Star-knowledge was included in the philosophy study at Europe's universities


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Astrology in the language and with the doctors

Even late remaining in European history, close to 1830, at a number of universities students could still not becoming a doctor without having studied astrology. In this relation body fluids and state of mind were considered having interrelationship with the planets. Doctors had to perform bloodletting taking into account the lunar phases since its periodic features shown in liquids, and also known from observations of increased high tides during the new moon and full moon.

An example of the astrology connection: influenza is Italian and means ‘influenced by the stars’. Psychology belonged to medical school, and thus Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet” refers to this pair as ‘star-struck lovers’ - ‘hit by love at the stellar positions’ - all terms that could be used because of the expected understanding by audience and were widely accepted.

Stars and celestial bodies were so important to existence and daily life that they in a very large number of languages gave their names to the different days of the week. The widespread public interest in astrology and its elements is also evident from the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s words in a letter, around 330 BC, to his famous pupil Alexander the Great: “... on the heavens that are filled with gods whom we call planets ...”.

Several astrological expressions still exist especially in English (and French and Italian), now common terms. Thus for ‘accident’: disaster, from Latin: aster, ’star’, and disastrous,’ a ‘non-beneficial deviation’. Of luna ‘moon’ is coined Danish lune, i.e. ‘capricious’, ’mood’ - and English lunatic, ‘insane’. Again Latin: sidus, sidera, ‘star’, is used in English in consider, ’taking into account’, and was used also at the omen-making/astrology: ‘to analyze carefully with the involvement of the stars’. Words like martial and jovial mean ‘of the nature of the planets Mars and Jupiter’.

The church was mostly against astrology

The Catholic Church was often against astrology. But several popes and cardinals were supporters of astrology. Although most universities chairs - but not at the second-oldest university, Padua – always were subjected to the Catholic church, then astrology in addition to medical studies was for long included in the studies of law and theology, especially because astrology was an important study to see Antiquity way of thinking under these studies’ compulsory subject: classical philosophy.

In the Protestantic Denmark, Tycho Brahe held lectures on particular astrology at the University of Copenhagen but declined an employment of a fixed professorship. He would only do research. Holistic Vision still existed here in the Renaissance, as with Paracelsus, Tycho Brahe and Kepler, but it was not later further developed when church and science started to lead into different directions, because the Church condemned the Renaissance’s new sciences.

This attitude continued to affect after various congregations’ break with the Roman Catholic Church which had banned the practice of astrology. Even, right up to the 1880’s, the non-Catholic England's criminal law prohibited astrology practice. 


Left:  Tycho Brahe's lectures (1574) at the Copenhagen University, compiled by students and

published several times after his death: ”Oratio de disciplinis mathematicis”, this one is from 1610.

Right:  University of Copenhagen, in front of the older Church of Our Lady. (illustr. from around 1610).


Astrology and science

When modern science was born in the late Renaissance, scientists' focus became changed when the astrology - which was one of the main reasons for employment with astronomy - eventually was rejected in favor of mathematical observational astronomy.

The Egyptian-Greek astronomer Ptolemy's now discarded world system from around 130 AD was erroneously considered unbreakable cohesive with astrology, which for that matter had also to be discarded. The philosophy behind the system disappeared. Likewise the philosophy-influenced alchemy disappeared in favor of technically oriented modern chemistry.

 The last astrological faculty at the universities in Europe still existed in the first part of the 1800’s. It was in the Erlangen University (Protestant) with the chair of astrology hold by mathematics professor J. Wilhelm Pfaff (1774-1835). At his death the faculty ended definitely. He wrote the book “Astrology. Der Mensch und die Sterne“ (Bamberg, 1816) - and published his translation, the first in German, of Ptolemy's Greek astrological ancient work “Tetrabiblos”.

The Indian astronomy mathematician Sir C.V. Raman (1888-1970), received the 1930 Nobel Prize for research on the light’s conditions in the universe. He was both a revered member of the West's finest scientific societies and familiar with astrology through his Brahmin family who still publishes one of the world's largest astrology magazines.



 The Indian scientist Sir C.V. Raman (1888-1970), with a great astrology
interest, was awarded in 1933 the Nobel Prize in (astro)physics and
is seen here in Copenhagen with Niels Bohr and George Gamow.


 The World-axis' star line

Star constellations are particularly associated myths - both are in reality carriers of a built-in knowledge containing religious cultic feature. The Sumerian’s successors in the Mesopotamian region - the Babylonians, Elamites, Chaldeans - often used Sumerian signs for the constellations.

It is not possible for the Western researchers north of the 36th parallel to observe at first hand the full extent of the World-axis, which in all previous cultures was well-known as a straight sky line along the Milky Way connecting the three most luminous stars: Canopus and Sirius in the south and Lyra in the north.

It has been found problematic that the World-axis’ major star Canopus cannot be seen north of southern Spain (ancient Arab observation post in Fuengirola) and the Rhodes (Greek astronomer Hipparchus’ observation post about 130 BC). Here, by ‘armchair research’ is being lost a real context behind religions cosmology.

Esoteric astrology

Several of the classical constellations are mentioned in early Sumerian writings from about 3,200 BC. Some of the constellations seem ‘defined’ in connection with weather- and calendar rules, and some of the oldest star names can be interpreted as “heralds” of seasons or change in the weather.

Everywhere in the early religious texts can be seen that the ancient cultures with the older world views sought for a consistent interaction of the universe and geography - all in cosmic harmony. Everything was perceived as being reflected and expressed by the events, things and phenomena. Stars, planets, constellations and zodiac were associated with everything like healing, medicine and alchemical processes and magical formulas. In India, astrology is also much about medicine.

For example, for a special “astro-magic” the initial sounds was used from the Hebrew names for the so-called strong planets: Shabbetai (‘Saturn’), Zedek (‘Jupiter’) and Maadim (‘Mars’) composed for the magic word Shazam. This word later known as the magic formula “sesame” was considered so powerful that it could open the mountain wall in Ali Babba’s cave according to the oriental “Thousand and One Nights” stories.

Still in the Middle East, the US President Roosevelt on February 14th, 1945, at their important meeting for future stronger cooperation, could find that Saudi Arabia's King Abdul Aziz brought his astrologer with him as direct advisor.


 Star Mythology and observatories

Many of the myths of the star constellation known in the later Greco-Roman culture were found in older versions in the Babylonian cuneiform texts, but not all of them seem to have been delivered in direct form to ancient Greece. It may also include conditions due to different languages. The most famous star legends in the West are often retellings of Hellenistic mythologies versions.

All this belongs to a special branch of the ancient cultures - a world of ideas eventually changing as in later times more accurate planetary tables were made and now the astronomer not even have to look at the sky but it is done via office desk and computer. All can be carried out in large modern observatories where computers open the roof, set the telescope and record the planned images of celestial objects - and shut it all down again afterwards meanwhile the astronomer at night gets his sleep at home in his bed.

The Czech ex. President, the author Vaclav Havel in Prague (Tycho Brahe’s exile), stated in 1995:
"... We now know infinitely more about the universe than our ancestors did, and yet it is as if they had a much deeper insight that has been lost ...".

Without effective coordination with the terms in the early great religions’ conceptions of the universe and the starry world, research has made analyzes of ancient philosophical, cultic and biblical texts mostly like it was “literature” and often from a base in recent literature theories.

From the famous astrological clock on the tower
of the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. .

 Tycho Brahe and astrology

Everybody recognizes Tycho Brahe's genius, but among many scholars a broad consensus appears about “that he only reluctantly dealt with astrology”. In other words, no field of study for serious people, and often a modern academic world finds it deeply embarrassing and will explain away.

For Tycho Brahe's discoveries at observations of the supernova in 1572, he wrote the following year in his book many new precise facts and became famous immediately throughout Europe. His astrological prediction on the nova had details that later showed strong similarities to the 30-Years War. When this war 1618-1648 came in Central Europe more than 15 years after his death and 40 years after his prediction were published then hundreds of publications appeared prising his skill.

In his very last work, “the autobiography” in 1598, Tycho Brahe wrote that he progressively had found much safer astrological prediction methods. Thus, when Tycho Brahe naturally opposed the ‘ordinary’ astrology and bad astrologers, then in our common reproduction of the history it is incorrect to assert that he was against all astrology.

But critics already in ancient Rome viewed astrology as if it was about for or against a ‘belief’ although astrology in its base is expressed in a philosophical system often via archetypal elements dressed in astro-mythological imagery. It is not least for this reason that astrology later was included in philosophy teaching at the universities, all the way into the 1800’s.


From astrology to quantum physics

In the present many critics act as unaware that astrology already with famous Greek thinkers had part in philosophy and cosmology, both an explanation system and a total relation of universal elements, cycle phenomena, dynamics, fluctuations and balances.

Similar conditions principle and insight into pattern recognition are known today, for example, in another scale concerning weather forecasts.

Also quantum physics will contribute to explain - and a larger whole-perception which the Hermetician Tycho Brahe sought for is in many features on our way again. - Quantum-‘time’: Many of the sky’s visible stars are only their light now since they had their waning for millions years ago. Yet countless cultures used (included in their observations) also these lights from the distant past when astrological forecasts are presented to illustrate a future.


Ove von Spaeth      Copyright  © 2014  -

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