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Author Topic: THE RENAISSANCE  (Read 4074 times)
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« on: October 14, 2008, 09:57:23 am »


               Astrologer-astronomer Richard of Wallingford
               is shown measuring an equatorium with a pair
               of compasses in this 14th century work

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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2008, 10:04:07 am »

                                               T H E   R E N A I S S A N C E

During the Middle Ages astrologers were called mathematici.

Historically the term mathematicus was used to denote a person proficient in astrology, astronomy
and mathematics. Inasmuch as some practice of medicine was based to some extent on astrology, physicians learned some mathematics and astrology.

In the XIII century, Johannes de Sacrobosco (c. 1195 - 1256) and Guido Bonatti from Forlě (Italy)
were the most famous astronomers and astrologers in Great Britain (the first) and in Europe (the second): the book Liber Astronomicus by Bonatti was reputed "the most important astrological
work produced in Latin in the 13th century" (Lynn Thorndike).

Jerome Cardan (1501-1576) hated Martin Luther, and so changed his birthday in order to give him
an unfavourable horoscope. In Cardan's times, as in those of Augustus, it was a common practice
for men to conceal the day and hour of their birth, till, like Augustus, they found a complaisant astrologer.

During the Renaissance, a form of "scientific astrology" evolved in which court astrologers would compliment their use of horoscopes with genuine discoveries about the nature of the universe.
Many individuals now credited with having overturned the old astrological order, such as Galileo
Galilei, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, were themselves practising astrologers.

But, as a general rule, medieval and Renaissance astrologers did not give themselves the trouble
of reading the stars, but contented themselves with telling fortunes by faces. They practised chiromancy (also known as palmistry), and relied on afterwards drawing a horoscope to suit.

As physiognomists (see physiognomy) their talent was undoubted, and according to Lucilio Vanini
there was no need to mount to the house-top to cast a nativity.

"Yes," he says, "I can read his face; by his hair and his forehead it is easy to guess that the sun
at his birth was in the sign of Libra and near Venus. Nay, his complexion shows that Venus touches Libra. By the rules of astrology he could not lie."
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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2008, 10:11:49 am »

Historical proponents of astrology

The influence of the Medici made astrologers popular in France.

Richelieu, on whose council was Jacques Gaffarel (1601-1681), the last of the Kabbalists, did not despise astrology as an engine of government.

At the birth of Louis XIV a certain Morin de Villefranche was placed behind a curtain to cast the nativity of the future autocrat. A generation back the astrologer would not have been hidden behind a curtain, but have taken precedence over the doctor.

La Bruyčre dares not pronounce against such beliefs, "for there are perplexing facts affirmed by grave men who were eye-witnesses."

In England William Lilly and Robert Fludd were both dressed in a little brief authority. The latter gives
us elaborate rules for the detection of a thief, and tells us that he has had personal experience of their efficacy. "If the lord of the sixth house is found in the second house, or in company with the lord of the second house, the thief is one of the family. If Mercury is in the sign of the Scorpion he will be bald, &c."

Francis Bacon abuses the astrologers of his day no less than the alchemists, but he does so because he has visions of a reformed astrology and a reformed alchemy.

Sir Thomas Browne, too, while he denies the capacity of the astrologers of his day, does not venture to dispute the reality of the science. The idea of the souls of men passing at death to the stars, the blessedness of their particular sphere being assigned them according to their deserts (the metempsychosis of J. Reynaud), may be regarded as a survival of religious astrology, which, even as late as Descartes's day, assigned to the angels the task of moving the planets and the stars.

Joseph de Maistre believed in comets as messengers of divine justice, and in animated planets, and declared that divination by astrology is not an absolutely chimerical science.

Kepler was cautious in his opinion; he spoke of astronomy as the wise mother, and astrology as the foolish daughter, but he added that the existence of the daughter was necessary to the life of the mother.

Kepler may have said this with the cynical meaning that the "foolish" work of astrology paid for the serious work of astronomy - as, at the time, the main motivation to fund advancements in astronomy was the desire for better, more accurate astrological predictions.
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2008, 10:15:56 am »


"You shouldn't dismiss as incredible the possibility that a long enough search might reveal

a golden grain of truth in astrological superstition." --

Johannes Kepler

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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2008, 10:19:42 am »


 An image of a 'zodiac man', showing the parts of the body governed by the various signs of the zodiac.
Image by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Astrology - belief in the physical influence of planetary rays on earth - is one of the most important historical contexts in which astronomy developed.

Astrology served as a motivation as well as a means of gainful employment for astronomers.

The Babylonians meticulously compiled tablets of the position of Venus, as it was believed to signify omens for weather, war, famine, diseases, rulers and kingdoms.

Ptolemy composed the Tetrabiblos, believing that astrology could be placed on a rational footing, despite being a conjectural art like medicine.

In practice, belief in astrology meant that horoscopes were cast for new-born children, prospective spouses and political enemies, public buildings were opened and marriage and other ceremonies conducted on auspicious days. Numerous records of astrological practice can be found from the Roman times.

Several important Arabic authors on astronomy, such as al-Kindi, Masha'allah and Abu Ma 'Shar were astrologers: Abraham ibn Ezra and Ibn Yunus discussed astrology in a scholarly manner.

In the Latin West, the terms astrology and astronomy were interchangeable for a long time.

In the arts faculties of medieval universities, the theory of planetary motion of Sacrobosco, Ptolemy and Gerard
of Cremona (later Georg Peurbach) was always taught alongside guides for interpreting the influence of planetary configurations, through texts such as Alchabitius' Introduction to Astrology, Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos and Centiloquium and Albumazar's Great Conjunctions.

Johannes Kepler believed that he could set astrology onto a surer footing, and his astrological beliefs were fundamental to his heliocentric cosmology.
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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2008, 10:26:56 am »

It is important to remember that one of the important reasons for studying astrology in the Latin West was medicine: parts of medical prognosis and treatment were determined by astrological information.

For instance, whether a disease 'turned' (on 'critical days') better or worse depended on the state of the patient's body and whether it was an astrologically favourable moment.

Bloodletting, a medical treatment intended to rectify the imbalance of bodily humours, was regulated
by the position of the moon, which was considered to exert greatest influence over the human body.

For instance, every sign of the zodiac was considered to rule a part of the human body:
the Saggitarius ruled the thighs, Pisces the feet, and so on.

When the moon was in the zodiac ruling a particular part of the body, bloodletting from that part was to be avoided, since the attraction of the moon might cause excessive bleeding. Numerous medical manuscripts and almanacs include the figure of the 'zodiac man' as a reminder of the specific influence of the moon. In addition, the power of the moon's pulling power varied by its phases, and thus almanacs usually showed the phases of the moon.

Thus, students of medicine at Bologna, for instance, learnt astrology for four years, including grounding in Euclid's geometry and Ptolemy's Almagest.

In addition, they learnt how to use instruments such as the astrolabe and the quadrant, and were taught how to use the Alfonsine Tables along with their canons.

The instruction to use astronomical tables indicates that students, or future practitioners of medicine were not expected to calculate afresh planetary positions each time they needed to make a prognosis or conduct blood-letting.

Several manuscripts for physicians contain short-cut tables or volvelles (paper discs) in order to establishing planetary positions and phases of the moon. More frequently, practitioners relied on calendars which listed the necessary astrological information.

Thus mathematics professors at Bologna were required to compile the official prognostication in order
to ensure the dissemination of proper and accurate astrological knowledge. The need for some mastery in astrology for the study of medicine explains why so many teachers of mathematics or astronomy had medical degrees or went on to become physicians, including the most famous astrologer of the Early Modern period, Nostrodamus.

The works of Copernicus and Regiomontanus, and contemporary expectations and reactions to them, also needs to be understood in this light: developments in astronomy were inextricably linked with, and were believed to have, implications for astrology. Astronomical developments did not necessarily mean the demise of astrology.
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2008, 10:34:24 am »

Outside the university walls, the belief in planetary powers was wide-spread enough that rulers retained their own court astrologers.

Frederick II (1194-1250) employed Michael Scot, Federigo da Montefeltro (Duke: 1468-82) Paul of Middelburg, and Rudolf II Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler in succession. Galileo Galilei, as courtier was also expected to meet the astrological needs of the prince.

Tracts and pamphlets came to be written, blaming astrological configurations for social upheavals or diseases, such as the Black Death, the Sack of Rome, the Peasants' War, the split of the Church, outbreak of syphilis.

Prognostications in the vernacular flooded sixteenth-century Europe, foretelling terrible weather,
major floods, political unrest and the coming of the Anti-Christ. Comets were eagerly studied as
signs portending disaster.

Novelties in the heavens were scrutinised for their influences and meanings on earthly matters.
Belief in the power of the heavens became part of a world-view; poems were written and meta-
phors developed in the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, to name only the most famous.

The supreme and central power of the sun was successfully employed as an image of kingship by
the advisors to Louis XIV, the 'Sun-King'.

It should also be remembered there were many who objected to astrology in one way or another.
The profusion of astrologers, their practice of divination and forecasting the future alarmed Christians as well as Muslims, who saw them as implying a deterministic world-view in which God would loose his omnipotence and humans their free will.

Constantine thus made divination a capital offence in 357, a ban repeated in 373 and 409; Augustine spoke out vociferously against it in his City of God. Avicenna, Al-Farabi and Averroes all objected to certain astrological practices. Important critiques of astrology in the Latin West included Nicole Oresme, Thomas Bradwardine, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and Martin Luther.

In 1586, Gregory XIII issued a Bull against astrologers, confirming existing prohibitions against predictions of fortuitous events or events depending on human will.

However, predictions based on nature and of use to medicine, agriculture and navigation were still permitted.
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2008, 10:37:03 am »

                                                           Recommended Reading

Eugenio Garin, Astrology in the Renaissance: the zodiac of life, trans. Carolyn Jackson and June Allen,
rev. Clare Robertson, London, Boston, 1983

Stephen Pumfrey, Paolo Rossi and Maurice Slawinski (eds), Science, Culture and Popular Belief in Renaissance Europe, Manchester 1991

Further Texts

Tamsyn Barton, Ancient Astrology, London and New York, 1994

Peter Burke, The fabrication of Louis XIV, New Haven, 1992

Keith Hutchison, 'Towards a political iconology of the Copernican revolution', in Patrick Curry (ed), Astrology, Science and Society: historical essays, Woodbridge, 1987, 95-141.

S. Kusukawa, 'Aspectio divinorum operum: Melanchthon and Astrology for Lutheran Medics', in Ole Grell and A. R. Cunningham (eds), Medicine and the Reformation, London, 1993, pp. 33-56

Ottavia Niccoli, Prophecy and people in Renaissance Italy, trans. by Lydia G. Cochrane, Princeton, 1990.

John North, The Fontana History of Astronomy and Cosmology, London, 1994

Olaf Pedersen, 'The Corpus Astronomicum and the traditions of medieval Latin astronomy', Studia Copernicana 3 (1975), 57-96.

James Randi, The mask of Nostradamus, New York, 1990, an amusing, if popular, anatomy of Nostradamus' success.

Nancy Siraisi, Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine, Chicago 1990, for medical astrology.

R. S. Westman, 'The astronomer's role in the sixteenth century: a preliminary study', History of Science 18 (1980), 105-47.

Lynn Thorndike, University Records and Life in the Middle Ages, New York, 1944, for the University of Bologna.

Lynn Thorndike, A history of magic and experimental science, New York: Macmillan, 1923-58, 8 vols, still the best compilation of astrology, its practice and critics.

P. Zambelli (ed.), 'Astrologi Hallucinati': Stars and the End of the World in Luther's Time, Berlin and New York, 1986.

Sachiko Kusukawa

and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science
of the University of Cambridge
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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2008, 10:46:43 am »

                                     Astrology In Medieval And Renaissance Europe

Astrology declined, rose, and declined again during the Latin Middle Ages and Renaissance.

During the early middle ages, the early Christian hostility towards astrology and the decline of education in Greek led to the near-disappearance of astrology.

It was re-introduced during the twelfth century when a great variety of Greek philosophical and scientific texts were translated from Arabic. Of course, Arabic language commentaries and original works were translated as well.

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw the first translations directly from Greek, notably Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, and the Renaissance of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries became one of the great ages of astrology. Astrology declined, however, with the rise of modern science in the late seventeenth century.

Allen, Don Cameron, The Star-Crossed Renaissance: The Quarrel about Astrology and its Influence in England (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1941) {Good survey.}

Blazekovic, Zdravko, Music in Medieval and Renaissance astrological imagery. (PhD Thesis, City University of New York, 1997. Photocopy. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI, 1998. [UMI 9807907] ) {Includes bibliographical references (pp. 523-45) and index of manuscripts.}

Calvin, John, An Admonicion Against Astrology Judiciall and Other Curiosities (London: Roulande Hall, 1561; University Microfilms, # 11404) {Calvin brings out all the classic anti- astrological arguments, emphasizing its conflict with free will (!). He uses the same arguments as Augustine.}

Capp, Bernard, Astrology and the Popular Press: English Almanacs, 1500-1800 (London & Boston: Faber & Faber, 1979) {An excellent social history. Almanacs were the major media of the day, for astrology and much else. Almanacs primarily predicted weather, but also political events.}

Carey, Hilary M., Courting Disaster. Astrology at the English Court and University in the Later Middle Ages (Houndsmills, Hampshire, UK, and London: Macmillan, 1992) {A good dissertation on astrology in medieval English politics. Very good bibliography.}

Cross, F. L. and Livingston, E. A., eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., (London, Oxford, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1974) {Short article, which referred me to Augustine's City of God. Augustine's influence, they say, suppressed astrology in Latin Europe down to the thirteenth century, when it was re-introduced the Islamic world.}

Dee, Dr. John, The Private Diary of, and the Catalogue of his Library of Manuscripts, from the original Manuscripts in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford and Trinity College Library, Cambridge. ed. J. O. Halliwell (London, England, 1842) {"This Diary contains much fascinating material on the life, views and methods of Queen Elizabeth the great's leading astrologer, John Dee. The Appendix, which is a list of his Astrological, and other occult MSS is NOT aimed at works in English, for Dee was the master of many languages, but it constitutes the first attempt at a Bibliography of astrological books in the English speaking world. Dee is perhaps most famous for his attempts to contact the spirit world using a crystal, and his recording of the "Enochean" language and alphabet, but he was a serious historian, astrologer and mathematician in addition to his addiction to a primitive form of seance." --Win Rowe. Dee had a European reputation; the Emperor Rudolph and Ivan the Terrible competed to hire him. He was an important mathematician as well as astrologer, and was the first to translate Euclid's Geometry into English.}

Flint, Valerie I. J., The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991) {BF 1593.F45 1991. Magic and astrology made acceptable to Latin Medieval Christians in same ways I think it was to Late Antique Jews: the planets were interpreted as angels carrying out God's commands. Good bibliography, good ideas, but very poorly written.}

Fludd, Dr. Robert, Utriusque Cosmi Maioris scilicet et Minoris Metaphysica Physica Atque Technica Historia, (Frankfurt: Oppenheim, 1617) {Classic excursus on the Hellenistic/medieval/renaissance cosmology; particularly famous for its marvelous copper-plate engravings}

French, Peter J., John Dee; The World of an Elizabethan Magus (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972; repr. as paperback, 1984) {A good biography of the famous astrologer.}

Kepler, Johann, De fundamentis astrologiae certioribus, 1602 {Kepler, the great astronomer, also practiced astrology. In this work he rejects many traditional aspects of astrology, such as the houses and zodiac signs, and emphasizes aspects, the angular relationships between the planets.}

Kepler, Johann, Concerning the More Certain Fundamentals of Astrology (Edmonds, WA: Sure Fire Press, 1987) {An English translation of above.}

Klibansky, R., Panofsky, E., and Saxl, F., Saturn and Melancholy (London: 1964) {An interpretation of Albrecht Dürer's print "Melancolia I," in light of astrological medicine.}

Lewis, C. S., The Discarded Image (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964) {Excellent survey of medieval and Renaissance intellectual commonplaces, such as the powers of the planets. Lewis is particularly good in that he emphasizes what a motley collection of books medieval people inherited, and the distinctive way in which they interpreted and reconciled them.}

Lilly, William, An Introduction to Astrology, ed. Zadkiel [pseudonym] (London: G. Bell, 1907) {Lilly was the most famous astrologer in seventeenth century England, with a great deal of political influence during the English Civil War. "Zadkiel" was the re-founder of modern astrology in the nineteenth century, according to Howe, 1968.}

Lilly, William, An Introduction to Astrology, reprinted (Hollywood CA, Newcastle Books, 1972) {"This William Lilly's most famous work, and the standard text for the Horary tradition. Pretty much all Horary work begins here. Absolutely essential." --Win Rowe. It is largely based on Abu Ma'shar's works. Lilly was a "Hermetic" astrologer, the last of the magi. Astrology went out of intellectual fashion after his death, and later proponents have tried to use the methods of modern science.}

Lilly, William, The Last of the Astrologers, ed. K. M. Briggs (London: Folklore Society, Mistletoe Books, 1974) {First printed 1602-81. +IU. Cavendish, Magic, 1977, 170. Lilly's autobiography. "This is a reprint of William Lilly's autobiography, which is valuable in assessing the sincerity of a typical astrological publicist, popularizer, and practitioner in the last century of its involvement in ordinary public life in England." --Win Rowe. Compare Parker's 1975 biography}

Nowoty, K. A., "Construction of Certain Seals and Characters in the Work of Agrippa von Netesheim," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 12 (1949): pages 46-57 {Magic squares symbolizing the planets in amulets traced to Sabians. Extensive notes.}

Parker, Derek, Familiar to All. William Lilly and Astrology in the Seventeenth Century (London: J. Cape, 1975) {A biography of England's most important astrologer.}

Picatrix: The Latin Version of the Ghayat Al-Hakim, ed. David Pingree (London: Warburg Institute, University of London, 1986) {Very good. Pingree promises a second volume with Renaissance Italian, French, and English translations.}

Pingree, David, "Between the Ghaya and Picatrix I: The Spanish Version," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 44 (1981): pages 27-56 {On fragments of a twelfth century Spanish translation. Spanish and Latin text in parallel columns. Contains a useful account of how medieval translations were actually made.}

Rowse, A. L., Sex and Society in Shakespeare's Age: Simon Forman the Astrologer (NY: Scribner's, 1976) {Simon Foreman was Lilly's teacher, and quite an interesting character in his own right. Rowse puts Forman's astrological sex diaries to good use. Compare Parker, Familiar to All.}

Seznec, Jean, The Survival of the Pagan Gods. The Mythological Tradition and its Place in Renaissance Humanism and Art, tr. from the French by Barbara F. Sessoins, Bollingen Series 38 (Pantheon Books, 1953) {French edition, Warburg Inst. Studies Vol. 11, London: Warburg Institute, 1940. Very good account of astrological symbolism in use in the Latin Middle Ages and the Renaissance.}

Shumaker, Wayne, The Occult Sciences in the Renaissance. A Study in Intellectual Patterns (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: U. of CA Pr., 1972) {A good introduction to Renaissance occultism in general. The first chapter is on astrology. Shumaker deserves praise for the unusual step of explicitly stating his own skeptical views of the occult, in the foreword. Well illustrated with reproductions of Renaissance woodcuts.}

Strauss, H. A., and Strauss-Klöbe, S., Die Astrologie des Johannes Kepler. Eine Auswahl aus seinen Schriften (1926) {The famous Renaissance scientist was also a prominent astrologer.}

Thomas, Keith, Religion and the Decline of Magic (London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1971) {A well-known, good, survey. Magic declined with the rise of Protestantism.}

Turner, Robert, Elizabethan Magic: The Art and the Magus, fwd. by Colin Wilson (Longmead, Dorset, UK: Element Books, Ltd., 1989) {A basic introduction to careers of Dee, Forman, Fludd, et al. Moderately good.}

Vicente-Garcia, Luis Miguel, La Astrologia En El Cristianismo Y En La Literatura Medieval Castellana. Edicion De La Octava Parte Inedita Del 'Libro Conplido En Los Juyzios De Las Estrellas' (University of California, Los Angeles: doctoral dissertation, 1989) {abstract: This dissertation brings to light an unedited medieval manuscript, the eighth part of the Libro conplido en los juyzios de las estrellas, found in the Cathedral of Segovia's archives. The edition of the manuscript is preceded by a study that highlights the attitude of Christian thinkers toward astrology and demonstrates how this attitude manifested itself in medieval Castilian literature}

Wright, Peter William George, Astrology in Mid-Seventeenth Century England. A Sociological Analysis (London, UK: University of London, Dissertation, 1983) {The author studies the social uses and milieu of astrology, and reasons for its decline in late seventeenth century. Astrology did not die because of the new astronomy.}
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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2008, 02:21:35 pm »

Roman statue of Urania from Churriana (nowadays part of Málaga, Spain), sculpted in marble between the end of the 2nd and the 1st century BC. It is at the National Archaeological Museum of Spain, in Madrid.

                                        Urania was the muse of Astronomy and Astrology

At her feet there is a celestial sphere, symbol that represents her. The sculpture was made in the city of Rome and decorated the peristyle or the garden of a villa near Malaca (present-day Málaga).
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2008, 09:41:44 am »

                                       HISTORY OF ASTROLOGY IN THE RENAISSANCE


                                                       This series of articles


                                                         Originally Published

                                                                 IN THE

                                                        Mountain Astrologer

                                                     October/November 2002

Along with literature, painting and sculpture, the art of astrology reached new heights in the rebirth
of classical culture in the European Renaissance of 1450-1700.

The Renaissance philosopher and astrologer Marsilio Ficino, writing in 1492, proclaimed,

"This century, like a golden age, has restored to light the liberal arts, which were almost extinct:

grammar, poetry, rhetoric, painting, sculpture, architecture, music...this century appears to have

perfected [astrology]."

Quoted in Peter & Linda Murray, The Art of the Renaissance

(London, Thames & Hudson, 1963) page 7.

Several contrasting trends were manifest in Renaissance astrology.

There was a tendency towards the adoption of Hellenistic astrological techniques and a new emphasis on the Greek astrologer Ptolemy, alongside a continuation of medieval astrology largely derived from Islam.

There were also efforts to rationalize and improve the accuracy of astrology, although many astrologers persisted in their accustomed ways.

Astrology also became more popular than ever with the adoption of printing and the dissemination of almanacs, yet it increasingly came under fire as the Renaissance gave way to the Enlightenment.
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2008, 09:57:05 am »

                                               The Arabic and Medieval Legacy

Astrology flourished in Europe during the Hellenistic period from 300 B.C. to 1 A.D. and under the Roman Empire from its foundation in the first century A.D. until its fall in the 5th century. With the subsequent barbarian invasions and the disintegration of the Roman system of learning, astrology all but disappeared from Europe.

While a good deal of learning was conserved by the eastern Christian Byzantine Empire, it is to the advanced Islamic civilization of the Middle East that we owe the preservation and further development of Greek and Roman astrology. Moreover, while they wrote in Arabic, many astrologers of the Islamic civilization were Persians, Jews and pagan Harranian Sabians. This lent a new diversity to astrology in sources, techniques and philosophy.

Al-Biruni Islamic

Scientist & Astrologer

The development of astrology in the Middle East followed a course with considerable continuity, but there were some significant changes from Hellenistic and Roman practice. One of these changes was the adoption of house systems and aspect orbs. Greek and Roman astrologers appear primarily to have used the whole sign or sign-house system.

In the whole sign system, no matter what the degree of the rising sign, it is considered to be the first house, the second sign is the second house and so forth.

One corollary of Al-Biruni on the 12 Houses 

the whole sign house system is that aspects are sign to sign such that a planet in Aries is considered to be in sextile to a planet in Gemini and Aquarius, square to planets in Cancer and Capricorn, etc.
Arabic astrologers, by contrast, adopted various house systems, including the Porphyry and Alcabitius systems, which broke the one-to-one correspondence of sign and house. These new practices initiated a controversy over the proper choice of house system that has continued through the present day.
As a result of the adoption of these house systems, Arabic astrologers also began to use aspects based on degrees rather than signs. Thus, if a planet were at 5 degrees of Aries and another planet at 25 degrees of Gemini, they were no longer considered to be in a sextile aspect.

William Lilly's
Orb Table 

Along with the utilization of aspects using degrees rather than signs, came the introduction of zones of influence or orbs, consisting of a set number of degrees in which the aspect is effective both before and after the exact degree of the aspect. Unlike modern practice where each aspect has a particular orb in Arabic astrology each planet had its own orb.

More Information on
Orbs & Aspects 

In addition to adopting orbs and aspects based on degrees rather than signs Arabic astrologers also began using a very complex system of separating and applying aspects and such arcane relationships as translation, abscission and collection of light, refrenation, prohibition and frustration. These changes allowed them to extract a great deal of information regarding the interaction, both past and present of the planets involved.

Arabic astrology represented a heady mix of Persian, Hebrew, Harranian Sabian and Hindu astrologies, though its basis was Greek and Roman astrology. This core of classical astrology, as further developed by the Arabic astrologers, was then transmitted to the West as part of the "new science" in the twelfth and thirteen centuries.

As medieval civilization grew in size and complexity, the necessary knowledge to erect and delineate charts became more widely dispersed and employed. It became commonplace, particularly in the advanced city-states of northern Italy, for nobles, kings and the wealthy bourgeoisie to consult astrologers for guidance in their affairs. Astrology was taught at many universities and was a generally accepted part of the medieval world view, metaphysics and philosophy. Thus, Greek and Roman astrology, modified by Arabic practice and passed on to Europe in the Middle Ages, became the astrology of the Renaissance.
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2008, 10:00:36 am »

                                             The Revival of Ptolemaic Astrology

These articles on the history of astrology in the Renaissance were originally published in the Mountain Astrologer. You can start the series at the Astrology in the Renaissance Main Page.

The Trend toward Ptolemaic Astrology

One of the most characteristic components of the Renaissance was the trend towards humanism, a revival of classical knowledge.

This rediscovery of the knowledge of antiquity also took place in astrology; astrologers increasingly turned to Ptolemy as the exemplar of "true" classical astrology.

Claudius Ptolemy was an Alexandrian Greek who lived in the 2nd century A.D. His Tetrabiblos, a
basic text of astrology, was always highly regarded, but during the Renaissance, astrologers began
to consider it canonical and to reject any astrological doctrine or technique that it did not include.

Some branches of astrology, like horary and electional, or techniques like firdaria were branded
"Arabic inventions" because they do not appear in Tetrabiblos. (Ironically, some modern scholars
have speculated that Ptolemy was not even a practicing astrologer, noting that he provided no examples and fails to mention such basic techniques as the influences of the planets in the signs
and houses.)
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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2008, 10:03:45 am »

                                                Rationalizing and Refining Astrology

Along with a revival of classical astrology, the Renaissance saw many efforts to test and refine astrology. Many astrologers began to systematically collect and annotate natal charts in an effort to systematize and increase the quality of delineation.

The work of Italian astrologer Luca Gaurico was typical of these efforts. In 1552 he published his Tractatus Astrologicus which gave charts of the foundation of various buildings and cities as well as the natal charts of popes, cardinals and other eminent religious leaders, kings and nobles, scholars, musicians and artists.

Gaurico carefully examined each natal chart, compared it to the life of the native, and in the case of living subjects, predicted the outcome of their lives and careers.

Lynn Thorndike, History of Magic and Experimental Science, Vol. IV, page 100 (New York, Columbia, 1941).

Many astrologers published their own collections of natal charts, and popular interest in the nativities and futures of the kings, popes and other eminent persons featured made for a number of Renaissance "best sellers".

Renaissance astrologers also made numerous advances in technique.

A number of new house systems including the Campanus and Regiomantanus systems were invented or more widely dispersed. New ephemerides were compiled, increasing the accuracy of chart ****.
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« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2008, 10:05:38 am »

Ironically, Copernicus, who is considered by modern skeptics to have disproved astrology by discovering heliocentric astronomy, made a major contribution to astrology. Based on Copernicus' work, Erasmus Reinhold in 1551 published new astronomical tables, known as the Prutenic Tables, which greatly aided astrologers in the accuracy of their computations.

Similarly, while Johann Kepler is renowned by modern scientists as an astronomer, he practiced as an astrologer, and in 1627 published the Rudolphine Tables which further improved the accuracy of astrological prediction and delineation.
One of the most ambitious projects to advance and rationalize astrology was undertaken by the French astrologer Jean Baptiste Morin. His Astrologica Gallica, published in 1661, is a monumental work and provides a philosophical and rational basis for astrology as well as a complete system of delineation.

Morin carefully examined astrological doctrine, discarding those portions he found to be inaccurate or ineffectual and substituting his own methods, based upon his own systemic theory or experience. Morin systematically dealt with directions, revolutions of nativities and of years, progressions, transits, planetary conjunctions, eclipses, comets, as well as horary and electional astrology. It is unfortunate that only portions of Astrologia Gallica have been translated into English, given its great scope and penetrating insights.
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