Elizabethan Cosmology

Meteorology in terms of Elizabethan cosmology concerns all mutations in the region of air between the earth's surface and the sphere of Fire. This weather cosmology was a mixture of Aristotle's Meteorlogica, the Holy Scriptures, classical mythology with a bit of astrology, magic and folklore. A close inspection of TV weather-casters indicates the slow pace of change.

If you need to do your own readings on Elizabethan meteorology here is your reading list: Seneca's Questioners naturales, Pliny's Historia naturalis, Bartholomaeus' De proprietaibus rerum, Du Bartas' la Sepmaine and Fulke's Goodly Gallery. You can short-cut all this and read Heninger, S. K. Jr. A Handbook of Renaissance Meteorology, Duke Univ. Press 1960. CED's interest here is some old notions of climate, weather and life.

Fair Weather If

Cranes fly out to sea, Gnats flying in sunshine, Owl hooting during a storm, Oxen lying on left side, Rooks and ravens crying softly and repeatedly.

Indicators of Rain

Ants storing provisions, ants bringing out eggs from nest, centipedes crawling on walls, chickens crowing more than usual, cormorants crying loudly, diving or flying in circles, cranes flying inland, crows, ravens or rooks agitating their wings, crows ravens or rooks uttering two or three notes quickly, dogs paw the earth, dolphins or porpoises diving near land, cucks flapping wings, flies biting more viciously than usually frogs croaking, land birds taking baths, mice squeaking and skipping about, oxen sniffing wind, oxen licking their hoofs, peacocks making noise, ravens, hawks or chickens searching their feathers for lice, salamanders appearing, sheep frisking wantonly, swallows skimming over ponds, swine tossing or hiding hay, worms coming out of the earth.

Watch for Winds if You See

Dog rolling on ground, ducks, wild or tame, flapping wings, herons crying and rising above clouds, sea birds flying from ocean, spider webs in air.

Watch-signs of a Tempest

Asses shaking ears, bees stay in hive, birds flea the sea, cattle lying on right side; dog lying on right side, dog rolling on ground, dog digging a hole, dolphins playing near land, earthworms appearing, finches and sparrows chirping at dawn, land birds taking baths mice squeaking and skipping about, wasps swarming in autumn; wolf howling, wolf near human settlement. hedgehog closing both is holes.

"The hedgehogge where he lyeth, maketh two holes, the one opening toward the northe, and the other toward the south, and which of them he stoppeth, from the same parte the winde ariseth, and if both at once, then great store of wind to follow" from hill certaine husbandly conjectures.

Weather Body language in Liz's day

Some by a painefull elbow, hip, or kne,
Will shrewdly guesse, what wether's like to be:
Some by their cornes are wondrous weataher-wise,
And some by biting of lice, fleas, or flies,
The gowt, sciatica, the Gallian Morbus,
Dopth oft foretell if tempests shall disturbe us,
For though these things converse not with the stars,
Yet to mans griefe they are astronomers.


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