A Story of the Natural Origins of Astrology
Contrary to popular opinion and belief, the seasons of the year are the source of the signs of the ‘Zodiac’, which translates as the ‘wheel of life’. Few realize it and many would probably not believe it, but the signs of the Zodiac are named after the seasons, first, and the constellations were an after-thought, a projection of our immediate visceral, experiential reality.
Since Astrology is based on the seasonal round and the planets, especially our own and the Moon and Sun, of course, it is tempting to believe that Astronomers and Astrologers and priests invented Astrology. It is probably true that they 'codified' it and formulated a science of time, cycles and synchronicity, but agriculture was probably the main reason. In this respect, the beginnings of Astrology was closely aligned with the almanac, yes the farmer’s almanac.
The ‘wheel of life’ is not simply the band of stars that we have grouped into constellations. Yes, the ecliptic or apparent path of the Sun, draws a line ‘through’ those constellations and in a spiritual and mystical sense, the sun is indeed the life-giver. However the seasonal round and agriculture was more immediately the life-giver in ancient agricultural societies. In time, these farmers who watched the stars and signs in nature and correspondences collectively came to be known as 'pagans'.
The religious world view that grew up around this initial practical focus was very much about the marriage of heaven and earth. Thus, sacred monuments and entire civilizations erected temples to align with the stars in the constellations. The pyramids of Egypt are said to be aligned to correspond with Orion's belt. Many such examples can be given for all the advanced ancient cultures of the world.
So, the sacred and the philosophical and the innate urge to commune with nature - the religious - (in this case with the cosmic dimension of nature) emerged, and along with the sacred temples, Astrology was born. But the marriage of Earth to the heavens begins here on Earth and the 'signs' of nature and the natural seasonal round here on earth was the primary recognition and eventually, a portrait of the heavens via images, totems based on connecting the dots of stars, emerged.
It may also be tempting to think that Astrology was created in some contrived manner. From the foregoing paragraph, the point to consider is that Astrology emerged as the recognition and measurement of correspondences between seasons, weather, floods, day and night and positions of planets and prominent stars. When codified and symbolically mapped, the planetary positions revealed order and shape and design. A main reason for this was to predict the weather patterns, because for the sake of growing food, it is was a matter of life and death. Food is of course at the core of any culture linked to custom, ceremony, prayer and religion. In time, clocks or sundials and calendars were created and these stood and still do at the center of a culture.
Eventually, constellations were named, perhaps to make remembering the stars easier and also as the basis of stories and popular myths that reflected the beliefs, values and history of those who created them. It is tempting to believe that the constellations that symbolize the Zodiac are the basis of Astrology, when they are actually secondary to the actual seasons and light of the sun on the planet. Many ‘who think they know’ and often due more to bias and prejudice than proof and facts, assert that Astrology is ‘nonsense’ because the constellations that represent the 4 seasons are no longer in alignment with the seasons, as they were 2000 years ago. One wonders why these critics overlook the fact that Astrology is much older than 2000 years old and is more like 10,000 years old, maybe more.
Regarding the use of the number 12, it is probably more about simple logic and practicality than it may be realized. Yet, there is also a mystical correlation as with the 12 'nodes’ in the human body. Consider that there are 12 signs simply because when you divide a circle, (like the annual cycle of the earth around the Sun), into 4 and which nature conveniently helped us to do thanks to the Solstice and Equinox markers, you get 4 seasons and each season has a beginning, middle and end and 4 x 3 = 12. It may sound simple, but trying to make the reasons for the division complicated and esoteric is not necessary.
Consider Chinese Astrology with its 12 different totems and constellational correspondences. They are not the same. Although there are correspondences with Western Astrology, it is not a linear one. Chinese Astrology is not based on the 12 constellations “of” the Zodiac, ‘that represent the Zodiac’, yet it still offers remarkable accuracy for use. The Chinese particularly focus on the Big Dipper constellation.
The fixed stars which are featured in the constellations are the major players, not so much the projected images. Not surprisingly, the 12 constellations representing the Zodiac are not actually each equal in longitudinal and latitudinal size and scope. Witness the 12 signs of the ‘Chinese Zodiac’. However, in the Chinese system, the 12 constellations as used in Western Astrology are not as emphasized, yet both systems work and operate with very satisfying results, on their own foundation. Both systems share many core principles and there are many crossovers. Yet, both systems are different enough as to make the basis seem contradictory, and therefore unfounded. This is an erroneous conclusion, an error of reductionism.
However, to demonstrate that it is erroneous, one has to learn, then apply the principles. Of course, many who deem themselves ‘scientific’, or learned in other ways, deem Astrology nonsense and therefore feel it would be a waste of their time to study it and prove or disprove it. Many of those integral enough to do so are now professional Astrologers. If you ‘have read a book’ and have come to the conclusion that Astrology is nonsense, perhaps you should read a few more books and apply it on the basis of practice rather than deductive and reductionistic logic.
A key component of holistic thinking is “paradox”, which implies that two or more apparently contradictory realities can co-exist simultaneously. That is also how the principle of multi-dimensionality basically works. The point is, they both or all can ‘work’ – and provide useful and satisfactory results. That they both work on their own grounds is similar to the reason that significantly different languages work on their own ground. Each has its own alphabet, yet the letters are drawn differently and there can be more letters or less and then comes punctuation variables and grammar and so on, yet each works on its own ground.
Some of the 12 constellations are less than 30 degrees across, longitudinally, and some more. The division of a circle by 12 to equal 30 exact degrees is actually an archetypal measurement, which is significant in symbolism and is part of the basis of the science of Astrology. In this respect, geometry and sacred geometry are employed and again offer an exact, archetypal meter of measurement, but nature is actually not so exacting.
The notion of Astronomers, and the many who casually defer to their scientifically unfounded opinions, that Astrology is “nonsense” due to the progressive shift of the Equinoxes, for which they base their criticism of Astrology, casually, credulously, deemed as nonsense, is itself a nonsensical theory because the basis of the argument is founded upon an assumptive and erroneous premise. (“Nonsense” being the favoured word of naysayers).
It is assumed that Astrology is based on the alignment of the seasons and in particular Spring Equinox, with that exact point in the constellation that marks 0 degrees Aries which is was exact for about 72 years, 2000 years ago! 72 years is the time it takes for the precession of the constellations that represent the Zodiac to advance 1 degree. According to this ‘logic’ from then on, Astrology was ‘out of whack’. It is not Astrology that is out of whack; it is the argument against it. Hidden behind this argument is pride and assumption that because Astronomy presents the human endeavour to understand the cosmos and because it has discovered many new facts that these must therefore mean the Astrology is nonsense.
Astrology does observe the movements of planets and the positioning of stars and so forth and therefore employ Astronomy to some extent. But because of the shared perspective on the planets and stars in relation to our own planet, it seems as though Astronomers are afraid to recognize that their facts and findings are not absolute.
The fact is the entire argument is causal, empirical and reductionistic, characteristics of the scientific method. This type of thinking cannot actually be used against Astrology which is cyclic, archetypal and synchronistic. Astronomy is about the constitution, shape, size, direction and distance of celestial bodies like planets and stars, and now conglomerates like galaxies. Astrology is about the holistic nature of reality and the psycho-spiritual reality, and implications that we are a part of as opposed to apart from nature.
Consider Vedic Astrology that is very much based on the exact position of the constellations. Despite the progression of the equinoxes, it also offers useable and accurate results. However, it defers to a logic that is much different than western Astrology and is primarily concerned with prediction. Using Vedic Astrology to delineate character is probably not (and has been proven to be much less) accurate when it comes to understanding personal character and psychology. It points more to events and is also very good for determining health and constitution. But even these areas probably have much more to do with the aspects between the planets than they do with the constellations.
The alignments or aspects or relationships between the planets and the phase of the moon and so forth are identical in Vedic and Western Astrology. So, the former prides itself on prediction while the latter focuses on awareness and evolution, but both systems actually offer accurate results in both areas, from slightly different perspectives. In other words, they share more in common that they differ. Astrology is especially about planets alright and the ‘fixed stars’ it is true, and the most important planet is the one we are on!
From our perspective here on Earth, we experience the axial rotation of our planet as day and night. We also experience the orbital cycle of the Moon as the Lunation Cycle, the waxing and waning of the Moon from new to Full and back to New again. We also experience the steady rhythmic flow of the seasons due to the fact that the Earth is tilted on its axis. This natural produces the Solstices and Equinoxes. These Cardinal points in the annual Earth/Sun relationship demarcate the beginning of the seasons. The seasons each have 3 months, or a beginning, middle and end. The seasons produce specific times of year and these can be understood as Aries time, Taurus time, Gemini time and so on…. Time is obviously the key factor. It is not so much about what we see in the night sky so much as it is a question of what time is it. This time factor is broken down into days, hours, minutes and seconds and these key measurements are the basis clocks and calendars. Calendars measure the season based on the months featured. In turn, the seasons measure the exact amount, quality and duration of the Sun’s light on the planet.
Yes, season’s share a direct correlation with the Sun’s light. This is the key understanding and why the seasons tell the real story of why Astrology works.