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(X.) HISTORY - Towards the Dark

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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2007, 07:54:16 am »








In America, the situation was rather similar. Some attention was paid to the subject at the universities at the turn of the century.

Charles Morton, who had been educated at Oxford during the English Civil War, and left the country in 1686 to become a Presbyterian minister at Charlestown, Massachusetts, had his Compendium physicae accepted at Harvard, where it formed the basis of the study of modern science. While forcefully denying the fortune-telling aspects of astrology, Morton examined the connection between the planets and meteorology, and the influence of their movements on the human body and mind.


"On the whole matter [he concluded], I judge that as to weather and temperatures of our bodies with relations to health or sickness by good observations of prudent and philosophical minds, a useful knowledge might be framed; but for all the rest that is pretended the books written about them might make a curious bonfire according to the primitive pattern ....."


Other Harvard men showed some interest: for instance Samuel Willard, its vice-president between 1701 and 1707, and John Leverett, his successor. Willard pointed out that 'astrologers have had their predictions, that do sometimes fall out right' (a cautious approbation, if approbation it was).

Isaac Greenwood, Harvard's first Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, replaced Morton's Compendium in 1728 with his own Philosophical discourse concerning the mutability and change of the natural world, in which, disapproving ofjudicial astrology, he nevertheless asserted that
tides are produced in the ocean, winds in the atmosphere, many changes in inanimate and animate bodies, and in the human economy itself. Astrology seems to have a philosophical foundation, and we know not how many wonders and mysteries may be the genuine effects of this great alternative in nature.
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« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2007, 07:56:12 am »








Through the 18th century Harvard took this cautiously positive attitude, accepting in 1762 a master's thesis which argued that 'the heavenly bodies produce certain changes in the bodies of animals', and publicly asserting that the time was speedily coming when Virginia would 'surpass the Greeks in philosophy, the Egyptians in geometry, the Phoenicians in arithmetic, and Chaldeans in astrology.'

Yale was not behind Harvard in its toleration of astrological studies. Samuel Johnson, who graduated from that university in 1714 to become a Congregationalist minister, included an essay in his Revised Encyclopaedia of 1716 on 'The starry heavens and their power and influences for the subject of astrology', and though in 1718 a Yale thesis was arguing that 'all the predictions of the astrologers with regard to future contingent events are fallacious and vain', this was an attack on judicial rather than on 'natural' astrology.

As to educated opinion among non-academics, this may perhaps be deduced from an article in Chambers's Cyclopaedia, so commonly read, which also attacked judicial astrology as 'superstition', but left natural astrology unrebuked, although pointing out that it was 'only to be deduced, a posteriori, from phaenomena and observations.'

Those who did not have Chambers on their bookshelves certainly for the most part had an almanac or two; these were almost as common, and in much the same vein, as the English almanacs of the same period. But there was an additional emphasis on agriculture and meteorology. Culpepper was extremely popular, and as late as the middle of the 18th century the most common medical 'textbook' in the American home was his London Dispensatory.

As time went on, this was attacked - in particular by Cotton Mather, the Congregational minister and author, who while splendidly gullible about such matters as angels and mermaids, had some kind of natural antipathy to astrology (mainly on religious grounds) and argued that to suppose that the efficacy of certain herbs was in any way enhanced by their being picked at certain times was 'a folly akin to the idolatry and superstition of the Roman-Catholics, in looking to saints, for their influences on our several diseases.'
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« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2007, 07:58:00 am »








American farmers in the 17th and 18th centuries seem to have paid special attention to astrological and veterinary advice: an almanac argued that 'for the better success in letting blood, taking physick, cutting of cattle, sheep and hogs, it's necessary to know where, or in what part of the body the sign is', and in The Husbandman's Magazine of 1718, John Smith set it down that horses should be gelded 'in the wain of the Moon, the signs being either in Virgo or Aries' and that 'Candlemas (observing it to be in the increase of the Moon) is the best time to let your sows be covered.'

The efficient American farmer must have lived his life entirely according to the zodiac and the planets, if we are to believe the magazines of the period; in 1712 The Husbandman's Guide advised its readers to 'geld sheep and other cattle the Moon being in Aries, Sagittarius or Capricorn. Sheer sheep the Moon increasing in Taurus, Virgo or Libra, and their fleeces will grow the thicker and faster, the like observed in cutting hair; and if the Moon be in a friendly aspect to Venus 'tis much better.'

Fifty years later The Citizen's and Countryman's Experienced Farrier advised farmers who wanted 'to get horse colts' to 'take your mare to the horse before the full of the Moon, and when the sign is a female. To get mare colts, cover after the full, and in the male signs.'

There was horticultural advice too - (trees should be set and dug up in winter, 'especially at new Moon', fruit trees planted and grafted when the Moon was waxing, transplanted trees set when it was waning - for the waning Moon helped a plant send its root downwards, while the waxing Moon helped a plant to grow upward), and some personal ('it is good to bathe the Moon being in Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn; it is best bathing two or three days after, or at the full of the Moon').
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« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2007, 07:59:52 am »







There was opposition, of course, from those who found it ludicrous that 'in many parts of the country ... a citizen will not castrate a lamb or a pig, nor suffer himself nor any of his family to be bled from the arm, without inspecting the almanac in the first place, to find what the philomath who compiled it has certified for the astral and lunar influence on the body for that day.' But there was some serious study, too; in 1764 a Dr James Greenhill was correlating the fits experienced by an epileptic slave with the changes of the Moon, and a number of other doctors had received astrological training and used it in treating their patients.

Samuel Deane, a respected agriculturist, published his theory on the effects of the planets on fruit-tree growth in The New England Farmer, or Georgic Dictionary (1797):

Some may think it whimsical to gather apples on the day of the full Moon. But, as we know both animals and vegetables are influenced by the Moon in some cases, why may we not suppose a greater quantity of spirit is sent up into the fruit, when the attraction of the heavenly bodies is greatest? If so, I gather my apples at the time of their greatest perfection, when they have most in them that tends to their preservation ...


There were a few consultant astrologers practising in America at this time: Joseph Stafford of Rhode Island, Nathaniel Low of Boston, John Jarman, Nathaniel Ames and Daniel Leeds of Philadelphia, John Tobler of North Carolina. Low and Ames were rivals in the first half of the 18th century, Ames claiming to have foretold the death of George II and the victories of George III's forces in the French and Indian war, while Low warned, on the eve of the French and American revolutions, that certain planetary aspects 'may stir up great politicians in contriving new ways and methods of regulating the affairs of governments.'

Eventually, the polymath Benjamin Franklin disposed of Leeds by emulating the prank played by Swift on Isaac Bickerstaff: he predicted Leeds's death, 'proved' it, and ran the poor man out of business despite all his protestations that he was still alive and well.
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« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2007, 08:01:22 am »








There is not much information about the practices of these American astrologers, but a contemporary diary reveals at least that on Rhode Island privateers were consulting astrologers about the time at which they should set sail (though two of them, advised to sail on Friday, 24 December, did so in the middle of a snowstorm and went down with all hands); merchants seem to have employed astrologers similarly - and even Franklin himself did so, on one occasion.

In general, although there were several different emphases, astrology in America (like much else) was broadly imitative of astrology in Britain; there, as in the mother country, astrologers relied on the popularity of their almanacs to keep them afloat.

Since the earliest days of the printed almanac, it had been the case that the livelier an astrologer's pen was, the more success he had; Lilly's popular success was in a very large measure due to his pawky, roistering style.

At the end of the 18th century, when natural scepticism made the simple provision of predictions unacceptable, it was even more important for astrologers to entertain their readers, and the tradition of the astrological journalist became much stronger - to reach its apogee a century and a half later, in the newspaper astrologer.

In the early part of the 19th century, the most popular almanac in Britain was the Vox Stellarum, which by 1839 was selling over half a million copies - rather surprising, perhaps, when one considers that it was editorially very much on the side of the Americans in the War of Independence, believing that the result 'paved the way for freedom', and positively welcomed the French Revolution with its 'glorious and happy spirit of liberty'. It did, however, take England's part in the war against France.
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« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2007, 08:03:28 am »








Enormous sales of almanacs, especially the cheaper ones, continued through the 19th century; in 1897 over a million copies of Old Moore's Penny Almanac were printed, and every one sold within two months of the end of the year (the predictions were, of course, for 1898).

It was complained, halfway through the reign of Queen Victoria, that practically no one among the 'lower classes' did not possess an almanac, and most lived their lives by it, refusing to cut their grass if rain was predicted, declining to dose their cattle if the day was inauspicious.

Some of the credit, if that is the word, for the growing popularity of purely astrological magazines (combining the kind of predictions offered in the old-style almanacs with feature articles and gossip) must lie with two men, Robert Cross Smith and Richard James Morrison, both born in 1795.

Smith was in 1824 appointed editor of a new periodical, The Straggling Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century, in the twelfth issue of which appeared for the first time his pseudonym 'Raphael', which was to become famous in the next few years. He also introduced a weekly feature predicting the planetary effects on love and marriage, finance, business, travel - the first weekly predictions to be made in a journal.

The Straggling Astrologer did not last long; Smith had better luck with The Prophetic Messenger, the first issue of which came out in 1826, and which on his death in 1832 was taken over and continued until 1858. There were at least five 'Raphaels' after Smith.
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« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2007, 08:07:01 am »








It was Morrison, however, who was the more important of the two men, working under the pseudonym 'Zadkiel'. An ex-naval officer he became a professional astrologer in 1830 and founded Zadkiel's Almanac, sales of which rivalled those of The Prophetic Messenger. Apart from his journalism, Morrison did much to make astrology mildly respectable again; He complained, for instance, about the cheapjack astrologers who would work for as little as five shillings, when 'no man of education would stoop to receive such beggarly remuneration', and recommended that anyone wishing to consult an astrologer should go to one possessing the Diploma of the British Association for Astral Science (founded in 1844 with 107 members, but short-lived).

In his 1861 almanac, Morrison published a suggestion that Saturn's position during that year would be 'very evil for all persons born on or near the 26th August; among the sufferers I regret to see the worthy Prince Consort of these realms. Let such persons pay scrupulous attention to health.' On 14 December 1861, the Prince Consort died of typhoid.

Far from being congratulated on his accuracy, Zadkiel was consequently attacked by a leader writer in The Daily Telegraph, and forced to sue a rear-admiral who blackguarded him in the same newspaper. He won the case, evidence having been given for him by a large queue of titled clients; but the Lord Chief Justice was deeply unsympathetic, allowed continual laughter in court, and recommended low damages. Zadkiel received only twenty shillings and had to pay his own costs. The sales of his next almanac profited by the publicity, but as a consultant astrologer he almost vanishes from sight from that moment.

Morrison/Zadkiel could certainly not be disqualified from the accusation of having an interest in the occult - especially in crystal-gazing, an occupation which was really at the root of his libel case.

But he was a serious astrologer too, preparing and publishing in 1852 a popular abridgement of Lilly's Christian Astrology; and there were others - such as William Joseph Simmonite, elected to the Council of the London Meteorological Society (of which Morrison was also a member), and Richard Garnett (1835-1906), on the staff of the British Museum, an amateur who impressed Samuel Butler with some predictive successes.
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« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2007, 08:09:43 am »







It was Garnett who, in an essay entitled The Soul and the Stars, published in The University Magazine in 1880, put forward a view of astrology which was at odds with that of many professional astrologers, still much caught up with almanacs and predictions. Garnett took the view that far from being an occult science, as most people thought, it was 'necessary to insist on the strictly empirical character of astrology', that 'astrology with the single exception of astronomy, is, as regards the certainty of its data, the most exact of all exact sciences', and that the astrologer's calculations 'are performed by no more cabalistic process than arithmetic. The influence he attributes to the heavenly bodies may be imaginary, but in no sense occult ...'

Garnett was looking towards our own time, when astrologers would for the most part share his view. Others, however, were to pave the way for the 20th-century resurgence of interest in the subject.



Alan Leo (W. F. Allen, 1860-1917) was one.

Leo is an important figure in Western astrology, his textbooks still on sale. Through his friend 'Sepharial' (W. R. Old, 1864-1929) he found his way into Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society in London. He became a professional astrologer, and set up a sort of factory in Hampstead, where other astrologers were set to calculate charts, and several clerks to write out Leo's opinions on them; it was the Victorian equivalent of today's computerized horoscope firms, and Leo's Modern Astrology Publishing Company soon had branches in Paris and New York.
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« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2007, 08:12:23 am »





It was Leo's chief clerk who devised the system by which cheapjack astrologers still work: answer their advertisements in the best-selling astrological magazines, and you will receive a number of cyclostyled sheets stapled together, one for the Sun sign, one for the rising sign, one each for the positions of the Moon, Venus, Mercury and so on. E. H. Bailey, who cordially disliked him, later described an average morning in Lyncroft Gardens - one that has often been reproduced since:


The morning mail had just been delivered and Albanus Leon [Leo] was busily engaged in sorting out a large pile of letters of all shapes and sizes ... Most of them contained money orders, for Leon had an immense clientele, and the income from his business had now reached four figures a year, and bid fair to greatly increase as time went on. The mail this morning was an exceptionally heavy one and the pile of postal and money orders was rapidly mounting. It was true that the great majority were only for a shilling, but these, with the five and ten shillings orders, and three or four for a pound, as well as various cheques for various amounts, made up a very goodly sum.


'Raphael' and 'Zadkiel' were of that generation of astrologers faced with the problem of assimilating into the tradition the 'modern' planets Uranus (discovered in 1781) and Neptune (1846); Pluto was to be added in 1930.

The discovery of these planets was another handy weapon for the anti-astrological camp - but astrologers replied that rather than creating new problems, they solved old ones. Looking at a horoscope of, say, Queen Elizabeth I or one of the Caesars, it was clear that there were some elements of the character which were not to be accounted for by the positions of the planets known to ancient astrologers. These were obviously the result of the influence of those planets recently discovered, and if they were filled into the old birth charts, the picture was much more complete.

Similarly, the effects of the 'new' planets in a progressed chart were slowly discovered by a process of trial and elimination. Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood had not devalued what was previously known about the bodily processes; it had simply enlarged that process. The same was true of the 'modern' planets.


http://www.meta-religion.com/Esoterism/Astrology/towards_the_dark.htm
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