Across the annals of astrology

history of astrology

Some swear by the accuracy of it while others scoff at it as being a conniving mode for a section of humans to operate but none has been the key to the continuance and flourish of this element residing within the domains of the pseudoscience. A scholarly tradition persisting since ages, with some of the greatest names in human history associated with it, astrology has long been a subject of debate and ridicule and parallely also one that has managed to inspire awe and hold many in wonder over the workings of it. Rooted in considerations of the celestial and linked essentially to the invocation of the divine, this branch of whatever it is that is so concerned with a world outside the physical premises of the planet we live in, even when they might be elements of the same solar system and therefore not anything too overtly superficial, can be traced to times of the past, and one that indeed has been important in helping forge the path forward for the natural science of astronomy. Also finding use in other traditional studies, astrology however started losing ground as a credible study of the skies for such pursuits that aimed at a human interpretation of them to become prominent more as being a farce than one residing in logic or even anywhere between the sciences and the arts.

At best, astrology can still be ‘propagated’ as a means of incantation of the divine or as musings of magic, which itself is very shrewd trickery at best. Not surprisingly therefore, there today is evidence of a declining belief commanded by it in popular culture even with its legacy of distinguished history. To begin with, astrology made its first ever appearance in the 3rd millennium B.C. during the Sumerian period but more established records date it to have emerged only another thousand years later, making therefore Babylonian astrology developed during the 2nd millennium the true progenitor of it. With roots in the calendrical system, astrology then was employed as a predictor of seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. But the Mesopotamian Sumerians too had noted the movement of the stars and the planets despite the lack of evidence not definitively indicating the purposes of it. It was the Babylonians or the Chaldeans that then had been the most ‘visible’ propagators of astrology, creating as they did the zodiac wheel, that is still in use today, sometime in 700 B.C. It also has been from Babylon that the oldest known horoscopic chart emerged, dating to 409 B.C., establishing therefore the empire from what followed the earliest known trails of looking up to the sky to decipher the workings of worldly life there.

The next big thing within the realm of astrology was effected by the Greeks, courtesy Alexander the Great whose conquest of Asia allowed this study of the heavenly bodies to dictate life events in his parts of the world. Like the Babylonians, the Greek influence on astrology is also predominant, with modern names for planets and zodiac signs stemming from literature pertaining to them as did many a core techniques of the modern day reiteration of the subject. In parallel development therefore, it had been the Hellenistic tradition of astrology that came to dominate the Egyptian expanses, particularly that of Rome across where it spread, even when other parts of the world came to encompass their own version of interpreting the alignment of the stars and the planets and stuff.

Of particular interest would be the traditional Hindu system of astrology, known also as Vedic astrology or Indian astrology, or colloquially as Jyotisha, is perhaps even older than the Greek study of the skies. Believed to have had interactions with Hellenistic astrology, Vedic astrology is also sometimes believed to be the ground from which the former might have been derived, as somewhat of a cross with western astrology. Also notable are such other emergences of astrology based on the ambits of religion like the Islamic or Christian forms of it. Equally differential has been the Chinese version of this talk about the stars, that together with the Indian version has impacted the world’s cultural history. In fact for both these elements of the worldly existences- Indians and Chinese as well as the Mayans, the emphasis on these components of space is more ingrained in their identity than being something mostly concerned with such pursuits as predictions and such. In India though, as well as in Japan, astrology also is far more rooted in everyday life that what is attributed to this doctrine in totality. Specifically in such essential aspects of living and livelihood, as marriage and career respectively, the Indian thrust on astrology in the modern times has taken on a dimension somewhat different than what was intended out of it traditionally.

Whatever that might be, despite its continued prevalence and popularity in so many different parts of the world, astrology could not manage to uphold the ‘esteem’ in its doctrine of continuation, as a means of elevating the divine into something even unreal, by exploring the limits of the sky in its associated elements. Flourishing still through the Middle Ages though, even some years before and after it, during which time it ‘earned’ some of its most illustrious proponents, the likes of Claudius Ptolemy, Galileo Galilei and Nostradamus among others, it was in the years following that period of extensive and expansive spread of astrology that it came to see a decline. During the Age of Enlightenment that followed, particularly the timeline extending through the 17th to the 18th centuries, astrology came under scathing attack in response to the bourgeoning premises upon which science came to rule, undergoing therefore a mortified change of awareness, to instead be ridiculed as an untrue version of reality. It however wasn’t an adherence to the unverified claims of astrology that lent it lesser credibility as a science, or something close to it, but instead the process and concepts of it that defy empiricality that made this once so indulged course of ancient study refutable. The irrationality of astrology, it was believed, has more to do with this criteria of being based on fallacious logic and poor reasoning that it has to do with the unaccountability of its numerous experiments.

The 1800s though saw the return of astrology to its famed basis, though not to the same extents, as renewed interest in spirituality and mysticism meant that the study was not fully in place for a beating yet. The 20th century dawned to see even more emphasis being rendered on astrology, particularly in its concerned area of the horoscopes as newspapers and magazines began publishing zodiac based horoscopes that began to captivate the modern day masses. This recourse to the exploration of the horoscopes to decipher the future course of events, immediate or later, that can come to govern the life of an individual did indeed help immensely in making astrology in this particular dimension of it more popular an entity in popular culture.

From delineating personality traits and individual characteristics to rounding up the pulse of what is going to dictate the course of your life, whether in daily, weekly, monthly or even more long term associations, horoscopes have been vital in pressurising the modern, ‘educated’ man to yield in to astrology in part of its aspect, in some way or the other. And within such selective perception of astrology, or horoscopes as to say, lies an ingrained nature of the human psychology, forever on the lookout for validation, whether consciously and assertively or otherwise. All this might seem well and good, something that might be beneficial in giving you an idea of what is to follow so that you are not caught unawares by whatever life situation you manage to find yourself in. But the very premise of astrology being surreal, it goes without saying that seldom do the workings of the world unravel in such ways that the position of the stars should have led them to. In therefore harbouring a potential that might be only part the truth, if it is any truth at all, the citings of astrology might be capable of such harm that a seemingly innocuous belief in it could not lead a foresight into. From impacting the way we feel about ourselves, whether in a positive or negative light, to manipulating our impression of others, judging them as we do as per their sun signs, thereby leading to a biased form of social alienation, to having our minds overly obsessed with what would or would not happen rather than striving to do as per our desires, or even a promotion of such thinking that rests on apprehensions and therefore drives out reasoning and critical pondering over things, the pseudoscience of astrology can end up leading us to paths we were not destined for, in the process perhaps fulfilling its prophecies but leaving one so vulnerable to influential elements and external perception that might destroy whole of our logic and put our individuality as rational, sensible human beings at stake. To however say that astrology is fake would also be another half truth- it is real only as much as we accord it the importance that allows it to take over us completely. The concerns of the celestial might be science, but to decode them in all their twinklings and placings in perfect sync with each other as a form of divine intervention catering to the exclusive fancies of the human race, not so much.