Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Ghent Manuscript: A treasure trove of astral magic

While researching the material in the Leipzig manuscripts I was lucky enough to stumble upon (and by stumble upon I mean dig ferociously through boring lists, academic footnotes and records fueled by coffee) a very interesting manuscript.

Seal of Gemini, Pseudo-Arnoldus de Villanova

It s far older than the Leipzig collection but has a few treatises in common and it is one of the most complete (pun not intended, the manuscript is damaged) collections of image magic treatises, full of talismans and pentacles and seals. 

The manuscript can be viewed HERE and you can download full quality images for free from the library, free of copyright. One of the most astounding policies regarding scanned manuscripts I have ever encountered. 

Seal of Gemini, my rendition, based on the manuscript. These were not redrawn or based loosely on the drawings, but cleaned up and colored.

The title it bears is Clavicula Salmonis en andere magische tractaten en voorschriften  but it does not contain any material from the Clavicles. 

This is the description i found on Ptolemaeus :

Ghent, Universiteitsbibliotheek, 1021A

s. XVI. Or.: Low Countries (Ghent?), copied by one Cornelius Bryntius. Prov.: the MS was found in the Hospice des Aliénées in Ghent in March 1835.
Paper, 148 f. (modern foliation in pencil), a single sloppy hand. At least several folia are missing in the beginning. The upper part of f. 1-44 is illegible due to water damage (up to 60% in the first folia and decreasingly thereafter, something which has affected in particular the first Ptolemaic section on f. 1-4). Some of the damaged texts can be identified by comparison with MS St Petersburg, BAN, Q. 537 (see).
Astral magic, mostly rare or unidentified texts: 

Ptolemaica (1r-4v); Thebit Bencora, De imaginibus, variant version as in St Petersburg, BAN, Q. 537, f. 25r-38r (5r-14r); Hermes, De imaginibus et horis (14v-19v); Liber Baleni de compositione imaginum septem planetarum, as in St Petersburg, BAN, Q. 537, f. 66r-84r (20r-31v); 

Ptolemaica (32r-37v); ‘Arnoldi de Villa Nova mathematici et in magicis operationibus expertissimi liber signorum duodecim signorum zodiaci. Antiquorum solertia celum…’ (38r-43r); ‘Balenis philosophi qui et sapiens dicitur liber de sigillis planetarum. Prefatio. Quoniam necessarium est volentibus in compositione imaginum…’ (43v-59r); ‘Behencatri viri sapientis et regis in India qui fuit in magicis expertissimus de sigillis planetarum. Sigillum Saturni. Saturnus habet in metallis plumbum…’ (59v-62r); ‘Bayelis sapientis in magicis expertissimi liber de annulis septem planetarum. Prafatio auctoris. Septem sunt stelle erratices quos planetas vocamus…’ (62v-67r); ‘Geberi magi et philosophi expertissimi de figuris septem planetarum per numeros in quibus occulta sunt semtem (!) nomina Dei. Prefatio. Antiqui sapientes et philosophi in astronomia…’ (67v-78v); ‘Hermetis philosophi de compositionibus imaginum secundum duodecim horas diei et noctis, qui liber alio nomine vocatur Secretum Hermetis. Hermes iste fuit de genere et secta Iudeorum, qui et Samonum vocatur…’ (79r-97v); Pseudo-Pietro d’Abano, Annulorum experimenta(98r-107r); ‘Bonum et notabile documentum super operationibus experimentorum traditum a Ptolomeo cum cautela in huiusmodi operationibus observanda. Si quis aliquod experimentum probare voluerit, oportet ipsum custodire Lunam, tempus et horam et partes hore…’ (107v-121r); ‘De sacrificiis septem planetarum. Quum in mandatis generalibus huius artis…’ (121v-125v); ‘Experimenta varia provocationis amoris et gratie ex diversis collecta. Principio in operationibus istorum experimentorum provocationis amori et gratie…’ (126r-129v); ‘Lucidarium artis nigromanticae Petri de Abbano. Petrus de Abano lectori S. P. Multi experimentores diversi modo operantur per hanc divinam scientiam…’ (130r-139v); ‘Diversa experimenta ex diversis collecta. Ut medicus vel phisicus multum lucretur. Facias in argento vel stanno imaginem hominis sedentis in cathedra…’ (140r-148r).
Bibl. W. L. Braekman, Middeleeuwse witte en zwarte magie in het Nederlands taalgebiet, Gent, 1997, 30 and 503-507.

Fol.90v: Seal of the Third Nocturnal Hour

I will upload as many of the images as I can shortly. 


  1. Has the Biblioteka Akademii Nauk, Q. 537 manuscript been digitized?

    1. Hi there. No , it has not been, to my knowledge. But being a Russian website, I might be able to know for sure.