Open a newspaper or pop on line and it won’t take too long before you come across a horoscope. Nowadays most people who use these services hope they’ll receive some guidance regarding their future or an insight into their character, but if print and the internet had been around in the Middle Ages such outlets would have concentred on medicine and agriculture, with a spot of politics added to the mix for good measure.
By the 12th and 13th centuries in Europe astrology was a serious, lucrative business and astrologers were highly valued and respected members of society. Doctors relied on astrology to treat their patients and would carry impressive astrological tomes with them as they went about their daily business. These medieval medics considered the influence the stars had on a given patient’s particular ailment.
Eventually, medicine became so entwined with astrology that by the end of the 16th century, European doctors were legally required to calculate the position of the moon before they carried out complicated medical procedures such as surgery. This state of affairs continued until the late 1600s when the idea emerged that the Sun rather than the Earth was the centre of the solar system.
Whilst the idea of medical astrology has lost ground, there are still some interesting health statistics which do relate to the time of year in which we are born; for example, folk born in December are statistically more likely to develop epilepsy, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis than the general population, although why this should be is not entirely clear.