The original purpose of astrology, on the other hand, was to inform the individual of the course of his life on the basis of the positions of the planets and the zodiacal signs (the 12 astrological constellations) at the time of his birth or conception. From this science, called geneticalogy (casting natives), the fundamental techniques of astrology were developed. The main subdivisions of astrology that developed after geneticalogy are general, catharchic and interrogatory. General astrology studies the relationship of significant celestial moments (for example,.
It responds, by astrological means, to the questions posed earlier in Mesopotamia to the Bāru. Catharchic astrology (pertaining to beginnings or sources) determines whether a chosen moment is astrologically conducive to the success of a course of action initiated in it. Basically in conflict with a rigorous interpretation of genealogy, it allows the individual (or corporate body) to act at astrologically favorable moments and, therefore, escape any predictable failure of his (or his) birth. Interrogation astrology provides answers to a client's queries based on the situation in the heavens at the time he asks the questions.
This astrological consultation service is even further from determinism than catharchic astrology; therefore, it is closer to fortune-telling by omens and insists on the ritual purification and preparation of the astrologer. Other forms of astrology, such as iatromathematics (application of astrology to medicine) and military astrology, are variants of one or the other of the above. The astral omens used in Mesopotamian divination were later mixed with what became known as astrology in the strict sense of the term and constituted within astrology a branch described as natural astrology. Although lunar eclipses were apparently considered ominous in a somewhat earlier period, the period of the first dynasty of Babylon (18th to 16th centuries BC) was the time when the cuneiform text Enūma Anu Enlil, dedicated to the celestial ominas, began.
The final compilation and codification of this series, however, did not take place before the beginning of the first millennium BC. But the tablets that have survived mainly from the Assyrian library of king Ashurbanipal (7th century BC. C.) indicate that a standard version never existed. Each copy had its own characteristic content and organization designed to facilitate the consultation of the omens by its owner.
Although these omens are often cited in the reports of a network of observers established throughout the Assyrian Empire in the seventh century to. C., appear to have lost their popularity by the end of the period of Persian domination of Mesopotamia (which ended in the fourth century BC. C.). During the subsequent period, new efforts were made, in a large number of works called Diaries, to find the correct correlations between celestial phenomena and terrestrial events.
However, prior to this development, parts of the oldest series of omens were transmitted to Egypt, Greece and India as a direct result of Achaemenid domination (the Achaemenian dynasty ruled in Persia from 559 to 330 BC. C.) of these cultural areas or their border regions. In several languages of the Middle East there are also many texts dealing with heavenly omens, although their sources and the question of whether they are directly descended from a Mesopotamian tradition or derived from Greek or Indian intermediaries has not yet been investigated. Of these texts, the most important are those attributed to Hermes Trismegistos by the Harrans and which are now preserved in Arabic, the Book of the Zodiac of the Mandeans (a Gnostic sect that still exists in Iraq and Khazistan), the Apocalypse, attributed to the biblical prophet Daniel (existing in Greek, Syriac and Arabic) versions) and The Book of the Bee in Syriac.
The transmission of the literature of the Mesopotamian omen to India, including the material in Enūma Anu Enlil, apparently took place in the 5th century BC, during the Achaemenid occupation of the Indus Valley. The earliest traces are found in the Buddhist texts of this period, and Buddhist missionaries were instrumental in bringing this material to Central Asia, China, Tibet, Japan and Southeast Asia. But the most important of the works of this Indian tradition and the oldest existing in Sanskrit is the oldest version of the Gargasamhita (“Garga's Compositions”), still unpublished, from around the 1st century AD. C.
The original Mesopotamian material was modified to accommodate the Indian conception of society, including the four-caste system and the duty of higher castes to perform samskaras (sanctification ceremonies). There are numerous subsequent compilations of omens in Sanskrit, the most notable of which are Varahamihira's Brhatsamhita, or “Great Composition” (c. But in the works of the 13th century and later, entitled Tājika, there is a massive infusion of Arab adaptations of the originally Mesopotamian heavenly omens transmitted through the Persian (tājika) translations. In Tājika, omens are closely related to general astrology; in earlier Sanskrit texts, their connections with astrology had been mainly in the fields of military and catharchic astrology.
Imagine a straight line drawn from Earth through the Sun and into space far beyond our solar system, where the stars are. Then, imagine the Earth following its orbit around the Sun. This imaginary line would rotate, pointing to different stars along a complete journey around the Sun or, a year. It is said that all the stars that are near the imaginary flat disk swept by this imaginary line are in the zodiac.
The constellations of the zodiac are simply the constellations that this imaginary straight line points to on its year-long journey. . .