Astrology

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    Abstract

    Astrology (from Greek, “science of the stars”) belongs to the oldest cultural phenomena of humankind. Its persistence from antiquity to modernity – despite many transformations and various developments – is remarkable. If we want to define this phenomenon, we can say that, most generally, astrology engages the supposed relationship and correspondences between the heavenly realm (the stars, planets, zodiacal signs, etc.) and the earthly realm. To interpret these correspondences and interrelationships, astrology developed different and often conflicting strategies. On the one hand, astrologers asserted a causal influence of heavenly bodies on the sublunar world, which consequently seems to lead to a deterministic or even fatalistic worldview. Ancient Greek philosophers – particularly the Stoics – spoke of the cosmos as a complex network of correspondences and influences, governed by a hidden power. On the other hand, astrologers argued that the stars do not exert influence themselves but that they are mere “signs” or “symbols” of powers that are active throughout the cosmos. The intellectual, religious, and ethical issues that are linked to these alternatives have been part of astrological discussion ever since. Are the heavenly signs simply accompanying the mundane events, or are they responsible for them? And if there is a sympathetic correspondence between the celestial sphere and the earth, does this necessarily imply a deterministic or fatalistic influence?
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism
    EditorsGlenn Alexander Magee
    Place of PublicationCambridge
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Chapter31
    Pages372-380
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Electronic)9781139027649, 9780521734912
    ISBN (Print)9780521509831
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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