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By John Townley, July 2015

The three top issues people look to consult astrologers about come under the general headings of sex, money, and death. Or to put it more gingerly: romance, wealth, and health. Following those might be family and legal matters, spiritual evolution, and perhaps creativity or intellectual development.

Using the general tenets of traditional astrology, you can get fairly good results in most of those areas, with the one exception of health. Although that’s supposed to be dealt with primarily by the affairs of the sixth house, the issues of good health vs. disease and ultimately death don’t seem to reveal themselves well at all to the modern astrologer. Why, and what can we do to resolve the conundrum?

Classical and Renaissance astrologers used to wax on endlessly about health, and death, and had no compunction about diagnosing the badly-understood diseases of the time and forecasting the length of life and moment of death, although with decidedly mixed results. The reason, of course, is that the specific, physical causes and realities of disease were largely unknown, so it was hard to make reliable predictions about something they didn’t know much about to begin with.

Traditional astrology had rulerships for everything, in the birth chart, but most of it's there already, before birth.

Or was it? Certainly, the theory of microbes as the cause of most illness didn’t begin to arise until the seventeeth century, and until the 1600s and William Harvey doctors had even the structure of blood circulation itself dead wrong, not to mention the electro-chemical connections of the nervous system. Indeed, what we consider “modern” medicine didn’t arrive until the beginning of the twentieth century – yet, great strides in overall public health were made in the several centuries before that simply by tending to fairly general and obvious principles such as diet, cleanliness, and epidemic-spotting and containment by quarantine (especially exemplified by efforts of the Royal Navy). Even though the major causal connections hadn’t quite been established, they were beginning to be deduced from realities on the ground, instead of airily theorized based on the highly-astrological principles that had prevailed before. And, during that same time, as “hard” science rose as the central approach to reality, astrology fell into disrepute, dated and refusing to change, relegated to a few sincere practitioners and a great many charlatans.

One might say that today astrology is where medicine itself was just as the scientific revolution was getting underway – starting to get tuned into fuller causality but without the sufficient set of tools still needed to make it work more reliably. You don’t have to have a complete roadmap to know where you’re going in general, but you need one to actually get anywhere specific you want to in the end, which science itself is still refining.

Even before "modern" medicine, an analytical approach to illness by surgeons and the military advanced knowledge of health.

But back to astrology and health. Traditional astrology based on zodiacal and planetary body-part assignments mixed with outdated theories of degrees of heat and moisture, the four temperaments, the doctrine of signatures, humours, decumbiture charts, and more really doesn’t work anymore, if it ever did. Most modern astrologers are rightly circumspect in that regard, partly because of good sense and partly because one can be prosecuted for appearing to be practicing medicine without a license. Further, statistical attempts at linking diseases with traditional astrological rules tend to have failed worse than most astrological studies, leaving them apparently without much real basis.

Yet astrology seems to work fairly well in so many of the other important areas of life, why not here? It may be that it has its effects like it does any other place, but we’re just not looking in the right places, asking the right questions, applying the immediately obvious instead of trying to prop up old rules from dated philosophies that just aren’t relevant. Two approaches help remedy this:

Turning it around, a modern approach

First, stop looking at the planets as the indicators of a huge, mechanized universe that reveals every detail of our momentary reality. They are simply one scale of a general set of environmental wave interactions that resonate together, of which our scale and local details are a smaller, faster part. The old catch phrase, “the planets don’t compel, they impel” comes close to the mark, but not quite, as all the scales ring and echo in multiple directions – up and down, back and forth, round and about. The planets as major, entraining drivers give us something to hang on to, but the true tale is in how it all sifts down and settles out locally. To use a disease metaphor, a plague coming to town doesn’t mean you’re going to catch it, but it does close things in a bit.

Because of course, you might not catch it at all, as maybe you’re immune to it, it doesn't reach your house, or it doesn’t affect your subspecies, which brings us to the second approach, the natal chart itself and its real implications, and lack of them. The old way saw the natal chart as some kind of totally-interlocked key to all destiny, reflecting everything that could possibly happen on all fronts. The new view sees it as simply a local set of initial conditions, the pattern of the point when the various vectors of inertial momentum of the newly-individuated  separate life system cut in, subject to repeating cycles that create expectations and habits according to the initial pattern being superimposed upon.

The four temperaments, and more...

"Astrological" qualities thought to be inborn character may be simply genetic, or develop later from transits to the natal chart.

That’s a big difference, as in this view the natal horoscope is only tangentially related to what went before, so the major characteristics of ongoing health dictated by genetic inheritance or prenatal environment simply aren’t covered, as they’re already there before birth. All you can do is manipulate how you deal with the reinforcing transit and progression waves as you go along. Like any set of waves, some produce more stress and confusion than others, and some you can absolutely roll along on and with. Basically, then, the health factors in a chart come down to the level of planet-induced stress you’re undergoing, which then may trigger real effects dormant in your own genetic structure and the environment around you in relation to it. Curiously, the few real scientific studies done on seasonal (read: zodiacal) birth-related afflictions suggest just these sort of triggers. Indeed, a whole new take on how some health conditions arise and develop may be coming from just that new "astrological" window on medicine.

What's really there? What can you actually tell from a chart?

What all this suggests right now is that you can certainly deduce some useful health information from your chart and its transits, just not in the highly-specific and archaic way it was once regularly attempted. Watch those traditionally harsh and afflicting planets (Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Pluto) as they hit you, especially with hard and choppy mutual aspects, as you will be put under extra stress, which can set off inner genetic and bacterial land mines already developing inside you from before you had a horoscope. On the other hand, good transits do seem to make you feel better, stroking the rhythms you’ve developed since birth – although too much of a good thing (like Jupiter) can give you indigestion or even a heart attack or stroke from resulting elevation of excitement and blood pressure. Further, a generally chaotic set of ongoing aspects are likely to mean caregivers and treatment surroundings aren't at their most organized or safe. The crazier the sky, the higher the risk, and then, of course, it's the actual detail that gets you (or helps you), which is determine by the instantaneous ground game in the micromoment, the intractable details of here and now. 

So what health matters can and can't be inferred from a chart, given these kind of guidelines? Well, you can't deduce any disorder that's already pre-birth, genetically linked -- and that's most of them -- but you could look for the timing of their manifestation based on environmental triggers. Planetary transits are environmental triggers, and they can certainly cause stress, from full and new Moons (especially on personal points) to the dread wipe of Pluto over a tender spot, esp. the Ascendant.  Mars transiting the Ascendant, for instance, is traditionally linked to damage through accidents and/or aggression, and why not? Here's a harrowing example, of many personal ones...

When it's time to book passage with Charon, does your horoscope clue you in? Perhaps, partially...

Further, habits and expectations accrued from transits to the natal may serve to aggravate already in-place prenatal genetic predispositions. An afflicting Neptune natally and by transit can be just the thing to send someone with a genetic drug or alcohol addiction potential into a real problem life situation, where repeating cycles serve to confuse and exacerbate the problem. For someone with no such previous predeliction, however, the same set could mean nothing more than a hangover to be wisely avoided, or conversely positive growth and inner understanding, even life-changing visions. The sub-generation of Boomers that created modern drug culture, some benefitting greatly, others perishing from it, are a textbook example.

Along that line, how about death itself, which the ancients were quite glib about predicting? Anyone who has done an astrological death watch (try one yourself, track the planets throught the last days of someone who is dying) will know there are all kinds of seeming ups and downs, depending on the personality. I remember watching Harry Truman doggedly fight dreadful transits right up until departing on an easy, gentle one, not an unusual path, actually. I have seen many similar, each uniquely descriptive in its own way -- but also remember that what you're watching is the last strokes of the swimmer before going under in gradual circumstances. If it's a plane crash, you're not going to see the same trigger dispatching several hundred different people. Struggle has its signatures, death does not -- it is simply cessation.

And of course, a great deal of health and disease have to do with state of mind and its effct on the immune system, and transits and progressions very much affect those, so when the skies are difficult, especially when they hit you personally, troubles tend to double up down below, including mental and physical health. And then don't forget about the immediate surroundings (it's all environmental) which include friends and family and their charts. If they're dropping like flies, you're going to be a lot more sensitive to celestial chop and swells as well.

Stormy weather ahead, or the rainbow sign? A lot has to do with where you think you're headed, so forecast accordingly...

A final note on the mind-body connection: it doesn't take a real transit to knock you down. Just being convinced of one can have bad results, a la voodoo curses and the placebo/nocebo effects. That is why astrologers should avoid dire predictions, especially regarding health, and stick with helpful hints at best and watchful warnings at worst. A good weathercaster doesn't tell you a twister is going to hit your house, only that tornadoes are forming in your area. So be a good weathercaster.

All in all, it’s really a whole new vision that opens up from simply looking differently at the physicality of astrology itself. When you start asking the right questions, you begin to get some real answers. That’s the likely future of using astrology in relation to medical matters. So, keep an eye on your charts to figure it out, and in the meantime, na zdrowie, here’s to your health…!


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