Divination that consists of interpreting the influence of stars and planets on earthly affairs and human destinies. In ancient times it was inseparable from astronomy. It originated in Mesopotamia (c. 3rd millennium BC) and spread to India, but it developed its Western form in Greek civilization during the Hellenistic period. Astrology entered Islamic culture as part of the Greek tradition and was returned to European culture through Arabic learning during the Middle Ages. According to the Greek tradition, the heavens are divided according to the 12 constellations of the zodiac, and the bright stars that rise at intervals cast a spiritual influence over human affairs. Astrology was also important in ancient China, and in imperial times it became standard practice to have a horoscope cast for each newborn child and at all decisive junctures of life. Though the Copernican system shattered the geocentric worldview that astrology requires, interest in astrology has continued into modern times and astrological signs are still widely believed to influence personality.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on astrology, visit Britannica.com.
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