Archaeologists have found cave paintings, mammoth tusks, and bones marked with lunar phases. The Babylonians also known as the Chaldeans continue what the Sumerians started, inventing the first astrological system over thousands of years. They created the zodiac wheel that we use today with planets and houses around B.
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The oldest known horoscope chart is believed to date to B. The modern names for planets and zodiac signs come from Greek literature.
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In A. Tetrabiblos contains core techniques of astrology used to this day, including planets, zodiac signs, houses, and aspects or angles. The Roman Empire falls. Western astrology disappears for years and the Arabs continue studying and developing Greek astrology. Astrology flourishes and is an intrinsic part of culture, practiced by doctors, astronomers, and mathematicians.
Advances in mathematics help astrologers develop more accurate and sophisticated charts than ever. Many esteemed European universities at this time, including Cambridge , had astrology chairs, and royals had court astrologers. Many popes were pro-astrology. The monk and mathematics professor Placidus created the house division system used by astrologers today. Belief in astrology began to decline as the church gained power, and it was seen as heresy and superstition during the Inquisition. Galileo himself was found guilty of heresy and had to renounce his astrological beliefs to save his life!
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Later, rationalism become the popular consensus during the Age of Enlightenment in Western European cafes and salons, emphasizing reason, analysis, and individualism—a reaction to excessive superstition, authority, and control from institutions such as the Catholic church. Skepticism and science were seen as a way to reform society, and to bring back temperance and balance.
Astrology was viewed as mere entertainment and not a valid science, and most astrologers worked under pseudonyms. Renewed interest in spirituality and mysticism in England invigorate astrology again in Europe. Psychologist Carl Jung pioneers the use of astrology in analysis, and other developments in the field are made. Exactly who came up with this way of thinking and when is unclear, but historians and astronomers do know a bit about how it got so popular today. The stars are just one of the many things in the natural world that human beings have turned to for answers over the years.
That was taken over by the idea of divination, where you can actually look at things in nature and study them carefully, such as tea-leaf reading. Odenwald points out that in societies where people in the lower classes had less control over their lives, divination could seem pointless. The Sumarians and Babylonians, by around the middle of the second millennium BC, appeared to have had many divination practices — they looked at spots on the liver and the entrails of animals, for example — and their idea that watching planets and stars was a way to keep track of where gods were in the sky can be traced to The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa.
Imagine a straight line drawn from Earth through the Sun and out into space way beyond our solar system where the stars are. Then, picture Earth following its orbit around the Sun.
This imaginary line would rotate, pointing to different stars throughout one complete trip around the Sun — or, one year. All the stars that lie close to the imaginary flat disk swept out by this imaginary line are said to be in the zodiac.
History Behind Zodiac Signs
The constellations in the zodiac are simply the constellations that this imaginary straight line points to in its year-long journey. These Western, or tropical, zodiac signs were named after constellations and matched with dates based on the apparent relationship between their placement in the sky and the sun. The Babylonians had already divided the zodiac into 12 equal signs by BC — boasting similar constellation names to the ones familiar today, such as The Great Twins, The Lion, The Scales — and these were later incorporated into Greek divination.
The astronomer Ptolemy, author of the Tetrabiblos, which became a core book in the history of Western astrology, helped popularize these 12 signs. In fact, the chronology has really shifted one sign to the West. That means zodiac sign dates, based on the mathematical division of the year, basically correspond today to the presence of the sun in the constellations of the signs that come before them.