December 13, 2003



From the Boston Globe:

Star power
By Jascha Hoffman, 11/30/2003

THOUGH THE ANCIENT Greeks were consulting the zodiac in the sixth century BC, astrology first came into its own a century earlier in Babylonia, where court magicians rose to positions of power. The triumph of Newtonian physics may have brought the age of Aquarius-watching to an end among astronomers, but belief in the influence of the planets lives on.

9th century AD Baghdad astrologer Abu Mashar equivocally links Saturn to moisture, cunning, wealth, perfidy, trustworthiness in speech, older brothers, long journeys, fear, experimentation, the dead, and eunuchs. 1348 The medical faculty of the University of Paris attributes the spread of the Black Death to a major planetary conjunction in Aquarius, stirring "vapors from the earth and the sea."

1555 Andrew Dygges publishes a "Manuscript on Medical Astrology," in which he matches planets to human body parts: Mercury takes the brain and nerves, Jupiter the liver, and Saturn the bones.

1687 In his theory of gravitation, Isaac Newton combines two essential tenets of astrology -- action at a distance, and the unity of heaven and earth -- to create mathematical physics.

1708 Satirist Jonathan Swift, writing under a pseudonym, mocks astrologer John Partridge by fraudulently forecasting Partridge's imminent death, then apologizing for missing the time by a few hours.

1870 Major-General Sir Henry Crewswicke Rawlinson publishes "A Selection from the Miscellaneous Inscriptions of Assyria," offering "a key to ancient astrology."

1932 Erik Jan Hanussen, a German-Jewish astrologer, casts Hitler a chart indicating unstoppable victory. (Before being shot by the Nazis in `33, he says, "I had always thought that business about the Jews was just an election trick.")

1975 In a scathing denunciation in the pages of The Humanist, 186 scientists claim the time had come to "challenge directly and forcefully the pretentious claims of astrological charlatans."

2003 Mars's closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years leads to prophecies of increased war, terrorism, and male sexual desire.

Posted by Sasha at December 13, 2003 08:35 PM | TrackBack