Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/845

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
798
ASTROLOGY

circumstances. The sun was associated with gold, the moon with silver, Jupiter with electrum, Saturn with lead, Venus with copper, and so on, while the continued influence of astrological motives is to be seen in the association of quicksilver, upon its discovery at a comparatively late period, with Mercury, because of its changeable character as a solid and a liquid. In the same way stones were connected with both the planets and the months; plants, by diverse association of ideas, were connected with the planets, and animals likewise were placed under the guidance and protection of one or other of the heavenly bodies. By this curious process of combination the entire realm of the natural sciences was translated into the language of astrology with the single avowed purpose of seeing in all phenomena signs indicative of what the future had in store. The fate of the individual, as that feature of the future which had a supreme interest, led to the association of the planets with parts of the body. Here, too, we find various systems devised, in part representing the views of different schools, in part reflecting advancing conceptions regarding the functions of the organs in man and animals. In one system the seat of Mercury, representing divine intelligence as the source of all knowledge—a view that reverts to Babylonia where Nebo (corresponding to Mercury) was regarded as the divine power to whom all wisdom is due—was placed in the liver as the primeval seat of the soul (see Omen), whereas in other systems this distinction was assigned to Jupiter or to Venus. Saturn, taking in Greek astrology the place at the head of the planets which among the Babylonians was accorded to Jupiter-Marduk, was given a place in the brain, which in later times was looked upon as the centre of soul-life; Venus, as the planet of the passion of love, was supposed to reign supreme over the genital organs, the belly and the lower limbs; Mars, as the violent planet, is associated with the bile, as well as with the blood and kidneys. Again, the right ear is associated with Saturn, the left ear with Mars, the right eye in the case of the male with the sun and the left eye with the moon, while in the case of the female it was just the reverse. From the planets the same association of ideas was applied to the constellations of the zodiac, which in later phases of astrology are placed on a par with the planets themselves, so far as their importance for the individual horoscope is concerned. The fate of the individual in this combination of planets with the zodiac was made dependent not merely upon the planet which happened to be rising at the time of birth or of conception, but also upon its local relationship to a special sign or to certain signs of the zodiac. The zodiac was regarded as the prototype of the human body, the different parts of which all had their corresponding section in the zodiac itself. The head was placed in the first sign of the zodiac—the Ram; and the feet in the last sign—the Fishes. Between these two extremes the other parts and organs of the body were distributed among the remaining signs of the zodiac, the neck being assigned to the Bull, the shoulders and arms to the Gemini (or twins), the breast to Cancer, the flanks to Leo, the bladder to Virgo, the buttocks to the Balance, the pubis to the Scorpion, the thighs to Sagittarius, the knees to Capricorn, and the limbs to Aquarius. Not content with this, we find the late Egyptian astrologers setting up a correspondence between the thirty-six decani recognized by them and the human body, which is thus divided into thirty-six parts; to each part a god was assigned as a controlling force. With human anatomy thus connected with the planets, with constellations, and with single stars, medicine became an integral part of astrology, or, as we might also put it, astrology became the handmaid of medicine. Diseases and disturbances of the ordinary functions of the organs were attributed to the influence of planets or explained as due to conditions observed in a constellation or in the position of a star; and an interesting survival of this bond between astrology and medicine is to be seen in the use up to the present time of the sign of Jupiter ♃, which still heads medicinal prescriptions, while, on the other hand, the influence of planetary lore appears in the assignment of the days of the week to the planets, beginning with Sunday, assigned to the sun, and ending with Saturday, the day of Saturn. Passing on into still later periods, Saturn’s day was associated with the Jewish sabbath, Sunday with the Lord’s Day, Tuesday with Tiw, the god of war, corresponding to Mars of the Romans and to the Nergal of the Babylonians. Wednesday was assigned to the planet Mercury, the equivalent of the Germanic god Woden; Thursday to Jupiter, the equivalent of Thor; and Friday to Friga, the goddess of love, who is represented by Venus among the Romans and among the Babylonians by Ishtar. Astrological considerations likewise already regulated in ancient Babylonia the distinction of lucky and unlucky days, which passing down to the Greeks and Romans (dies fasti and nefasti) found a striking expression in Hesiod’s Works and Days. Among the Arabs similar associations of lucky and unlucky days directly connected with the influence of the planets prevailed through all times, Tuesday and Wednesday, for instance, being regarded as the days for blood-letting, because Tuesday was connected with Mars, the lord of war and blood, and Wednesday with Mercury, the planet of humours. Even in modern times travellers relate how, when an auspicious day has been proclaimed by the astrologers, the streets of Bagdad may be seen running with blood from the barbers’ shops.

It is unnecessary here to give a detailed analysis of the methods of judicial astrology as an art, or directions for the casting of a horoscope, or “nativity,” i.e. a map of the heavens at the hour of birth, showing, according to the Ephemeris, the position of the heavenly bodies, from which their influence may be deduced. Each of the twelve signs of the zodiac (q.v.) is credited with its own characteristics and influence, and is the controlling sign of its “house of life.” The sign exactly rising at the moment of birth is called the ascendant. The benevolent or malignant influence of each planet, together with the sun and moon, is modified by the sign it inhabits at the nativity; thus Jupiter in one house may indicate riches, fame in another, beauty in another, and Saturn similarly poverty, obscurity or deformity. The calculation is affected by the “aspects,” i.e. according as the planets are near or far as regards one another (in conjunction, in semi-sextile, semi-square, sextile, quintile, square, trine, sesqui-quadrate, bi-quintile, opposition or parallel acclination). Disastrous signs predominate over auspicious, and the various effects are combined in a very elaborate and complicated manner.

Judicial astrology, as a form of divination, is a concomitant of natural astrology, in its purer astronomical aspect, but mingled with what is now considered an unscientific and superstitious view of world-forces. In the Janua aurea reserata quatuor linguarum (1643) of J. A. Comenius we find the following definition:—“Astronomus siderum meatus seu motus considerat: Astrologus eorundem efficaciam, influxum, et effectum.” Kepler was more 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. Tycho Brahe and Gassendi both began with astrology, and it was only after pursuing the false science, and finding it wanting, that Gassendi devoted himself to astronomy. In their numerous allusions to the subtle mercury, which the one makes when treating of a means of measuring time by the efflux of the metal, and the other in a treatise on the transit of the planet, we see traces of the school in which they served their first apprenticeship. Huygens, moreover, in his great posthumous work, Cosmotheoros, seu de terris coelestibus, shows himself a more exact observer of astrological symbols than Kircher himself in his Iter exstaticum. Huygens contends that between the inhabitants of different planets there need not be any greater difference than exists between men of different types on the earth. “There are on the earth,” continues this rational interpreter of the astrologers and chiromancers, “men of cold temperament who would thrive in Saturn, which is the farthest planet from the sun, and there are other spirits warm and ardent enough to live in Venus.”

Those were indeed strange times, according to modern ideas, when astrologers were dominant by the terror they inspired, and sometimes by the martydom they endured when their predictions were either too true or too false. Faith, to borrow their