Thursday, September 14, 2006

Astrology And Fiction

EoR was recently browsing the September issue of Nova (so much for the alties who claim he has a closed mind - he just has a logical mind that sees no sense in the articles) when he was intrigued by a prediction in the Vedic Astrology column:

Individuals may experience some depressing nature as the Moon, Mercury, Mars, Ketu and the Sun are going to be together in Virgo

Hang on... Ketu? A little research quickly revealed that not only is Western astrology a fictional "science", but Vedic astrology even more so:

RAHU & KETU: Then we have two imaginary planets in Vedic Astrology called RAHU and KETU. Rahu represents mystery and cruelty and KETU represents Spirituality and Spiritual experiences. The position of these planets in different houses at the time of birth determines one's Destiny.

"Imaginary planets"? What the hell are those? How on earth (so to speak) can you determine the position of an "imaginary" planet at the time of birth? And what about the influence of Trantor or Arrakis or Old North Australia? Shouldn't those and countless other imaginary planets be taken into account? For those who are really interested:

Ketu is what remains of the body of Rahu. Ketu is a headless half-planet, shadowy as Rahu and malefic, though not as malefic as Rahu. It is therefore considered a moksha-karak (cause of liberation from the cycle of birth and death). It bestows spiritual tendencies, ascetism and nonattachment to worldly desires and ambitions.

All this pondering led EoR on to the larger subject of which is real? Western astrology? Vedic astrology? Chinese astrology? How can they all be true and yet all so different (though, unfortunately, this site refuses to deal with Chinese astrology altogether since "It is so different from others that any attempt would be futile")? They start out with different lists of planets. In one the sun is most significant, in the other the moon is. They have different conjunctions. And so on. Chinese astrology (and others such as Babylonian, Mayan, Aztec, Inca and, presumably, Eskimo) are all different again as How Stuff Works explains (when EoR visited this site popular searches included creationism, tarot and witchcraft - all of which must strain the definition of stuff "working"):

The Mayan, Aztec and Inca cultures of South America had complex astrologies based on a zodiac of 20, including symbols like the jaguar, the earthquake, the ape, rain and the dog [...] The Chinese had developed one of the most complex astrological systems by 1000 B.C., with some characters in written Chinese languages corresponding to their constellations. This system combined 24 divisions of the year with a 28-part lunar zodiac, as well as 12 branches that correspond to an animal.

Of course, in the world of woo everything is true no matter how self-contradictory holding such beliefs might be:

We are aware of the fact that in other parts of the world, there are great astrological traditions that differ from ours and are just as valid.

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