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Fiery ShapesCelestial Portents and Astrology in Ireland and Wales 700–1700$
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Mark Williams

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571840.001.0001

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Morgan Llwyd and the spiritualization of astrology

Morgan Llwyd and the spiritualization of astrology

(p.148) 5 Morgan Llwyd and the spiritualization of astrology
Fiery Shapes

Mark Williams (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter undertakes a reading of the longest astrological poem in the Welsh language, the Puritan writer Morgan Llwyd's idiosyncratic 172-stanza Gwyddor Vchod, ‘Heavenly Science’. Llwyd's poem is read in the context of 16th and 17th century manuscripts containing astrological material, largely for practical, medical purposes, looking in particular at Elias Gruffydd's mid-16th century translation of the Compost Ptolomeus, which probably holds the status of the most sophisticated work of practical astrology in Welsh, giving detailed readings for the meaning of the various planets through the zodiacal signs. It is shown that Llwyd's grandfather was almost certainly familiar with astro-medical material of this type, and may very well have belonged to the class of person known as a planedydd, literary ‘planet-ist’, or ‘astrologer’. Llwyd's poem takes the tradition of the Welsh astro-medical treatise and rewrites it as a form of evangelical exhortation; the poet discusses the characteristics of seven types of human beings, ruled by each of the planets; influenced by the mysticism of Jakob Böhme, he prescribes spiritual remedies for the defects of character that these entail.

Keywords:   Morgan Llwyd, Puritan, Jakob Böhme, planets, Welsh, Elias Gruffydd

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