Humans learned at a very early stage that the fertility of the soil was dependent on the Sun and rains, both of which were bestowed from the heavens. They also realised the adverse effects of lightning, wind, and hail, as well as floods. These phenomena were quite mysterious for early man, or wonderful or dreadful, as the case might have been. Then and now, people have always felt that they were living at the mercy of these powers; and, since these good and bad energies all seemed to originate in the skies above, it was most logical that they came to regard the heavens as the seat of the great gods. From this belief evolved a theory of complete accord between phenomena seen in the heavens and actual occurrences on Earth.
Without any doubt, the ancient humans held these celestial bodies in great regard, perhaps even with reverence. The Book of Job in the Old Testament affirms that "the morning stars sang together" when the foundation of Earth was laid. In Judges (5:9) it is recorded that Barak, commander of the Israelite army that was faced with a decisive battle with the Canaanite forces under Sisera, took heart when he was told by the prophetess Deborah, "From heaven fought the stars, from their courses they fought against Sisera." Deborah was not the only seer who had knowledge of the stars. Amos (5:8) speaks of God as "He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into morning." In Malachi 4:2, the righteous are promised that the "sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings (rays)."
Babylonian priests developed and perfected a system of interpreting the phenomena seen in the heavens for the purpose of determining the will of the powers of heaven. The Greeks enlarged the scope of astrology to include all the known sciences.
Empedocles, a Greek philosopher of about 450 b.c.e., developed the idea that the universe is composed of four basic elements: fire, water, air, and earth. Following the conquest of Babylonia by Alexander the Great (356–323 b.c.e.), it was found that Chaldean astrologers had divided the signs of the zodiac into four triangles of three each and called the groupings by the same names as were Empedocles's four elements. Aries, Sagittarius, and Leo were termed fire signs; Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, water; Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini, air; and Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo comprised the signs of earth.
Astrology, in essence, deals with the relationship between the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets and the life of an individual. Astrology has its philosophical root in the premise that each individual is a universe in itself and mirrors within himself or herself the astrological pattern found in the heavens at the time of the individual's birth. From the standpoint of astrology, this means that the nature or personality of all individuals is determined by the pattern of the heavens at the time of their birth, plus their reactions to the stimuli found in their environment during growth and maturity.
Although different schools of astrology may designate different calendar dates for some of the signs, there is seldom a difference of more than a day or two. The interpretations of the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual characteristics of the individual signs may also vary widely, but there are some general observations regarding the personalities of individuals born under the various Sun signs:
While many people associate astrology only with the brief summaries of the zodiacal signs in their daily newspapers and probably don't affix a great deal of serious attention to the advice provided by astrology columns, there are millions of men and women today who still regard the celestial bodies with the same reverence as did the ancients. Zolar, once described as "the dean of American astrologers," wrote "Astrology, in its purity, though forming a system of divination, is totally unconnected with either fortune telling or mediumship. It is a divine science of correspondences, in the study and application of which the intellect and intuition become blended in a natural, harmonious manner. They commence to vibrate in unison. When this union becomes complete, the ignorant man becomes the prophetic sage."
While Western astrology evolved from the Egyptians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, and Greeks, Chinese astrology developed independently of outside influences and was formed around the belief that the emperor was divine. The figures of the Chinese zodiac bear no similarity to those of the West.
Throughout Western history astrologers have claimed an association with the movements of the planets, comets, and eclipses with every important event that has taken place.
Many of the great philosophers who shaped the ideals and concepts of the West employed astrology as an aid in developing their thoughts. Individuals such as Pythagoras (c. 580–c. 500 b.c.e.), Aristotle (384–322 b.c.e.), and Ptolemy (127–151) were all astrologers. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543), who gave science its first rational view of the universe, was a doctor, theologian, astronomer, and astrologer.
Many astrologers feel that the figure of a ship upon the ocean, with no visible paths to follow, no clearly defined turns or alternative routes, and with no landmarks on which to guide itself, is appropriate to describe the methods by which they may assist an individual in a situation that requires decision-making, for, in the majority of decision situations, there can be more than one alternative. The astrological diagram of the zodiac places each individual facing a moment of decision in the center of destiny, represented by a circle, universally known as the symbol of infinity, as well as perfection. The astrologer then draws radial lines from the individual's position to the circumference, or, poetically, the perimeter of eternity, thus symbolizing the unperceived number of possibilities accessible to him or her. Even if the individual is aware of only 12 of these, as might be illustrated by the houses of the zodiac, it is enough to cause him or her to wish for some sort of "navigator" to help interpret any directional signs that may be present. The art (or science) of astrology, as practiced by a competent astrologist, may serve as one star to be used in making a fix on the chart of destiny.
The astrologer and the celestial navigator have a number of things in common. Both look to the heavens for their points of reference; both make use of charts and tables developed during centuries of observation and recording. Both arrive at their conclusions through mathematical computation. The navigator charts a course, but does not establish a destination. The astrologer casts a horoscope, but does not determine character or destiny.
The role of astrology, so say the astrologers, is comparable to a ship's compass. The compass points the way to a predetermined destination, but it does not establish that destination. As a helmsman turns the ship's wheel to bring the vessel into accord with the compass, so the individual's free will must bring the vessel of his or her life into accord with the findings of astrology, if he or she is to benefit from them. By placing each individual at the center of the zodiac, astrology affirms that person's rightful place at the hub of the wheel of life, and it maintains that there is more in heaven and Earth than is conceived of through various philosophies of the five senses.
Modern astrology recognizes that human beings were not created to be mindless marionettes able to move and act only through the remote direction of forces they cannot comprehend, much less influence. At the same time astrology requires its adherents to accept responsibility for themselves and for their actions. In one sense it imposes an even greater responsibility, for having been made aware of their greatest potentials, according to the best knowledge and techniques available, those who steer their lives by the stars can no longer plead their failures due to blind chance and the fickleness of fate.
According to the astrologer, free will includes the prerogative of individuals to avail themselves of the best advice and direction from any and all sources they deem creditable before embarking on any course, before setting foot on any path, before making any decision, great or small, and to follow through once he or she has decided. Astrology, as practiced today, not only affirms the pre-eminence of free will, but insists upon it; and, according to its adherents, astrology, rightly used, serves as a dependable compass, pointing the way across time