By Father Mieczysław Piotrowski TChr,
Astrology is a divining practice that dates back to antiquity. It still has deep roots in the culture and customs of our modern paganized societies. Astrology is a superstition. It claims that human life and destiny are influenced by the stars.
The watershed events of a man’s life such as his birth, marriage and death are supposedly determined by the position, configuration and properties of the stars. We need to remember that astrologists show scant regard for the real positions of the stars as determined by modern astronomers equipped with state-of-the-art telescopes.
Signs of the Zodiac — an optical illusion
Astrology needs to be clearly distinguished from astronomy. Astronomy is an exact science. Astronomers view astrology as a silly superstition. Clearly the stars and planets exert a natural influence on people. Solar activity, the changing of the seasons, the waxing and waning of the moon all have their impact on us. But in no way do they override our freedom or determine the way we live or die. Astrology relies on the limited knowledge of the heavens of the Middle Ages. It speaks of five planets governing human behavior. Only five planets were known to the medieval world. Unknown were Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Chiron as well as over 2000 other smaller planets between Mars and Jupiter. An optical illusion caused our ancestors to see stars and planets in close proximity to each other. In their imagination they began to distinguish clusters of stars whose shapes recalled a scorpion, a bull, a ram, etc. To these beasts they ascribed certain virtues and weaknesses. Hence the signs of the Zodiac, which are nothing more than figments of the astrologer’s imagination.
Predicting events by the signs of the Zodiac has no scientific basis at all. It is simply silly and naïve. Modern astronomers know that the positions of the signs used by astrologists today date back to ancient times and require shifting by one twelfth of a turn i.e. by one whole sign of the Zodiac; so that when astrologists say that someone was born under the sign of Taurus, he was in fact born under the sign of Aries, etc.
No less absurd is the alleged impact of the stars on a man’s character and temperament. Astrologists treat the moment of birth as the starting point of a person’s biological life. Yet modern genetics tells us that the genetic information determining a person’s temperament comes together at the moment of conception. (For the naïve person the deliberately vague language in which an astrologer couches his birth-date-based predictions can have an air of authenticity.)
Denial of human freedom
Revelation tells us that every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. This means that every human person is endowed with reason, freedom and an aptitude for love. By claiming that the stars influence our decisions and conduct, that they shape our path in life, astrology contradicts the truth of our freedom as God revealed it to us. The determinism of astrological prophecy denies human freedom; yet it is precisely on this freedom that man’s greatness and dignity rests. Free will decides a man’s future and not some knowledge of an inexorable course of events based on the position of the stars and planets. Not the stars but man’s freedom to choose between good and evil decide his spiritual future. By choosing a life rooted in Christ’s teaching, we embark on the path of eternal happiness; by yielding to the slavery of evil, we embark on the path of eternal damnation. Scripture puts it quite clearly: “For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Ga 6:8).
By ascribing to the stars the power of shaping man’s character and deciding events, astrologists impoverish the cosmos. They promote a form of pantheism and at the same time negate divine providence — the constant tender care of a loving personal God.
For several years a thirty-year-old woman suffered from a severe anxiety neurosis. She lived in constant fear of suffering, death and, above all, of losing her husband. She had trouble sleeping and was plagued by frequent migraines and psychosomatic pains. Though she considered herself a believer, she did not practice her Catholic faith. She saw God as an all-powerful ruler who was insensitive to human pain. Unable to cope with her fears, she finally sought psychotherapy at a local Catholic center. There she admitted that her family was involved in astrology. She was convinced that her future was predetermined, i.e. destined to unfold according to a foreordained design. Her troubles began — as it became clear — when an astrologist told her that she and her husband would soon be divorced. She admitted that at the time she was told this there was no reason for a divorce, as she and her husband loved each other and were getting along well. However, she was convinced that the prophecy would come true since her whole future had been written in the stars. She began to dwell anxiously on her inevitable divorce. It got to the point that she sought to hasten the event by seeking out a lover.
Satan was clearly at work here: prompting an escape from an imaginary situation; hastening the fulfillment of a false prediction. Astrology and lack of faith in God’s providence were to blame for the woman’s anxiety neurosis. Gradually, in her prayer and therapy sessions she grew in her appreciation of the greatness of God’s mercy and respect for every person. She came to see how tragically naïve her belief in astrology was. Reconciliation with Christ in the sacrament of penance, daily prayer and reception of Holy Communion soon brought about the desired results. In a few short weeks the woman was able to shrug off every symptom of depression and psychosomatic pain. Needless to say, the predicted divorce never happened. In fact, thanks to Christ, their love for one another only grew deeper. This example shows what tragic outcomes astrology is capable of leading to.
Holy Scripture and astrology
God warned his chosen people against ascribing to the stars divine power over human life. “And beware lest you lift up our eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and worship them and serve them, things which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven” (Deut 4: 9). According to Scripture, attributing divine power to the stars is “foolishness.” “For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their world, for the author of beauty created them. And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them, for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator” (Wis 13:1-5).
The light of the mystery of the Incarnation and Christ’s teaching clearly expose the utter absurdity of astrological superstition. Jesus revealed to us that every human person has infinite value and dignity. Man is truly free. There is no destiny written in the stars. Saint Paul writes: “See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:8-9).
Since the earliest days of Christianity, the Church has never ceased warning the faithful against the peril that astrology and other forms of divination represent. She warns us against the danger of consulting fortunetellers and astrologers, since in an insidious way Satan is able to work through them. A believing Christian who consults a clairvoyant or an astrologer and believes in their prophecies and acts on their advice commits a mortal sin.
The above article was published with permission from Miłujcie się! in November 2010