Gaffarel On the Astrological Prediction of Destruction, after R. Chomer

Browne refers to Gaffarel's Curiositez Inouyes, (presented here in Edmund Chilmead's translation, Unheard-of Curiosities, etc. (1650), pp. 415-418); Gaffarel is describing the "celestial writing", or arrangement of stars into Hebrew letters:

[We may] be able to give a Reason of that, which hath been hitherto Unknown: as, when the Astrologers affirm, that when Caput Algol, or Medusa's Head, was Verticall to Greece; the Stars did foreshew the Calamities, which afterwards happened unto it, by the Tyranny of the Mahomettans; without giving us any Reason Why: no more then they doe of their Confidence, in assuring us, that the same Constellation, which will in a short time be Verticall to Italy also, fore-shewes a strange Desolation, that is to fall upon this Pleasant, and Fertile Country. Now all these Disasters, though, according as they are foretold, so doe they Certainly come to passe; yet neverthelesse is the Fore-seeing of them grounded meerely upon Experience; neither can the Authors of these Predictions, for the Most part, give any other Reason of them. But now, according to this Doctrine of the Celestiall Writing, we know, that these Mutations shall happen on the Earth, because we see, they are written in the Heavens. And this is the Reason that R. Chomer affirmes, that the aforesaid Medusa's Head, or the Stars that Compose it, did foretell the Lamentable Desolation of Greece, because that Five of the Principall Verticall Stars did for a good while together, make up this word, Charab.

picture of stars alleged to form in Hebrew characters he word Charab

Which, in the Second Conjugation, signifies, To be Desolate: understanding This, particularly of Greece, over which these Stars shone, because that the number of its Letters, which are Jod, Vau, Nun, and which being put together, make up יון Javan, that is to say, Greece, do yield the same number, that Charab doth: as you may here see.

image showing that the three letters that make up charab (2 2 8) = the three letters that make up Javan (yod vau nun = 5 6 1), so that Greece/Javan will be destroyed/charab -- some time, anyway

According to these Principles, any man may foresee, by the putting together the Stars of the same Constellation, the Disasters that Italy is threatned with. However it be, Junctin, an Italian Priest, and a very excellent Astrologer, is bold to utter these words:1 Illud verò (saith He, speaking of this Medusa's Head) Toleto nunc, Apuliæ, & Neapolitanorum regno est verticale; moxque Italiam invadet: quibus suam quoque cladem allaturum ese, maximoperè est verendum. Now how long before hand, these Celestiall Letters do foreshew the Changes that are to be happen; no one Author, that I know of, hath precisely determined: they only say, that, Before they are Verticall, they do foreshew this Change, and whatsoever is to happen: God being willing thus to prepare us for the Evils which are to befall us. And after that they are precisely Verticall, if our Repentance hath yet found any place in his Mercies; He then causeth some New Star to appear, and by its Intervening, to shew (as we have formerly said) a quite Contrary Thing, to what was before signified.


1. In Sphær. Io. de Sacrobos. c. I. [Marginal note]