Ancient Astrology: Egyptian, Greek, Mayan, Kemetic, Indian & Chinese

Humans seeking answers through ancient astrology isn’t a new phenomenon. Dating as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, farmers used the sky as a calendar, determining the Dog Star that appeared around mid-July as a marker of the annual flooding of the Nile. People used the skies as an origin of mystical direction, especially travelers who would depend on the stars to show them where to go.

The History Behind Horoscopes

Other than viewing the sky as a map, people came to understand it as a conveyor of the feelings and behaviors of humans.

While historians haven’t concluded who first came up with the idea of looking at natural objects and divining influences on humans, studies of cave art have shown that it gave birth to the idea that animals and things can host a form of spirit that can influence humans. That idea was soon joined by the idea of divination, where natural objects are observed and studied carefully.

By around the middle of the second millennium BC, the Sumarians and Babylonians appeared to have had many divination practices, such as looking at spots on the liver and the entrails of animals. Their idea of watching planets and stars was a way to keep track of where gods were located in the sky, which can be traced to The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa. 

The Egyptian Temple Astrologers

The ancient Egyptians contributed to the idea that patterns of stars created constellations, around which the sun appears to rotate at a specific time during the year. It is clear that the art of astrology was highly respected, earning a place in the intellectual sphere along with medicine, magic, various other types of divinatory techniques, and several religious texts, indicating that Egyptians placed it alongside the temple. 

The priests were the keepers of knowledge and wisdom, known as the “scientists” of Egyptian society. One type of astrological manual aligned the five planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury) and the two luminaries—the Sun and the Moon—with the zodiac signs.

The positions were then transposed onto, for instance, the Dodecatropos, a division of the sky into 12 compartments, which were arranged counter-clockwise relative to the ascendant. These compartments were believed to affect various aspects of an individual’s life depending on whether a planet was located there or not.

The Greek Zodiac Circle

Much like the ancient Egyptian manual, the Greek zodiac is a circle of twelve 30 degree divisions of celestial longitude that are centered upon the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year.

The term zodiac comes from the Greek word “circle of animals,” as half of the signs of the Classical Greek zodiac are in the form of animals. In modern astronomy, the zodiac is a spherical celestial coordinate system, placing the ecliptic as its fundamental plane and the position of the Sun at the vernal equinox as its prime meridian. In effect, the zodiacal constellations are an easy way of marking the path of the Sun across the sky, as well as the path of the moon and planets along that ecliptic.

These divisions are also known as the signs we’re familiar with today: Aries (Krios – the ram), Taurus (Tauros – the bull), Gemini (Didymoi – the twins), Cancer (Karkinos – the crab), Leo (Leon – the lion), Virgo (Parthenos – the maiden), Libra (Zygos – the scales), Scorpio (Skorpios – the scorpion), Sagittarius (Toxotes – the archer), Capricorn (Aigokeros – the goat – horned), Aquarius (Hydrokhoos – the water – bearer), and Pisces (Ikthyes – the fishes)

The Mystery of the Maya

As with the Egyptians and Greeks, Maya astronomer-priests looked to the heavens for guidance. Using observatories, shadow-casting devices, and observations of the horizon, they traced the complex motions of the sun, the stars and planets in order to observe, calculate and record this information in their chronicles, or “codices.” From these observations, the Maya created calendars to keep track of celestial movements and the passage of time.

The Maya also kept detailed records of the moon, although these do not seem to constitute a formal lunar calendar. The Mayans also aligned their ceremonial plazas and temples with the Sun and stars to venerate the gods. Pacal’s tomb in the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque, for example, is aligned with the Sun.

At winter solstice, the Sun sets behind the high ridge beyond the temple, in line with the centre of the temple roof. As the Sun crosses the sky, it enters a doorway in the temple, hits the back wall and, as it heads for the horizon beyond the temple, appears to descend the temple stairway into Pacal’s tomb. Pacal’s death and entry into the Underworld are thus equated with the Sun’s death and entry into the Underworld.

Kemetic Metaphysics

The Kemetic people were aware of the presence of a golden invisible universe which was an intricate part of the cosmic egg of the teaching of life, which was taught in temples. The teaching emphasized the secret wisdom of the nature of the universe and the pathways and planes that the KA (spirit), and BA (soul) journey through in the heavens and the earth.

The ancient Kemetic word Seftex (seven) is the degree known as the “Place of Maat.” All people in Kemet (Ancient Egypt) were initiated into the wisdom teachings of “Maat,” which connected the mind and the heart to obtain balance. As Kemet grew and expanded, these teachings would produce men and women whose minds allowed ancient Kemetians to become the world’s greatest builders of stone culture.

Kemet would become the main source of cosmic spiritual enlightenment for a very long time, developing a system that provided prosperity and growth before any other culture or civilization. A nation of 42 Nome’s, Ancient Kemet was governed by a lord, prince, princess and a prominent local figure, all of whom were initiated into the “Pharaonic Order.” The principles of the Pharaonic Order are the major blueprint of all other cultures and civilizations.

The 12 Kemetic Zodiac Signs and Traits

Each of the 12 Kemetic zodiac signs was governed by a deity who not only predetermined the life of a person, but also gave him features of his own character, bestowed secret knowledge, and revealed the riddles of controlling supernatural processes.

  • Nile (January 1 – 7, June 19 – 28, September 1 – 7, November 18 – 26): Representing the beginning of something, the people of this sign have a very peaceful character and do not like conflicts. Sometimes, they can be under the power of passions, but they make sure to act wisely. They often change their mood, able to be calm and peaceful, then suddenly angry. The people of this sign are excellent observers.
  • Amon-Ra (January 8 – 21, February 1 – 11): Symbolizing protection, Amon-Ra is considered the king of the gods. Those who are born under the sign are talented and optimistic. They become good leaders and inspire other people. They are also very confident, and are able to keep everything under control.
  • Mut (January 22 – 31, September 8 – 22): Symbolizing the divine mother, people born under the sign of Mut are educators and advocates. They tend to become good parents. Often shy, they hide their innermost feelings and thoughts, opening only to the closest people.
  • Geb (February 12 – 29, August 20 – 31): In ancient Egyptian mythology, Geb was the god of the Earth. As the father of Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys, it was believed that earthquakes had begun from his laughter. People born under this sign have a kind heart, and possess good intuition. Oftentimes they can be overly emotional, but this charm and magnetism attracts other people.
  • Osiris (March 1 – 10, November 27 – December 18): People born under the sign of Osiris have two sides to their personality. They can be very energetic and strong, but also quite indecisive. They are successful in new endeavors, optimistic and very generous. Thanks to their intelligence and charisma, people born under this sign tend to have successful careers in commerce or education.

      6.   Isis (March 11 – 31, October 18 – 29, December 19 – 31): Isis symbolizes the mother and goddess of nature. Known as the patroness of children, the poor and the dead, she is the daughter of Geb and Nut, as well as the sister of Osiris, Seth, and Nephthys. People born under this sign can be very frank and straightforward. Some consider them to be too naive and open, while others appreciate their direct style of communication.

      7.   Thoth (April 1 – 19, November 8 – 17): As the god of the moon, knowledge and wisdom, Thor is known as the creator of writing. People born under this sign tend to solve problems perfectly, liking to share their knowledge with others. Natural teachers and mentors, they communicate well with people and can become writers or journalists. They also have a good memory, and never forget someone’s service or kind gesture.

      8.   Horus (April 20 – May 7, August 12 – 19): Symbolizing the stars and the sky, Horus was born after the death of his father Osiris, defender of the pharaohs who united Upper and Lower Egypt. People born under this sign are very courageous and ready for risk. They have very charismatic personalities, always optimistic and tend to succeed in any profession while inspiring those around them.

      9.   Anubis (May 8 – 27, June 29 – July 13): Anubis is known as the guardian of the underworld, and people born after this sign are very passionate and creative. They can be very emotional and sensitive, usually preferring to work alone. Despite the fact that they are introverts, people of this sign radiate confidence which draws people towards them.

     10.  Seth (May 28 – June 18, September 28 – October 2): Seth is known as the god of chaos, and people born under this sign are always looking for change. They can search all life for adventures and thrills, and they set themselves high goals and do not stop until they are achieved. They are leaders who do not like to lose or be in second place, and are always looking to learn more information and expand their knowledge.

     11.  Bastet (July 14 – 28, September 23 – 27, October 3 – 17): Bastet is known as the goddess of cats and pleasure, protecting women and fertility, as well as love. People born under this sign are always looking for balance and peace. They tend to avoid confrontation and stressful situations, with a very strong intuition that can allow them to be psychics. For this reason, they are able to tell what people’s motivations are.

     12.  Sekhmet (July 29 – August 11, October 30 – November 7): Known as the goddess of war, Sekhmet is also considered a healer. People born under this sign have a dual identity. While they are disciplined and strict, they can also be free and inclined to just go with the flow, unbound by any restrictions. They are perfectionists who have a sense of duty and justice, which can make them become volunteers. They tend to be very optimistic and see something good in all situations.

The Ancient Art of Vedic Astrology

According to Hindu teachings, life is meant for spiritual growth. This growth is, in part, facilitated by karma, the concept that every thought and action has a corresponding reaction.The Vedas say that a person’s karma is directly related to the position of the planets and stars, and thus astrology is the method of understanding one’s karma by analyzing these positions.

Originally known as jyotish, or “the science of light,” Vedic astrology is considered by many to be the eye of the Vedas, because it is meant to provide guidance to individuals who feel lost or confused on their life’s journey.

The Four Goals of Human Life

Vedic astrology recognizes four goals of human life: Dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. It is designed as a map of our karma, allowing us to understand our own nature and destiny so that we can navigate our lives by fulfilling these four goals.

  • Dharma: The mode of conduct most crucial for our spiritual growth. Fulfilling dharma, brings meaning, purpose, and honor to a person’s life.  
  • Kama: Translates as “desire,” and refers to the need for sensory and emotional happiness. All beings, in some way or another, are seekers of joy, and should pursue such joy without harming themselves, or others.
  • Artha: Even though it translates as “goal” or “purpose,” it is more specifically related to the gaining of wealth or sense of security. To experience the happiness of achieving one’s goals, a person must have the necessary resources of wealth in order to do so.
  • Moksha: Translates as “liberation,” and relates to one’s spiritual development until their eventual freedom from the cycle of birth and death.

Chinese Lunar Astrology

The Chinese zodiac consists of twelve animals that first appeared in the Zhan Guo period in the 5th century B.C. While no one knows the exact date as to when the zodiac was created, they were officially identified during the Han Dynasty in 206 B.C.–9 A.D. The Chinese zodiac became a popular way to determine a person’s birth year during the North Zhou Dynasty in 557-581 A.D. which is still used today.

The zodiac is calculated by a cycle of sixty years in which each animal signifies a different year. Chinese zodiac animals were paved by the Lunar calendar, dating back to the 14th century B.C. Legend has it that Emperor Huangdi, the first Chinese emperor in 2637 B.C. invented the Chinese lunar calendar, which follows the cycles of the moon.

With the Chinese zodiac, one was able to count years, months, days, and hours in the calendar, formed from two components: the Celestial Stem and the Terrestrial Branch. Each of the 12 animals corresponds to a year in a 12-year cycle, a day in the 12-day cycle, and for every two hours in a 24-hour day.

The 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs and Traits

Each zodiac animal year comes around every 12 years, where each year symbolizes a zodiac animal. Each zodiac animal has personality features assigned to it by the ancient Chinese, and it is believed that these traits will be embodied in people according to their zodiac sign.

  • Rat: Quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, kind (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020)
  • Ox: Diligent, dependable, strong, determined (1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021)
  • Tiger: Brave, confident, confident (1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022)
  • Rabbit: Quiet, elegant, kind, responsible (1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023)
  • Dragon: Confident, intelligent, enthusiastic (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024)
  • Snake: Enigmatic, intelligent, wise (1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025)
  • Horse: Animated, active, energetic (1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026)
  • Goat: Calm, gentle, sympathetic (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027)
  • Monkey: Sharp, smart, curiosity (1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028)
  • Rooster: Observant, hardworking, courageous (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029)
  • Dog: Lovely, honest, prudent (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030)
  • Pig: Compassionate, generous, diligent (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031)

Ancient Astrology as a Root of Science

The popularity of astrology as a science comes from when Sir Isaac Newton was credited with turning the sky into a calculator, mathematizing the motion of the planets and realizing that gravity controlled everything. This led to the beginning of a new scientific approach to looking at the sky and the motion of planets and the earth.

While astrology’s answers aren’t exactly based on scientific study, the reason people keep turning to the sky is a psychological phenomenon that stems from the human tendency for “self-selection,” indicating the search for interpretations that match the ideas that we hope to be true.

If there is any clear connotation between astrology and science, it’s the common belief of the universe and all the life that exists in it. The ancient civilizations were conscious of the fact that every phenomenon is the result of movement and rhythm that gave it form and character by the natural order of numbers. They believed that since the universe is conscious, astrology is one of the languages to use to communicate with it.

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