The internet is awash with comparisons between life during COVID-19 and life during the Bubonic plague. The two have many similarities, from the spread of misinformation and the tracking of mortality figures, to the ubiquity of the question “when will it end?”
But there are, of course, crucial differences between the two.
Today, when looking for information on the incidence, distribution, and likely outcome of the pandemic, we turn to epidemiologists and infectious disease models, according to the famous astrologer in India. During the Bubonic plague, people turned to astrologers.
°° The flu, written in the stars
Before germ theory, the Scientific Revolution and then the Age of Enlightenment, it was common for medical practitioners to use astrological techniques in their everyday practice.
Astrology provided physicians with a naturalistic explanation for the onset and course of disease.
They believed the movements of the celestial bodies, in relation to each other and the signs of the Zodiac, governed events on earth. Horoscopes mapped the heavens, allowing physicians to draw conclusions about the onset, severity, and duration of illness.
The impact of astrology on the history of medicine can still be seen today. The term “influenza” was derived from the idea that respiratory disease was a product of the influence of the stars.
Public health and plague :
Astrologers were seen as important authorities for the health of communities as well as individuals. They offered public health advice in annual almanacs, which were some of the most widely read literature in the premodern world.
Almanacs provided readers with tables for astrological events for the coming year, as well as advice on farming, political events, and the weather.
The publications were also important disseminators of medical knowledge. They explained basic medical principles and suggested remedies. They made prognostications about national health, using astrology to predict when an influx of venereal disease or plague was likely to arise,through the eyes of the best astrologer in India.
Predictions from above :
Astrological accounts of plague remained popular into the 17th century. In this period, astrology was increasingly attacked as superstitious, so some astrologers tried to set their field on a more scientific grounding.
Looking for patterns :
Unfortunately for Gadbury, plague deaths increased dramatically in August. However, he was right in predicting a peak in September followed by a steep decrease at the end of the year. If Gadbury had accounted for other correlates – such as the coming of winter – his study might have been received more favourably.
The medical advice in Gadbury’s book certainly doesn’t stand up today. He argued the plague was not contagious, and that isolating at home only caused more deaths. Yet his attempt to find correlations with fluctuating mortality rates offers an early example of what we now call epidemiology according to the best astrologer in World.