Ancient Egypt, one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, flourished along the Nile Valley for three millennia. It started around 3100 BC when Upper and Lower Egypt united under one Pharaoh until 30 BC when the Roman conquest destroyed it all. It is divided into three main periods: the Old Kingdom for pyramid building, the Middle Kingdom for literature and arts, and the New Kingdom for military conquests like Tutankhamun’s tomb and Ramesses II’s rule.
Ancient Egyptian society and culture were heavily dependent upon the universe for religious and cultural life. The zodiac and planetary movements were closely monitored.
Astrology was an intricate system for understanding both divine and human events. Egyptians believed universal bodies exerted direct control on individual fate as well as state affairs, leading to complex astrological systems with significant roles in temple rituals, agricultural activities, and architectural planning.
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The Egyptian Calendar
Ancient Egyptians developed both solar and lunar calendars. Their solar calendar, also referred to as the civil calendar, consisted of 365 days divided evenly among twelve months with thirty days each, plus five “epagomenal” days set aside for religious practices. This calendar was mostly utilized for administrative use but neglected the extra quarter-day each year.
The lunar calendar, used more commonly among religious organizations and societies, followed the cycles of the moon. Each month began with its respective New Moon resulting in months that were either 29 or 30 days long and were used when scheduling religious festivals and rituals.
Sirius and the New Year
The Sothic cycle was determined by observation of Sirius, also referred to as Sothis in Greek or Sopdet in ancient Egyptian. Egyptians observed that its appearance each morning before sunrise corresponded with the solar year more accurately than their own civil calendar did, heralding both New Year’s Day as well as agricultural seasons ahead.
Decans on Egyptian Star Clock
Egyptians used decans as a form of star clock. Each decan represented one week on their civil calendar; there were 36 decans allocated to different parts of the sky that rose just before sunrise for ten consecutive days every year, and five extra intercalary days were added at year’s end. By tracking these rising decans, Egyptians could accurately mark both their days and years passing away.
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Agriculture and Flood Prediction
Egyptians used universal events such as Sirius’ heliacal rising as the premier indicator for forecasting critical natural events such as the annual Nile flood. It signaled its arrival, providing vital silt-rich fertile land suitable for agriculture throughout Egypt’s Nile Valley. Furthermore, solar cycles determined three agricultural seasons: Akhet (flood season), Peret (planting season), and Shemu (harvest season).
The Dendera Zodiac
The Dendera Zodiac is an extraordinary artefact discovered at Egypt’s temple of Hathor at Dendera. While more commonly associated with its Greco-Roman zodiac counterpart containing twelve signs, its Dendera equivalent features decanal, planetary, and zodiacal symbolism that make for an exciting view!
The Dendera Zodiac features depictions of Egyptian deities, anthropomorphic representations of planets, and symbolic depictions of decans.
Interpretation of Zodiac signs
Ancient Egyptians believed the stars to be symbolic of divine order. According to this belief system, gods governed from above the sky and controlled human lives and fate based on their will. Understanding star movements was therefore considered a way of knowing more about this plan of the gods.
Egyptians believed, like other ancient civilizations, that people’s personalities and destinies could be determined by the constellations at their time of birth. Astrologers were highly respected figures who could interpret zodiac signs to give guidance to pharaohs or high-ranking officials.
The decans system allowed for more accurate predictions than the twelve-sign zodiac. Egyptian religion strongly included this form of divination, unlike more secular forms used today by modern Western societies.
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The Importance Of Ra, Nut, And Geb
Ra: Ra was one of Egypt’s most revered deities and was frequently depicted as an image with falcon-headed attributes and an orb crowning his head, symbolizing birth, death, and rebirth. Ra would travel through both heaven and the underworld at day and night as part of this cycle.
Nut: Nut is an ancient goddess associated with the sky and is often depicted as a woman arching over the Earth, her body bedecked in stars. Historically she has been revered as the mother to all universal beings and appears in various mythologies.
Geb: Geb was Nut’s counterpart on Earth. Their bodies often formed the boundary between Earth and the sky. Geb was associated with fertile lands as well as earthquakes which were believed to be his laughter.
An example was Ra’s daily journey across the sky in his solar boat. Each evening Ra would die before journeying through to the underworld before emerging again at dawn, representing themes related to death and rebirth that are central to Egyptian religious beliefs.
Similar to Nut and Geb, air god Shu’s separation symbolized their earthbound and skyborne elements. Nut represented heaven, while Geb was represented by ground with Shu as the air between.
Astrology and Pyramids
Egypt’s pyramids display breathtaking astronomical alignments. It is believed that the sides of Giza’s Great Pyramid align very precisely to each cardinal direction: North, South, East, and West, suggesting an advanced understanding of astronomy.
Aligning the pyramid may have served both practical and symbolic functions. From one perspective, aligning to the true north could have served as an enormous sundial that marked solstices and equinoxes. On another level, this arrangement might represent Egyptian beliefs linking the eternal sun journey with Pharaoh’s afterlife journey.
Pyramid Texts, one of the oldest religious texts ever composed, were inscribed onto several Old Kingdom pyramids and contained numerous references to universal bodies and events.
There were frequent references in Ancient Egyptian texts of Pharaohs ascending into heaven to join their gods and transforming into stars. Such stars became symbols for deified Pharaohs who, upon death, would ascend with these constellations known as the Imperishable Ones that never set and thus represented eternity.
Giza-Orion Correlation Theory
Robert Bauval proposed the Giza-Orion Correlation Theory, which suggests a correlation between the Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure pyramids at Giza and Orion’s Belt stars in terms of size and position.
Ancient Egyptians associated Orion with Osiris, their god of death and afterlife. If this Giza-Orion correlation proves accurate, its purpose would be to link Pharaohs’ eternal resting places to Osiris for safe passage to his afterlife journey.
Astrology underpinned many aspects of Egyptian culture, from aligning pyramids to myths surrounding Ra, Nut, and Geb being worshiped deities who provided important knowledge of astrology systems used throughout time. Astronomers today are still learning from ancient Egyptian systems.
Egyptian astrology remains relevant and captivating today, becoming part of New Age spirituality through its rich symbolism and ancient roots. It provides alternative insights for personal growth and understanding. Even after thousands of years, its influence remains visible.