American Heritage Dictionary defines Astrology as the study of the positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that they have an influence on the course of natural earthly occurrences and human affairs. Planetary observation is the basis of Astrology. The practice of astrology was prevalent in the ancient times as well. History of Astrology is an important part of civilization and goes back to the early days of the human race. Some of the well-known civilizations of the world used this field extensively. For example, the ancient Chinese civilization, the Egyptian civilization, the ancient Indian civilization, etc all practiced astrology at some point or the other. Arabs too practiced Astrology before the advent of Islam. Arabs were quite advanced in the field of Astronomy.
The ancient Babylonians were probably the first to use Astrology. The Babylonians were the first to name the days of the week after the Sun, Moon, and planets. They were also the first to set out the twelve houses of the horoscope. Baghdad and Damascus were known as centers of Astrology and Astronomy in olden times. Egypt contributed a lot towards the development of Astrology. It is thought that some of the astrological signs of the zodiac originated in Egypt.
Greek astronomer Ptolemy was the first ever person to write a book on Astrology. He codified the sun sign astrology that we know today. Ptolemy tried to predict the positions of celestial bodies relative to each other and the earth through knowledge of their orbital motions. During his time, astrology was a part of astronomy. Later, astronomy became an exact science and Astrology remained a part of Theology.
Chinese astrology stresses on the five elements, metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Even the zodiac signs used by them are also different from other forms of astrology.
India has a rich history of Astrology. Astrology was practiced even in the Vedic times in India. Astrology is one of the six disciplines of Vedanga. Ancient Hindu Scriptures too give a lot of importance to the various aspects of planetary motions and its effects on humans. Astrology is still studied and practiced by many in India. It is regarded as vital in Indian culture. It is used to make decisions about marriage, starting of new businesses, and moving into a new house etc. The Hindus believe that human fortune or misfortune in life is due to karma, and karma is believed to be influenced by the movements of the planets. Among the Hindus, Brahmins are considered to be the best authorities on astrology. The astrologers in India claim that it is a scientific method to predict the future. They still club this field of study within the parameters of Hinduism. Hindus almost unanimously believe in astrological predictions. In fact, religious Hindus cannot imagine life without Astrology. More and more Indians have started to build their houses according to the principles of Vastu Shashtra. This ancient Indian tradition is also governed by astrological implications. Hindus believe that the overall prosperity and benefits of the occupants is dependant on the Vastu principles while building the house. Indian Astrologers claim that they can prove that astrological predictions are indeed scientific.
Horoscope is a part of Astrology. Reading the horoscope daily has become a trend even in the developed countries of the West. The Western mind has always put everything subject to scrutiny and they tend to rely solely on scientific facts. But that is not preventing the western people from being obsessed with their horoscopes. Suddenly, the western world has woken up to the possibility of knowing and improving their future with the use of astrology. More and more westerners have started to believe in the possibility of getting affected by the powerful planets and stars. Western scholars have included the subject of astrology in their research. Astrology was never scrutinized and researched ever before the way it has been done over the last few years. In this regard, the Indian astrologers should come forward and show the world the power that astrology holds.