Astrology Essay Research Paper The basic astrological — страница 5

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choice by making the client aware of just what possibilities were open to him, but the clients did not always remember that. At a popular level, astrology may well have helped to slacken moral responsibility in the way the theologians predicted, even educated men were quick to attribute their own personal weaknesses and misfortunes to the crippling influence of the planets. Committed to the belief that the will was necessarily free, the clergy therefore reasoned that it was impossible to predict future human behavior, if the astrologers did so, it could only mean that they were in league with the Devil. Although it also offered an abstract system of explanations, astrology was first and foremost a practical agency, providing advice on a wide range of personal difficulties. That

they should turn to star-gazers in their hour of need rather than to the traditional pastoral agencies of the Church seemed a direct threat to the moral supremacy of the clergy whose privilege it had always been to resolve disputes and administer advice. Even though they often conceded that astrologers might be correct in their prognostications, but cited this very success as further evidence for the diabolical stature of their art. Do astrologers foretell right sometimes? sneered John Agree, So do witches’. The astrologers lost either way. If their predictions were wrong it proved they were charlatans if they were right, then they were in league with the Devil. So instead of remaining two rival systems of belief pagan astrology and Christian religion proved to have many points

of contact. Both astrologers and clients usually found it possible to arrive at a modus vivendi , which permitted them to reconcile their religion with their practice without too much soul-searching. Yet the preachers feared that the vogue for astrology might lead to the replacement of the Christian God by the planetary divinities. Astrology, they recalled, had begun as a religion rather than a sciences and the Bible contained warnings against star-worship. None of the leading astrologers seem to been atheists or star-worshippers. They represented almost every shade of religious opinion, from Roman Catholic to Quaker, but they all claimed that their art was compatible with their religion, and that the heavenly bodies were merely instruments of’ God’s will. At the popular

level, however, the balance between astrology and religion may have been occasionally upset. Early Christianity had sometimes been mistaken for a solar religion, and the Anglo-Saxon kings had to legislate against star-worship. The signs of the zodiac decorated many English churches and may have helped to shape popular religious attitudes. Pictures of the sun and moon were found in several Suffolk churches and the churches themselves were built to face the rising sun. How far such practices affected men s basic beliefs it is difficult to tell. Anne Bodenham, who was executed for witchcraft at Salisbury in 1653 was a former servant of the astrologer John Lambe, she had long practiced as a cunning woman, claiming to be able to do more than Master Lilly or anyone whatsoever. When she

dealt with a maid who had convulsive fits, she is reported to have proposed a frankly pagan remedy -prayer to Jupiter, the best and fortunatest of all the planets’. Even more striking is another Wiltshire case, which came before the quarter sessions in 1656. A Lacock weaver, Wllllam Bond was charged with atheism and blasphemy, and in particular with publicly affirming that there was no God or power ruling above the planets, no Christ but the sun that shines upon us’; and ‘that the twelve patriarchs were the twelve houses’. “This was astrology run wild; and it is tantalizing not to know how many of William Bond’s contemporaries may have held similar views.