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.


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


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 refered to King Philip’s physicians appears to have been pnuemonic. 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.

Charles I : End of an Epoch

Declaration of War

Declaration of War

The English Civil War had numerous causes but the character of Charles I must be considered as one of the chief reasons. He had what we might call today, delusions of grandeur. Of course in those times it was better known as the Divine Right of the Monarch.

Like his father, he felt Paliament was there to serve his needs. Being questioned about them was not cheerfully accepted. From 1625 to 1629 the King argued with Parliament over almost everything, but money and religion were at the top of the list. Charles subsequently suspended Parliament for eleven years. The period is now known as the Eleven Years Tyranny.

To add much fuel to the fire, Charles married Henrietta Maria, a devout French Catholic. This would heavily influence the court and to some extent the fate of Charles, particularly during the initial years of marriage. Charles liked to call her Maria, with the Catholic leaning English people calling her “Queen Mary.” The association with Charles’ Catholic grandmother could hardly be missed.

Fear and loathing of *popery* in the English seventeenth century should not be underestimated. Even so, it’s unlikely that most could have predicted that the civil war, started in 1642, would end with the public beheading of Charles. His arch nemesis is considered to be Oliver Cromwell who was among those signing the death warrant of  the King. Cromwell and his circle were vindictive, not only seeking the demise of the King but the brutal conquest of Ireland. Regicide was something most would have considered impossible and probably unforgivable, but not so Cromwell.Lilly

William Lilly had developed a great interest in the politics of revolutionary England. His first almanac, Merlinus Anglicus Junior, was published in April of 1644. It was immediately popular. In it he predicted the King’s humiliating defeat at the Battle of Naseby in June 1645.

As far as I know, there has been no astrological study published on the Declaration Chart with consideration given to Superior Conjunctions as well as the preceding lunar eclipse. I’ve also drawn a chart for  the Vernal Equinox to determine the Lord of the Year according to the rules of Bonatti. Here’s the chart for the equinox.

Vernal Equinox 1642

Vernal Equinox 1642

The Sun is in the Ninth House of his Joy, in Sect and Exalted in Aries. The Sun also disposits the Leo Ascendant. The Moon in Scorpio is separating from a square to the Ascendant, to trine the Sun as she enters Saggitarius.

This is one case where the Lord of the Year is very easy to find. It’s the Sun and the Sign of Royalty. This is the annual background chart, setting the tone for the year of the Declaration of War. Let’s now look at the chart for the declaration itself. The English Civil War between the English King & Parliament began at 6:15pm on 22 August 1642 when Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham, according to John Gadbury (Campion).

It seems clear that no astrologer was consulted. Although it isn’t a complete disaster it is far from ideal for something as important as the declaration of war. It’s as if he had turned a dagger on himselfengland_wales_civil_war

The Ascendant in Aquarius is disposited by a  Peregrine Saturn in Pisces in Conjunction with a dignified, but retrograde  Jupiter in the same sign. Saturn is the undisputed Almuten Figura.

The Lord of the Geniture is Mercury in Virgo, opposed to his house of Joy and Under the Beams. The Moon at zero degrees Leo is peregrine. She is below the horizon in the sixth house, representative of the King’s subjects and servants. We can say the King and those closely associated with him were, in this respect, in essential harmony. He did have his supporters. This was to be a civil war after all. She is transiting into her domicile, but is still relatively weak and separating Mars in his detriment, Venus is in her fall.

If we consider the Sun as the Monarch, we find him out of Sect and in Anorectic degree, a polite term for *pretty much toast.* The Year and Epoch of the Sun only brings our attention to the monarch and indeed the monarchy itself.


Saturn-Jupiter Conjunction – 1623

There was a Superior Conjunction at 06 Leo 36 which began 05 July 1623. The next would occur 16 February 1643.  It’s the end of an epoch. The element changes to water. The sign changes to Pisces. If we were to reduce the nature of the crisis to Monarchy vs Religion we wouldn’t be far off the mark. A Solar epoch is giving way to the Jupiterian epoch of Pisces..


Lunar Eclipse

Prior to the Declaration there was a Lunar Eclipse @ 29 April 164 2 @ 09 Taurus 39 in partile conjunction with Mars in the Conjunctional Chart. The Moon is in Aquarius and Mars is now in the eighth house. Having Mars marking the same degree as the declaration chart doesn’t bode well.  But even in this chart we have an angular Leo Sun in the tenth

The declaration was very badly timed. Many factors were in his favour but his intransigence and rash behaviour changed it all. Ironically perhaps, it was the very strength of the solar forces that gave him a sense of invulnerability

De Magnis Coniunctionibus – An Introduction

The  intent of this article is to introduce the phenomena of the De Magnis Coniunctionibus or Great Conjunctions and provide a general overview. A later article will approach the subject in more depthSaturn-Jupiter

The Great Conjunctions are those of Jupiter and Saturn.  The last Great Conjunction occurred in  May 31, 2000,. The next will be in late December 2020.  They take place approximately every twenty years.  Consideration of the  alignment of the two social planets is most widely used in Mundane astrology.

In fact they define what we have come to call generations or epochs. I have generated the Saturn Jupiter conjunctions from 5000 B.C. to 2500 AD in pdf format.

They have been used since earliest times. Combined with other phenomena such as Solar and Lunar Eclipses. Perhaps most important is their relationship to each other

.During the twenty year period  between Superior Conjunctions,  they will of course square, oppose, trine or sextile one another. This is were things become a great deal more complex and will be addressed in a second article on this subject.

kronos- kepler`

The great eighth-century Persian astrologer, Masha’allah Atharī (c.740–815 AD) became the leading astrologer of his age. Here’s what he has to say about the great conjunctions and their importance in Mundane divination.

“The principal things happen from the greater kind of conjunction, which is of the superior planets. But these superior planets have other conjunctions, even ones signifying great accidents. For the conjunction and it signifies accidents and sects.series of Great Conjunction from Kepler's book De Stella Nova (1606)

But the knowledge of the accidents from this is had by looking at the Ascendant, and  the planets at the hour of their conjunction, and which of them rules the figure. Which if it were a benefic, it will signify good and the fitness of the weather. And if it were a malefic [it will signify] detriment and dryness, and moreover the sterility of the earth, and wars.” (Works of Sahl and Masha’alla “- Trans Dyke. p. 306 )

One of the best ways to get comfortable with interpreting the Great Conjunctions is to study the tables, noting the elements. Invariably, the successive Conjunctions will remain in a given element for a long periods. You can see what happened and when it happened – seeing patterns that follow this phenomena.

Both the thumbnails on the left are the work of Johannes Kepler. If ever the principle of a picture being worth a thousand words were true, it’s right here.

Translation of Albumasar  (Venice_1515)  De Magnis Coniunctionibus

Translation of Albumasar (Venice_1515) De Magnis Coniunctionibus