History of astrology

Astrology chart drawing

History of Astrology

Overview 

Man has always searched for answers surrounding nature and existence. It was not long before human beings realized that they could understand such mysteries through celestial objects and planets. It is believed that the history of astrology began when humans started measuring seasonal changes and using astronomical patterns to predict their frequency.

History of astrology – Mesopotamia and Babylon 

The history of astrology likely starts within the Babylon period.  The first system of organized astrology was first used in Babylon around the second millennium BC. Soon after 3000BC, patterns in the galaxy were identified and named. The early astronomers of Mesopotamia identified five stars wandering in the galaxy. There was extensive use of omen-based astrology by the sixteenth century BC. During this time, Babylonians used astrology to predict weather patterns and political affairs.

Astrological symbols were mainly used to indicate seasonal activities. These include fishing, harvesting, sowing crops, and hunting. By the 4th century, Babylonians had made huge mathematical advancements. This enabled them to calculate planetary positions with a certain level of accuracy.

History of astrology

History of astrology – Hellenistic Egypt

Since Egypt was conquered by the Persians in 525 BC, there are very high chances of Egyptian astrology being influenced by the Mesopotamians. In Alexandria, Egyptian decan astrology was combined with Babylonian astrology, which resulted to horoscopic astrology. The horoscopic astrology consisted of the Babylonian zodiac of triplicities, importance of eclipses and planetary exaltations.

On the other hand, the Egyptians divided the zodiac into 36 decans each having 10 degrees. The major emphasis was placed on the rising decan. The decans was a system used to measure time in relation to constellations. The night was divided into hours by the rising of the decans. Of particular importance during this time of horoscopic development, was the astrologer and astronomer, Ptolemy, who lived in Alexandria.

History of astrology – Greece and Rome

Greek adopted cuneiform as the main language of communication. During this process, astrology was transmitted from cuneiform to Greek. Two forms of astrology were in existence in Greece, by the first century BC. One variation required reading and interpretation of horoscopes in order to understand the past, present and future. The other one was based on divine beliefs, connecting human souls with the divine world.

Greek played a major role in transmitting astrology to the Romans. The first sign of astrology in Rome was because of an orator who was known as Cato. One of the original people to introduce hermetic astrology to the Romans was a Greek, known as Thrasyllus. He was appointed as the astrologer for an emperor known as Tiberius

History of astrology – Europe

By the late 10th century, translation of Arabian works started arriving in Spain. This was followed by the arrival of astrological works to Europe from Arabia. By the 13th century, the medical practice in Europe was hugely dominated by astrologer. Doctors used studies of the stars and combined it with Galenic medicine developed by a Greek Psychologist known as Galen.

Towards the end of 1500, there was a law requiring all physicians to calculate the moon’s position before undertaking medical procedures like surgery. In Medieval Europe, writers used astrological symbols to represent different themes. During the renaissance period, court astrologers would combine astrology, astronomical observations, and horoscopes.

History of astrology – India 

A form of astrology has existed in India from as early as 1000BC. This was mainly attributed to Greek influence. A western version resembling the zodiac was introduced during the Hellenistic period. Due to military conquests by Alexander the great, Greek became the language that was mostly spoken in the Indus valley. Treatises during this time mostly used astrological language and symbols. The oldest is the Sayings of the Greek, which is believed to have been recorded in 270AD.

History of astrology – China

Astrology in china dates back to the third millennium BC. This system was based on calendars and astronomy. It mostly flourished during the Han Dynasty. Chinese astrology and philosophy are closely related. During the early times, astrology was held in high regard. Chinese used astrology to determine seasons using the sun calendar and moon calendar. Time calculation, which was done according to day, month and year also borrowed heavily from astrology.

History of astrology – Islamic World

With the collapse of Alexandria in the 7th Century, the Arabic astrologers were very enthusiastic about learning astrology. They viewed it as a way to spread their influence and conquer the world. The Arabs increased astronomical knowledge greatly. Many of the star names that are popular today owe their origin to the Arabian astrologers. Most of the astrological knowledge in Europe also originated from the Arabian Gulf.

Bottom line

Many of the astrological signs that are present today were discovered thousands of years ago. Astrological knowledge today has greatly advanced due to technology. However, there are still believers of traditional astrology who read and interpret signs using patterns in the sky.