Mundane Astrology & Janus Geminus

janus

The Roman god known as Janus Geminus has a number of attributes, but the most salient is that he has two faces, usually one young and one old, looking into the past and the future at the same time. I find this to be a most apt image to describe the essence of Mundane Astrology, referred to as the jewel in the crown of astrology because it is the most difficult form, requiring many years of practice to master. It is also extremely useful in its predictive capacity.

Prediction, however requires hindsight, or rather, a great deal of knowledge about what is being predicted. To begin with a couple of simple examples: let’s say we want to be able to predict when a volcano might erupt. You don’t have to be an expert vulcanologist, but you do need to know some basic facts about volcanos. With that as a given we need to know what the astrological indicators of volcanoes are. The only way to do this properly is to look at past volcanic eruptions.

I’ve personally had occasion to study major volcanic eruptions of the past, and find that there are recurring themes. You can see my article on Mt. Pelee where I provide some specifics if you wish.

Next, I have to take some geographic notes. It’s pointless to predict anything if it cannot happen. We have expansive zones, such as the Ring of Fire and some which seem more localized. For example Iceland is very prone to volcanic eruptions, while Greenland has none at all. This may sound like a simple matter and it is, but there is no virtue in predicting a volcanic eruption if the geography doesn’t allow for it. So we now have the global ‘where’ The next step would be to localize the event, let’s say Jakarta, Indonesia and environs It wouldn’t hurt to have some knowledge of the tides and other elements800map

This where the greatest astrological skills come into play. Knowing the conditions most likely to coincide with volcanic eruptions, paying particular attention to Eclipses and the visibility of the Eclipse. Which zodiacal degree is most potent in relation to the eclipse? The number and nature of the elements we examine will not be identical each time at all. Each moment has it’s own power.

Doing all this isn’t at all easy and for most cases we would require some hint or change in a volcano so that we can look at a very precise situation. Some years ago, a friend in Mexico was disturbed by the increased activity of a nearby volcano. According to the astrology I used,it wasn’t going to explode and it didn’t

davfullcardio Courtesy Stanford University

Leonardo da Vinci – Anatomical Drawing – Courtesy of Stanford University

Let’s look at another example: we would all consider the accurate prediction of plagues and epidemics to be very useful. This is of course more difficult than predicting eruptions. This is a highly specialized application of medical astrology writ large.  There is no need to rehearse what we have already stated about methodology and volcanoes.

Some of you might be interested in my article on the Astrology of the Bubonic Plague for a practical example.. Certainly a knowledge of medical astrology is required and some knowledge of epidemiology wouldn’t be amiss either. Some resources such as a copy of Grey’s Anatomy, the two volume Oxford Companion to Medicine and of course  Hippocrates’ writings on epidemics. Again, we look back at historical epidemics to prepare us for predicting future ones.

Volcanoes, earthquakes and particular epidemics are extremely destructive of human lives. We know that one plague killed one in every two people in Europe and the Spanish Flu killed more people than WWI. The great effort taken to learn the prediction of epidemics is indeed daunting, but within the purview of astrology.

In all cases we need to look at the past to see the future. But there is a lot more to it than that. Whether or not I’m looking at a coup in Kazakhstan or an earthquake in Chile, I also need to know what planets are related to which parts of the world. Ptolemy mentions several in the Tetrabiblos which can be download free of charge in the File section. Unfortunately that isn’t enough though. Obviously he cannot make mention of that which he is unaware of. This includes the Americas, Australia and good deal more. For these we rely on more modern accounts,  but by ‘more modern’ we mean the Renaissance is some cases

Religions also have planetary association as do ethnic groups. A wonderful source of much material is found in the works of Mash’allah  It is very useful to know that Islam is under the governance of Venus or that Wales is Jupiterian.

Finally, we can see that a Mundane Astrologer should be familiar with a wide range of things. These include history, relevant philosophy, geography and medicine. It is possible to specialize of course, but the various disciplines often overlap. A very simple example would be a war in Thailand: it’s very helpful to know something of the political structure, the history and it’s astrological significations.

Many modern Mundane astrologers treat all areas as if they were the same. Much of Mundane astrology sees the United States as the centre of the world. Check any popular astrological magazine and you will see how this is so much par for the course, that editors take it as it is.  While it’s true that it feels like the centre of the world for its inhabitants, it fosters a perception that would implicitly deny, for example, that a Madagascan may feel the same way about her own country.

Crucially, the use of outer planets is counterproductive if only because of their very slow (apparent) movement. On top of that, the traditional attributes of the planets has been unceremoniously given to the outers.

This does two things. It distorts or weakens the use we can make of reading the traditional planets, which are to many modern astrologers nothing more than a secondary concern. The attributions which are supposed to belong to the new planets have all been stolen from the traditional ones. It ignores an ancient and highly effective system of astrology based on light (see my post “into the Outer Darkness’)

It’s very easy to say after the fact that the Arab Spring was caused by Uranus, but we then have to ask why the effect wasn’t global. Modern astrology cannot answer that because, as already noted, no distinctions are made from one culture or continent to another

Astrology of the Bubonic Plague

bubonic-plague-attacks-a-couple-in-rome-rome-italy12961696119-tpfil02aw-764Not long after the Vernal Equinox of 1348 King Philip VI ordered a report on the causes of the Bubonic Plague from the University of Paris Faculty of Medicine. The response came by way of an astrological explanation. If the cause was understood, a cure might be found. The Faculty pointed to a chart for 1.00 pm 20 March 1345 there was a conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in the House of Aquarius. Moreover, there had been a significant Lunar Eclipse on March 18 at 9:38 pm.

There is another chart of great importance in this matter. It’s the Solar Revolution for the year that the first known strains of the Black Death made landfall in Byzantium and spread rapidly throughout the eastern Empire, killing 100,000 people a year. At this time the Empire contained the lands on the Mediterranean coast and stretched far into the heartland of Europe. The plague went as far as Denmark and Ireland, ultimately killing about half the population of Europe. The Emperor Justinian contracted the disease in Constantinople but miraculously survived.

Byzantium frequently imported large amounts of grain from Egypt. The shipments became infested with vermin, who in term carried fleas infected with the plague. It has been suggested that the Plague was a Pandemic originating in China at a time unknown. It is not certain however that it was the same strain, In light of this, our focus is on the European experience.

AD541

The Byzantine historian Procopius first reported the epidemic in AD 541 from the port of Pelusium, near Suez in Egypt (Wade, 2010). We are not given a date. The chart is set for 0°Aries at Suez, constituting a Solar Revolution.

First of all, a quick word about the symptoms of the Plague.

Plagues have been the result of various forms of Human y pestis infection, taking three main forms pneumonic, septicemic, and the notorious bubonic plagues. See Ryan KJ, Ray CG (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). pp. 484–488.

At first glance, we can see the Byzantium Chart is not good, but perhaps not bad enough to signify what we are looking at. However, we have Saturn in Martian Scorpio in Partile conjunction to the Ascendant. His dispositor is in the Eighth House of Death.

Mars is also conjunct the South Node and Almuten of the chart as well as the Ascendant, adding considerable strength to the malefics. Mars is the Killing Planet. The angles are in Fixed Signs lending more power and longevity to the influences.

Less obvious is Venus in her domicile in Taurus.  In most cases, this is a good placement for her. However, she is exactly conjunct the highly malefic Fixed Star, Algol named by the Chinese as ‘piled up corpses’ and by others as losing one’s head. as in decapitation or madness. The deaths were so numerous that the corpses were literally piled up.

You could say that Venus is a devil in disguise. She is in Hayz and Lady of the Year.  She is also Lord of the two most unfortunate houses, the Twelfth and the Sixth. Mercury is in his Fall and disposits Mars and Moon in the Eighth without benefit. However, he is in the fruitful sign of Pisces. It seems that everything is conspiring to ensure this Plague has all it needs to spread without hindrance.

The Ascendant is the only candidate for Hyleg. Being in a malefic sign and conjunct another, this is dire indeed. The humour of the chart is an airy sanguine, warm and wet. So what is promised by other elements of the chart has the advantage of the best conditions for the Plague to thrive. If it was too hot or cold and dry, it would have been arrested. The Piscean Mercury is Lord of the Eighth House, brings more wetness that only serves to spread the contagion

eclipse

Let’s now consider the  Eclipse chart referred to by the astrologers from the Faculty of Medicine. The chart is for Paris, France. 18 March 1345 at 9:38 pm. There are some similarities between this and the previous chart.

The Part of Fortune is Hyleg and Conjunct Algol, as Venus had been.  She is again in Taurus and in the 7th House. She is Almuten of the chart. Saturn is the Almuten of health according to the rules set down by Omar.

The eclipse is the 6 / 12 axis denoting health and hidden enemies respectively. We know that by this time the plague had become airborne being passed from one to another on the breath. The Killing Planet is Saturn in his own domicile and dispositing Jupiter and Mars. The malefic element of Mars and Saturn are made larger by Jupiter in this case.

The eclipse would have been read as an omen

Finally, we look at the chart delivered to King Philip showing the conjunctions of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in the Fixed Air sign of Aquarius. This is on 20 March 1345, Paris France at 1:00 pm. bp

As physicians reading the chart there are many things that would have been clear. It’s Sunday in the Hour of Mars. The Moon is in Via Combusta. Saturn is in the 7th House

Offsetting the emphasis on Air is the Leo Ascending and the Sun and Mercury in Aries.  The Hyleg is the Sun. We end up with a Choleric chart, being hot and dry, hosting the two malefics in Aquarius with Jupiter Parallel Sirius (searing heat). Again, Saturn is the Killing Planet. This happens not two days after the Lunar Eclipse. More often than not, Eclipses auger bad fortune for those under its influence.

We now have the same air considerations, but the humour is now more a raging fever being driven by the forces of air. The close proximity of the Descending Node to the Sun merely aggravates and exacerbates the situation. The force is unstoppable and all the physicians can do is try to lessen the fatalities.  The Moon represents the people. She is about to slip into the sign of her fall in Scorpio and in the Fourth House. This has among other significations, that of ancestry and the end of the matter.

The Plague in Byzantium was bubonic, but the one referred to King Philip’s physicians appears to have been pneumonic. The first is primarily spread by blood, as in flea bites and the second is carried in the air. This is at the heart of the issue with the charts comprising Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in the Fixed Air sign Aquarius.

The symptoms, in either case, include boils and ultimately, several organs can be affected, including the spleen and brain. The infection, accompanied by violent fever causes immunologic breakdown, leading to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), resulting in bleeding and necrotic skin and tissue, particularly of the hands. This resembles gangrene. Historically, the disease was almost always fatal.

We can see then that the disease displays symptoms attributed to Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. Richard Saunders lists these in his Astrological Judgment & Practice of Physic (esp. pp. 52 -53). When we think of fever, Mars is what comes to mind. Indeed, Saunders duly lists, adds red Cholera, Smallpox, breaking of the veins and  great deal more that applies quite specifically to the Bubonic Plague.  Less well known are the attributes of Jupiter in the study of disease. Saunders includes all “diseases of the veins and proceeding from corruption of the blood, windiness and all putrefaction in the blood or fevers proceeding from too much abundance thereof.” (p. 50).

In the airy and Saturnine sign of Aquarius, these would be emphasized.  It would also make Mars and Jupiter * sympathetic* to Saturn in the Ficinian sense. Finally, we look at Saturn himself. The first quality is to make the disease persistent. Although victims didn’t last long and the disease wreaked havoc more or less continuously for more than a thousand years that we know of . Saunders also tells us the Saturn, if, in ill aspect with Venus, he corrupts the blood, with Jaundiesy and Melencholy (Black Bile) . We have noted Venus in all three charts and in the last two she is applying to a square with Saturn. The latter also “brings Black Jaundice and a super abundance of Flegm and crude humours”  Of course this is but a sampling of the attributes. but what can be seen most clearly is how the planets work together

Astrology can still be used for prediction and diagnosis with the same accuracy as in the time of King Philip. But what was an unmitigated tragedy on an epic scale  would today be read as a warning, perhaps. The Plague is still with us and surfaces every now and again. Today we have effective treatments that make it no much more serious than a bad case of the flu. This doesn’t negate the fact of the accuracy of astrology and the validity of using it to warn of epidemics. seismic activity or extreme weather.