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A LITTLE HISTORY

Modern Western Astrology can be understood as a very complex system of symbolic or archetypal knowledge that has been evolving for at least 5,000 years across many great cultures.

PREHISTORY

Even before this, archeological evidence of Paleolithic cave art from Lascaux in central France dating back 16,500 years ago may hold the key to early man’s connection with the stars.

Picture of a Bull with a cluster of dots in the background This picture of a Bull with a cluster of dots in the background is but one of the cave paintings of the Lascaux Caves possibly depicting a Shaman’s vision of the prehistoric night sky. Could the cluster of dots in the background represent the Pleiades open star cluster which is the star group associated with the constellation Taurus- The Bull? Is this where the great vision of the constellations begun? Dr. Michael Rappenglueck, of the University of Munich believes that the Lascaux cave paintings depict shamanistic cosmography and says of the many astral cave paintings:

"It is a map of the prehistoric cosmos. It was their sky, full of animals and spirit guides."

ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIAN

From the second millennium BCE, the time of the Babylonian Empire through to the Assyrian Empire, the great empirical work of planetary observation and data collection began. For 2,000 years Babylonian priests meticulously recorded the movements of the planets along with correlated events. This work was of the utmost importance as the planets represented the immanent presence of the Gods and as such planetary movements were considered to be messages from the Gods.

"The great God Marduk created stations for the great Gods fixing their astral likeness as images."

Such information was highly desirable by all who wished to stay in favour with the Gods, particularly the King. Therefore the priests served as mediums interpreting the messages from the Gods as well as leading the King in subsequent rituals to please or placate the Gods.

At this time Babylonian astrology was very general in that it catered to the needs of the King and the Empire as a whole in the form of omens, mainly addressing mundane issues such as commerce, war, pestilence, kingship and so on. And usually most forecasts were told as the planetary phenomena unfolded, as prior to the 7th century B.C. the priest’s understanding of astronomy was very rudimentary. Therefore that had little skill in predicting future planetary movement. However by the 4th century BCE their mathematical methods had progressed enough to calculate future planetary positions with reasonable accuracy, at which point extensive ephemerides or planetary calendars began to appear.

The first great discovery of written evidence in regard to the practice of astrology came from Nineveh, which was the capital of Ancient Assyria, which succeeded Babylon. The royal archive of Nineveh, excavated in 1840, contained correspondence from priests and scribes, addressed to the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal, about the observation and interpretation of omens, and the rituals needed to ward off harm. The Enuma Anu Enlil, consisted of 70 tablets of 7,000 recorded phenomena along with correspondng celestial occurrences. With some of these omens tablets dating back as far as 2300 BCE.

“If in Kislimu from the first day to the thirtieth day Venus disappears in the east: there will be a famine of barley and straw in the land.”
“ If the moon becomes visible on the thirtieth day: there will be frost, variant: rumour of the enemy.”
“If the moon become visible in Sabatu on the thirtieth day: an eclipse of all lands will take place.“
From the Chief Scribe

ANCIENT GREECE

Eventually the Greeks came across the Babylonian system of naming a planet after a God. Keep in mind, that the Greek Gods lived on Mount Olympus on the Greek mainland, not up in the Sky. Nonetheless, the Greeks were impressed and sought to re name the planets after their own Gods. In doing this they chose God’s whose meaning or domain of rulership was on par to the Babylonian Gods. In this way the names and myths associated with each planet changed, though the core meaning attributed to the planet did not. For example, the planet Marduk, named after the God who presided over law and justice became modern day Jupiter which still represents law and justice in mundane astrology. Or the Babylonian planet Nergal named after the God of war became modern day Mars- still very much associated with war.

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