As the curtain rose on the Age of Pisces in approximately 268BC astrology swept across the Greco-Roman world.
The Greeks were integrating astrology with the natural sciences – chemistry, botany, mineralogy, anatomy and medicine.
They believed that everything on the Earth had its correspondence in the sky and colors, metals, stones and plants all had their astrological rulerships.
They connected regions of the body and its parts and organs with the planets and zodiac signs, but different schools of thought devised different systems.
And with the human body intimately connected with astrology illness and disease were attributed to the planets, their sign locations or the position of a fixed star.
Astrology, to them, had no boundaries and they were aware that their knowledge was both powerful and sacred.
In 135 BC the Greek astrologer-astronomer, Hipparchus, discovered the theory of the precession of the equinoxes – a significant astronomical event.
In the 2nd-century Claudius Ptolemy working in Egypt at the Library in Alexandria summarized astrology’s existing knowledge-base.
His treatise – Tetrabiblos – became the standard reference for all astrologers during the Age of Pisces.
About the same time Vittius Valens who ran an astrological school in Alexandria compiled a chart book with 123 notable nativities.
But as Rome declined and Europe descended into a Dark Age (around 476AD) astrology suffered a similar fate.
An astrology revival in the Middle East
Then in the 8th-century the lights of learning flickered and Islamic, Jewish, Persian, Greek and Hindu scholars worked together to formulate ‘Arabic astrology’ – a combination of Greek and Arab astrological knowledge
In the 9th-century Baghdad was the intellectual center of the Islamic world and it was here that the astrological wisdom of the ages was studied in a favorable and vibrant intellectual setting that permitted the exchange of astrological ideas and the acquisition of more astrological knowledge.
From the 8th to the 12th-centuries astrology’s star was on the rise.
In the 12th-century it pervaded European culture.
In 1250 astrology was taught at Cambridge University.
At this time the three most important sciences that formed part of the great European renaissance were astrology, astronomy and mathematics.
They were in fact one scientific discipline.
The works of Ptolemy and the great Arab astrologers were translated into Greek and by the 13th-century the greatest human minds were absorbed in its study.
The earliest surviving English birthchart is that of Edward 11, born April 25, 1284, but it’s crudely constructed and lacks astronomical accuracy.
By now Piscean Age astrologers were matching events on the Earth with their heavenly causes.
Geoffrey de Meaux in 1348 explained the Black Plague to King Philip V1 of France by referring to a conjunction of Saturn, Mars and Jupiter in Aquarius as exacerbated by a lunar eclipse: ‘For when the sun is directly opposite the moon then the power of each of them reaches the Earth in a straight line, and the mingling of influences of sun and moon with that of the superior planets creates a single celestial force.’
A Golden Age of astrology
The 15th and 16th-centuries were a golden age of astrology.
By then the astronomical data needed to calculate a chart was more accurate and the astrological data had been systematically organized.
Heredity, environment and education were all factored into the life equation but ultimately the birth time ruled and it was rarely accurate.
At this time Marsilio Ficini translated a number of Hermetic texts – ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus – into Latin.
One of the great astrologers of the 16th-century was Girolamo Cardona.
He was one of the top five doctors in the world and taught at the School of Medicine at the University of Bologna.
Its motto was: ‘A doctor without astrology is like an eye that cannot see.’
Between 1468 and 1549 many popes supported astrology.
They included Sixtus 1V, Julius 11, Leo X and Paul 111.
In 1552 Luca Guarico published a book of celebrity horoscopes including popes, cardinals, princes, noblemen and artists.
Kepler – the astrologer – claimed: ‘This character (of the heavens) is not received in the body, which is much too ungainly for that, but rather in the nature of the soul itself, which is like a point’ and ‘the new-born babe is marked for life by the pattern of the stars at the moment it comes into the world, and unconsciously remembers it, and remains sensitive to the return of configurations – progressed aspects – of a similar kind.’
Astrology marched into the 17th-century with most astrologers going by the books written by Ptolemy and Hipparchus.
In 1603 Placidus de Titus originated the Placidus system of house division.
From 1644 to 1681 William Lilly, considered one of the foremost astrologers who ever lived, published his famous almanac.
Astrology under attack
Astrology had always been strongly opposed by the Church, but its real enemies turned out to be the astronomers and when the French Academy of Science was founded in the 17th-century there was a ban placed on astrology.
Then as new scientific laws that explained life and the universe were discovered there was no need for God or astrology and its mystical notions became hopelessly obsolete.
Astrology and astronomy got divorced and science got obsessed with physical substance and material phenomena.
To survive astrology had to go underground.
Forced into the shadows astrology was preserved by secret societies – the Freemasons, Rosicrucians and the lesser known Hermetic Orders.
An astrology revival in Britain
Then, in Britain in the late 18th-century, astrologers like Ebenezer Sibly and John Worsdale did their best to dignify the art and traditional practice of astrology.
Sibly embraced the new-astrology while Worsdale stayed with Ptolemy – the source of all authentic astrology.
In 1795, the first ephemeris documenting the planets’ positions was printed.
In 1824 The Straggling Astrologer hit the newsstands.
It was the first magazine to carry weekly prognostications – the forerunner of today’s astrology columns.
Its editor Robert Cross Smith – Raphael – was ‘the founder of modern popular astrological journalism.’
He was succeeded by Richard James Morrison – Zadkiel.
In 1830 Zadkiel launched his own magazine The Herald of Astrology.
Then in 1844 – two years before the discovery of Neptune – Zadkiel founded the British Association for the Advancement of Astral and other Sciences.
In 1858 Luke Broughton in America began to publish an astrological magazine – Monthly Planet Reader.
In 1881 the curtain came down on the Age of Pisces.
Pisces and the Age of mystical astrology
When Pisces dawned astrology and astronomy were virtually one and the same and by the end they were separated and bitter enemies.
But...Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler were three astrologer-astronomers who made important discoveries about the nature of the universe.
The Chaldeans, Greeks, Egyptians and Arabs all made significant contributions to astrology’s knowledge-base.
Later the Mayans of Central America and the Aztecs developed their own independent systems.
Astrology played an important role in medieval medicine and the diagnosis and cure of disease became an integral part of stellar healing at this time.
During the Age of Pisces it was accepted that astrology explained the past, present and future, that you were created by the divine mind and that your life traveled a course set by your personal astrology.
At different times attempts were made to regulate the charlatans and their reckless predictions and the back street astrologers were just as bad as today’s Sun-sign astrologers.
For some – Claudius Ptolemy, Marcus Manilius, Guido Bonatti, William Lilly, Raphael and Zadkiel – the stars held a glorious fascination.
They believed that the apparent purposelessness and chaos of life was governed by a glorious and intricate design in the sky.
But Piscean Age astrology was mystical – not scientific – and while some astrologers did make some amazingly accurate predictions the charts they constructed and used were always wrong.
Astrology for Aquarius – sharing our knowledge