Time Out Of Mind

So I was reading this article that says the notes of the Elizabethan era astrologer/alchemist/doctor Simon Forman are to be studied. 

“…The medical landscape of early-modern England was populated by numerous practitioners, ranging from cunning folk to learned physicians. Simon Forman and Richard Napier were astrologer-physicians. Forman (1552-1611) was arguably the most popular astrologer in Elizabethan London, and Napier (1559-1634), a Buckinghamshire clergyman, was his protégé. Like their medical peers, they deployed a range of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. Unlike these other practitioners, they were consulted by thousands of patients and they kept written records of these encounters. Their casebooks document approximately 50,000 astrological consultations from 1596 to 1634. They record unparalleled amounts of information about the dynamics of healing and related concerns in early-modern England: ninety per cent of their clients’ questions were about health, with the remainder including topics such as marriage and career prospects, missing persons, stolen property, travel plans and hidden treasure. These pages record the diseases, fears and hopes of at least 30,000 people, some famous, most lost to the historical record. Sixty-four volumes of these manuscripts were collected by Elias Ashmole in the seventeenth century, and are now held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The Bodleian is a partner in this project….”

He was a Capricorn, a bit sleazy according to some accounts but hey, he kept excellent records.  What’s weird is that there is no talk anywhere of any historian consulting an astrologer to help go through his notes. Astrology seems to be seen as an unfortunate eccentricity of the guy. 

The manuscripts are all gradually going on online here.

I wonder if he knew Dr John Dee, the original OO7. 

30 thoughts on “Time Out Of Mind

  1. Wow, fascinating! Thanks for the lead. My step-father is a Capricorn physician (trained as a pathologist) who used to keep copious notes about everything.

  2. I have a totally random question. Is anyone familar with Draconic charts? I recently ran mine and it turned me from a first house Mercury/Pluto/Mars in Libra to first house Capricorn. Libra house is smack in the middle/top of the Draconic chart and it clicked: diplomacy matters when exercising power.

    My question is: what do you do with the Draconic chart? Its suppose to show the soul layer of personality or whatever, right? I feel all that Capricorn. I was happy to see so much Capricorn pop in my own chart. Can I rock it like a 1st housee merc/pluto/mars in Capricorn instead of Libra? Mars hates Libra.

    It also kind of resonates with a ninth harmoic reading I had done that suggested I act like a queen.

    Perhaps individuals can deep-dive so far into self that they live their Draconic chart/soul layer? Or am I missing some astrological point?

    • I shouldn’t say “Mars hates Libra” cause that’s not true. What I mean is that low-Mars is totally pass-ag when living in Libra. I know other people who have that placement and it can be really ugly. For myself, I’m done with pass-ag presentation of self. Pas-ag is not graceful or necessary. So, Capricorn looks better to me.

      • Mars doesn’t hate Libra, it hates cancer – the grand master of pass-agg.
        I love cap – high cheekbones and chic.

        • Yeah, Cancer would be worse. I don’t think I could do the whole uber-modern-sleek home space of a Cap, but I’ll gladly take the cheekbones.

    • Kim Falconer has explanation about draconic chart, my draconic chart had me gob-smakked on first looking – so many amazing shifts … & I still struggle to make any sense of it all, but hey how much ‘sense’ (on first looking) does any astro make ??!!

      I guess we just slowly assimilate the meanings …

      Good luck exploring 12 hv

  3. It’s worse than annoying isn’t it. For something that was taken so seriously for so long, an academic historical study of astrology is way overdue. Whole kingdoms were ruled by advice from astrologers, battles and marriages were planned, health and omens foretold…and it all just gets lumped to one side when really, it’s an absolutely fascinating ‘in’ to the way people thought hundreds of years ago, probably more important in their day-to-day lives than organised religion. It bleeds into alchemy which is the mother of modern-day chemistry, medicine and of course, perfumery, but that is not really taken seriously either, except in a ‘look-how-stupid-we-used-to-be’ kinda way. And yet, some of the intellectual leaps made by alchemists who were often also astrologers, were amazing.

    Oh well. What can we expect from the western mindset that only credits traditional medicines when they produce a saleable pill remedy, and that only believes what it can see and measure. If we’d had that belief in our beginnings, we never would’ve got anywhere. Somebody’ll do a ripping PhD on it one of these days.

    I love that one of this years winners of the Noble Chemistry Prize was an Israeli scientist who maintained, in the face of scorn from his peers, that the interiors of atoms were made up of intricate but unrepeatable patterns. He was chucked out of his study group because nobody could see what he was talking about. This year they discovered that they could now see them, and he’s vindicated.

    • Somebody has done a ripping PhD on it – read this article years ago and from memory it is from his PhD – his conclusion was that it was all political – the astrologers lost the political battles – what’s new, eh.

      Wright, P. (1979). A study in the legitimsation of knowledge: the ‘success’ of medicine and the ‘failure’ of astrology. On the margins of science: the social construction of rejected knowledge. R. Wallis (ed). Keele, University of Keele.

      Am sure there is room for another one tho, if anybody is interested.

  4. Travel plans, hidden pleasure – they found my past life medical records! i was wanting to run away with a pirate but needed to get off the arsenic. Dr Simon was most helpful although the magical-serum-contained-in-his-male-essence failed to convince.

  5. Ah, funny you should mention Dr. Dee. I was just thinking of emailing you about that, Mystic.

    Via John Townley’s “Astrococktail” blog, I just saw a link to Damon Albarn performing a song from his Dr. Dee opera. There are some other clips on YouTube now, but you can find them if you start here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2v8oWbOfmiE

    BTW, there was an exceptionally interesting article on Simon Forman in “History Today” but alas it has gone behind a paywall since I read it.

  6. It is interesting that it took him a lifetime to record the medical and astro details of his 50,000 clients, when you consider that in todays terms one could set up an astro website, open it to questions from people stating their astro details and possibly medical conditions etc and gather similar statistics to Forman over a few weeks/days ? Of course I’m not suggesting a study of his work would not produce interesting statistics, and I would be interested in finding out whether his findings have influenced astrological interpretation, its that now we have the tools to connect, share and learn from many more case studies. I love astrology but the question always remains as to where the interpretation of a particular transit has come from.
    I agree with Seabird, someone from the field of statistics could really strengthen or weaken currently held interpretation via a study of 10 or 20 times the data set of Forman…we have the technology, so who’s up for it.

  7. Remembering, people, that in those days people in the west / christian religion forbade the examination of cadavers. Michelangelo had to resort to robbing graves to study and understand human anatomy for his art. Astrology, while we obviously use it for some things and yes it would be fascinating to research and write a paper about it (hmmm idea), was all the go at the time because partiarchal / christian western society had no idea about (ok, partiarchal / western) medicine. Being told your venus was afflicted when you actually had blood poisoning form a dog bite might not have been so cool.

    Also it was only around (…checks info online…) 1543 that the theory was first aired that maybe, just maybe the earth revolved around the sun not the other way around…. heresy!!

    i do agree that it would be interesting to research correlations and whatever. especially around the times that other planets were discovered e.g.
    uranus 1781, industrial revolution;
    neptune 1846, the ‘romantic’ era (not hearts and flowers but the other romantic, you know, Debussy, impressionism, Beaudelaire, la Belle Epoque, opium)
    pluto, 1930 – yes, well. (it was suspected to exist – its side effects on uranus and neptune were observed before the planet was finally spotted).

    innaresting!

    • Yeah, for sure, but it was still deeply indicative of the way people thought.

      I guarantee in 10 years we’re going to be goggling at the blase way we held mobile phones so close to our skulls. Just because something has been proven to be dumb doesn’t mean it should be dismissed. Some of the dumbest thoughts ever have led to some of the most amazing. Mistakes are the mothers of genius.

      • now, seabird THAT I totally agree about. In the same way we now say, “they used to use LEAD to powder their faces???? crazyyyy. ”

        i don’t think i’m saying it’s dumb as such, but i am saying it’s just about all they had to go on at the time. So medicine practically relied on astrology, So maybe they put more stock in it as a result. Rather than now with centuries of knowledge behind us. perhaps, given our knowledge now we *can* go back – mindful of the ‘gap’ … Mind you I am as much of a fan of kinesiology, acupuncture as many others so I am certainly not saying that western medicine has all the answers. No siree….

        • PCFR now you’ve got me thinking “Gee what must the Chinese culture know about astrology?” – whole mega-tonnes of wisdom probably…

          • not sure about our kind of astro and chinese medicine. I bet Mystic or similar expert or a practitioner might know a thing or two. They have the animal years – snake, ox etc. and the five elements …

  8. Fascinating that most of the questions asked back then were were around health (90%), with the rest about marriage, career, lost property ,travel etc! Bet that is very different to today MM! This gives me much food for thought.

  9. Love, love this post. I have nothing else meaningful to add, but so fascinating, thanks MM.

  10. Anyone else think that Mystic would be perfect to help in this investigation?? MM, please volunteer! You can tell them what’s what, make them think astrology is cool, give them some insight, etc. It’d be so amazing and I bet would add a lot more to the project.

    • OK, I shouldn’t say volunteer—hopefully they also give you a hefty cheque for your troubles ;)

      • What? And we should miss out on her fashion advice and economic tips at the most crucial turning point in the last 60 years? I don’t think so!
        Leave to some fusty old lovely who has no interest in humour or heels – like Mr Forman himself no doubt.

  11. Pingback: Mysteria Misc. Maxima: October 21st, 2011 « Invocatio

  12. Pingback: Best of Mysteria Misc. Maxima: December 6th, 2013 | Invocatio