An interesting astrological history

Simon Forman Image from the Royal College of Physicians

I confess I have never heard of Simon Forman, so I found this article about him very informative (it was posted on Facebook by Stephanie Gailling of Planetary Apothecary).  He was an astrologer in the late 16th century, predating William Lilly who is one of the more famous medieval astrologers and evidently inherited a wealth of Forman’s knowledge via Elias Ashmole who collected Forman’s papers after death.

Forman may have been one of the first medical astrologers.  Though he “fancied himself a magus [magician],” he also obtained a degree in “physic” and a license to practice medicine after he had been fined for practicing medicine without a license.  Like today, the practice of healing was steeped in political controversy:

The College of Physicians of London was founded in 1514 (it received a Royal Charter in 1674). Its powers waxed and waned over the coming centuries, depending on support from the Crown and courts. It issued licences to practise physic, inspected the wares of apothecaries and heard cases of malpractice. Physic was defined as medicine that concerns the internal workings of the body. It was rooted in the teachings of Galen, adapted and augmented as it was transmitted through the Arab world and into the universities of medieval and Renaissance Europe. The four humours – blood, phlegm, yellow bile, black bile – had elemental properties (hot, cold, moist, dry) and an imbalance resulted in illness. Physicians advised their clients about how to maintain health through attention to diet, sleep and exercise and prescribed remedies to maintain the correct balance or to moderate a disruption. As directed, barber-surgeons performed blood-letting and apothecaries filled prescriptions for substances to evacuate the […]

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