and its beginnings have been around in one form or another for a very long time, from well before
mankind's earliest written records began. Around
50'000 years ago stone monuments were constructed with a purpose connected to obeservation of the sky & prediction of earthly events like spring, harvest, winter etc. You can visit sites that provide evidence of astrology and astronomy in stone constructions, stone circles, sky observation & marker stones
in Great Britain, Europe & the middle East from 8000 to 1000 years ago.
Early thought on measuring the sky was based on the need for correct crop timing, undoubtebly this is part of the early use. However worship of observable bodies in the sky and being able to pre-empt & predict correlations in the world is strongly in evidence.
Modern western astrology really got going in Mesopotamia and Sumeria (approx Iraq & Iran) in the middle east approx 5000 to 3000 years ago, The entire political system & state was run on Astrological principals.
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more about Astrology History below
Stone Circles & similar constructions appear to be a way to time & predict the winter or summer soltice plus understand the timing of the farmers and priests year. The planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn plus the Sun & Moon were all observed in the night skies and their movements correlated with events on earth. The behaviour of the planets and eclipses were noted from high temples in Babylon called Ziggurats around 3000 BC and were part of a system to efficiently run society, almost a religion. Eventually the pathways of the planets were called the Zodiac, at around the time of the Greek civilisation in the 5th and 6th Centuries BC.
Early Astrology History
Stone Circles appeared in Europe and have been found in Israel, Egypt, Syria and across the middle east.
In Mesopotamian & following cultures, the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, the Assyrians & the Sumerians, thriviing in the middle east from 5000 BC to approx 1 AD, the observable planets, Moon & Sun plus some stars were part of a system to get the correct time for political events, cities to be constructed and for people to act, in fact the entire state revolved around Astrological ideas and the maths of predicing planetary movements was greatly advanced as was the written observations of related effect on people & culture.
Trade through this region has connections with Egypt to the west and India to the East and not surprisingly there are indigenous sky obseravtion cultures in those regions where there is cross polination of ideas & methods.
Egyption observation of the sky is well known as is the religion that went with that.
The Greeks learned the traditions & methods from their trade to the east, Babylonian astrologial ideas were mixed with a tradition of a home grown panthoen of gods and the new philosophy.
In Alexandria, Ptolemy wrote the first books on astrology; the Almagest and Tetrabiblios. These books describe how the earth is surrounded by a power, the forces of which are projected from the planets to affect life on earth.
The books list benevolent and malefic influences and begin to relate to individuals rather than countries. From this time, every person who could afford it was able to have his or her horoscope read, and would find out about health, wealth, the best partner to share life with and even the time and cause of his/her death.
Ideas were refined and in turn picked up by the romans, christians and jews, you can find jewish temples that have zodiacs as part of the decor in the middle east!
Continual development of the maths of planets was also continued by arab scholars and fed into ideas further west.
For a long time christian theology actively embraced astrology as evidence of the work of god a position which only really changed across western culture around 1700.
It seems highly likely that the political need to control access to god has more to do with the casting out of astrology by religion than by any real objection, of course astrology has been cast as the work of the devil since, but then so has anything else that was a bit inconveniant to the popes control!
The Earliest Horoscope
The earliest known horoscopes date to Babylonian culture around the 5th Century BC, being a text that forecasts the destiny of a new child.
The earliest recognisable horoscope diagrams are the square horoscopes of around 500 AD, the square horoscope diagram is still used in India today, the eariest circular horpscope diagram dates to around 1500 AD.
Early predictions were of natural disasters and war, and later individual horoscopes were cast for the leaders of countries.
Some of these exist today. Astrology then spread towards India and China and Egypt and Greece. Simultaneously, the early Europeans and the people of the Americas were developing their own forms of Astrology and Astronomy, particularly the Mayans of Mexico.
However, the Greeks attributed their gods and goddesses to the planets and then the Romans accepted that astrology was a form of divination, and introduced the names we are familiar with today.
As astrology developed new techniques were introduced; the ten degree portions of the signs (decans), the association of the rulers of the days and the weeks to the planets.
From Egypt came a collections of texts on magic, healing and astrology attributed to Hermes Tismegistus, the Greek equivalent to Thoth, the Egyptian god of learning.
The Greeks went on to develop and complex scientific method of astrology. Philosophy, medicine, and religion all accepted this system.
The idea of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm was born (as above, so below).
Various parts of the body were associated with different planets and signs, and early religions used initiation through seven planetary realms as stages of the soul.
As Christianity developed, astrology all but disappeared in the west. It was kept alive by Muslims, and some Jews in the books Sephir Yetzira and the Zohar which develop the Jewish mystical tradition known as the Cabbala.
In the Renaissance, astrology/astronomy was once more acceptable but further setbacks occurred in the 17th century. At this time laws were passed which made fortune telling illegal.
By the late nineteenth century, there was an interest in esoteric religions and Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society delved into astrology and the journey of the soul.
Today, there is a huge interest in the subject and the Sun Sign columns in newspapers are a product of the twentieth century. This is often a starting point for the further study and understanding of a huge and enlightening subject.
Annabel Burton . Astrology
the Astrologer : www.annabelburton.com