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Astrology is a form of divination that interprets the meanings of the movements of the planets, the Moon, the Sun, and the Stars. Because these follow fairly straightforward ballistic trajectories, Astrology is not a form of sortilege, and its chief interest lies in the fact that due to the various wobbles built into the planetary bodies, which give rise to a 26,000 year pattern known as the Precession of the Equinoxes, the system is too large for most humans to conceive in its entirety, and it will not repeat during any person's lifetime. This means that as far as individual clients are concerned, each person's birth chart -- a map of the heavens at their time of birth -- is unique. To astrologers, however, the entire panoply of symbol-laden astronomical bodies is more or less analogous to a simpler form of divination, namely, Wheels and Spinners -- just performed with multiple, very large wheels.

Learning astrology from cigarette cards: This is card No. 1 in the 25-card Edwards, Ringer, and Biggs "How To Tell Fortunes" set issued by the Imperial Tobacco Co. of Great Britain & Ireland, Ltd. in 1929.


Astrology as Fortune-Telling

The custom of hiring a trained and educated astrologer to predict the life of a new-born child goes back centuries, but in times past it was distinctly a form of prediction reserved for monarchs, royalty, and the very wealthy. It is a mathematical process and until the development of computers, casting a horoscope required several hours of computations, geometrical problem-solving, and calligraphic lettering -- and as new planets were discovered with the aid of telescopes in the 9th and 20th centuries, the math only got more complex.

Early 20th century astrology booklets by Alan Leo, Raphael (Walter Gorn Olds) and Llewellyn George.

With the rise of cheap colour printing on wood-pulp paper after the American Civil War, the idea of "Astrology for Everyone" took off, and from that time forward, Sun-sign astrology, as pioneered in America by Professor A. F. Seward became a marketable form of fortune-telling. Yearly forecasts for each sign of the zodiac were distributed via mail order ads in magazines and newspapers, purchased from vending machines, and sold on the streets and at carnivals by astrological buskers. These horoscopic predictions could be very vague or highly detailed, depending on the astrologer Many of them contained a coupon advertising a personal horoscope for a further fee -- typically the yearly prediction cost 10 to 25 cents and the personally drawn chart cost $1.00 to $3.00. Some astrological forecasts deal with a multi-year overview of one planet's transit though a sign, such as our page on Uranus in Taurus.

An astrological forecast from 1937 -- "Your Destiny." This comes from my collection of 20th century astrological forecasts that were distributed via mail order and vending machines, and sold on the streets by astrology buskers and 'scope pitchers.

Because many of the vintage postcards at this site that correlate months of the year with zodiac signs also contain corresponding flowers and gemstones, you may also find them double- or triple-listed in the categories of Floriography and Birthstones.

This book, "Astrology for Rootworkers," will teach you the basics of astrology for divination and character analysis.

"Astrology for Rootworkers: Spell-Casting with the Zodiac in Hoodoo and Conjure" by Catherine Yronwode (Lucky Mojo Curio Co.)



catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
Your Wate and Fate

Special thanks to my dear husband and creative partner nagasiva yronwode for illustrations, scans, and clean-ups.