The Origins of Astrology

Hailee Munno, Feature Editor

The first versions of astrology can be traced back to about 3000 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia. The Babylonians used the stars to predict the movements and actions of their gods.

“The Mesopotamian gods were unpleasant on the whole,” Patel said. “Insofar as religion is man’s search for god, it makes sense that Mesopotamia’s gods were seen as temperamental and not altogether on the side of humanity. Why? Because Mesopotamian climate and geography made for some tough living.”

According to Patel, the unpredictability and severity of the weather around the Fertile Crescent caused flooding that destroyed all crops, and Mesopotamians turned to blame their gods in the sky.

“Mesopotamian life could be sweet at times, but it was unpredictable and violent at times,” Patel said. “If the world you are living in is unpredictable and randomly harsh, what might you extrapolate about the gods? Obviously, they are unpredictable and sometimes harsh as well. From there, it is quite reasonable to then look to avoid angering the deities.”

As a result, the divination of their gods was created; this allowed the Mesopotamians to personify the gods and predict the unruly weather. This divination is now what is known as the Zodiac. 

According to Theodoros Karasavvas author of “The 4,000 Year History of Horoscopes: How Astrology Has Been Shaped Throughout the Millennia”, “The Babylonians were the first people to systematically apply myths to constellations and astrology and describe the twelve signs of the zodiac. The Egyptians followed shortly after by refining the Babylonian system of astrology, but it was the Greeks who shaped it into its modern form. The Greeks borrowed some of their myths from the Babylonians and came up with their own.”

According to Ali Raff Farrar, author of “Why is astrology making a twenty-first century comeback?” Until the 17th century, astrology was considered a scholarly tradition. 

For centuries, astrology was considered basically the same thing as astronomy. For example, revolutionary 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler, who studied the motion of the planets, was at the time considered an astrologer. That changed around the beginning of the Enlightenment in the late 17th century,” according to Olivia B. Waxman, author of “Where Do Zodiac Signs Come From? Here’s the True History Behind Your Horoscope”.