Origins of Astrology
Ancient astrologers were interested in much more than dating compatibility and career moves. If you go back far enough, astrology and astronomy were once one and the same. The idea of linking the movements of stars to human behavior may in fact have originated in the days of prehistoric cavemen. Depictions in caves indicate an awareness of lunar cycles as early as 25,000 years ago. Near the entrance to France’s Lascaux cave complex is a beautiful painting of a bull – and what appears to be a map of the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) star cluster above its shoulder.
Many historians believe the ancient Sumerians developed today’s 12-sign zodiac system, and that the ancient Babylonians adopted it roughly 3,300 years ago (although much earlier Babylonian art features depictions of lions, scorpions, rams, and bulls). Other historians, however, have taken a completely different view. The famed French scientist/writer Charles-Francois Dupuis, who published a major chronological study of the zodiac in 1806, maintained the zodiac signs we know had existed in Upper Egypt (Ethiopia) 15,000-16,000 years ago.
The challenge is that while historical artifacts may serve as markers, they do not reveal how long the traditions they depict had been in existence prior to their creation. For example, many of the fairy tales the Brothers Grimm published beginning in 1812 were in fact old German folk tales that had been passed from generation to generation for centuries. Likewise, the 12-part zodiac system we credit to the Sumerians and Babylonians may in fact be a remnant of advanced civilizations that vanished during the Ice Age, but whose astrological traditions had been passed on orally for millennia until the Sumerians and Babylonians finally encoded them.
The Great Sphinx in Egypt represents a lion. Given the awkward size and position of the Sphinx’s human head, we might reasonably conclude it was actually once a much larger lion's head that some vain Pharaoh had carved down into his likeness. Some scientists, noting water erosion at the Sphinx’s base, have argued the Sphinx dates to a time when there was heavy rainfall in Egypt – 6,000+ years ago – and concluded it might be as much as 12,000 years old. In other words, the Sphinx may be the remnant of a lost ancient civilization. If the scientists are right, and if today’s astrological system and understanding of astronomy were in place at that distant time, then the choice of a lion figure would have made perfect sense – because from about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, it would have been the astrological Age of Leo.