Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Characters of the Planets in Harley 80

Manuscript Harley 80 of the British Library is dated to about 1200-1499, and contains five sections. 
The third unit of the manuscript, comprising of ff.75r-84v are mainly texts on astronomy and the making of astrological talismans and images. Thebit ben Corat  De imaginibus (ff. 75r-76r)
Claudius Ptolemaeus De imaginibus super facies signorum (ff. 76r-77v)
Hermes Trismegistus (or Belenus), Liber imaginum lune (ff. 77v-81r)
Hermes, Trismegistus (or Belenus), De quindecim stellis (ff. 81-84v). 

The British Library catalog entry mentions that the marginal notes and notabilia, Sigilla Planetarum (ff. 75v-76r, lower margins), and Zodiac signs (f. 78r, margin) added by 14th- and 15th-century hands.

What we are most interested in here are the Sigilla Planetarum, or the characters or seals of the planets, placed on fol.75v


and fol.76r .


This series of seals will be coded H80.   

The First Series

Characters of Venus  (H80.1)

  Characters of  the Moon (H80.2)

  Characters of  Jupiter (H80.3)

  Characters of  Mars (H80.4)

  Characters of  the Sun (H80.5)

 Characters of  Saturn(H80.6)

  Characters of  Saturn (H80.7)

The second series
  Characters of  the Sun (H80.8)

  Characters of  Mercury (H80.9)
Characters of  Saturn (H80.10)

 Characters of  Venus (H80.11)

  Characters of  the Moon (H80.12)

Characters of  Jupiter (H80.13)

  Characters of Mars  (H80.14)


There are two series of characters, I believe each with it s origin, one on each page. 
Perhaps the strange and unorthodox order in which the planets are listed will help us do just that, identify each source or at least it s appearance in other manuscripts.  

There are undeniable resemblances with the characters given by Gerolamus Cardanus, by the Liber Lunae and later printed French grimoires, which we shall duly study in the following posts. 


  1. Hey, Mihai. I am currently working in a series of translations of Iberian book linked to Saint Cyprian, and I am having trouble identifying some of the images, as they clearly are degraded copies of other grimoires. do you think you could look at them, and see if you can identify? I appreciate you attention.

  2. It would be my pleasure. My guess is the French version of the Veritable Clavicles, but send them anyways. You have my email I believe.

  3. Hi, Mihai. I inscribed with an email I do not use much, just today I saw your reply. Thanks!!! I do not have your email, the message came with a "no reply" address from the blog manager. My best email is See you.