Astrology is the study of the relationship between the placement of planets at the time of an individuals birth, and that individual. The most common tool used in this process is..
This is a written representation of the planets at the exact time and location of a persons birth, literally putting that person at the center of the solar system. Each birth chart is therefore as unique as a fingerprint (though those of twins born together are very similar). There are many types and styles of natal chart, however the general principal is consistent.
There are two main schools of thought as to how or why astrology works (it's really the same question).
Here the planets are controlled by the exact same forces which control humans, and astrology is no more than a means to watch the universes movements, of which an individual is affected. In other words, the individual is a microcosm and the solar system is a macrocosm.
If this view is followed then astrology is nothing more than the reading of a slightly complex clock, which controls both the planets and people. We're using the planets as a way to view that clock.
As we learn more about various fields such as physics it's becoming apparent that this phenomenon isn't nearly as far fetched as it first sounds. Areas such as mathematics (fractals), computer science (recursive functions), genetics (dna) each have examples where the same 'seed' can produce results on vastly different levels and scales, and in this respect the same 'cosmic DNA' could conceivably create either a person, or a solar system, in the same way that a single cell can contain the entire blueprint for a person.
Those of a computer science background may notice the similarity between this concept and that of computer generated random numbers - which aren't random at all if the seed is known. Following this analogy the universe allocates the seed based on the location and time of birth. This is an eerily similar process to that which might be used if you sat down to code the universe and populate it.. this is one big MMO.
The second school of thought is that the planets themselves hold power over an individual, and their presence creates that individuals personality (and if you want to take it a step further, that personality leads to life choices which determine their destiny).
When you consider that back in ancient times they didn't have the internet, libraries or mass storage, if you discovered something important, the best way to ensure it could be passed on to future generations was to create an easily remembered 'human story' around it. This could certainly explain the presence of gods in this picture to those who find that side of things too far fetched.
Next, Does Astrology work?
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