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A Dialogue between Astrology and Science
by Dr. Maarit Laurento


This article reflects the dialogue between astrology and science. The areas of science, which offer a fertile basis for discussion, are sought, in order to analyse the interface between astrology and science. The article explores the question: Is astrology a science and if so, with what conditions?
Media in Finland has during recent years offered a possibility to observe comments and opinions about astrology. In the beginning of the article I will examine the public discussion about the subject for which I have chosen a discourse approach. With the collected media material I will bring up the fact that the public discussion about astrology is concentrated mainly on beliefs that pour out from the natural sciences. It does not, however, bring any further illumination into the dialogue between astrology and science. This is why in the end of the article new channels of discussion are sought. These new channels are offered us by semiotics, psychology and futurology. At the same time (to make a distinction of the natural scientific discourse) astrology will be defined by mirroring it against the discourses of the above mentioned sciences.

Astrology has not had academic continuum for some hundreds of years, since Copernicus reinvented the heliocentric idea of Aristarchus in the year 1543 (De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium). The change in the scientific world view which started from this event pushed astrology aside from both the scientific world and the church. Astrology had enjoyed quite a strong position in the latter, in spite of the several bulls it had been given since the early years of the church (look e.g. Brau, Weaver & Edmands 1977). Astrology was commonly a part of the scientific world still in the Renaissance period all around Europe, also in the North. Both Upsala (Pursiainen 1997) and Turku University gave tuition and practised astrology in the 17th century (about the position of astrology in the history of the Finnish University, Kajanto 1989). The last chairs in astrology have existed in Salamanca University in Spain in 1770, and some single chairs in Germany as late as in the 19th century (Knappich 1998, Campion 1989; look also Campion 1994, Tarnas 1991, Curry 1989, Nikula 1993, Kajanto 1989).

The situation has changed dramatically after the millennium. Now it is possible to graduate in astrology (MA and BA in Astrology, Kepler College, same will be possible in a British University 2002). Other studies are also possible, e.g. studies in symbolism, history and methodology in astrology in the University of Zaragoza, Spain. In 2001 in Sorbonne (Paris V) astrologer Elizabeth Teissier has made a doctoral dissertation on astrology’s epistemology and by doing that has raised a vivid polemic about the issue. Before her Patrice Guinard defended his doctoral dissertation on astrology and semiotics in Sorbonne (Paris I), in the department of philosophy (Guinard 1993). Also other theses have been made and are in process (e.g. Harris 1996, 2001, Zimmel 2001). There exists cooperation between the academic community and astrologers in several countries (e.g. the Sophia project in Britain).

Astrology can be studied, and it is worth studying - even if this often arouses emotions and brings up heated conversations (e.g. the thesis of Teissier or, in Finland Lillqvist 1996).

Instead of pondering whether astrology is science or not, I am rather more interested in contemplating the dialogue there is forming between astrology and science. That is why I will in this article search for those areas of science that may offer a fertile basis for discussion, in order to analyse the interface between astrology and science.

Finnish media has during some of the recent years offered a possibility to observe comments and opinions about astrology, which gives a ground basis for discussion in the first part of this article. I will examine the public discussion about the subject, for which I have chosen a discourse approach. With the aid of this collected media material I will bring up the fact that the public discussion about astrology is concentrated mainly on beliefs that pour out from the natural sciences. It does not however give any further illumination to the dialogue between astrology and science. That is why in the end of this article I will search for new channels of discussion which will be provided by semiotics, psychology and futurology. At the same time (to make a distinction from the natural scientific discourse) I will define astrology by mirroring it against the discourses of the above mentioned sciences.

The Media Discussion about Astrology

The media material about astrology has been gathered in the years 1998 and 2000 by a media watch agency  [1] which observes the press and other media with key words, defined and given by the client. The material has been concentrated on the printed press. At the background of commissioning the follow-up there is an assumption that whenever astrology is more present in the media there will begin a public discussion - which in this connection means opinions, comments and stand points about astrology, not horoscopes etc. Opinions, comments etc. were also the key words used; the weekly horoscopes and such were left out in the data gathering.

In the year 1998 there was a tv-series of astrology in 12 parts, with re-runs. In addition the leading Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat published a monthly series of articles called "The Stars tell, Miss Nykänen". An astrologer  [2] and the chief of the editorial staff of the paper gave each their future monthly scenarios for a journalist. This was not, however, enough to evoke discussion. In the beginning of the year 2000 started a public discussion about astrology after some interviews I gave to journals (Kotiliesi, Sunnuntaisuomalainen, Tekniikka&Talous, Opettaja).

The material from 1998 includes a follow-up of five months, and that from 2000 a follow-up of three months. In addition there is material from Internet, from the web site of an sceptical association called Skepsis ry. There was a lively discussion about astrology in the beginning of the year 2000. I will in this article use only the press material. My interest is mainly in those writings that refer to science.

There are more than hundred writings from the year 1998 (112), 12% of which refer to, or mention science. The material from the year 2000 consists only of 47 writings but 43% of them refer to science. The rest of the material is mainly presentation of astrology.

I was anticipating the actual discussion of astrology already in 1998 but at that time the comments that referred to science were mainly advertisements of a new sceptic book called "The Advocat of the Devil" - or funny errors as e.g. this head title: "An Astrology book received Fact Finland prize" (Hbl 16.1.1998). A sceptic called Nils Mustelin commented next day: "If we are not careful enough, perhaps next year we can read from the papers that Alchemy has won a Nobel prize". Only two letters separate astrology from astronomy.

The proper discussion started in 2000 as I had anticipated but it surprised me, too, because it started precisely because of my own interviews. I presumed from the writings that the underlying cause of this was first of all my academic education. In this article I shall mainly use the allegations of the year 2000.

The Media Material of the Year 2000

The material that refers to, or mentions science has been examined closer. The claims from each writing have been presented separately (it is possible that in one writing there were many claims, among other things because there were several people interviewed). In the table 1 are presented the claims which commented on astrology by referring to science. The claims can be grouped as follows:
Astrology is uncritically presented in the media
Astrologers lack expert knowledge about the zodiac
The astrological statements tell nothing 
A surprise of that an astrologer can be academically educated
Astrology is based on physical influences which do not exist
The critique against astrology is poor
Astrology is irrationalism
The research results do not support astrology
Astrology is about making money
Astrology is an artificial construction (like sporalogy: an art invented by a sceptic, interpreting the movement of the trams) 
Astrology is pseudoscience
Astrology is based on a geocentric view of the space
Pluto as an example of constructing an imagined interpretation

Table 1. The claims of the media material, referring to or mentioning science.

The discussion was held in the following newspapers and journals (science claims):

Helsingin Sanomat
Pohjolan Sanomat
Ristin Voitto
Suomen Kuvalehti
Uusi Tie

The media material of the year 2000 reveals among other things the fact that the discussions about astrology and science emphasize the natural sciences. Which kind of meanings do these statements carry with them and what do they tell about the relationship between astrology and science? I will take the following claims in a closer inspection. [3]

The Media Claims about Astrology

The media material gives a very interesting view point to the public discussion about astrology.

There were several opinions expressed about astrology being presented in an uncritical way, in many different contexts. For example the journalists who had interviewed me were blamed for not bringing a contrary point of view to the article. "This article about the Doctor in Education, Maarit Laurento, about her enterprise and her views on astrology, is totally uncritical" (Opettaja 5/00). The comments and standpoints wanted to correct this failure. The critical attitude given in these comments and views on astrology did not, however, reach the actual concepts of astrology, but the views are interesting in other ways and give an excellent picture of the public discussion and opinions about astrology (look at the statements 1-6).

I have chosen, from the media material of 2000, the following claims that refer to science, to a closer inspection.

Claim 1. Astrologers lack expert knowledge about the zodiac

This statement suggests that the Equinox Point has moved, because of the precession, in relation to the zodiac signs for about one sign and thus the whole astrological system is as if falsely placed. Also a fact was brought up that the zodiac has 13 constellations and that astrology is misleading when talking only about 12 signs. Ophiucus, Serpent Holder, should be included into the zodiac. Astrologers don't take into consideration neither precession nor Ophiucus.

Comment: Here is a question about two different factors that have been mixed up. Astronomy uses the sidereal zodiac which is linked to the constellations, while astrology uses the tropical zodiac which is linked to the seasons. As the starting point of the zodiac astrology calculates the moment when day and night are equally long, that is, the Vernal Equinox which happens every year in the end of March which is Aries sign cusp not being the same as the Constellation of Aries. The constellations are each of different size and are not easily defined in the space, whereas the signs are each a 30 degree slice in a circle. This confusion occurs because the signs and constellations are called by same names.

Astrology is based on the relationship between the Sun and the Earth and the constellations do not figure in this, except as names. Important stages are the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes and the Winter and Summer Solstices which in the first place divide the vault of heaven/the year into four equal parts, sized 90 degrees. These sectors are then divided each into 30 degree slices, which are called signs: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc. This system does not include Ophiucus, the constellation between Scorpio and Sagittarius, which was included by an international agreement among the constellations as late as year 1928.

Claim 2. The research results do not support astrology

The material stated that "all the scientific research shows unanimously that astrology is rubbish" (Suomen Kuvalehti 8/00).

Comment: This statement is quite bold. Now, even one research that supports astrology is enough to overrule this. We could mention, among newer quantitative research, The Astrology File of Gunther Sachs (1997) in which a statistical research has been made, using thousands of charts. This includes research of how the different Sun signs divide into occupations and which signs are most likely to marry, and which to divorce. The results supported the astrological basis.

In addition, the media material refers only to quantitative research and mainly to the methods of natural sciences. They do not take into account the fact that also the universities have during several years practiced other kind of research with another paradigm. [4] "Even if it is likely, in the end, that science should discover a geo- or bio-magnetic explanation for the planet-wide integration of nervous system, cellular or molecular rhythms in living matter, that explanation would not serve to explain the psychic-astral transformations which operate at a different level of reality, nor could it legitimize any particular, definitive application in our understanding of natal issues and collective cycles" (Guinard 1993).

Claim 3. Astrology uses vague generalities which tell nothing

This statement claims that an astrological analysis has been made in such a vague and general way that anybody can recognize themselves in it. This is called the Barnum effect. It also means that when the client comes to the astrological analysis she/he is willing and ready to hear positive things about her/himself and has a tendency to believe they are true.

Comment: But what about if the object of the analysis is dead? How does the Barnum effect work when the astrological analysis is compared to a biography or to the stories told by contemporary persons?  [5]

Claim 4. Pluto as an example of the constructing an imagined interpretation

This statement claims that astrologers invented for example the symbolic interpretations of the planet Pluto from nowhere, out-of-the-blue.

Comment: Astrologers do not work like this. On the contrary, for example just in the case of Pluto, astrologers were observing the collective psychological atmosphere in the environment, and were inspecting how the analyses from earlier times were further illuminated and specified with the new planet. It was not until with this preliminary work done that the Pluto theme was deducted.

Similarly, for example the discovery of Uranus (1781) was resonating with the moment's collective psychological atmosphere: both in USA (1776) and France (1781) there were revolutions happening, radical thinker Mary Wollstonecraft (Vindication of the Rights of Women 1792) brought up, as the first one, the idea of the equal rights for women. The discovery of Neptune (1846) coincided with the rise of the spiritism and theosophy, and the narcosis was introduced to the surgery. In astrology it is thus a question of combining different meanings, not inventing them.

Claim 5. Astrology is based on physical effects which do not exist

This claim emerges often in other discussions, too. The statement claims that astrologers think that the Sun, Moon and the planets are somehow physically influencing a person, who then resonates in a way that is shown in the astrological chart.

Comment: There are various studies done on astrology which refer to material science, e.g. Gauquelin, Seymour (1988) have ideas about magnetism and astrology. Material understanding of astrology still waits to be widely found and accepted. Astrology can be approached also from other points of view. Like in universities astrology could be approached from the point of social sciences or e.g. language.

Claim 6. Astrology is an artificial system, like e.g. sporalogy

Sporalogy is an artificial term which tries to define astrology and show how it does not work. The sporalogy claims that the movements and lines of the trams (spårvagn in Swedish, 'spora' in Helsinki slang) - especially number three - have an influence on the characters of people. Like planets trams move on a certain track (ecliptica). (Mustelin 1991.)

Comment: On the background of this statement there is an assumption that astrologers think that the planets and luminaries have an influence on the personalities of people. Sporalogy is however an excellent invention and a funny demonstration, because if we accept the physical influence as a basic premise, there indeed might arise a correlation between the trams and the personalities, provided that these same trams will use the same lines for the next couple of thousands of years. But as for example the tram number three has circulated Helsinki streets only for about 50 years  [6], it is unlikely that there is a connection between this and the personalities of the citizens. It is worth continuing with the sporalogic follow-up, though, and make a new review for example in the year 5002.

The Media Allegations Reduce into Beliefs

The assumptions that form the basis of the allegations represented above, are quite flimsy and in some cases even false (e.g. the question about the zodiac) - or they lose their significance in a closer inspection (e.g. the Barnum effect), so that the conclusions deducted do not offer any fertile basis for understanding astrology, either. Thus the allegations reduce to mere beliefs. They show a line of thinking typical to beliefs also in the fact that they continue persevering in the media and discussions, even if they have no basis in the reality.

This is not the most meaningful basis for astrology or for the interaction between astrology and science, because it is not leading to any new kind of understanding about the subject. The discussions seem to repeat themes that have been discussed many times before. The distortions of the allegations have been brought up and shown (e.g. in Finland, the Heureka discussion in 1994). In addition, the discussions have been emphasizing the reasoning derived from the natural sciences, which alone is not the best way of understanding the subject.

Astrology is a Multidimensional Field of Knowledge

The focus of the dialogue between astrology and science should be shifted from the natural sciences to other areas. This was realised already in a quite successful way in an article of Suomen Kuvalehti in which philosophers, psychologists and teachers were interviewed, apart from natural scientists (Suomen Kuvalehti 8/00). Astrology is a multidimensional field of knowledge, which makes use of different forums at the same time; this can also guide the discussions. Astrology is a symbolic system of concepts for understanding the self, the life and the periods of life. It can be understood as a semiotic weave of meanings through which explanations for different situations are sought, the development processes are described, or for example the meanings of the self are rebuilt. Astrology can be outlined also as a psychological tool for self-knowledge. Astrology measures and interprets time, and the futurology offers an analogical model of understanding, also from the view point of building scenarios.

In the following I will concentrate on three different areas which may form a source for giving new basis for the discussion: semiotics, psychology and futurology. [7]

A Dialogue between Astrology and Science: Semiotics

An astrological chart is a web of meanings. [8] Astrology is like a language that has its own grammar, its own symbols and its own way of reading. Astrology is a 'foreign language' which can be learned a bit in the same way as for example French language for those who go to work in Brussels. From this point of view astrology is not based on physical influences, that is, from a thought that e.g. Pluto has a physical effect on the matters of Earth. Astrology can be studied 'ethymologically' and the sources of its symbols can be traced. But this approach is not concerned about the physical basis for it, as there is no such basis for example for the Finnish language.

The interpretation of an astrological chart could be compared with detective work. There has been a murder, and Hercule Poirot sees at first only the same things as other people who are present, but in the end he is able to connect even meanings that seem very insignificant - the puzzle is ready, the crime has been solved. An astrologer works a bit like Poirot. A chart is given to her/him, which is loaded with different kinds of meanings, tied to symbols. The meanings are not static, but living, dynamic and all the time changing in relation to the place, time and interaction. By combining these meanings - speaking astrology - she/he will piece together a story.

Astrology can thus become understandable, if it is outlined as a semiotic system. Semiotics works here as some kind of interpreter, translator - not as a synonym for astrology, though. In a way it makes easier the entry into the astrological thinking and language. Astrology is about studying signs and meanings, rather than some physical effects of planets which are situated millions of kilometres away. There is an arbitrary relationship between the signifier and the signified, and in addition, the meaning of a symbol is different in different contexts.

The Saussurean theory tells us that the sign is a summary of a signifier and a signified. The signifier marks the signified, and their relationship is arbitrary. In the Saussurean model we think of a cat (signified) and say "a cat" (signifier). In astrology not only the relationship is arbitrary but already the signified (e.g. planet in the sky) is. Planetary motions are in numbers, and planets’ positions are read from the so called ephemeris in which planetary motions are collected according to tropical (seasons) way of seeing the zodiac, not sidereal (constellations). The signified as such does not exist factually but symbolically and hence is already a sign itself. Also they are not planets an sich in ephemeris but already meanings themselves. I.e. astrologer does not think the actual event in the sky but the signifieds are arbitrary themselves. The sign in astrology is also analogical and constructed in layers so to speak ("intertextuality"). Together with other subjects on the chart the astrological factors are meaningful as language is. Astrological language is a compressed language demonstrated not in a linear but a cyclical way.

The sign is the strength of astrology. Cornelius (1994) discusses the so called horary astrology which is totally depended on the sign and not e.g. on cosmic rhythms. In horary astrology there only is the sign which also tempts one to give up the associations of e.g. physical effects and concentrate to the issue of meanings.

Guinard (1993) suggests a matrix-based understanding for astrology. Relations between states of being are differentiated from empirico-analytical structures (science) and historico-hermeneutic structures (linguistic, semiotic, socio-historical). "The astrological process no longer seeks to explain a phenomenon, neither to interpret data, but rather to understand an underlying reality, in so far as phenomena and cultural data have their source in the psyche" (Guinard 1993). This reasoning is based on creative abduction in contrast generally used induction and deduction. Astrology consists a four based structure where astrological symbols are made active.

Astrology has its own kind of intertextuality. The sign in astrology is already constructed intertextually. Meaning gets different expressions in one’s life (as seen below in Saturn and Neptune example) but still has its base on the same sign. In language one can play language games like when one says "I love you" the sentence could be part a love story, a play or an advertisement amongst many and it gets different contents by the same words. In astrology one symbol can have totally different meanings in various contexts. But now the connection with the original symbol ("sentence") is made differently. The base (e.g.a planet) already carries different meanings which are projected on the environment. Guinard (1993) argues that "the articulation of symbols pre-exists the determination of their content" and points out that the structures (matrix) are antecedent to interpretative systems and hence give astrology also strength to adapt in different contexts (e.g. cultures, eras). From his point of view there exist a "pre-consciousness within a human being" which projects meanings upon reality that astrology can pick up. There does not exist only one astrology but many, as many as there are cultures so to speak. Astrology arises from this kind of matrix.

Let's take the combination of Saturn and Neptune as an example. There are two big planets in the space, but in astrology this kind of combination can mean, depending on the situation, for example:

- winter swimming

Astrology is about tracing and building such meanings ("intertextuality"), using existing clues in a way that the chain of interpretation will form a meaningful whole, a synthesis. This holistic interpretation can be used with different contexts in the interpretation work, in analysing the zeitgeist, interpreting the volatility in the stock market, estimating the political situation, in the economic world, etc. The ice swimming and the changes in the security needs are interpretations in the same chain, but they work as meanings in different contexts.

The basic premise for this semiotics analogy is, however, that we accept the language which is been studied - that is, the astrological language. In the same way that we can study meanings for example in a poem of T.S. Eliot, the astrological chart with its symbols - as a narrative of the situation - offers a starting point for giving meanings.

A dialogue between Astrology and Science: Psychology

Another area close to astrology is psychology. Psychological astrology has influenced perhaps the most to astrologers all over the world by Dane Rudhyar and Liz Greene in the 20th century, and is still one of the most influential branches in astrology today. Both psychology and astrology are studying among other things the self, the personality, the interaction and the self-knowledge (e.g. Vilkko-Riihelä 1999). From the view point of astrology in these days, psychology is specially interesting. This is because also the psychological field has during recent years returned to previous concepts, for example the idea of temperament has been launched again in a new light as an inherent temperament. This concept answers to many questions that have been left open in earlier times. The inherent temperament describes the individual way of reacting to events and things. It is the biological part of the personality (Keltikangas-Järvinen 2000, Keltikangas-Järvinen, Räikkönen and Puttonen 2001, look also Vilkko-Riihelä 1999). The astrological chart gives the same type of clues about a person as the inherent temperament. With the aid of the chart can be traced e.g. the degree of activity, and whether the person is social or innovative, etc.

The inherent temperament is studied among other things with the aid of a questionnaire. It is thus a question of estimating oneself or others. For example the aggressivity of school children has been tested with questions like this:

"Reactive aggression"

1. Who gets quickly angry and becomes mean right away?
2. Who has a quick temper and "explodes" easily?
3. Who gets in a punch-up for even the slightest provocation?


1. Who says easily something beastly when annoyed?

Proactive aggression

1. Who is deliberately mean to other people?
2. Who threatens others?
3. Who is bullying others into doing what he/she wants?
4. Who puts others down even without any reason?

(Nieminen 2000)

Astrology does not use a questionnaire as a method of collecting material, but it uses an astrological chart which is interpreted according to the idea of weave of meanings. For example aggressions are interpreted, among other things with the aid of the relationship (aspect) between Mars (activity, energy etc.), and Uranus (sudden reactions and events, explosions). But the study cannot be tied only to Mars and Uranus, which leaves for example the statistical studies in the marginal area. The chart is always a whole, and one or two factors cannot be cut off of it. But with the whole picture an outlook can be created which gives as a result a multidimensional interpretation of the personality. It is not static or deterministic, though. The inherent temperament is not seen as static, even if it is permanent: "for example the irritability of a three year old child is expressed in a different way than that of a thirty year old person, but the tendency to be easily irritated is a permanent personality trait, as such" (Keltikangas-Järvinen, Räikkönen & Puttonen 2001). This thought resembles the astrological views. For example the combination of Mars and Sun can mean e.g. foolhardiness in a three year old child, but when he/she is thirty years old, it can be seen among other things in sport activities or as an ability to take initiative. The chart offers certain kinds of clues to the person's self.

The inherent temperament has a biological basis, and it is hereditary. Thus it can be used among other things in anticipating the behaviour during stress, because the inherent level of aggression is known. The inherent temperament is also permanent: "either as a homogenic trait (e.g. the speed of speeking, impatience), when it is always expressed in the same way, or in a heterogenic way, when the trait as such remains but the way of expression is changing along with the age." (Keltikangas-Järvinen 2001). Astrology has also searched for hereditary connections from the charts and some connections have been presented (Gauquelin 1988). This can be seen as an empiric attempt to search for a natural scientific proof of astrology. Yet this is not the leading theme in this presentation. I myself shun the thought of essentialism with astrology. I prefer the view of a weave of meanings to the thought of a genetic and biological genotype.

With the aid of the thought of an inherent temperament the upbringing can also be directed in an individual way. A child is not a tabula rasa, an empty board on which the upbringing draws its imprints. The interaction between the child and the parent is decisive. The child reacts to the parent and the parent to the child. The temperament of the child determines how good or bad the mothers and fathers see themselves as parents, or how compatible their temperament types are. Children who have different types of temperaments should be brought up in a different way. One child needs rules, the other needs freedom, in order to grow up to a full potential (Keltikangas-Järvinen, Räikkönen & Puttonen 2001, look also Rich Harris 1998).

This is one of the central questions in astrology. The astrological view gives a possibility to recognise the way how people are different. There are different kind of children born into a family, each of them to a different situation (the parents and other members are living in different kinds of atmospheres in different periods in time. In astrology this is observed with transits and progressions, etc.). The interaction between the parents and the child determines which kind of individual the child will become. When the parent understands the individual chart of the child, she/he can guide the child as if with silent, tacit knowledge. Similarly the parent her/himself can detect from the charts which themes in their relationship form challenges, which aid both to grow.

The inherent temperament attempts also to predict the behaviour under stress. Astrologically the atmosphere of the given period is built among other things with the aid of transits and progressed charts. With these the different kinds of periods and atmospheres can be pieced together in the life. For example what comes to stressful situations it is possible to estimate which kind of attitude a person is most likely to assume. If for example the person is living a so-called Uranus-period, it is likely that she/he has no patience to stay on in the same rut for a very long period, and that she/he reacts in a surprising and sudden way. If on the other hand the individual is going through a so called Saturn-period, it is likely that she/he is searching for situations in which it is possible to concentrate oneself, to focus and to narrow things. In a Saturn-period a person can also assume a frustrated attitude towards stress, while in an Uranus-period there rather is a mentality of impatience which wants to get rid of everyday things.

A dialogue between Astrology and Science: Futurology

The third area that communicates with astrology is futurology. The factor which is common to both is the building of possible worlds. Futurology is

"multidimensional activity of research which describes, explains and understands broad social phenomenons and different processes of change and development in the different areas of life connected to them. As an adaptive activity futurology concentrates on solving practical problems. Futurology examines development trends influencing the society from the view point of a special interest in having knowledge about the future. Its function is to combine research results from different fields of science into wholes that assist the decision makers in making better choices on behalf of a common future. Futurology is seeking alternative futures that can be possible, likely or desirable." (The Research Center of Futurology) Astrology outlines this kind of trends with the cycles of so called slow planets which are Jupiter (12 yrs), Saturn (29 yrs), Uranus (84 yrs), Neptune (165 yrs) and Pluto (248 yrs). Estimations of the past times are made and scenarios about the future are created by tracing and combining these cycles. For example the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn which repeats itself every 20 years, is connected among other things with new economic cycles (Spring 2000), Pluto's moving through one sign describes e.g. themes and things that people, in relation to Pluto's sign, have to go thoroughly through, to expose taboo areas and to renew this area fundamentally (e.g. the years 1984-95 are seen as a time when issues around sexuality were reevaluated; on the other hand during the present period there is going on a certain kind of shedding the skin, in questions of education, teaching, and pedagogy).The Uranus period in one sign is innovating or revolutionizing the field of the sign (during the present period this affects among other things the nets, electrical technology, global cooperation etc.).

In astrology there are various ways of understanding the meanings of future. Some astrologers (i.e. traditionalists and medieval astrologers) understand astrology as a predictive tool. Psychologically oriented astrologers think that with the aid of astrology it is possible, at its best, to get rather close to 'the truth about what is coming', but it is not the same as predicting. Astrology is more a method of analysing and anticipating the atmosphere in a given period than 'a machine of prediction', which refers to futurological ideas about future. Guinard (1993) argues that astrology "reveals a reality continually present and familiar to consciousness, but does not predicts a reality extrinsic to itself". As I brought up already before, an astrological analysis is made of a dynamic weave which is changing with time, and it is a question of a chain of interpretation and conclusions. A chain of conclusions does not emerge by itself, but a reader/interpreter/astrologer is needed whose own personal likings and subjective viewpoints play a part in the birth of an interpretation. [9] Thus an astrologer is not a clairvoyant but rather a builder of scenarios, who infers the possibilities of each period with the aid of given references (cycles and other tools of analysis).

Astrology and Science - An Eternal Dilemna?

Astrology arouses discussion and extreme emotions, and it challenges existing models of thinking. The gap between astrology and science has almost always been caused by the idea that the attempts for finding a material model of explanation for the astrological system of concepts, with the aid of quantitative research, have not succeeded - according to science. This model should explain formost and especially the basis of the physical effects. Astrological quantitative research (the statistical research of Michel Gauquelin) has even been sabotached in order to be able to maintain the demarcation line between astrology and science (Ertel & Irving 1996). Similarly, the beliefs about astrology persist in the discussions and in the media, even in cases where the basic assumptions of the allegations were false, or where closer inspection of them would have shown that they are insufficient.

But should astrology be a science? One can answer yes and no. Yes, in a sense it is already now academically practiced i.e. in Kepler College by having keen contacts to the university but not being inherent part of it. And no, if it is not allowed to develop and explore issues from its own viewpoint. While the discussion has been most vivid in the areas of natural sciences I welcome also other ways of exploring the subject as has already widely been done by astrologers like Liz Greene, Glenn Perry, Dennis Elwell, Geoffrey Cornelius, Maggie Hyde and others.

Discussion with the academics is welcomed. There can be opened up new types of channels for discussion, in between astrology and science, in the fields of semiotics, psychology and futurology. Similarly when the focus will shift from the quantitative research towards the qualitative rersearch - which concentrates on particulars and emphasizes the context - interesting channels of communication can be offered towards the direction of science.

Astrologically, the present is the most excellent time for a new type of discussion to emerge while Pluto-Saturn opposition in the mutable signs is active.


[1] The media watch agency in question was Observer Finland Oy. « Text

[2] The astrologer was Maarit Laurento. My own request was that my academic education was not mentioned. « Text

[3] I have chosen the contemporary conception of astrology as my view point. « Text

[4] Qualitative paradigm in astrology, look at Perry 1997. « Text

[5] For example in the astrological examinations (e.g. Faculty of Astrological Studies, Suomen Astrologinen Seura ry) the object of the analysis can be either a person from the history or a contemporary person who is unknown to the candidates. The contents of the analysis and the life of the object can thus be compared in a controlled situation. « Text

[6] The tram traffic with the horse carriages started in Helsinki in 1890; the electric trams were introduced in 1900, and the tram number three started circulating in 1950. « Text

[7] Semiotics, psychology and futurology may also be seen as mirrors for the definition of astrology in this article. I am searching analogies through which the contemporary views in astrology can become understandable, to make a distinction from the natural scientific view point. « Text

[8] The view that astrology is built on meanings is one of the leading trends in contemporary astrology (e.g. Elwell 1999, Spencer 2000, Cornelius 1994). Psychological astrology has been an object of interest specially from the last century (e.g. Rudhyar 1967, Greene 1976, 1983a, 1983b). About the natural scientific astrology look e.g. Gauquelin 1973 and Seymour 1988. In addition there are other branches in astrology: among others mundane astrology (e.g. Baigent, Campion & Harvey 1995), observation of historical cycles (an excellent presentation: Campion 1994) and financial astrology (e.g. Bates & Bowles 1994), just to mention some of them. « Text

[9] Compare this with the constructivist paradigm in science: "The researcher interprets the object of research through the experiences of her/his own, thus the knowledge and experience she/he has accumulated before has an influence on the interpretation" (Pehkonen 2001, 7). « Text


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