Categories
Exhibitions

Astrology at the Adler

The Adler Planetarium has posted a nice little slideshow on astrology: “Written in the Stars..” Each slide offers a bit of text and an image from something in the Alder’s collection — books, prints, and instruments. Unsurprisingly, one of my favorite is the slide of the astrolabe, a lovely instrument from Al-Andalus: Also amazing is the […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

“Science Vs” — Celebrating Ignorance?

The podcast “Science Vs” promises to take “on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.” It covers a range of predictable, conspiracy tinged and fad issues and pressing issues, e.g., episodes on ancient aliens,[1] snake oils and essential oils, and bigfoot, intermingle with episodes […]

Categories
Academia Press and Pop Culture

Astrology Handwringing (again)

The BBC has joined the growing number of articles that try to explain away rational and intellectual interest in astrology: “The Anxieties and Apps Fuelling the Astrology Boom.” In this case, the author does a better job distinguishing astrology from the dross we see in newspapers.[1] But the basic assumption that animates this article is, […]

Categories
Academia Speaking

Ad Astra Podcast

For scholars working on the history of astrology, The Astra Project is the wonderful resource and community of experts. The two people who seem to be the most public faces of the project are Helena Avelar and Luís Campos Ribeiro. The project also hosts the ad Astra podcast, which interviews scholars working on a wide […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Why Fear Astrology?

A recent “The Morning” Newsletter from the NY Times suggested seven podcasts about science for those “trying to learn more about the wonders of science.” Among other pressing wonders of science, these podcasts will let us know “whether there’s any scientific basis to astrology.” Why is the press, science popularizers, and many scholars, whether scientists […]

Categories
Research

Byzantine Tables of Planetary Hours

The tradition of planetary hours established a ruling planet for each hour of each day. The first hour of the day was ruled by the planet that also gave the day its name, e.g., the sun ruled the first hour of Sunday. Each subsequent hour was ruled by the next planet in the series: Saturn, […]

Categories
History

Raphael’s Handbook of Divination

Raphael had a particular fondness for publishing little handbooks full of tables used for divination. In his Raphael’s Book of Fate: Whereby all Questions may be Answered Respecting the Present and Future he offered handful of different methods of divining the future, most of which used a standard playing deck, some reckoning, and some cross-referencing […]

Categories
History

Raphael’s Astro-Geomantic-Prophetic Practices

Robert Cross Smith, better known as Raphael, The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century, was a rather prolific publisher. For a short time he published a journal with the autobiographical sounding title The Straggling Astrologer. After about six months of losing money, he ended that project. He followed it with a thick tome, The Astrologer of […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Astrology: Bugbear of Science

A recent survey of the “Conceptions of Science in Byzantium” opens with a general comment about the term “science”, and by extension the concept “science”. The author roots “science” in the culturally specific values of any given moment, values that are “constantly developing and changing.” These values determine what was and what was not, or […]

Categories
Research

Filed under “Amusing Diversion”

Working through a manuscript I came across this folio with a large diagram of the zodiac in the center. What caught my attention was the drawing in the upper right corner. The scribe seems to have thrown his arms up in confusion (?), exasperation (?), or simply resignation. Either that, or he’s being held up […]