History Of Western Astrology

Have you ever looked at the night sky and wondered what secrets the stars hold? If you have, you’re not alone. As long as men and women have been on earth I suspect they have gazed skyward toward the stars and wondered. As to the secrets of the stars, I think those secrets are infinite because the more we learn, the more there is to learn. The study of the stars has yield one of the oldest, and most popular, methods of divination. It was from astrology and the study of the star that the scientific field of astronomy was born. We know from historical records that since the Babylonians were developing their own unique form of horoscopes 2,400 years ago to foretell future events (making astrology older than Christianity). Some scholars believe the three wise men mentioned in the Bible were princely astrologers who came to witness a predicted event of extreme importance: The birth of Jesus.

There roughly three branches of astrology: Indian (sometimes called Vedic Astrology), Asian (or Chinese Astrology) and Western (sometimes called Hellenistic astrology). All share similar beliefs and techniques and some cross fertilization. Yet, all three are unique in their approach to divination using the stars and heavenly bodies. Astrology Chat It is thought there was even a form of astrology born in South America (with the Mayans and Aztecs). Sadly we know little about what may have been South American astrology given the knowledge was lost or largely destroyed by the invasion of the Spanish and the Christian missionaries efforts to ‘Christianize’ pagan beliefs. In this article we will only be examining the history of Western Astrology.

How Does Western Astrology Work?

Think of the night sky as one big, round pie. The western astrologer divides the night sky into twelve wedges. Each wedges is called ‘a house’ and that house is based upon the positions of twelve major constellations. A constellation is a collection of stars in which an image can be seen. In western astrology most of the constellations carry names from ancient Greeks based on mythology. All the wedges or ‘houses’ of the night sky put together is called ‘the zodiac’. Each of these 12 wedges or houses has its own sign (for example, Pisces or Aries). Each sign is derived from the perceived shape of one of the twelve constellations. Sagittarius, for example, is the name of both an astrological sign and a constellation that, according to the ancients, represents a centaur holding a bow.

As the stars move across the sky throughout the year, the zodiac shifts, and the astrologer tracks the movements of the planets through each of the twelve houses. For the purposes of western astrology, the planets consist of the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (also known as the classical planets.)

To discover a person’s future, the astrologer examines a horoscope, which is a map of the sky at a particular point in time. An astrologer can look at a ‘house’ within the zodiac and see which planets are present and the position of the sun. There can also be other significant events taking place in the heavens, such as the appearance of comets or unusual alignments of planets. One of the most important kinds of horoscope is the natal, or birth, horoscope. This is why the more precise you can be about the time and place of your birth, the more details an astrologer can provide (the astrologer can exactly the position of the stars and planets within your Zodiac sign for your location at birth). Most western astrologers believe that the position of the planets and the phase of the night sky at the time of a person’s birth will play a part in determining his or her personality and the forces at work in that person’s future.

But where did this belief come from, and why does it still exist? To truly understand what astrology is and why it is, we have to take a brief trip to ancient Mesopotamia.

The Origins Of Western Astrology (Hellenistic Astrology)

Generally it is believed that the practice of astrology in the West began in Babylon around the 18th century B.C.. However, there has been a recent discovery of what could be the oldest astrologer’s board known with the engraved zodiac which was discovered in a cave above the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. This astrologer’s board has be dated to over 2,000 years. The ancient Babylonian state, situated in modern-day Iraq, left the earliest records of planetary and stellar movements still in existence. These Old Babylonian cuneiform records are also the first accounts we know of that attribute events on Earth to the movements of the heavenly bodies. The 16th century B.C. work Enuma Anu Enlil compiles over seven thousand omens based on the positions of the stars and planets over time. Drawing from official Babylonian histories, we can guess that these omens were generally taken very seriously by successive kings and their subjects. It was believed that the gods often took the forms of planets and stars to communicate their desires and intentions to humanity. The Babylonians later divided the night sky into 12 zones of 30 degrees each, creating what the Greeks would eventually name the zodiac.

When Babylonian astrology was brought to Hellenistic Egypt in the 4th century B.C., it was combined with a separate ancient Egyptian astrological tradition to create a new Hellenistic Greek system that the Romans would later adopt. But it was not until the 2nd century A.D. that modern western astrology would truly begin to form. The Alexandrian Greek mathematician Ptolemy accumulated a large amount of ancient astrological information and combined his astrological theories with his astronomical observations in the Tetrabiblos, a work that would eventually be translated into Latin via Arabic and would become the primary reference for astrologers for centuries afterwards.

For the better part of the next two thousand years, astrology would remain a respected science, placed on a level with mathematics, medicine and physics. Academics throughout the western world studied the stars as a method of perceiving the future. Among these astrologers were the medieval Arab and Persian scholars Abu Ma’shar and Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, whose works entered medieval Europe through Muslim Spain; and the later European astronomers Johannes Kepler, who discovered the three laws of planetary motion; and Galileo Galilei, who was imprisoned by the Church for publishing his astronomical theories.

Another point to note about astrology is that many cultures around the world practice it in their own unique ways. The Indians and the Chinese both have their own ancient astrological traditions. If you live in the Americas or Europe, however, chances are that you follow the western astrological tradition. The horoscopes printed in western newspapers are mostly based on the Babylonian-Ptolemaic model described above.

Modern Western Astrology

Astrology is one of the oldest forms of divination. But has it changed in the past two millennia?

The premise and the purpose of western astrology are still the same as they were when Ptolemy took on the subject in the 2nd century. Now, as then, people look to the stars for signs of what the future might hold, and astrologers still examine the zodiac and create horoscopes to that end. The only aspect of astrology that has changed is its status as a science.

In the 17th century, the tide began to turn against astrology as a scholarly subject. A new branch of science took shape called ‘astronomy’. Soon there were astrologers (who studied the mystical, spiritual aspect of the stars) and astronomers (who studied the stars only as a physical phenomena). Naturally, the new branch of astronomy borrowed heavily from 2,000 years of astrological study done by astrologers.

As astronomers began to understand the physical nature of the planets, the stars and their relationships with the Earth and the solar system as a whole, astronomers proposed the that the movement of the earth, stars and all heavenly bodies were all mechanical in nature and there was no divine plan involved. Suddenly, the stars were great balls of gas that were unthinkably far away from the Earth. The constellations, while still recognized and used as points of reference by astronomers, were now less important: most constellations consist of stars that are hundreds or even thousands of light-years away from each other. By the 18th century, astrology in the West had lost its standing as an academic, scientific subject.

The rejection of astrology by the academic, scientific community was based on two assumptions: One, all true scientific study has to be based on physical properties alone. Only physical facts are real. There can be no ‘spiritual’ or ‘mystical’ aspect within traditional science. Two, that all ‘truth’, particularly ‘scientific truth’ has to absolute. What is absolutely true here and now can be repeated (or proven) by another scientist at another location at another time. Without getting into great detail, the idea of ‘absolute’ truth has been shaken to it’s core by the discovery in physics that something can only be absolutely true after an event happens. Otherwise, all future possibilities can only be ‘statistically true’ until an event happens.

This is why, in the past 50 years, you see more and more scientific data being presented as statistics of what might be true (example, a news report may state that statistically more people live longer when eating or not eating a certain food). This new reality of ‘statistical truth’ reopens the door to astrology since astrology and horoscopes have largely always been about what is likely or most likely to happen. That science, itself, must accept that only the past is absolutely true, may yet open the door to astrology as unique ‘mystical science’. Unlikely, but nothing is for certain until it happens, eh?

Thousands of years of astrological study on nearly every continent on earth does not go away easily.

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Especially if it continues to provide value to people. That might explain why astrology is now more popular than ever. If the history of Western astrology has proved anything, it is that astrology will continue to evolve and serve those people well who know how to use it. Astrologers print internationally syndicated columns in daily newspapers throughout the world and post free daily horoscopes on widely read websites (You can even get free horoscopes by phone). What person (or business) would not want to gain some sort of advantage by knowing possible future outcomes. Western astrology (indeed all the forms of astrology world wide) may not be scientific accepted today, but it seems that this ancient system of divination is not going to disappear any time soon.

If you want to talk to a top astrologer about your future give Psychic Astrologer Jullielle at call at 1-800-888-5523. You can also check out these professional astrologer’s for a Live, Personal Phone Horoscope Reading, or give them a call at 1-866-407-7164.