Astrology: An Ancient Science

For thousands of years, humans looked to the skies and attempted to discern some meaning out of the movement of the planets. While we think of astrology today as being very different from the precise analysis of planetary bodies in astronomy, over much of human history these two studies have been the same. Indeed, many of the discoveries that today categorize the basics of astronomical knowledge come from an attempt to predict the future using the movement of planets.

The Beginnings of Astrology

Some of the first cave paintings that our pre-historic ancestors left us suggest an understanding of star movement. It is believed that the connection between the movement of the moon and the fluctuation of the tides generated the first whispers of astrology, since the tide brought both food and transportation to primitive populations. ask astrologers Mapping out seasons for planting and harvesting crops proved to be successful when the dynamics of heavenly movements were charted. Early civilizations measured the progression of the sun and stars in close accordance with religious principles. The great monument of Stonehenge in England could have been one part calendar and one part temple, with ceremonies and sacrifices to mark the onset of both summer and winter.

Astrology as Guidance

Ancient European and Middle Eastern kingdoms took astrology to heart. Many political and military decisions of Mesopotamia, Babylon, and Sumeria were based on what the solar or lunar cycles suggested. Indeed, the first published work (that has survived to the present day) on astrology was written nearly four thousand years ago in the region that is modern-day Iraq. Some six dozen tablets marked the movements of planets and stars. Astrology as a predictive science swept the ancient world. The Greeks believed that the planets themselves were gods, and that sacrificing to one planet ensured that god’s favor. The Romans borrowed this idea – each emperor had his favorite astrological sign. Events such as comets and meteor showers were believed to be great signals of fortune or doom.

Astrology and Astronomy

Not until the rise of Islamic empires did astrology begin to incorporate elements of true science into its fold. Astrologers were expected to understand the exact meanings of the planets as well as complex geometry and algebra so that they could not only predict the future, but also predict where individual planets would be in the night sky years from now. These Islamic astrologers gave the names to many stars that are common today, such as Rigel and Vega. Astrological guidance was used in judicial cases to determine the guilt or punishment of criminals.

European Astrology

Though condemned by the Roman Church, medieval Europe largely embraced astrology as part mysticism and part science. Medicine and astrology frequently crossed paths. Patients used to take a particular drug during particular positions of the moon or planets. Many of the characteristics applied by astrologers today to planets arose during the middle ages, such as the power of numbers and math to Mars and the power of persuasion to Mercury.

Astronomy and Astrology Go Separate Ways

The split between astronomy and astrology took place during the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. As the invention of devices like the telescope allowed scientists to study planetary motion, it became clear that revolutions were taking place at orderly periods due to physical forces not mystical ones. This split between astrology and astronomy was part of a larger more serious split between science and all forms of spirituality and metaphysics. This did not stop many people (then as now) from refusing to give up the idea there is more to the universe than purely materialist science explains. Religion, spirituality and mysticism remained today despite science’s bold assertion that it can explain everything without the help of spirituality. In regards to astrology, persons throughout history, including modern history, (such as Benjamin Franklin and Ronald and Nancy Reagan) continue to find value in astrology.

If you found this article interesting, you might also want to check out History of Western Astrology.

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