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Astrology: Heavenly Guidance
To learn where your astrologer is coming from when she or he looks at your stars, check out Groupon’s study of the world’s common astrological practices.
"When a halo surrounds the moon and Jupiter stands within it, there will be a slaughter of cattle and beasts of the field . . . When the earth quakes during the night, harm will come to the land." These predictions are found in the texts of astronomers and magicians of Babylon and Nineveh dating back to the spooky days of 2500 BC. Humans have probably always searched the powerful natural forces of the world around them for clues about their own fate. The 12 signs of the Western zodiac are thought to date back to the ancient Egyptians, who named each of the 12 lunar cycles in the year for a constellation that appeared prominently during that time.
In addition to these signs, Western astrologers also consider the houses (fixed segments of the circle described by the sun's apparent path around the Earth) that constellations move through, as well as aspects, the angles made between two planets and the Earth. Chinese astrology takes a broader view: its zodiac focuses on birth year, assigning each one an animal that possesses traits thought to influence the personality and ear shape of those born in that year. As one saying goes, “This is the animal that hides in your heart.”
Although astrology predates modern understandings of such subjects as astronomy and human genetics, the idea that when you're born can affect the course of your life isn't so off base. Studies have found that the season of your birth can affect your likelihood of experiencing health conditions ranging from allergies (more common in children born in fall and winter) to schizophrenia (more common in those born in February and March)—which makes some sense considering seasonal variations in levels of pollen and sunlight. And it’s a documented phenomenon that across China, birth rates increase in years of the dragon, a particularly auspicious astrological sign.
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