INTRODUCTION

Astrology is a remarkably resilient discipline. At the end of the last century, when the classic study of ancient astrology was written by Bouché-Leclercq, contemporary astrology looked as if it had permanently disappeared. He was apparently writing the history of a dead superstition. 1 But since then astrology has enjoyed a renaissance. The vehicle for astrology’s phoenix-like resurrection has undoubtedly been the newspaper horoscope. The first publication of a newspaper horoscope in the world apparently appeared in the Sunday Express, for the birth of Princess Margaret in 1930. 2 Since then it has not only embedded itself in British popular culture, but has spawned imitators all over the world. My horoscope for this week, interpreted by the doyen of newspaper astrologers, Patric Walker, says:

The sun in the highly sensitive and emotional sign of Cancer only urges you to take a closer look at relationships, conditions or situations that have deteriorated over the past six months, and then to discard ruthlessly anything you feel to be a hindrance or of no further value. There are bound to be days when the odds still seem to be stacked against you. However, with a little flair, confidence and the will to succeed, you can surmount any obstacles. 3

This is about as distant from the astrology discussed in the following pages as you could find. It is not only that the prominence of the Sunsign, abstracted from its context, is a modern phenomenon, but that the whole style of the piece would have been quite alien to ancient astrologers. The tone is one of the counsellor, concerned for the emotional well-being of the reader. The most successful consultant astrologers today set themselves up as counsellors, combining their astrology with a background in therapy or psychology. Ancient

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Ancient Astrology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface xxiv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Historical Background: Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece 9
  • 2 - Greece and Rome 32
  • 3 - The Triumph of Christianity 64
  • 4 - The Principles of Astrology 86
  • 5 - Astrological Practice: Casting a Horoscope 114
  • 6 - The Social World of the Astrologers 157
  • 7 - Reflections and Ramifications 179
  • Conclusion 208
  • Glossary 212
  • Notes 215
  • Bibliography 229
  • Index 235
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