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Void of Course

When reading old astrological literature, we find unfamiliar words which can make it difficult to understand what the writer is saying. Even more of a problem, though, are the familiar words: words which we use every day, but whose meaning has changed over time. At least with the unfamiliar words we know we have a problem; with the familiar ones, we have a problem but often don’t know it. This can lead us astray.


Today, the word ‘hardly’ is synonymous with ‘scarcely’. This is a corruption of meaning. In the past, hardly meant exactly what it says. It is the adverb formed from hard, and so meant ‘in a hard way’. What Lilly says about the void of course Moon is ‘things go hardly on’. Modern writers, thinking hardly means scarcely, have taken this to mean that nothing will happen: things scarcely move.


What Lilly intended is ‘things go on in a hard way’, so things proceed with difficulty. Of course, if things proceed with difficulty people often give up, either through a failure of will or the realisation that the prize is not worth the candle, so this can amount to the same thing, but it’s not what Lilly meant.

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