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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Occult History
GA 126

Appendix: Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). A very learned and exhaustive work in English is that by J. L. E. Dreyer, Ph.D., Director of the Armagh Observatory, published in Edinburgh by Adam and Charles Black in 1890, entitled Tycho Brahe: a Picture of Scientific Life and Work in the Sixteenth Century. The following data and quotations bearing on certain points mentioned by Rudolf Steiner in these lectures, are taken from Dr. Dreyer's book.

(1) The “Nova Stella.” This was noticed in the constellation of Cassiopea by Tycho Brahe while returning to his house in the evening of 11th November, 1542. His account of the star was printed in 1593 in a little book entitled De Nova Stella, the important parts being reprinted in the great work Astronomie Instauratæ Progymnasmata on which Tycho Brahe was engaged for fourteen years. “... the Star of Cassiopea started astronomical science on the brilliant career which it has pursued ever since, and swept away the mist that obscured the true system of the world. As Kepler truly said, ‘If that star did nothing else, at least it announced and produced a great astronomer.’” (p. 197.)

(2) Tycho Brahe and Kepler. “The most important inheritance which Tycho left to Kepler and to posterity was the vast mass of observations, of which Kepler justly said that they deserved to be kept among the royal treasures, as the reform of astronomy could not be accomplished without them. He even added that there was no hope of anyone ever making more accurate observations ... Kepler was not only a great genius, he was also a pure and noble character, and he never forgot in his writings to do honour to the man without whose labours he never could have found out the secrets of the planetary motions ... Kepler and Tycho had squabbled often enough while the latter was alive, but after his death this was forgotten, and Kepler's mind had only room for gratitude for having become heir to the great treasures left by Tycho.” (pp. 312-3)

(3) Practice of Medicine. In his laboratory at Uraniborg on the island of Hveen, Tycho Brahe prepared medicines, “and as he distributed his remedies without payment, it is not strange that numbers of people are said to have flocked to Hveen to obtain them. In the official Danish PharmacopSa of 1658 several of Tycho's elixirs are given, and in 1599 he provided the Emperor Rudolph with one against epidemic diseases, of which the principal ingredient was theriaca Andromachi, or Venice treacle, mixed with spirits of wine, and submitted to a variety of chemical operations and admixtures with sulphur, aloes, myrrh, saffron, etc. This medicine he considered more valuable than gold, and if the Emperor should wish to improve it still more, he might add a single scruple of either tincture of coral or of sapphire, of garnet, or of dissolved pearls, or of liquid gold if free from corrosive matter. If combined with antimony, this elixir would cure all diseases which can be cured by perspiration, and which form a third part of those which afflict the human body.” (pp. 129-30)

(4) Macrocosmic Science applied to the Microcosm. On the subject of the reciprocal action between the “aethereal and elementary worlds,” Tycho Brahe mentioned that he had studied Hermes Trismegistus, Geber, Arnoldus de Villa Nova, Raymundus Lullius, Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, etc. (see p. 129)

From September, 1574 until early in 1575, Tycho Brahe delivered a course of lectures an the mathematical sciences at the University of Copenhagen. The following passage is taken from Dr. Dreyer's abstract of the contents of the opening oration:

“While many people admitted the influence of the stars an nature, they denied it where mankind were concerned. But man is made from the elements, and absorbs them just as much as food and drink, from which it follows that man must also, like the elements, be subject to the influence of the planets; and there is, besides, a great analogy between the parts of the human body and the seven planets. The heart, being the seat of the breath of life, corresponds to the sun, and the brain to the moon. As the heart and brain are the most important parts of the body, so the sun and moon are the most powerful celestial bodies; and as there is much reciprocal action between the former, so is there much mutual dependence between the latter. In the same way the liver corresponds to Jupiter, the kidneys to Venus, the milt to Saturn the gall to Mars, and the lungs to Mercury, and the resemblance of the functions of there various organs to the assumed astrological character of the planets is pointed out in a manner similar to that followed by other astrological writers. ...” (pp. 76-7)