Astrology Essay

Astrology Essay

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The basic astrological assumptions are not hard to grasp. For if astronomy is the study of the movements of the heavenly bodies, then astrology is the study of the effects of those movements. The astronomers of the ancient world assumed a division of the universe whereby the superior, immutable bodies of the celestial worlds ruled over the terrestrial or sublunary sphere, where all was mortality and change. It was assumed that the stars had special qualities and influences which were transmitted downwards upon the passive earth, and which varied in their effect, according to the changing relationship of the heavenly bodies to each other. They were led to postulate a single system in which the seven moving stars or planet shifted their position in relation to the earth and each other, against a fixed backcloth of the twelve signs of the zodiac.
     There was nothing obscure about these general assumptions. At the beginning of the sixteenth century astrological doctrines were part of the educated man’s picture of the universe and its workings. It was generally accepted that the four elements constituting the sublunary region (earth, air, fire & water) were kept in their state of ceaseless transformation by the movement of the heavenly bodies. The various planets transmitted different quantities of the four physiological qualities of heat and cold, dryness and moisture. Therefore astrology was less a separate discipline than an aspect of a generally accepted world picture. During the Renaissance, even more than in the Middle Ages, astrology pervaded all aspects of the intellectual framework in which men were educated.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there were four main branches of judicial astrology. First, there were the general predictions based on the future movements of the ravens and taking note of such impending events as eclipses of the sun and moon. These forecasts related to the weather, the state of the crops, mortality and epidemics, politics and war. They indicated the fate of society as a whole but not that of particular individuals. Secondly, there were nativities, maps of the sky at the moment of a person’s births either made on the spot at the request of the infants' parents' or reconstructed for individuals of stature, those who could supply the details of their time of births. The horoscope at b...


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...nglish churches and may have helped to shape popular religious attitudes. Pictures of the sun and moon were found in several Suffolk churches and the churches themselves were built to face the rising sun.
How far such practices affected men’s basic beliefs it is difficult to tell. Anne Bodenham, who was executed for witchcraft at Salisbury in 1653 was a former servant of the astrologer John Lambe, she had long practiced as a cunning woman, claiming to be able to do more than Master Lilly or anyone whatsoever. When she dealt with a maid who had convulsive fits, she is reported to have proposed a frankly pagan remedy -prayer to Jupiter, the best and fortunatest of all the planets'. Even more striking is another Wiltshire case, which came before the quarter sessions in 1656. A Lacock weaver, Wllllam Bond was charged with atheism and blasphemy, and in particular with publicly affirming that ‘there was no God or power ruling above the planets, no Christ but the sun that shines upon us'; and 'that the twelve patriarchs were the twelve houses'. "This was astrology run wild; and it is tantalizing not to know how many of William Bond's contemporaries may have held similar views.






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