Down and Dirty History of Astrology

The Down and Dirty History of Astrology:

In January 2011, Parke Kunkle (an astronomer) rocked the world when he said that due to the changes in the Earth’s alignment the dates of many zodiac signs have changed.   This led to mass confusion that spread over social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, and ultimately landing on popular television shows hosted by Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper.   As an astrologer, I found this very humorous and even spent an entire episode on radio discussing what turned into viral panic amongst those that did not wish to be the sign they were now assigned to.    For better or for worse, depending on whether or not you like the sign of Scorpio or take issue with it, the sign was reduced to a mere 6 days.

I suppose the most amusing part of this whole viral astrological insanity, was that many of the newscasters were laughing about the absurdity of peoples interest in astrology – yet at the same time were reporting about the change of astrological signs because it went viral.  I suppose that they do not sit back understand the great irony that what they admonish was alive and well within the psyches of the collective consciousness, and although it does not matter too many; astrology is still as powerful as it was 4000 years ago.

As Ophiucus (the supposed new zodiac sign) made his way across popular websites, Facebook, and twitter feeds, it took Kunkle sometime to acknowledge that his theory is nothing new, yet simply a 2100+ year old theory developed by Greek astronomer Hipparchus.   According to his math (and a strange wobble of the earth on its axis), Hipparchus realized that the heavens slowly move over time – so what was once in the sign of Aries, is possibly now in the sign of Pisces or Pisces. This theory is known as precession of the equinox, and although some astrological traditions (such as Sidereal and Vedic) use the current constellations as the backdrop of their astrological forecasting, Western or Tropical Astrology is based upon seasonal activity and therefore 0 Aries is always the first day of spring.

I suppose Kunkle needs to take this course!

Although much of the collective consciousness (fancy word for group think) believes the study of astrology is for people who spent too much time watching the movie “Hair” or believing in such hooey as the prophecies Nostradamus, in the ancient past astrology was an honored profession.   The empirical art of astrology, as we know it today roots lie within the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian culture (modern Iraq), which dates back to 1950 BC.   Recording planetary alignments and weather patterns, the priests of Babylonia developed a rather sophisticated understanding of the will of the Gods upon the nation.  Although astrology in Babylonia was not real concerned with individual lives, whether or not the current governmental leader was aligned or in good favor with God had a trickle-down effect upon the citizenry.  The astrologer of this era was a respected member of the governmental hierarchy, and had much influence on the affairs of the leader — after all who would want to irritate the Gods?  Astrology eventually spread to other parts of the world and was an important function in both Judaic and Egyptian cultures.

Whereas the roots of Mundane Astrology began in Babylonia, the roots of Horoscopic or Natal Astrology began after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt.   There were enormous differences in the psychologies between the Babylonian and Greek astrologers.   Whereas the Babylonian astrologers were very concerned with agriculture and understanding the messages of the Gods in order to survive, the luxurious Greeks were more interesting in understanding the dynamics of how the universe operated and were more scientific and mathematically inclined.  The most famous astrologer of the Greeks was Ptolemy who wrote the book “Tetrabiblios”, and along with other astrologers of the era developed the system of Western astrology which included the time of birth of the native, the planets, houses, and signs of the Zodiac.   Since the time of the ancient Greek astrologers, not much in regards to Western astrology has changed concerning our understanding and comprehension of the cosmic science.  Like the astrologers of Babylon, the Greek astrologers were widely respected and held great notoriety in their society.

As Christianity and Islam began to take hold of the religious world during the ‘Middle Ages’ and Renaissance, a curious change began to occur in astrology.   Politics became involved since both Christianity and Islam were religious idealisms based on the God of Abraham whose will should never be questioned and whose timing should never be pronounced.  Although astrology was practiced by many astrologers during this period, there began to be little religious tolerance for practicing astrologers who went underground and began the art of “fortune telling”.   This intolerance continued through the Age of Enlightenment.

In the 20th century astrology began a renaissance of its own, yet unlike centuries prior astrology began to become person focused as the psychology movement began to take hold.  The most noted psychiatrist that took an interest in astrology as a symbolic tool was Carl G. Jung.  His interest has influenced some of the most noted astrologers of the 20th century including Dane Rudhyar, Liz Greene, Howard Sasportas, Charles Harvey, and Richard Idemon – whose contributions to psychological astrology have been substantial.  As we move into the second decade of the 21st century, astrology continues to evolve and expand with various specialized interests including harmonics, a revival of Hellenistic astrology, horary, astrometeorology, and much more.  It is safe to say that astrology will continue to expand through the decades in ways that are probably not even imaginable at the time of this writing.

Further Reading:

Nicholas Campion, A History of Western Astrology
Nicholas Campion, The Great Year:   Astrology, Millenarianism, and History in Western Tradition
Liz Greene, The Astrologer, Counselor, and the Priest

©2017 Storm Cestavani — All Rights Reserved

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