Astrology is an Example of How We Seek Meaning in the Universe

Humans have always looked to the heavens for guidance. For thousands of years, we have studied the stars and planets, seeking answers to life’s big questions. Astrology is one of the oldest attempts to find meaning and order in the vast cosmos above us.

A Very Brief History of Astrology

The origins of astrology can be traced back over 5,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia. The Babylonians carefully charted the wanderings of the Sun, Moon, and planets across the sky. They divided the sky into 12 sections – the signs of the zodiac – and observed how celestial bodies moved through each sign over time.

The Babylonians believed that the gods communicated messages through the heavenly bodies. So astrology was used to discern divine will and predict events on Earth. Over centuries, astrology spread to Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Arab world, India, and China. Different astrological traditions emerged, but all were based on finding meaning in celestial patterns.

Astrology Arrives in the Western World

In the second century AD, the Greek astronomer Ptolemy compiled the Tetrabiblos – a comprehensive treatise on astrology that would remain influential for over a thousand years. It reinforced the idea that celestial bodies impact earthly events and human affairs.

During the Renaissance, astrology regained popularity in Europe. Nostradamus and other astrologers made predictions by reading the stars. While not always scientific, horoscopes provided a sense of control and comfort amidst a tumultuous world.

Why Do People Still Believe in Astrology Today?

While astrology may not have a basis in modern science, it endures as a cultural force. Surveys indicate 25-30% of Americans believe in astrology today. What accounts for its lasting appeal?

We Desire Meaning – Astrology ascribes purpose to celestial patterns. By linking cosmic events to life on Earth, it suggests the universe is orderly, not random. This provides a reassuring sense of meaning.

We Seek Self-Understanding – Astrological readings promise self-knowledge. Horoscopes speak directly to us, illuminating our personalities, relationships, and paths in life. We consult the stars to better know ourselves.

We Want Guidance – In an uncertain world, astrology provides direction. Horoscopes offer advice for the road ahead. Checking one’s astrological transits is akin to looking at a cosmic map.

We Crave Mystery – Modern science has revealed much about the measurable world. But at the same time, it can leave us feeling disenchanted, cleaving the mystical from daily life. The otherworldliness of astrology taps into our sense of wonder.

We See Patterns – Humans are wired to perceive patterns, often seeing meaningful connections between unrelated events. Astrology provides structure for this tendency, linking earthly happenings to celestial motions.

So while astrology does not withstand scientific scrutiny, it speaks to deeply human desires for meaning, self-knowledge, guidance, and mystery. In an impersonal modern age, astrology puts the cosmos in conversation with the individual. Small wonder the stars still hold sway today.


Campion, Nicholas. A History of Western Astrology, Vol. II: The Medieval and Modern Worlds. Continuum, 2009.

Gleadow, Rupert. The Origin of the Zodiac. Dover Publications, 2001.

Phillipson, Garry. Astrology in the Year Zero. Flare Publications, 2000.

Tarnas, Richard. Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. Penguin Group, 2006.

Willis, Roy and Patrick Curry. Astrology, Science and Culture: Pulling Down the Moon. Berg Publishers, 2004.

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