Context kept us alive.
Context gave us safety, predictability, understanding, guideposts, meaning, purpose, efficiency, universality, connection.
To understand the cycles of the year was to cheat death and survive. It meant knowing when to reap and when to sow.
Imagine how chaotic and fearful it was to watch the moon wane into total darkness, not knowing it would slowly re-emerge back into its full-lit glory. To know (or believe to know) the future greatly increased odds of survival.
When early civilizations needed answers, they turned to what they had around them for truth: to the planet and to the skies.
When there was no TikTok to watch, the ancients watched the stars.
The heavens mapped out where they were on the planet and vast expanses of celestial bodies were grouped into tangible symbols and woven into stories to ensure information, symbolism, and geographic mapping was able to be passed down through generations.
Humans have looked up to the stars to plan their lives since the beginning of time. Ancient Egyptians as early as 3100 used the rising of the Sirius, the dog star, in mid-July to prepare for the rising of the Nile. Originating in Babylon, astrology was the original science. In ancient times astrology and astronomy were the same thing. The Ancients believed that Gods in the heavens were responsible for man's fate, therefore the positioning and movement of stars and planets could contextualize and reveal fortunes and loss and control the fate of people on earth.
Earliest cave art suggest that it was believed animals and matter possessed a spirit form that, if satisfied, would reward humans with survival. Nearly every ancient culture shows common threads of astrology and divination through careful study of nature elements (i.e. reading of tea leaves to predict the future).
In Ancient China, noblemen regarded eclipses and sunspots as good and bad omens for their emperors. Sumarians and Babylonians around 2000 BC studied spots on human livers and animal entrails as a form of divination. Earliest Babylonian astrology was the science of tracking movement of celestial bodies believed to map out locations of deities in the sky. It was the ancient Egyptians who grouped stars into constellations.
The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa dates back to the first millennium BC and traces the movement of Venus within the context of Babylonian planetary omens. In fact it was the movement of the Earth around the sun that caused the appearance of constellations moving around the sky...
1) the sun to move eastward against the background of the constellations; 2) the planets and moon to shift around the sky; and 3) causes different constellations to rise from the horizon at sunset different times of the year.
So in about 330 BC Alexander The Great conquered Egypt, the Greeks were super into using math and logic, but fascinated with divination using the planets. They began to put their 'scientific' tools to work and understand how the earliest Babylonian astrological principles could be demystified. Here's how NASA describes by the constellations of the zodiac (Greek term for 'sculpted animal figure') have any significance at all:
"Imagine a straight line drawn from Earth through the Sun and out into space way beyond our solar system where the stars are. Then, picture Earth following its orbit around the Sun. This imaginary line would rotate, pointing to different stars throughout one complete trip around the Sun — or, one year. All the stars that lie close to the imaginary flat disk swept out by this imaginary line are said to be in the zodiac. The constellations in the zodiac are simply the constellations that this imaginary straight line points to in its year-long journey." To understand the movement of the sun and stars as charted in twelve governing constellations was to begin to predict life, survival, and prosperity.