The Fated Sky: book review

There was an astrological motivation behind Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the new world.
Columbus had read the writings of French cardinal, theologian and astrologer, Pierre d’Ailly. The cardinal wrote of the 960 year planetary cycle involving Jupiter and Saturn, and how it connected with historical events. So let’s continue with this shortly in my The Fated Sky book review.

The Fated Sky book review

People sometimes ask me to name a good non-technical astrology book. One that gives a readable and balanced historical overview of the topic.

I’ve read three such books. And two of them were rubbish. Rubbish because the author’s bias against the topic was tiresome.

Or, in the other case, the author never actually spoke to a astrologer and treated the whole subject at arms length.

But The Fated Sky (Amazon link), by historian Benson Bobrick is fantastic. His writing is elegant, informative and entertaining. He even interviews contemporary astrologers.

Regarding Columbus, he writes at length about how d’Ailly was convinced that the end of the world was near, and that the end would be ‘accompanied by all heathenkind converting to Christ.’

Columbus conceived himself as the agent of God’s work as the world approached its final days.

Bobrick notes that Columbus’ own heavily-annotated copy of d’Ailly’s work, Treatise on the Image of the World, exists at the Columbine Library at Seville.

The Fated Sky convincingly demonstrates that history is littered with intelligent individuals who took the topic seriously.

And yet, in some ways, modern scientific materialism has deprecated this aspect. For instance, never mind that Kepler was heavily into astrology. Let’s just remember him (only?) for his discovery of the laws of planetary motion.

Or Newton and alchemy. And others: Paracelsus, Elias Ashmole, Tycho Brahe (Kepler’s mentor), Robert Fludd, John Dee, Ptolemy. And so on.

An advocate of this viewpoint might say that not everything from the past will be true, valid and useful. Much of the ‘false beliefs’ might simply be delusion or ignorance.

Which is correct. In some cases. However, my opinion is that history has overlooked a fascinating topic. One that many can’t tolerate, even though they know very little about it.

I don’t expect historians to agree with my views about astrology. But I do expect a balanced view, and this is Bobrick’s strong point. He doesn’t take sides − how refreshing.

In fact, he’s the master of the ‘show, don’t tell’ approach to storytelling. He lets the facts speak for themselves. And it the reader who can make up their own mind.

The Fated Sky book review: conclusion

This is an elegant and engaging read. You’ll find it fascinating what you ‘didn’t know’ about the astrological side of history. Like me, you might realise that this topic has been carefully marginalised and history re-written over the years.

Churchill once said, ‘History is re-written by the victors.’ And he’s right. This book is an antidote to our current rather narrow materialistic worldview. Which has been re-written by the victors, or winners. Some of whom have an ideology that is hell-bent on eradicating astrology.

This is a brilliant book. Enjoy.

 

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