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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/45

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ASTROLOGY


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ASTROLOGY


tian religion; of Jupiter with Venus, Mohammedan- ism; and of Jupiter ^ith Mercurj', Christianitj-. At some future day the religion of Antichrist was to appear upon the conjunction of Jupiter with the moon. Extraordinarj- examples of the glorification of astrologj' in Italy during the Renaissance are the frescoes painted by Miretto in the Sala della Ragione at Pavia, and the frescoes in Borso's summer palace at Florence. Petrarch, as well, notwithstanding his pub- lic antagonism to astrologj', was not, until his prime, entirely free from its taint. In this connection his relations with the famous astrologer, Majiio de Mayneri, are significant. (Cf. Rajna, Giorn. stor., X, 101, sq.)

Even the \nctorious progress of the Copernican sys- tem could not at once destroy confidence in astrology. The greatest astronomers were still obliged to devote their time to making astrological predictions at princely courts for the sake of gain; Tycho Brahe made such calculations for the Emperor Rudolph II, and Kepler himself, the most distinguished astronomer of the age, was the imperial court astrologer. Kepler was also obliged to cast horoscopes for Wallenstein, who later came completely under the influence of the alchemist and astrologer Gianibattista Zenno of Genoa, the Seni of Schiller's Wallenstein". The influence of the Copernican theory, the war of en- lightened minds against pseudo-prophetic ^\nsdom. and the increasing perception of the moral and psj'chical damage wTOught by astrological humbug at last brought about a decline in the fortunes of astrologj-, and that precisely in Wallenstein's time. At the same period astrological tracts were still being WTitten by the most celebrated of English as- trologers, William Lilly of Diseworth, Leicestershire, who received a pension of £100 from Cromwell's coun- cil of state, and who, in spite of some awkward in- cidents, had no little political influence with Charles II. Among his works was a frequently republished "Christian Astrologj-". Shakespeare (in King Lear) and Milton were acquainted with and advocated astrological theories, and Robert Fludd was a repre- sentative of the art at tlie rojal court. Francis Bacon, it is true, sought to win adherents for a purified and reformed astrologj- in order to destroy the existing form of the art. It was Jonathan Swift who in his clever satire, "Prediction for the Year 1708 bj' Lsaac Bickerstaff, Esq.", which deserves to be read even at the present daj-, gave the deathblow to the beUef of English society in astrologj-. The last astrologer of importance on the Continent was Jean-Baptiste Marin, who issued "Astrologia Gallica" (1661). The greatly misunderstood Swiss naturalist Theoplu-astus Paracelsus was an opponent of astrologj-, ar.d not its advocate, as was formerlj^ inferred from WTitings erroneouslj' attributed to him. The rapid growth of experimental investigation in the natural sciences in those countries which had been almost ruined, socially and politicallj', bj' the Thirty Years War completely banished the astrological parasites from society. Once more astrology fell to the level of a vulgar superstition, cutting a sorry figure among the classes that still had faith in the occult arts. The peasant held fast to his belief in natural astrology, and to this belief the progress of the art of printing and the spread of popidar education contributed largely. For not only were there disseminated among the rural poor "farmer's almanacs", which contained information substantiated by the peasant's own ex- perience, but the printing-presses also supplied the peasant with a great ma&s of cheap and easily under- stood books containing much fantastic astrological nonsense.

The remarkable phj'sical discoveries of recent dec- ades, in combination with the growing desire for an elevated philosophico-religious conception of the world and the intensified sensitiveness of the modern


cultured man — all these together have caused as- trologj- to emerge from its hiding place among paltry superstitions. The growth of occultistic ideas, which should, perhaps, not be entirelj' rejected, is reintro- ducing astrologj' into societj-. This is especially true of judicial astrologj-, which, however, by its constant encouragement of fatalistic \-iews unsettles the belief in a Di\-ine Providence. At present ju- dicial astrologj' is not justified by anj' scientific facts. To put forward the theorj- of ether waves as an ar- gument for astrological assertions is not in accord with the methods of sober science. Judicial astrology, therefore, can claim a place only in the history of human error, while, however, as an historical fact. it reflects much light upon the shadowy labyrinth of the human soul.

AsTROi>OGY Among the Ancient Jew-s. — The Bible is free from anj' base admixture of astrological delu- sions. There is no reason for dragging the passage Josuex, 12, intohistorico-astrological discussions ; the facts there related — the standing still of the sun in the valley of Gabaon and of the moon in the valley of Ajalon — are of purelj- astronomical interest. Only a few indications in the Old Testament suggest that, notwithstanding the Divine prohibition (Ex., xxii, 18; Deut., xviii, 10, etc.), the Jews, especiallj- after thej' were exposed to the influence of Egj-ptian and Babj'lonian errors, may have practised astrologj- in secret, along with other superstitions. The Prophets warned the people against the pernicious ascendancy of soothsaj-ers and diviners of dreams (Jer., xxix, S; Zach., x, 1-2), among whom astrologers were in- cluded. Thus in the Book of Wisdom (xiii, 1-2) it is said: "All men are vain . . . who . . . have imag- ined either . . . the swift air. or the circle of the stars, or the great water, or the sun and moon, to be the gods that rule the world." The Book of Job, a wTiting of importance in the historj' of astronomy and star nomenclature, is also free from astrological fatalism. But to this fatalism the Jews had a natural predisposition, and when Hellenism gained a footing in the Holy Land it was accompanied by the spread of astrology, largely among the learned, the "philosophers", at whom even in an earlier age the passage in Wisdom had probably been aimed. Again, Isaias (xlvii, 13-14) derides the Babj-lonian astrologers ("Let now the astrologers stand and save thee, they that gazed at the stars .... Behold thej' are as stubble, fire hath burnt them"), and Jeremias exclaims (x, 2) : "Be not afraid of the signs of heaven, which the heathen fear".

After the Exile, however, astrology spread so rapidlj', above all among the educated classes of Israel, that as early as the Hellenistic era a Jewish astrological literature existed, which showed a strong Persico-Chaldean influence. The prophets had been keen opponents of astrologj' and of a re- lapse into fatalism. If, when thej' were prophesjdng of the great events to come, the contemplation of nature, and especiallj' of the stars, filled them %\'ith sj-mpathetic enthusiasm, bj' reason of their poetic inspiration and power of divination, this had nothing to do with astrologj-. On the other hand it does not appear impossible that in Daniel's time some exiled Jews practised astrology. Judging from Daniel, v, 7, 11, it is possible that the prophet liimself held a high rank among the astrologers of the Babj-lonian court. After the Exile an attempt was made to separate astrology from sorcery and forbidden magical arts, bj' denj-ing a direct Biblical prohibition of astrologj' and by pretending to find encourage- ment for such speculations in Genesis, i, 14. It is a characteristic fact that in ancient Israel astrologj- received no direct encouragement, but that its spread was associated with the relapse of manj* Jews into the old Semitic star-worship which was aided by Persico-Chaldean influence. For this Jeremiaa