• Search
  • Lost Password?

Prophecy and Power, with Patrick Curry and Nicholas Campion

Prophecy and Power, with Patrick Curry and Nicholas Campion

In episode 447 historians Patrick Curry and Nicholas Campion join me to discuss the recent republication of Patrick’s groundbreaking book Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England, which documents the rise and fall of astrology in the 17th century.

Originally published in 1989, the book offers a detailed analysis of the role and perception of astrology in 17th-century England, a period that saw both the peak and the subsequent decline of astrology in the public sphere.

Patrick shares insights from his PhD research at University College London, which formed the basis of his book. He discussed the socio-political dynamics of the era, particularly how the English Civil War influenced astrological practices and the lives of astrologers like William Lilly.

Nicholas Campion, known for his comprehensive two-volume “A History of Western Astrology,” contributed to the conversation by discussing the academic and historical context in which Patrick’s book was first published and its impact on the field.

We also delved into the broader implications of the historical treatment of astrology, discussing how historical narratives have shifted from outright dismissal of astrology to a more nuanced understanding of its role in historical contexts.

Both Patrick and Nick emphasize the importance of viewing astrology through the lens of the cultural and political milieu of its time, rather than simply through modern scientific critiques.

The episode also touches on the challenges faced by astrologers during politically turbulent times, and how part of what contributed to the decline of astrology in the 17th century was that it became associated with political views that fell out of favor.

Patrick’s book was recently republished by the Sophia Centre Press, and you can order it here:

Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England

This episode is available in both audio and video versions below.


  • 00:00:00 Intro
  • 00:00:31 Prophecy and Power book background
  • 00:02:16 A History of Western Astrology book background
  • 00:06:52 Influence of E.P. Thompson’s work
  • 00:11:48 17th century England
  • 00:15:43 Role of politics in astrology’s decline
  • 00:21:34 Censorship
  • 00:24:50 Why Lilly chose the title Christian Astrology
  • 00:27:15 Was Lilly a good astrologer?
  • 00:33:11 Attempts to reform astrology
  • 00:37:26 Kepler’s influence in England
  • 00:40:06 Fights among 17th century astrologers
  • 00:45:00 How astrology lived on after the 17th century
  • 00:51:26 Patrick’s definition of astrology
  • 01:03:40 Christianity and natural vs. judicial astrology
  • 01:15:45 Power relations
  • 01:18:45 Comets
  • 01:36:28 High, middling, and low astrology
  • 01:42:34 Astrology became identified as plebeian
  • 01:48:20 Explosion of popularity in astrology since 2018
  • 01:55:15 Role of almanacs in helping astrology proliferate
  • 02:04:22 Why Patrick’s book was republished
  • 02:06:50 Closing credits

Watch the Video Version of This Episode

Watch the video version of this interview with Patrick Curry and Nick Campion:


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 447 transcript

Listen to the Audio Version of This Episode

Listen to the audio version of this episode or download it as an MP3:

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.