Astrology and Religion in the Middle Age

At the beginning of the Middle Ages the astrological fatalism collided with the religious dogmas: with the doctrine of the free will of the Christians and with the Muslim law, because according to the Koran only God knows the future. To try to explain the deep-rooted belief in the astrology without betraying those dogmas, it was used all kinds of arguments. It was recognized that the stars "leaning" but did not oblige; rejected the fatalism but not the astral influences, recognizing that, prevented by the Planets, the man could avoid the dangers that were predicted; this was recognized as a natural astrology and admitted the astral influence on plants and animal life, but were rejected the horoscopes by be presumed as superstition.

Despite all this, astrology enjoyed many adepts; including kings and caliphs, popes and emperors, which had "mathematics" to whose they consulted about personal or official matters. The Arabic influence, which began to manifest itself in the Western Christian world from the eleventh century, contributed largely to this boom, since by natural disposition or in virtue of the Greek culture that had assimilated, cultivated the astrology for religious purposes or to make horoscopes.

The Arab conception of astrology as "decrees of heaven", was born the name of "Judicial Astrology" applied to make horoscopes. The influence of the "Tetrabiblos" can be measured through their translations. This book is one of the first Greek works translated into Arabic (in the second half of the VIII century), and the first work translated from Arabic into Latin, in the first half of the twelfth century. It was translated in many modern languages and until the middle of the twentieth century was the only work of Ptolemy translated into English.

During the Middle Ages the astrology continued his triumphant march: even the Jews cultivated it, although Maimonides the explicitly condemned. In the Byzantine world astrology does not enjoyed greater acceptance, perhaps by the memory of the classical Greek knowledge. On the other hand, was easily introduced in the slave people.

In the Christian world astrology was part of mundane knowledge, with plenty of activity of astrologers and production of astrological works. Began then the linkages between stars and planets and different elements. Dante combined the seven planets with the seven liberal arts and correlated the grammar with the moon, the dialectic with mercury, rhetoric with Venus, arithmetic with the sun, music with Mars, the geometry with Jupiter and the astronomy with Saturn.

He also established the link between astrology and alchemy, and each metal was assigned to a planet, to each operation of the alchemists, a sign: gold to the Sun;  silver to the Moon; iron to Mars; mercury to Mercury; copper to Venus; tin to Jupiter; lead to Saturn; calcination to Aries; freezing to Taurus; mounting to Gemini; dissolution to Cancer; digestion to Leo; distillation to Virgo; sublimation to Libra; separation to Scorpion; creation to Sagittarius; fermentation to Capricorn; multiplication to Aquarium and projection to Pisces. Also appeared the widespread "astral man", materialization of the doctrine of the macrocosm and microcosm, in which every sign of the zodiac is a member or organ of the human body.

According to one of the established correspondences, current, we have that Aries rules the head and brain; Taurus, the neck and throat; Gemini, shoulders, arms and the lungs; Cancer, the chest; Leo, the upper part of the back, the heart and the spine; Virgo, abdomen and intestines; Libra, the lower back and the kidneys; Scorpio, the pelvis and the lower ducts; Sagittarius, the thighs and the flesh; Capricorn, knees and the skin; Aquarius, legs, ankles and the skin; Pisces, feet, the liver and the lymphatic system.

Thus was born the astrological medicine, which remained in full swing until well into the seventeenth century, when famous doctors recommended astrological uroscopy: without seeing the patient, with only to examine the urine and compiling the horoscope of the moment of urination diagnose the disease. Also appeared an astrological pharmacology, according to which the medicinal plants governed by the sun should be collected on a Sunday or the ruled by the moon on Monday, and so on.

The renaissance period printed the seal of ambivalent time to astrological legacy from the medieval era. Coexist the brilliant renaissance of the sciences and the arts with an infinity of civil and religious wars, with rebellions and with the "Night of San Bartolomé" with pests and famine, calamities which recognize the signs of the wrath of God or of evil spirits. Consequently, escalates the belief in hidden powers, enchantments and Bruges.

The discovery of the nature, characteristic of the Renaissance, raised another ambivalence. The man is faced with two masters: God and Nature. Transcendent one, immanent the other, accordingly the astrology, that vague between heaven and earth, offers the possibility to explain that coexistence. For the first time, astrology was also responsible for the religion: manufactures the horoscope of Christ; the conjunctions indicate the birth, and sometimes death, of the great religions.

The characteristic ambivalence of the period was also noted in many thinkers and scientists compared to astrology. The mathematician Cardano, Paracelsus, medical and chemical, the astronomer Kepler, reconcile the cultivation of science with the belief and practice of astrology. In any case, this contradiction yields a crisis: Kepler exclaimed that its laws were not generated through the influence of Mars and Mercury but inspired by the teachings of Copernicus and Tycho Brahe. But in the final analysis, the Renaissance, in whose womb was brewing the scientific revolution of the XVII century, was also the golden era of astrology. It would be more accurate to say, astrologically speaking, that was its culmination, precisely because in the XVII century begins the decline of astrology.

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