History of astrology

From ArticleWorld

The History of astrology spans the varied cultures and has been carried down over centuries. Time and evolution altered and bettered its predictions thus lending it the label of a protoscience. There are mainly two branches, one being ‘natural astrology’ invovling charting planetary positions and the other ‘judicial astrology’, studying the effect of celestial bodies on human destiny.

The scientific community at large is skeptical about the authenticity of such predictions hence regard them to be mere superstitious beliefs.


Babylonian Origin

Western astrology has its roots in ancient Babylon (c. 3000 B.C.). Astrology was practiced by the priests for the purpose of divining God’s will. Five planets were then known to man and each was associated with a particular God, namely : Mercury with Nebo, Mars with Nergal, Jupiter with Marduk and Saturn with Ninib. The Sun god was called Shamash and Moon god, Sin.

Greek contribution

Astrology spread from the Babylonians to Greece and Rome. Here it was called “Chaldaean widom”, meaning divination through the stars. The credit for charting of planetary positions in the form of a natal chart goes to the Greeks. Much of astrology and its branches as we know them today, can be traced back to the Greeks. “Judicial astrology”, now regarded a pseudoscience and “natural astrology” formally known as astronomy were both introduced by the Greeks.

Astrology in the medieval times

In the Middle Ages astrologers were held in awe and immensely feared. Sometimes, when their divination proved fruitful, they were praised as martyrs. Medicine too, relied to some extent on astrology and hence physicians studied mathematics and astrology alongwith medicine. Thus, they were called mathematici.

Renaissance astrology

Famous astrologers of the Renaissance period were Galio Galili, Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe. Astrologers in this period did not predict by observing paletary movements. They relied on reading faces and palms and then charted a horoscope based on earlier findings.

Jewish astrology

In many books of the Kabbalah, astrology was given importance. Its Hebrew term hokmat ha-nissayon translates to “wisdom of prognostication” as distinguished from hokmat ha-hizzayon meaning “wisdom of star-seeing”, or astronomy.

Astrology in the twentieth century

Starting in the year 1900, the popularity of astrology soared in USA. Textbooks, astrological journals and papers were eagerly sought. From 1920 to 1940, the media was responsible for creating and increasing the hype for astrology. During the First World War, there was a noticeable increase in belief of public and they wanted individual predictions based on the only known method to them, that centered around the Sun.

Non believers

Many eminent people in history openly denied their belief in astrology. Some of them were Aristarchus of Samos, Martianus Capella (the precursor of Copernicus), Cicero, Favorinus, Sextus Empiricus, Juvenal, Savonarola, Pico della Mirandola, and La Fontaine.