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Guide to Astrology (Part 1: History)

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A Historical View of Astrology

Astrology is a subject and craft as old as, or perhaps older than the known history of Humanity.  It is known to have been inseparable from astronomy, until the time when astronomy became a distinct area of study and science after Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) published the book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres).   Copernicus, in his book, postulated that the Sun is actually the center of the Solar System, contrary to the then popular assumption that the earth was the center about which all planets, including the sun and moon, orbited.

As early as 32,000-25,000 years ago, considered as the Upper Paleolithic Era, it was discovered that cave wall art and bone markings showed archeological evidence that lunar cycles were being recorded, perhaps as a means to produce a calendar to track the Moon's influence upon tides and rivers.  These archeological records are currently considered to be the the oldest lunar calendar in existence.

By 6,000 to 3,000 BC, historical records and monuments have established that throughout various civilizations, a nuanced awareness and working knowledge of celestial cycles, constellations, and particular star-groups were utilized for agricultural, cultural, divinatory, and other practical purposes.

It is possible that a sophisticated form and integrated system of Astrology has been practiced around 5,000 years ago by Chaldean Priests.  The Chaldeans were the most ancient of the Babylonian peoples.   During that time, the gods and deities of the planets were seen as responsible for influencing many of the affairs and phenomenon on the earth.  In those earlier days, the study of the skies and the parts of the solar system visible to the naked eye were based on pure observation, without the aid of telescopes, records, or modern means of calculation.  The Chaldeans were thought to have been the ones who have instructed the priests and Pharaohs of Egypt based on some references on Egyptian monuments bearing records of what is supposedly considered as astrological data. 

In Greece, Thales of Miletus (c.624-546 BCE) and Pythagoras (c.569-470 BCE) were known to have studied astronomy and astrology, with the latter being the one credited by Copernicus to have originally come up with the theory that the earth and the other planets revolved around the Sun.  Other notable Greek personalities such as Plato (c. 428–427 BCE) and Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BCE) have been known to use astrology for medical diagnosis during their time.

Ptolemy (c. 90AD-168AD) is another significant figure who has contributed much to astronomy and astrology by cataloging more than a thousand stars in conjunction with the motion of the Moon and the planets in the Solar System, as presented in his written work Almagest.  He held a Roman citizenship living in Alexandria, which is a Roman province in Egypt, but wrote mostly in Greek.  He wrote one of the earliest surviving influential books in Astrology called the Tetrabiblios or Quadripartitum ('four books' or 'four parts'), which is an authoritative text in the philosophy and practice of astrology written in the 2nd century AD as a companion to the Almagest.

(to be continued)

 

Author:Maria Celeste G VelAja TalaLei
Published:May 8th 2013
Modified:May 16th 2013
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