Tuesday, October 21, 2008

R.H. Naylor - A lucky find!

My latest acquisition: "Home Astrology", by British astrologer R.H. Naylor (1889 - 1952), who was, in 1930, the first astrologer to produce a regular astrology column in a UK national newspaper.

The book (damaged jacket shown above) was published, I guess, sometime in the 1930s or 40s (I can find no date in it, so it might be a first, and only, edition). It was published by Lippincotts of Philadelphia, printed in Britain. There's a pencil note inside, "Lippincott's File copy", and a rubber stamped warning: "File copy, not to be removed from office".

I bought the book in Archer City, County seat of Archer County, North Texas, from the used book store of famous author Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, The Last Picture Show etc.) Archer City is home to some 1,800 souls. Larry McMurtry's bookstore "Booked Up", spreads through four very large stores and houses around 400,000 books ranging from paperbacks to valuable antiques and first editions worth thousands of dollars. The four stores are not fully staffed so a notice is posted in stores # 2 to 4, to the effect that one must wander across to store #1, book(s) in hand, to pay for any purchases. How very trusting! It's said that these book stores are the life-blood of Archer City, an otherwise sleepy little Texas town.

The book I've bought is a treasure indeed, well worth the $10 it cost me. It contains a very basic explanation of natal astrology in layman's language. The book is peppered with other odds and ends of information about omens, superstitions and suchlike, material which has gone right out of fashion nowadays - it's all the more fascinating for that. I noticed, among the yards and yards of ceiling-high shelves crammed with 400,000 used books, there were only 3 volumes on the subject of astrology, from a scant few shelves of books dealing with "New Age" subjects. Perhaps Mr. McMurtry, who buys from estate sales and bulk stock from other stores, has a blindspot when it comes to astrology.

I'll return to a few tidbits from "Home Astrology" in future posts, but to be going on with, a couple of paragraphs which immediately caught my eye when opening the book at random pages:

"The cases in our museums reveal the amazing growth of what we must call Natal Astrology. Even prejudiced observers admit that the astrology of the ancients, and in later times, of the Moors, was one of the most complex things the human mind has ever evolved. To pass over such relics of complex thinking with a light sneer is merely a confession of ignorance. Einsteins's theory of relativity is a comparatively simple thing by the side of ancient theories of astrological determination."

"You and I have in our bodies an infinitely complicated electrical machine. Our brain is the battery, our nerves the wires. This machinery works what people call "the sixth sense" and is behind all so-called omens, "psychic feelings" and so forth."


Wisewebwoman said...

It sounds like a fascinating book, T. And I so envy you visiting that book store - it sounds like a dream to me, I'd have to be pried out with a crowbar!!

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ It's a bookworm's paradise - yes! :-)