2014 in L'Alpe di Siusi, fresh from the US and Australia.
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AN OVERVIEW OF MEDICAL ASTROLOGY
One of the questions most frequently asked of astrologers is, “Do you see any concerns for my health in the next few years?” Before we even start with what is actually a most interesting study, there is a disclaimer when it comes to medical astrology, which is the study of health and the course of diseases: An astrological consult regarding one’s health and the diagnoses and outcomes of ailments is no substitute for medical advice. If you think you may be ill or in danger of being so, go to your doctor first and have a thorough check-up. What follows should always be used only as an adjunct to standard medical practice.
If one has to go to a doctor for medical advice, then, of what use is medical astrology? There are several factors to medical astrology to take into account, starting with the following statement:
Astrology is the study of timing in relationships. Another way of stating the matter is that astrology is the study of form in relation to time.
‘Form’ in the case of medical astrology is the study of the interrelations between a person and their environment, the relation between the person and their higher Self, the interrelations between all the organs and systems in the human body and the harmony or lack thereof between all the factors just stated. It is with the last statement, regarding harmony, that my own insight into medical astrology differs from most Western astrologers. I consider both the Eastern and Western astrological approaches to health together in a consult on health matters.
Western astrology is quite specific about the relations and rulerships between the parts and organs of the body and the signs and planets. On the other hand, Eastern astrology seeks to harmonize the person with their environment and is not as specific as to the parts of the body and the signs and planets (see chart at end of the linked post for more). The Eastern method sees the person as being in a phase and particular mode of change and whether or not that is harmony with the environment. As such, the Eastern study of medical astrology corresponds with the practices of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and Feng Shui as harmonizing factors.
Western astrological medical practice revolves around several points:
In Western astrology the areas of the body are ruled by the signs, from the head (Aries) to the toes (Pisces) and secondarily by the planets. The functions of the organs are ruled directly by the planets. In addition there are four particular ‘health houses’ – the Ascendant (1st house), ruling the body nature, the 6th house governing the general health, the 8th house showing losses and transformations and the 12th house, ruling institutionalized health (as in going to hospitals, for instance). The rulers of those houses and how they are affected in a chart are primary in considerations of health, especially the 6th house and its ruler. The 4th house is also considered as a final factor, because it indicates the outcomes of situations.
In Eastern astrology the approach is somewhat different. There are no houses to consider. Instead, one looks at the element ruling the Day Pillar (the ‘Day Master’) and its relation to all the other Pillars, as well as the ‘Luck Pillar’ (the 10-year progressed Pillar). The Elements in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) each have a rulership over the 12 standard meridians and each of those in turn are associated with an internal organ.
The sectors of the body in TCM are governed by the 8 extraordinary vessels (meridians), shown above. They are termed ‘extraordinary’ because they are outside the purview of the standard meridians. They are ‘extra-ordinary’, used as adjuncts in the practice of TCM. However, the extraordinary meridians are also very important for bolstering and extension of life, as they serve as reservoirs of chi/qi. Only two of them are used in standard TCM practice, the governing and conception vessels, which divide the body in half along the spine and the front, respectively.
There are crossovers between the Western and Eastern systems of medical astrology, and these are seen primarily in the actions of the planets and the systems in the body they rule. Venus is a case in point, for example, ruling the lungs and large intestine in TCM, and the throat and kidneys in Western astrology. The crossover point is in the use of the breath to heal and vitalize the body, It is too much to explain here (See Libra letter for 2021 for more), but the lungs and kidneys are closely related in terms of the vital force, meditation, serenity of mind and special exercises aimed at extending life or bolstering the body.
What would a consult in medical astrology involve, then? It would begin by looking at the natal chart and looking for indications of potentially problematic areas. These are shown in the astrological aspects and sign placements of the planets, altogether showing the general strengths and weaknesses of the planets. A weak Sun can indicate problems with vitality as well as spinal or heart conditions, for instance.
From the perspective of TCM, a surfeit of one element and an absence of another will show imbalances related to those elements. If the Day Master is overly strong then the organs related to the other elements may be weakened. These conditions will be aggravated or helped by the particular Luck Pillar in effect at the time. Excessive Fire, for instance, can result in fevers, infections, ‘burnout’, problems with hydration, respiratory troubles (Fire controls Metal, the latter ruling the lungs) and so forth. Excesses in any element should be balanced by the elements that are missing or weak, as one would do in the practice of TCM. I will say at the outset I am not a TCM practitioner or a Western medical doctor, though I have made studies of both systems.
After having examined the natal chart and the Four Pillars, the next step is to look at the prevailing conditions leading up to the consult. In Western astrology these are shown primarily in the solar arc directions, especially to midpoints. Transits will show the events that have triggered the present problems, whereas the directions show the underlying conditions. With regard to Western astrology, midpoints are indispensable to understanding Western medical astrology.
With the TCM system, the prevailing conditions at the time of the consult are shown in the ‘Luck Pillars’ – the ten-year progressed Pillars and the Annual Pillar (the Pillar for the present year, or the year of the onset of the condition). If, for example, one’s Day Master is Water and there is a surfeit of the Earth element in the Luck Pillar, then cancers can often eventuate during that period if measures are not taken to offset the imbalance. This is a condition called ‘muddy water’ in Four Pillars astrology and indicates a condition wherein the natural flow of water in the system is interrupted, resulting in stagnation (a breeding ground for cancerous cells), toxic conditions, lack of movement in the lymphatic system and so forth. The Water element governs the kidneys and the bladder in TCM. The psychological indications in such a case are the inability to release emotional tensions, leading to a lack of movement and stymied growth, thus shortening the life.
Once the causes of the illness or conditions are ascertained, then the balancing measures are sought. In Western astrology, for instance, directions of Uranus to the natal Sun can indicate the onset of heart and/or spinal troubles. A basic reading of such a condition would be ‘interruption of the normal heart rhythm’ – heart attack being one such indication, or the onset of arrhythmia. Remedial measures, as in prevention, would be a marked reduction in stress levels (Uranus often indicates stressful conditions, as people often misinterpret the need for change, the latter which Uranus represents.), alterations in lifestyle more conducive to a settled state of mind, changes in diet, the need for exercise (if possible, and as a means of releasing endorphins and burning off adrenaline), and so forth.
In TCM, remedial measures are often related to environment and diet. In the preceding case of ‘muddy water’ (above), remedial measures would be the introduction of the Wood element to control the Earth element, which would also ‘drain’ the Water Element. These would entail measures such as introducing ‘Wood foods’ into the diet (sour taste and green, leafy vegetables), , a course of appropriate Chinese herbs (chosen by a TCM practitioner), getting out into nature, ‘Wood exercises’, such as nature walks, avoidance of sweets or foods that convert to sugar immediately on ingestion (bread, pasta, white rice, etc.), as well as exercises that strengthen the Metal element, which ‘feeds off’ Earth. The latter would include activities like chi gong and taiji. The latter also have the effect of moving stagnant chi, the latter often a cause of chronic conditions.
Lastly. one examines the course (timing) of the ailment or condition. In the case of congenital conditions (see Prenatal Epoch in ‘Further Reading’, below), there is only so much one can do. Congenital conditions in astrology are the purview of prenatal astrology. But with congenital conditions, the aim would be to brighten a person’s outlook and to give the means of alleviating the worst symptoms, inducing more positive views of one’s situation. In the case of chronic conditions occurring after birth, these often take a long time to overcome, though sometimes apparently miraculous results can be had once the proper healing regime is in place. But there is another case of the course of a disease that is sometimes encountered in a medical astrological consult, and that is the possibility of death.
Death is the often the great release for the patient with a fatal disease, and is often a great relief for those left behind. It is a matter that requires careful handling on the part of an astrologer. Death is not always readily apparent in a chart, though it is often clearly shown. A general rule of thumb in such cases is that transits do not kill, i.e., indicate death. Directions, instead, will show whether or not death is a strong possibility. In the case of knowing whether or not death is a possibility, an accurate birth time is an absolute necessity. Otherwise the sectors of the chart – specifically the 1st, 4th and 8th houses – cannot be known. If the birth time is not known, the indicators of death in the case of a chronic illness are only down to guesswork.
The outcome of an illness is shown in the 4th house and the general disposition of the ruler of that house, by transit and direction. In the case of death, the conditions at the end of life are shown in that house. Death itself is generally shown in directions to or by the 1st and 8th houses and/or their rulers. In the case of a terminal illness, the timing of death is often shown in the transits of the Moon over the Mars/Saturn midpoint, the so-called ‘death axis’.
In most cases, however, the course of a disease is generally indicated by the end of the influence of the directions giving the indicators and the transits over those directions. Long convalescence is shown by Saturnian directions and transits. Diseases of quick onset and duration are shown by Mars or Uranus. Lasting bodily harm is shown in general by combinations of influences, usually in the directions, and specifically in the midpoints, such as Mars/Pluto, Saturn/Pluto, Mars/Uranus and so on.
As a final note on medical astrology, there is one overriding factor that can never be second-guessed, and that is the influence of one’s higher Self, or soul. All disease is said to be caused by a disconnect in some manner between the personality and the higher Self. Restoring that connection will cure the disease. That is the basis of esoteric healing. But the latter is also a rare thing to find these days. The requirements for such are stringent and the healer along that line must be an accomplished meditator and well-educated as to medicine and medical practice in general, as well as having a life utterly dedicated to being of service. Such a state of affairs is indeed rare to find, but if properly applied, can result in miraculous healing.
Perhaps as we can see from the preceding, medical astrology is a vast subject, as vast as human beings and bodies themselves. An astrological consult on medical matters can take time, especially in the case of chronic maladies. But sometimes hidden factors that are sometimes missed by overworked doctors and understaffed medical facilities can be revealed through a thorough astrological analysis. And in any case, the timing and evolution of any illness will be shown in the horoscope, barring the soul’s intervention.
The Encyclopaedia of Medical Astrology, H.L. Cornell (a compendium of Western astrological indicators in matters of health and disease)
The Web That Has No Weaver, Ted Kaptchuk (a good all-round introduction to acupuncture and the standard meridians)
Extraordinary Vessels, Kiiko Matsumoto, Stephen J. Birch (a comprehensive examination of the eight extraordinary vessels)
Five Elements and Ten Stems, Kiiko Matsumoto, Stephen J. Birch (an overall view of the interaction of the stems and branches in Chinese TCM)
The Prenatal Epoch, E. H. Bailey (for the astrology of congenital conditions)
The Combination of Stellar Influences, Reinhold Ebertin (a compendium of the midpoints, as expounded in cosmobiology)