Answer by Jeff
Answer by ChainLightnin’ ⅜
Astrology is best understood by learning how it began. Like most urban yet agricultural peoples of the day, the Babylonians had a pantheon of many gods. They also had a well-developed science of observational astronomy, which served the highly utilitarian purpose of providing a calendar— times to plant and to harvest, as well as times of religious festivals, etc. In this observational scheme each bright planet was important, and the priests whose task it was to make the observations naturally named the planets for the gods in their pantheon— Marduk, Isthar, Nergal, etc. It was a fateful naming. By about 1000 BC there was an extensive Babylonian literature of “planetary omens” based entirely on the arbitrary names of the planet-gods. Since Nergal (Mars) was the god of war, a summer in which red planet Nergal shone down brightly from the sky was a good time to wage war (or a time in which risk of war was great). Since Ishtar (Venus) was the goddess of love, a spring night in which Ishtar shone brilliant and high in the West after sunset was a good time to make love, or go looking for love.
By about 600 BC the Babylonians had devised the twelve-sign zodiac: markers in the sky along the ecliptic, the apparent path which the sun, moon, and five naked-eye planets— Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn— appear to follow in their apparent motion across the sky. The “horoscope,” a crude earth-centered chart of the positions of the planets along the zodiac at a given moment of time, was devised soon after. The oldest known horoscope was made for April 29, 410 BC; historically, this is the true beginning of astrology. During the classical era dominated by first Greece and then Rome, Babylonian astrologers (called “Chaldeans”) set up shop in most of the large urban areas throughout the civilized world. Greek astronomers scoffed at the Chaldean cultus as a ludicrous combination of primitive astronomy and primitive religion, but to no avail— the Greek and later the Roman public embraced astrology as lovingly as they embraced most of the other bizarre and barbaric cults that wandered toward the shores of the Mediterranean looking for converts. That astrology makes no sense with its Babylonian religious underpinnings removed was apparent to thinking people from the very first. Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 – 43 BC) wrote, in 44 BC, a devastating critique of astrology, which is well worth reading today. Among the points made by Cicero was that no one sees or expects any correlation between the weather conditions at the time of birth of a child and the child’s later personality or fortunes. Yet clearly the weather— extreme cold or heavy rain or harsh heat— has far more effect on a living thing than dim lights in the night sky. And even if all children born in December were similar in some way— which they are not— how would an astrologer know that these similarities were thus not due to the weather, due to all the children being born into a cold environment, rather than to the environmentally meaningless situation of the sun being in “Sagittarius,” or whatever?
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