What is Astrology?
by Michelle Gregg, Counseling Astrologer
Through the lens of Astrology, after we calculate a chart for that moment of birth, we leave behind the science and mathematics, and move into the heart, and art, of Astrology: interpretation.
Astrology, as a definition, is the science of calculating the movement of the planets, stars, asteroids, the sun and the moon, as seen from the perspective of the Earth. The positions of these celestial bodies are then plotted onto a map to preserve, like a photograph, their locations at a given moment in time. This is the “birth chart”; a simple map of where the planets are at a particular time, from a particular place on Earth. A birth chart can be drawn for any moment – not just for the birth of a person. Everything that has a beginning can have a birth chart: countries, businesses, pets, marriages, and books are just a few examples. Everything has a moment that marks its beginning. Hence, anything can have a “birth chart”. Through the lens of Astrology, after we calculate a chart for that moment of birth, we leave behind the science and mathematics, and move into the heart, and art, of Astrology: interpretation.
Interpretation. What a word of possibilities! Just as a score of music written two hundred years ago can be interpreted and performed today in as many different styles as there are musicians who play it, so it is with Astrology. Just as a painting hung on a gallery wall can be acclaimed or condemned by two different critics, so it is with Astrology. Each astrologer brings a slightly different refraction to the light that shines forth from the face of a birth chart. Driving the point closer to where the fruit falls from the tree, any of you who have been to more than one psychologist or counselor know that your problems are treated differently by different specialists; this is the beauty of interpretation. When someone is interpreting, their conclusions are drawn not only from the agreed upon bases of their field, but from their own perspectives, their own background, their own education, and their own experience. Astrological interpretation is no different. Great depth of understanding lies in hearing and analyzing different perspectives.
Astrology, then, very generally and simplistically, is the science of calculating the positions of the planets for a given moment, creating a map of those positions from the perspective of Earth, and then interpreting what those positions mean. These positions are interpreted within several different branches of astrology: Horary (a chart is drawn at the time that a specific question is asked and will reveal a specific answer), Electional (electing the most astrologically auspicious time to begin an endeavor, such as marriage or a major move), Vedic (Jyotish astrology, originating in India and based on the sidereal Zodiac), and Psychological/Humanistic or Holistic, just to name a few.
The mathematical calculation of the positions of the planets in the field of astrology is quickly becoming lost to us in the face of the computer age. Astrologers no longer have to calculate the position of their client’s Saturn (or any other planet) using calculus and logarithms. We simply enter the birth information into our computers and Voila! We have an absolutely accurate birth chart in front of us within seconds. The art of interpretation, however, is an entirely different story. As is true in every symbolic language, one can study astrology for an entire lifetime and still discover new ways of interpreting the same configurations. Astrology is an art for precisely this reason. It is not static, and like art is ever changing and growing as we do. As we experience this life on a physical plane, our knowledge, experience, and paradigms expand and shift. Astrology is the same. It’s symbolic meanings and the depths of its language expands and shifts with us on our journey through the centuries and ages of our lives on Earth.