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that either argument would be thought reasonable by a savage. One of the most instructive astrological doctrines which has kept its place in modern popular philosophy, is that of the sympathy of growing and declining nature with the waxing and waning moon. Among classical precepts are these: to set eggs under the hen at new moon, but to root up trees when the moon is on the wane, and after midday. The Lithuanian precept to wean boys on a waxing, but girls on a waning moon, no doubt to make the boys sturdy and the girls slim and delicate, is a fair match for the Orkney islanders' objection to marrying except with a growing moon, while some even wish for a flowing tide. The following lines, from Tusser’s ‘Five Hundred Points of Husbandry,' show neatly in a single case the two contrary lunar influences :
'Sowe peason and beans in the wane of the moone
And flourish with bearing, most plentiful wise.'1 The notion that the weather changes with the moon's quarterings is still held with great vigour in England. Yet the meteorologists, with all their eagerness to catch at any rule which at all answers to facts, quite repudiate this one, which indeed appears to be simply a maxim belonging to popular astrology. Just as the growth and dwindling of plants became associated with the moon's wax and wane, so changes of weather became associated with changes of the moon, while, by astrologer's logic, it did not matter whether the moon's change were real, at new and full, or imaginary, at the intermediate quarters. That educated people to whom exact weather records are accessible should still find satisfaction in the fanciful lunar rule, is an interesting case of intellectual survival.
In such cases as these, the astrologer has at any rate a real analogy, deceptive though it be, to base his rule upon. But most of his pseudo-science seems to rest on even weaker and more arbitrary analogies, not of things, but of names. Names of stars and constellations, of signs denoting regions of the sky and periods of days and years, no matter how arbitrarily given, are materials which the astrologer can work upon, and bring into ideal connexion with mundane events. That astronomers should have divided the sun's course into imaginary signs of the zodiac, was enough to originate astrological rules that these celestial signs have an actual effect on real earthly rams, bulls, crabs, lions, virgins. A child born under the sign of the Lion will be courageous; but one born under the Crab will not go forward well in life; one born under the Waterman is likely to be drowned, and so forth. Towards 1524, Europe was awaiting in an agony of prayerful terror a second deluge, prophesied for February in that year. As the fatal month drew nigh, dwellers by the waterside moved in crowds to the hills, some provided boats to save them, and the President Aurial, at Toulouse, built himself a Noah's Ark. It was the great astrologer Stoefler (the originator, it is said, of the weather-prophecies in our almanacks) who foretold this cataclysm, and his argument has the advantage of being still perfectly intelligible—at the date in question, three planets would be together in the aqueous sign of Pisces.
1 Plin. xvi. 75 ; xviii. 75; Grimm, ‘D.M.' p. 676 ; Brand, vol. ii. p. 169; vol. iii. p. 144.
Again, simply because astronomers chose to distribute among the planets the names of certain deities, the planets thereby acquired the characters of their divine namesakes. Thus it was that the planet Mercury became connected with travel, trade, and theft, Venus with love and mirth, Mars with war, Jupiter with power and joviality. Throughout the East, astrology
' even now remains a science in full esteem. The condition of mediæval Europe may still be perfectly realized by the traveller in Persia, where the Shah waits for days outside the walls of his capital till the constellations allow him to enter, and where on the days appointed by the stars for letting blood, it literally flows in streams from the barbers' shops into the street. Professor Wuttke declares that there are many districts in Germany where the child's horoscope is still regularly kept with the baptismal certificate in the family chest. We scarcely reach this pitch of conservatism in England, but I happen myself to live within a mile of an astrologer, and I lately saw a grave paper on nativities, offered in all good faith to the British Association.
The piles of ‘Zadkiel's Almanack' in the bookseller's windows in country towns about Christmas are a symptom how much yet remains to be done in popular education. As a specimen at once of the survival and of the meaning of astrologic reasoning, I cannot do better than quote a passage from a book published in London in
and entitled "The Hand-Book of Astrology, by Zadkiel Tao-Sze.' At page 72 of his first volume, the astrologer relates as follows: "The Map of the heavens given at page 45 was drawn on the occasion of a young lady having been arrested on a charge of the murder of her infant brother. Having read in a newspaper, at twentyfour minutes past noon on the 23rd July, 1860, that Miss C. K. had been arrested on a charge of the murder of her young brother, the author felt desirous to ascertain whether she were guilty or not, and drew the map accordingly. Finding the moon in the twelfth house, she clearly signifies the prisoner. The moon is in a moveable sign, and moves in the twenty-four hours, 14° 17'. She is, therefore, swift in motion. These things indicated that the prisoner would be very speedily released. Then we find a moveable sign in the cusp of the twelfth, and its ruler, ! , in a moveable sign, a further indication of speedy release. Hence it was judged and declared to many friends that the prisoner would be immediately released, which was the fact. We looked to see whether the prisoner were guilty of the deed or not, and finding the Moon in Libra, a humane sign, and having just past the * aspect of the Sun and 44, both being on the M. C. we felt assured that she was a humane, feeling, and honourable girl, and that it was quite impossible she could be guilty of any such atrocity. We declared her to be perfectly innocent, and as the Moon was so well aspected from the tenth house, we declared that her honour would be very soon perfectly established.' Had the astrologer waited a few months longer, to have read the confession of the miserable Constance Kent, he would perhaps have put a different sense on his moveable signs, just balances, and sunny and jovial aspects. Nor would this be a difficult task, for these fancies lend themselves to endless variety of new interpretation. And on such fancies and such interpretations, the great science of the stars has from first to last been based.
Looking at the details here selected as fair samples of symbolic magic, we may well ask the question, is there in the whole monstrous farrago no truth or value whatever ? It appears that there is practically none, and that the world has been enthralled for ages by a blind belief in processes wholly irrelevant to their supposed results, and which might as well have been taken just the opposite way. Pliny justly saw in magic a study worthy of his especial attention, ‘for the very reason that, being the most fraudulent of arts, it had prevailed throughout the world and through so many ages' (eo ipso quod fraudulentissima artium plurimum in toto terrarum orbe plurimisque seculis valuit). If it be asked how such a system could have held its ground, not merely in independence but in defiance of its own facts, a fair answer does not seem hard to give. In the first place, it must be borne in mind that occult science has not existed entirely in its own strength. Futile as its arts may be, they are associated in practice with other proceedings by no means futile. What are passed off as sacred omens, are often really the cunning man's shrewd guesses at the past and future. Divination serves to the sorcerer as a mask for real inquest, as when the ordeal gives him invaluable opportunity of examining the guilty, whose trembling hands and equivocating speech betray at once their secret and their utter belief in his power of discerning it. Prophecy tends to fulfil itself, as where the magician, by putting into a victim's mind the belief that fatal arts have been practised against him, can slay him with this idea as with a material weapon. Often priest as well as magician, he has the whole power of religion at his back; often a man in power, always an unscrupulous intriguer, he can work witchcraft and statecraft together, and make his left hand help his right. Often a doctor, he can aid his omens of life or death with remedy or poison, while what we still call 'conjurers' tricks' of sleight of hand have done much to keep up his supernatural prestige. From the earliest known stages of civilization, professional magicians have existed, who live by their craft, and keep it alive. It has been said, that if somebody had endowed lecturers to teach that two sides of a triangle are together equal to the third, the doctrine would have a respectable following among ourselves. At any rate, magic, with an influential profession interested in keeping it in credit and power, did not depend for its existence on mere evidence.
And in the second place, as to this evidence. Magic has not its origin in fraud, and seems seldom practised as an utter imposture. The sorcerer generally learns his timehonoured profession in good faith, and retains his belief in it more or less from first to last; at once dupe and cheat, he combines the energy of a believer with the cunning of a hypocrite. Had occult science been simply framed for purposes of deception, mere nonsense would have answered the purpose, whereas, what we find is an elaborate and systematic pseudo-science. It is, in fact, a sincere but
, a fallacious system of philosophy, evolved by the human intellect by processes still in great measure intelligible to our own minds, and it had thus an original standing-ground in the world. And though the evidence of fact was dead against it, it was but lately and gradually that this evidence was brought fatally to bear. A general survey of the practical working of the system may be made somewhat thus. A large proportion of successful cases belong to