William Ramesey and his book - Astrologia Restaurata
William Ramesey Astrologia Restaurata Astrology Restored 1653 Kessinger Publishing Whitefish Montana $62.55 AUS Book Depository pp.345 (Hardback) ISBN 9781169334212
Reviewed by: William Lamont
William Ramesey biography:
William Ramesey was born on the 13/03/1626 in Westminster England, his father was Scottish and his mother of English descent. William changed the spelling of his name from Ramsay to Ramesey, under the pleasant delusion that he was a descendent of the Ramesses of Egypt. He studied in Scotland at St Andrews and Edinburgh college but later returned to London. Ramesey took a degree in medicine at Montpellier and was physician to Charles II. He spent his remaining days in London and wrote on such disparate subjects as poisons, the origin of the soul, eclipses, worms, and the qualities of a true gentleman, he was a devoted believer in the validity of astrology
William Ramesey Quote:
By the secret working of the Anima Mundi, or Soul of the World...a subtle or spiritual quality known to the Wise...all Inferior Things have their dependency and government from the Superior.
William Ramesey traditional and whole sign charts below
Kessinger publishing started in 1998 and is based in Whitefish Montana USA and specialise in publishing public domain and niche titles. The publisher issues a printing statement in its introductory pages, citing the books age and scarcity and apologises for its original blurred print and possible missing pages. Because of the works importance they believed it was best reproduced in its original form. The book is available in paperback ($52.00) Aus as well as the pictured hardcover ($62.55) Aus and can be purchased through amazon although prices fluctuate. As explained above the original text can vary greatly from elegant to illegible much like William describes the pains and labours of his work there are some pains and labours in reading his word. However, the majority of it is legible and the footnote positioning in the column are of practical use and add authentic richness and value to the text.
Ramesey’s book three text provides the most complete set of rules for electional astrology surviving in English. The philosopher Aristotle & Hermes where richly quoted by Ramesey’s as well as the astrologers Bonatti, Haly, Ptolemy, Agrippa & Alkindi he references many others but not as often as the above. In particular the astrologer Haly appears to have been a major influence in his electional text. There are a few Haly astrologers and I am unsure of which Ramesey refers to however it is likely to be, either Haly Abenragel a court astrologer to the Tunisian Prince in the early 11th century who had text translated into Latin that influenced such astrologers as Bonatti, Abenragel also wrote de judicious astrorum which was William Lilly’s first book or possibly Haly Embrani a 10th century astrologer from Mosul Iraq who wrote Kitab ikhtiyarat (Book of Choices) later translated to Latin as the (Book of Elections) that become very popular in the 16th century. He was also a well known teacher, one of his students being the famous Alchabitius. During the time when Ramesey’s was published the most prominent contemporary of his was William Lilly, who was born in the Leicestershire village of Diseworth on 1st May 1602. Lilly wrote prolifically during the mid-1640s, Lilly died of paralysis at about 3 am, 9th June 1681. Lilly’s greatest work Christian astrology was published in 1647 and is regarded as the greatest and most complete surviving traditional horary text. This all was carried out with the civil war and unrest going on in the background from 22 Aug 1642 when Charles the 1st raised his standard to his surrender on the 24th June 1646 by his capital at Oxford. Charles the 1sts was executed on the 30 Jan 1649. And Cromwell's Commonwealth was formed and offered a Protectorate (1652-1658) when the relaxation of censorship allowed Ramesey and Lilly to write freely Ramesey publishing the Astrologia Restaurata during this period. The royalist returned to power during the Restoration of the monarchy in England in 1660 and marked the return of Charles II as king (1660–85) The bishops were restored to Parliament, which established a strict Anglican orthodoxy and the restriction once again to astrological literature.
Ramesey’s introduces the series of 4 books within the Astrologia Restaurata with a dedication to his patron James Stuart the Duke of Richmond, and outlines his work as natural philosophy, physics and astrology and that the interaction between the microcosm and macrocosm reacts to the celestial bodies above that are next under God alone. He then embarks on a further introduction to his judicious readers (that’s me and you) that gives you further understanding of the man himself his passions and over arching themes of the time and place he lived. Ramesey’s on multiple occasions mentions his defence of astrology and the labour and pains of his work, and that he does it to ensure others learn and pass on the knowledge. At first it seems he goes overboard stating these things in his writing. However, a glance at his chart reveals Mars trine an early stage disseminating moon and Square Mercury. He was obviously keen to change nah Sayers views and had plenty of physical and emotional drive to pass on what he had learnt to the next generation and his passion to that is echoed in this book. Ramesey’s was also renowned for his text on gentlemen like behaviour and moral and ethical principles. Within the introduction he touches on this in a foray of life from birth to death and through its trials and tribulations. His religious manner shines through during the discourse citing biblical verses and referencing God and the celestial sphere above all and under only him.
A vindication of Astrology, this book has smaller print than the other 3 while its only 38 pages it’s probably the equivalent to 60 pages in a modern book. As I stated in the above passages Ramesey’s is staunch in his admirable defence of astrology and ruthless to its detractors. Hence book one is entirely devoted to the subject. On one hand there are some week arguments he makes where he refers astrology and astronomy as the one study being proof of it being a science and validated and that astronomy has no use without astrology. He sites various philosophers and authors that note it to be the one and same craft, such as Bonatti, Aristotle, Hermes etc of course this may have had some merit in the 1600’s but today of course its not a valid argument. However comically he brings up the procession of the equinox in a way like he is tired of defending the same argument about it over and over and states that their argument is based on ignorance then explains the tropical zodiacs true meaning, wow this sounds familiar hey. His arguments to Doctor Holmes and other various letters to the editor of publications are conceptionally tackled with his understanding of natural philosophy and biblical scripture and not technical astrology or astronomy. He tells a tale of his physical pursuit of a critic and one of slander of his farther among others. William Ramesey’s book one A vindication of astrology not only sets the scene of the time and place he lived, the critics and controversy that surrounded him but his obvious ruthless passion for God, his fight against vanity, and the inspiring truths of the universe.
An Introduction to the Judgment of the Stars, this is the smaller book of the four astrological texts within it he sets out the natural philosophy behind the divisions of the heavens, the nature of the signs and houses, dignity’s and debility and triplicity’s etc. His honesty on the meaning of the nodes is surprising as he admits he is unsure on their true nature, as all his ancient sources disagreed or conflicted with each other with their opinions. He asks the reader to come to their own conclusion after gathering experience. The most interesting although simple part is he has within it a chapter on explanation of astrology terms that was full of thoughtful and explicit explanations. A section on 366 fixed stars in total divided into sign with there planetary nature and magnitude is a vast catalogue indeed. And at the books last breath, he attempts writing instructions on scribing a chart by hand as of course everyone did back then. However, it is only partly what is needed to do this correctly, I was slightly disappointed he had not completed the instructions although I can understand why, as it is much easier done visually.
Rules for Electing all manner of Work, “Never before made public in our mother tongue, but now by the blessing of God for the benefit of lovers of knowledge sent abroad”, Ramesey’s first few words in the title of book three and the short verse from the book of Solomon Eccles 3.1 shortly after, “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heavens”, deeply set the tone for this historic book of astrological recipes the oldest surviving English book of elections. Up till this point many English scholars had only written this ancient knowledge in Latin. The astrologer Haly is prominently referenced as a source for Ramesey during his discourse however Alkindi and Bonatti are mentioned multiple times also. He makes good points that the ancient had different views about house considerations, and that we may need to adapt their interpretations as he has had to, and cautiously I say from we must also do this from Ramesey’s time to the modern era also. He includes tables with explanations on the mansions of the Moon and aspects to the Moon. These are most definitely critical in elections and makes a point to say to his readers that one can not simply read his discourse then apply his methods effectively, that great caution and experience is a key to success. There is an odd transgression in this book that makes it frustratingly interesting. And a dash of humour although moderate allows his playful side to shine in moments like in the election for drinking wine and other drink, where he allows creativity into the election process also. Ramesey points out that some elections are for historical and academic reasons only and not moral unto his personal beliefs or the times. Apart from this the most interesting election in book three for me was the election for taking a bath! imagine spending an hour drawing up a chart to take a bath, times have certainly changed.
Astrologia Munda, Ramesey’s work with mundane astrology revolves largely around the revolution of the year, what we generally these days simply call the Aries ingress chart. This fourth book is substantially larger than the first 3 books within the Astrologia Restaurata and goes into great details on delineation of conjunctions, eclipses, comets, sect, fixed stars etc within the revolution of the year. The main referencing revolves around Kings, castles, politics and weather, these subjects can be easily translated to modern thinking in most cases. The nodes as I mentioned earlier are also given some detail as to there meaning within the revolution however in much more detail than in earlier text. His confession again regarding them in this section around the nodes in houses is refreshing as it gives more weight and value to his opinion on other areas of his astrological knowledge for me.
This book although a little blurry and often in tiny scribed print of old English. Grows on you as you read it, while you may struggle to begin with you quickly gain accustom to the print. It’s not just the recipes and knowledge of the renaissance but a foot hold into his world and thinking of Ramesey. His strong personal views and passions are reflected in his work in a way I have not read before. I can honestly say I am a better astrologer on reflection of this trestie not only for its wisdom but its historical value.
Astrologia Restaurata - William Ramesey - ISBN 9781169334212
https://www.renaissanceastrology.com/ramesey.html - Christopher Warnock -
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/ - Deborah Houlding -
Biography’s by David Plant & Benjamin Dykes
A History of Horoscopic Astrology – James H Holden - ISBN-10: 0866904638
Astrology blog written by William Lamont Bellingen astrologer Australia on the astrologer William Ramesey.