A concept as old as the stars
By: Lio Salazar, Contributor
Someone recently asked, “Where does astrology come from?” and it is, in my opinion, a fascinating history. The earliest evidence suggests that early humans have been studying astrological cycles since about the third millennium BCE. The Sumerians in Mesopotamia began tracking the movements of different planets and stars in about 6,000 BC.
“Shortly” after, the Babylonians created the Zodiac wheel that we still use today: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Something I found interesting was that the astrological wheels that we see today are clockwise, starting with Aries usually around 1, Taurus at 2, etc. The Babylonian wheel I’m looking at right now is counter-clockwise, with Aries at 3, Taurus at 2 and so on.
After the Babylonians, Alexander the Great’s conquests brought the astrological wheel to Egypt. The Egyptians’ contribution to astrology comes from the Egyptian Decanian calendar for astrology. Decans were 36 groups of stars that rose above the horizon every 10 days. Obviously, (36x10) + (five days of change) = 365 days in the year, and the Egyptians merged their Decanian wheel with the Hellenistic calendar from the Babylonians and began assigning planets to rule different zodiacs and assigning one of the four elements to a Zodiac (fire, earth, air and water).
In around 280 BCE, a Babylonian priest traveled to Greece to educate people about astrology. It was then that the Greeks brought astrology to Rome in the 1st century CE. Emperor Tiberius was reportedly the first emperor of Rome to have a court astrologer, who was named Thrasyllus. The 2nd century CE had Claudius Ptolemy becoming so fascinated by astrology that he began charting maps to correlate a person's birthplace to the stars at a given time. Yes, Ptolemy was a hardcore astrology girlie.
Jumping a little bit in time, astrology began to be phased out as the Catholic church rose to prominent power in about 1225-50. The rise of the church’s power is also when Galileo Galilei was accused of heresy against the Catholic Church because the Church believed the universe revolved around the Earth, whereas Galileo proposed that the solar system revolved around the sun. Belief in astrology continued to decline and was replaced by scientific thought during the Age of the Enlightenment (1650-1780). This period of time gave rise to religious tolerance and individual freedom, rather than living under an absolute monarchy.
Around the 20th century, newspapers began publishing horoscopes based on a person’s sun sign. Since then, astrology has carved out a great niche in society as we know it today. Hopefully this abridged history of astrology has been insightful and helpful, and I thank you for joining me on this journey through the stars and time!