Planets & Star Signs
Max Weber, one of the three founding fathers of sociology, lamented the ‘disenchantment' of the world, but the truth is rather more subtle. “Every scientific and technological advance encouraged a kind of magical thinking and was accompanied by a shadow discourse of the occult”, says Professor Roger Luckhurst of the University of London. “For every disenchantment there was an active re-enchantment of the world”.
Victorian interest in astrology was fueled by advancements in astronomy and the sheer abundance of celestial phenomena. “A number of notable comets, many of which are now nearly indiscernible against a modern, industrially lit sky, were first noticed and named during the later Victorian period”, says New York's Macklowe Gallery, “and before the advent of modern electricity they were recorded as astonishing in their brilliance”.
Another important influence was the advancement of women’s rights. For instance, the crescent moon became a popular symbol for brooches and pendants -- symbolising the feminine spirit and female empowerment.
In 1829, F.G. Moon of Threadneedle Street, London, published Astronomia, a deck of 52 beautifully illustrated cards, each with a different astrological or astronomical sign, a selection of which feature in this collection.
You'll find two magnificent charts of the planetary system, and much more.
Light pollution is an unfortunate a side effect of our electrified civilization that leaves us diminished. But thanks to these artistic treasures, you can relive a time when the night sky was free of clouds, stars were visible in every direction and the massiveness of our galaxy was on display for all to see.
NB: This collection pairs very well with the festive season.