Well-known Men who have studied Astrology
It will not be superfluous to begin with a few historical notes, in order to show how, through
all times, there have been eminent men, whose names sound throughout the ages, who believed in astrology and devoted their lives to this study.
We will not give long lists of famous Arabian, Chaldean and Egyptian astrologers, seeing these do not mean much to the majority of people. We will only mention the names of El Batani and About Wefa who compiled tables for calculating the tangents and cotangents. The Arabian astrologers seem to have been the first that used the sinus in their calculations. Astronomer, astrologer and mathematician were at that time united in one person”.* The first written scientific works on astrology are by Claudius Ptolomy. He wrote in the year 126 A.D. his well known four books on the Influence of the Stars. The books are called: the Tetrabiblos or Quadripartite. The third and fourth book contain “the Study of Births”. Ptolomy was a follower of the Alexandrian school; he was highly celebrated during the reign of Adrian and Antony Pius. He corrected the existing tables of the fixed stars and drew up new tables for the movement of sun, moon and planets. Thirteen books contain the famous Ptolomaic System. He seems to have founded his system of astrology, which the Tetrabiblos contain, on the books of Hermes, the first great Egyptian astrologer who lived before Moses.
In Persia there lived, during Darius Hystaspis’ reign, the astrologer Gjamasp, surnamed Al Hakim, the Wise One. He was the counsellor and friend of the king; and of him it is told that by astrological calculations he predicted the coming of Jesus and of Mahomet. He also predicted that the religion of the Persians, which was based on magic, was doomed.
In India, China and Egypt, later on in the South of Europe as well, astrology was highly renowned.
Of the Greek astrologers we need only mention the names of Anaximandre, Anaxagoras and later Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Procles. A saying of Hippocrates is a.o. “that the man who is ignorant of the science of astrology, deserves the name of fool rather than that of physician.”
The astrologer Nigidius Figulus, friend to Cicero, predicted at Octavius’ birth, that the latter should become ruler of the world.
We know that the ancient Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and ancient Egyptians studied astrology, and that they performed their deeds of some importance, at times indicated by astrological calculations to be the most favourable. History shows us how great a power the priest-astrologers obtained by this knowledge; even monarchs felt dependent on them. Would this have been possible if their prophecies had not proved irrevocably true, if their knowledge were only show and their predictions fraud? Reason answers this question decidedly in the negative. These priests had moreover great astronomical knowledge. A proof of this may serve: the calculation of the regularly recurring
eclipse of the sun and moon are still made by means of the Chaldean Zaros. Our present day astronomers could not correct this formula.
It was chiefly the Arabians who brought astrology to the West, though it is probable that long before that time Egyptian astrologers introduced it in Europe.
The Egyptian astrologers were the trusted counsellors and friends of the reigning kings; – it was in fact they who ruled.
The ancient Jewish books, the Kabbalah and the Talmud are altogether based on astrological principles. Here a great part is played especially by the value of numbers of the planets and of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Of the books of the Kabballah it is especially the famous Zohar which preaches a wonderful philosophy of life in the Cosmos compared to and connected with that of man.
Andrzej Niemojewski says : “The great Book of Revelation which that illumined Soul read, was the Heavens, the Stars were Lettertypes, the Words Constellations, and the Chapters Astralperiods. And one reads there, that Humanity shaped its earthly Order after the great Timepiece of the World, and modelled and corrected its philosophy, its ethics, its social ideas after it.”
In Pythagoras’ school the knowledge of mathematics and astrology were compulsory, the latter especially being studied in connection with sound and number.
All old occult manuscripts, among which our Bible may be numbered, are full of astrology; and if Moses forbade the study of astrology, it was most probably only by reason of the unscientific way in which it was studied. It was much more difficult in those days for one to make use of astrological tables, education not being so common as to day; hence there was as much deception and pretence to fortune-telling as to day, nay more so, as the age was a far more ignorant and superstitious one. It was this abuse and charlatanism which Moses forbade.
The astrologers Thracyllus (father and son) were the counsellors of Tiberius and Nero. Of the father a peculiar anecdote is known, mentioned by Tacitus and Plutarch. Thracyllus knew too much of the secret
thoughts and plans of the emperor Tiberius and the latter tried to get rid of him. He took him a walk on a high wall with the purpose of throwing him off. And he asked Thracyllus if he knew everything concerning himself. “Yes” was the answer. “I know that I am in great danger of life but Your Majesty as well; for I know also that you will outlive me only by 24 hours.” The emperor who had an implicit belief in Thracyllus did not carry out his intention.
Thracyllus, the son, predicted Nero’s future imperial dignity.
M. Champollion, found, in one of the Ramses-tombs, dating of the 19th and 20th Dynasty (1400 – 1133 B. C.), an astrological table of houses, which clearly indicates the accuracy of their calculations. They knew
the relation between the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the several parts of the human body.
The British Museum contains a number of horoscopes written on papyrus. The Egyptians made their predictions chiefly according to the so-called secondary or moon-directions.
Plato, Socrates‘ pupil, studied the influence of sun and moon on the formation of both sexes.
Heraclites, a pupil of Plato and Aristotle, wrote a treatise on the Hyleg in the horoscope and on the influence of the sun as life-giver.
Europe received its civilisation from the east and also the science of astrology as we already saw. From Greece and Italy it penetrated into the other countries of Europe.
One of the best-known Christian astrologers is Paul the Philosopher ( 850).
Among the popes we find several students of astrology; e.g. Pope Sylvestre (992 – 1002), Pope John XX and John XXI were keen astrologers.
Thomas Aquinas says :
“The celestial bodies are the Cause of all that takes place in this sub-lunar world. They influence the human actions directly, but not every action caused by them is inevitable.” (Summa, Quaest XV, art. V).
Further the famous Albertus Magnus, bishop and architect who wrote a symbol-system which is held in high honour with Freemasons. He says a. o.:
“All that nature and art produces is driven by celestial powers. The signs in the sky and the celestial bodies existed before all other created things and therefore influence all that came into existence after them, etc.”
We may mention: Roger Bacon, Guido Benati, court-astrologer to Frederick II. And Petri Abano or Francisco della Stabili, friend to Dante, John de Luna, Cardinal Peter d’Ailly (1350-1425).
Dante, whose words:
“Only follow your star, the haven of glory awaits you”,
are well known. In another passage he says:
“Astrology is the most sublime, the noblest science, without any faults.”
Giordano Bruno, Ruysbroeck, Jacob Boehme and Spinoza, believed in astrology. Further Hieronymus de Manfredi, professor of medicine at the university of Bologna ( 1460) who a.o. combined astrology and medicine.
Johann Stöffler, professor of mathematics at Tubingen, computed the exact date of his death, which was to take place by an accident. By inviting friends and staying quietly at home, he tried to evade the possibility of an accident. In a dispute, however, wishing to prove his arguments, he went to a high book-shelf, to seize a folio-volume, he fell and got a deadly wound.
We may mention the names of Melanchton and Johann Müller. The former wrote a.o. a preface to a work of the astrologer Schonez and delivered lectures on astrology.
Tycho de Braké (1546 – 1601) tried to raise astrology to a religion. He says e.g.: “The stars rule
“The stars rule the lot of man, but God rules the stars.”
He was however not blind to the abuse, made of astrology.
Paracelsus studied especially the influence of the planets on the vegetable and mineral kingdom and discovered a large number of medicines, by comparing the microcosmos (man) to the macrocosmos
(our solar system), led by logic and intuition.
Keppler, the famous astronomer was an astrologer as well. It is universally known how he predicted to Wallenstein, at that time young and unknown, his future glory. He predicted several details concerning his career, the enemies he would make, his eagerness for fame and glory, his marriage and financial circumstances and the exact day of Wallenstein’s death.
Of William Lilly, the well-kwown London astrologer it is known that he foretold the great London fire in 1666. His astrological works are still being studied.
Pico de Mirandola, a fierce opponent of astrology, gave at his death the most striking proof of the truth of astrology, for he died at the exact hour that the astrologers had predicted.
Dr. John Butler, another opponent of astrology, who in order to be able to oppose it with more success and to show its weak points, took up the study of astrology, changed tactics after that study,viz. instead of attacking astrology as he originally intended to he wrote a book to show the truth of astrology.
Professor Max Müller once said, that many of our greatest men of intellect studied astrology, but that the majority of them never expressed their opinion on that point for fear of being ranked with the quacks in this line, the so-called astrologers and the fortune-tellers.
Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, one of the greatest minds of his time, believed in planetary influences, just like Isaac Newton, the great researcher and thinker. He defended astrology against the astronomer
Halley by saying:
“I have studied the subject, Mr. Halley, you have not!”
Newton never expressed his opinion on things he was not certain about. His great caution in this direction is as well-known as his enormous scientific merits.
Of the German astrologers we may mention J. W. Pfaff. He vehemently protested against the neglect of astrology and wrote a treatise on Napoleon’s death, which was to coincide with a conjunction of Mars and Saturn (May, 5th, 1821).
Leibnitz studied astrology and believed in it. That Goethe, Shakespeare, and also e.g. Sir Walter Scott elieved in astrology is not to be doubted.
Valentin Weigelius, in his “Astrology Theologized” (1649) calls astrology the light of Nature;
“it comprises everything, all sciences, arts, branches of knowledge, qualities and conditions of body and spirit and further all conditions and occurrences in the Universe. Everything takes its origin in the planets, and according to our using or abusing the influences, we feel them to be good or bad.”
He says that astrology and religion ought to go hand in hand and that the study of the Macrocosmos (the Universe) as well as of the Microcosmos (man) is meant by it. “What is outside us in our surroundings is also in us and the expression: “a wise man rules his stars,” does not allude to the stars in the Macrocosmos, but to those in the Microcosmos. The sky of the Macrocosmos with its perpetual revolution corresponds exactly to the inward sky of the Microcosmos.” The last is, as it were, a microscopic reflection of the first in all its changes as well.
It would be easy to enrich this list with a large number of names of enlightened thinkers who all studied astrology, but for my purpose the above-mentioned names will suffice.
Is it astonishing that he who has fixed his opinion by more or less thorough study and research, compares the general public to a colourblind man, who is positive that red and green are the selfsame colour?
Those who ignore the influence of the planets, without preceding thorough research, are simply guilty of pedantry,** seeing that they prefer their immature, rash judgment, founded on tradition only, to that of great thinkers, who throughout all ages have devoted their lives to the inquiry after the effect of powers of nature, little known as yet.
We say once more, investigate and you will find the truth of it affirmed in your own life.
It would be highly interesting to collect particulars, at the registrars’ of people who were born at exactly the same time and the same place. If the data of births were correct, one would find that such lives were
remarkable in their similarity.
In history several cases of this kind are known, among which the following characteristic example:
In a paper of 1820 is mentioned the death of Samuel Hennings, who was born on June 4th 1738, at the same moment as King George III, and at the same place, St. Martin. He came into business in October 1760, when George III mounted the throne. He was married on Sept. 8th, 1761 just like King George, and after both lives had gone quite parallel, both died on January 29th 1820, at the same hour. They had the same number of children, of the same sex.
* Lord Bacon says regarding this: “It shows very little common sense to classify astronomy among the mathematical sciences; this classification does harm to its dignity.” Bacon de Dign. et Increm. Science (I, III, CIV).
** Among these we may count prof. Franz Cumont who a few years ago opened a campaign against astrology, put down in his work “Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans.” He bases his work on the standing-point: “The starting-point of Astrology is, of course, a belief.” Wrong, professor! The starting-point of Astrology is observation. If the basis of a work is false, we may leave the conclusion out of account.
Author: C. Aq. Libra
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