Astrology as Religion

Theory and Practice


  • Lilan Laishley University of Tennessee



cosmos, nature religion, astrology, axis of placement


Astrology can be understood as religious in both its principles and practices. A standard definition of religion is used to track astrology’s theoretical, practical, and sociological components. Theoretically, astrology’s Western foundations come from Plato and his story of creation, Timaeus. In establishing a relationship between the larger world of God (macrocosm) and the smaller world of humankind (microcosm), astrology illustrates the Greek concept of an interconnected cosmos. The practice of astrology as a nature religion arises from astrology’s literal, metaphorical, symbolic, and perceptual links to nature. The intersection of time and place at each person’s birth establishes an ‘axis of placement’ connecting each person to the natural world. Astrological practices include tracking the movement of the sun, moon, and planets; ritual participation in the cycles of nature; and honoring nature as sacred. Sociologically, astrology has an amorphous organizational structure, lack of a clear doctrine, and few identifiable institutional partnerships.

Author Biography

Lilan Laishley, University of Tennessee

Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of Tennessee.


Aquinas, Thomas 1964a Summa Theologiae. X. Cosmogony (trans. William Wallace; New York: McGraw–Hill).

b Summa Theologiae. XV. The World Order (trans. M.J. Charlesworth; New York: McGraw–Hill).

Albanese, Catherine 1990 Nature Religion in America: From the Algonkian Indians to the New Age (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).

Bowker, John (ed.) 1997 The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (Oxford: Oxford University Press). N.d. ‘Space Junk Continuing to Accumulate’. Online: (accessed 21 January 2006).

Eliade, Mircea 1959 The Sacred and Profane: The Nature of Religion (trans. Willard Trask; New York: Harcourt Brace & Company).

Ellwood, Robert, and Barbara McGraw 2005 Many Peoples, Many Faiths: Women and Men in the World Religions (New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 8th edn).

Kagan, Neil (ed.) 2005 National Geographic Concise History of the World (Washington, DC: National Geographic).

Metzger, Bruce, and Roland E. Murphy (eds.) 1991 New Oxford Annotated Bible (New York: Oxford University Press).

Plato 1977 Timaeus (trans. Desmond Lee; London: Penguin Books).

Tarnas, Richard 1991 Passions of the Western Mind (New York: Ballantine Books).

Taylor, Bron 2005 ‘Ecology and Religion: Ecology and Nature Religions’, in Lindsay Jones (ed.), Encyclopedia of Religion, IV (New York: MacMillan Reference, 2nd edn).

‘Earth and Nature-Based Spirituality’ (Part I and II), Religion 31.2: 175-93; 31.3: 225-45.

Taylor, Humphrey 2003 ‘The Religious and Other Beliefs of Americans’. Harris Poll #11, February 26.

Tobin, Kate 2006 ‘New Horizons Rockets to Pluto’,, January 19. Online:

Weiner, Tim 2005 ‘Air Force Seeks Bush’s Approval for Space Arms’, New York Times, 18 May.

Wilford, John Noble 1989 ‘Russians Finally Admit They Lost Race to the Moon’, New York Times, 18 December.

Whitfield, Peter 2001 Astrology: A History (New York: Harry Abrams, Inc.).



How to Cite

Laishley, L. (2007). Astrology as Religion: Theory and Practice. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 1(2), 172–188.