Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/147

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129
ASTROLOGY.

sophy, may claim the highest rank among the occult sciences. It scarcely belongs to very low levels of civilization, although one of its fundamental conceptions, namely, that of the souls or animating intelligences of the celestial bodies, is rooted in the depths of savage life. Yet the following Maori specimen of astrological reasoning is as real argument as could be found in Paracelsus or Agrippa, nor is there reason to doubt its being home-made. When the siege of a New Zealand 'pa' is going on, if Venus is near the moon, the natives naturally imagine the two as enemy and fortress; if the planet is above, the foe will have the upper hand; but if below, then the men of the soil will be able to defend themselves.[1] Though the early history of astrology is obscure, its great development and elaborate systematization were undoubtedly the work of civilized nations of the ancient and mediæval world. As might be well supposed, a great part of its precepts have lost their intelligible sense, or never had any, but the origin of many others is still evident. To a considerable extent they rest on direct symbolism. Such are the rules which connect the sun with gold, with the heliotrope and pæony, with the cock which heralds day, with magnanimous animals, such as the lion and bull; and the moon with silver, and the changing chamæleon, and the palm-tree, which was considered to send out a monthly shoot. Direct symbolism is plain in that main principle of the calculation of nativities, the notion of the 'ascendant' in the horoscope, which reckons the part of the heavens rising in the east at the moment of a child's birth as being connected with the child itself, and prophetic of its future life.[2] It is an old story, that when two brothers were once taken ill together, Hippokrates the physician concluded from the coincidence that they were twins, but Poseidonios the astrologer considered rather that they were born under the same constellation: we may add,

  1. Shortland, 'Trads., &c. of New Zealand,' p. 138.
  2. See Cicero, 'De Div.' i.; Lucian. 'De Astrolog.'; Cornelius Agrippa, 'De Occulta Philosophia;' Sibly, 'Occult Sciences;' Brand, vol. iii.