~by Christine Norstrand
About the image: These tiles are based on a series of stained glass windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones, lifelong friend of William Morris. You can read more about Edward Burne-Jones Venus and Luna tiles here: https://williammorristile.com/burne-jones/moon_and_stars.html
Who I am and am not: I am not a real astrologer. I don’t even play one on the Internet. I have completed two years of formal study, and several informal but no less rigorous classes, in a field where the best have been doing this for decades. I do make art tile, but I do not sell talismans and I especially do not prescribe them to others. I can, however, make some recommendations, which I’ll do in this article. I am open to commissions from “real” astrologers and their clients – bring your own election. Sometime in the future, I hope to offer sets of tile, such as De Sphaera and other medieval series, made to talismanic standards.
I came to this unlikely interest in astrological magic by a strange route – My interest in Arts & Crafts Founder William Morris and his circle led me down a rabbit hole to the Pre-Raphaelites, their interest in the medieval world view, and the degree to which they incorporated that world view into their lives and work. Research in that area led me to the work of William Lilly, particularly Christian Astrology, Peter Stockinger and from there to astrological magic and its foundations.
So then, to the reasons why purchasing an astrological talisman may not be such a good idea for you:
First Reason: You Don’t Know What You Want
It isn’t that a generic Jupiter talisman cannot be helpful. Jupiter energies will do what Jupiter does and a talisman of a particular nature will help you to “attune”, for want of a better word, to those harmonics. Three astromages I admire, Ryhan Butler (Medieval Astrology Guide: https://www.medievalastrologyguide.com/) , Nina Gryphon (Current magical elections: https://www.ninagryphon.com/product/magical-elections/), and Kaitlin Coppock ( Sphere & Sundry: https://sphereandsundry.com/) have said that a clear statement of intent is crucial in creating a talisman.
This is not to say that a generic planetary talisman does not have much to recommend it aside for its general planetary juju – usually made when the planet is in its best possible condition. For example, you can repurpose such a talisman, which you may find difficult if you’ve commissioned a talisman for a specific condition. You want to strike a balance.
Like the psyche, talismanic manifestations can be surprisingly literal. Time spent to formulate your intention and reword so that it is memorable and can be brought to mind easily (mnemonic or alliterative, even a song you can hum to yourself) is worth it. Words evoke images, and these images are powerful. There is much to say about images and their evocative and invocative power. We’ll talk more about images another day.
To sum up: you want a statement that is generic enough to last, but specific enough to manifest. Time spent on wording and image is never wasted. Choose wisely.
Second Reason: Wrong Tool for the Job at Hand
Now that you know what you want, how do you get there? You also want a talisman that is a good fit for the job at hand.
Spiritual exercises and magic, even Astrological Magic, may not always present the most expedient path. Many years ago, I met a person who could type three words a minute, on a manual typewriting, without his fingers. Impressive? Yes. Is this the fastest way to get a letter out? Probably not. We can dive into the nature of truth and reality here, but for many, even most things, conventional methods will achieve our goals faster.
When we are desperate, it’s human nature to look for miracles. And there are some. But some things are built into the fabric of the game – a good astrologer can see these unfolding in the chart. Life comes with tragedy: losses, injustices, betrayals. It is how the game is played, and ideally it deepens our compassion for others, and even ourselves. And yet, miracles can and do happen through such activities as daily devotions such as prayer and daily mass, meditation and positive thinking, the touch of healers of all sorts.
Or on a mundane level, when the neighbor appears at the door with a shotgun because your music is blaring at 3 a.m. and neither they nor their sick infant has slept in days, turn the music down. Don’t wait to commission an Algol talisman to take your revenge.
And then what?
We’ll be friends forever, won’t we? asked Piglet. Even longer, said Pooh.
A talisman made of a precious metal can last centuries – In another 50 years, you may want good health, but a talisman may be overkill for the rash on your leg that recurred for a year or so and went away when you finally changed laundry soap.
And if a talisman or talismanic materia does seem like the right thing but you’re not sure exactly what? See Kaitlin Coppock’s article on how to choose talismanic materia here: https://sphereandsundry.com/qa-how-do-i-choose-which-series-or-offering-is-right-for-me-do-you-offer-consultations/
Third Reason: The Talisman is Wrong
A talisman can be wrong in several ways.
- It isn’t a talisman in the sense we are talking here. The way the world ‘Talisman’ is used can often be a moving target. Items with glyphs, even mass produced items, made under whatever stars are sold as talismans. Neither are we talking about things “made at a certain time”. If that were the sole criteria, everything would be a talisman, since everything was created in its current form some time.
A talisman, for our purposes, consists of a) a material that resonates with the purpose at hand or its general sphere, either through image or the nature of the material, b) an auspiciously elected time, c) a ritual that incarnates the spirit of the first two in its current form.
- It does not align with your purposes. Venus can be great for social interaction, love interests, and artistic endeavors. But Venus does what Venus does. As a benefic, she’ll help when she can, but she’s not the best candidate for protection or for achievement goals.
This is another advertisement for stating what you want, however generally, and then looking at who is the general ruler of that activity and possibly, the ruler of the house ruler of those activities in your natal chart.
Even Fixed Stars, which abide in a sphere above the planets, do best what accords with their natures. The fixed star Algol is protective and noted for her ability to return evil intentions to the sender. But if you need to protect your home and property, should an opportunistic band of thieves have a car breakdown in your neighborhood, then let Deneb Algedi lead them away from your house.
- You’re using the talisman as a remedy. And some people prescribe talismans for just the reason, to augment a weak placement, to strengthen a mollifying planet of an afflicted planet, to calm a strident placement. Similarly, several schools of Jyotish prescribe precious stones for just this reason. I disagree with all of these for a few reasons. First, if the person selling you the talisman is your astrologer, that’s a clear conflict of interest. Even at $350 an hour for a reading, gold-filled rings and semiprecious stones give a greater return on investment, or one can farm out the talisman-creation to a third world country, and sell it to first worlders at a premium.
What is that we really want to remedy? A nativity or a life condition. They are not one and the same. A natal chart is the map, it’s not the territory. It shows what is possible, the influences, but is essentially a snapshot of a point in time. And we look at things from a point in time, and adjudicate what is needed based on our perceptions of that moment. Remedies that attune us, for want of a better word, to a particular planetary emanation do not have the kind of blow back that the sudden influx of power a talisman can bring.
For example, your Venus is combust? I disagree that she’s burned and shrived and can’t be brought back. Even from a material physics point of view, matter / energy can be neither created nor destroyed. A combust Venus is invisible, hidden by the rays of the sun, purified or undergoing purification. You don’t see her, neither does anyone else. But that situation can be changed by mindfully doing the Venus things you already do – cake decorating, arranging the flowers on the table, deciding which socks go with which shoes, listening to music, attending the ballet, drawing. Other methods of attunement: meditation, mantras (correctly prescribed), planetary rituals (which can be as simple as an Orphic hymn at the correct day and time), offerings, and planetary charity to Venusian causes. The more closely the cause approximates the condition you want to remedy, the more effective it is.
A middle ground between remedies and long-lasting talismans is talismanic materia (see Kaitlin’s presentation at NORWAC 2020). Oils, waters, and other astrologically-elected materia made from planet and star-appropriate herbs can enhance the effects of remediation activities. Since one cannot help but engage with them in the present moment, the effect is more transformative than remedial activities alone. Such materia can actually be more powerful than talismans made from precious stones and metals.
For a more in-depth discussion of remedies, you might like The Proper Care and Feeding of a Birth Chart available here: https://austincoppock.com/shop/planetary-wellness/
Fourth Reason: The Election is Wrong
Not only are some elections bad for the task at hand, some are just plain bad. An election that violates the rules for making astrological talismans is obvious. These are stated elsewhere on the Stars and Stones blog. While there is some mild disagreement among real astrologers on the weight given to each criteria, and even which criteria are deal-breakers, there is no perfect election and imperfect elections work. Some better than others. Few are actually harmful. Note that the correct planetary day and hour alone are not enough for constructing a talisman, but are fine for the other types of remediation I’ve referred to above.
An election can be wrong for your particular chart. I was raised that a talisman is its own entity, like a person, and that you don’t have to align the talisman with your particular natal configuration. And for the most part, I’ve observed this to be true. Note that that not everyone thinks this and it isn’t true for elections in general.
But there are exceptions: Some people are very sensitive, usually people who have done a lot of work with astrological magic. And though rare, if talisman is out of sorts with the current transits as they interact with your natal chart, it may not be the best time to graft a talisman onto your life. That doesn’t mean they won’t ever be; it’s just that the interaction of the talisman’s election, your natal chart, and the current transit are better left alone.
So… if you are in your Saturn return and Mars is squaring Saturn in transit, and Mars is on your Cancer natal ascendant, this may not be the best time to pick up that Mars talisman. Wait a bit. And yet, these conditions are the sort where in desperation, one wants to “do something”. If you aren’t comfortable making this call, then consider consulting a real astrologer.
It’s true that this particular constellation of stars and planets will never happen again. But a different path will open and missing this particular opportunity can open you up to something better.
Fifth Reason: The Astrologer is Wrong or Wrong for You
Astrologers used to be advisors to sultans and kings, not an alternative to having your fortune read at the local coffee shop. It’s still a niche-y subject, full of depth as ancient texts are discovered and translated. The best still study and learn after decades. If you are in doubt about an election, your own or someone else’s, you can have it checked by a real astrologer. I still have someone else check my elections and I’ve been at this awhile. Moreover, even good elections for malefic stars and planets can do with some divination. What can go wrong, you ask? Selective blindness. And that’s a problem with the astrologer, not the election.
There’s a hidden agenda. If you feel you are being sold something, a talisman or a worldview, that should set off your alarms. It’s Saturday morning – Have you heard the Good News about their particular spiritual path or fixed answer? A lot of things work, not just astrology. Not just magic. Not just talismans. Prayer works, asking the saints to intercede works. A study of hospital patients who did not know they were being prayed for showed that they responded better to treatment.
We have at least two thousand years of years of people in power disenfranchising entire populations by persuading them to surrender their will to the loving nature of the universe and trust that everything is proceeding according to plan. This is Kool-aid; ignore any signs that say, “Drink me.” What we call magic today is the science of future generations, who will laugh at our primitive understanding. However you frame it, to put it William Lilly’s way, these are god-given tools. Use them wisely, but use them.
Conflict of Interest An reputable astrologer who sells talismans will often consult with you beforehand to rule out the possibility of a conflict with your natal chart. Christopher Warnock , an early pioneer in the modern selling of talismans does exactly this. (See https://www.renaissanceastrology.com/astrologicaltalismanchoose.html ). On the other hand, an astrologer selling you one of their talismans based on a reading you just paid for is a questionable practice at best, especially if the price is greatly inflated compared to the value of the material. These are usually the first to go on about ethics for other people.
The astrologer is not an astromage. A talisman is a ritually-made item made at an elected time. Not everything that is made at an elected time is a talisman. As we said earlier, everything that exists would be a talisman if point in time were the only criteria. You want an astrologer who is an astromage, someone who has done the study and personal work to create an effective ritual to make a talisman.
The astrological genius is neverthertheless wrong for you. If you get a sense that your well-known genius astrologer is watching the clock during your reading, tells you how many minutes you have left, ignores your communications, and fails to notice that they are stepping on your heart and feelings because their attention is elsewhere, don’t let this person give you directions to the mailbox, much less prescribe a talisman or remedies. Someone who behaves so is a vendor.
There is no shortage of up and coming astrologers as well as some old veterans who are, as my sister would say, a little self-involved. They may be fine for someone else, have a stellar reputation, have written finely crafted books that make you swoon – but if you’re invisible, and they’ve clearly demonstrated that you are not worthy of their respect, then they are not a candidate to be your mentor, teacher, astrologer, or dogsitter. If they can’t see you, they can’t see your chart or situation. Keep to your studies and you can smile to yourself when they come up and introduce themselves to you at an astrological conference, as if you had never met.
Good astrologers, like good people, give more than they get. I don’t know all the good and ethical astrologers and astromages, I can vouch for some personally. Peter Stockinger did my chart rectification which was life-changing. I’ve loved the classes I’ve taken from Nina Gryphon on horary and astrological magic and her monthly astrological elections. I subscribe to Ryhan Butler’s Patreon and often adapt his elections to my location. I am a devoted fan of Kaitlin Coppock and her talismanic materia. This is not an exhaustive list, just the people I know best and have come to love.
But you still want a talisman…
Most of the talismans I’ve made, as well as those I’ve purchased, have left me with, “I think I feel something… maybe”. And I have many at this point – it’s a new person thing, I think, you think there will never be an election like this again, which is true, and that you’ve already missed so many. But a few, or even just one, really good talisman can be life-changing.
If, after all that, you still find yourself wanting a talisman of a certain planet or star, trust that gut feeling. I’m a jewelry person, and if I had it to do over, I’d save up my money, and commission one from Tony Mack (https://tonymackgoldsmith.com). I have two of his talismans, made for me, and they both hit it out of the ballpark. A real astrologer and a goldsmith, he makes real talismans, astrologically elected and ritually made. And if you don’t have one, he’ll make one for you.
Christine Norstrand is the proprietor and artist at William Morris Tile. If you would like to contact her, you can reach her here: WilliamMorrisTile.com
Regular readers of my web log may remember that in November 2020, Christine Norstrand, artist and founder of William Morris Tile, provided me with Planetary tiles from the well known De Sphaera series. The image below shows them in situ:
After a long, possibly pandemic related, postal delay I recently took hold of another parcel from William Morris Tile. It contained a Talismanic Tile, another one of Christine’s exciting projects.
The tile’s main image is based on The White Hart, a pub sign, painted by the artist Myles Birket Foster in 1875. Foster lived in the village of Witley, near Godalming, Surrey, where this sign hung outside the village inn, the White Hart.
The image of the hart is surrounded by sigils of the Behenain fixed star, Deneb Algedi, a star in the Sea Goat’s tail.
The 15 Behenian fixed stars are a selection of stars considered to be useful for talismans or pendants. There are also herb and gemstone correspondences associated with each fixed star.
More information about the Behenian stars, including their gemstone and herb correspondences and their sigils can be found in my book Stars and Stones – An Astro-Magical Lapidary.
Cornelius Heinrich Agrippa von Nettesheim wrote about Deneb Algedi in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy :
“Under the tail of Capricorn make the image of a hart or he-goat or an angry man, which brings luck and augments life.” Agrippa von Nettesheim, Magische Werke, Bk II, ch 47. (First complete German edition, Amonesta, n.d., my translation).
And Marsilio Ficino, the priest, philosopher and astral magician, wrote in the third book of his Three Books on Life, called “On Obtaining Life from the Heavens” about Deneb Algedi:
“They think it furthers favor in lawsuits, increases wealth, and makes men and their homes safe.” Three Books on Life Bk. III, ch 8, (trans Kaske & Clark, p279)
The election chart for the creation of the talismanic tile is shown below:
When electing the most beneficial moment to create the talisman, the following was observed:
- The fixed star is conjunct Jupiter
- The fixed star is rising, i.e. conjunct the Ascendant.
- The Moon is in an applying trine to the fixed star.
- Neither the Moon nor the fixed star are afflicted.
- Neither the fixed star nor the Moon are combust (that is within 8.5 degrees of the Sun)
– — –
Christine Norstrand is the proprietor and artist at William Morris Tile. If you would like to contact her, you can reach her here: WilliamMorrisTile.com
There will be a total lunar eclipse on 26 May 2021. It will be visible in areas of southeast Asia, all of Australia, all of Oceania, most of Alaska and Canada, all of the lower 48 states, all of Hawaii, all of Mexico and Central America, and most of South America.
The full eclipse begins at 11:11UT and lasts until 11:26UT. Maximum eclipse (Moon opposing Sun) takes place at 11:18:42.
The total duration of the eclipse is 5 hours 2 minutes and the duration of the full eclipse is 14 minutes.
The map below shows the visibility of the eclipse:
The chart below, cast for London, shows the event in astrological terms:
What is exciting about this lunar eclipse is the fact that eclipse ruler Jupiter has just moved into Pisces. This, of course, gives him a boost in essential dignity, increasing his beneficial powers.
Let us remind ourselves of the qualities attributed to Jupiter. Abu Ma’shar writes this about Jupiter in his Great Introduction:
“And he indicates the soul which nourishes, … sincerity, truth, religion, worship, modesty, piety, reverence, … insight into religion, uprightness,
And he indicates prosperity, success, defeat for all who resist him, dignity, leadership, authority, kings, the nobles and the mighty, the greatness of one‘s good luck, comfort and delight, …”
There is also mutual reception between Jupiter and the eclipse Moon, which adds an intense potential for fulfilment.
Thirdly, highly beneficial Jupiter squares the Sun/Moon eclipse-axis, adding tension that needs to be released. All in all, this is an eclipse that will delight the spiritually inclined person. The seekers of spiritual truth, the occultists, the mystics and magicians, the philosophers and the religiously devoted should benefit from this eclipse!
With Jupiter being eclipse ruler, we can also look to William Lilly, who wrote:
“When Jupiter alone has the chiefest Dominion in an Eclips, generally he products an increase of all things.“
I have to point it out though, that on a personal level, an eclipse usually affects only a small number of people. To establish the possibility of any effect to take place, the birth chart should be scrutinized for any of the following:
- Moon is in or around 5 Sagittarius
- Moon is in or around 5 Gemini (opposition)
- 5 Gemini is culminating in the birth chart (conjunct Midheaven)
- 5 Gemini is ascending in the birth chart (conjunct Ascendant)
Should it be the case that one or even more of these factors apply, an in-depth reading of the birth chart may be necessary to find out if, how and to what extent the native could be affected.
– — –
We should also have a look at the mundane astrological implications of this eclipse. To be able to do this, we need to establish where the eclipse is likely to have its greatest effect. For this purpose we need to look at the countries or cities falling under the rulership of Sagittarius, the sign wherein the eclipse Moon resides during the event. We also have to take into consideration that the eclipse’s visibility will greatly enhance its effect.
Looking through traditional astrological source material, we find that Greece (and there particularly Attica), Arabia, France (particularly Avignon), Hungary (particularly Budapest), Germany (particularly Cologne, Meissen, Judenburg, Rottenburg, Stuttgart), Italy (particularly Colonia, Volterra), Yugoslavia (particularly Dalmatia, Modena), Croatia, Gascovia in the Basque region, Czechoslovakia (particularly Moravia), Sclavonia (around Bulgaria), and Spain (particularly Toledo) may be affected.
The map above shows the paths of angularity for Sun (red) and Moon (black)
From the above, it is noticeable that Germany and Italy are not only falling under the rulership of Sagittarius, but that they are also on the path of this lunar eclipse. This makes it more likely that some eclipse related events may occur. Also, with the eclipsed Moon located close to the Midheaven, it is likely that any eclipse related event will occur about three months after the actual date of the eclipse.
Read an in depth interview with me in the latest issue of Mandrake News, the monthly newsletter of Mandrake of Oxford.
There is also an unbeatable May book offer, and much more to explore.
Click the link below to read the newsletter :
During research for my upcoming book on the Lunar Mansions, I came across Beinecke MS 558. The manuscript is held in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the rare book library and literary archive of the Yale University Library in New Haven, Connecticut. It comprises 89 pages consisting of multiple texts on parchment and paper and is written by five hands. It contains several diagrams, and an astrolabe with volvelles, pictured below:
The principle collector of MS 558 was Thomas Butler from Harlow in Essex. Natal charts of Thomas Stalon, born 1500; Jhon Butler, born 1524; Thomas Buttler, born 1528; and Ales Buttler, born 1532 are displayed.
Contemporary astrologers quoted include Johann Stöffler (1452 – 1531) and Leonard Digges (c. 1515 – c. 1559). Earlier sources quoted are Almansor, Messahala, Haly Abenragel and Zael.
Included in the manuscript is a chapter on theft, with the title “To knowe the thefe that hath stolen”
In the left margin on p2v, is a handwritten note by a later hand (17th C?) reading “Lilly pag 331”
This refers to page 331 in William Lilly’s Christian Astrology. The picture below shows the relevant page.
Christian Astrology was published in 1647, approximately 100 years after Beinecke MS 558 was compiled. It shows that treasured manuscripts were passed on for generations. They were still used and annotated long after the publication of printed material had become commonplace.
The updated version of Stars and Stones – An Astro-Magical Lapidary presents the book how it was originally intended to appear. The order of the chapters has been changed to enhance the book’s structure and readability. All textual mis-alignments that made tables difficult to read have been corrected. The book is now also available in e-format (Kindle) via Amazon.
To read a free preview or to purchase the e-book, follow the links to Amazon US or Amazon UK:
My review of Martin Gansten’s new book on annual predictive techniques – Annual Predictive Techniques of the Greek, Arabic & Indian Astrologers, The Wessex Astrologer, Swanage, 2020, ISBN 978-1910531419.
To read my review, click on the thumbnail, below:
My Lunar Mansions Ephemeris for the Year 2021 is now available. To access click the link, below:
Will-Erich Peuckert, Astrologie, W. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart, 1960.
Who was Will-Erich Peuckert (11 May 1895 – 25 October 1969)? To answer this question, we may look to Wouter Hanegraaff who writes that “First and foremost, Peuckert is known as probably the most important twentieth-century pioneer of the discipline known as Volkskunde, variously referred to in English as ‘folkloristic’ or ‘European ethnology'”. (Hanegraaff, Will-Erich Peuckert and the Light of Nature, 2009). Peuckert published monographs on Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme and Rosicrucianism. Pansophie, one of his major works, was in fact a unique synthesis of the history of Western Esotericism in the early modern period. Late in life, Peuckert also published a book on astrology, applying his unique approach to the subject. The following is an excerpt from the second chapter, Mond – Venus – Mars:
The moon has certainly been a very important planet for early civilisations, in the South even more so than the sun, whose rays seem hot and cruel. And if the sun glides through the firmament in an unchanged manner, the moon is ever changing, is very small, gets bigger, rounded like an apple, is waning, gets smaller, and eventually disappears completely. Such change is attracting people’s attention. This is how it was for the old Germans, who needed the moon as an important tool to measure time (in Tacitus’ Germania, it says in chapter 11: if nothing out of the ordinary happened, they gathered at certain intervals, on the days of new moon or full moon). It was the same with the Celts, who sacrificed to the Great Goddess on moon nights, and with the peoples who were ruled by women [‘weiberzeitliche Völker’] and who bowed in humility before their Moon Goddesses, and with the Semites. Everywhere the moon was observed and people served it. Especially amongst the North-Semitic tribes, the Akkadians and the Babylonians, it is noticeable that they distinguished between two groups. Sun, Moon and Venus were in one group, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn the other. In the veneration of the first group, there was a difference: the South-Semites, who were the Arabs of the Minaean Empire, from Saba and Hadhramawt, as well as the North-Semitic tribes of the Akkadians and Babylonians, and the West-Semitic people of Canaan, the Jews, the Syrians and Phoenicians used to call sun and moon by the old names of Schamasch and Sin. But the North-Semites saw the sun as male and the West- and South-Semites saw it as female. The opposite view occurred as the former saw the moon as female and the others the sun as male. At Larsa and Sippar, the old Babylonians served a Sun god; the West-Semitic nomads in Ur, Harran, and Syria worshipped, just like the South-Semitic tribes, and venerated the star of the night [the moon] as highest deity. Therefore, Sinai is made a holy mountain and dwelling place of Sin, the Moon god, Horeb the sacred place of the god Horeb, who is called the dryer or desiccator, because the West- and South-Semitic tribes saw him as the lord of the low tide.
It was believed that, in the beginning, this group of three was a group of four: one stellar parental pair with Mercury as their son and Venus as their daughter. In the stereotypical South Arabian lists of deities, usually three or four deities can be found. First mentioned is the planet Venus ‘Athtar’ (masculine), second is the moon under different names (masculine), last is the sun ‘Schams’ (feminine). “In the Hadhramawtian, Katabanian, and Minaean conjuration, we find another, fourth, deity; after Hommel, the Hadhramawtian Haul (hebr. Hol) as well as the Katabanian Anbaj (Babylon. Nabiu) should be identical with Mercury … According to the Moon Hymn of Ur, here the moon was the father, and because the sun is female in all the moon religions, (as opposed the moon is masculine in all sun religions). Amongst the Arabs, just as in German, the moon ‘qamar’, is still masculine, the sun ‘schams’ is feminine, and because she is in the typical South Arabian understanding of deity the only female deity, she becomes the divine mother. This correlates with the Harranian idea of god, because after Zimmern, the Harranian Moon god Sin has a wife, ‘Queen’ Scharratu (probably the female Sun) and two children, a daughter Ishtar (Venus), and a son Nusku (Mercury). In Sippar, Schamasch, the sun, being the father, has a ‘bride’ kallatu, who is Aja – after Hommel the female moon – and two constant companions, Kettu (feminine) and Mescharu (masculine), who Zimmern sees as their children. The latter ones are possibly Venus and Mercury, because in Babylonian theology, Venus is the daughter and Mercury the son of the god.”
This certainly very old, and maybe even arch-Semitic system, underwent some change which is not entirely unimportant for our problem. In more recent times, the female stellar deities merged into one; in the field of the South-Semitic tribes, which are the Minaeans and in Saba, ‘both of them are thought of as the female sun, Venus is not female as usual, but has become male, and Mercury has been eliminated. In the genealogical system, the sun seems to represent the mother as well as the daughter, and the two masculine stars will have to be perceived as father and son’. Amongst South- and West-Semites, this is the clear expression of a son-of-god idea. But this proposition voices another, very important one. We know from history what became of this son-of-god idea: it grew into the belief in a redeeming son of god, the Messiah who was born in Bethlehem. But I do not want to talk about the genesis of this Jewish-Christian central thought here. I would like to conclude: because the idea of a son-of-god was of importance, because it has become the basis of a religion spanning the globe, the star on which this is based must have been of importance. And this star, Venus, is standing out in another context.
The North-Semitic tribes underwent a similar but different development ‘whereby in the Babylonian religion Ishtar become the actual goddess; as mother and daughter she has a double nature, like the South Arabian, female Sun. Mercury didn’t play a role in the official triple goddess symbol, but one of the two great stars become the son-of-god instead. Therefore, the son-of-god idea seems to be a general, arch-Semitic one, but here Venus, who was the star of the son-of-god in the South, was made into the star of Ishtar, the stellar incarnation of the magma mater at a time when women ruled [‘weiberzeitlich’].
Amongst all nomadic tribes and herdsmen, the man is featuring strongly. Looking after large herds needs a strong man and not a feeble woman; the merchant’s journeys through the desert, which were known to the Minaeans or Sabaeans, were only possible for men, due to the gangs of robbers and predators. And because the early Semites were all nomads or herdsmen, their culture was based on the masculine leadership [‘männerzeitlich’] and therefore the male god is predominant. But as the Assyrian or Babylonian Semites became planting farmers along the streams, life forced them to venerate the female deities who were responsible for growth and prosperity. Did they give Ishtar the Venus-star out of the magna mater? Or was it that they took both of them over in their connection from earlier ones? I would like to believe the latter, because the fact that the moon became the star of the son-of-god indicates that this thought that was unique to the Semites was still valid and could become some kind of competitor to the belief in the magna mater. If, to continue my former thought, this belief in times when women ruled amongst the field-planting North-Semites was created on the shores of the two streams, or if it invaded from the outside, – there is one conclusion one cannot deny: that during the time when women were in charge [‘weiberzeit’] through their veneration of the stars a new culture became visible and that the Virgin with the ear [of corn], and that Venus and the moon in an epoch when women ruled, were given their names and even more than that.
Even more than the Virgin with the ear [of corn] is the moon representative of the time when women ruled. One could argue on a purely rational basis that the female physiology is similar to the phases of the moon and has been entirely equal in former times. But maybe, apart from the physiological observation, there is a second conclusion, pointing towards the new moon, with its growing, ageing and dyeing, and its resurrection. Where it was understood as an image – and a guarantor – of birth and rebirth, there its connections to women and their functions are coming into the foreground, and there they also not only regulate them in connection with the moon with its coming and going, but he becomes the star of the virgin and the magna mater. We know from Crete, as well as from the Middle East which creatures where sacred to it: plants like the lily, narcissus, and poppy, – the Cretan seals show them, then herbs, whose planting has always been in the hands of women. Amongst the animals, it was the cat; lions or cats pulled the cart of Cybele, and her German ‘stepdaughter’ Freya travelled with cats even as late as the tenth century. The legend of Baldr’s funeral as well as the Husdrapa, show that. Sacred to the moon was also the pig, which was so much despised by the Jews, because it was the sacred and sacrificial animal of the cults during the time women ruled, as well as aquatic animals. Not only Venus Anadyomene was born from the sea, the Cretan seals show an overabundance of sea creatures. And, at last, there are hare and rabbit who are sacred, possibly because of their fertility. All these creatures are, according to contemporary astrologers, those who are ruled by the moon and are susceptible to its influences. From all that has been said, it is easy to understand that the moon has been connected with the female body parts; according to Brandler-Pracht, belly, stomach, intestines, bladder, the glands and the lymph glands connected to it, also fat and semen, the genitalia, and the female breasts. After the antique teaching (Hermippos I 14) the moon rules over the embryo in the last months of pregnancy; after the Chaldean [teaching], which Cicero (De nat.deor II 118) passed on to us, the whole pregnancy is ruled by it and it also brings birth. Contemporary astrologers agree that the moon influences the birth to a high degree. Therefore, the moon does not only become the Mother of the Cosmos, as the old ones said (Plutarch, De Iside et Osir. 43; Macrobius, Sa I 17, 53) but, in the birth chart, it shows the mother of the unborn and her fate. […]
I have already been talking about the central, great goddess who encourages all growth. She used to be called ‘μητηρ’, the magna mater, or Great Mother. The women of Babylon who worked on the fields worshipped her as Ishtar, amongst the Syrians she was called Astarte, and in Ephesus she was Diana of the Hundred Breasts. In the Acts of the Apostles ch 19 it is told how Paul met her. When, during the time women ruled [weiberzeit], tribes tried to depict her, they gave her form of a tall woman who held a lily or an ear [of corn] (spica) or – on Crete – a poppy in her hands. When they projected her onto heaven, they did it as Venus or as the goddess with the ear, the virgo spicifera, as the Latin world would call her later. This is because the Latin speaking people – as did the Greeks – transformed her: from a mature and birth-giving woman into a virgin, from a magna mater to Artemis, to the virgin Kore and Diana – and only the ear [of corn] was left to signify her as the giver of fruitfulness, [or] as the proud goddess of the North-Semitic farmers, who was devouring young men. The ear [of corn] indicates this, as well as her North-Semitic name: Ishtar means ‘Virgin’ amongst the tribes who planted wheat and managed the fields along the Euphrates.
Contemporary astrology doesn’t know about the magna mater nature of the Virgin; although it has borrowed the context, it doesn’t understand it any more. It only says: “If one would like to seek for an objective symbol for this sign, one could think of the ear of wheat or the sheaf of grain. This is why the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo is called Spica, the ear [of corn]. We have to imagine the ‘Virgin’ as a farmgirl, a reaper or gleaner, holding an ear of grain in her hand.” We will not hold it against the quoted astrologer that he – clearly sensing the opposition to rustic man – made the virgin into a farmgirl rather than into a woman who was a planter in pre-farming times, as it has often been shown by Bachofen and some contemporary ethnologists.