Struck by lightning on the way to the wedding


In the last post I presented the aphorisms of Nicholas Culpeper regarding horary astrology. In reading about Culpeper’s life, I came across an odd bit of history which seemed worth astrological investigation. Culpeper was born on 18 October 1616 (OS), or 28 October 1616 Gregorian calendar, shortly after Noon. Sibly’s book of horoscopes gives him an Ascendant of 2 Cap 26. Astro.com gives him an Ascendant of 7 Capricorn 12. Here is the chart based on the astro.com data:

Nicholas Culpeper natal chart

Nicholas turned 16 years old on 28 October 1632 (NS). According to the site geography.name, Nicholas experienced an eventful period at age 16 during the years 1632 -1633.

“In 1632, when he was 16 [October 1632], Culpeper entered Cambridge, but the courses on offer did not appeal to him, and he spent his time enjoying himself. He also took up the new habit of smoking. He and his childhood sweetheart, Judith Rivers, had planned to marry. Judith was a wealthy heiress whose family would never have permitted such a marriage, so the couple decided to elope, arranging to meet near Lewes, Sussex, where they could find a ship to take them to the Netherlands until the fuss died down. On the way to the rendezvous, Judith’s coach was struck by lightning and she was killed.”. [bold mine]

According to an article by Dylan Warren Davis: “It was a devastating event that became a radical turning point in Culpeper’s life. … The young Culpeper had irrevocably burnt his bridges as far as returning to Cambridge. … Culpeper became an apprentice to Francis Drake, an apothecary. … As part of his training he was led on excursions to identify and collect medicinal herbs by Thomas Johnson, who was an assistant of the Apothecary Society and editor of the newly enlarged Gerard’s Herbal of 1633.”

I was unable to pinpoint the date of death of Judith Rivers, but from Culpeper’s biographical sources it most likely occurred in 1633 within a year of Nicholas beginning his studies at Cambridge. From an astrological point of view, what factors in his birth chart could give natal “promise” of the sudden death by lightning of his bride to be?

Lightning is traditionally associated with Mars, and modern astrologers link it to Uranus, the planet of bolts from the blue and radical turns points in one’s life. Interestingly, Culpeper has both Mars an Uranus posited in his natal Placidus 7th house. By whole signs, Uranus occupies the 7th and Mars the 8th of death. The Sun rules the 8th house of death in both the Placidus and the whole sign system.

The sign Cancer rules the 7th, making the Moon significator of his wife. Aquarius on the cusp of the 2nd (the 8th from the 7th) makes Saturn the ruler of her death. Saturn is part of a tense T-square in which Saturn conjoins Pluto, opposes 8th ruler Sun, and squares Mars in Leo in the 8th. The Mercury/Venus conjunction in the Placidus 10th (4th of endings of the 7th) is also square Mars in Leo in the Pladicus 7th (whole sign 8th).

If the time of birth is more or less correct, there ought to be a primary direction linking the ruler of the 7th, or planets in the 7th, with the signficators of death in this chart. Below are the primary directions by Placidus semi-arc, with and without latitude, Naibod key for the period 1632-1633:

Placidus semi-arc primary directions, Naibod key, in effect during 1632 – 1633.
Note that the square of the Sun (8th ruler) comes to Uranus in the 7th (the spouse) during this period when his future wife is struck and killed by lightning.
Note also that the sextile of the MC (4th of the 7th in Placidus houses) comes to Mars, the out-of-sect malefic in the 7th in March of 1633.

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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