Page images

for the position of a planet under a sign is a kind of conjunction of it with the stars of that sign. And in like manner also ought the oppositions and other combinations of the planets with regard to the stars of the signs to be observed; which has not hitherto been fully done. But these commixtures of the rays of fixed stars with one another, though useful in contemplating the structure of the universe and the nature of the regions lying below them, are of no avail for predictions, hecause they are always alike. Secondly, let there be received the approaches of each individual planet to the perpendicular, and its regressions from it, according to the climates of countries. For every planet, no less than the sun, has its summer and winter, in which as its rays fall more or less perpendicular, their force is stronger or weaker. For I have no doubt but that the moon in Leo has more power over natural bodies in our planet than when in Pisces; not because when in Leo the moon affects the heart, and when in Pisces the feet, as they talk; but by reason of her elevation towards the perpendicular and approximation to the larger stars, in the same manner as the sun. Thirdly, let there be received the apogees and perigees of the planets, with a sufficient distinction as to what is due to the inherent vigour of the planet, and what to its proximity to us. For a planet is more active in its apogee or elevation, but more communicative in its perigee or descent. Fourthly, let there be received (to speak summarily) all the remaining accidents of the motions of planets; what are the accelerations and retardations of each in its course; what their progressions, actions, and regressions; what their distances from the sun, combustions, increases and diminutions of light, eclipses and the like; for all these things help to make the rays .of the planets act more forcibly or more feebly, and in different modes and with different virtues. These four remarks relate to the radiations of the stars. Fifthly, let everything be received which may in any way disclose and explain the natures of the stars, whether erratic or fixed, in their proper essence and activity; as their size, their colour and aspect, their twinkling and vibration of light, their situation with reference to the poles or the equinox, their asterisms; which of them are more mingled with other stars and which more solitary; which are higher, and which lower; which of the fixed stars are within the path of the sun and planets (that is within the zodiac), and which without; which of the planets is swifter, which slower; which of them move in the ecliptic, and which deviate to right or left of it; which of them may be retrograde, and which cannot; which of them may be at any distance from the sun, and which of them are confined to a certain limit; which of them move swifter in perigee, which in apogee; finally the anomalies of Mars, the wandering of Venus, the labours and wonderful passions which have been detected more than once both in the Sun and Venus; and any other things of the like nature. Lastly let there be received also the particular natures and inclinations of the planets, and likewise of the fixed stars, as handed down by tradition: which as they are transmitted with very general consent, ought not (except when they are plainly at variance with physical reasons) to be lightly rejected. From such observations is Sane Astrology constructed, and bv them alone should schemes of the heavens be formed and interpreted.

Sane Astrology is applied more confidently to predictions, but more cautiously to elections; in both cases however within due limits. Predictions may be made of comets to come, which (I am inclined to think) may be foretold; of all kinds of meteors, of floods, droughts, heats, frosts, earthquakes, irruptions of water, eruptions of fire, great winds and rains, the various seasons of the year, plagues, epidemic diseases, plenty and dearth of grain, wars, seditions, schisms, transmigrations of peoples, and in short of all commotions or greater revolutions of things, natural as well as civil. But these predictions may also be made (though not so certainly) with reference to events more special and perhaps singular, if after the general inclinations of such times and seasons have been ascertained, they be applied with a clear judgment, either physical or political, to those species or individuals which are most liable to accidents of this nature; as for instance, if any one from a foreknowledge of the seasons of the vear shall pronounce them more favourable or injurious to olives than to vines, to pulmonary than to liver complaints, to the inhabitants of hills than to those of valleys, to monks than to courtiers (by reason of their different manner of living); or if any one from knowledge of the influence which celestial bodies have upon human minds should discover it to be more favourable or more adverse to peoples than to kings, to learned and inquisitive men than to bold and warlike, to men of pleasure than to men of business or politicians. There are innumerable things of this kind; but they require (as I said before) not only that general knowledge derived from the stars (which are actives), but also a particular knowledge of the subjects (which are passives). Nor are electiom to be altogether rejected; but less confidence is to be placed in them than in predictions. For we see that in planting and sowing and grafting, observation of the age of the moon is a thing not altogether frivolous. And there are many instances of the kind. But these elections also, even more than predictions, must be guided by our rules. And it must always be observed, that elections hold good in those cases only where both the virtue of the heavenly bodies is such as does not quickly pass, and the action of the inferior bodies is such as is not suddenly accomplished; which is the case in those examples cited above; for neither tlie changes of the moon nor the growth of plants are effected in an instant. As for those which depend upon exactness to a moment, they are to be rejected altogether. But many such cases are to be found likewise (though a man would not think it) in elections concerning civil matters. And if any one complains that while I have given some indication of the materials from which this improved astrology may be extracted, and likewise of the purposes for which it may be advantageously used, I have said nothing about the manner of extracting it, he does not deal fairly with me; for he requires of me the art itself, for which I am not accountable. Upon the question which he asks however I will say thus much. There are four ways only by which this science can be approached. First by future experiments; secondly by past experiments; thirdly by traditions; and lastly by physical reasons. With regard to future experiments, what need is there of saying anything? seeing it requires many ages to collect a sufficient number of them; so that it is useless to speculate about them. For past experiments, they are no doubt within man's reach; though to collect them is a work of great labour, and one requiring much leisure. For astrologers (if they would do themselves justice) may faithfully extract from history all the greater disasters (as inundations, plagues, battles, seditions, deaths of kings, and the like), and may examine (not according to the subtleties of horoscopes, but by those rules of revolutions which I have shadowed out) what the position of the heavenly bodies was at the times; so that where there is found a manifest agreement and coincidence of events, there a probable rule of prediction may be established. As to traditions, they must be carefully sifted, that what is plainly repugnant to physical reasons may be rejected, and what is in conformity with them may stand upon its own authority. Lastly of physical reasons, those are most adapted to this investigation which make inquiry into the universal appetites and passions of matter, and the simple and genuine motions of bodies. For upon these wings we ascend most safely to these celestial material substances. And so much for Sane Astrology.

Of astrological insanity (besides those fictions which I remarked above) there is another portion, which must not be omitted; though it ought properly to be excluded from astrology, and removed to what is called celestial magic. It rests upon a wonderful figment of the human mind, — namely, that any favourable position of the stars may be received on seals or signets (say of some metal or gem qualified for the purpose), by which the felicity of the hour, which would otherwise pass, may be arrested and as it were fixed as it

Vol. Viii. 32

« PreviousContinue »