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(II.) HISTORY - The Prestigious Planets

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Author Topic: (II.) HISTORY - The Prestigious Planets  (Read 370 times)
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« on: August 17, 2007, 02:13:56 pm »

Hermes was supposed to have devised an astrological system of his own, and among the Hermetic books was, apparently, one on medical astrology, another on the decans (including a detailed catalogue going back beyond 150 BC), one on zodiacal plants, and one on the astrological degrees. Hermes' writings are quoted freely by many later astrologers, including Thrasyllus, perhaps the most influential of all astrologers of Imperial Rome, Antiochus of Athens, and Sarapion, a pupil of Hipparchus, the Greek astronomer.

To what extent pieces of the original texts have survived - and obviously there were original texts, whether or not they were written by Hermes - it is difficult to say; large claims have been made (and not only by the ancients, at that). Some fragments of very early astrological texts have come down to us, via the Greeks. In the 5th century AD; a Latin text, Liber Hermetis, translated from the Greek, gives a muddled mixture of theory about the decans, conjunctions, the meanings of certain planets in certain signs, and advice on personal matters - how to predict the day of death, useful or difficult days, marriage, duration of life - which seems to derive from a very early original. It pays special attention to the decans: the third decan of Gemini is responsible for muscular pains, the first of Virgo controls the stomach, the first of Cancer the heart, and so on. It is in this text that the Astrological Man makes his first appearance: onto a figure of the body is imposed the zodiac circle, straightened out - the first sign, Aries, at the head, and the last, Pisces, at the feet. Between them various parts of the body fall under the influence of the signs in their order. It is a system still used today, although with some amendments: Libra for instance is now said to 'rule' the kidneys, whereas Hermes claimed it affected the buttocks.

A passage from the Liber Hermetis will do very well to summarize the general attitude to astrology as it was when the Chaldeans had passed it on to the Greeks as a systemized whole:

Man is called by the informed, a World, since he is wholly correspondent with the World's nature. Indeed at the moment of conception there spurts from the seven planets a whole complex of rays that bear on each part of the man. And the same thing happens at the birth-hour, according to the position of the twelve signs. Thus the Ram is called the head, and the head's sense-organs are shared out among the seven planets. The right eye goes to the Sun, the left to the Moon, and ears to Saturn, the brain to Jupiter, the tongue and uvula to Mercury, smelling and taste to Venus, all the blood-vessels to Mars.
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