London Psychological Astrologer & Astrological Journalist Leigh Oswald
History of Astrology
Astrology has been around since before the time of Christ!
The exact time and location of birth is needed - as well as the date - to get the most accurate symbolic photograph of the planetary energies encapsulated in the Birthchart.
This map or chart is made up of ten planetary bodies (or eleven, including the recently discovered planetoid Chiron) - each of which occupies any one of the twelve signs, and also any one of the twelve houses of the zodiac.
In ancient Egypt, the Sun was known to be worshipped as a god, "Rah". People saw the sky as symbolic of a massive figure and the sun's rise, culmination and sinking, was, for the Egyptians, a universal metaphor for the birth, culmination and ending of life. Indeed, Astrological signs and symbolic language were very evident in ancient Egyptian culture.
The pyramids themselves showed precise alignment geometrically to the constellations. The angles of the chambers pointed most accurately to certain points in the heavens. The concepts of numerology and sacred geometry seem to get their roots in this civilisation.
In Mesopotamia, during the Third Millennium BC, we see evidence of the first attempts at divination, i.e. predicting the future. This was achieved by combining observations of movements in the heavens with the analysis of such things as chicken entrails!
The Fifth Century BC saw the division of the zodiac into twelve, 30° portions. This was the birth of the prototype of the horoscope chart. Charts were cast for specific points of time, suggesting the observation of the relationship between events in the heavens and events on Earth.
Indeed, the Chaldean race (the Southern Babylonians) became synonymous with the concept of Astrology.
In 334 BC the Greeks conquered Egypt. Egypt became the absolute centre of Astrology, combining Greek science and philosophy with Egyptian and Babylonian star-law and myth.
Hence planetary mythology emerged. This was the period when Greco-Roman gods derived their names. The planets became synonymous not only with the gods, but also with the days of the week, for instance Monday = Moonday, Saturday = Saturnday, etc.
Thus the Chaldean order was born. This model of the cosmos is known as 'Hermetic' Astrology. The principal is 'as above so below' - that there are correspondences always between what is happening out there in the heavens and in nature and what is happening in the human individual life.
In 360BC Plato's influence became very strong when he established the concept of the 'harmony of the spheres'. He gave the scientific basis of Astrology as we know it, and the basic philosophy of the heavens. He understood the principle of the equator and the celestial sphere. He identified the planetary paths as they revolved in our solar system.
He also felt very powerfully that we all were very much unconsciously aware of our connections to the larger order. He believed that 'when the individual employs his highest faculties of intellect - then the motion of the individual soul is immediately united with the heavenly motion of the world soul'.
He also said 'We all know the workings of the cosmos before we are incarnated as a human'.
In the late Second Century AD, Ptolemy emerged in Roman-ruled Alexandria in Egypt to add much to Aristotle's basic ideas. He wrote the Tetrabiblos which combined the 'rational Astrology' of Aristotle with his own view.
He established the presence of the Four Elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water and combined his own observations with Aristotle's scientific enquiry, to establish a working model of fatalistic - or judicial - Astrology, providing the basis of Horoscopes for conception/birthtime of people or events.
Ptolemy wrote : 'The seasonal movements of the Sun due to the Earth/Sun annual cycle affect the ether. An essence suffused throughout Heaven and Earth. Seasonal influences are represented in the differing qualities of the signs of the zodiac. The four elements are also affected, and through them, every creature is influenced by the heavens'.
Ptolemy established two orders of Astrological effects:
This concept was later reflected in the 20th Century by Carl Jung in his Theory of Synchronicity, which is the concept that "everything that is born at a moment of time has the qualities of that moment of that time".
Therefore, by the Third Century AD, the main structure of modern Astrology was in place. Classical Greco-Roman Astrology settled for the zodiac being measured from the equinox point of 0° of Aries. This was called the Tropical Zodiac.
Meanwhile, in India and Southeast Asia, Astrology had developed in a slightly different way. They kept faith with measuring the zodiac from the fixed star constellation of Aries. This is known as a Sidereal Zodiac.
The advent of Christianity saw a challenge to Astrology. Saint Augustine studied Astrology and criticised it; as he felt it denied free will. In successful predictions in Astrology he claimed to be aided by demons. It therefore became associated with the work of the devil. This is still reflected in the opinions of the Vatican of today.
The star of Bethlehem and the Magi (Astrologers) confused Christians, as they still associated Astrology with heresy and paganism.
The Dark Ages
With the advent of the dark ages Astrology disappeared as a knowledge. With the disintegration of Western Europe, so also the Latin language was lost. It only survived in monasteries and indeed the only documents to survive relating to Astrology were found in the hidden corners of monasteries.
Meanwhile Persian, Arabic, and Jewish Astrologers came together in the Islamic civilisations in 632AD. They combined Greek philosophy, medicine and science with Greek Astrology.
With the Medieval Revival, Europe had to relearn Astrology from the Arabs and translate it back to Greek.
They put together Aristotle's rational and Ptolemy's cosmological concepts and created a compromise.
Christianity became more accepting of Astrology and it secured a place in Medieval universities.
Thomas Aquinas accepted it and stated 'the stars incline, not compel'.
Free will was once more accepted as possible within the Astrological models. The Hermetic view of Astrology gained strength once more, i.e. the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm.
Astrology became the intellectual rigour, and was totally implicit in all Medieval science, art and medicine.
The Renaissance - 19th Century
When the Renaissance came along the re-emergence of Astrology was even greater. The principal of "as above so below" became a poetic metaphor. Nostradamus used Astrology extensively. Princes and Popes all used Astrologers. Elizabeth I chose her coronation day according to Astrological divinations.
Kepler wrote the "harmony of the spheres", identifying the relationship between octaves and planetary alignment.
With the Age of Enlightenment in the 1700's, Astrology declined in intellectual status. It became a focus for eccentrics only.
In the 19th Century, Astrology once more became a focus, particularly in England. The Victorians delighted in the occult. They combined rationalism and science with romantic creativity.
Leading Astrologers during that period named themselves after angels, e.g. Raphael, Zadkeil and Sepharial.
The 19th Century saw the development of the principal of Theosophy. Madame Blavatsky wrote her 'secret doctrine'. She firmly believed that the underlying principal for all spiritual belief was one of Karma and reincarnation. This provided a missing link for esoteric, spiritual Astrologers.
In the 20th Century Alan Leo introduced the concept of psychological Astrology. Jungian psychological insight worked hand-in-hand with Astrology, which he studied and applauded.
Since then, the likes of such Astrological giants as Liz Greene have helped to further a model of Astrology that combines myth, legend, symbol, dream, archetype and the collective unconscious into an effective working psychological model of the Birthchart. Spiritual and psychological Astrology tend now to work in tandem, and in many respects, seem indivisible.
Today, individual Astrologers favour a more psychological or spiritual approach; some try and combine the two. There are Astrologers working in industry, in finance, in politics, and in economics. There are Astrologers who concentrate on predicting trends for the future and there are Astrologers who concentrate on personality analysis.
The advent of the popular Sun sign column in magazines and newspapers has, at best, kept the concept of a metaphysical context of the human condition alive in the mind of the masses, and at worst, it has drawn derision from the "intellectual", "rational" critics.
The vast sums of money paid to some Astrologers who write in newspapers is indicative of just how important it is for people to have some way of seeing who they are and what their life can be in relation to something that is essentially a mystery, i.e. a metaphysical context.
With the decline of popular religion, it is important for humans to feel that their life has meaning. As far as the future is concerned, the coming age of Aquarius, which will start to really establish itself in the next couple of hundred years, could see a new revival in serious understanding of the implications of Astrological knowledge.
Quantum physics is at a stage now where it is a very fine interface between scientific enquiry and a metaphysical dimension.
Astrology will become a truly acknowledged first example of a 'spiritual science' - these are not necessarily contradictory terms.
nor happens in the sky that is not sensed in
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