Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology


Story Telling About the Night Sky

For first advances the Singer, bearing some one of the symbols of music.

The Greeks are Introduced to Astrology

For they say that he must learn two of the books of Hermes, the one of which contains the hymns of the gods, the second the regulations for the king's life. And after the Singer advances the Astrologer, with a horologe in his hand, and a palm, the symbols of astrology. He must have the astrological books of Hermes, which are four in number, always in his mouth.

Celtic Astrology -- Early Irish Astrology: An Historical Argument by Peter Berresford Ellis

Greek overtook cuneiform script as the international language of intellectual communication and part of this process was the transmission of astrology from cuneiform to Greek. With this, what historican Nicholas Campion calls, "the innovative energy" in astrology moved west to the Hellenistic world of Greece and Egypt. By the 1st century BC two varieties of astrology were in existence, one that required the reading of horoscopes in order to establish precise details about the past, present and future; the other being theurgic literally meaning 'god-work' , which emphasised the soul's ascent to the stars.


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While they were not mutually exclusive, the former sought information about the life, while the latter was concerned with personal transformation, where astrology served as a form of dialogue with the Divine. As with much else, Greek influence played a crucial role in the transmission of astrological theory to Rome.

The History of Astrology

The first definite reference to astrology comes from the work of the orator Cato , who in BC composed a treatise warning farm overseers against consulting with Chaldeans. One of the first astrologers to bring Hermetic astrology to Rome was Thrasyllus , who, in the first century CE, acted as the astrologer for the emperor Tiberius. While doing so, he coined the term "geography". Even though some use of astrology by the emperors appears to have happened, there was also a prohibition on astrology to a certain extent as well.


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In the 1st century CE, Publius Rufus Anteius was accused of the crime of funding the banished astrologer Pammenes, and requesting his own horoscope and that of then emperor Nero. For this crime, Nero forced Anteius to commit suicide. At this time, astrology was likely to result in charges of magic and treason. Astrology was taken up enthusiastically by Islamic scholars following the collapse of Alexandria to the Arabs in the 7th century, and the founding of the Abbasid empire in the 8th century.

Zael , whose texts were directly influential upon later European astrologers such as Guido Bonatti in the 13th century, and William Lilly in the 17th century. Amongst the important names of Arabic astrologers, one of the most influential was Albumasur , whose work Introductorium in Astronomiam later became a popular treatise in medieval Europe. The Arabs greatly increased the knowledge of astronomy, and many of the star names that are commonly known today, such as Aldebaran , Altair , Betelgeuse , Rigel and Vega retain the legacy of their language.

They also developed the list of Hellenistic lots to the extent that they became historically known as Arabic parts , for which reason it is often wrongly claimed that the Arabic astrologers invented their use, whereas they are clearly known to have been an important feature of Hellenistic astrology. During the advance of Islamic science some of the practices of astrology were refuted on theological grounds by astronomers such as Al-Farabi Alpharabius , Ibn al-Haytham Alhazen and Avicenna.

Their criticisms argued that the methods of astrologers were conjectural rather than empirical , and conflicted with orthodox religious views of Islamic scholars through the suggestion that the Will of God can be precisely known and predicted in advance.

History of astronomy

Avicenna considered that the movement of the planets influenced life on earth in a deterministic way, but argued against the capability of determining the exact influence of the stars. By the 13th century astrology had become a part of everyday medical practice in Europe. Doctors combined Galenic medicine inherited from the Greek physiologist Galen - AD with studies of the stars. By the end of the s, physicians across Europe were required by law to calculate the position of the Moon before carrying out complicated medical procedures, such as surgery or bleeding.

Influential works of the 13th century include those of the British monk Johannes de Sacrobosco c. His astrological text-book Liber Astronomiae 'Book of Astronomy' , written around , was reputed to be "the most important astrological work produced in Latin in the 13th century". In medieval Europe , a university education was divided into seven distinct areas, each represented by a particular planet and known as the seven liberal arts.

Dante attributed these arts to the planets. Medieval writers used astrological symbolism in their literary themes. For example, Dante's Divine Comedy builds varied references to planetary associations within his described architecture of Hell , Purgatory and Paradise , such as the seven layers of Purgatory's mountain purging the seven cardinal sins that correspond to astrology's seven classical planets.

Chaucer's astrological passages are particularly frequent and knowledge of astrological basics is often assumed through his work. He knew enough of his period's astrology and astronomy to write a Treatise on the Astrolabe for his son. He pinpoints the early spring season of the Canterbury Tales in the opening verses of the prologue by noting that the Sun "hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne". One of the earliest English astrologers to leave details of his practice was Richard Trewythian b.

His notebook demonstrates that he had a wide range of clients, from all walks of life, and indicates that engagement with astrology in 15th-century England was not confined to those within learned, theological or political circles.

Astrology’s Ancient Roots

During the Renaissance, court astrologers would complement their use of horoscopes with astronomical observations and discoveries. Many individuals now credited with having overturned the old astrological order, such as Tycho Brahe , Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler , were themselves practicing astrologers.


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At the end of the Renaissance the confidence placed in astrology diminished, with the breakdown of Aristotelian Physics and rejection of the distinction between the celestial and sublunar realms , which had historically acted as the foundation of astrological theory. Keith Thomas writes that although heliocentrism is consistent with astrology theory, 16th and 17th century astronomical advances meant that "the world could no longer be envisaged as a compact inter-locking organism; it was now a mechanism of infinite dimensions, from which the hierarchical subordination of earth to heaven had irrefutably disappeared".

By the 18th century the intellectual investment which had previously maintained astrology's standing was largely abandoned. Astrology in seventeenth century England was not a science. It was not a Religion. It was not magic. Nor was it astronomy, mathematics, puritanism, neo Platism, psychology, meteorology, alchemy or witchcraft. It used some of these as tools; it held tenets in common with others; and some people were adept at several of these skills.

But in the final analysis it was only itself: a unique divinatory and prognostic art embodying centuries of accreted methodology and tradition. The only work of this class to have survived is the Vedanga Jyotisha , which contains rules for tracking the motions of the sun and the moon in the context of a five-year intercalation cycle. The date of this work is uncertain, as its late style of language and composition, consistent with the last centuries BC, albeit pre- Mauryan , conflicts with some internal evidence of a much earlier date in the 2nd millennium BC.

The documented history of Jyotish in the subsequent newer sense of modern horoscopic astrology is associated with the interaction of Indian and Hellenistic cultures in the Indo-Greek period. The oldest surviving treatises, such as the Yavanajataka or the Brihat-Samhita , date to the early centuries AD. Indian astronomy and astrology developed together. The earliest treatise on jyotish, the Bhrigu Samhita , dates from the Vedic era. The sage Bhrigu is one of the Saptarshi, the seven sages who assisted in the creation of the universe.

Written on pages of tree bark, the Samhita Compilation is said to contain five million horoscopes comprising all who have lived in the past or will live in the future. The first named authors writing treatises on astronomy are from the 5th century AD, the date when the classical period of Indian astronomy can be said to begin. Chinese system is based on astronomy and calendars and its significant development is tied to that of astronomy , which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD.

Astrology was traditionally regarded highly in China, and Confucius is said to have treated astrology with respect saying: "Heaven sends down its good or evil symbols and wise men act accordingly". Oracles bones have been found dating from that period with the date according to the year cycle inscribed on them, along with the name of the diviner and the topic being divined about. One of the most famous astrologers in China was Tsou Yen who lived in around BC, and who wrote: "When some new dynasty is going to arise, heaven exhibits auspicious signs for the people".

Astronomy and Astrology in Ancient Civilizations

The calendars of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica are based upon a system which had been in common use throughout the region, dating back to at least the 6th century BC. The earliest calendars were employed by peoples such as the Zapotecs and Olmecs , and later by such peoples as the Maya , Mixtec and Aztecs. Although the Mesoamerican calendar did not originate with the Maya, their subsequent extensions and refinements to it were the most sophisticated.

Along with those of the Aztecs, the Maya calendars are the best-documented and most completely understood. The distinctive Mayan calendar used two main systems, one plotting the solar year of days, which governed the planting of crops and other domestic matters; the other called the Tzolkin of days, which governed ritual use. Each was linked to an elaborate astrological system to cover every facet of life. On the fifth day after the birth of a boy, the Mayan astrologer-priests would cast his horoscope to see what his profession was to be: soldier, priest, civil servant or sacrificial victim.

Venus was seen as a generally inauspicious and baleful influence, and Mayan rulers often planned the beginning of warfare to coincide with when Venus rose.

There is evidence that the Maya also tracked the movements of Mercury, Mars and Jupiter, and possessed a zodiac of some kind. The Mayan name for the constellation Scorpio was also 'scorpion', while the name of the constellation Gemini was 'peccary'. There is some evidence for other constellations being named after various beasts.

ancient roots of astronomy and astrology Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology
ancient roots of astronomy and astrology Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology
ancient roots of astronomy and astrology Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology
ancient roots of astronomy and astrology Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology
ancient roots of astronomy and astrology Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology
ancient roots of astronomy and astrology Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology
ancient roots of astronomy and astrology Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology
ancient roots of astronomy and astrology Ancient roots of astronomy and astrology

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