Since the dawn of humanity, cultures around the world have looked to the sky in search of meaning and a better understanding of the self. This cosmological fascination birthed astrology, the most ancient of all esoteric practices. Introduced in Mesopotamia some 2,500 years ago, it still holds its appeal, continuing to fascinate poets, writers, and artists. From its ancient origins as astronomy’s sister science to our current Age of Aquarius, astrology has been supported by a rich visual culture. This is the subject of Astrology, the second volume in TASCHEN’s Library of Esoterica. The book delves deep into the visual language of astrology with 400 captivating images, from Egyptian temples and illuminated manuscripts to works by international contemporary artists.
Written by Andrea Richards and edited by Jessica Hundley, the book begins with prehistorical celestial sightings found in the 20,000-year-old Lascaux Cave paintings in France. It continues with works of art from the Chaldeans of Babylonia, ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Arabs. Modern and contemporary artists highlighted include Hilma af Klint, Alphonese Mucha, Arpita Singh, Manzel Bowman, Lu Hong, and many others. All of these works are arranged to mirror the movement of the planets and the wheel of the zodiac over the book’s 520 pages.
This volume of The Library of Esoterica also features a foreword by the popular astrologer Susan Miller — whose website is visited by millions every month — and interviews with other astrologers like Robert Hand, Jessica Lanyadoo, and Mecca Woods.
For centuries, astrology was synonymous with astronomy: The King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid at Giza was built to align with constellations; Persian scholars created some of the first observatories; and even Galileo, the father of modern physics, cast horoscopes for the Medicis. With the advent of the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, astrology was cast out from science to literature and art, influencing the likes of William Blake and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
“Astrology, whether perceived as a science, an art, a psychological tool, or a mass folly, has resonance and relevance to humankind,” writes Richards in a preface to the book. “It has inspired worship as a divinatory practice, with its practitioners changing the course of historical events; it has altered our understanding of our deepest selves and human possibilities.”
Immersed as we are in technology, astrology has seen a mainstream revival in recent years. With varying levels of belief, many of us remain drawn to the notion that the movement of celestial bodies could affect our terrestrial lives. Be it an outcome of these times of uncertainty or a way to cope with the angst of living, it’s clear that astrology gives us something that science and technological advancement can’t.
But for those who count on the stars to reveal their future to them, Miller includes an important reminder in her foreword: “This is a good time to mention that there is no fortune-telling or predestination in astrology, only influences that you can choose to take advantage of (or in the case of adverse aspects, prepare for) as they come up.”
Take a look at a few of the images from the book here.
Lebanese art dealer Georges Lotfi, who once helped authorities seize looted antiquities, is now accused of doing his own share of trafficking too.
An exhibition depicts how people have reimagined the medieval period in the centuries since, and how they have revealed their own interests and ideals with each new interpretation.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
During his 84-year life, Liu Shiming helped shape a new Chinese cultural image rooted in the contributions and sacrifices of everyday people.
Playing at several film festivals this late summer, Ana Vaz’s It Is Night in America asks the viewer to take on unusual perspectives.
Art and photographs, publications from the 19th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, posters and more are set to cross the auction block on August 18.
The sealant used for gem-crusted ancient Maya teeth had medicinal properties that prevent tooth infections and decay, according to a new study.
Patrons can listen to a collection of 400 titles at the library and borrow them for up to three weeks.
The Los Angeles-based photographer offers an updated version of the mythologized American cowboy, calling rodeos “the traditional drag of America.”
At its core Line Berg’s Fra Far manifests the anguish of a family whose loved one is convicted of a serious crime.
At first, simply watching people read In Search of Lost Time might seem dull; by the end, you’ll be itching to read or reread it yourself.