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”, which was a very significant part of Tudor health care.
The idea that the person’s horoscope, and the motion of the planets, influenced the health and well-being of an individual was an undisputed scientific fact until relatively recently. It was certainly embraced fully but Tudor physicians.
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 considered favourable, while other are considered actively harmful. For example, a patient born under the sunsign Capricorn would be expected to have either very good, or very bad, bones, hair, and skin, depending on their natal chart. If their natal chart had favourable planets in trine, they would have strong bones that were unlikely to ever be broken, smoothly working joints, lustrous hair, and lovely skin. In contrast, they would have particularly bad problems with those parts of their body — frequently broken bones, aching joints, arthritis, hair loss, blemishes, early wrinkles, scaring — if their horoscope had unfavourable square planetary aspects.
Moreover, the way the parts of the body were influenced by celestial factors could change over time as the planets transited through the natal horoscope. This would have been the medical explanation for Henry VIII’s a robust youth compared to his dreadful constitution in middle age. Although some ill-health was seen as a natural result of ageing, the specific forms that ill-health would take, and the severity of the issues, were believed to be the result of the way in which planets were transiting through a person’s natal chart.
There was a general consensus about which planet or star sign ‘ruled’ various body parts or medical conditions, but 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. Moreover, there was some overlap between signs and planets. For example, Leo effected the spine even though bones, in general, were under Capricorn’s authority, while both Cancer, Leo, and Virgo all had influence over digestive problems. There was also strange variance, such as the fact that Aries was believed to indicate whether or not there would be eye ailments, but nonetheless Pisces was thought to have a positive influence on the eyes.
- Aries – head, face, brain, sinuses, ears, headaches, fevers, neuralgia, eye troubles, eruptions and inflammations, wounds and accidents.
- Taurus – throat, neck, thyroid gland, vocal tract, tonsils, and iseases which particularly attack the throat.
- Gemini – arms, lungs, shoulders, hands, nervous system, brain, hands, Bronchial complaints, consumption, nervous diseases in general, pneumonia and pleurisy, asthma and anaemia
- Cancer – chest, breasts, alimentary canal, melancholic tendencies, esophagus, and any problems with digestion
- Leo – heart, chest, spine, spinal column, back ache, heart disease or ailments, and stomach ulcers
- Virgo – small intestines, spleen, gall bladder, nervous system, problems with digestion, and what we would now think of as food sensitivities or allergies
- Libra – kidneys, lumbar region of the spine, hips, gluteus maximus, lower back pain, and kidney infections or kidney stones
- Scorpio – reproductive system, sexual organs, large intestine, urethra, urinary tract infections, and sexually transmitted diseases
- Sagittarius – thighs, liver, sciatic nerve, sciatica, gout, rheumatism, and the tendency to have accidents
- Capricorn – joints, knees, skeletal system, skin, hair, psoriasis, skin ulcers, and arthritis
- Aquarius – ankles, calves, circulatory system, thermoregulation, varicose veins, blood poisoning, and some specific nervous diseases
- Pisces – feet, toes, lymphatic system, adipose tissue, eyes, and the resistance or susceptibility to influenza and colds
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 and applied to their medical treatments.
- Sun – heart, spine, and general vitality
- Moon – stomach, digestive system, female organs, lymphatic system
- Mercury – brain, central nervous system, thyroid gland, five senses, hands
- Venus – throat, kidneys, thymus gland, sense of touch, ovaries
- Mars – muscles, head, adrenal glands, senses of smell and taste
- Jupiter – liver, thighs, feet, growth, pituitary gland
- Saturn – skin, hair, teeth, bones, the body’s defenses, spleen
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 sign. This was put down to the idea that each sign could make an excess of, or be deficient in, a particular one of the four humours: blood, yellow bile, black bile, or phlegm.
- Aries — excess of nervous energy and temper, violent exertions, emotional extremes
- Taurus — over-eating or excessive drinking, laziness, and brooding resentments
- Gemini — Nervousness, emotionally unavailable, restlessness, sleep disorders
- Cancer — too sensitive and emotionally needy, prone to melancholy
- Leo — overly bold, risk of over exertion, lack of caution and rest
- Virgo — prone to worry and anxiety
- Libra — tendency to nervous exhaustion and becoming ‘love sick’ if rejected as a suitor
- Scorpio — festering grudges and yearning for vengeance could cause major illness
- Sagittarius : too restlessness, lacking caution, tendency toward accidents or self-harm
- Capricorn — anxiety disorders
- Aquarius — prone to ‘bad nerves’ and irregular pulse
- Pisces — overly sensitive to emotional disturbances, risk melancholy and suicide
Henry VIII (whose horoscope can be configured as 7 July 1491 due to the change in the Gregorian calendar in 1750) was a Cancer with a Virgo ascendant and an Aries moon. Tudor scholars looking at his natal chart would have been expected him to have been an bold, militaristic, athletic youth, very sentimental and in love with being in love, highly sexed, prone to head injuries, headaches, suffering from a ‘delicate’ digestion, with risks of melancholy, mental illness, and worsening constipation as he aged. He would have been expected to have developed grave health issues as a result of any mental or emotional irritations occurring in his life. 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 and mental aberrations after midlife!
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! I also have the big booty expected of a Pisces/Libra mix … like Kim Kardashian, funnily enough.
How about you? Do you have any coincidental connections between your astrological predictions and your real life?