with publishing books of natal charts,
also made advances in new astrological techniques as well. There were a number of new
or more widely
publicized house systems such as the Campanus and
ephemerides were compiled,
increasing the accuracy of chart creation.
who discovered Heliocentric Astronomy, made a major contribution to
by publishing Erasmus Reinhold in
1551. This work
published new tables
called Prutenic Tables, which greatly aided astrologers in the accuracy
known today as an astronomer, was also an astrologer.
In 1627 he published the Rudolphine
Tables which further improved the accuracy of
astrological prediction and delineation.
the early 16th
century, astrology was enjoying an unrivalled popularity. The Church viewed it in a
even Pope Gregory XIII,
who had a
distrust of it, allowed his natal chart to be cast.
That very chart has been preserved in
Vatican Library. Other
Popes, such as
Leo X and Paul
gladly endorsed astrology.
who could afford to do so,
were said to not even take a step outside without first consulting
these, were Catherine
de Medici, whose
included Michel de Nostradamus. Even the coronation of
Elizabeth I of England, on January
15, 1559 at precisely noon,
carefully selected by her court astrologer, Dr.
the not so wealthy could
gain the wisdom of the famous astrologers.
Due to the availability of printing,
inexpensive almanacs were being
produced for the masses.
these almanacs contained a calendar
year, astronomical events such as solar and lunar eclipses, as well as
astrological predictions. The
and high born had been getting this information for a long time, now
anyone could obtain it.
the mid 17th
century, English astrologer William Lilly
was publishing an annual almanac titled Merlinus Anglicus
Merlin). It had an
circulation of 30,000 copies.
number of almanacs printed in England during this time exceeded the
number of Bibles printed. It
estimated that up to one third of all English households had at least
the height of his popularity,
Lilly was seeing 2000 clients each year.
While many were the well to do, his
which are held at the Ashmolean
Museum at Oxford University, show that fully a third of his clients
as ancilla (female servant).
the expected questions of romance, and
business were the most
frequent questions, Lilly used Horary astrology to answer a much
of questions. These
from health to truth or falsity of rumors, buried treasure to which
would die first, gender of a child and Witchcraft.
The Other Side of The Coin
with its popularity among
all classes of Europe, astrology had its detractors, and its fair share
Catholic Church was never
really comfortable with the Spiritual/Magical nature of astrology,
where it might be contrary to established doctrine.
the Church voiced concern over
the perceived implication that, if in fact the stars absolutely
actions, then astrology denied man's free will.
pointed out that the stars
and their movements were created by God, and therefore astrology was
giving man a tool to see God’s Will.
They also pointed out that while certain
events may be predestined, that
didn’t mean that a person’s entire life was.
didn’t always say “this will
happen”, most of the time it
said, “The best time for this to happen is at this time”. Knowing this
free will, it simply allowed a person to know opportune timings for
Divinatory Astrology published in 1496 by Giovanni Pico della
detailed problems with astrological theory and technique. It condemned the denial of
free will that
Mirandola saw in current astrological practice. Interestingly enough,
of Mirandola's death was predicted accurately by a Renaissance
1586 Pope Sixtus V
issued a papal bull that condemned all forms of magic and divination. This included horary,
electional and natal
some astrologers, such
as Italian Jerome Cardan, were
under house arrest by the Inquisition on suspicion of violating the
others such as William Lilly in England, seem to have avoided
prosecution. Of course, Elizabethan
England was much more tolerant of such things.
The Great Conjunction of 1524
February 1524, astrologers
announced that there would be both a Great Conjunction of Jupiter and
and a conjunction of all the ancient planets in the sign of Pisces. The reaction of this news
of historical proportion.
wide availability of print
allowed almost anyone to read the wild predictions such a significant
might cause. Because
the conjunction was
to happen in a water sign, most predictions centered around flooding. This included speculation
of inundations of
Biblical proportion as had happened in the time of Noah.
more sober analysis of the
charts predicted an abundance of rain and snow, but nothing more. According to a
meteorological diary kept by a
Bolognese astrologer, it was in fact a wetter than normal year.
also centered over
the use of the Great Conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter as a technique
was criticized as an
Arabic technique that had replaced the older Ptolemaic use of eclipses.
were a number of
treatises decrying not
only the reliance on Great Conjunctions, but the use of solar
Neither of these had been set forth in Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos. Even so, while
there was a trend toward the Ptolemaic practices, most astrologers
use the techniques that had come down from the Arab Era.
should be noted that modern
astrological software reveals that the Great Conjunction of Saturn and
took place on January 30, 1524 before all of the seven planets were
February 13, 1524 Mercury entered Pisces so that all of the
traditional planets were now in Pisces, except for the Moon in Gemini.
February 20, 1524 Venus entered Aries with the Moon in Sagittarius.
to say, the actual
non-event didn’t live up to the hype, sort of like Y2K.
This caused a general consensus toward
distrust of the astrological sciences.
Masses tend toward hysteria if given a
can be assumed that the
relief of nothing
happening was far over shadowed by the disappointment of all those who
wasted time and effort, perhaps on a par with the Great
which lead to the formation of the Seventh Day Adventists in the 19th
had been proclaimed the
Queen of the Sciences. It
capable of providing an explanation for the birth, growth, and decline
everything in the material world.
zodiac, or Celestial World, was
link in the Great Chain of Being.
acted as the essential intermediary between the Divine world of
and angels, and the everyday material world made up of the four
elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
had been seen as a
unifying force, uniting all things in existence.
It was an ancestor and precursor of
elusive Unified Field Theory.
Disappointment in astrology’s ability to
accurately predict events of even the highest potential significance,
inexorably to its decline.
the Enlightenment of the 18th century pushed
astrology out of
increasing acceptance of
the mechanical theory of Causality, with observation of empirical
overtook the interpretation and calculation of astrology.
the movement away from the
Spiritual in favor of the scientific, the more Spiritual and esoteric
lost favor. Renaissance
disagreed essentially with religion, it couldn’t.
In the Renaissance, the Church still
power of, and over the people.
“hard” sciences began to take hold, people started to put their faith
those things that could be observed.
This caused a split between science and
spirituality that is with us
the Enlightenment, the Bible
and its stories were no longer Absolute Truth.
They were seen merely as stories and
parables. It was no
that you believe
the Truth of the stories, as long as you understood the ideas which
downfall of astrology didn’t
cause the decline of the Church. They were both victims of humankind’s
desire to know the unknowable. Both
had their chance to satisfy this hunger, and both had failed.
this has caused a
conceptual imbalance. Because
no longer a link between the Spiritual and the Scientific, it has
for a Biologist to talk to a Theologian and Mystics are dismissed by
pendulum has swung yet again, this time to the other
this history was taken primarily from “History of Astrology in the Renaissance”
originally published in The Mountain Astrologer, October –