Elements of Astrological Medicine

The topic of traditional medicine used in concert with traditional astrology is a massive one and deserving of several volumes. Happily, these exist and date back to early antiquity, continuing to be developed throughout the 17th century by authors such as Nicolas Culpeper, a student of William Lilly.  Richard Saunders. an accomplished physician, all of whom were part of a larger group of what might be called ‘medical activists’ who wanted the practice of medicine to be available to the common people. This is the time in our history when the art of midwifery was being denied to the peasantry and absorbed by male physicians. In many respects, these struggles continue.

This is written as an introductory piece, demonstrating the various elements and history of the art. For those who seek a more in-depth  view, there are some very fine contemporary books written on the subject, such as Heal Thyself: Nicolas Culper and the Seventeenth Century Struggle to Bring Medicine to the People by Benjamin Woolley; Culpeper’s Medicine A Practise of Western Holistic Medicine by Graeme Tobyn and Passions and Tempers: a History of the Humours by Noga Arikha. Virtually all the seminal texts from Hippocrates through the Seventeenth century are readily available.

In his article “Delusions of Medicine” (2112) Professor Henry Draper, MD writes: ” It is instructive to the philosophical physician to trace, as in the case of Greece, the passage through fetichism, miracle-cure, and astrol­ogy to a sound system of medicine such as that propagated by Hippocrates, well called the Divine Old Man. ”  The article is for the most part well informed and well written I agree with some of his conclusions. Nevertheless, I think this is another case of something assuming they know what astrology is when they clearly do not. There is really no place in astrological medicine for what I think he means by” fetishism” or the offer of “miracle cures.” Moreover, and this is the greatest irony,  Hippocrates with Galen were and are the greatest primary Classical sources for medicine in concert with astrology.

This is rather like the Christian who believes that astrology is evil because scripture warns against fortune tellers, necromancers, and poisoners. Again, no informed or self-respecting astrologer would accept any of those titles as being even remotely relevant to what they do.  This subject is deserving of another post that is already in the works.  For now, I will say that traditional astrology properly used and for the right reasons is both beneficial and conducive to Christianity if the judgment of someone such as St. Thomas Aquinas is to be given consideration.

Our immediate interest is in the legitimate and ancient art of astrological diagnosis, using astrological techniques. These have been tried and true for millennia and are still relevant.  Modern medicine has made enormous contributions to healing, largely in the realm of diagnostic technology. antibiotics and other drugs. However, here traditional and modern can co-exist to some extent.  It has to be said, however, that even now a definite and timely diagnosis of many ailments are not as effective as they might be. Also, many modern drugs are toxic to the body and can often trigger secondary problems.

Modern allopathic medicine treats the symptoms of dis-ease. Traditional Western medicine is holistic and sees the human being within the context of the macrocosmic/microcosmic relationship.

In the spirit of introduction to traditional astrological theory and practice, we can begin with what has come to be known as the Astrological Man.

Zodiac correspondences of the human body – Michael of Rhodes ~1434

Contemporary modern astrologers associate each sign with a house. No matter what the ascendant, the first house ‘belongs’ to Aries and the twelfth to Pisces. This is a modern aberration and has nothing to do with traditional astrology except in the correlations between parts of the human anatomy. Although there are some applications of this in horary astrology, the most important is as a tool in medical astrology.

The image above is a simple reference tool – one can readily see the correspondences between the parts of the human body and the sign to which they are associated. For it to make any practical sense for an individual, we use the natal chart. In Lilly’s day, it would look something like this.

From Christian Astrology by William Lilly – Sample chart

The image itself is believed to derive from Egyptian sources. You can see also that the human form is placed in a circular position with the head in Aries and the feet in Pisces – the alpha and omega.

The writer at Wikipedia summarizes the traditional system of medicine very well: “Temperament theory has its roots in the ancient four humors theory. It may have origins in ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia, but it was the Greek physician Hippocrates (460–370 BC) who developed it into a medical theory. He believed certain human moods, emotions and behaviors were caused by an excess or lack of body fluids (called “humors”): blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm.”

“Humoral” derives from the word “humor,” which, means “fluid.” The human body was thought to contain a mixture of the four humors – black bile (melancholy), yellow or red bile, blood (sanguine) and phlegm. Each individual has a particular humoral constitution. In this system, health is defined as the proper humoral balance for that particular individual. An imbalance of the humors is considered at the root of illness. 

The humors are also used to refer to the four individual psychological temperaments: melancholic, sanguine, choleric, and phlegmatic. What is immediately relevant here is the fact that the physical health and individual personality were part of the same whole.

The development of humoral theory is associated originally with Hippocrates (ca. 460–370 BCE). In the second century CE, Galen elaborated on this theory, which was further developed by Arabic writers beginning in the 9th century and by European writers beginning in the 11th. Though several important publications—Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica in 1543 and William Harvey’s De Motu Cordis in 1628—challenged aspects of humoral theory, it remained dominant among both physicians and the public through the 19th century.

This system is always used in concert with the humoral medicine of Galan and Hippocrates. Modern medicine tends to believe that a given medicine will work the same way for different people. That may be true of some treatments but certainly not the vast majority. Traditional astrological medicine determines the Temperament of the patient by reading the Humoural nature of the chart, communicated by the planets in signs, among other considerations. People who have a very strong Choleric nature, which is hot and dry, will tend to suffer from more fevers than someone with a Phlegmatic temperament, which is cold and wet. This is not the place to engage in a detailed explanation of Humoral medicine, but suffice it to say that only a foolish doctor would treat the two as they were exactly the same.

The planets are also associated with anatomy in a wider sense. To give a small sample, Saturn governs bones and teeth, but also long and chronic illness. Mars governs the blood and is also associated with cuts (including surgery) and fevers. Mercury is associated with the nervous system and is a part of the assessment of mental disorders, often in concert with the Moon or Saturn. Clearly, all of the components must be read in the process of diagnostics. I hope at some later date to delve into this more deeply on this blog, for those who have an interest.

table courtesy of wiki commons

Aquarian Age : Part II

Aquarius - Italian C. 1600

Aquarius – Italian C. 1600

As the Sun once again passes through Aquarius, this seems like an opportune time to follow up on my article on the Age of Aquarius. For those of you who have no interest in reading the original article, my essential premise is that we are already in the Age of Aquarius and it is mostly dystopian, in contradiction to those who have looked forward to this New Age as a time of enlightenment, peace and even a radical, spiritual transformation of humanity. You can read Part I here 

A source which will remain anonymous states “The Aquarian Age is the epoch of new knowledge pouring like Holy Water onto the Earth from the Creator.” If were seeking this *new knowledge* we would find a very rich source in the Age of Aries for example which gave us Pythagoras, the Buddha, Lao Tzu and great sages from all over the world, I see no evidence that humanity as a whole is more spiritual now than in any other age, One does not become spiritual because of an age. More often we do so in spite of it.

I will take Zoller at his word on this, although I do not entirely share his apparent fatalistic pessimism. I am most interested in what he has to say about the angles of the Piscean and Aquarian Age, including his references to the role of Libra, Leo and Scorpio.

“The Novus Ordo Saeculorum, the New Order of the Ages, will rule through the power of life and death (Scorpio, which is on the 10th), through behaviour modification, cloning, genetic engineering, mind control and the occult. Might makes right in this New Age. If the preceding Age produced metaphysical materialists, who duped the people through the opiate of religion, the New Age will produce materialist metaphysicians who will make the preceding political power elites look like inept apprentices.

In the Age of Aquarius, religion will be humanistic love of fairness and justice. While feeding the people with Libran platitudes, the Scorpionic rulers will work tirelessly toward the realization of their goal – absolute power over others, as Leo is seen in position on the 7th house. The will of the people will be towards freedom of expression (Aquarius), and they will be encouraged to do their own thing so that they keep their minds off what their rulers do.”

See full article @  http://www.lunatica.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/SAA/ Documents/Zoller/Archandpredabridged-2.htm


Leo - Islamic Circa 1300

Leo – Islamic Circa 1300

He says a great deal more about the prospects of the Aquarian Age, but Im suggesting that the Age is essentially Fascist in nature. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Fascism as “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization” but this is a great simplification of what we are likely to see manifest in the Twenty-First Century.

Zoller writes “Knowledge will be valued only insofar as it leads to the ability to wage war and destroy, because Aries is on the 3rd house. In fact, the cultivation of knowledge as a source of military power will eventually lead to a secret means of altering and controlling such things as earthquakes and the Earth itself, even the core.” ibid

This is the *boot in the face* we associate with totalitarian regimes with little to no interest in the populace beyond what they can supply the regime. As such, they are completely expendable.

How can this be? The Age of Aquarius was billed as a time of harmony, understanding and humanitarian philanthropy. This was never anything more than a utopian dream put forward by the theosophists and their heirs.

When most people hear the term, they think of jack booted Nazis goose stepping through Berlin among a sea of black and red swastikas. Any high handed attack on civil liberties will, more often than not, invite comparisons to Adolph Hitler. But contemporary fascism has been called velvet fascism. I believe this is part of Zoller’s point regarding the role of Libra.

Let’s take an example we are all familiar with – Political Correctness. It’s a means to silence and control. It bypasses the reasoning faculties and instead hands down unbreakable laws that have never been voted on or objectively assessed with the help of the hard sciences or the insights of anthropology. They tend to be tenets set forth by the media for mass consumption. PC is *true* because those with the most power say it is.  This ‘might is right’ is at the core of fascism.

Prior to the 20th Century, such systemic dogma regarding all facets of life was the domain of organized religion. Now it is political will in the service of multi-nationals and enforced by both the military and an increasingly militarized police force.

This is an affront to civil liberties and intellect, but it feels very much like the fixed – humanism of Aquarius. Human behaviour is thus governed by a purely political cabal who are normally assumed to be Liberal. Oppression masquerades as moral progress.

So let’s now look at the other end of the axis, the hot and dry, fixed fire sign of Leo. If I understand him correctly, I believe Zoller is particularly glib on this, writing it off a diversion in which to  “do your own thing.” Surely, it is a great deal more than that. In it’s simplest terms, this presents us with a polarity of the self versus the collective. Technologically, we are faced with the paradox of *personal* devices that have the effect of merging us all into a global collective, for good or bad.

The Sun is in his fall in Libra, but also debilitated in Aquarius.  Abu’ Mashar refers to the sign as the “estrangement” of the Sun. As a “partner” in the 7th House, we are presented with a choice, but not an easy one. It is worthy of note that in traditional astrology the Ascendant is the patient and the 7th house the place of the physician. ( The Forty Chapters of Al Kindi p.250 ).

The Sun in his own domicile makes for a powerful opposition that serves to ease the otherwise gloomy rule of Saturn.  Many of the illnesses associated with Saturn, such as arthritis, are soothed by the application of heat. A partial list of saturnine ailments from Nicolas Culpeper includes tooth-ache, Melancholy, excessive cold and dryness (See Astrological Judgement of Diseases. p 76). Leo is monarchy at the other end of the axis with Aquarius and as such is part of a dynamic. The balanced offered by the polarities of any age, present us with opportunities and choices. Imperfect as it may be, this ‘patient – physician” relationship room.

14th century C.E. illustration from an Arabic manuscript , which is dedicated to astrology, astronomy and geomancy and which was compiled by Abd al-Hasan Al-Isfahani

14th century C.E. illustration from an Arabic manuscript , which is dedicated to astrology, astronomy and geomancy and which was compiled by Abd al-Hasan Al-Isfahani

Let’s look again at the political manifestations of this axis. First of all, the distinction between Right and Left wing has become pretty much meaningless. Absolute power exercised by the greatest plutocracy the world has ever seen imposes its will by way of leaders they have chosen to meet their own agenda. In this case, the *king* is manipulated, but also *selfish.”

The Obama Presidency is a particularly poignant case in point. Obama himself could well be described as the velvet glove for the iron fist, so often associated with Libra. His success is fuelled by a combination of platitudes and charisma, but he rules mostly by executive order, repays banks with the taxes levied on the poor and working class.  He reigns with the great benefit of a mostly uncritical media paid for by his masters. His rise was a wonder of commercial promotion, promising one thing and delivering the opposite.

There hasn’t been a great deal of secrecy regarding the fact that he was repaying financial supporters, rather than addressing the will of those who elected him.  His campaign promises have been almost entirely ignored. His protection of companies such as Monsanto, even to the extent of making it illegal to criticize the company have shown him to be little more than a shameless opportunist. We have seen citizens regarded as mere consumers with no particular entitlement, even if they paid for it.

Libra - Arabic, 15th C.

Libra – Arabic, 15th C.

Of course, Obama is only one of dozens of world leaders and they are not all like him. Most are. As we enter into the thick of the Aquarian Age, consolidation of absolute power has become commonplace.

Writing about an Age / Aeon requires us to paint with a very, very large brush. This is particularly the case when there is and can be no consensus regarding the start or end of any age. However, we can make observations that reflect that age. It also helps us to find balance and avoid the extreme conditions of an age where the malefics hold sway.

My intent has never been to overly denigrate the ideals expected of the Age of Aquarius, but instead to offer some counterbalance to the unconsidered  expectations of the Age as being a Utopian state of being, with spiritual altruism at its core. No age is that and should be seen for what it is. In a wider context, I would like to stimulate some discussion on the Ages that might bring us to a point of greater understanding

Mundane Astrology & Janus Geminus


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