Astrology Essay Research Paper The basic astrological — страница 3

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patients’ sufferings Until the later seventeenth century, a cross-section of the English people took the astrologers very seriously. The clients who flocked to Forman, Lilly and Booker included aristocrats’ merchants, and persons of outstanding intellectual and artistic distinction. Nothing did more to make astrology seductive than the ambitious scale of its intellectual pretensions. It offered a systematic scheme of explanation for all the inexplicable human and natural behavior. Every earthly occurrence was capable of astrological explanation. In the absence of any rival system of scientific explanations and no other existing body of thought, religion apart, which even began to offer so all-embracing an explanation for the baffling various ness of human affairs. This was

the intellectual vacuum which astrology moved in to fi1l. The disadvantage of the system was its rigidity. Since there were a limited number of planets, houses, and signs of the zodiacs the astrologers tended to deduce human potentialities to a set of fixed types and to postulate only a limited number of possible variations. Such obstacles notwithstanding, the astrological explanation of personal misfortunes seems to have appealed to clients. When William Bredon s two daughters died in successive months, their bereaved father wrote to Richard Napier to discuss ‘the astrological cause for the tragedy. Many of the clients entered an astrologers’ consulting-room were seeking an explanation for the various misfortunes which had beset them – illness’ sterility, miscarriage,

political failures, and bankruptcy. No doubt it was more comforting to learn that had been crossed at birth than to be told that one had no one to blame for one s misfortunes but oneself. Astrology could thus appeal as a means of evading responsibility, removing guilt from both sufferer and society at large. Like religion, it also combated the notion that misfortune was purely random in its incidence. There really was no such thing as chance in nature declared the astrologer John Butler. The astrologers also claimed to predict the course of political events. If the Scots had read Lilly’s almanac thought William Paine, they should have known in advance that their invasion of England was doomed to defeat. In the eighteenth century most sections of the English economy were

dependent upon the weather. It was this, which gave astrological predictions their credibility. To predict the weather was to predict the harvest, and to predict the harvest was to predict the discontent which would follow a food shortage, and the rebellion which might follow the discontent. In brief, a society which was dependent upon the weather for its efficient functioning, and had fewer means of guarding itself against the depredations of storm or droughts, it was not possible for a weather forecast to refrain simply a weather forecast. Inevitably, it carried with it a chain of far-reaching consequences of a social and political character. How was astrology able to retain the allegiance of intelligent men when it was utterly incapable of providing the accurate

prognostications they wanted? Dating the seventeen years of subsequent records John Booker’s astrological practice showed no signs of respite. On the contrary, the same clients returned again and again, and brought their friends as well. The astrologers, or at least the reputable ones, did not claim for their predictions a binding and inevitable end, all they claimed was that they were likely to be fulfilled. It was always possible for a man to overcome the tendencies indicated in his horoscope by exercising free-will and self-determination. In this way two men born under the same star might well have a different destiny. Astrologers, a practitioner asserted did not make definite predictions ‘but only a probable conjecture by natural causes . It was during the Civil War

however, that the political potentialities of astrologic forecasts were most systematically exploited. From 1642 the newspapers printed astrological predictions and the astrologers were taken up by both sides in the conflict with Lilly and Booker prominent among the supporters of Parliaments and George Wharton writing on behalf of the King. Some of the conspiracies against Henry VII drew on astrological advice, and all the Tudor Monarchs were made the subject of astrological calculation by dissident groups. In 1581 Parliament made it a statutory felony to erect figures, cast nativities, or calculate by prophecy how long the Queen would live or who would succeed her. Astrologers could easily gain a reputation for trouble making. John Lambe caused many divisions between husband and