Classic works on medical astrology – owned and unowned
– 26 September 2008
– Responses updated in red, January 7th, 2016
The late John Kirk Robertson left as part of his legacy on the Internet a fascinating bibliography he compiled of past works on medical astrology in the English language.
This is mostly of historical interest. But I spotted this first around five years ago and have been interested in collecting them ever since, but many are so scarce that I have not once seen a single copy for sale in all that time.
He lists the following works from before 1900; I have written ‘Yes’ by those I have managed to obtain and ‘No’ by the others I’m still hoping to be able to procure in the future:
Francis Bernard ‘Nativities and Decumbitures’ circa 1661-1678: NO (seems to have survived only in manuscript form; I suspect a unique copy exists somewhere since I could not find any listed in library records through OCLC or COPAC, but Robertson has not indicated where he found it; it sounds to be a a massive two-volume work, well worthy of retrieval and publication, if anyone can find it);
Luke Dennis Broughton ‘Remarks on Astrology and Astro-Medical Botany’ 1878: NO (this little pamphlet by one of the most famous early American astrologers is most frustratingly rare – five years and counting, and I have not seen a single copy for sale);
C. G. (Gentl.): ‘A Treatise of Mathematicall Phisicke’ 1598: YES (was a newly written book published for the first time as an appendix to the second edition of Fabian Withers’ English translation of the main first book of Claude Dariot’s major work on astrology);
Cockayne, Thomas Oswald ‘Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early England’ 1864-71: NO (well, I have a very recent hardcover reprint, but not the original, which is very rare apparently)
Nicholas Culpeper ‘Semeiotica Uranica’ 1658 (3rd edition, though first was in fact 1651): NO (very scarce book, and no copies on Abebooks in years, but I’m thinking about the defective copy currently on ebay… I have a commonplace retyped late 20th C reprint, retitled as the original title’s mere subtitle, ‘The Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick’, somewhere, but that really doesn’t count) UPDATE: Both 1651 and 1658 originals acquired since this time.
Dickson, D. ‘An Essay on the Possibility and Probability of a Child’s Being Born Alive, and Live, in the Latter End of the Fifith Solar, or in the Beginning of the Sixth Lunar Month’ 1712: NO (another of those absolutely fascinating-sounding works that I have never seen for sale anywhere at all – at auction or at fixed price! I wouldn’t be surprised if it continued to evade me for the rest of my life; and there has never been a reprint of this apparently…) UPDATE: A modern reprint has been released and acquired since this time
Phillips, Henry M ‘Medicine and Astrology’ 1867: YES (a mere 8-page pamphlet, and very sketchy in content, but I do have an original copy, not the Kessinger reprint that has since started to appear)
Saunders, Richard ‘The Astrological Judgment and Practice of Physic’ 1677: YES (a very nice, complete copy including the portrait; now why can’t I find Culpeper’s slightly earlier work in that condition?)
Sibly, Ebeneezer ‘A Key to Physic and the Occult Sciences’ 1804 (actually the 1804 edition is not the first, which is believed to have been printed around 1794): YES (one complete copy and one with two plates lacking that I hope to restore using the other; both are copies of one or another of the suspected two editions that were issued with hand-coloured plates, but most copies seen for sale tend to have only monochrome plates and are very much less valuable; in fact there is very little astrology at all in this book but it does have beautiful plates and a little of interest about medicine from an occultist’s perspective of the time)
Paracelsus (translated by R. Turner): ‘Of the Supreme Mysteries of Nature. Of the Spirits of the Planets. Of Occult Philosophy. The Magical, Sympathetical and Antipathetical Cure of Wounds and Diseases. The Mysteries of the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac’ 1656: NO (well, I have a copy of the hardcover reprint circa 1970s, which was retitled ‘The Archidoxes of Magic’ for reasons best known to the publisher, probably because long titles were out of fashion by then; the original tends to fetch silly sums of money, well over $1500 even on ebay at auction, when available at all, which is rarely, because occult collectors go crazy for anything that mentions ‘occult philosophy’ and anything by Paracelsus)
For some reason, Blagrave’s ‘Astrological Practice of Physick’, which I also lack because I’ve yet to find a copy in satisfactory condition, was not listed in this bibliography although it is one of the classic English-language works on the subject. UPDATE: Original second edition acquired since this time