The History of Astrology – From Babylon to The 21st Century

Jan 28th, 2009 | By | Category: Astrology

You may be wondering – how did Astrology get started? How did it come about that nearly 90% of the population know their Sun sign, and what is the importance of Astrology? In this article we will cover a brief history of Astrology and what it means for us in the 21st Century.

Astrology is an original science combined with an art which has been used to study the relationships between events that happen here on planet Earth and the patterns of the stars, planets and other celestial objects in the heavens. These relationships are important because they seem to have a direct influence on our human affairs, as well as on our own unique personalities and events!

Astrology is both science and art: the planetary positions in space and time are known facts, while the symbols used to interpret their meanings are purely artistic in nature. This unique and synchronous combination make astrology difficult to verify and explain.

Zodiac from Egyptian Temple at Dendera

Zodiac from Egyptian Temple at Dendera

As early humans followed and knew that the timing of the seasons and the prediction of the harvest were valuable, they began studying the stars in the heavens as the events on Earth unfolded. Many ancient cultures included the Egyptians which were probably the first to practice astrology, Mayans, Aztecs and Incas of South America studied the events and objects in the heavens. They eventually developed complex calendars based on their findings. In Babylon (3000BC-600BC) the astronomer-priests started to look further at the signs and omens that they were seeing in the night sky.

As the Babylonians developed their calendars they started using the images of totem animals to represent 12 divisions of a year. This most likely happened because it was an easy way to split up the circumference of the circle (360 degrees) into equal 30 degree portions. But, the actual year would have been better served to have been split into 13 portions to coincide with the 13 lunar periods which occur in each year.

Early in Egyptian history (2600BC) a connection was made between astrology and the relevance of the planetary objects in the heavens with our daily lives. The great pyramids most likely served as observation platforms, as well as temples for these early priests. Somewhere in this early history the combination of religious belief, astrological events and astronomical facts all came together. The early Egyptians worshiped this trinity and even spent lifetimes honoring the heavens through hieroglyphics and sacred temples.

The Egyptians saw the combination of all of these early predictive elements as sacred reality and they believed that the universal laws that they encompassed were meant to be lived by humanity. They even assigned numerical references to objects and the combination of numerology, astrology, religion and predictive arts soon took on a high place in the culture and society.

The Greeks eventually brought together the religious and mythological gods and named the planets based on the Olympian gods. The philosophers of Greece (such as Ptolemy, Pythagoras, and Plato) developed a system that recognized and unified the cosmological systems of India, Babylonia, Chaldea, India and Egypt.

Ptolemy (85AD-165AD), Copernicus (1473-1543) and Kepler (1571-1630)

Ptolemy (85AD-165AD), Copernicus (1473-1543) and Kepler (1571-1630)

During the time of Ptolemy it was thought that the human body and mind were microcosms (tiny cosmos) of the cosmos, and that our bodies could studied to understand the heavens: “As above, so below.” It was not until Copernicus proposed his theory that the Sun was the center of the universe and not the Earth in 1514 which was later proved by Kepler in the early 1600’s, that astrology started to become popular to the masses.

Astrology and prediction (horary astrology) became very popular throughout much of the 1600s, however after William Lilly made an accurate prediction of the London fire of 1666, in which he was later tried in court and found guilty for, that the occult nature of astrology started to become apparent. As science and the scientific concepts started to develop scientists threw out the nature of the 5th element (‘aether’) and eventually caused a dormant period in astrology history until the mid 1800’s when the Theosophical society was founded.

Lilly (1602-1681), Blavatsky (1813-1891)

Lilly (1602-1681), Blavatsky (1813-1891)

Madame Blavatsky who formed the society brought about a resurrection of interest in astrology and other occult arts throughout the 1800’s that eventually led to it’s current popularity. The great psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) inspired many modern astrologers in the early 1900’s with his acceptance and use of astrology throughout his life. We have now come to the current, more popular point in history where astrology has become well-respected and used by many people: such as President Reagan who took astrological forecast advice from his wife Nancy during his presidency.

Today’s resurging interest in astrology proves that there is still much to be learned from this ancient combination of science, art and psychological understanding. Carl Jung did great work in making others aware of the value of astrology, it remains to be seen who the next great modern celebrity will be that will welcome a meaningful and open discussion on the value of astrology in our daily lives, but it’s most likely only a matter of time before we once again see great value and prophetic understanding coming from those of us with interest in this ancient science.

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