Lesson 6) Intro to Astrology
As the students arrive for Divination, they are momentarily disorganized. The lounge is almost pitch and there are astrological designs and diagrams floating amidst the seats. Out of confusion, some students even prepare to take Astronomy notes instead of Astrology. As Professor Cattercorn walks in, the hushed whispers quiet down. She moves to sit on the edge of her desk, as she has done many times this term, and begins speaking into the quiet darkness.
Ahhhh, another lovely day in the castle! I welcome you back to Divination, can you believe we are already into week six?! Time certainly flies, almost as fast as the Chudley Cannons' Seeker, but not quite! While I would love to sit and discuss Quidditch with you, we do have some work to do so let us begin now before the back row finishes passing that note the Gryffindor student has in her hands...
By now, the majority of you have noticed the large constellation chart that is directly behind me. If not, I strongly suggest purchasing some glasses! Now, I assure you we are not in Astronomy class right now. You are in the correct place. As I mentioned earlier, our focus for the rest of this year is astrology which, of course, uses the names of some notable constellations, and more.
Let us begin with the question: what is astrology? In technical terms, it is the use of the stars (our Sun being one of them), the Moon, the planets, and other celestial bodies to decipher or predict trends in individuals, and the world as a whole. I know it sounds like an awful lot of factors to account for, but it is actually quite simple -- it is the relationship between observations of celestial objects and how they influence lives of people here on Earth. Historically speaking, methods of astrology actually predate many of the popular religions of the world as the practice has been dated back to approximately 3000 B.C.E. It is not held in very high regard by Muggles, often considered a pseudoscience, but astrology has established and re-established its importance on the lives of many magical and Muggle beings on the planet scores of times over the millennia. Personally, I believe a talented astrologer is worth his or her weight in Galleons, and I am slightly jealous of those who are much more skilled astrologers than I!
Because there are so many bodies at work in the heavens (many we do not yet know of) with various magical properties, there is a lot of information to comprehend and interpret. More, all of those bodies interact with each other every now and again, which increases the various effects or changes them completely! More, since the late twentieth century, many in the astrological community have moved away from using astrology to track and predict the minutia of everyday life. In truth, the various celestial bodies have such great influence, that the effects on each individual life are very hard to predict accurately. Our lives are but one ripple in an enormous ocean. Recent trends have directed astrological thought towards the big picture, or how those many ripples interact with each other to create enormous waves, than if Mars indicates an upcoming financial windfall for persons born under Libra.
That being said, it is very difficult to completely give up tradition, and it would be untrue to say that star signs and the like give us no insight into our daily lives. So, as it stands now, human astrology is in a midway, or transitional stage, where we study astrological signs as they relate to our chances of meeting Mr/s. Right just as much as we do the overarching effects that eclipses have on the likelihood that a treaty will be signed or the Third Wizarding War will break out.
Rest assured that I will do all I can to make both fit together well, as well as explain the significance of each. If at all possible and reasonable, I will also try to include an example to further clarify my meaning.
With roots dating back to 3000 B.C.E., Mesopotamian astrologers were quite reliant upon the stars and their constellations. At that point in time, astrologers in the Mesopotamian culture began to name certain constellations and patterns of movement of the stars over the passage of time. However, the next big step in the evolution of astrology came courtesy of the ancient Babylonians, who are credited with being the “first great astronomers.” In a giant step for astrology, they created an early version of the astrological zodiac. In developing the zodiac, the Babylonians recognised that the various celestial bodies (the Sun, Moon, and constellations) move throughout the sky during set periods of time, and each of these periods of time is roughly equal to the next. The passage of time, according to the movement of the celestial bodies, is so fixed in its routine that it is quite possible to create a calendar. As such, the Babylonians decided to name each of the time periods, designating both a symbol to each time period and a constellation that is visible in the sky during the time. By linking the time period to a visible constellation, the period is also linked in turn to a god, as many constellations are representative of gods and goddesses in Roman or Greek mythology, both very popular belief systems of the time.
Theory of Astrology
For us, astrology is a bit of a step towards the unknown. Up until this point, all of our divinatory adventures have centered around allowing our Inner Eye to work through us to manipulate physical objects which we can then interpret. However, try as we might, we cannot -- and should not -- manipulate the various cosmic bodies. So, we need to take a step back and accustom ourselves to a less hands-on approach. Fortunately, there is still plenty to interpret, as there are as many stars, planets, constellations, comets, and cosmic events.
As before, you still need concentration to hone your magic and allow your Inner Eye to work through you. You need willpower (or belief in your abilities) to allow that magic to work uninhibited by doubt (you’re never going to perform the Summoning Charm correctly, or Apparate without Splinching if you don’t believe). However, we are no longer using “incantations.” I know we haven’t truly been using incantations at all for the last two years, but what I mean is, we are no longer narrowing the intention of our magic. We are casting a much wider net and seeing what our divinatory ability finds. Think of it as an intermediate step between consulting physical objects like the tarot and relying totally on your sight to provide you with visions and clairvoyant episodes.
I think I will leave the topic there for now, as our following lessons will focus on the various signs of the astrological zodiac before looking at the phases of the Moon. I do hope you enjoyed the lesson, there is a short quiz for those of you in the hunt for those valuable house points!
Original lesson written by Professor Venita Wessex
Additional portions written by Professor Octavia Proctor
Image credits here