Primitive man looked at the heavens and wondered. Life in those far-off days was simple, and the absence of the strain and artificiality of our day brought man into close contact with nature. It is easy to understand how he came to believe that his destiny was controlled by the stars.
It was obvious to him, in the struggle for existence, that much perhaps everything depended upon the sunshine and the rain, the storm and the flood, all of which appeared to come from the heavens. It is not to be wondered at, there-fore, that primitive man concluded that the heavens were the home of his gods and that a supernatural relationship existed between celestial phenomena and terrestrial events.
An example of the working of the primitive mind in this matter is provided by the way in which the priests of ancient Egypt predicted the annual inundation of the Nile, by observing the heliacal rising of a star. The inundation an event of great importance occurs each year about the middle of July. In the days of ancient Egypt, a few days before the floods occurred, the star Sirius, which the Egyptians called Sothis, was to be seen above the eastern horizon, shortly before sunrise. Prior to its heliacal rising, the star was invisible for a period of about two months. By watching for its reappearance, the priests were able to predict the approximate date of the inundation. It was not unreasonable for them to believe that there must be a supernatural relationship between the reappearance of the star and the rising of the Nile, and from this it was a logical step to assume that the stars influenced individual lives as well as physical events.
In this manner the cult of astrology was born from observations of celestial bodies, a cult which, for thousands of years, exercised a profound influence on the conduct of men and which, to-day, still has an appeal for the ignorant. It is not possible, even approximately, to fix dates for the earliest observations of the heavens or for the birth of astrology. Their beginnings are shrouded in the mists of antiquity. China, Mesopotamia, Egypt, India—each of these regions cradled a great civilization and in each, undoubtedly, the heavens, at first, were observed independently.