The Novo-Tikhvin Women's Monastery
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30 August 2023
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story A book about general Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev appeared

24 November 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a talk by schema-archimandrite Abraham Invincible weapon appeared

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Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story Faithful for good. A monument to prince Dolgorukov, general Tatishchev, sailor Nagorny, and boatswain Sednev appeared

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A year of blue-green she-goat? No, a new year of God's goodness!

In anticipation of the New Year one can often hear the following question: what is the right attitude towards horoscopes, Zodiac signs, and faith in special distribution of stars? Are horoscopes and Orthodoxy compatible? In order to answer these questions, our monastery has published a leaflet about the Orthodox attitude towards the signs of Zodiac, horoscopes, and animal symbols of the upcoming year.

Shop display boards before the New Year dazzle with various souvenirs and calendars with sheep and she-goats: according to the Chinese horoscope, they are the symbols of the upcoming year. At the same time, the Internet, magazines, and newspapers are filled with exclusive horoscopes with fortunetelling such as these: "Life will be auspicious mostly to those she-Goats that were born on a non-rainy day." "A Pig is full of hopes." And so on in the same spirit...

Where did the she-goats come from?

As we know from history, the signs of Zodiac came to us from the East, where they appeared before the Nativity of Christ. Astrology was born in the bosom of Chaldean pagan cult, amidst Persian and Iranian nations where the worship of heavenly bodies – the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars, was especially common. In the meantime, ancient Chinese astrology became the ancestor of the very popular pre-New-Year days animals – the protectors of the year, according to the Chinese horoscope.

Throughout thousands of years, astrology has not changed an iota in its essence. Just like several thousand years ago, so in our days, it is, in essence, the worship of the stars (or the animals – depending on the horoscope), faith in one's fate, in the inevitable course of events.

Are horoscopes dangerous?

The viability of astrology is easy to explain: it substitutes for the true religion, and offers one an easy way, although a totally ephemeral one, without internal striving, without love, and without faith. Without Christ.

The Lord has granted man the great gift of freedom, so that even God Himself does not wish to interfere with this human freedom in the smallest way. At the meantime, fortunetelling and horoscopes deprive man of the freedom of choice, presenting life as a sequence of inevitable events that depend from the arbitrary arrangement of the cold and far stars. Yet, the future depends not on the stars, nor on the arbitrary movement of the planet or the sun, but on the will of the Living God, almighty and good, as well as on the volition of man himself, on his choice between good and evil. Saint John Chrysostom used to say also that a man who believes in fortunetelling loses his hope, his freedom of choice, and his will.

The world is driven not by chance; the world is guided by God's Providence, and the faith in stars, according to the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, offends Him.

Then what about the Magi?

In order to somehow justify the "legality" of faith in predictions and horoscopes, one infrequently mentions the Magi from the Gospel, who were brought to the newborn Christ by the star of Bethlehem. Yet, is there any connection between the star of Bethlehem and astrology?

Magi, in Persian and Iranian culture, were called the wise men who studied natural science, such as astronomy, medicine, and the like. So also the magi from the Gospel were the wise men-astronomers, and, according to one of the legends, they were the governors of some cities in Arabia, Persia, and Egypt. And as the Lord brought apostle Peter to Himself through something that was well-known to the fisherman Peter, i.e., through an unusually big fish crop, so also the Lord had brought the Magi to Himself by the star.

The star of Bethlehem was leading them to Christ, and, having pointed to the newborn God, it disappeared, since the magi were no longer in need of the star, when they saw they Creator of all the stars. With great joy they worshiped the Lord Who came down to earth in order to free them from the captivity to the stars and from faith in blind fate, and they were no longer in need of the star. Thus, why should we believe in the power of the stars, why should we, the people who has already known Christ and whom Christ has already freed, believe in this?

Is there any reason to trust horoscopes?

In their majority, horoscopes are just a part of the show industry, a way to earn big money on people's gullibility.

Of course, it is possible to suppose that someday some of what was predicted in the horoscopes would come true in our lives: simply because every day in our life we encounter many events. Yet, even the predictions in horoscopes are oftentimes so amorphous that they could fit any person in any circumstances: "Astrologers recommend in 2015 special care for one's health and strengthening of the immune system." "The new year will all of us joy through some original surprises of life." "This is a good year for the realization of all of your plans." As if one would not need to care about one's health in 2014 or 2016. Or as if there are no original surprises of life in other years. The absurdity is just too obvious.

Just a pastime?

"So what, – will many people say, – for us this is just a pastime." True. Many read horoscopes out of curiosity or just as a pastime, and buy the she-goats in all their diversity just because they must give something to their friends for the New Year. Yet, this pastime is just like the marsh mire covered by innocuous green grass. It is as if one does not take horoscopes seriously, but at the same time, without noticing it, one becomes infected with their spirit – the spirit of superstition, blind fatalism, and hopeless anguish. One begins to feel powerless before the stars. Yet, instead of wasting our time on the study of lifeless horoscopes that are useless in helping us with anything, let us try to use our time reading the lives of the saints of the works of the Fathers, since such reading is capable of strengthening our soul, of bringing us true joy and hope in Christ.

Therefore, it is much better to not place our hopes on the blue or green (the astrologers have not yet made their minds as to which one) she-goat even as a pastime. It is better to place all our hope on the living and man-loving God, as the Church sings on the day of the New Year:

"O Maker of all creation, Who has in His power the times and years, bless the crown of the year of Your goodness, o Lord, keeping Your people and Your city in peace, through the prayers of the Theotokos, and save us."

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