The Origins of Astrology

- Welcome! This year's “Future Affairs Circle” is going to be unforgettable for all us futurologists. The beginning of the 1st century...hmmm... well I guess we can speak freely here... let me rephrase: the beginning of the 1st century BCE, is going to be revolutionary! We may all be successful professionals but one must never stop researching and exchanging The Knowledge. My dear colleagues as we all know telling the future is a very demanding science. Too many omens, various foretelling techniques, prophesies that don't make sense, gods that change their minds all the time and what is it for us? Danger, exhaustion and sometimes, suspiciousness and dispute. So learn from the best and listen what scientific news we bring you this year! Our first speaker is Razda Habti from Egypt! Razda has discovered a new amazing foretelling science and wants to share with you!

- Thank you Mador! Hello ladies and gentlemen. As you are all aware of, I am a very famous futurologist in Egypt. Until last year no one knew me and now I am the only futurologist to be granted a pyramid after death. During the previous twenty years I was researching every single foretelling science and conducting various social experiments to see their acceptance from patients. But let's take it from the start by asking you some questions. Let's begin with this lady first. What is your name? Oh oh, don't tell me... it's...it's Pythonia, right?
- It's Pythia...
- I'm sorry. The signal reception is not that good in this forest. Anyway Pythia tell us the details of your technique. What happens in a session? What are the stages?
- I follow the traditional stages actually. The patient knocks my door, puts 20 gold coins on the table, I say the words and he leaves.
- No, no I meant the scientific stages and how exactly you predict the future.
- Oh! There is a rock inside my oracle and I inhale the vapours from it's chasm. Although sometimes there are no vapours so I have special leaves that do the job. After that, I'm in ecstasy and that's it, really. They say I predict the future but I never remember what I said and why. Of course everyone is happy and so I must be a great scientist.
- And your health? How is your health? For how long do you think you can keep inhaling those vapours or the leaves? Let's continue. You, sir?
- Hello... well I have a more complex technique. You see I ask the patient to bring along with his 20 gold coins, a sheep or a goat. The patient gives me the animal and I sacrifice it to their favourite god by cutting it's neck with a special knife. After that, I open the animal's belly and examine it's inner organs. That's how I tell the future. It's more complex than it sounds and there is a lot of science in it. For example, swollen intestines means that this poor man's future will definitely stink.
- How unhygienic! How unscientific! And all that blood!
- Unhygienic? When the procedure is done, I tell you I cook the animal very well before eating it.
- All that fat will harm you! I'll come back to you too. You sir?
- Who me? Oh, nothing fancy like leaves and blood. I just have a set of cards that the patient has to touch with his hands and ask the questions. I then set the cards on a table upside down, turn and read them. Look, here they are. Read some if you like. You'll get an idea.
- Okay, so this card says “The Lunatic” and “going to be mad soon, lose life or wife”, this says “Sun” and “about to be blinded, burned or have serious fever”, this says “Door” and “you should knock first”? Excuse me, there is nothing good happening with these cards?
- Ehh... no, not these. It's the Dark set of Cards. But I have the Light Cards too. You see, my patients choose whether they want to hear the good or the bad news first. But I prefer to start from the Dark; to make sure I will get paid, that is.
- And you manage to make a living?
- Well actually I am a blacksmith. Science is my hobby, you see.
- Enough. Let's move on with my technique. You will all understand in a few minutes. My experiments showed that people don't like vague prophesies. I found out that when one seeks for answers you must provide specific information like “yes” or “no”, you have to give a name, a place and time, and furthermore, it better be something your client wants to hear. If your foretelling is for horrible things to come then you are about to be left out of work; and that's the optimistic theory. My new science is called PlanetVision©. This new science has to do with planets and stars and how they influence us. You see each one of us is born under the influence of certain stars and a certain position of the planets.
- What do you mean planets and stars? Like the Moon?
- Yes, exactly. People born under the influence of the Moon are having certain characteristics that define their personality and future.
- Rubbish. My wife's influence on me can beat the whole galaxy! That's not science either!
- Yes it is. I'll show you. Tell me, what year were you born?
- Forty eight years ago.
- What month? The date?
- Not sure. Spring.
- You don't know? Any other details maybe?
- Well, Saturday for sure.
- Hmm... What time exactly?
- My mum said it was just after sunset.
- Perfect! Well, ladies and gentlemen this brilliant scientist here belongs to the sign of Leo.
- Which means?
- Which my friend means that you are kind, hard working and trustworthy. It also means that you are a magnificent man with love in your heart for all mankind. And you adore your wife. In fact you adore all women. A lot.
- Oh! That's me! Amazing!
- And you my dear? Details of birth?
- Winter. A Monday evening. Full moon.
- Full moon? Really? I thought so! Definitely a Virgo. My beautiful girl, you love knowledge and you are so clever that many future generations will talk about you. You also have a slight inclination to certain substances but all Virgos handle such things wisely. And you happen to like boys that are taller than you. With black, brown or blond hair. Oh! And you love your mother!
- How did you do it? It's so accurate! I think I am convinced. But the name...
- What about the name?
- You should use something more scientific. Something with “ology” in the end.
- Yes. And something easier for the uneducated masses.
- What about skyology?
- Too easy.
- Birthology?
- Complicated.
- Planetology?
- I like Planetology! It even sounds better Razda! Listen to this: Razda Habti, Planetologist.
- Excuse me but what about the existing Planetologists? We certainly don't want to be mistaken for those crazy fools! We are real scientists!
- True. And now that you mention it, my science is not only about planets. It's about all stars.
- Then call it Allstarology. It sounds scientific all right. Razda Habti, Allstarologist. What do you say?
- Great name! Razda Habti, Allstarologist. Allstarology it is! I wish you all a happy predictable year people!

Inspired by: James Randy's Horoscope, Skepchicks, Astrology Explored and a place where Astrology is scientific?! :D


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Earthquake predicted

The skinny old woman was wearing a worn black cloth faintly reminding of a robe. She had left the village ages ago to live in a cave by the sea. Some said she used to be a fisherman’s wife but after he died in a big storm she decided that gods owed her big time and so, she called herself a Sea God Expert, the Best Prophetess Ever Lived and started foretelling the future by interpreting sea signs. If for example you caught an octopus with nine legs and had nothing better to do, you’d run straight to her cave to find out if this meant extra money, good luck or even a bride. Everything was an omen or a godly sign according to her.

Once in a while this prophetess turned up in the street market and like Cassandra, she warned people of biblical disasters, storms and huge waves. And just like with Cassandra, people were very annoyed by her words because whether you were a prophetess or not, no matter if the gods were angry or happy, you knew that sometime soon they were going to throw another big storm, an earthquake or hailstones on you. Why give her credit for shouting in your ears bad news all the time?
How would she like it if you shouted to her ears that she would die someday soon? And then expect everyone to be very impressed by your prophetic powers; and all that during her funeral?

Of course sometimes she really impressed people. Not for her prophetic powers, though; it was mainly about the imagination of he prophecies. “Beware” she had cried one day. “The God Of Oysters is furious at you. You are murdering his children every day. I’m telling you this: throw all the pearls back to the sea now! Don't you know what an oyster has to suffer to become a pearl? Don't you? It takes years of prayers and faith and true regret to become a big shinny pearl. It’s the way the God Of Oysters shows he has forgiven all their oyster sins; by letting them transform into a beautiful pearl. Who are you to ruin that? Hailstones, the pearls of the sky, are on the way! The God Of Oysters is seeking revenge! You can’t just steal his pearls and make necklaces! It’s like… it’s like killing the virgin before the sacrifice! It is… it is… hybris!

However, all her predictions were of bad things to come. There wasn’t one good thing ever predicted by this woman’s lips and that’s why most didn’t really like her. She, on the other hand, when she saw sour faces she got mad and told them they would all thank her one day because “true scientists like prophetesses, witches, philosophers and priestesses don’t have to be popular too; their primal goal is to save their lives”. Their own lives she meant but she could use some popularity.

The market was full of people but her voice was very loud that day. Some laughed, some gathered to enjoy the show. She used to have a small bag around her neck with several seashells in it, which she used to throw in the air and then tell the future by the forms they took after falling on the sand. If for example, the seashells formed something like a circle this meant that someday from now in a year that contains a zero (that could be in 10, 20, 100 or 1000 years) the God Of Cetaceans* would sink the whole village unless they sacrificed a child. Then the crowd would laugh and scatter around the street shops leaving her alone to shout of calamities until she was exhausted.

She said the magic words, raised her hands and threw all the seashells as high as she could. People stepped back. When the seashells fell on the sand, it was obvious they formed the image of something like a snake.
Some couldn’t wait and started to guess:
- God Of Witch Eels! Oh wait, wait! It seems to glow a bit in the sun. Ok, I got it. It’s the God Of Electric Eels. That’s him sending the Sign.
- No, it glows too much. It’s The God Of Fire Eels. Definitely him.
- Oh, stop it! Don’t you see the space between those seashells? They are meant to be stripes. It is for sure The God Of Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait.
- No, can't you see? This is bigger. It must be The God Of Hydrophis Spyralis. Take a good look at my wooden foot; believe me I know how it looks from that close.

The old prophetess stepped forward and started to push people away from her seashells.
- Excuse me! Will you let me do my job? Please, don’t touch anything; you will ruin the evidence. Step back!
She went nearer, gave the shells a closer look, raised her hands and said:
- Well, it could be any of the gods you’ve already mentioned of course and you are right that it had to be a God of the Sea Snake Family but I’m afraid you are not yet aware of all the… unpleasant facts.
- What happened?
- Facts? What facts?
You see yesterday night while I was lying on the beach trying to relax from all those stupid Sirens singing all day, a young merman approached me. He was so handsome that if I wasn’t a scientist with such serious stuffs to handle, I would say yes to his proposal and become his immortal young wife. But the duty goes first! Anyway, he told me that Poseidon’s trident is about to struck our land. I asked him again and again but he swore he told me the truth. Poseidon himself, the God Of Sea Gods, Of All Fishes, Big Waves, Corals, Rocks, Seaweed And Sand, but mainly the God Of Earthquakes, is coming for us!
- Ok. I’ve had it. Someone call the police NOW!
- Yeah! We can’t let her keep scaring women and children like that!
- Good idea! It was about time. Take her to prison!

A big light drove their attention. It was like a cloud or a crystal ball just over the sea. A few seconds later, Poseidon rose from the dark waters and struck fiercely their land with his trident. A very few survived such an earthquake to tell this tale and among them the now younger and immortal prophetess.
And I’ll tell you one thing for sure: I was well respected after that. Oh, and another thing: Mermans are misunderstood. Take it from me, they rock.

*When the seashells formed a circle, everybody knew it would definitely be the God Of Cetaceans. You could easily tell which god would cause trouble this time. When the fish shells formed a line it was the God Of Eels, a bigger line was the God Of Witch Eels, a triangle was the God Of Angel Fish, a big triangle was the God Of Angel Sharks and when they formed nothing (or none could make a decision anyway) it had to be the God Of Plankton; pretty harmless fellow.


Inspired by: Guardian, HowStuffWorks and Huffington Post