Suzi Q answers:
The Elizabethan era was the age of the Renaissance and new thinking and ideas. It was also the age of Nostradamus, Marsilio Ficino and Trithemius and the Renaissance fusion of Christianity, Hermetic Philosophy and its associated ‘sciences’ of magic, astrology and alchemy.
Dr John Dee was the greatest astrologer of the Elizabethan era, who worked with his associate Edward Kelley. The following definitions have been provided to understand the differences between all of these Elizabethan ‘sciences’.
Elizabethan Astrology – the Definition of Astrology, Astronomy, Alchemy and Magic
The definitions of Astrology, Astronomy, Alchemy and Magic are as follows:
Definition of Astrology – Astrology is defined as the study of the positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that they have an influence on the course of natural earthly occurrences and human affairs and events
Definition of Magic – The art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effects, or forces by invoking the supernatural. Magic includes the practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature
The interest in Renaissance and Elizabethan Astrology
The Renaissance era, or the re-birth, saw the emergence of new ideas and a deep curiously in anything mystical.
Could men predict future events? Could the most provident day for a special event be predicted from deciphering a horoscope? ( The well educated and learned Queen Elizabeth obviously believed in horoscopes when January 15 1559 was chosen as the day of her coronation, from her horoscope cast by John Dee).
Could a base metal be converted, or transmuted into gold or silver as the Alchemists believed? Could an Elixir of Life be produced which cured all diseases? Could the use of magic forecast or control natural events? The rewards for any Astrologer who controlled any of these element would become, rich, famous and all powerful.
Elizabethan Astrology and Dr John Dee
Could the use of a Crystal ball and the art of ‘scrying’ be used as a technique for seeing supernatural images, for gaining secret knowledge or making predictions? John Dee and his associate Edward Kelley believed that this was so.
Edward Kelley acted as a Medium for John Dee providing a means of communicating with ‘Angels’. This ‘Angel Magic’ provided John Dee with Angelic or “Enochian” script. The brilliant Elizabethan scholar and Astrologer Dr. John Dee dedicated the later part of his life pursuing this secret knowledge.
Famous Elizabethan Astrologers
There were many famous Astrologers & Alchemists of the Renaissance and Elizabethan era:
1503 -1566 Nostradamus was in the patronage of Catherine de Medici
1463 – 1494 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. His book the ‘900 Theses’ was described as “the great charter of Renaissance Magic”
1486 -1534 Natural Magician Cornelius Agrippa who wrote the Three Books of Occult Philosophy which corresponded to the three worlds of the elementary, celestial and intellectual realms
1538-1615 Giambattista della Porta ( aka John Baptist Porta ) wrote “Magia Naturalis” or Natural Magick in 1558
1546-1601 Tyro Brahe, astronomer and astrologer, stated that anyone who denies astrology is ignoring the ‘clear evidence’. He then proved the physical effect of the planets on the Earth. Tyro Brahe was the astronomer-royal of Denmark and had a laboratory built in order to study alchemy
1565-1630 Tommasso Campanella performs magical and astrological ceremonies for Pope Urban VII
1571-1630 Johannes Kepler, Johannes Kepler the Imperial Mathematician of Denmark, states that Astrology ‘derives from experience which can be denied only by people who have not examined it.’
1577-1640 Robert Burton, author of Anatomy of Melancholy, states stars ‘incline not compel’ exercise of free will. However, he accurately predicted his own
1602-1681 William Lilly, the best known astrologer of his day who predicted the Great Fire of London (1666) in 1652
1527-1608 John Dee
1555-1595 Edward Kelley
Elizabethan Astrology – The influence of Astronomy on William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Sir Francis Bacon
The subjects of Elizabethan Astrology fascinated many prominent Elizabethans. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) makes over 100 references to Astrology. The subject is mentioned in every one of his plays and Astrology was often critical to the plots when the actions and events surrounding characters are said to be favored or hindered by the stars. The central character in ‘The Tempest’ is Prospero, whose character is said to be based upon John Dee.
Another famous Dramatist of the Elizabethan era was Ben Jonson who wrote the play entitled ‘The Alchemist’.
The foremost scholar Sir Francis Bacon, famous for his secret cryptology, was concerned with magic when it dealt with what was hidden, or ‘occult’. Some of the views of Sir Francis Bacon are illustrated in the following quote:
“The sciences which have had better intelligence and confederacy with the imagination of man than with his reason are three in number; astrology, natural magic and alchemy: of which sciences, nevertheless, the ends and pretenses are noble… The theory and the practice are full of error and vanity, which the professors themselves have sought to veil over and conceal by enigmatic writings.”