Though it's currently experiencing a resurgence in pop culture, astrology has been around for millennia and its basic tenet — looking to the sky for guidance — has been a practice since humans were, well, humans. In ancient Mesopotamia, Babylonians mapped out the sky and began to chart Jupiter's annual trek through the 12 zodiac constellations. They noted the characteristics of babies born "beneath" each sign, and used the sky as a divination practice.
The Ancient Greeks then took up the mantle of astrology around 600 B.C., refining it and adding shape to the still-recognizable practice we engage in today. Following the collapse of Alexandria around the 7th century, the Islamic Empire adopted astrology, maintaining and expanding it. By the time the European Renaissance rolled around, astrology was already considered an ancient practice.
It was around this time period when the split between astrology and astronomy happened. For centuries, the two schools of thought had collectively fallen under the umbrella of "astrology" — it was a divination practice, sure, but it was also considered a science. But as science continued to move forward, certain practitioners could no longer abide by the "as above, so below" premise of astrology. Hence the rift and the continued, uh, tension.
Today, astrology has become increasingly popular among younger generations. Major news outlets have found a way of connecting to readers through their signs. So, is astrology "real"? That's not really the right question. What astrology fosters is a curiosity about others — their actions, their history, their motivations. It encourages people to look, honestly, at themselves. And also it's so, so useful when you're trying to figure out what to get someone as a gift for the holidays.