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    What is Astrology? Relationship Signs

    Excerpted from
    Linda Goodman's Relationship Signs
    By Linda Goodman

    Astrology is the study of man in relation to celestial bodies or, to be precise, the planets. It is a system of thought that attempts to show a relationship between man and all things.

    Long ago, about 10,000 B.C., hunters noted the phases of the moon by carving notches on reindeer horns. Of all the many things I have read about the history of astrology, I find this the most fascinating.

    Why? Because it tells the story of ancient man, who lived without maps, telescopes, and sophisticated equipment. He is trying to plan his life, to get in tune with the environment and in harmony with nature.

    The caveman understands that there is a relationship among all parts of nature: animal, human, vegetable, and celestial. He has to find a tool to help him know when to plant, when to hunt, how to understand the cycles of cause and effect - or he won't survive.

    He records the phases of the moon for predictive astrology. He times harvest cycles and, as he evolves, he translates these findings to help him live in harmony: man to animal, husband to wife, and physical beings to spiritual beings.

    Perhaps these notches were used for more than hunting information. Much like our popular astrology columns today, these same moon positions could have given early man daily answers about life and his surroundings from the patterns of the Moon, Sun and stars.

    Looking to the skies, our navigator ancestors could have foreseen the ebbing of the tides, and our hunter ancestors could have foreseen the phases of the moon and the patterns of the herds.

    If man was aware of the Moon phases, he also, no doubt, noticed the likelihood of a rising birthrate with the full Moon (drawn with a circle) or in the month of September.

    The increasing Moon could have been drawn like the "right-hand Moon," as it is known. This can be symbolized by curving the index finger and thumb on the right hand to create a crescent. Could early man have noticed the chance for happier unions at this time?

    The decreasing Moon and the "left-hand Moon" symbol also signify changes. Did man observe and record that as the moon gets smaller, the sap in trees shrinks and enables easier cutting and faster drying?

    Today, with advanced technology that the ancients could not comprehend, we ask the same questions the man of 10,000 B.C. asked: (1) "When is the best time to undertake major business decisions?" What was hunting, planting, and harvesting is now profits, losses, and business ventures. (2) "How can we live more harmoniously with one another?" What were neighboring tribes and villages have become networks of people and relationships.

    Did early man acknowledge the blueprint in the skies, enabling him to understand his environment and kinship with his tribes? We can only guess, but one thing remains clear: Early man's relationship to the skies was acknowledged, utilized, and communicated.

    Not too different from our own daily horoscopes, is it?

    So the use of astrology is old. Very old, in fact.

    What Is a Birth Chart?

    Man's conception of the Universe is both physical and mystical. In order for man to visualize the sky and the planets within it, he views it as a circle. This celestial circle, like any other, consists of 360 degrees. The planets are located within this celestial circle.

    In astrology, we also use a circle - 360 degrees - to diagram the position of the planets, and we call this circle a birth chart. How the planets influence your life depends on where they fall in your birth chart. Each planet is drawn in a specific place in this chart to represent its location at the time you were born. Where you were born also affects the position of the planets in your chart. Therefore, a birth chart is unique to each individual.

    For us to interpret our birth charts, we needed to be able to describe where the planets were in the chart, and what their positions meant. An order had to be created that everyone could use. So the 360 degrees of the birth chart were divided into twelve equal parts, called houses. Each house corresponds to one of the twelve signs of the zodiac, depending on your time of birth. And each house governs a different area of your life, like family, finances, or relationships.

    This order works for each and every one of us, which goes back to astrology being a system of thought. Astrology is very well organized.

    How Does the Movement of the Planets Affect Us?

    The word planets comes from the Greek word planes, which means "the wanderer." Planets roam around the sky in different directions and through different zodiac signs. As the planets move and rotate, their energies change and affect us on earth. Man reacts to these vibrations, just as plants are sensitive to the Sun's movement from morning to afternoon.

    We can see examples of how cosmic rhythms are linked with man and his body. We know that our body temperature changes from night to day, and that seasonal changes assist us in planting in spring and gathering in fall. We know that human beings need sunlight for vitamin D. And we know that some of us get depressed when winter dulls the sun's rays.

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