Saturday, 3 June 2017

The Planetary Seals of Balenus (Ghent/ Folger comparison)

The Ghent manuscript contains one interesting treatise of astral image magic, namely Balenis philosophi qui est sapiens dicitur liber de sigillis planetarum. ’ that is, The book of the seals of the planets of Balen the philosopher also called the wise.  (43v-59r)

This Balen, Balenus, Balin, Balinus, Belenus or other ways of writing this is none other than the Arabic version of Apollonius of Tyana, the very father of talismanic magic in the late Antiquity. 

There are quite a few manuscript of this work, one even cited by Trithemius in his list of magic books (other manuscripts listed by Frank Klaassen HERE), but I ve had access to none of them until now.

The seals found in Balenus are strikinly similar to a series of pentacles in the Folger Manuscript (published by Harms and Peterson as the Book of Oberion), listed besides the figures of the Angels and Kings of the Days.

One difference between the two is the order: Belenus follows the Chaldeean order (Saturn to Moon), while Folger follows the Week order (Sun to Saturn).
Another difference is the use of the names of the planets spelled out in the center of the Folger seals, as opposed to the simple astrological glyphs used in Balenus.

A big similarity is in the seals, of course, the forms are very close to each other, but still with a few differences. 

Another similarity is that oddly enough, the seal of Saturn is much more complex than the other versions, containing another set of characters in the inner field, while the other seals are simpler. This trait is shared by the Folger manuscript as well. 

Seal of Saturn

Seal of Jupiter

Seal of Mars

Seal of the Sun

Seal of Venus

Seal of Mercury

Seal of the Moon

Since I have taken some liberties with the graphics (cleaning up the spots, paper lints, smudges, dark spots and book-worm holes) i`ve decided to also offer for scrutiny the original low resolution manuscript scans, together with the folio or page number.  A big thank you to Dan Harms for helping me out with clarifying the copyright issue for the Folger manuscript. 

All images in the Ghent Manuscript (UG MS 1021A) are used by permission of the Ghent Universiteitsbibliotheek  under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

All images in the Folger Manuscript (Folger MS V.b.32) are used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Original Ghent Manuscript Images:

44r                                                        46v

49r                                                       51r

52v                                                        55r


Original Folger Manuscript:

87                                                88

89                                               90

91                                              92


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