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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, […]

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Research

Missing Archives

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss being able to work in the archives. Travel restrictions that prevent me from going to and working in the archives I need for my research depresses me, to say the least. The fact that there is no end in sight compounds my feelings of loss.[1] There […]

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 […]

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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 […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Telling time, or not

A friend who knows of my interest in sundials gave me fabulous little, pocket sundial. While it is nothing fancy, it recalls to my mind the 16th- and 17th-century sundials from Nuremberg. Sure, mine is not made of ivory and wasn’t fabricated by some famous artisan, but I can pretend. The best study on these […]

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History

New Tool for Treating Mental Illness, ca. 1817

The NY Times recently reported on “A New Tool in Treating Mental Illness: Building Design.”1 Looking at a couple of mental health facilities in California, one recently completed and one still under construction, the article highlights some of the building and design innovations found at these institutions: private rooms with nice views of the outside, […]

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History

A glow-in-the-dark world

A short notice in the Phrenological Journal from April, 1879, reports on the self-luminous properties of calcium sulfide. A Prof. Morton from the Stevens Institute of Technology had analyzed the material painted onto the faces of self-luminous clocks and discovered that it was just a “sulfide of calcium.” The compound absorbs light when exposed to […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Tarot, then, now, and tomorrow?

Tarot cards do not have a particularly long history. With some effort people trace their origins back to 15th-century Italy. But those origins seem to be more like playing cards than some form of divination. Tarot cards as a form of divination seem to be an 18th-century trend that exploded in the 19th and early […]

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Research

Fun with Astrological Abbreviations

Copies of Ὁ Καρπός, a Greek collection of astrological aphorisms that was for centuries attributed to Ptolemy, often contain a variety of common and sometimes not so common abbreviations and symbols for astrological terms. Aphorism 97 in this particular manuscript (BnF gr. 2509) includes three typical abbreviations. Ὁ κύριοσ τῆσ πανσελήνου ἢ τῆσ συνόδου, ὅτε […]

Categories
History

The Sun Center Publishing Co?

I stumbled across a letter (ok, more accurately put: I stumbled across a scan of a letter) from 1911 sent to an R. A. Bell in Montana: Dear Sir:In response to your kind enquiry, we take pleasure in forwarding you particulars of the New Lessons in Physical Regeneration. If you are greatly interested in the […]