History of Astrology
The sky is so amazing, isn’t it? Have you ever wondered why it is so fascinating and attractive for so many different people? Very often, we stick to the daily routine we got used to, and our lives are quite predictable for the most part. Everything that is not predictable makes our mind wander. Surely, the sky is on the list. The phrase “sky is the limit” means there are no boundaries, but there are other shades of meaning too. If you think about it for a while, you will realize that there are the moon and the sun traveling in the sky without any rest. Why do they do that? We can only assume.
Sometimes the sky is clear, sometimes it is cloudy. However, when the sky is clear at night, you can see myriads of stars on it. If you observe the stars closely, you will understand that they form various constellations, and they are always on the move. By this time, we know as much that they move in certain patterns, but we may not be fully aware of why they do that for.
Considering this, we should say that people are attracted to the sky since it is not only beautiful but also unexplored, and we love the unknown. It is thrilling to find out some information about the stars, even gathering it piece by piece. That is what people have been doing for thousands of years, and that is what we will discuss today – the history of modern astrology and even a bit more.
Astrology vs. Astronomy
The sky is the sphere of interest for three fields of science – astrology, astronomy, and of course, physics. However, if you take astronomy, this is the sphere where rational rules prevail. This is the science about the moon, the sun, and the stars. Precise calculations are a must. Astrology, in turn, is more related to human behavior. Every scientist may have his or her point of view on astrology, and no matter how many of them exist – all of them are true since there is no way to prove the opposite.
Looking far back into the past, we find out that in ancient times, astrology and astronomy were two related fields, two different names given to the same subject. The truth is that ancient people believed that the sky was the place where all the gods lived. Thus, all changes in the sky were attributed to the will of the gods. As a rule, people hunted, planted and journeyed only when the sky was clear and the stars were in a proper position; otherwise, all the undertakings would fail. There is no exaggeration here since a mere raining season or drought could destroy both their food supply and their dwellings. Gods sent both showers of rain and the burning sun.
Of course, this approach is considered a history today because, due to the rapid development of modern science, we have already achieved many things that our predecessors could not imagine. However, some curiosity remains in people, and even though we can distinguish between astronomy and astrology, we are still fascinated by the sky and its influence on our lives.
Based on this, we concluded that it might be interesting to find out where modern astrology came from and how it developed.
We have already mentioned that astrology and astronomy meant the same for a long time. For instance, ancient astronomers were called astrologers since no other name existed for them. Only the 17th century brought a clear definition to both terms, and from that time people started to consider astrology and astronomy as two different fields of science. In case you do not know, astronomy is the science about the movement of all celestial objects, while astrology is centered around the signs these bodies form and how they influence people.
12 Zodiac Signs
It is so natural for us to ask someone – what is your zodiac sign? It seems that zodiac signs have existed throughout history, and we perceive them just as a legacy. It is true to some extent, but not completely. Western Greek astrology brought us zodiac signs in the way we know them now. Even the word “zodiac” is of Greek origin. However, before Greeks, there were also zodiac signs that people distinguished, although they named them differently. For instance, the Gemini sign that we know now used to be The Great Twins, Libra used to be The Scales, and so on. Surely, the differences are not significant, but they are still worth mentioning as well as remembering.
All the signs were named after corresponding constellations; you probably know that. The relation of the constellation to the position of the sun determines the dates of each zodiac sign. However, from the days of ancients Greeks, the Earth has changed its axis so that in these modern days, the calendar and the sun-constellation ratio do not coincide. This inspired some astrologers to think about the 13th sign, but we are going to tell about it in another article. Here, we are going to discuss the major milestones of the history of astrology.
Yes, indeed, astrology has a very ancient origin! Of course, as every modern, educated human being, you know that Earth is much older than a couple of thousands of years. This means that people lived a long time ago and were as curious about the sky as we are now. In fact, cave paintings and mammoth bones were found, which depicted some specific lunar phases.
6, 000 B.C.
Sumerians and Mesopotamians were the next generations of people who made a significant contribution to modern astrology. Starting with Mesopotamia, people began to observe the sky thoroughly. They discovered the main constellations and named them. What is more, Mesopotamian astrologers explored five planets out of nine that we know nowadays.
After the Mesopotamians, there were Babylonians who took great interest in astrology. Babylonians invented their number system, which served as a basis for our astronomical measurement based on minutes and seconds. In fact, they also invented the concept of the zodiac wheel as we know it now. In truth, this civilization was not only highly interested in the movement of celestial bodies but also strove for new discoveries and experimentation.
By 1,000 B.C., the interest for astrology spreads all over the globe to India, Arabic countries, and Greece, where the first fundamental works were written. Since the era of Alexander the Great and his conquering of Babylon, Greeks made discovery after discovery. This is true not only for astrology, but medicine, mathematics, and philosophy.
As you may already know, all the names of the sun signs came from Greek literature. Apart from that, in 140 A.D., Tetrabiblos was published. This book was the most fundamental work of that time and has been used for centuries. What is more, even modern astrology relies on this relevant ancient source, which made a breakthrough in ancient astronomy. It describes all the main techniques including houses, aspects, signs, and planets.
5th Century A.D.
So far, we have described how thriving the astrology was during the past ages. However, you need to bear in mind that there were the downfalls too. During the collapse of the Roman Empire, astrology experienced its greatest crisis and disappeared for almost 500 years. However, this science was soon reborn in the middle ages, which proves its significance to humankind.
Despite the fact that the Middle Ages were the dark ones, the astrological tradition was reborn. It would be right to say that the early Middle Ages gave the science a fresh start. Let us explain why. In fact, every scientist of that time was somehow involved in astrology. There was barely a doctor or mathematician who didn’t contribute to it. It is fair to mention that the development of mathematics, in particular, contributed to the creation of the most precise charts. Even universities and royal courts hired and welcomed astrologers.
During a long period of time, the church welcomed astrology too. For instance, Placidus was both a monk and mathematician who was known for the creation of house division, the method recognized and used until now. However, once the church saw the potential in astrology and its contradiction to religious fundamentals, its development was terminated again. You may already know that even Galileo had to renounce astrology. Otherwise, he would have been found guilty of heresy and executed.
There is a reason why historians call the 17th-18th centuries The Age of Reason and the Age of Enlightenment. For a long time, people were suppressed by both church and superstitions, and the era of enlightenment was supposed to change that. That could only mean that there was no place for astrology. Science and skepticism were the main forces to rebuild society. Those interested in astrology were considered frivolous, and astrology remained as a hobby for personal entertainment rather than independent science. It should be noted that scientists who worked in the field of astrology had to use pseudonyms. So, the downfall continued.
Of course, astrology couldn’t remain in the shadows for a long time, and the 19th century brings back the interest to the science. As a matter of fact, there was a famous psychologist who ignited the spark, Carl Gustav Jung. While Europe was waking up from its coma of rationalism, the scientist headed it towards spirituality. Jung did something quite unexpected – he combined astrology with psychological analysis, and astrology became popular among the masses.
Slowly but surely we came close to modern days. You may not know, but 1920 was the year when the first horoscopes were printed in newspapers. Since that time astrology, or at least the parts of it like horoscopes, became available to the majority of the population, and there was an uplift in the field. Of course, these days, you can easily find anything you wish to know about your zodiac sign or your sun signs’ compatibility online, and that can mean only one thing – the science survived throughout eras.
To sum up, it is worth saying that no matter which form of astrology you take, it has a certain mystery to it even though is it so closely related to something that most modern people know about. Of course, modern astrology has many advantages comparing to Babylonian astrology or Indian astrology, but the fact remains. You may believe in fate, read horoscopes, trust birth charts or you may not. These days you are free to decide yourself. This is the freedom that people and scientists who lived years ago didn’t have. However, they decided to contribute to this existing celestial science, even though they didn’t comprehend it clearly. We do not know, which route is correct – believe or not believe – what we do know is that our ancestors have left us millennium legacy, and it would be unwise to ignore and not to develop it with all the means at hand.