Astrology, a conjectural science, the professors of which pretend to judge of the effects and influence of the planets ; and to foretell future events; by the situation and different aspects of the heavenly bodies. It is divided into two branches - natural and judiciary. To the former belongs the prediction of natural effects, such as the changes of the weather, winds, earthquakes, etc. : the latter is that in which misguided and superstitious persons attempt to foretell future events.
Judicial astrology is said to have been invented in Chaldea, and thence transmitted to the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. At Rome, the people were so infatuated with this fallacious science, that the astrologers, then called mathematicians, could never be suppressed, notwithstanding all the edicts of the Emperors to expel them from that city.
This superstition has prevailed even in modern ages; and, about a century ago, was in great repute in this country. Since that period, however, the minds of men having become more enlightened, that art, which owed its origin to the practices of knaves, on the credulity of the ignorant, is now universally exploded by the intelligent part of society. There are, however, still in the metropolis, several female impostors, who have acquired a degree or' celebrity among their own sex, by the accidental fulfillment of some of their frivolous predictions.
The origin of so absurd a pursuit, may be ascribed chiefly to an almost general neglect of studying, in schools, those branches of natural science, which explain the phenomena taking place in the dif ferent kingdoms of nature; and to that singular eagerness which is obvious, not only among all uncivilized nations, but likewise among the lower classes of the most enlightened people, for acquiring a knowledge of future events, while they neglect their present welfare and safety. - See Divination ; Necromancy.