What is all this astrology business? Fundamentally, it’s the contention that which constellations the planets are in at the moment of your birth profoundly influence your future. A few thousand years ago the idea developed that the motions of the planets determine the fates of kings, dynasties, empires. Astrologers studied the motion of the planets and asked themselves what had happened last time, let’s say, that Venus was rising in the constellation of the goat? Maybe something similar would happen this time as well. It was a subtle and risky business. Astrologers became employed only by the state. In many countries, it became a capital offense for anyone but the official astrologer to read the portents in the skies. Why? Because a good way to overthrow a regime was to predict its downfall. Chinese court astrologers who made inaccurate predictions were executed. Others simply doctored the record so that afterwards they were in perfect conformity with events. Astrology developed into a strange discipline, a mixture of careful observations, mathematics and record keeping with fuzzy thinking and pious fraud.
Nevertheless, astrology survived and flourished. Why? Because it seems to lend a cosmic significance to the routine of our daily lives. It pretends to satisfy our longing to feel personally connected to the universe. Astrology suggests a dangerous fatalism. If our lives are controlled by a set of traffic signals in the sky, why try to change anything?