A History of Astrology in Medicine
by Yerevan Yacoubian
Just as the practice of gardening by the phases of the moon is as ancient as agriculture, the healing arts have included astrology since the dawn of time. Although much of the knowledge of the ancients has been preserved and pieced together, much of it has been lost and buried. This is especially true of the role of women in ancient astrology and medicine.
Here are a few physicians of the distant past who practiced astrology that are acknowledged in modern academia:
Hippocrates, born in 460 BC in Greece has been called “Father of Medicine”. His days coincided with temple offerings to the Greek god of healing, Asclepius. People of his time and place took both healing and education very seriously. Many new or soon-to-be doctors of this modern age have taken the Hippocratic Oath, written by Hippocrates himself, and contains the code of ethics that all physicians are expected to abide by, but that they no longer truly put into practice. Hippocrates is often quoted with having said “the physician without a knowledge of Astrology has no right to call himself a physician”. He is attributed with the correlations made between the signs of the zodiac and the body parts affected.
Many of the physicians of the East maintained a holistic approach to healing even when it was abolished from the West. They understood the interconnection of body, mind and spirit and that to isolate the parts rather than to address the whole would not lead to any lasting cure. The medicine known by ancient practitioners began its resurgence in the Western world during the “hippie revolution” of the 60s.
Paracelsus, born in Switzerland in 1493 was a Hermetic philosopher, occultist, and physician who practiced astrology in combination with medicine. He believed that health was controlled by astral influences and that the key to healing was in arcane remedies that would restore the celestial harmony between one's inner “astrum” (star energy) and heavenly “astrum”. He was a restless traveler with a multitude of talents, but his downfall was his tremendous ego, alcoholism and tendency to ruthlessly criticize his colleagues. He was apparently not fond of women either. He believed himself to be “chosen by God” to debunk and surpass many philosophers and physicians who came before him, namely Aristotle and Galen. Some have referred to Paracelsus as the “Luther of physicians”. One of his greatest contributions to the field of medicine was his observation that pathology was not only caused by internal factors but also by external ones.
Nicholas Culpeper, born in 1616 in the UK was an English apothecary, botanist, and physician who was inspired by the works of Paracelsus and incorporated astrology into his healing work. He was also inspired by his friend William Lilley (born 1602), an astrologer and author. Culpeper is best known for his book “Culpeper's Complete Herbal”, which includes a section on how to diagnose sickness with astrology. According to him, plants were living embodiments of the subtle life force energy of the planets. He is quoted with having said “To such as study astrology, who are the only men I know that are fit to study medicine, medicine without astrology being like a lamp without oil.”
Edward Bach, born 1886 in Birmingham England was a British doctor, bacteriologist, homeopath and author. He became famous for his discovery of the 38 Bach Flower Essence remedies, which are a form of vibrational medicine that has become widely available today. Out of all healing therapies, these essences most resemble homeopathy in their production and functions. Although Bach was not an astrologer he acknowledged the importance of certain astrological influences over health. In his book Twelve Healers which was published in 1933, he noted that there were twelve distinct types of personality, and he linked them with the flower essences. He emphasized the importance of the Moon sign at birth, stating that it was an influence over the personality. He also linked the Moon to his remedies.
Women doctors and healers since time immemorial have been practitioners of both medicine and astrology, although solid evidence of their astrological evidence has been wiped clean from most historical manuscripts. Through the centuries, medicine and astrology have both been male dominated, and yet as least astrology is most widely practiced by women. Metrodora, born around 200 AD in Greece was a physician and author of the oldest medical book known to be written by a woman “On the Diseases and Cures of Women”. It is said she was influenced by Hippocrates. It is uncertain as to whether or not she practiced astrology.
Another notable woman physician was Hildegard of Bingen, also known as Saint Hildegard born in 1098 in the Roman Empire. She was an abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary and pharmacist, consulted and advised by men in high positions. She was one of the first naturopaths, having documented both ailments and herbal remedies. The earliest European recorded to have produced flower essences was Hildegard. She placed muslin sheets over flowers at night to absorb their dew, which were collected in the morning, rung out and administered to people with emotional imbalances. According to the Julian calendar she was born August 17th, which makes perfect sense at zero degrees of the sign of the healer, Virgo. Again, it is uncertain as to whether or not she acknowledged astrology in her work. If she did, it was probably purposefully omitted by the Christian church.