To a skeptic, an astrologer is a misguided individual who believes in a pseudoscientific system that states that the positions of celestial bodies and their positions relative to one another hold the power to provide information on events that may take place in the future, or even predict an individuals personality traits. Even so, the curiosity and, perhaps, superstitious belief that entices people to attempt to divine the future continue to make astrology a popular topic.
This subject can be traced back as far as 3000 BC in China, although the earliest records of astrological symbols being used there only date back to 1766 – 1050 BC, in the time of the Shang dynasty. Examples include the 60-year Chinese horoscope which combined the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac with the 5 elements of nature. It was a highly respected art in China, with even Confucius stating that the people should heed the good or ill omens sent from heaven. No one scholar can pinpoint the exact origin of astrology, but one thing is certain: it is a very old practice; there are records of the practice in India that date back to 5000 BC.
In the Middle East, the practice can be traced back to the civilization of Babylon in 2000 BC. The principles that governed the celestial study of the Babylonians are believed to have spread to other countries as far as India and Greece mid 400 BC, where it was studied concurrently with astronomy. Babylonian astrology was quite influential throughout the Middle East, where its effects were recorded in Egypt, having combined effortlessly with the Egyptians own Decanic practice. The popular concept of the horoscope arose here and eventually spread to ancient Europe and the rest of the Middle East.
The origin of astrology as it is known in contemporary western culture today can be traced back to that devised by the Babylonians, with some traits that can be attributed to the involvement of Middle Eastern astrologers. The Greeks and Egyptians, too, being studious scholars of astronomy and astrology in their own right, were also responsible for developing the practice into the form with which many of us today are familiar.