The Origins of Astrology

The oldest records of Astrology were discovered in Mesopotamia, with a hoard that also shows the earliest accounts of creation and a worldwide flood, which predate the accounts of Hebrew scribes by over a millenium. Four pioneer archaeologists stand out, Henry Rawlinson, Austen Layard, Paul-Emile Botta and native Kurd Hormuzd Rassam. During the mid to late 1800’s, these brave men (who risked life and limb to remove massive stone tablets) laid the foundation for Mesopotamium archaelogy. Rawlinson was the first to decipher the Assyrian language, now called Akkadian.

Of particular interest is the library of King Ashurbanipal (king of Assyria from 668 BC). He was particulary learned and was able to read ancient cuniform tablets in Akkadian and the earlier Sumerian languages. As well as being a competent mathematician, he was also an accomplished Astrologer. He received his education from Balasi, a famous Astrologer of the time. His library was a time capsule and he set out to preserve these texts for future generations. A book was also discovered, with ivory pages and wax impressions of cuneiform tablets. This includes the Astrological writings, Enuma Anu Enlil, named from it’s opening words, “When the Gods Anu and Enlil..”, informing us that Astrology was the concern of these two gods. Anu was the God of heaven and Enlil was the God of Earth. Even in today’s Astrology, the relationship between the two realms (both physically and spiritually) is key to Astrology.

The Mesopotamiams viewed both realms as complementary, depending upon one another. The earliest Astrological predictions were concerning Kings and affairs of the nation, or catasphrophies, which we now refer to as Mundane Astrology. None concerned personal birth charts. An early text, though, provides the first mention of a Zodiac and the first indication that it was divided mathematically into 12 regular signs. A tablet recording Venus setting in the sign of Pisces dates from 446 BC and the Babylonian diary for 464 BC used both zodical signs and fixed stars to coordinate stellar geography.

Astrology was to change, however, after the Persian invasion of Assyria. The emphasis moved from mass “Mundane” Astrology to the individual natal or birth charts. This new perspective was supplied by Zoroastrianism, who believed in a supreme God, Ahura Mazda, together with an immortal soul with a free choice of good and evil. The first known natal chart, from Babylon, dates from 410 BC, probably April 29th. While it uses zodical signs, there is no mention of degrees.

The mention of degrees, however, does occur in three tablets from 258-235 BC, which give zodical degrees for the Sun and all planets, except the moon.

The Druids, however, placed great emphasis on the moon and the Persian influence on the Druids is undeniable. The Dasturs of Zoroastrianism are very similar to the Celtic Druids. Astrologers of the ancient world were called Mage, or Magi and Julius Caesar applies this to the Druids. Unfortunately, records of Druid Astrology don’t occur until the 6th century, but at that time, the zodiac was very much preserved as it is today. There are some exceptions, such as Leo, being identified as a Hound. However, the majority of signs have been preserved as they were from the earliest writings.

Druids and Astrology

One clear night before dusk, as far away from light pollution as you can, go to a high place, either a hilltop or if you live in a flat area, travel away from the buildings and do not obscure your view by the trees. Observe as the sun sets in the West. What do you notice?

Take a pencil and paper and draw the pattern of the stars in the West as they appear. You may see a bright star appear soon after the Sun sets. If you look carefully through binoculars, you will see that this bright star may have a crescent phase, or be full, or any stage in between (just like the moon). This is not as star at all, but a planet. Named both the morning star and the evening or falling star, watch Venus is it descends. It will not stay around for long and notice that it disappears in the West (the same as all the planets).

You may also see a fainter star (usually below Venus). This is Mercury and like Venus, never stays long in the night sky and quickly descends.

You will notice that when other stars appear you may be lucky enough to draw them around Venus and Mercury. Concentrate on the Western horizon. The stars in the West are said to be in descent.

If you turn directly towards the East you will notice other constellations appear. Draw them. These stars are in ascent.

Lay on your back and dot out the patterns you see above you in the night sky. You will notice that slowly, the stars and constellations stay fixed in their positions and always move like the Sun from East to West. If you did this over a few nights, you would notice anomalies. These anomalies are the planets. It make take a long time to notice anomalies with Jupiter and Saturn. That is because they travel much slower through the constellations than planets that are nearer the Sun.

You may notice a red star, however, changing position. Some nights it will be further East in the constellation than the previous night as it travels through the zodiac. Other nights it may seem further West and move eccentrically (this is of course, the planet Mars that lies before the asteroid belt and Jupiter. This is what is known as retrograde movement. Of course, planets all go around the Sun in the same direction, but don’t forget that the Earth is a moving object too and planets travel at different speeds. So as the Earth also travels around the Sun and the zodiac, as we pass planets, or as they go towards the Sun in their orbit, their position is not fixed.

Astronomy and astrology can be taught in books, but to get a deep appreciation and awe look up at the night sky and observe. Personal experience and observation cannot be found in books. However, once you gain that awe you are ready to progress with a much deeper appreciation than any head knowledge can bring.

Before continuing, purchase a planisphere, or Atlas of the night sky. You will see the constellations you have marked out and be able to identify them. For thousands of years humankind have charted the skies in the same way and been filled with awe and wonder. We now know that everything in the solar system doesn’t revolve around the Earth, but the Sun. We also know that some of the stars we see are thousands of light years away and not a canopy around the Earth with pin pricks of light shining through holes.

However we live on the Earth, so the place where we live is our own Universe. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. So what we see is from our own personal viewpoint.

Druids as Astrologers

Do we really know that much about the Druids?

Historians generally recognise that a lot of the Roman writings that indicated Druids were cannibals, or performed human sacrifices was propaganda to try and bring land under Roman rule. It is the same as the parliamentary debates today. Lies are levelled at opposing parties to undermine their rule, with the soul aim of usurping and taking control. Don’t let the propaganda mislead you.

Though Pliny recognises the priestly functions of the Druids, he applies the name magus (indicating links with magicians of the East) to them. In Irish ecclesiastical literature drui is used as the translation of magus. Magi is used in Latin as the equivalent of druides. The Tuatha De Danaan learned Druidry from the four great master Druids. Thus in Ireland at there is clear evidence of the great magical power claimed by druids.

What is magic? Energy exists on many different levels. Magic is science that science cannot yet explain. If you brought someone from the 1700’s and showed them the technology of today that would be magic to them. The healing qualities of plants are now appreciated by scientists worldwide, but those women who lived in rural areas, who offered herbal cures and remedies were own time considered witches and during the witch trials were burnt at the stake.

Astrology is the same. It has universal links with religions all around the world and the earliest mentions go back to at least Babylonian times. The Bible is full of Astrology. Ezekiel’s description of wheels within wheels, could easily describe an ancient planisphere with extra wheels added for the planetary movements. The Magi were able to locate Jesus by following astrological signs in heaven. Interestingly, the Magi is also translated as Wise Men. The links between the Magi and those with the wisdom of the oak (the Druids) shows a Universal bond between Astrologers worldwide.

Stone circles such as those found at Stonehenge are aligned with the summer solstice or the moon at 15 degrees in Scorpio. Julius Caesar identified Druids with astrology. We are following in the footsteps of our ancestors by observing the same stars they did, combining their mythology that has passed onto us using their Gods to identify the planets. Astrology has been passed down through thousands of years. The Babylonian zodiac is not unlike the Western zodiac used today, so it is likely that a similar zodiac was used by the Druids.