Astro Facts – The history of astrology

On this page you will find a list of events describing the development of western astrology from the days of omens in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to the psychological astrology that we know today.



Ca. 4200 BCE The oldest star map originates from Egypt; the application is unknown, but may have included some astrological use
4000 – 3000 BCE In Mesopotamian texts astrology is mentioned; first in Sumerian texts and later in the Akkadians
Ca. 2870 BCE Reign of King Sargon of Akkad. Predictions are made from positions of the Sun and Moon and the 5 planets, comets, thunderbolts etc.
2122 – 2102 BCE King Gudea of Lagash has a dream in which he’s asked to build a temple. The dream also includes astrological constellationsWithin this period of time the idea of a correlation between cosmos and the Earth is conceived – the foundation of astrology. The planets have their own charateristics and are better in certain “houses” (domicils). There is a connection between stars/planets and the 4 points of the compass. Constellations are being used at this stage rather than signs
Ca. 2100 BCE Decan figures are put on coffin lids in Egypt. Later the Greeks developed the decans into Decanates
Ca. 2000 BCE The Egyptians develop a calendar of 12 months – each of 30 days. The night is divided into 12 hours, and 10 day decanates are in use; 36 in all per year. The sky is divided into constellations. The Babylonian calendar is lunar while the Egyptian is solar
Ca. 1800 BCE In Babylon a list of Divine stars are written
Ca. 1780 BCE Hammurabi’s dynasty. In a letter an eclipse of the Moon is metioned and is suspected to be a bad omen.
1900 – 1600 BCE Enuma Anu Enlil is a set of tablets with approx. 7000 interpretations (omens). The ten first omens may date from 1646 B.C. In an omen the disappearance of the Moon is mentioned: “If the Moon slows down, then drought and famine will be in the country”
1500 – 1250 BCE The Cassite period. Nippur. Attempts to map the sky in order to answer the question: – How much is one God beyond the other God?
1300 – 1236 BCE In the period of Ramses II of Egypt, the four Cardinal constellations are created: Aries, Libra, Cancer and Capricorn
Ca. 1100 BCE An Astrolabe is used to measure the position of the stars
747 BCE Start of dated observations of the Ecliptic
700 BCE & before The Mesopotamian gods : Sin (Moon), Shamash (Sun), Ishtar (Venus), (Nimurta) Saturn, Marduk (Jupiter), Nabu (Mercury), Nergal (Mars)
Ca. 700 BCE Hesiod of Greece describes the relationship between the constellations and the farming year as poems
Middle of 7th Cent. BCE The time of the Assyrian King Assurbanipal. Ephemerides are in use
722 – 630 BCE Assyrian period with lots of astrological activity; i.e. 3 tablets of clay (Mul Apin) with 36 appointed stars are mentioned for the control of the calender. Mul Apin includes a catalogue of 17 constellations within 3 broad bands nearly parallel to the Equator – a precessor of the Zodiac. Taurus, The Crab, Leo, Pisces, Virgo and Gemini are mentioned
652 BCE The first dated astronomical diary with observations
Ca. 650 BCE In the 1st Babylonian period 2000-650 BC, astrology has been practiced as a primitive astrology mixed with religion. Primarily it was about omens and its peak was around 700 B.C.
612 BCE The Babylonians rebel against Assyria and their culture has a renaissance
626 – 331 BCE In the 2nd new-Babylonian and Persian period the 12 zodiac signs are introduced (perhaps between 600 and 500 B.C.). Probably used astronomically to position the planets as with no coordinate system no planetary tables can be made
600 BCE Babylonian influence on Greek astrology in the naming of the stars
600 – 500 BCE Thales of Milet talks about Water as the element of the Universe. Heraklit, however, believes it’s Fire
539 BCE Persia conquers Babylon. In the period after that (the early Achaemenian) the Ecliptic is divided into 12 parts each of 30 degrees
570 – 497 BCE Pythagoras founds the Pythagorean training school, which has great influence in astrology; based on numbers
5th Cent. BCE (End of the century) Horoscopes discovered containing astronomical observations, however with little or no interpretation
432 BCE Meton and Euctemon tries to reform the Athenian calender in accordance with Babylonian methods
410 BCE Earliest found Babylonian horoscopes
Ca. 400 BCE Saturn is transformed from mainly positive to mostly negativ (Babylon)
Ca. 400 B.C. Plato (not Platon) associates astronomy with philosophy; i.e. in his work Timaeus proposes the idea of a relation between stars and man. Historian O. Neugebauer has said that the Greek consumption of predictable influence between heavenly bodies is in principle no different to any modern mechanic theory. This is in contrast to the Babylonian idea of star gods ruling randomly. Compared to religion, magic and mysticism, the fundamental astrological doctrine is pure science
428 – 384 BCE Platon. He blieved the planets are intelligent creatures. Platon has great influence on the new-platonian and new-pythagorean society in northern Egypt
331 BCE Alexander the Great conquers Persia. This means a decline of the culture of Babylon. The Zodiac and birth chart is “invented” but with no aspects or interpretation, however, triplicities exist. An Ascendant is calculated, however, its role is unknown
Ca. 4th cent. BCE Eudoxus of Chidos works with axises
Ca. 4th – 3rd Cent. BCE Possibly the period in which the Babylonians create the trineThe Babylonian system is based on relations between numbers. When astrology reached its peak in Babylon, they could predict planetary movements using arithmethic as accurately as Ptolemy did it 500 years later using geometrical methods
310 – 230 BCE Aristarchos of Samos believes in the Heliocentric system. Many of the Greek philosophers also believed the earth was spheric
280 BCE Berossus publishesBabylonica (now lost)
264 BCE A Babylonian horoscope talks about conception and time of pregnancy. Another horoscope mentions exaltation
250 BCE The Babylonian astrologer Berossus has great influence on the classic world and he founds a school on Kos. At Kos, Hippocrates developed medical astrology with Aries = Head, Taurus = Neck, etc.
250 – 150 BCE The Greeks convert the Chaldean astrology into their own and introduce complex systems. Individual horoscopes are introduced which is the opposite of previous practice with horoscopes for only regal persons

The Hellenistic astrologers in Alexandria are particularly influential in developing Greek astrology (ca. 3rd Cent. B.C. – 3rd Cent. A.D. Lot of Fortune was introduced)

Ca. 200 BCE Ennius in Rome talks about astrology and Zodiac signs. Greek astrology was introduced in Rome more by slaves and teachers than official routes
190 – 120 BCE Hipparchos discovers the Precession
Ca. 150 BCE From the Roman period in Demotic examples are found of papyruses with predictions from the planets in the Zodiac; predictions for the King and country
139 BCE Expulsion of the astrologers from Rome
100 – 0 BCE Geminus of Rhodes talks about astrology in terms of aspects of planets and Zodiacal signs

Poseidonius correlates Stoicism with astrology. Man is microcosmos in harmony with macrocosmos. Posedonius was a friend of Cicero.

The Pythagoreans develop basic principles for houses and aspects (maybe within a very short period). Astrology and Pythagoreism is found in Alexandria. In fact Pythagoreism influence the entire classic world, not least Rome and Alexandria. According to the Numerical school Aries is masculine and Taurus is feminine.

The Ascendant (the first breath) becomes the entire first house. The Greeks use aspects (60, 90, 120 and 180) – but aspects connect signs, not planets. Signs and houses of the planets are determined

100 – 0 BCE In this period we find the first practitioning Roman astrologers, Nigidius and Tarutius. Nigidius is a great astrologer, who predicts the power of Augustus and the civil war between Pompeii and Cesar

Astrology becomes popular within the elite of Rome, though Cicero attacks it. On the other hand, Juvenal claims that “nobody goes out without first having consulted the Ephemeris”. There were 2 levels of astrology: One for the masses, and one for the literate

87 BCE Consul Octavius is found killed in Cinna. He was carrying his astrological diagram which had guaranteed his safety
11 Augustus’ decree: It’s illegal to hold private consultations with diviners predicting anyone’s death
20 Manillius’ poem, Astronomica, is one among few Roman astrological books. Manillius writes 5 books of which 4 are astrological, but as with so many other astrological books, there was a lot of confusion in them (i.e. contradictions). Manillius states the following order of rulership:Aries – Minerva, Taurus – Venus, Gemini – Apollo

Cancer – Mercury, Leo – Jupiter, Virgo – Ceres (Demeter)

Libra – Volcanus, Scorpio – Mars, Sagittarius – Diana

Capricorn -Vesta (Hestia), Aquarius – Iuno (Hera), Pisces – Neptune

0 – 100 Many Greek and Egyptian horoscopes found indicate that Greek astrology was widely spread
100 – 178 Ptolemy is born in Alexandria and works here. He is considered the greatest astronomer in the antique world (practicing 150 – 178)

Ptolemy establishes the first precise star catalogue. He introduces the tropical Zodiac (0 degr. Aries is Spring Equinox). He also introduces orbs and publishes his work, Tetrabiblos. Ptolemy makes things easier and simpler but in some peoples’ view desecrated Greek astrology. He explains, for example that Venus is moist and therefore is exalted in Pisces, the moist season, and Venus is in fall in the dry month of Virgo. He introduces harmonics between music and the Zodiac and aspects. Within this period the planets and houses and their functions are described. Ptolemy contributed to the development of astrology into a science so it survived into the future

1st – 3rd Century Hermeticism is about “as above, so below” and develops the concept of hour-astrology. Planets and decanates are associated with metals, stones, plants, colours, smells and a lot more. Also magical invocations.

After Ptolemy astrology suffers a long decline

Ca. 200 In the time after Ptolemy, Vettius Valens, another great Hellenistic in Alexandria, associated the 12 signs with the 4 elements
354 – 430 St. Augustine of Hippo attempts to amke astrology extinct. Much of his arguments are concerned with whether the stars and planets signify events and skills or directly influence them
300 – 550 Decline of The (Western) Roman Empire. After 550 astrology becomes almost forgotten in Europe. However, it continues in the (Eastern) Roman Empire in Byzantium (Constantinople)
Ca. 430 Macrobius writes about the ancient Thema Mundi (Horoscope of the world), that on that day, Aries was in Midheaven, horoscopus (Ascendant) in Cancer bringing forth at that moment the Moon followed by the Sun rising with Leo, Mercury with Virgo, Venus with Libra, Mars with Scorpio, Jupiter with Sag. and Saturn with Capricorn, followed in reverse order: Saturn in Aquarius and so forth
Ca. 700 The Arabs start to take over astrology, and from here medical astrology develops. Apart from Arabia astrology is also found in Europe in Spain and on Sicily, who were under Arabic influence
8th Century Islam changes and opens up through moving the centre of power from the Arab peninsula to Baghdad. The Arabs work rationally and systematically and transform astrology so it naturally fits in with astronomy, chemistry, medicine and meteorology
805 – 885 Abu Maaschar, the greatest Arab astrologer, has his work, “Introductorium in Astronomiam”, published. This book later has great influence on the renessaince of astrology
1100 – 1450 Astrology experiences a peak in Europe. Many manuscripts are translated from Greek to Latin

Many people reject individual horoscopes, however, they never questioned the planetary kinetic energy and its influence on earthy conditions

1125 The University of Bologna introduces astrology as a study/subject
1200 – 1280 Albertus Magnus. Albertus made his great astrological and philosophical knowlegde available to western civilisation
1275 Albertus Magnus writes Speculum Astronomia (Mirror of astrology) as a defence for the individual horoscope
1225 – 1274 Thomas of Aquino, the greatest Christian theologian, accepts astrology as long as it excludes magic power and witchcraft
13th Century The pope employes astrologers, and universities have chairs of astrology
Ca. 1300 Dante writes The Divine Comedy” about the universe as alive and inhabited, and Heaven and Hell are pictures of the depth of human psyche
1347 The Black Death spreads across Europe. Astrologers are being asked to estimate the future development of the world
1200 – 1500 Within this period popes frequently employ court astrologers
Ca. 1463 Marsilio Ficino translates the Hermetic manuscripts into Latin

The Hermetic and new Platonism are mixed up. During the renaissance 4 directions occur: 1) Magic, 2) Personal Purifying and creation of growth, 3) Alchemy and 4) Ptolemean astrology (modern astrology)

1450 – 1600 During Renaissance new methods of prognosis and house systems are developed
1492 Plotin’s work, The Enneads, are translated to Latin and contributes to the new-Platonism. Plotin does not, however, believe in events managed by the stars, or the planets being mechanical cause. A difficult life is more likely to be caused by events in a previous life. Further, Plotin believed in synchronicity
1493 Calendar & Compost of Shepherds, a very popular book is published for the first time
1467 – 1515 Paracelsus. He was an alchemist and astrologer and is recognized a father of modern medical science. He also influenced pharmachology
1473 – 1543 Copernicus (re-)introduced the Heliocentric world picture. It was, however, not recognized until long after his death
1503 – 1566 Nostradamus, French astrologer etc. He completes a 1000 astrological verses
1543 Copernicus’ book about the Heliocentric system is published
1546 – 1601 Tycho Brahe, Danish Royal Court astrologer and astronomer. He completes a star-catalog. Brahe used measurements and empiri, which characterized natural science
1563 Tycho Brahe describes Jupiter-Saturn conjunction
1572 Tycho Brahe discovers a Super Nova (Stella Nova)
1601 Johannes Kepler takes over Brahe’s position, but even though Kepler supports the Heliocentric system, it doesn’t influence astrology. Kepler was theorist, the opposite of Brahe, and he used Brahe’s observations to prove Copernicus’ work. Kepler also worked with harmonics and pioneered the collapse of the entirety. From then on science is a natural science (Brahe and Kepler themselves believed in unity).Kepler introduces quintile, biquintile and sesquisquare
1564 – 1642 Galileo. He was the first to use binoculars
1583 – 1656 Placidus introduces a new house system
1650 Astrolgoy experiences a decay in the light of natural science. Until then astrology has only survived because of the neutral attitude by the church. In England, however, astrology continued steadily (with the help of William Lily)
1602 – 1681 William Lily predicts political events, e.g. the great London fire 1666
1687 Newton’s great work, Principia Mathematica, initiates a new era of modern astronomy. Newton himself studied astrology seriously, however, his work pioneers rationalism
1700 – 1800 Astrology at point zero. However it experiences a minor blooming during the romantic wave as a contra-revolution, and in England astrological books are published
1781 William Herschel discovers Uranus on the 13th March. Uranus, however, has been plotted on starmap already in 1690
1846 Le Verrier predicts the location of Neptune, and d’Arrest and Galle discover the planet on 23rd September
1875 In USA Madame Blavatsky founds the Theosofical Society
1860 – 1917 This was the time of Alan Leo.  He was an author and perhaps has had the greatest influence in the renaissance of astrology
1899 Evangeline Adams stays at a New York hotel. She reads the chart of the owner of the hotel and predicts a terrible accident the next day. Next day, the hotel is in flames
1867 – 1930 Paul Choisnard founds a science; statistical astrology
1930 Lombaugh discovers Pluto on the 18th February
1936 Dane Rudhyar’s book, The Astrology of Personality, is published
1940 – 1945 Karl Ernst Kraft interprets Nostradamus in favour of the Third Reich, however, since the predictions do not come true, Kraft ends up in a concentration camp
1970 Psychological Astrology is at large, especially in the seventies and eighties

References:Ancient Astrology, Tamsyn Barton, Routledge, London, UK 1994Astrologi, Teori, Historie og Praksis, Derek og Julia Parker, Det ny Lademann 1990Astrologiens Id�, Lars Steen Larsen m.fl., Gyldendalske Boghandel, Nordiske Forlag 1995A History of Western Astrology, Jim Tester, Ballantine Books, 1989Astrologisk Leksikon, Thomas Beck, Teknologisk Forlag, Norway 1993