The idea of astrology dates back to ancient times and is one of the oldest systems that believes that celestial beings like the Sun, Moon, and planets can have an influence on the lives of people. Astrology was practiced by ancient cultures in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and India. The oldest writings containing astrologically based predictions were from ancient Babylon. Babylonian astrology eventually reached Greece. The Greeks transformed the Babylonian form of astrology into a system modeled after geometry. The Greeks provided an important contribution to astrology by discovering how the other planets influence things on Earth. The Greeks also demonstrated how celestial beings could indirectly influence the fate of people. Greek astrology is the building block for astrology most people are familiar with today in Western culture. Taking all of this into consideration, astrology could be considered to be a science, an art, or a form of divination. Depending on the culture, the way astrology is looked at can differ. Most astrology concepts in different cultures share similar roots in ancient philosophies, but not all of the cultures share the same methods.
History of Astrology
If we look back to the history of astrology, we come to know this word is derived from the Latin word, “astrologia”, which further developed from Greek, Astron (stars), and logia (study of stars). Many cultures around the world are concerned with astrology and its impact on earthbound events. Chinese, Maya, and Indian civilizations have evolved an extensive and advanced system for the anticipation of terrible affairs by observing ethereal knowledge. In western society, the concept of astrology is linked with a system of horoscopes, consisting of zodiac signs.
This zodiacal system of prediction is practiced in western culture to vaccinate about personal traits and future based on the relative positioning of stars, sun, moon, and otherworldly objects at their birth time. Astrology is dated back to the 2nd millennium BCE, deeply rooted in the calendrical systems practiced purposefully to forecast seasonal changes and to explicate the periodicity of celestial objects as the divine symbols for prophecy.
Throughout the history of astrology, it was regarded as a scholastic belief. It was considered in many scholarly fields, political environments and was united with other disciplines like astronomy, physics, alchemy, meteorology, and heliocentrism. Astrology lost its value in the academic and theoretical eras at the end of the 17th century when the discovery of new scientific concepts such as heliocentrism and Newtonian mechanics put this field in deep question.
Astrology in its deepest sense is the pursuance of meaning beyond the terrestrial sphere in the sky. The earliest proofs of astrology in practice can be seen in bones and cave walls for the measurement, forecasting, and recording seasonal shifts by referring to the astronomical cycles to make it clear that lunar alternations were being observed as early as the concept of life began.
This was the initial progression towards the field of astrology when the impact of the Moon’s movement was recorded upon rivers and tides and a communal calendar was organized. Farmers at that time also sought information from celestial objects as the knowledge of the constellations advanced with time. They observe when the particular configured star is ascending for the indication of seasonal changes and yearly inundation.
Astronomy vs. Astrology
People might confuse both these terms. It is necessary to understand the difference between astronomy and astrology. The concept both these terms share is almost similar. The difference is that the former is the study of ethereal objects and the latter is a belief system that these objects might influence affairs and events occurring in the sublunary region.
Astronomy is just the study of every object beyond the terrestrial sphere, astral and supernal bodies; moon, sun, asteroids, planets, galaxies, and stars, their properties and relations. While astrology means observing the aftereffects of these celestial items on different aspects of human life. The Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is considered the founding father of “observational astronomy”. He practiced telescopes for the scientific study of supernatural objects. He made many discoveries in this field related to different planets.
Different Cultures of Astrology
Each civilization, modern or outdated, knows about astrology and its consequences on human affairs. Every civilization has its own belief system about the stars and their influence. The story of the astrological system in one culture is different from the other. Now we look at how different cultures interpret the same idea of celestial objects impacting earthly affairs.
The first known astrology with an organized system of knowledge is Babylonian Astrology, which is dated back to the 2nd millennium BC. Enuma Anu Enlil is a comprehensive series of 70 tablets dealing with Babylonian Astrology. This compilation comprises 7000 supernal omens. Written proof of this astrological system highlights the oral tradition practiced at that time because the content can only be surmised.
At the early stages, Babylonian astrology was wholly mundane, mainly implicated in the foretelling of weather and political affairs, and before the 7th century BC, the practicians’ perception and cognition about this branch were undeveloped. Astrological symbols are used to represent the annual almanac to the community to remind them of the different seasonal tasks following the planetary cycle, such as different symbols to denote a specific time for harvesting, sowing crops, collecting and managing water reserves, accumulating shellfish, catching fish by net or line, hunting, and other various seasonal tasks.
In the 4th century, their calculative methods had developed enough to predict the positioning of planets and stars with analytical certainty, and at that time, elaborative ephemerides came into sight. If we look back into the history of Babylonian astrology, it is connected with divination. They believe in different gods. They have a firm belief that different planets and stars represent different gods.
Marduk, the most powerful god, was the god of Parton in Babylon culture. This god is associated with the planet Jupiter. This was not the only one, because the Babylonians were polytheistic and believed in many gods for different goals. They associated certain specific gods with a specific planet for various purposes. The Babylonians had faith that their lives were influenced by the activities of their gods.
These celestial matters affecting terrestrial events are known to be divine intervention by the Babylonians. When a good or bad thing happens in their lives, it is directly connected to the sun, moon, and planets’ movements. They interpret different signs as occurring in the sky accordingly. For example, if the moon wins to overcome the cloudy sky, it is the symbol of triumph, success, and conquest over the enemy or heavy rain and is considered a good omen. These prognostications are not limited to just one or the other celestial appearances but are stretched to be applied to other occasions.
Western astrology could be best described as a form of divination that is based around the exact moment of an individual’s birth. This type of astrology is based on the movements and relative positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. These movements and relative positions are analyzed by their traveling through the signs of the zodiacs. In the Western media, astrology is usually reduced to just an individual’s sun sign. A sun sign is the zodiac sign of the sun during the date, time, and place of a person’s birth. Each person has a specific sign assigned to the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Ascendant. The Ascendant is the astrological sign that is ascending on the eastern horizon at a person’s date, time, and location of birth. The rest of the planets and the Moon signs are determined the same as a person’s sun sign. It is relevant to what location they were in during a person’s birth. The Sun, Moon, Ascendant, and all the planets are believed to influence specific qualities of an individual. A person’s sun sign determines their ego and identity. This sign is supposed to be the core of who someone is. It is believed that the Moon controls emotions, moods, and feelings. This means a person’s moon sign reflects their personality when alone or extremely comfortable. A person’s ascendant sign reflects how someone presents themselves to other people. It can be seen in someone’s personal style and how they come off to people during a first impression. An individual’s Mercury sign influences how they communicate, think, process information, and learn. Mercury is known as the mind’s planet. Someone’s Venus sign determines how they express affection and the qualities they are attracted to. The Mars sign determines how an individual asserts themselves and how they take action. Jupiter is one of the social planets, so someone’s Jupiter sign rules their optimism and idealism. Saturn is the other social planet. A Saturn sign influences things like responsibility, boundaries, fears, and self-discipline. A person’s Uranus sign rules things like innovation, rebellion, and progress. A Neptune sign influences things like dreams and imagination. Lastly, Pluto signs rule things like an individual’s intensity and obsession.
In Western astrology there are twelve zodiac signs that are divided into four elements. Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are the Earth signs. Earth signs are typically reliable, practical, and sensual. Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra are the Air signs. Air signs can usually be categorized as intellectual, detached, and fair-minded. Leo, Aries, and Sagittarius are the Fire signs. Fire signs are known for being spontaneous, reactive, and assertive. Pisces, Scorpio, and Cancer are the water signs. Water signs are known to be emotional, intuitive, and sensitive. Each sign has even more specific traits special to itself that go beyond the element category it belongs in.
A person’s sun sign is usually what they are talking about when they refer to “their” zodiac sign. This would be the sign read for a daily horoscope. Horoscopes are a source of entertainment for the mainstream media, but some people consider horoscopes to be a guide for their day. Daily horoscopes are written using the moon as the guide. This is because the moon changes signs about every two to three days. Since the moon rules over emotions, this would cause moods and emotions to change day to day.
Chinese astrology is mainly focused on the year an individual is born. There are twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac that follow a twelve-year rotation. The strict rotation goes to Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Monkey, Goat, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each of the animals stands as a symbol indicating an essential character, color, and flavor that will influence the upcoming year. The legend behind the twelve zodiac signs is they were the only twelve animals to respond to Buddha’s call for a great celebration. Buddha honored them by giving them all a year dedicated to them. Since the Chinese zodiac is based on years, it is believed that people born in the same year have similar characteristics and main personality traits. People born in the year of the Rat have characteristics like being imaginative, charming, ambitious, and passionate. They are skilled at overcoming adversity and using charm to ensure success of their own goals. If someone is born in the year of the Ox, they will have characteristics like being methodical, stubborn, private, and courageous. These people usually have a strong moral code, do not respond well to change, and prefer to work at their own pace. Those born in the year of the Tiger have characteristics like being sensitive, competitive, honest, and rick-taking. These people have fiery tempers and are skilled at taking the initiative. People born in the year of the Rabbit have characteristics like being affectionate, sentimental, curious, and cunning. These people are typically extremely sensitive to people and their intuition is almost never wrong. Those born in the year of the Dragon have characteristics like being self-assured, enthusiastic, daring, and critical. These people are infectiously charming and love to spark their enthusiasm in others. If someone is born in the year of the Snake, they will have characteristics like being wise, seductive, proud, and insightful. These people tend to be extravagant and love to gossip. People born in the year of the Horse typically have characteristics like being cheerful, witty, friendly, and adventurous. These people tend to be naturally graceful and a never-ending passion for traveling. Those born in the year of the Goat have characteristics like being gentle, shy, insecure, and artistic. These people tend to love tranquility and spending their time daydreaming. If someone was born in the year of the Monkey, they would have characteristics like being sociable, talkative, mischievous, and eccentric. These people tend to rebel against anything that comes in the way of their independence. People born in the year of the Rooster have characteristics like being diligent, noble, loyal, and blunt. These people can be theatrical and have a keen eye for detail. Those born in the year of the Dog usually have characteristics like being reliable, devoted, fair, and hot-tempered. These people tend to please the people they love and hate when people are deceitful. People born in the year of the Pig have characteristics like being sincere, generous, naïve, and materialistic. These people tend to seek comfort and dislike emotional uncertainty. Chinese people believe that certain animal zodiacs get along better than others do, so couples will often plan a specific year to have children. They believe that the right combination of animal zodiac signs in their family can give them prosperity and success.
On top of being assigned a zodiac animal, each person receives an element. In Chinese philosophy there are five elements that are essential for all living things. The elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each animal zodiac is ruled by a different element within all the elements’ twelve-year rotation cycles. Each element has specific qualities assigned to them. Someone assigned Wood would have key characteristics like being warm, generous, elegant, and considerate. Someone with the element Fire would have key characteristics like being decisive, innovative, dynamic, and joyful. People assigned the element Earth have key characteristics like being honest, responsible, patient, and prudent. Someone with the element metal would have key characteristics like being strong, ambitious, moral, and independent. People assigned the element Water would exhibit key characteristics like being flexible, diplomatic, creative, and persuasive.
Along with the animal zodiac and element, everyone is assigned either Yin or Yang. Yin and Yang are believed to be the dynamic complementary forces that balance the universe. Yin has associations with night, water, and the Moon. Yang has associations with day, fire, and the sun. Every animal year is designated to be either Yin or Yang. The Yin signs are Rooster, Rabbit, Pig, Snake, Ox, and Goat. The Yang signs are Monkey, Tiger, Rat, Horse, Dragon, and Dog.
The hour an individual is born adds another layer to someone’s characteristics. Since the day consists of two twelve-hour cycles, it is also ruled in the same sequence as the twelve-year cycle. It begins with Rat, who rules the times of 11pm-1am. This means that each person is born in the year of one of the animal zodiacs and is also born in the hour of one of the animal zodiacs. This means that an individual has the characteristics of their year zodiac combined with the characteristics of their hour zodiac.
Vedic astrology or Hindu astrology is considered an ancient science that explains the movements and positions of the planets, and the effects it has on humans. This form of astrology is popular in India. The biggest difference between Vedic astrology and Western astrology is that Vedic astrology considers the stars to be the fixed background to which planetary movement is measured. Vedic astrology can be traced back thousands of year and early Vedic astrology was solely based on planetary movement in respect of the stars. Later on, zodiac signs were included as well. Vedic astrology consists of twenty-seven constellations made up of twelve zodiac signs, nine planets, and twelve houses. The time of someone’s birth, the twelve zodiac signs are distributed throughout the twelve houses and the nine planets are placed among various houses. Vedic astrology has the same twelve zodiac signs as Western astrology (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces).
Vedic astrology is split into three main branches called Siddhanta, Samhita, and Hora. Siddhanta is about astronomy and its application within astrology. Samhita covers what they call mundane astrology. This consists of predicting important events like war, natural disasters, major political events, financial positions, and omens. The last branch Hora is known as predictive astrology and consists of sub-branches. The first sub-branch is known as Jaatak Shaastra / Hora Shaastra which is predictions based on individual horoscopes. The next sub-branch is called Muhurt which is the selection of the most beneficial time to begin an activity to get the maximum fulfillment of said activity. The next sub-branch is Swar Shaastra which is about predictions based on names. Prashna is the next sub-branch which is about predictions based on the exact time a question is asked by a person. Kabala is another sub-branch which is astrology based on numbers. Another sub-branch is Nadi astrology which is the following of an ancient essay that has detailed predictions for individuals. The next sub-branch is Tajik Shaastra which is astrology based on annual solar returns. Jaimini Sutras is the next sub-branch that is a non-conventional method of placing events based on the work of Indian astrologer, Acharya Jaimini. The next sub-branch is Nastjaatakam which is the tracing and reconstruction of lost horoscopes. The last sub-branch is Streejaatak which deals with female birth charts.
Planets in Astrology
In modern western astrology, planets play a great role in describing the human psyche. These planets are different from the planets in the astronomical belt. There are a total of seven astrological planets that are considered to rule one or more zodiac signs. These are Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. The sun rules only Leo while the Moon rules Cancer. Gemini and Virgo are dominated by the effect of Mercury, while Libra and Taurus by Venus. Mars dominates the Aries and Scorpio and Jupiter controls the Sagittarius and Pisces. Capricorn and Aquarius are overruled by Saturn. These specific astrological planets have an unusual influence on developing unparalleled human nature.
The Zodiac Signs of Astrology
There are 12 zodiac signs for each month and each sign is given an animal symbol. These zodiac signs represent twelve different personality types with idiosyncratic positive and negative traits. Aries (The Ram), Taurus (The Bull), Gemini (The Twins), Cancer (The Crab), Leo (The Lion), Virgo (The Maiden), Libra (The Scales), Scorpio (The Scorpion), Sagittarius (The Archer), Capricorn (The Goat), Aquarius (The Water-bearer), Pisces (The Fish). Each zodiac is characteristically different from the other and has distinctive features. People also check their daily or weekly horoscope to be updated and to know the upcoming events and trails.
Four elements in Astrology
This complex horoscopic zodiac system of western astrology is further categorized into four basic elements, namely fire, earth, air, and water. Fire and air are masculine signs, while earth and water are feminine signs. Earth signs are unequivocal, carnal, and rational-based. Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are categorized as Earth signs. The traits of air signs are intellective, temperate, fair and disentangled personalities. Air signs include Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. Leo, Aries, and Sagittarius are put in the type of Fire sign. Fire signs exhibit the qualities and nature of fire; proud, leading, reactive, dominating, self-confident, enthusiastic, and passionate beings. Being a hot-tempered person, they get annoyed and angry very quickly. Water signs are cool nature persons like their element, slow to anger, emotional, intuitive, and receptive. The signs included in the category of element water are Pisces, Scorpio, and Cancer.
These twelve zodiacs are again branched into three qualities; cardinal, mutable, and fixed. Aries, Libra, Cancer, Capricorn depict cardinal qualities. They are self-starters and imaginary leaders. Stardust stays about cardinal signs: “Cardinal signs are the ‘initiators’ of the zodiac.”Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces are mutable signs. They are liable to change, they can hide what they don’t want to expose. They easily change their mode of expression, have conflicting personalities, and unattached individuals.
Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius are fixed signs. The fixed sign personalities are self-confident, stubborn but most loyal, enthusiastic, and goal-oriented. They are stable and persistent, abrupt but determined. It is noted that all the basic components of western astrology, including date, time, day, symbol, quality, elements, and planets in combination make a unique personality, having differing idiosyncratic attributes that are fused with certain positive and negative traits.
Difference between Vedic and Western astrology
Indian astrological principles rely upon the displacement of the planet and lunar motions. While western astrology only takes into account the date of birth to prognosticate the future happenings in an individual’s life. The other major difference between these two astrological worlds is that the Western adopts a fixed zodiac whereas the other accounts for a movable zodiac to establish the beginning point of the zodiac.
The connection between anthropology and astrology
Astrology is a type of divinatory pattern to predict future events by observing the movements of different celestial bodies. To trace back its origin and implications, it is discovered through different cultures and regions to know its true history and the current method of interpretation in contradistinctive cultures. The multiform astrological system in different cultures is due to the differing religions having clashing beliefs. Anthologists study and explore this certain branch of knowledge because it is all about understanding the differences in human nature. Anthropology and astrology are, however, connected to the similar idea of knowing about the human personality, their differing traits, and the diversity of nature across the globe. Astrologers tend to give reasonable estimations as to why people anticipate or act in a certain manner, which is also a mission of anthropologists to uncover these uncertainties about human nature.
Astrology can loosely be described as the divination of the effects caused by the movements of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets. Since astrology can be traced back to multiple cultures for its origin, there are multiple forms of it present in the world. The varying forms can be explained by differing religions and belief systems within a certain culture. Anthropologists can study the many forms of astrology to make connections to different culture as whole. Astrology itself could in a way be seen as a system of anthropology. This is because astrology’s whole purpose is to understand human nature. Astrology seeks to give explanations as to why people behave or think the way they do, which is also a task of an anthropologist.
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