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Re: VMs: Jung and Modern/Traditional Astrology?

Hi, Nick

I think the historians you are reading are simply
using different criteria for the vitality of astrology
than I am.

If the opinion of the intelligensia were the sole
factor worth looking at, I guess the health of the art
swayed and veered at different points in history. 
Astrology even had its detractors among the ancient
Greeks, after all.

I prefer to look at:

1)  The success of the art as practiced at the time in
accomplishing its aims: primarily, prediction

2)  An adequately positive reception among patrons of
astrology (in any class of society) who would make  it
possible for the artist to earn a living by astrology 

3)  Adequate access to tradition, technique, and
teachers of astrology to permit the art to pass to the
next generation

Interestingly, astrology did not acheive its peak
level of predictive accuracy until well after de la
Mirandola's attack.  Although I have not time at
present to cite exhaustive sources, William Lilly
(1602-1630) is commonly regarded as the greatest
predictive astrologer in English history.  Despite his
peculiar personality, Cardano (1591-1576)  of Italy
was a fabulously sucessful mathematician, astrologer,
and cryptologist.  Jean Baptiste Morin de Villefranche
(1538-1656) was a Frenchman who represented the
pinnacle of the art as practiced in his native

The vaunted success of astrology in the Renaissance
period was partly due to the fact that the predictions
of astrology can only be as accurate as the
calculations which predict the movements of the
planets.  Therefore astrology continued to grow more
successful at making accurate predictions during the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, due in part to
the practical application of the innovations of
astronomy; many of the great strides in astronomy were
made by men of science like Johannes Kepler  who were
also interested in furthering the predictive accuracy
of astrology.  

Post-Luther, Protestantism also gave astrology a boost
in countries where it held sway by permitting or even
encouraging interest in "alternative" religious
expression.  Not that the stars were necessarily
worshipped, but astrology was seen by many adepts as a
means of recieving messages from God.
Protestantism gave the serious practitioner the
opportunity to explore a path to God which was not
limited by his religious beliefs, fear of censure by
the Church, or by a human intermediary such as the

I wish I could continue, but my computer will crash if
I don't send this now.  Thanks for your patience,
Nick!  Part II soon.



--- Nick Pelling <nickpelling@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Hi Pamela,
> FWIW, the argument running through the literature
> I've been relying on is 
> that by 1490, the leading group of Florentine
> intellectuals lost faith with 
> astrology - that was the year that Giovanni Pico
> della Mirandola's 
> announced that he intended to fire a theoretical
> broadside against 
> astrology in defence of Christianity (extracts of
> this finally appeared in 
> 1495, the year after his death), and that salvo is
> thought by some to have 
> been the central impetus for Ficino (della
> Mirandolla's former teacher!) to 
> change his approach. Wikipedia has a nice (though
> short) article on him:-
> Also, here's a link to an online article summarising
> this general tradition 
> that I've posted to the list before, which also
> quote Francis Bacon's views 
> on astrology (essentially, that it doesn't work for
> individuals, but its 
> effects on populations or nations ~might~ be worth
> studying) - Paula 
> Wagner's (2000) "The Decline of Astrology" [with
> Nick Campion as advisor]:-
> Reading it back again, it does seem that the
> filaments claimed to connect 
> Ficinian thought forward to present-day astrology
> are indeed somewhat 
> lacking in substance: this aspect does support your
> assertion that there 
> was no break in the (already declining) tradition at
> that time. Your claim 
> that some modern authors appropriated Ficino's work
> as a kind of 
> retrospective apologia for Jung is a very
> interesting one - is there one 
> particular writer who seems to be mainly responsible
> for this?
> And yet... medieval astrology had always enjoyed
> protection because of its 
> status as a subject taught within universities
> (because of its centrality 
> to medicine) even though universities were typically
> administered by the 
> Church, but [so the argument runs] its intellectual
> aegis was withdrawn 
> circa 1500, and so astrology ended up with few
> active proponents. While its 
> decline had clearly already begun, was 1480-1520 the
> "tipping point" where 
> its boat sank? I used to think that argument was an
> open-and-shut case, but 
> now I'm not so sure...
> BTW, here's a nice page on medieval universities,
> science, and astrology 
> (it discusses Cecco d'Ascoli's career clearly, for
> example):-
> 	http://www.bede.org.uk/university.htm
> Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....
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"I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing, than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance."

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