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A Historical Overview of Astrology

Ezequiel González

Astrology is being practiced in various forms all over the world. There is Chinese, Hindu, Hebrew and Western Astrology to name just a few of its variations. Astrology is neither new. It has been around for a long, long time. Generally, it is accepted that Astrology was born in "the cradle of civilization": the Tigris-Euphrates valley around the year 3,000 B.C. [see Endnote 1]. From there it spread all over the world. In Greece it took on a new form thanks to the mathematical/philosophical viewpoint of the Hellenistic Society.

Greek Astrology

About the second century A.D. the Greek scientific writer Ptolemy [he was to the Greeks what Isomov would be for us today] wrote a monumental work on Astrology. This work was divided in two parts: The Almagest and The Tetrabiblos.

The Almagest had to do with the movement of the Sun, Moon and planets, while the Tetrabiblos deals primarily with the interpretation of those movements in terms of their effect upon man, and human affairs.

The influence of Greek philosophy upon Astrology became a mixed blessing. On the one hand it organized Astrology in a rational way that makes it acceptable to the Western mind. On the other hand it turned Astrology into a philosophical discipline rather than the observational science it had been until then. Previously the astrologers/priests of the East would observe the heaven and seek correlations between the cosmic phenomena and the events here on Earth. After the Greeks the Western astrologers would simply interpret human events in terms of a set of postulates inherited from the past. Thus, Astrology stopped its development as an observational discipline [science].

Furthermore, with the fall of the Western half of the Roman Empire much of even than Greek Astrology was lost. All they had during the Middle Ages were some legends, a few books written in unscientific jargon and the like. In spite of that, Astrology remained a dignified Liberal Art subject in must schools of that period. We must hasten to say that the subject "Astrology" included both the computation of cosmic phenomena (what today would be called astronomy) and the interpretation of these phenomena in terms of its influence upon human behavior.

The Muslim Empire

In the Sixth Century A.D. the Muslim movement started to grow in the Mediterranean Basin. By the Eight century they had an Empire extending from Persia to the South of France. Spain, specifically, was under Muslim rule for several centuries. As they went into the East the Arabs came in contact with Greek Astrology. This Astrology they brought into Spain, and from there it spread all over Europe. By the 12th century Greek Astrology was making its comeback into Europe. During the Renaissance Astrology became the "Queen of Sciences" all over the continent.

Renaissance

Scientific supermen like Kepler, Galileo and Copernico were primarily great astrologers. Newton himself although not a practicing astrologer, had studied the subject and had great respect toward it.

At this time Astrology came to a critical moment in its development. Seeking a greater understanding of the heavens, Kepler, Galileo and others developed scientific ideas and concepts that revolutionized and energized the scientific community. Unfortunately, this new ideas were not used to explain astrological dictums. Instead, Astrology was discarded by the scientific community as a pseudoscience and fell into the domain of "Occultists" who tried to explain it in Esoteric terminology.

The Modern Age

Even worst, astrological interpretations were usually given in fatalistic/deterministic terms, giving the impression that there was no free will; something that goes against the basic dictums of Historic Christian Theology. Even though some Christian denominations arising from the Protestant Reform do sustain some kind of determinism, they are also quite fundamentalistic and even literalistic to the extreme in their interpretation of the Bible. Thus, they would reject anything that may seen to be somewhat related to "paganism" and or "occultism."

In summary, during the modern age, Astrology was rejected by Christians because on the one hand it rejected Free Will, a basic dictum of Historic Christianity sustained by the Catholic and many protestant denominations; and on the other hand gave the impression of being another pagan ritual or tradition that was anathema to the more radical protestant denominations who only accepted the Bible as a source of doctrine or spiritual understanding.

The scientist rejected Astrology because it was a social science dealing with subjective information very hard to be reduce to empirical data. By the time the social sciences became acceptable, the stigma of "occult science" was already too strong to be easily dismiss. Nevertheless, as the turn of the century (1890's) gave birth to psychology and other social sciences, Astrology also saw a transformation in its style. It became more "Psychological", less deterministic and much less fatalistic.

Initially, however, this renewed interest in Astrology came as part of a collective turn toward the occult and oriental. Thus, must of the effort to promote Astrology at the turn of the century came from individuals and organizations with a Eastern/holistic viewpoint. In spite of the efforts of many individuals with a different viewpoint this "easternization" of Astrology remains strong as we approach the end of the twentieth century.

The Early Twentieth Century

Max Heindel, Rafael VI, Alan Leo, Elbert Benjamine, Sephariel are just a few of the great astrologers of the turn of the century. In their practice they combined traditional astrological dictums, Eastern Holistic philosophy and the newfound psychological perspective. Some of them (Max Heindel, Sephariel and others) also included some Biblical understanding in their writings, but their Theology was not the traditional, orthodox one.

At that time Max Heindel founded the Rosicrucian Fellowship, one of the leading promoters of Astrology during this century. Among many other books they publish The Rosicrucian Ephemeris, a major reference work no astrologer shall be without. Their major weakness (as I see it) is their dogmatic presentation of their religious/philosophical ideas and their request that you don't practice Astrology for profit. [See Endnote 2]. Thus, of you get in touch with them, I would advice you to keep a critical eye, analyze their ideas and believes objectively and then accept or reject them based on your own understanding and experience.

Another of the great astrological writer of this period was the late Mark Edmund Jones. His views on the subject were more scientific and attuned to traditional Christian Theology. Besides, this refreshing perspective, Jones discovered the "Jones Patterns"; made of planets configured in certain specific ways that manifest certain specific characteristics. Besides the discovery and development of these patterns Jones wrote many masterpiece books on Astrology. Among them we may mention:

  • How to Learn Astrology

  • Guide to Horoscope Interpretation

  • Horary Astrology

  • Astrology, How and Why it Works

  • Sabian Symbols in Astrology

  • Essentials of Astrological Analysis

  • Scope of Astrological Prediction

  • Mundane Perspectives in Astrology

  • Fundamentals of Number Significance

  • Counseling Manual in Astrology

Must of these works are available from:

The American Federation of Astrologers
Box 22040
Tempe Arizona 85285-2040

This Federation was organized and incorporated in Washington, D.C. in the year 1938. The exact astrological data of its incorporation is:

Name: American Federation of Astrologers (AFA)
Date: May 4, 1938
Time: 11:38 a.m. EST
Place: Washington, DC, USA

The purpose and goal of the Federation is to "promote the science and art of Astrology through research and education, and to establish a high standard of professional ethics for the legitimate astrologer."

Since 1938 many other organizations with similar goals have been established. Among them we may mention NCGR with its local chapters and other local Astrology clubs spread throughout the United States. For a current list of these I recommend you the Club Circuit section of American Astrology.

That magazine started publication in 1933 and since then have remained a favorite of all those interested on the subject.

Astrology Today

In the 80's another phase in the history of Astrology started with the introduction of the Personal Computers. Soon many Astrology Calculation Software Programs were developed and published. Robert Hand, Michael Erlewine, Sirman, and others are good astrologers and computer programmers who have combined their expertise in both fields to develop top of the line Astrology calculation and interpretation software programs.

These programs allow the average astrologer to study the cosmic cycles in greater detail, developing a better understanding of their characteristics and of their effect upon human behavior. Also, as these programs allow the astrologer to prepare and analyze a large number of cosmic charts, they become an invaluable tool in the statistical analysis of Astrology.

NeoAstrology

Concurrent with this technological development a new style of Astrology has been developing in Europe thanks to the research of the Gaukelin brothers in France. Their work is commonly known as neoAstrology. American Astrology is publishing a series of articles about this subject, starting on the March 1992 issue. I will not attempt to summarize neoAstrology here, for it presents an entirely new astrological perspective that would take a full dissertation to explain. If you'd like to get into it I recommend you the works of the Gaukelin brothers and the series of articles published in American Astrology. However, I would like to comment on some positive and negative alternatives that neoAstrology presents for the development of Astrology.

On the one hand, neoAstrology with its strict statistical perspective and new terminology frees Astrology from the stigma of popular superstition. This is good for it will allow many scientist, critics and agnostics to study the subject more objectively. As is our experience, most of those who approach Astrology with an open mind end up practicing and supporting it.

On the other hand, neoAstrology don't take into account the religious and psychic aspects of Astrology. Humans are fundamentally spiritual entities sojourning in a physical body; their ultimate connection with the cosmos is through spiritual-psychic mechanisms. A strictly scientific Astrology should eventually reach these conclusions, but in the meanwhile the denial of spiritual truths may hamper the development of Astrology as a spiritual science and humans as spiritual entities.

Spiritual Astrology

Thus, parallel to the development of neoAstrology among those with a strictly scientific viewpoint, a renewal of spiritual-psychic Astrology must also emerge. In the past, religious Astrology, although a mixture of many different ideas, was fundamentally based upon Eastern Religious philosophy. Thus, it was rejected by our Western Religious Establishment. Now, however, a new breed of astrologers and a new astrological viewpoint is arising where Astrology is study as a theological science in harmony and within the context of Orthodox Judeo-Christian Theology. This is precisely the viewpoint presented and supported in my writings.

Approaching The Millennium

As a new Millennium gets underway mankind seems to be moving toward an integrated world government and universal society where the old will not be discarded but blended into a new, higher and more comprehensive worldview. If this is the case, then Astrology is bound to make its most impressive comeback ever. After all, Astrology has been with mankind since the very beginning and its influence have been felt by every relevant civilization. Thus, as our past heritage blends with our present accomplishments, Astrology will inevitably become increasingly relevant both as a key the understanding of the past and a beacon illuminating the path toward the future.


Endnotes

Endnote 1

According to Biblical History, Adam and Eve were created around the year 4,000 to 4,500 B.C. Since the very beginning God instructed them to study the cosmic cycles and organized their individuals and social lives in harmony with those cycles [Genesis 1:14-19]. Thus as Adam and Eve obeyed God in other matters like the practice of animal sacrifices (following the example God set before them when He killed some animals to make clothes for them) we may assume that they did obey Him in this matter also.

Now we must comprehend that the prediluvial world was different from the present world. Humans were potentially more intelligent and physically powerful; but because of the lack of a highly developed and organized society some developed this potential fully while others corrupted their ways becoming almost like beasts. Also, as the traditional interpretation of Genesis 6:1-2 says, extraterrestrial beings (known within the Bible as celestial messengers [angels]) visited the earth on those days and cohabited with human females. Their offspring became the giants and heroes of mythology (Genesis 6:4).

This prediluvial world had a different climate. The Earth was covered with a canopy of water that protected the environment and maintained a constant temperature around the globe. The seasonal variation was minimal. In this prediluvial world and under these social conditions Astrology was born and developed for over 1,500 years. Then, about 1,600 years after the creation of Adam, the Universal Flood came to destroy that civilization.

From the Biblical narrative we may conclude that Noah and his sons were not intellectuals or scientists; thus, their understanding of Astrology must had been limited. However, as their offspring multiplied and spread throughout the Earth, the remembrance of Astrology as a great science of the past must had spread with them. As their descendants came in contact with the astrological monuments remaining from the prediluvial era, they approached them not with a scientific mind but with a religious mind, treating them as objects of worship.

Thus, what had been a science became a mystery religion inherited from the "past" and based upon the "wisdom" of the ancient "masters."

This, of course, is a theory seeking to explain the origin of Astrology within a Biblical framework. Before you reject it, let me remind you that the Biblical framework has never been found wrong, no matter what some "scientists" may say.

The only alternative historic framework to explain the "prehistoric" past is provided by the theory of evolution. But this theory suffered a decisive setback when, in the late forties, Wilhelm Reich found that an increased concentration of orgone energy could accelerate the rate of decay of radioactive particles. It was upon the supposedly stability of this rates of decay that the whole validation of the theory of evolution was based. Thus, as the rates of decay are not constant but can change from one moment to the other, it is impossible to use those rates of decay to date how old a given fossil is. Without these dating mechanisms, evolution is not even a theory, but a mere hypothesis lacking any scientific validation.

The Biblical framework on the other hand is based on historic documents written in the distant past and compiled by Ezra in the year 500 B.C. Furthermore hundred of details given in those documents have been confirmed time and time again by archaeologists and those that are still awaiting validation is safe to conclude that will eventually find it. Even more, if we assume the existence of God or of some other extraterrestrial intelligence with enough power to influence the formation of matter and the development of organic matter, then the Biblical narrative becomes a completely rational historical account.

Endnote 2

That decision should be left to the individual. It is not wrong to practice Astrology for profit if you are an honest person who charges a just an fare amount for your service. After all, to cast and delineate a cosmic chart is a time and energy consuming work taking at times entire days of hard work; not to mention the many years of study and experience needed to be able to prepare a good interpretation. Thus, the astrologers should charge for his service an amount equivalent to the salary he would earn in one or two days of labor. Assuming minimum wages, lets say $4.25 per hour, that would be equivalent to 34 to 64 dollars.

But honestly speaking, no professional charges minimum wages for his service nowadays. Most likely they would charge 10 to 100 dollars per hour. Using this normal rates a cosmic chart would cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars, assuming it takes just a few days to prepare. This amount should in no way be considered excessive for, after all, we are talking about a comprehensive analysis of the individual personality, character and identity. A psychologist or psychoanalyst would probably charge much more than that and would ask for a much longer time to render his report.

Astrology as a profession is in no way inferior to psychology, medicine or any other profession. Thus, the professional astrologer should get paid for his professional services at a rate comparable to those of other similar professionals.

Genesis 1:14-19

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the Earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the Earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Genesis 6:1-2

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the Earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they choose.

Genesis 6:4

There were giants in the Earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Bibliography


Sephariel, HEBREW ASTROLOGY, THE KEY TO THE STUDY OF PROPHECY, Sun Books, Sun Publishing Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1981.

Tester, Jim, A HISTORY OF WESTERN ASTROLOGY, Ballantine Books, New York. First edition, 1989.

Joel C., Dobin, THE ASTROLOGICAL SECRETS OF THE HEBREW SAGES, Inner Traditions International, LTD, Rochester, Vermont 1977.

Nesle, Solange de Mailly, ASTROLOGY, HISTORY, SYMBOLS AND SIGNS, Inner Traditions International, LTD, New York, 1985.

Erlewine, Michael, MANUAL OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING FOR ASTROLOGERS, American Federation of Astrologers, Tempe, Arizona, 1980.