Early humanity forever searched for order in the chaotic world, an order the gentleness of the night sky provided. In the heavens, the cycle of the Milky Way’s starry inhabitants recurred. The Babylonians and Egyptians charted the many cyclic recurrences, charting the planets and certain comets. We today have these same configurations. Western Modern astrology comes from the Sabian-Roman system via the Medieval Renaissance, and the Sabians received the system from Egypt and India. Our planetary names and constellation names are Greco-Roman, yet many of these were simply transposed over the older Ethiopian, Babylonian and Egyptian celestial figures. Ayele Bekerie, Ph.D. writes in Ethiopi: An African Writing System (1997), “Cephus and Cassiopeia, Andromeda, and Perseus, Pegasus and Cetus all come from Ethiopic legends…Orion and Auriga, beautiful constellations, are none other than Nimrod and Ramses II. Sirius is none other than Osiris.” In Hebrew culture the names of the archangels are the Babylonian planetary names. There was an Eastern movement of influence also, converging into the popular Chinese system of astrology, still using 12 Zodiacal symbols although they represent alternative animals and are differently interpreted.
The symbols of western astrology we use today are Egyptian in origin, including those for the modern planets which have been added by using known sigils for the comparative gods’ names. The simple circle and cross in a circle such as in Assyrian or Native American culture were of the first celestial sigils ever used. The Egyptian hieroglyph for the Sun, Ra for example, is likely one of the oldest glyphs for an aspect of cosmology known to mankind. As a side note, it is interesting how this glyph is an image of the Earth’s orbit around the sun and the way a hydrogen atom, primary elemental building block of the universe, looks when a model is created. By the time ancient mankind had charted the entire seasonal round and formulated it into what we call the zodiac today, the entire symbolism of astrology had been established. It is a process that is ongoing in astrology and astronomy today, but how did this rigorous charting of the heavens happen and how did it begin?
The Ancient Ones took note of the 364-365 day yearly cycle with its punctuating solstices and equinoxes. The solstice for the longest day of the year in summer was of crucial importance to hunting and farming while the solstice for winter’s shortest day was a sign to be prepared for the rest of winter and the coming time of planting in the spring. The equinoxes, when day and night were equal, meant harvest and sowing, magical times when fruiting plants and herbs develop the fullness of their weight. Early on, humanity realized that the laws of nature’s ever changing condition were astrological laws. Fables of far flung gods of the sky, ruling the world in hierarchies of angels that could bring down storms upon the people, emerged culture to culture. The legends grew into initiatory schools of esoteric science as human observation became increasingly accurate with time. As the gods were born, agriculture became a predominant way of life. This deification of the sky is at the very roots and inception of astrology, and it is written in the ancient Ethiopian Book Of Enoch (1993, reprint 1932) translated by Ernest Rictor, “Every celestial House held an Archangel and retinues of angels. As I, Enoch, approached they explained the year is 365 days long, then proceeded to show me the seemingly random movement through the zodiac of the moon, saying in all the celestial bodies, forces, powers and angels resided…”
With a more sedentary existence, freed from nomadic, hunter-gathering or excessive warring with tribal competitors, calendars were kept and the organization of society, along with time, was an increasing cultural imperative. Names became assigned to days and months, moon cycles made up the year, and the difference between the solar and lunar rounds were kept in careful records. Social festivals and religious holidays were timed to coincide with the recurrent cosmological events, deities were given the credit and the universe was thanked for its beneficence. Astronomers were the priests, and some were considered prophets. As keepers of time’s records, with their corresponding mythologies their observations and warnings could directly influence the survival of entire societies. Due to long experience, they could predict the weather and natural phenomena that would be of utmost importance to the farmer.
The developments derived by these priestly astronomers of the world took thousands of years to become the modern astrology we have today. The cosmological elements of the resulting celestial system of astrology are: the Signs of the Zodiac, the Houses, and the Aspects. All of these elements apply to the oldest forms of astrology. The modern astrologer has had to account for the changes of the universe over time and can utilize the most modern equipment to assure the positions and aspects are completely accurate, but for the most part these crucial elements of astrology can be traced from pre-Egyptian culture until today. From these elements, horoscopes and star maps were created to chart celestial influences.