Astrology has been around for thousands of years. Tracing its roots back to ancient Babylonia, it was practiced by the priests to decipher the will of the gods. From Babylonia, astrology was adopted by the Greeks. They trusted the stars and the oracles to forecast the future. The Hindus of India were also exploring astrology at this time between 5000 and 3000 BC, developing some of the same signs we use today.
It was the Egyptians who first used astrology to foretell the character of a person based on their date of birth. Star charts have been discovered in Egypt dating as far back as 4300 BC. The Chinese also developed a system of astrology around 2800 BC. It has evolved very differently than western astrology. The Greeks influenced Egyptian astrology with what they learned from the Babylonians. Ptolemy wrote a book on astrology that set down the current practice of using planets, houses and signs.
The Arabs and Persians followed the Greek teachings in astrology as well as other sciences like mathematics and medicine. Their practices were shared with Europe in the 12th century, which helped lead into the time known as the Renaissance. Many of the Persian and Muslim astronomers refuted astrology for scientific and religious reasons.
Astrology began to decline in popularity after Rome fell. Christianity claimed it was the work of the devil, though as the Church grew in power, they took up the practice of astrology for their own uses. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, believed that the planets controlled everything. By the time the Renaissance was in full swing, astrology had gained favor once again. During the 17th century when the Age of Enlightenment began to take hold with its scientific accomplishments, astrology and astronomy became two different disciplines for the first time.
Astrology remained quietly in the background until a revival of interest in it at the beginning of the 20th century. During the last century, astrology rose in popularity through several astrology magazines and books. In the 1930s, the United States had a very popular astrology program airing on the radio that helped spark interest. The New Age movement began in the 1960s and “70s, and it brought astrology right along with it. Today, it is not surprising to find out that an international leader is consulting the stars. While some still refuse to believe in its predictions, just as many take it very seriously.