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The Astrologer's Newsletter - July/August 2008

Book Review: Dawn Of Astrology

By Val Dobson

Dawn of Astrology: A Cultural History of Western Astrology - The Ancient & Classical World by Nicolas Campion.

pub: Continuum Books 2008. £30. 978-18472-5214-2

Dawn of Astrology book cover
Some years ago, when I was new to the internet, I came across a forum posting from a lady who asserted that "ancient Druid astrologers" used modern Western astrology, complete with all the outer planets (including Pluto!) and the Galactic Centre. Arguing with her was utterly useless. I had only common sense and a knowledge of history on my side; she had a book that told her that all this was true. And, try as I might, I couldn’t find anything written about the historical roots of astrology that I could use to refute her.

Finally, though, Nick Campion has written exactly what I needed then - a proper, detailed examination of the origins of astrology in the West, beginning with the very earliest archaeological evidence of star worship and calendar observance thousand of years ago. He takes us through early magic, religion, philosophy and astronomy as well as astrology; he shows us the intricate intertwinings of Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, early Roman and Hebrew cosmologies and traces their many influences on the early Bible writers and the first Christians.

It’s not light summer reading - this is a solid academic study (the first of two; the second book will cover astrology up to modern times) that doesn’t spoonfeed the reader with bite-sized, brightly-coloured assumptions and ideas (like, I suspect, the book that the lady above had been reading). With over 75 pages of notes and bibliography, this a serious reference work that deserves a place on the shelf of any astrologer who is interested in the history and philosophy of their craft. Even non-astrologers should find this of great interest, covering as it does a large swathe of early Western history, religion and philosophy.

Oh - and Druid astrology? On that subject, “There is a severe lack in our knowledge” writes Campion. And he should know.