In 44 BC the Roman statesman Marcus Tullio Cicero wrote: "What utter madness in these astrologers, in considering the effect of the vast, slow movements and change in the heavens, to assume that wind and rain have no effect at birth!"
The first big flaw that everyone stumbles across in astrology is the precession - the rotation of the Earth's rotational axis. The 12 constellations who are located on the ecliptic (the apparent way of the sun and planets around the earth) are still attached to the dates they had some 2500 years ago. But since then, due to the precession, the constellation have shifted for almost one sign, the vernal equinox supposed to be in Aries is now in Pisces, and a shy look in the sky will raise the heretic thought that it's hardly possible that all signs have exactly the same size. To complete the dilemma, there is a 13th constellation on the ecliptic, called Ophiuchus, and it wasn't 'invented' by modern astronomers as some ranting astrologer once complained, but it was there since milleniums.
Astrologers explain the whole mess pretty differently. apart from that most brilliant speciman who cursed modern astronomers (I really would love to read his opinions about the heliocentric model) they will claim that the signs of the zodiac have nothing to do with any constellations, all that counts is some arbitrary empty 30° degree area on some arbitrary circle somewhere in the sky. Another speciman of his kind explained the 'mistake' had its origin in Greek astronomers who 'misunderstood' astronomy, the more clever save themself in the claim that the zodiacal signs are just 'symbols' for human patterns of behaviour. What they are based on remains in the dark...
The ecliptic is a circle with 360° degrees - quite simple because every circle has
360° degrees. Eager for perfection and mathematical harmony there have to be 12 signs which
can be divided in groups of three or four. Each sign has to have 30° degrees to get a clean
division into 3 decades of 10° degrees each. The four elements are arranged across the circle
in an almost artistic manner: fire - earth - air - water - fire - earth - air - water etc. Same
applies for 'cardinal', 'fixed' and 'mutable'.
Of course this beautiful harmony suffers a little damage with 13 constellations, with Capricorn plunging in the element of water and Scorpio being just seven days long.
What is almost forgotten is that in days of old astrologers very well went outside to have a look at the sky in order to find out which planet was where at the moment. The Sun in Capricorn was the most welcomed sign that the desired rainy season was soon to come, Jupiter in Virgo promised fine crops and seeing Nergal-Mars marching into Nergal-Sagittarius most likely meant that some evil neighbors were looking for trouble.
Since then, things got terribly refined. The constellations mean nothing anymore, horoscopes are strongly based on house systems of which there are at least four dozens (with four dozens of different outcomes), and being far too civilized today to take any Nergal serious people rather go and trust in Allan Leo who invented the weekly magazine sun sign horoscope in 1910. There are hundreds of complicated aspects, combinations, variations, differentiations and specifications to consider which let the whole thing appear like some 100-cards spread in Tarot. With the manifold variations and the growing number of different systems there won't be two astrologers casting the same horoscope, and in the end the whole thing relies on the Barnum effect in the first place, which is the tendency to accept imprecise and widely applicable statements as being specific to a person.
One point in the whole game is that I don't have the tiniest interest in astrolgy as a thing of itself, and to be honest: I don't care much about my horoscope..
The mindgame was born when trying to see the astrological signs in the context of Tarot, trying to get behind some cryptical statements like 'the Chariot is connected with Cancer' and some such. Of course I wanted to find out more about Cancer, then, and my Comedia del'Arte went into its first act..
Almost everywhere, the 'roots' of the various sign meanings are explained with their 'origins' in Greek mythology, but in fact the Greek overtook an existing system and used their rich mythological legends to plaster them on the ancient signs.
Unlike the planets who were 'personified' in gods to determine their archetypical charakter, the constellations were mostly connected to popular and entertaining stories of Zeus being after women (and boys) and the like, usually without shading any light on a sign's 'attributes'. So for example the legend of the Golden Fleece will hardly tell us anything about Aries the Ram, and we won't learn much more about Cancer the Crab as that it was sent out by Hera and crushed under the feet of Hercules.
So the idea was to find the myths that preceeded the Greek, in which the constellation were associated to gods in the same manner as the planets, so that we can draw our conclusions and find the very specific characters behind them.
It is an fascinating experiment, especially when craping the old myths out of the dust sheds some unexpected light on the one or other Tarot trump..
You will find that the planets and signs are presented like Tarot cards, and being an artist, I
couldn't resist to create 'cards' for each one, trying to transfer its meaning into an image. This
does not mean they are meant to be Tarot cards themself.
It is just that I happen to think in images rather than in words, and it was easier to view the signs in relation to the trumps when watching two images side by side.
Please bear in mind that this is but a mind game - an experiment, so to say - far from being led to final conclusions.
One thing that occured to me was that when insisting on an 'astronomical' zodiac in which the constellations will have their 'ancient' meanings, I could kiss my uncritically accepted 'I am an Aquarius' good-bye.
And then, I became curious to find out what my 'horoscope' would be like when considering the planets and constellation as they actually were in the moment when I was born, while taking 'Sun in Aquarius' literally, considering Crowley's explanation that the 'combined influences' of both sign and planet are effective when they have the same apparent location when looked upon from viewpoint Earth, no matter how many light years actually are between them.
So I went and casted my own 'horoscope' - the peculiar and most remarkable result can be watched here...
That was the moment when I realized that Astrology wasn't meant for me...
Oh yes, and whilst we're at it...
Bertrand Russell: On Astrologers