Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/851

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ORIGIN OF THE CALENDAR AND ASTROLOGY.

forebodings, according to the position which it assumed by day or by night in the zodiac or horizon. The twelve signs were assigned to the sun, moon, and planets, as follows: Leo to the sun; Cancer to the moon; and two to each of the five planets—the influence of each of these heavenly bodies being regarded as augmented when it stood in that sign belonging to it, or at points in the other signs which were esteemed peculiarly critical for it.

Thus, the significance of the combined situation of all these bodies received its decisive character from the striking actions of one or more propitious or unpropitious planets, which stood in those positions of increased influence. The so-called horoscope, however, with its derived prognostications concerning the entire future life of the individual, was deduced from that point of the zodiac which appeared in view at the hour of birth. Not only was the planet to whose sign this point in the zodiac belonged the prescribed ruler for life, but also the individual portions of the zodiac, by means of their relations to the single planets, furnished special significations for the horoscope.

The influence of the ruling planet was again essentially modified by the relative positions of the other planets who were entitled to a respectful hearing in the prediction. Indeed, a perfect system finally evolved itself for thus foretelling, from the various situations and aspects at the time of birth, the important events in each year of the life of the newly-born.

In its beginning it possessed much profound thought, since from the positions of the planets at the time of birth, with the aid of their times of revolution, and later, by a theory of all their movements, it could be calculated in advance how they must stand in each year of the individual's life; but the whole soon degenerated into an arbitrary, invented play upon numerical relations. During the lapse of centuries, in which astrology was perfecting and establishing itself in the minds of men, the pre-calculations for the positions of the moon among the planets had been zealously pursued, particularly by the Arabians, and, from the beginning of the fifteenth century, by the people of the Orient. From this period on, these calculations received, aside from their chronological and astrological interest, an augmented importance, on account of the increased demands in naval undertakings and voyages of discovery. The calculations in calendars and ephemerides (in which literature Nuremberg took the lead) were continually amplified, the calendar becoming now concerned with many subjects which grew out of and were nourished by astrological ideas, so that, even at the close of the past century and the commencement of the present, it contained a wonderful mixture of superstitious hints and precepts. These related chiefly to rules of the weather, health, and life; as, for instance, the times favorable for cupping, bleeding, etc. In fact, in many calendars now circulated, there are detailed statements concerning the indications of the planets, etc., and amusing