The origins of our western type of astrology are commonly believed to be from Ancient Greece. A deeper study in to the history of astrology shows how the Egyptians were involved in laying the foundations of ancient Greek astrology based largely on an even earlier Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian teaching.
Studies show that as early as around 4000 BC the Sumerians of Mesopotamia actively worshiped The Moon, The Sun and The Planet Venus as Gods. To the Sumerians, The Moon was known as Nanna, The Sun was Utu and Venus was Inanna.
The Sumerian rulers were also their priests due to their ability to communicate with The Gods. Some of these priests became the military leaders and eventually their Kings. Sumerian kings would employ a seer or baru-pries. It was the seer’s job to read and interpret the sky. To help communicate with the gods, shrines were built which later became larger structures called ziggurats. These structures were used to map star formations and to watch the skies.
As well as following the usual movement of The Sun and The Moon, the baru-pries also predicted eclipses. Eclipses were some of the most important events in the sky and were usually interpreted as a warning. The Sumerian baru-priests were able to predict eclipses due to their excellent knowledge of mathematics.
At this time, astrology was not in existence as such, the baru-priests were more concerned about predicting natural events in the sky and on earth, such as the the coming of the seasons. Their efforts contributed to the development of both astrology and the science of astronomy. The Sumerians were also responsible for the creation of a working calender by identifying the basic cycles of The Sun, The Moon, planets and stars. It was the Sumerians who first divided our year in to twelve months based on The Moon’s cycles.
Astrology as we now know it begun during the Old Babylonian period in Mesopotamia. The Babylonians, who had taken over from the earlier Sumerians, focused on the predictions that would affect the well being of the King and his lands. The Babylonians associated Venus with love and war because of the planet’s constant appearance and disappearance. Individual birth or natal horoscopes were first formed around 1300 BC, alongside particular personal astrological traits.
The Assyrians later conquered Babylon and developed a more consistent and accurate calender from the earlier Sumerian version. At this time many individual stars were named and some of our common constellations formed. It was during this period when the interpretation of Omens became very important, based on the movement on the planets within the Zodiac constellations.
Through both trade and conquest, astrological ideas had spread all over the region, and became deeply entrenched in the early development of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. Much of Egyptian life and death was ruled by the stars and planets, so much so there is evidence that even the great pyramids at Giza were aligned with the stars in the belt of the constellation Orion.
The Ancient Greek influence on our western astrology came about between the 4th and 5th century BC. Connections with Egypt were growing to the point where Greece ruled Egypt in the 3rd century BC. The Greeks were responsible for developing the rich mythology associated with the planets and our constellations, as well as the astrological traits we use today.