By Dimitar Kosev (First Covenant's correspondent in Kazanak, Bulgaria)
July 14, 2009 / 22 Tamuz 5769
Whatever astrologers may say, astrology is a form of divination.
By "astrology" I don't mean the horoscopes in magazines and newspapers - most people would hardly believe nonsense like "today all Leos will be financially fortunate." It's easy to see that "Leos" worldwide are not a homogeneous group, that they are not all the same or live according to the same rhythms. Rather,
I'm talking about the "serious" astrology. It has the outer features of a legitimate discipline - ancient roots, rich history, research studies, books, adepts, etc.
Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (c. 1100 C.E.), writes:
"Know, my masters, that every one of those things concerning determinative astrology that [its adherents] maintain - namely, that something will happen one way and not another, and that the constellation under which one is born will draw him on so that he will be of such and such a kind and so that something will happen to him one way and not another - all those assertions are far from being scientific; they are stupidity." (Letter to the Hebrew community of Marseilles, France)
Astrology asserts that it's based on the "Emerald Tablet," allegedly written by Hermes Trismegistus (a legendary Egiptian sage, variously identified with the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek god Hermes/the Roman god Mercury - Wikipedia). This is its foundational hypothesis:
"That which is below is as that which is above, and that which is above is as that which is below..." That is, astrology asserts that a human's fate (below) reflects the heavenly bodies and the constellations above
It's a pity, perhaps, that neither the Emerald Tablet itself can be found, nor can the author of the tablet be proven genuine.
Let me note for the record here that, from 1981 to 1999, I studied and practiced astrology myself. And now I share the opinion of Maimonides on astrology.
Here are some of the things that I have come to believe about it:
1. There is no universally accepted astrological system for horoscope composition or interpretation. There are two main systems and each one has its zealots. One is the "equal-housed" system and the other is the "unequal-housed."
Let me explain, briefly. The most important thing in a horoscope is the Ascendent. This is the point of the Ecliptic which "arises" on the eastern geographic horizon at the moment of one's birth. The Ascendent defines the 12 "houses" of the horoscope. And this is where the two systems diverge. In the "equal-housed" system the 12 houses are 30 degrees each (with the Ascendent being the beginning of the house, in its middle or elsewhere). In the "unequal-housed" system the Ascendent is the beginning of the first house, and the size of the houses is different, depending on the latitude of the birthplace.
The important thing is that zodiacal signs and the planets take different house positions in both systems, and thus the horoscope interpretations are different.
2. The discoveries of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto have made a mess of astrology. The interpretation of the presence of these planets in the signs and houses is various. Some astrologers say that they only influence society, or only highly spiritual people; others astrologers say that they are universal, that the two planets affect everyone individually.
3. In no way can astrology explain human free will. We are told that a horoscope shows 'the possibility' of certain event in a certain time, and not the inevitable event itself - it depends on our free will. By one's free will one allows this or that event to occur or not. OK - but if that's the case, what is astrology all about?
4. In no way can astrology explain why the lives of twins - whether identical or fraternal - are not identical. If twins were born within 10-15 minutes of each other, their horoscopes coincide 99.99 percent. There is no difference between the interpretation of Ascendent at 5 degrees, 32 minutes, 20 seconds in Leo, and Ascendent at 5 degrees 33 minutes, 49 seconds in Leo. The daily "motion" of Earth's Moon is approximately 12 degrees. The difference in the Moon's position in the horoscopes of the two twins above will be only 5 to 6 radial minutes, which changes nothing, basically, in horoscopal interpretation or prognostication.
Let me suggest, then: next time, when somebody asks you for your star sign, before you respond - think twice!
Rainbow Covenant has a fascinating section on astrology - about when its use denies human free will and it becomes God-denying and pagan, and when mere "descriptive astrology" is permitted, in the section on divination in the "Idolatry" chapter. See pp. 281-283. Our book - we consider Rainbow Covenant to be "our book" - worth getting just for the wisdom in those few pages.