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Romantic Love's Delicious Enchantments and Tortures

"The eye is the window of the soul...
Now do you not see that the eye embraces the beauty of the whole world?
... It counsels and corrects all the arts of mankind...
It has measured the distances and sizes of the stars;
it has discovered the elements and their location...
Oh, excellent thing, superior to all others created by God!
The eye is the window of the human body
through which it feels its way and enjoys the beauty of the world." Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Window of the Soul
During the European Renaissance (1400-1700s AD) - taking its cue from the ancient Greek philosoher, Plato - it became commonly accepted that the eyes were the entry way (or window) into the human soul. And I tend to think that they were right.

According to historian Anthony Grafton, in Cardano's Cosmos, if a man were to be overcome with melancholy and depression due to an undying passion, love, and devotion for a particular woman - it was thought that the man had come under the influence of a spell and enchantment.

It was believed that the "offending" woman had initially gained access to the man's soul through his eyes - and this "possession" was thought to have occurred at the very moment when her eyes first met his. Common symptoms of this malefic malady were thought to be loss of sleep, loss of appetite, and loss of drink.

Does any of this sound even vaguely familiar?

Prescribed Treatment
In order to release the man from his torture, many possible courses of treatment were first prescribed by the local astrologer - such as flogging the man or alternatively having him spend a weekend in an out-of-town "house of ill repute".

If, however, none of these lesser measures worked - then a counter enchantment was performed on the man. According to Grafton, the man typically sat in a chair, while an ugly "hag" (their terminology, not mine) from the village stood before the man, screaming profanities and saying vile things about the woman he was "smitten" with.

If, after all this, the man was still not cured - as a last resort, the "hag" would pull out a rag drenched in her menstrual blood, place it inches away from the man's face, and then scream: "This is your woman! She is like this! She is like this!" This was normally thought to do the trick.

5th House of Gambling and Romance
It's likewise thought that it was sometime during the European Renaissance that romantic love affairs of the heart came to be associated with the 5th house of astrology - associated with the excitement of the gamble, the risk, the pleasure, and the youthful, playful awakening of new love…

Thus astrology teaches us that regardless of the many "safety nets" we attempt to construct in order to "even up" the odds... romantic love and attraction will always remain a gamble, an emotional risk, and a leap of faith that we must choose to take (or not) when entrusting our heart to another person.

After all... that's part of the joy, part of the torture, and part of the experience of the "thing called love."

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