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 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

Ethics In Dystopia

Pythia run out from the oracle screaming, cursing and casting spells to innocent people. Every time she opened her mouth something really bad would happen. Zeus would come up with a thunder, Poseidon with a Cracken or Aphrodite with a new lover. All three very painful.

It was obvious that Pythia’s religious feelings were too strong to handle any more. You only had to draw her attention away from her Gods for seconds, or just ask her a very simple question, one that even a child could easily answer, something like “what is the Aquarius zodiac sign compatibility?” or "what does Zeus think of abortions?" and she became furious. And people kept coming from all over Dystopia for her prophecies. It was her job after all. But even a mosquito could make her mad those days. Her speaking to gods was like an addiction.

The only thing she wanted to do day and night, was to talk to her Gods which would be exactly what she was expected to do, unless she didn’t leave out the part of telling people what gods wished them to do. She had to be a medium and not in the middle of god's will. Talking to gods was a common addiction* for priests.

People called the Priest Of All Gods to help her. He went near her, rose his hands and spoke:
Don't do to others what you don't want others do to you”.

In any other universe this would be a great piece of advice. Pure wisdom. It would spread like pollen and be fertile enough for generations to come. However in Dystopia, such confident speaking was not something wise on it's own. You never took it for granted. No matter who said it, no matter how well he said it, it had to be really wise. Or at least, make sense.

People protested: “That’s not fair!” They began shouting until someone said:
- Let me ask you this, you stupid old man. Let’s suppose I like spaghetti and my mother likes pizza. That means that she must always eat spaghetti, right? And… I must always eat pizza?
- No, no… I meant…
- Yeah! And I hate wearing pink but my girlfriend loves it. What kind of cruel religion would suggest I don’t buy her pink shoes for her birthdays just because I don’t like pink bought for me?
- My pig loves mud. My little son loves mud too. Oh, I don’t even want to think about it, you monster!

Pythia moved near the Priest Of All Gods. She whispered to his ear: “I can get you out of this” she said.
- Really?
- Piece of cake.
- Then do that right this instant young lady, what are you waiting for?
- If I do that, you will leave me alone afterwards, let’s say… for 3 weeks?
- Deal.
- No visits, no prophecies, no daily horoscopes or any other questions asked?
- Do it now!
- Just me and my oracle, my absolutely essential ehm… spiritual substances and my Gods? Oh… and some chocolate, maybe?
- Done.

Pythia stood up. “Calm down mortals”, she said. The crowd went silent. She used to speak so seldom and they payed her so much for her godly words, that even if she made no sense, everyone would pay attention. The connection of Pythia’s prophesies with logic would be made afterwards. Or not, but you never admitted that of course.
- This old man is no ordinary old man. He is in fact very wise and so are his words. It’s the Hydra in his brain that is responsible for all this nonsense. Spirits told me just yesterday that the Gods felt jealous of his wisdom and so they put a tiny Hydra in his head.
- Really?
- Cross my heart. So, every time Logic cuts a head, Insanity grows back three. For every word he tries to say, his brain Hydra grows three more that make no sense at all and kicks them out of his mouth.
- Ewwww!
- If you see to it, It’s not him you should blame but you. You are the ones who should find the wise words in everything he says. You are the ones to discover the golden rule hidden in what he told you today and not his poor sick old brain! People started to rethink his words. Some of them, loud.
- I found it! It must be “Don’t’ do others. Do you”
- What does that mean?
- No, no it’s the exact opposite: “Do others, not you”
- Rubbish! I got it. It’s “Do you do others?”
- I will leave you now. You can continue your group therapy to wisdom. You are doing fine. You almost got it. Take my word for it. Keep it up!

Pythia left the Priest Of All Gods enjoy some enthusiastic cheering everytime someone from the crowd made a new combination of his words. He eventually felt free to say whatever religious nonsense he wanted, with absolutely no consequences to the Church’s image, for a change. A true Zen experience. Pythia closed the oracle’s door behind her, re-opened it in a hurry, hung the “Spirits Gone Fishing” sign and closed it again.

  • It’s that kind of addiction all religious people have, after talking once to their gods. Since you do that, it seems that you can’t get enough (most times, there is serious spiritual substances involved but that’s a sacrifice you have to make for your faith and has absolutely nothing to do with how religious you realy are).

Inspired by: myLot