THE actual moment, in which human generation commences, is, in fact, by nature, the moment of the conception itself; but, in efficacy with regard to subsequent events, it is the parturition or birth.
In every case, however, where the actual time of conception may be ascertained, either casually or by observation, it is useful to remark the effective influence of the configuration of the stars as it existed at that time; and, from that influence, to infer the future personal peculiarities of mind and body. For the seed will, at the very first, and at once, receive its due quality, as then dispensed by the Ambient; and, although in subsequent periods its substance is varied by growth and conformation, it will still, by the laws of nature, congregate, during its growth, only such matter as may be proper to itself, and will become more and more imbued with the peculiar property of the first quality impressed on it at the time of conception. These precepts must always be attended to, when that time can be ascertained.
But, if the time of conception cannot be precisely made out, that of the birth must be received at the original date of generation; for it is virtually the most important, and is in no respect deficient, on comparison with the primary origin by conception, except in one view only; viz. that the origin by conception affords the inference of occurences which take effect previously to the birth, whereas the origin by birth can, of course, be available only for such as arise subsequently. And, although the birth should in strictness be called the secondary beginning, while the conception might be insisted on as the primary beginning, it is still found to be equal to the conception in its efficacy, and much more complete, although later in time. For the conception may, in fact, be said to be the generation of mere human seed, but the birth that of man himself; since the infant at its birth acquires
numerous qualities which it would not possess while in the womb, and which are proper to human nature alone; "such, for instance, as the particular action of the senses and the movement of the body and limbs." 1 Besides, even if the position of the Ambient, actually existing at the birth, cannot be considered to assist in forming and engendering the particular shape and qualities of the infant, it is nevertheless still auxiliary to the infant's entrance into the world: because nature, after completing the formation in the womb, always effects the birth in immediate obedience to some certain position of the Ambient, corresponding and sympathising with the primary position which operated the incipient formation. It is therefore perfectly admissible, and consistent with reason, that the configuration of the stars, as it exists at the time of birth, although it cannot be said to possess any share of the creative cause, should still be considered to act in signification, as fully as the configuration at the time of conception; because it has, of necessity, a power corresponding to that configuration which actually possessed the creative cause.
In speaking of the practicability of prognostication, in the commencement of this treatise, the intention of setting forth this part of the subject, now under consideration, in a scientific manner, has been already notified. The ancient mode of prediction, founded on the commixture of all the stars, and abounding in infinite complication and diversity, will therefore be passed over; and, in fact, any attempt to detail it, however accurately and minutely made, in conformity to the several precepts given in the traditions relating to it, would prove unserviceable and unintelligible: it is therefore entirely abandoned. And the doctrine, now presented, comprehending every species of event liable to happen, and explaining all the effective influences generally exercised by the stars, in their separate qualities, over every species of event, shall be delivered succinctly, and in agreement with the theory of nature.
With this view, certain places in the Ambient, regulating the formation of all inferences of the events liable to affect mankind, are appointed as a kind of mark to which the whole theory of those inferences is applied, and to which the operative powers of the stars, when holding familiarity with the said places, are in a general manner directed: in the same way as, in archery, the arrow is directed to the target. And any event, which depends on the compound temperament of many various natures and influences together, must be left to the discretion of the artist, who, like the skilful archer, must himself judge of the best mode of hitting the mark.
To proceed methodically and in due order, it is proper to commence by investigating such general events as are open to consideration, and liable to have happened, or to happen, at the actual origin by birth;
since, from that origin, all things necessary to be investigated may be gathered; as before stated. Yet, if a previous inquiry, by means of the primary origin by conception, should nevertheless be desired and undertaken, such an inquiry may still in some degree assist prognostication; although only in regard to properties and qualities dispensed and imbibed at the time of conception.
73:1 The words, thus marked " ", are not in the Greek, but in two Latin translations.