Sie sind auf Seite 1von 1

A History of Astrology

Astrology encompasses those systems of divination and explication founded on the principle that
the positions and aspects of celestial bodies, such as the planets, have a direct influence on
earthly affairs. In various forms it has had considerable influence on many civilizations, and its
effect is still strong even in these present days of rationalism.

There is evidence of early astrology in Mesopotamia, perhaps as far back as 3000 BC, but
western astrology did not reach its flowering until the influence of the ancient Greeks during the
Hellenistic period (323-30 BC, the period between the death of Alexander the Great and the
Roman conquest of Egypt). From there it was taken into Islamic culture, which would later
influence Western astrology itself during the Middle Ages when Islamic science had a powerful
influence on Europe.

In the development of astrology, the Greeks appropriated the Egyptian calendar as a framework
for their astronomical observations. This calendar was the basis for the one we still use today,
and divided the year into twelve months, each having 30 days, with an extra five days at the end
of the year. The Egyptians also employed a series of 36 star configurations that were later called
decans, to mark out the passing of the year, each decan rising ten days after the previous one.
References to the decans are first seen around 2100 BC inside coffin lids, and they may have
been the origin of the division of the day into 24 hours. Each decan was considered to hold a
certain influence over the time period for which it ruled, and this system was incorporated into the
zodiac of classical astrology, in which twelve signs mark out the year, with each of these having
three distinct phases during their time of influence.

Even the rise of the Christian church, which gave edicts against astrology, could not prevent
astrology and its underlying philosophies of the nature of the universe being used and developed
by the populace and influential thinkers. In the late Middle Ages, the universities at Florence,
Paris and Bologna among others, all had chairs of astrology. The heliocentric view of creation
that resulted from the discoveries of polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) led to
the decline of astrology as a scientific discipline, but the belief in and development of the art has
continued to this day.

The theory of classical astrology considered the positions and aspects of the seven known
astrological planets, including the Sun and the Moon, which are not planets in the astronomical
sense. Seven is an appropriately mystical number, and the seven bodies studied were those that
appeared to move through the zodiac when viewed from earth: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus,
Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Once they were discovered, the three remaining planets were
incorporated into astrological theory. Uranus was discovered in 1781, Neptune in 1846 and Pluto
in 1930. Theories and attributions regarding other heavenly bodies, such as the asteroid Chiron
(discovered in 1977), were also added to astrological lore, though their usefulness is debatable.

Most scientists reject astrology as groundless superstition, but it may be that there is still some
truth to the famous adage: As Above, So Below. It is possible that, somehow, the affairs of
humankind are reflected in the affairs of the wider universe. Astrology attempts to make sense of
the former through the latter.