Did you know that Astrology was once popularly used by herbalists and physicians to help understand the manifestation of disease? The Egyptians, Chinese, Ancient Greeks and Native Americans all had very complex systems of relating the stars to our health, and many of these philosophies are still used by modern herbalists.
The ancients created entire medical treatises based on philosophies regarding humanity’s relationship to the cosmos. Plants, animals, minerals and humans were all believed to be entangled with the energies of the stars and planets, which, at that time, had been labeled and interpreted as Gods.
Herbs were interpreted by their shape, smell, color, flavor, among other factors. This system of using an herbs appearance has become popularly known as the Doctrine of Signatures. The image of a plant could be used to associate with a planet. For example, spiky and thorny plants like thistles tended to be associated with Mars. Very moist plants like Aloe Vera are associated with the Moon. The list goes on, and can vary according to the season, the geography, and even the part of the plant can have differing qualities.
The famed herbalist Nicholas Culpeper gifted the world with his fantastic herbal, in which he not only applied the Doctrine of Signatures, but also explained the planetary virtues and influences upon plant life in a concise way that could help contemporary practitioners. Nicholas Culpeper was apart of a long line of astrologer-herbalists that were sensitive to the influences of cosmological and celestial influence on the anatomical, chemical and biological components of earthly life.
According to the astrologer-herbalists, the elemental nuances of the Zodiac are imbued into human beings and plants. At the time of our birth, we emerge in response to seasonal stimuli that are most conducive to our own energies. We are inextricably tethered to the energies of the cosmos. Each Zodiac sign has traditions associations with the anatomy. They are as follows:
|Cancer||Stomach and Breats|
|Leo||The Heart and Spine|
|Virgo||Small Intestine and Lower Abdomen|
|Libra||Kidneys and Lumbar Region|
|Scorpio||The Genitals, Anus|
|Sagittarius||The Thighs and Liver|
|Capricorn||The Knees and Bones|
|Aquarius||The Calves and Ankles|
|Pisces||The Feet and Lymphatic System|
Naturally, there are disagreements about associations and sometimes these associations are mixed and matched according to different traditions. But, as you can see, the general pattern is sequentially arranged to parallel the Zodiac, initiating with the head as Aries and terminating with Pisces at the feet.
In the same way that a particular flower is urged to bloom in a certain season, so too do humans arise with seasons that are quintessentially aligned with the celestial and seasonal influences. Yet, as time moves on, we come into conflict with planetary arrangements that are averse to our own nature. A person with heavy influences from Mars might develop bleeding disorders or anger and madness. A person with distinct attachments to Saturn, is likely to be afflicted with melancholy and various blockages.
It becomes even more complex, as each planet has its own elemental character, and can come into harmony or conflict with the sign it is in. This is how much discord can arise, both in the Earth’s seasons, and our own health. When a Planet enters a sign, it exerts an influence, which can be exacerbated or attenuated based on its harmony with the zodiac phase it is most accordant with.
|Sun||Leo||Fire, Yang, Vitality, Cardiac function, Spine|
|Moon||Cancer||Water, Yin, Moisture, Rest, Sleep, Dreams|
|Mercury||Gemini, Virgo||Air, Duality, Respiration, Nervous System, Cognition|
|Venus||Taurus, Libra||Yin, Sex, Feminity, Beauty, Thyroid|
|Earth||Taurus||Yin, Earth, Water,|
|Mars||Aries, Scorpio||Fire, Masculinity, Yang, Vascular System, Gallbladder|
|Jupiter||Sagittarius, Pisces||Yang, Wind, Sanguine, Liver,|
|Saturn||Capricorn, Aquarius||Yin, Earth, Bones, Spleen,|
|Uranus||Aquarius||Yang, Air, Nervous System, Technology, Computation|
|Neptune||Pisces||Yin, Drugs, Visions, Lymphatic System|
|Pluto||Scorpio||Yang, Genitals, Secrets, Death, Occult|
All of this might seem confusing without an illustration. For example, let’s say a person who was born with Mars (Fire/Heat) in Taurus (Throat) is experiencing a sore, inflamed throat with cough after eating spicy food—something they likely have a sensitivity to, with this planetary position. Herbs that counter the influence of Mars can then be used to help heal the inflammation. Peppermint, which is allegedly ruled by Venus, and could be used here to assist the individual. Conversely, if the issue is one of damp, phlegm, as one might see with the Moon or Neptune in Taurus, then herbs of Mars could be quite helpful in drying out the moisture.
The herbalists of ancient China also saw that plants had a deep association with seasonal and planetary cycles. The ancient sages used the system of Wu Xing, alongside Taoist cosmology, to interpret the energies and functions of botanicals. In Wu Xing, the philosophy of the five phases maps out the transformation of elemental energies. Some of the most pertinent associated between seasonality and our anatomy are listed below.
- Spring : Wood : Liver and Gallbladder
- Summer : Fire : Heart, Pericardium, Small Intestine and Sanjiao
- Late-Summer : Earth : Spleen and Stomach
- Autumn: Metal : Lungs and Large Intestine
- Winter : Water : Kidneys & Bladder
Some people are more fiery, some more earthy, others more watery or airy. Of course, there are many different mixtures on a constantly fluctuating cosmic continuum of space and time!
The practitioners of medical astrology would use decombitures, typically using the time of birth of the afflicted person, but also utilizing the chart of the hour of the intervention. At the time of one’s birth, the planetary arrangement in the signs can confer health or disease. Planets have signs they favor, and signs that can disrupt their harmony, leading to chronic complications. As time goes on, a person’s “natal energies” will often come into conflict with the planetary aspects of the present.
The nature of an illness would then be associated with certain planets. Herbs which then countered that planet’s nature were then administered to assuage the symptoms and heal the person. Herbs typically have a relationship of sympathy, antipathy, homeopathy. The best herb for each situation is contingent on the elemental profile of the individual and their disease.
Medical astrology is a very curious and nebulous subject. It can be a very interesting way to understand the chronic issues you face in your body. It isn’t a replacement for conventional medical interventions, but might help you live a better life as you deepen your comprehension of your own personal, celestial portrait. If you ever want assistance in decoding your natal chart, please reach out! I am glad to help.