I have noticed that nearly everyone, regardless of how staunchly they disavow astrology as an accurate science, is curious about the traits of their sign if someone is talking about it at a party. I am no different. When I was researching Tudor medical practices, I was enthralled with the information I was reading about latromathematics, or “medical astrology — an ancient medical system that associates each horoscope sign with a corresponding body part”.
The idea that the person’s horoscope, and the motion of the planets, influenced the health and well-being of an individual was undisputed until relatively recently. It was certainly embraced fully but Tudor physicians. In my book I gave a short summary of the beliefs regarding astrology and the body, but couldn’t really go into the topic in depth so I will explicate it a bit more now.
Apparent whether or not the the astrological factors in your natal chart worked for your benefit or not depended on how well they were “aspected”, or at what angle the planets were aligned with other heavenly bodies. Some aspects are favorable, and other are not. For example, if the patient were a Capricorn, which would strongly influence the bones, then he or she would be expected to have good luck/health with that area of their bodies provided that their natal chart had favorable planets in trine, but they would have problems with that area if their chart had unfavorable square aspects. The way the parts of the body were influenced could change over time as the planets “transited” through the natal horoscope. This was used to explain why someone like Henry VIII could have such a robust youth and then later be beset with particular health problems; ill-health was seen as a natural result of aging but the specific forms that ill-health would take was a result of the transits of planets through a person’s natal chart.
Wikipedia has a reasonably accurate run-down of the perceived links between astrology and the body, but it should be noted that different astrologers in history would occasionally have differing opinions about which sign ruled which body part. For instance, some schools of astrology argued that Capricorn influenced the teeth (as offshoots of the skeletal system) while others assigned teeth to Aquarius.
- Aries – head, face, brain, eyes
- Taurus – throat, neck, thyroid gland, vocal tract
- Gemini – arms, lungs, shoulders, hands, nervous system, brain
- Cancer – chest, breasts, stomach, alimentary canal
- Leo – heart, chest, spine, spinal column, upper back
- Virgo – digestive system, intestines, spleen, nervous system
- Libra – kidneys, skin, lumbar region, buttocks
- Scorpio – reproductive system, sexual organs, bowels, excretory system
- Sagittarius – hips, thighs, liver, sciatic nerve
- Capricorn – knees, joints, skeletal system
- Aquarius – ankles, calves, circulatory system
- Pisces – feet, toes, lymphatic system, adipose tissue
The planets were also believed to influence the body, just like the signs of the Zodiac did. However, the planets Uranus, Neptune and Saturn had yet to be discovered yet, so their influences were assigned at a later date. Since I am just discussing Tudor medical beliefs, I’ll only include the heavenly bodies that the Tudors knew about.
The signs of the Zodiac were also associated with resistance to or tendencies toward particular ailments:
Aries : Headaches, fevers, neuralgia, eye troubles, eruptions and inflammations, wounds and accidents.
Taurus : Diseases which particularly attack the throat.
Gemini (n): Bronchial complaints, consumption, nerve diseases, pneumonia and pleurisy, asthma and anaemia.
Cancer : Affections of the digestion.
Leo : Heart trouble, poor circulation and similar troubles
Virgo : Digestive troubles and complaints to do with intestines generally.
Libra : Kidney affections and afflictions to the spine.
Scorpio : Diseases of the parts already mentioned as belonging to the Sign.
Sagittarius : Gout, rheumatism, sciatica, accidents.
Capricorn : Skin complaints and diseases affecting the parts of the Sign.
Aquarius : Accidents to the ankles and complaints affecting that part of the body; varicose veins, blood poisoning and some nervous diseases.
Pisces : Influenza, colds, diseases accompanied by mucous discharges and similar complaints.
It was also assumed that the basis for the medical weaknesses and strengths inherent in certain signs were a manifestation of the emotional/psychological energies of that house:
Aries: The energies are often in excess of the nervous and mental balance, and most ill-health has its origins in such things as violent exertion and outbursts of anger. The Aries person should seek poise at all costs.
Taurus : Over-indulgence and too much comfort lie at the roots of most disorders, but there is also a tendency to brood over troubles which lends force to any passing ailments.
Gemini : Nervous reactions and restlessness, form the basis.
Cancer : Usually complaints originate in the emotions through some mental irritant, cause nervous reactions and general lessening of vitality. It has been said that nine times out of ten the Cancerian is hurt in health more by others than by himself.
Leo : Nearly all afflictions tend to arise from over-exertion of some kind.
Virgo : There is a tendency to upsets of the digestive organs from nervous causes, producing acidity and other troubles.
Libra : Troubles arise usually from nervous exhaustion of some kind.
Scorpio : Breaking down of the resistance through worrying and interaction of others upon the individual.
Sagittarius : Restlessness often causes the trouble; the folks under this Sign are peculiar to accidents and injuries.
Capricorn : Disease is frequently rooted in inhibitions.
Aquarius : Nervous causes, usually, based on the highly sensitive nature.
Pisces : Over-heating of the mind with possibly fancied injuries from others, plus much sensitiveness physical and mental, form the basis for most complaints.
Henry VIII, as a Cancer, would have been expected to have grave health issues as a result of mental or emotional irritations. It was fortunate (depending how you look at it) for his doctors that the King’s courtiers so often gave him “irritations” that could explain his increasing infirmities.
I am a Pisces, and happily for any Tudor physicians I should happen upon I have very, very tender and easily hurt feet, am prone to catch any cold that wanders by in a ten mile radius, and I definitely suffer from over-sensitivity and an over-heated mind!
How about you? Do you have any coincidental connections between your astrological diagnosis and your real life?