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ANCIENT AND MODERN HISTORY OF ASTROLOGY.
ASTROLOGY IS TO ASTRONOMY WHAT SUPERSTITION IS TO RELIGION,
THE FOOLISH DAUGHTER OF A WISE MOTHER.”- ROBINSON.
We have no authentic records of the origin of astrology, but it is universally attributed to the Babylonians and Chaldeans; though it is certain that it must have been early introduced into Egypt. The Egyptians believed that if a child happened to be born when the first star of Aries was in the ascendant, the star being then supposed to have its greatest influence, he would then be very rich in cattle ; but if he should come into the world when Cancer was rising, he would meet with continued disappointments. They also considered that a nation would be happy and prosperous whose king was born under Libra, but be completely wretched if born under Scorpio: Leo was to produce heroes; and Virgo chastity. Among the Egyptians, astronomy was principally cultivated by
their priests, who employed it to consolidate the empire of superstition over which they presided.
Eudoxus, as we are informed by Cicero, rejected the pretensions of the Chaldeans; and Cicero himself reasons powerfully against the stars having any influence over the destinies of mankind. He argues from the very remoteness of the planets, and asks, " What contagion can reach us from a distance almost infinite?" Pliny also says (Hist. Nat. vii. 49)—“ Homer tells us that Hector and Polydamus were born on the same night, men of such different fortunes. And every hour, in every part of the world, are born lords and slaves, kings and beggars." From the time of the conquest of Egypt, it is certain that astrology was much cultivated at Rome, notwithstanding several edicts of the senate. Tacitus says of its professors, “ It is a class of men which, in our city, will always be prohibited, and will always exist.” In the philosophic dreams of the Greeks, we find allusions to stellar influence. They discoursed of the influences or effluxes [útóppoias] that proceeded from the stars ; and, in the second century, the greater part of the world was -astrological ; and perhaps Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos con. tributed, in no small degree, to extend the doctrines of the Babylonian superstition.
Astrology, also, was cultivated with great diligence by the Arabians; “ Albumassar, of Balkh, in Khorasan,
who flourished in the ninth century, was a great astrologer, and his work, •De Magnis Conjunctionibus Annorum Revolutionibus ac eorum Perfectionibus,' was long celebrated in Europe.”
Aboazen Haley, who lived in the fourth century, was the author of a considerable work upon the subject.
Astrology, also, has for ages been-held in great esteem by the followers of Mohammed ; and this is not surprising, as its character of fatality so well agrees with their religious creed. The establishment of the Moors in Spain, and the crusades, caused the introduction, or the increased cultivation of the art among the descendants of the barbarians, who destroyed the Roman empire. In the middle ages, astrology, alchymy, and magic, were assiduously cultivated ; and during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, astrology was taught in the universities of Italy, and every where throughout Europe ; and multitudes believed in its principles. Although this abominable art had been condemned by several councils, yet Cardinal D' Ailly, who died in 1425, calculated the nativity of the Saviour of the World ; Jerome Cardan did the same, which, as Mr. Godwin observes, was imputed to him as an impious undertaking, inasmuch as it supposed the Creator of the world to be subject to the influences of the stars. Another attempt of the kind is to be found in the second volume of Dr. Sibly's Astro
logy. These men “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” But these instances prove that astrologers may imagine coincidences between the supposed influence of the planets and the great events of the world, in a case where it is impossible any could exist. And if a daring imagination will con. duct them through such a labyrinth of wickedness as this, it will conduct them through any thing. As to Cardan, his wretched history should be a warning to all mystics. At the age of seventy five, he is said to have destroyed himself to verify his own prediction.
The staple commodity from which the sons of the Chaldeans derived their greatest profit, were comets and eclipses ; the fearful tails of the former, and the appalling phenomena of the latter, created in the minds of many, terrible apprehensions respecting their nature, and the effects they might produce. The astrology of comets is said to have been recognised even by a Pope. In the fifteenth century, when one of these awful strangers visited our system, and its presence was supposed to have assisted the success of the Turks against the Christians, Calixtus the Third, felt himself insulted by the appearance of this herald of evil. Prayers were therefore offered on the occasion day by day, and anathemas were pronounced against the unhallowed intruder : and so great
was the holy ire of the Roman Pontiff, that, without pity or remorse, his Holiness, with all the solemnity of his office, actually excommunicated the comet.
We are informed by the French historians that in the time of Queen Catherine De Medici, astrology was so much in fashion, that the stars were consulted on all occasions. In the reigns of King Henry the Third and Fourth of France, the predictions of astrologers were the constant theme of conversation. On the night previous to the assassination of Henry the Fourth, Francisco Corvini, an Italian astrologer, was leaning upon his balcony in Florence, and while gazing at the stars, he suddenly exclaimed, “ To-morrow one of the greatest monarchs of Christendom will be slain"; and the very next day, it is said, the mortal stab was given by Ravaillac. This, whether true or false, is no credit to astrology, for according to the principles of the art, the mere contemplation of the stars can accomplish nothing; but a figure of the heavens with the planets' places taken from an Ephemeris, is absolutely necessary to the making of any predictions. Henry the 4th, when very young, had been carried to old Nostradamus, by Catherine De Medici, but this astrological impostor, at the time of his assassination, had been dead some years. He published at Lyons, seven centuries of prophecies, in quatrains of French verse. The obscurity of these predictions, together with the