About The History and Origin of Astrology
The word Astrology comes from the green word astron meaning "constellation" or star", and logia which means "the study of".
Astrology is defined as the study of the positions of celestial bodies such as the sun, moon and planets, along with related details, in the belief that their movements either directly influence life on Earth or correspond somehow to events experienced on a human scale. There are numerous traditions and uses for astrology that have arisen since it's earliest recorded beginnings.
"We are born at a given moment, in a given place, and like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born." - Carl Gustav Jung
The study of the Sun, Moon, and Stars began well before mankind's earliest written records. There are even fossils that date back to around the ice age that have notches carved on them to indicate the phases of the moon.
Early sky-gazers carefully observed and studied the heavens and began charting the apparent movement of the stars and planets. Calendars were developed for marking the measuring and passage of time. In some ancient societies astrology was mixed with religion and these astrologers were actually considered priests.
Over time celestial patterns emerged and was possible to predict the recurrence of cosmic events such as eclipses and moon phases, and these celestial bodies were seemed to have an effect on earthly phenomenon such as weather, plant growth, and other terrestrial events. The early astrologer-priests then began exploring the concept that by observing the heavenly bodies it would be possible to predict the fate of the human being by casting a horoscope, which was a chart of the positions of the celestial bodies at the time of ones birth. This new science of the heavens eventually branched out into other areas of the world, mixing and merging with other astrological methods and eventually developed into the basic forms of Astrology that are still used to this day. The basis of Eastern Astrology is the Lunar Cycle. Western Astrology follows the Solar cycles.
The Shaping of Eastern Astrology
Hindu religion began with the study of the stars around 5000 B.C.E - 3000 B.C.E. The reigning god of Hinduism is Vishnu, who is the "incarnated sun", and the most divine. Sometimes when there is chaos on the earth Vishnu visits the earth in various forms such as the ram, bull or lion. These symbols were found on temple walls dating back 7,000 years, and are still used in astrology today with the signs of Aries the Ram, Taurus the Bull and Leo the Lion. The Indian zodiac has twelve signs just like the modern zodiac. The Hindus divided the sky into 28 equal parts which they called the "Lunar Mansions". Each part represented a passage of the Moon through it's 28 day cycle. In Hindu astrology the concept of Karma and Reincarnation plays a very important role and can determine the "stage" a persons soul has reached in this current lifetime.
Egyptian Astrology developed from about 3000 B.C.E - 300 B.C.E. and was also linked to their religious beliefs. It was mainly practiced by the Egyptian priests who understood the secrets of the heavens. Egyptians had many gods and deities and each had a specific power or influence over a specific aspect of life. Osiris was the god of the dead and the afterlife, Isis was the goddess of fertility and the ideal wife or mother. Horus was the "sun" of Isis and Osiris. The sun, moon and venus were honored among the Egyptians.
Orginally the Egyptians divided the sky into 36 sections. Later it was divided into 12 parts and each was assigned a special deity to every month, and was given a form and a name. This became the twelve astrological signs. Egpytians were the first to to develop the concept of the birth chart which enabled them to predict a person's character and destiny based on the position of the celestial bodies at the time of birth.
Astrology was independently being developed in China starting around 2800 B.C.E and it's methods and systems are still in use today. In China, the emperor was considered the "son of the heavens". Ancient manuscripts tells us about an specific emperor who named the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac and divided the sky into 28 "mansions of the moon". Chinese astrology is different from western astrology in that there are 12 years and each is represented by a different animal. The elements of fire, air, earth and water is important to a Chinese horoscope, along with the concept of Yin and Yang (negative and positive forces).
Chinese astrology does not calculate the positions of the sun, moon and planets at the time of birth. Therefore, there is no astrology in the European sense in China. Chinese astrology has a close relation with Chinese philosophy (theory of the harmony of sky, humans and earth). The twelve animals that represent each year in the Chinese Zodiac are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
The Shaping of Western Astrology
The roots of Western astrology can be traced back to the Middle East 4000 B.C.E - 125 B.C.E. There was a region once known as Mesopotamia which consisted of Babylonia and Assyria. The ancient settlers known as the Sumerians studies the sky and began to notice a connection between the heavenly cycles and the plant and food growth. The Sumerians placed importance on three deities which were known as Sin the moon god, Shamash the sun goddess, and Ishtar the goddess of Fertility whose home was the bright star Venus. As in most early cultures the astrologers were the religious priests who were also leaders of government. They built large observatories known as Ziggurats in order to study the movements of the stars and planets. The famous Tower of Babel is sometimes described as a Ziggerat.
From 2800 B.C.E up until 500 B.C.E Astrology became more sophisticated. The planets Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn has been discovered. Each of these planets were also given certain characteristics and a god was assigned to each. Mars was a fiery planet associated with war, Venus was a feminine planet associated with love and fertility. The four seasons were also given symbolic meaning. Spring was the bull, summer a lamb, autumn a scorpion and winter a turtle. The characteristics of Mars and Venus, and the astrological sign of the Bull and the Scorpion are still used today.
Among the sciences, astronomy and astrology played a very important role in ancient Babylonian society. The modern Zodiac was created by the Babylonians and the astrologer-priests first set out the basic principles of astrology that remain unchanged to this day. The sky was divided into twelve equal parts through which the sun and moon traveled. These twelve divisions may also represent each month of a lunar cycle and the twelve months of the Babylonian year. The circle of the sky was 360 degrees and each division was 30 degrees. The twelve divisions or signs were given the names : Aries, Pleiades, Gemini, Praesepe, Leo, Spica, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces. The Greeks later changed Pleiades to Taurus, Praessepe to Cancer, and Spica to Virgo. Each sign has an influence over particular events on earth. Each rules an animal, plant, a precious stone, and a color.
The Babylonians were also the first to name the 12 houses. which are divisions of the zodiac that govern various aspects of life. During this time astrology was mainly used to predict weather forecasts, floods, harvests, eclipses, war times, and fortunes of the king. It is around 400 B.C.E - 200 B.C.E that a person's individual horoscope was focused upon.There are a few horoscopes cast during time that are still in existence.
In Babylonian Astrology the constellation Cassiopia was called "woman with child" because every 300 years it produced an unusually bright star. This star ruled over the lands of Palestine and Syria. It may be the star that the Three Wise Men followed to the manger where Jesus was born because it was bright in the sky at that very time. The Jewish people of that era also practiced astrology. The word "Mazel Tov" has it's roots in astrology. Derived from the biblical Hebrew word Mazelot" which means "sign of the zodiac" or "constellation".
Around 900 B.C.E to A.D 150 The Greeks began making use of astrology. They gave names to the five observable planets which were Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. The early Egyptians who had originally divided the sky into 36 sections were called "Dekanoi" (10 degrees each) to the Greek. This is where we get the word Decan or Decanate and the original 36 are still be used today.
Around 600 BC the philosopher Pythagoras believed the universe was a giant sphere that contained the earth and other celestial bodies and the "air" around it. The word "planet" is comes from the Greek word planetes which means "wanderer". 200 years later in 400 BC the Greek mathematician and astronomer Eudoxos was the first to explain the movements of the planets in more scientific terms. He introduced a new calendar based on the Babylonian one, also divided into 12 equal sections or signs.
When Alexander the Great (who often consulted astrologers himself) conquered Babylonia in 331 B.C.E the Greeks took over Babylonian astrology. They gave the 5 planets new names taken from their own mythological gods.
As astrology further developed in Babylonia while under Greek influence, it's scope was enlarged and eventually brought into connection with practically all of the known sciences: botany, chemistry, zoology, mineralogy, anatomy and medicine. Colors, metals, stones, plants, drugs and animal life of all kinds were each associated with one or another of the planets and placed under their rulership. Astrology played an important part in Medieval medicine. The most educated physicians were trained in at least the basics of astrology to use in their practice.
Caludius Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer who is considered the father of modern astrology. His observations were developed into theories of the universe which he wrote about in TheTetrabiblos, considered the first modern textbook on astrology. Ptolemy described the functions and meanings of the planets, houses and signs of the zodiac. He also introduced the theory of "aspects" which are still used today and are a very important part of an astrological chart.
Astrology became of great interest to the Romans around 300 B.C.E - A.D 476 when it was first introduced to them by their Greek slaves. Almost every Roman authority had personal astrologers and Horoscopes were often studied in order to make predictions about military rivals and to have an advantage during war. Notable figures who used astrology include Cleopatra and Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Tiberius, Nero and Hadrian to name a few. The Romans also renamed the Greek planets again according to corresponding name of their roman gods. The Roman names for these planets are currently the ones used in the west today.
After the fall of the roman empire the use of astrology began to diminish. It was at this time around A.D 354 - A.D 430 that Christianity became widespread and astrology was considered the work of the devil and was linked to superstition. Although there was little astrology being practiced in Europe at this time, the Arab world still considered astrology to be a serious science.
The Origins and History of Modern Western Astrology
Since the dawn of time when man first looked up at the stars and planets and was awestruck by their beauty people have tried to understand their significance. What ever your use of the horoscope and astrology, the information will give you an insight into a world that you may have little knowledge of and provide a valuable source of information.
The Shaping of Modern Astrology
Astrology would not play a major role in the west until around A.D 1200 when Arabic writings and many lost astrological works made their way back into Europe and once again this science began to have an influence. What we know as modern western astrology began to take shape at this time.
Astrology even became embodied in the Kabbalistic lore of Jews and Christians and through these and other channels came to be the substance of the astrology of the Middle Ages. Various figures in the church such as St. Thomas Aquinas(1225 - 1274) also added to the legitimacy of astrology at this time.
As the Renaissance period emerged astrology flourished once again. In the late 1400's and early 1500's many Catholic popes and princes of Italy frequently used astrology. Even Queen Elizabeth the I consulted a personal astrologer.
During the age of Enlightenment during the 17th century, use of astrology began to decline and was again linked to superstition and the occult. In 1781 Sr William Herschel discovered a new planet which was eventually named Uranus. This new planets actually began to shed more light onto the astrological data that already existed and this ancient science started to fall more into place. Later on astrology also easily accommodated for the discovery of Neptune in 1846, and Pluto in 1930. After the founding of the Theosophical society in 1875 by Madame Helena Blavatsky, astrology made yet another full comeback. Many prominent astrologers of the time were active in the society which focused on intellectual interest of astrology, religious studies and investigations into the unexplained law of nature.
In 1914 a British astrologer named Alan Leo published an influential magazine titled The Astrologer's Magazine" (later renamed Modern Astrology). Evangeline Adams was also noted to be the first American Astrologer who had a very popular radio program on astrology in the 1930's. During World War II Nazi leaders even began to use astrology for negative propaganda purposes. Nancy Reagan regularly consulted with a personal astrologer to gain advice concerning herself and her husband Ronald Reagan during his presidency. The value of an astrologer as a personal counselor and supporter is still an important use of astrology to this day.
The Astrology of today is less focused on the attempt to predict events, and more on the use of astrology for personal growth. Through personal guidance, self-discovery, realizing one’s true potential, and learning to resolve conflicts, one can can embrace the spiritual side of astroloogy. As we shift into the new age of Aquarius Astrology will continue to play an important role in the spiritual development of the self, bringing awareness of the soul, and helping us to understand the world around us.
Astrology and Astronomy
From the classical period through the scientific revolution, astrological training played a critical role in advancing astronomical, mathematical, medical and psychological knowledge. Astrological influences included the observation and long-term tracking of celestial objects. It was astrologers who provided the first systematic documentation of the movements of the Sun, the Moon, the planets, and the stars. The differentiation between astronomy and astrology varied from place to place; they were indistinguishable in ancient Babylonia and medieval Europe, but separated to an extent in the Hellenistic world. The first semantic distinction between astrology and astronomy was given in the 11th century by the Persian astronomer, Abu Rayhan al-Biruni
Many modern astrologers define astrology as an art form or a symbolic language. Some individuals in the mainstream scientific community still consider astrology a pseudoscience or even superstition. But Astrology has played a role in the shaping of culture, early astronomy, and other disciplines throughout history. Before the modern era, the science of Astronomy was often indistinguishable from Astrology. Both involved the observation and study of the motions of celestial objects in order to make predictions.
Historically, astronomy has included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, the making of calendars, and even astrology. Professional astronomy is nowadays often considered to be synonymous with astrophysics which deals with physical properties of the universe and their interactions. Astronomy began to diverge from astrology after a period of gradual separation from the Renaissance up until the 18th century. Eventually, astronomy distinguished itself as the scientific study of astronomical objects and phenomena without regard to the astrological speculation of these phenomena.
Many prominent thinkers, philosophers and scientists, such as Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Paracelsus, Girolamo Cardan, Nicholas Copernicus, Taqi al-Din, Tycho Brahe, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Carl Jung and others, practiced or significantly contributed to astrology.
Next Section: The Basics of Astrology
See Also: The Origins and History of Modern Western Astrology
Introduction To Astrology
The History of Astrology
The Basics of Astrology
The Sun Sign
The Moon Sign
The Ascendent (Rising Sign) The Zodiac The Natal Chart The Planets The Houses The Age of Aquarius
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