Richard Saunders, a native of Warwickshire, was born in 1613, and became a well-known practitioner of astrology and chiromancy from about 1647 onwards. William Lilly referred to him as an ‘old and valued friend’, and he was also a friend and admirer of the famous antiquarian and astrologer Elias Ashmore. Saunders was well versed in astrological medicine, with over 35 years of practice.
Saunders’ main publications, of which some are still in print today, include:
‘The Astrological Judgment and Practice of Physick, deduced from the Position of the Heavens at the Decumbiture of a Sick Person’, London, 1677. The book is a systematic exposition of astrological therapeutics.
Palmistry, the Secrets thereof disclosed, 2nd edit., London, 1664.
Phisiognomie, Chiromancie … and the Art of Memorie, London, 1653 (A second edition, very much enlarged, and dealing with ‘Metoposcopie, the Symmetrical Proportions and Signal Moles of the Body,’ appeared in 167).
Saunders also published almanacs, of which copies are extant for the years 1681, 1684, and 1686. The following is a transcript of a piece, first published in his Apollo Anglicanus for 1681:
Excellent Astrological Observations and Aphorisms concerning Diseases and Sick persons
Astrologians (that are addicted to Coelestial Contemplations, and well versed therein) do observe not only the day, but also the very hour and minute when any Person first fell sick, & for that Moment of time, to erect a Figure for the Position of heaven, then observing the Hyligiacal places, the Lord of the Ascendant and Significators of the Disease, from whose constitution or position, good or bad, they do conjecture and foretel of the Disease, whether it will terminate in Life or Death, or whether it should be long or short of continuance.
But how difficult that time is to be gained, Galen the Prince of Physicians himself confesses, that he laboured very much for the investigation thereof, Quid igitur? Shall we flight or lay aside this most excellent part of Philosophy which the Antients have so diligently enquired after, and admired? Shall we think it impossible? I confess in the first Assault of Fevers, and not a few other Diseases and Distempers, this is with much difficulty to be found out, but in Vertigo’s, Falling sickness, Apoplexies, Palsies, Fluxes of Blood, Pleurisies, Vomiting of Blood, Palpitations of the Heart and Stomach wounds, and many other such like; very often the first insult is known, by which means the Artist hath a large Field to exercise his Observations in, therefore in these or the like diseases, let us observe the following Aphorismas, viz.
(1) When the Ascendant at the first time of any persons falling sick shall be adverse, in opposition, square or contrantiscion to the Horoscopes or Ascendants of the said parties Nativity, there is little hope of Life, unless there be some good Transits or Directions to alleviate the malignity of the evil one then operating. Now the adverse signs are when the 4, 6, 7, 8. Houses in the decumbiture, shall be the Ascendant of the Nativity, or when the Ascendant of the decumbiture shall be in the signs of any of those Houses in the Nativity, but this Aphorisme is of little use unless the Physician knows the parties Geniture, which is of most excellent use.
(2) When the five Hyligiacal places shall be oppressed, together with the Lord of the Ascendant, death I follows, unless there be a benigne Reception of the Infortunes and other places shall also well happen, and these Fortunes likewise project their beams, I say if these things happen the sick party shall evade his disease in a Miraculous manner beyond all expectation.
(3) He that falls sick in the hour of Mars, his infirmity proceeds from a Hot cause, and if in the hour of Saturn, it comes from a cold cause; but the common Planetary hours in this case are to be rejected, and those are to be admitted, which are accounted from Sun Rising or Setting, allowing to every 15 Deg. of the Ecliptick one hour, according to the Judgment of some Astrologers.
(4) The Lord of the Ascendant, or Lord of the Figure combust without doubt signifies Death; unless they shall be received of the Sun, or the Sun receives them; so likewise if the Moon be safe, there is hopes of Recovery in the greatest Danger. (5) The Lord of the Ascendant and the Moon, with the Lord of the eights House, without the beams of Fortunes denotes Death. (6) The Lord of the eight in an Angle, and the Lord of the Ascendant, in a cadent House, is ever deadly, and the worse if he be an infortune. (7) The Moon applying to any Planet in the 8th House is ever more deadly. (8) The Lord of the Ascendant applying to the Lord of the 8th. or to Stars posited therein, and to the Moon any manner of way corrupted, denotes Death. (9) The Moon carrying the Light of the Lord of the Ascendant to the Lord of the 8th. denotes death. (10) The Lord of the 8th. in the Ascendant is ever fatal, if the Lord of the Ascendant and the Moon shall be afflicted or corrupted by the Bodies or ill beams of the infortunes. (11) The Lord of the Ascendant in the 8th and the Moon corrupt is death. (12) The Lord of the Ascendant posited under the Earth, and be in ill Aspect with the Lord of the 8th. posited therein, or in the 4th. House, it is a signal token of death. (13) The Lord of the Ascendant which the Lord of the 4th. 6th. 7th. or 12th. is dangerous and much to be suspected. (14) Consider the light of the time (for God made two great lights, the Sun to rule the day, and the Moon to rule the Night) and see whether it be well or ill posited, and judge the same, as in any Aphorisme where you find the Moon mentioned. (15) The Hytech is to be taken after the accustomed manner, and according to his condition, judgment is to be given, as if he were the Lord of the Ascendant. (16) The Lord of the Ascendant, the Sun, Moon, and Hytech, happening to be in the sign of an Eclipse of that year, or of any notable or great Conjunction then in force hath great signification of death. (17) The sign wherein an Eclipse operating, or great Conjunction threatening evil, or the sign of the 8th House in the worlds revolution, I say if any of these shall be upon any of the 4 Angles, but especially the Ascendant, ‘tis thought to be very deadly. (18) When a Party falls sick, and at the time an infortune do posses the Ascendant or that Parties Nativity, he shall then be desperately sick, but yet may recover. (19) The Moon in the beginning of a sickness, being in the sign wherein an Infortune was at the time of Birth produceth a very dangerous sickness, but if a Fortune Judg the contrary. (20) The Conjunction of the Sun and Moon at the first falling sick, especially if the Moon be within 6 degrees of the Sun, and applying is very perillous, and if it shall happen in Aries or Leo, it is not so bad, and the Moon separating from the Sun, and elongated 12 deg. from his body, the danger is the less. (21) The Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn prolongs the Disease, especially when slow in motion, but when swift it is not of so long continuance; but if Saturn be Retrograde, and before he meets the opposition of the Sun the Party will relapse, and the disease return. (22) If the Moon be in Conjunction with a Retrograde Planet, the sick Party will be troubled much with vomiting. (23) The Moon joined to Mars without the beams of good Planets, and the disease be of a hot nature, it many times proves deadly, and more dangerous will the disease be, if the Moon increase in light and motion, then when she decreases. (24) The Moon joined to an Oriental Planet, direct and swift in motion, signifies the disease to be short; but if to a Planet that is Occidental, slow in motion, or Retrograde, the contrary. (25) The Moon or Lord of the Ascendant joyned to a fortune Retrograde, or Aspect, promiseth health; but the disease to be long. (26) An infortune in the Ascendant ofttimes changes the disease into another kind. But if a fortune, the disease is often cured without medicine. (27) An infortune in the Mid-heaven shews an unsuccessful or ignorant Physician, but a fortune there the contrary. (28) An infortune in the 7th House signifies the sick party shall cherrish, or augment his disease by intemperateness in his dyet and obstinateness of will, but if a Fortune be there, he will be ruled and will be very conformable. (29) An infortune in the fourth House shews that the Medicines given will increase the disease, but if a fortune be there, then they will profit. (30) The rising and setting of Stars of the first or second magnitude happening at the first decumbiture according to their natures operate very powerfully.
And thus from the experienced Rules of Ptolomy, Haly, Zarl, Arnoldus, Villanovus, and other learned men, is found that the Angles of Heaven have greatest signification in the State of sick persons, both in the beginning of diseases, and in Questions for the sick, for at the first falling sick, the Ascendant shall shew the disease, the seventh the sick party, the tenth House the Physician, and the fourth House the Medicines. But in questions give the Ascendant for the Physician, the tenth House to the sick Party, the seventh House to the Medicines, and the 4th House to the disease, ad thus these Aphorisms are changed.
And hence I may discover a secret and an excellent Rule if rightly understood; which is by the time of the Radical first Question (the day of the parties first falling sick being known) to find the hour of the patients falling sick. For look at the time of the first Radical question what sign is in the fourth, and make it the Ascendant, and that the tenth, which is here the first, and the true Horoscope shall shew it self when the Party fell sick; and this is a very truth if the day of the Parties first falling sick be really known, &c.
Signs of Health are, if the Lord of the Ascendant, the Moon and Hytech, shall be safe and not Infortunated. The hour of health or amendment is when the Lord of the Ascendant shall come to his own House, or exaltation, or shall become swifter in motion, or become Direct, and the Lord of the 8th. shall be cadent, or when the Hylech or Moon or Lord of the Ascendant shall be favour’d by the good Aspects of the Fortunes, but if the Fortunes be well dignified in the 8th. House, then they hurt, also when the Lord of the Hylech, or the place of the Moon, or the Ascendant, shall come to the degree of the Hylech. or the Moon or Ascendant, they shall signifie health, unless they shall be Infortunes, for the infortunes so coming, they hurt their proper places but do not destroy, the certain hour of Death is when the Lord of the Ascendant shall be joined to the Lord of the 8th. by body or evil aspect [?] like judge of the Moon and the Hylech, also when the Lord of the 8th. shall come to the degree of the Ascendant, or to the Hyrech. Those that desire to read more of this subject I referr them to my Astrological Judgment of diseases, wherein they will meet unto many rare and practical experiments. Sold by Thomas Sawbridge, at the three Flower deluces in little Britain.
after Unknown artist, line engraving, 1650s-1670s