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    The Vital Force: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4The Humours

    Caduceus of Mercury
    Figure 2:  The Caduceus - borne by Mercury,
    the God of Healing, in his left hand.

    Astrology and Health
    vitalism and humours [part 3]

    The vital force too is linked to the caduceus (see Figure 2), the emblem of the two snakes entwined around a central stave that the god Mercury carries in his left hand. Its structure symbolically encapsulates the Hermetic principles of healing used to restore the harmonious flow of the vital force through the body. This is why the caduceus is found on many logos of medical institutions throughout the world, though ironically few doctors within them are able to explain why!

    Why did Vitalism Decline?

    Why did vitalism decline in Western medicine in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? The principal reason was the redefinition of the term element as a unit of material composition by the philosopher Robert Boyle. Shortly after the Restoration of Charles II to the throne, Boyle wrote his The Skeptical Chemist in 1661 – which has come to be considered as the foundation stone of modern chemistry. In this work he took a very literal rather than symbolic understanding of the four Elements.

    Boyle goes on to destructively criticize Earth, Water, Air and Fire as having no real validity whatsoever in explaining the physical world around us. He dogmatically denies the metaphysical and philosophical ideas that he acknowledged were based upon them. In his frustration to understand them, he put forward his new definition instead:

    I now mean by Elements, as those Chymists that speak plainest by their Principles, certain Primitive and Simple, or perfectly unmingled bodies; which not being made of any other bodies, or of one another, are the Ingredients of which all the perfectly mixt Bodies are immediately compounded, and into to which they are intimately resolved.

    In this rather convoluted definition, it can clearly be seen that an element is no longer one of the universal forces upon which life depends; instead it is defined as a unit of material composition that cannot be broken down further. If a substance can be broken down into constituent parts, then from this definition it cannot be considered an element.

    Read part 4 of the Vital Force
    Back to Health by the Stars

    The Vital Force: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4

    Astrology and Health:
    A Beginner's Guide by Dylan Warren-Davis.
    Published by Headway: Hodder & Stoughton
    ISBN 034070518 3   84 pages
    To order your copy click here!

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