  After King Charles V, whose astrologer was Thomas de Pisan, the post of "Physician-Astrologer to the King" was created and after the 16th century it became Imperial Mathematicus, "Astrologer to the King" (kings didn't need a mathematician in their court so this title definitely translates as astrologer).

Lacking the sophisticated technology that we have today, medieval and Renaissance physicians were invariably astrologers.  Paracelsus, a celebrated 15th century doctor, advocated that no physician should prescribe a remedy without first checking the patient's astrological chart.  Hippocrates, who penned the Hippocratic oath, said, "a physician without a knowledge of Astrology has no right to call himself a physician" (N.D., p. xi (1980)).  Jean Baptiste Morin was a physician, was Regius Professor of Mathematics (Chairman of the Department of Astrology) at the College of France, and served as personal astrologer to Cardinal Richelieu and to the Duke of Luxembourg.  Morin accurately predicted (to the day) when Richelieu, King Louis XIII, Wallenstein, and Gustavus Adolphus would die, years or decades before their deaths.  Girolamo (Jerome) Cardano, Lucio Bellantio, Dr. Dee (astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I), and Nicholas Culpepper were other famous physicians who wrote astrological treatises.  As was customary for astrologers, Johannes Kepler recorded his observations of Tycho Brahe's fatal illness, in part, by describing the astrological chart of the moment Brahe went to bed sick (called a decumbiture chart).

More recently, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Astrology is astronomy brought to earth and applied to the affairs of men" (Id., p. x).  Benjamin Franklin chose the date of Washington's inauguration using electional astrology and named his famous almanac after an astrologer-physician (Id., p. xi).  President Theodore Roosevelt, in speaking of his birth chart, which was on a chessboard that stood on a table in the Oval Office of the White House, said "I always keep my weather-eye on the opposition of my seventh house Moon to my first house Mars" (Id, p. xii).  Today, many enlightened, highly educated people (65% of my clients have a college degree) consult astrologers because it is a helpful tool and it enjoys a popularity that rivals its glorious past.

Reference Citations. Printable version (without images)

See the related article "Evidence of Astrology's Validity."

*Echo is a monthly newspaper about community, the environment, health, cuisine, and spirituality that is distributed in central Virginia.
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida

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