Sunday, December 30, 2018

Questioning the Value of Astrological Predictions in the Middle Ages and Renaissance


Man is a cause-seeking creature. According to American philosopher, essayist, and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The progress of the intellect is to the clearer vision of causes” (Age.org).  Man’s obsession with understanding causes accounts for his advancement in every field of endeavor known to him: metaphysics, religion, politics, and science to name a few. The natural calamity of the Black Death presented a baffling occurrence that drove men to consider and offer explanations of its cause in the hopes of gaining insight and control over its effects. Some saw its cause as spiritual. Man’s own iniquities had provoked the wrath of God and repentance was called for to bring God’s forgiveness. Others conjectured that it was a matter of science. Noxious fumes were released during earthquakes and eruptions that contaminated the atmosphere and resulted in the massive loss of life witnessed during the years of the plague. Still others resorted to the conspiracy theory that the Jews had put into effect a plan to wipe out all Christians by poisoning wells and springs everywhere. One other explanation for the Black Death that seems even more ludicrous to today’s thinkers is that the cause was astrological. Although to medieval man, it did not necessarily appear to be an absurd hypothesis since astrology was routinely taught at the finest universities of their day, modern textbooks immediately discount that explanation as useless. When the King of France, King Philip VI, requested the opinion of the medical faculty of the University of Paris as to the causes of the plague, Spielvogel does not even elaborate on the answer provided by the medical faculty but merely states “their advice proved worthless” (Spielvogel 328). The actual response of the University of Paris was that the cause of the Black Death was due to the Mars-Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of March 20, 1345 (Classical Astrologer.me). But was the medical faculty’s response as worthless as it is portrayed by modern thinkers? Were there any reasons to seriously consider planetary influence as a causal factor in the plague and in other catastrophes, cataclysms and upheavals? By considering the prognostic value of astrological phenomena, the Church’s allowance of certain kinds of astrology, and the fulfillment of astrological predictions, it will become clear if it appeared reasonable to learned men of the time to consider astrological explanations as a candidate for explaining earthly events.

By prognostic value, two things are meant (Sepharial 5). The first of these is that the planetary phenomena such as the alignments that are continuously formed among the heavenly bodies and that make up the heart of the astrological method can be calculated in advance. These planetary cycles recur at regular intervals and thus can be observed again and again. The idea of the repeatability of planetary alignments brought with it the possibility of verifiability and falsifiability so that repeated observations of the same phenomena tended to fine tune the astrologers’ understanding of what to expect and to confirm the general effects of the cycles. As an older astrological author noted, “Watching for coincidences is a necessary process of scientific discovery; and coincidences between astronomic and atmospheric phenomena should be observed and noted…the observation of sufficient coincidences in number may justify the acceptance of an empirical law according to which we may, with approximate safety, predict that when one of the events happens, the other will accompany or follow” (McCormack 12.03). Important cycles were solar and lunar eclipses such as the eighteen-year saros cycle and the nineteen-year metonic cycle. Another key planetary cycle was the twenty-year great mutation cycle of Jupiter and Saturn.

The second meaning of prognostic value pertains to the celestial position in which planetary alignments occur and the mundane locality in which they are witnessed. Regarding the first of these, each section of the heavens, commonly referred to as a sign or constellation, had a different influence on human affairs. Taurus, for example, affected business among other things, while Sagittarius affected horses and cattle etc. (Pearce 324). Each planet as well ruled over some aspect of life, weather, and international relationships to mention a few. Therefore, planetary alignments were not all interpreted in the same way since they involved different planets and different constellations. As far as mundane locality goes, this refers to the different localities on earth that would be affected by the astronomical event in question. The time at which a certain planetary alignment occurred would place those planets over a certain area of the globe thus localizing their influence over that region. This fact would explain why only certain areas were subject to the alignment and not others. The prognostic value of the astrological system provided an orderly way of understanding the world for the people of this period especially after a time of much chaos, confusion, and uncertainty during the early Middle Ages. Note that the understanding of these medieval and later astrologers was very different than the stereotypical caricature often painted of the astrologers’ understanding of eclipses, which was often treated as “a relic of the superstitious dread of barbarians who feared that ‘the dragon’ was about to swallow the darkened luminary, and accordingly beat drums and made horrible noises in order to frighten away the adversary (Pearce 314).”

Another influence that had brought order to society during the emergence of the Medieval world was the Christian church. As the official Roman state disintegrated, the church filled the void and played an increasingly important role. The Church, however, had a love-hate relationship with astrology. Church Fathers such as Augustine and Origen took issue with some forms of astrology because they felt it challenged human freedom and the power of God’s will--important concepts in Christianity (Johnson 4).

Yet, Thomas Aquinas made a distinction between what was allowable and unallowable with astrology. In his treatment of the question regarding whether divination by the stars was unlawful, Aquinas opined that to use astrology to know the” certitude of future human actions” was an unlawful use of astrology and thus superstitious and unlawful divination since it discounted human free will. Nevertheless, “to apply the observation of the stars in order to foreknow those future things that are caused by heavenly bodies, for instance, drought or rain and so forth, it will be neither an unlawful nor a superstitious divination (Aquinas). The Christian worldview was probably the best worldview through which to understand planetary influence since there would be less reason to consider the planets as gods in their own right and just to view them as a part of creation not to be worshipped or adored. This permissible area of astrological use is today referred to as mundane astrology. This is the branch of astrology dealing with the influence of the stars and planets on nations, cities, agriculture, war, epidemics etc.

Additionally, the Bible seems to use language that sounds astrological in nature. Scholars refer to such language as “apocalyptic imagery.” We find in Matthew 24:29 that “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken (Holy Bible). According to Rebecca Johnson, these accounts mention astrology only incidentally, but they reveal the idea “that the planets were in some way responsible for events on earth (Johnson 1).” Furthermore, she points out that this was the understanding of the intellectual elite at the time of the Black Death.

So far it has been pointed out that the prognostic value of the astrological method provided an orderly system that allowed logical conclusions to be deduced from natural phenomena. The events would vary in nature, in the time of their occurrence, and in locality all according to certain astrological influences. In addition, the Church considered the prognostication of mundane events through astrology as permissible. But were the predictions of any value?

Skeptics and critics are quick to highlight failed astrological predictions as if these were the only kind astrologers make. One such popular one was the deluge of February 1, 1524 that failed to materialize and was rescheduled for February 1, 1624. No deluge occurred then either (Randi). But one must survey a representative sample objectively to come to a fair conclusion. One could easily pick the most embarrassing weather forecasts of our conventional meteorologists and erroneously conclude that the effectiveness of our present-day forecasts is worse than it is. For example, over a million Florida residents were told to evacuate coastal areas as Hurricane Floyd approached the peninsula in September of 1999. Floyd never hit Florida (Wikipedia.org), and in 2009, Britain’s Met Office were left red faced as their predictions for a “barbecue summer” turned into a literal wash out (Met Office).

Following are some of the astrological predictions underreported in modern literature but well-known during their time. Tycho Brahe, the brilliant Danish astronomer, was quite famous for his astrology as well. His astrological interpretation of the supernova of November 1572 coupled with the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn around the same time was published in two volumes. The Dane foretold of the decline of the Catholic religion and the rise of a great Protestant soldier and humanitarian who would die a violent death in 1632. The life of Gustavus Aldophus fit the description so well that it cemented Brahe’s reputation as Europe’s leading astronomer (Plant; Goodagve 52).

Following close on Brahe’s heels and influenced by him, astronomer and mathematician, Johannes Kepler was an ardent practitioner of astrology. Kepler is remembered for his discovery of the planetary laws of motion which he began publishing in 1609. But Kepler’s first brush with fame came because of his astro-meteorological prediction of the winter that put Styermark, Austria on ice in 1593. In the same prediction, he foretold of the revolutionary disturbances of the Austrian peasantry (Goodavage 54). Kepler while in Prague had a following among the lower classes. His biographer, Max Caspar, relates that 15 days in advance, Kepler told the local populace that there would be wind and rain on a certain day. A fierce gale set in when the day arrived, and the people, amazed, wondered what was happening. “Then the cry grew loud, “Kepler comes. Kepler comes” (Kollerstrom).

William Lilly, England’s most famous astrologer during the time of Charles I and England’s Civil War, was even consulted several times by Charles, but the astrologer lamented that the king would not follow his advice (Lilly 5). Lilly’s most celebrated prediction, however, was published in his book in 1651 entitled Monarchy or No Monarchy. The book contained several drawings alluding to the plague and Great Fire of London which took place in 1666. Lilly was summoned that year before an investigative committee after the conflagration because it was understood that he had hinted at such things in his book of 1651. His prediction was too close for comfort, and the committee wanted to know if he had any further involvement or knowledge of who brought it about – which he did not.

Commander Morrison of the Royal Navy, writing under the pen name Zadkiel I, followed the lead of the older astrologers of the Middle Ages and made numerous predictions regarding famine and disease such as the Irish potato famine in his Alamac of 1846 published the year before (McCormack 10:09), his prediction of the fatal outbreak of cholera in Great Britain in 1849 and another occurrence again in 1853-4. (Pearce 391) While astrology has always had its detractors, it can at least be seen that its track record was not nearly as abysmal as thought to be in modern times.

Having looked at the prognostic value of astrological phenomena, the Church’s allowance of certain kinds of astrology, and the fulfillment of astrological predictions, it is now somewhat clearer that it appeared reasonable to learned men of the time to consider astrological explanations as a candidate for explaining earthly events and that they were not as worthless as is often portrayed. The prognostic value of astrology lay in the repeatability of planetary alignments as well as the celestial and mundane positions of those alignments that provided a system of prediction that varied the type and place of events. The Church permitted its followers to engage in certain kinds of astrology, and astrological language in scripture hinted that planetary influence is in part a cause of earthly events. Finally, it is apparent that many predictions of that period and beyond were, in fact, accurate and reliable giving good reason to not completely dismiss astrology’s value. One might take the position that Kepler took when his benefactor asked him how a man of his intelligence could believe in astrology. Kepler replied, “As a Lutheran astrologer, I retain the substance but discard the nonsense” (Today in Science).


Works Cited

Age-of-the-sage.org. Ralph Waldo Emerson History. https://www.age-of-the-   sage.org/transcendentalism/emerson/essay_history.html. Accessed December 1, 2018.

Aquinas, Thomas. “Question 95. Superstition in Divinations.” CATHOLIC LIBRARY: Sublimus Dei (1537), Kevin Knight, 2017, www.newadvent.org/summa/3095.htm. Accessed December 4, 2018.          

Classical Astrologer.me. Astrology of the Bubonic Plague.  https://classicalastrologer.me/2013/04/30/bubonic-plague/. Accessed December 3, 2018.



Goodavge, Joseph F. Astrology: The Space Age Science. New York, Signet Books, 1967.



Holy Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Oxford UP, 2001.



Johnson, Rebecca. “From Sin to Science: Astrological Explanations for the Black Death, 1347-1350.” Ex Post Facto Volume XVIII. 2009: 1-16. https://history.sfsu.edu/sites/default/files/2009_Rebecca%20Johnson.pdf. Web. December 2, 2018.

Kollerstrom, Nicholas. “Kepler’s Belief in Astrology.” Skyscript.co.uk. http://www.skyscript.co.uk/kepler2.html. Accessed December 3, 2018.



Lilly, William. An Introduction to Astrology. London, George Bell & Sons, 1901.





McCormack, George J. Astrotech Weather Guide. Fair Lawn, privately printed by author, 1947.



“Met Office left red faced.” Daily Mail, July 30, 2009, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1202982/Met-Office-left-red-faced-Britains-forecast-barbecue-summer-turns-washout.html. Accessed Dec 7, 2018.



Pearce, Alfred John. The Text-Book of Astrology. Washington, D.C., American Federation of Astrologers, 1970.



Plant, David. “Tycho Brahe: A King Amongst Astronomers.” Skyscript.co.uk. http://www.skyscript.co.uk/brahe.html. Accessed Dec 3, 2018.



Randi, James. The Mask of Nostradamus. Prometheus Books, 1993. Quoted in “List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events.” Wikipedia.org.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events. Accessed December 5, 2018.



Sepharial. Eclipses in Theory and Practise. London, Ascella, 1915.



Spielvogel, Jackson, J. Western Civilization, Ninth Edition, Volume 1: To 1715. Stamford,  Cengage Learning, 2009.



Today in Science. Today in Science History. https://todayinsci.com/K/Kepler_Johannes/KeplerJohannes-Quotations.htm. Accessed December 7, 2018.



Wikipedia.org. Hurricane Floyd. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Floyd. Accessed December 6, 2018.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 5-8, 2018 Northeast U.S. Weather Results

In the middle of May, I posted a forecast for the Northeast U.S. for the period between June 5-8 calling for strong storms and heavy rain. The forecast was based on planetary alignments studied by astro-meteorologists.

Here's how the forecast, issued 3 weeks in advance, sized up. The forecast was off by a couple of days since today, June 10th, the storms and heavy rain materialized over the Mid-Atlantic region. The original forecast specified the area in and around New York, New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula, and New England.

The National Weather Service today issued a Flash Flood Watch for portions of Delaware, northeast Maryland, southern New Jersey, and southeast Pennsylvania.

Periods of rain is expected into Monday morning, some of which will be heavy at times. A total of 1 to 2 inches of rain is expected across much of the watch area. Some thunderstorms may occur through this evening mainly across Delmarva which could lead to locally higher amounts.

In addition to the above Watch, the NWS has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Delaware, Maryland, and a Flood Warning for West Virginia.

Here is an Accuweather map depicting the area to be affected.


09 Mid-Atlantic


Links to Other Long-range Weather Forecasts and Forecast Results

Hurricane Hermine, TD8, and the August 24-28, 2016 Forecast Results
Hurricane Dolores Fulfills Long-range Weather Forecast
Hurricane Season 2015 Long-range Weather Predictions
Tropical Cyclone Hadi
Hurricane Erick Fulfills Long-range Forecast
Tropical Storm Andrea Fulfills Long-range Forecast!
Timing the Relief for Drought-Stricken U.S. Plains
Testing Astrometeorology Part 2
Hurricane Sandy Fulfills Long-range Weather Prediction!
Testing Astrometeorology Part 1
Hurricane Season 2011 Forecast Results
Hurricane Risk-Management
New Weather Alternative Website
Fulfilled Long-range Forecasts for Hurricane Season 2010
Introduction to the Weather Alternative


Saturday, May 19, 2018

June 5-8, 2018 Northeast U.S. Weather

Planetary alignments between June 5-8 focus their influence over the Northeastern United States. This pattern should result in a stormy situation for the area in and around New York, New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula, and New England.

The Last Quarter Moon on the 6th will conjoin Neptune as Mercury also aspects Neptune by square. This, along with the opposition between Venus and Pluto should upset atmospheric conditions over the area resulting in a strong thunderstorms and heavy rain.



Links to Other Long-range Weather Forecasts and Forecast Results

Hurricane Hermine, TD8, and the August 24-28, 2016 Forecast Results
Hurricane Dolores Fulfills Long-range Weather Forecast
Hurricane Season 2015 Long-range Weather Predictions
Tropical Cyclone Hadi
Hurricane Erick Fulfills Long-range Forecast
Tropical Storm Andrea Fulfills Long-range Forecast!
Timing the Relief for Drought-Stricken U.S. Plains
Testing Astrometeorology Part 2
Hurricane Sandy Fulfills Long-range Weather Prediction!
Testing Astrometeorology Part 1
Hurricane Season 2011 Forecast Results
Hurricane Risk-Management
New Weather Alternative Website
Fulfilled Long-range Forecasts for Hurricane Season 2010
Introduction to the Weather Alternative



Saturday, May 27, 2017

March 25, 2017 Forecast Results

Severe weather was expected across the Central Plains between March 24-26 due to the conjunctions and oppositions of Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus.

Here's what happened.

The National Weather Service report for March 24-26 carried these warnings:

Severe weather possible for the Southern/Central High Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley through Friday...

Prime conditions for the spread of wildfires across the Southern/Central High Plains...

The following Weather Channel map for March 23rd shows the approaching storm system.


Mar 23

Here's another snippet from the NWS for March 25:

Rain, heavy at times, and thunderstorms are expected as a result along and just ahead of the cold front over the next couple of days as it advances eastward. Some of these thunderstorms could be
strong to severe. The Storm Prediction Center has outlined a small region that stretches across east TX and the Ark-LA-Tex region as being in an Enhanced Risk for severe weather this evening and
overnight, with conditions favorable for producing damaging winds and isolated tornadoes.

The next Weather Channel map shows the storms progression eastward on the 24th.



Mar 24

Links to Other Long-range Weather Forecasts and Forecast Results

Hurricane Hermine, TD8, and the August 24-28, 2016 Forecast Results
Hurricane Dolores Fulfills Long-range Weather Forecast
Hurricane Season 2015 Long-range Weather Predictions
Tropical Cyclone Hadi
Hurricane Erick Fulfills Long-range Forecast
Tropical Storm Andrea Fulfills Long-range Forecast!
Timing the Relief for Drought-Stricken U.S. Plains
Testing Astrometeorology Part 2
Hurricane Sandy Fulfills Long-range Weather Prediction!
Testing Astrometeorology Part 1
Hurricane Season 2011 Forecast Results
Hurricane Risk-Management
New Weather Alternative Website
Fulfilled Long-range Forecasts for Hurricane Season 2010
Introduction to the Weather Alternative

Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

1. If moral values are subjective, then moral codes cannot improve, since there is no objective standard by which to judge one code better than another.


2. But the work of people like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks shows that moral codes can be made more just.


3. Therefore, moral values are objective rather than subjective.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Quick Look at Next Week's Weather - March 25, 2017

A quick look at next weekend (March 25th) shows an interesting setup in the previous solar eclipse chart of February 26th waiting to be triggered.

At the time of the eclipse, Mars was entering into alignment with Jupiter and Uranus. These last two planets were in very close opposition, and Mars was entering the picture as it conjoined Uranus and opposed Jupiter. The astro-locality map below shows the positions of the three planets in question.

March 25

As can be seen, the grouping of planets affects the central U.S. from eastern Texas through the Central and High Plains. The Mars-Uranus conjunction is likely to affect the area with a strong low pressure area and heavy rain. To get an idea, check out this previous forecast for Mars-Uranus. The Mars-Jupiter opposition is also a storm breeder as seen in these results from December 22-26, 2007. Finally, the last Jupiter-Uranus opposition was on December 26, 2016 which affected the Central Plains. The result was a Christmas Day blizzard over the Central and Eastern Plains. Check out the results here.

We can expect some severe weather to once again assail the central U.S. with a strong low pressure area, winds, and precipitation roughly between March 24-26.


Irving Babbitt Quotes

Babbitt

The industrial revolution has tended to produce everywhere great urban masses that seem to be increasingly careless of ethical standards.- Irving Babbitt

In the classics more than in other subjects, the fact should never be forgotten that the aim proposed is the assimilation, and not the accumulation, of knowledge. - Irving Babbitt

Man has gained immensely in his grasp on facts, but in the meanwhile has become so immersed in their multiplicity as to lose that vision of the One by which his lower self was once overawed and restrained. - Irving Babbitt





Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jan 6-8, 2017 Forecast Results

On November 23, 2016, I issued some experimental long-range weather forecasts based on the Moon's entrance into various zodiacal signs. Here are the results.

The congregating of planetary influences over the U.S. West Coast between the 6th and 7th of January was forecast to result in a cold front issuing in stormy conditions.

On the 6th, Accuweather reported, "A large storm will affect the west coast of the United States with drenching rain, ice, flooding and high country snow this weekend into next week." Their headline ran, "Excessive rain, melting snow may cause worst California flooding since 1997." Below is an Accuweather map for the 6th.

06 California

Windy conditions were forecast for this time over the U.S. Northeast due to other planetary crossings in the experimental charts. The National Weather Service issued the following report on January 7th.

" A low pressure system deepening rapidly off the Mid-Atlantic coast
will move northeastward towards Nova Scotia on Sunday.  A large
swath of snow is currently spreading northeastward from the
Mid-Atlantic states into coastal New England.  As the low pressure
system continues to rapidly intensify off the East Coast, winds
near the coast will continue to strengthen as the snow becomes
heavy, especially over southeastern New England where blizzard
conditions could occur tonight before the storm moves further away
early on Sunday."

The following Weather Channel map is for the 7th.

Jan 07b

For Western Australia, windy and stormy conditions were forecast based on a crossing of Mercury and Mars lines along the coast. Severe weather warnings were issued for heavy rainfall on the 7th and 8th. Below is a Warning Area map for the 7th.

07 Western Aus


Links to Other Long-range Weather Forecasts and Forecast Results

Hurricane Hermine, TD8, and the August 24-28, 2016 Forecast Results
Hurricane Dolores Fulfills Long-range Weather Forecast
Hurricane Season 2015 Long-range Weather Predictions
Tropical Cyclone Hadi
Hurricane Erick Fulfills Long-range Forecast
Tropical Storm Andrea Fulfills Long-range Forecast!
Timing the Relief for Drought-Stricken U.S. Plains
Testing Astrometeorology Part 2
Hurricane Sandy Fulfills Long-range Weather Prediction!
Testing Astrometeorology Part 1
Hurricane Season 2011 Forecast Results
Hurricane Risk-Management
New Weather Alternative Website
Fulfilled Long-range Forecasts for Hurricane Season 2010
Introduction to the Weather Alternative


John Locke Quotes

John Locke

Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him. - John Locke



Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. - John Locke 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

New Year's 2017 Forecast Result

Here are the results of the New Year's 2017 forecast which was posted on November 27, 2016.

Forecast 

As mentioned in a previous post, the direct station of Uranus affects the Pacific Northwest. This planet is known for its cold influence and wind-generating capabilities especially since it aligns in opposition to Jupiter...This should begin to manifest from the 29th through the first few days of January 2017.

Results

The National Weather Service reported the following:

December 30
...Below normal temperatures and more rain and snow moves in by Saturday (Dec 31st) across the Northwest...

December 31
...Heavy snow possible from portions of the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies...

Jan 1

...Areas of heavy snow possible from the Pacific Northwest to the northern plains and Upper Midwest...

Jan 2

...cold air is expected to remain in place as an upper-level trough remains overhead. Additionally, an arctic surface front will drift south through Monday, ushering another round of frigid air associated with an arctic surface high into areas from the Pacific Northwest to the northern plains. The continued presence of upper-level energy will keep areas of snow in the forecast from portions of the Pacific Northwest and northern California to the Rockies on Monday, with heavy snow possible for some areas.

Here's the Weather Channel's map for January 1, 2017

Jan 01

The next forecast focused on the Southeastern U.S. and Mid-Atlantic.

Forecast 

We will most likely find meteorologists focusing their attention here as moisture is made available to fuel storms and is drawn northward over the Carolinas and into the Mid-Atlantic. The map above for January 1st also shows the stormy conditions over the Carolinas and into the Mid-Atlantic.

Results

On January 2nd, Accuweather posted the following headline:

Severe thunderstorms to trigger flash flooding in southeastern US



Links to Other Long-range Weather Forecasts and Forecast Results

January 6-8, 2017 Long-range Weather Forecasts
Hurricane Hermine, TD8, and the August 24-28, 2016 Forecast Results
Hurricane Dolores Fulfills Long-range Weather Forecast
Hurricane Season 2015 Long-range Weather Predictions
Tropical Cyclone Hadi
Hurricane Erick Fulfills Long-range Forecast
Tropical Storm Andrea Fulfills Long-range Forecast!
Timing the Relief for Drought-Stricken U.S. Plains
Testing Astrometeorology Part 2
Hurricane Sandy Fulfills Long-range Weather Prediction!
Testing Astrometeorology Part 1
Hurricane Season 2011 Forecast Results
Hurricane Risk-Management
New Weather Alternative Website
Fulfilled Long-range Forecasts for Hurricane Season 2010
Introduction to the Weather Alternative