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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Medieval Herbal Astrology Explained

If you read my post, “INTRO TO ASTROLOGY”, you’ll remember that HERBAL ASTROLOGY is part of a larger category, MEDICAL ASTROLOGY. Medical astrology is a highly complex subject, whose incredible breadth and depth is so great, I could not do it justice by attempting to discuss it at length on this site. It is quite simply, healing the body with the aid of the zodiac. If you have been unable to cure an afflictment with modern medicine, I suggest contacting a medical astrologer, who might just cure your tricky ailment!

Aries = Head area ruled by Mars
Taurus = Neck & Throat area ruled by Venus
Gemini = Respiratory system, Arms ruled by Mercury
Cancer = Stomach, Breasts ruled by the Moon
Leo = Cardiac system & Vertebrae behind heart ruled by the Sun
Virgo = Bowels, Abdomen ruled by Mercury
Libra = Kidneys & surrounding area ruled by Venus
Scorpio = Bladder & Genetalia ruled by Mars & Pluto
Sagittarius = Musculature & Pelvis area ruled by Jupiter
Capricorn = Bones & Skin ruled by Saturn
Aquarius = Ankle area & Circulatory system ruled by Mercury & Uranus
Pisces = Feet area & Lymphatic system ruled by Neptune


It was believed in Roman & Medieval times that everyone and everything was divided into four temperaments:
1. CHOLERIC = hot & dry = Mars, Sun
2. SANGUINE = hot & moist = Venus
3. PHLEGMATIC = cold & moist = Moon
4. MELANCHOLIC = cold & dry = Saturn
(Uranus, Neptune & Pluto are not listed because they were discovered after these ancient principles were established.)

These terms were so impactful that each one is still in the English language today, as of course, are the twelve signs of the zodiac. At Medieval banquets, it was auspicious to serve a mixture of dishes that contained these four temperaments. This is so that the meal, and the guest’s constitution, was balanced.

When the milkmaid had a tummy ache a few hundred years back, she would treat it with astrology (no Tums back then)! The stomach has been determined to by ruled by the sign of Cancer. Cancer is a cold, wet, phlegmatic sign. The ancients knew that our world is a balance of positive & negative, good & evil, yin & yang, ya da ya da ya… This would make the opposite of cold and wet, be hot and dry. Therefore, to cure this lassie’s pain, something of the latter quality would be prescribed. This method is referred to as “antipathy” or “sympathy”. Symptoms were treated either with a like-minded herb, or a completely opposite natured herb. Admittedly, the milkmaid’s astrological chart might have been consulted to aid in the determination of treatment. But I have a feeling that antipathy was more commonly used than sympathy in ancient astro-medicine.


This is where HERBAL ASTROLOGY comes in. The plant, chamomile, is ruled by the sun. This is believed due to the flower’s appearance: a bright yellow center with rays of light petals around its circumference. Now… Chamomile is ruled by the sun – but it might be grown in an entirely different sign! For each environment is governed by it’s own planet as well. If the chamomile was picked from a field, that would lend a Libran influence to it (as fields are ruled by Venus). This would temper the hot dryness of the chamomile with some warming Venusian moisture. If it were collected from a mountaintop, the chamomile would have an Geminian influence to it. Gemini is ruled by Mercury, which is regarded as cold and dry. The hot dryness of the chamomile would then be tempered with the cooling properties of Mercury. I know I’m getting a bit detailed here, but I just want to convey what exactly went into a traditional astro-medical diagnosis. For our intent and purpose, we will be looking strictly at the qualities of the actual plant and not the environment in which it grew. Obviously the sun is dry and hot (and will stay that way for some time, god willing). Hence this herb would be taken to counteract the milkmaid’s tummy ache, as the stomach is cold and wet. To this day it is common knowledge that a cup of chamomile tea settles the stomach.


Enter Nicholas Culpeper, father of Western Herbalism, circa 1600. So popular were this medical prophet’s teachings, that his books are unbelievably still in print today! All though, sadly some of his original text has been altered during the editing process without any indication to the reader that they are not actually reading Culpeper’s words. But I digress. In fact, Culpeper’s book was the second manuscript to be published in America–after the bible. This renowned astrological physician of the 17th century led a short, chaotic and heroic life; 1616 – 1654. He was born in Britain, a Scorpio with Capricorn rising (a serious, focused, dramatic, intense sign coupling to have).


Against his religious father’s wishes for him to join the ministry, Culpeper studied medicine at Cambridge University. Well, it wasn’t soon after that this passionate fellow decided to elope with his fiancé. Unbelievably, she was struck dead by lightning en route to their secret meeting place! The devastated student was so wrought with grief that he dropped out of the esteemed school he was so privileged to attend. Disinherited, he chose to start anew and ended up apprenticing with several apothecaries. Little did he know that the stage was being set to lead a revolutionary crusade against the oppressive “medical monarchy” on behalf of England’s common and ravaged people. Culpeper did find love again, and formed a stormy marriage that would bear 8 children, only one of whom would survive. The latter part of his life was spent feverishly translating Laten medical text into English so that “the people” may understand, and publishing inexpensive and educational medical books so that they may also “heal thyself” with countryside herbs. When he did succumb, it was to an old war wound exacerbated by tobacco of all things! You know what they say about the cobbler’s kids having no shoes…

mixed by Gwen-Intoxicated Zodiac


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