Fixed Stars, Gemstones & Plant Correspondences in Ficino’s De Vita

The following is a tabulation of the information given in Marsilio Ficino’s Three Books on Life*, book three, chapter 8, Concerning the Powers and Use of the Fixed Stars:

Zodiacal  Position*  Fixed Star  Planetary Correspondence  Crystal/Gemstone  Plant/Herb  Desired Effect

1

22nd degree of Aries

Navel of Andromeda

Mercurial and Veneral

2

18th degree of Taurus

Algol

Saturn and Jupiter

diamond

mugwort

Boldness and victory

3

22nd degree of Taurus

Pleiades

Lunar and Martial

crystal

diacedon, fennel-seed

Sharpens the sense of vision

4

1st or 3rd degree of Gemini

Aldebaran

Martial and Venereal

ruby

spurge, woodruff

Increases riches and glory

5

13th  degree of Gemini

The Goat

Jovial and Saturnine

sapphire

horehound, mint, mugwort, mandrake

Helps towards honour and the help of princes

6

6th or 7th degree of Cancer

Canis Major

Venereal

beryl

savine, mugwort, dracontea

It proffers favour

7

17th degree of Cancer

Canis Minor

Mercurial and Martial

agate

heliotrope, pennyroyal

bestows favour

8

21st degree of Leo

Heart of the Lion

A royal Jovial and Martial star

garnet

swallowwort, mastic

Represses melancholy and makes am an temperate and agreable

9

19th degree of Virgo

Tail of Ursa Major

Venereal and Lunar

magnet

chicory, mugwort

Provides protection from robbers and poison

10

7th degree of Libra

Right Wing of the Raven

11

12th or 13th degree of Libra

Left Wing of the Raven

Saturnine and Martial

sorrel, henbane, frog’s tongue

Increases boldness and will be noxious

12

15th or 16th degree of Libra

Spica

Venereal and Mercurial

emerald

sage, trefoil, promarulla, mugwort, mandrake

Increases riches, and victory and releases from poverty

17th or 18th degree of Libra

Alchameth

jasper

plantain

Strengthens the blood and expels fevers

13

4th degree of Scorpio

Elpheia

Venereal and Martial

According to another computation in the 5th degree of Scorpio

Cornea (maybe the same as above)

topaz

rosemary, trefoil and ivy

Increases grace, chastity and glory

14

3rd degree of Sagittarius

Heart of the Scorpion

Martial and Jovial

sardonyx, amethyst

long birthwort, saffron

Makes the colour good, the mind happy and wise and drives out daemons

15

7th degree of Capricorn

Falling Vulture

Mercurial and Venerial

chrysolite

savory, fumitory

Temperate; beneficial when in ASC or MC

16

16th degree of Aquarius

Tail of Capricorn

Saturnine and Mercurial

chalcedony

marjoram, catnip, mugwort and mandrake

Furnishes favour in lawsuits, increases wealth and makes men and their homes safe

17

3rd degree of Pisces

Shoulder of the Horse

Jovial and Martial

*Positions of fixed stars are correct for the time Ficino published De Vita in 1489.

Compare also to my previous blog entry:

Fixed Stars, Gemstones and Plant Correspondences – a Potted History

*Kaske and Clark: Marsilio Ficino, Three Books on Life, A Critical Edition and Translation wit Introduction and Notes, Arizona 2002

My Guest Blog on “The Oxford Astrologer” – How Jewels Can Light Up Your Life

Recently I was invited to write a blog post about the astrology of gemstones and crystals for the fabulous blog of The Oxford Astrologer, Christina Rodenbeck. Interested readers can access my entry on her web log via the link in the blogroll or by clicking on the link below:

How Jewels Can Light Up Your Life

Related Articles:

Fixed Stars, Gemstones and Plant Correspondences – a Potted History

In his book The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, first published in 1923 and still in print, Vivian Robson provides a chapter on the correspondences between fixed stars, gemstones and plants. Unfortunately he does not share the origins of this knowledge with his readers, but only mentions that Cornelius Agrippa wrote much about “magical ceremonies”.

In the following I give a summary of the correspondences between fixed stars, gemstones and plants, according to Robson:   

Fixed Star Gemstone Plant
Aldebaran Carbuncle, ruby Milky thistle, “matry-silva”
Algol Diamond Black hellebore, mugwort
Algorab Stones of the colour of black onyx Burr, quadraginus, henbane, comfrey
Alphecca Topaz Rosemary, trefoil, ivy
Antares Sardonyx, amethyst Long aristolochy, saffron,
Arcturus Jasper Plantain
Capella Sapphire Horehound, mint, mugwort, mandrake
Deneb Algedi Chalcedony Marjoram, mugwort, nip, mandrake root
Pleiades Crystal, the stone Diodocus The herb Diacedon, frankincense, fennel
Polaris Loadstone Succory, mugwort, periwinkle flowers
Procyon Achates Flowers of marigold, pennyroyal
Regulus Granite Sallendine, mugwort, mastic
Sirius Beryl Savine, mugwort, dragonwort
Spica Emerald Sage, trefoil, periwinkle, mugwort, mandrake
Wega Chrysolite Succory, fumitary

Following Robson’s hint, a look into Cornelius Agrippa’s books shows that Agrippa has a similar list of correspondences to offer.  Here is a table, listing the correspondences between fixed stars, gemstones and plants after Agrippa in Three Books on Occult Philosophy, first English edition, 1651:

Fixed Star Gemstone Plant
Head of Algol Diamond Black hellebore, mugwort
Pleiades or Seven Stars Crystall, Diodocus Diacedon, frankincense, fennill
Aldeboran Carbuncle, ruby Milky thistle, matry-silva
Goat-Star Saphir Horehound, mint, mugwort, mandrake
Great Dog-Star Berill Savin, mugwort, dragonwort
Lesser Dog-Star Achates Flowers of Marigold, penyroial
Heart of the Lyon Granate Sallendine, mugwort, mastick
Taile of the lesser Bear Loadstone Succory, mugwort, flowers of periwinkle
Wing of the Crow Such stones as are of the Colour of the black Onyx stone Bur, quadraginus, henbane, comfrey
Spica Emerald Sage, trifoile, perwinkle, mugwort, mandrake
Alchamech Jasper Plantain
Elpheia Topaze Rosemary, trifoile, ivy
Heart of the Scorpion Sardonius, amethyst Aristolochy, saffron
Falling Vulture Chrysolite Succory, fumitary
Taile of Capricorn Chalcedone Majoram, mugwort, nip, root of mandrake

Agrippa names his sources as Hermes and Thebit, which leads us to the conclusion that he had access to Thabit ibn Qurra’s De Imaginibus, and the famous Liber Hermetis de xv stellis xv lapidibus xv herbis et xv imaginibus, which only seems to exist in the form of a few Latin manuscripts. Nevertheless we can catch a glimpse of the original set of correspondences. In 1390 John Gower published his Confessio Amantis. In book 7 of his monumental work he lists 15 fixed stars together with stones and herbs. Scholars who studied Gower’s work are convinced that he used various versions of Liber Hermetis in his Confessio Amantis.

The following is a list according to Gower’s Confessio Amantis, book 7:

Fixed Star Gemstone Plant
Aldeboran Carbuncle Anabulla
Clota or Pliades Crystal Fennel
Algol Diamond Black hellebore
Alhaiot Sapphire Horehound
Greater Dog Star Beryl Savin
Lesser Dog Star Agate Cowslip
Arial Gorgonza Celandine
Crow’s Wing Honochinus Sorrel
Alaezel Emerald Sage
Almareth Jasper Plantain
Venenas Adamant Chicory
Alpheta Topaz Rosemary
Scorpion’s Heart Sardis Birthwort
Botercadent Chrysolite Savory
Scorpion’s Tail Chalcedony Marjoram

William Lilly’s Precious Stones

When William Lilly wrote his Christian Astrology in 1647, he included chapters on the seven planets and their significations in the introductory part. These chapters include, amongst a lot of other material, the correspondences between planets and precious stones. What is of interest here is the source material Lilly used for his book.

The bibliography appended to Christian Astrology gives us some information as to where his knowledge came from and in the following I want to shed more light on this subject.

One of Lilly’s main sources seems to be Cornelius Agrippa’s De Occulta Philosophia, written between 1509 and 1510 and printed for the first time in 1533. Lilly does not provide us with much detail about the edition he used, only that its format would be octavo and that it had been printed in Lugduni. There was indeed an edition printed in 1543 in Lyon, which might be the one Lilly had in his library. I used the first English translation from 1651 for my research, an edition published just a bit too late to be used by Lilly for his Christian Astrology.

Another book Lilly might have used as a source to establish the correspondences between planets and gemstones is Johannes Schöner’s Opera Mathematica, Nuremberg 1551, which is as well included in Lilly’s bibliography.

Although he claims that Schöner’s book would not be methodical, Lilly calls it a good one and it seems to have been hugely popular at the time. Nicolaus Rensberger, for example, copied the information about gemstones and planets for his Astronomia Teutsch straight out of Opera Mathematica.

 The following tables show the possible sources of  Lilly’s correspondences and I have included some explanatory footnotes.

 

Saturn Agrippa Schöner ???
      Lapis Lazuli
  Sapphire    
  All black and ugly stones    

 

Jupiter Agrippa Schöner ???
    Amethyst  
      Bezoar*
      Crystals**
  Hyazinth    
    Sapphire  
  Smarage (Emerald) Smarage (Emerald)  
      Topaz

 

*Al Biruni says about the Bezoar Stone:

“The early authors have said that a well-known stone is so named, although they have omitted to mention its characteristics and features.

As a matter of fact, this stone should have been the costliest among
stones, for, whereas jewels are things of the body and adornment, and
are of no use in bodily ailments, the bezoar stone guards the body and
the soul and saves them from being harmed. We did not describe it
before all the other stones, thinking it more logical that it should be described along with stones belonging to its genus. Muhammad bin
Zakariya Razi says:

“The kind that I saw was soft like the Yemenite alum. It scattered

and broke into pieces. I am filled with amazement at its wonderful

effect”.

Abu ‘Ali ibn Mandawayh says that it is pale with white and green
hues mixed with it. Hamzah and Nasr both say that it is primarily
associated with India and China. In the Kitab al-Nukhab it has been saidthat its mine is in the mountain of Zarand within the boundaries of Kirman.

Hamzah and Nasr have described fine kinds of the stones. These are
white, yellow, green, dusty and abrasive. Nasr has, however, selected
the dusty kind. He has prescribed a dose of twelve barley grains for the
poisonous kind. The author of the Kitab al-Nukhab says that one kind
of it is beet green and pale, while another kind is reddish-white. One
kind is thin and has something filled inside it. It is called the snot of
Satan and the Warlock’s thread.”

 

**John Maplet describes Crystals as Follows: “The Cristall is one of those stones that shyneth in everie part, and is in colour waerie. Isidore saith, that it is nothing else then a congeled Ise by continuance frosen whole yeares. It groweth in Asia and Cyperus, and especially upon the Alpes and highe Mountains of the North Pole. It engendreth not so much of the waters coldnesse, as of the earthinesse mixt withall. His propertie is to abide nothing in qualitie contrarie to it selfe: therefore it is delighted only with colde.”

 

Mars Agrippa Schöner ???
  Adamant    
  Amethyst    
  Bloodstone* Hemanites*  
  Jasper Jasper  
  Loadstone**    
  Touchstone***    

 

*Bloodstone is these days a name for Jasper which is dotted with red spots of iron oxide, but it is as well a name for Hematite, which could be indicated in Schöner. Rensberger has altered it to Hematite in his Astronomia Teutsch.

 

**John Maplet describes the Loadstone as follows: “The Lodestone commeth from Indie, and is almost Iron colour like. It is founde most rife amongst the Trogloditas people, in the furthest part of Affrick, beyond Aethiopia, who are saide to dwell in Caves, and to eate Serpents flesh. It draweth Iron to it, even as one Lover cueteth and desireth an other. The common people therefore having sometime seene this so done by secret and unknowne working, have iudged and reputed ye Iron lively. There is another kind of Lodestone in Thessalie, that is of contrarie set and disposition, which will have non of Iron, nor will meddle with it. But for the other that is reckned principall and best, which in colour is blue. Saint Augustine saith, that if any man put under any vessel eyther golden or brasse, or holde under these any peece of Iron, and lay above the vessels or upon them this Lodestone, that even through the verie motion or moving of the stone underneath, the Iron shall move up and meete with it as nigh as the vessell wil suffer at the verie top.”

 

***Touchstone is a hard dark siliceous stone, such as basalt or jasper, that is used to test the quality of gold and silver from the colour of the streak they produce on it.

 

Sun Agrippa Schöner ???
      Adamant
  Carbuncle*    
  Chrysolithe    
  Etites**    
  Hyacinth Hyacinth  
  Ruby    

 

 *John Maplet’s description of Carbuncle: “The Carbuncle is a stone very precious, so called for that (like to a fierie cole) it giveth light, but especially in the night  season: it so warreth with the pupill or the eiesight, that it sheweth manifolde reflexions. It has as some say. xv. kindes: but those most precious that come nigh the Carbuncles nature: it is found in Libia.”

 

**Sometimes called Echites, Maplet says: “Echites is a stone both of Indie and Persia, which in the shore and Sea banckes of the Ocean, in the verie bosome of the Indian and Persian Sea, it is found: it is in colour Violet like: And there is a paire of them, Male & Female, and be most commonly found both togither in the Eagles nest, without the which the Eagle can not bring forth hir yong: and therfore kepeth them, as most necessarie in this behalfe alwaies in hir Nest. These stones bound to a womans bodie, being with childe, do hasten childe birth. And Iorach saith, that if any man have these or one of these, and put it under that mans meate or trencher that he suspecteth to be in fault of any thing: If that he be guiltie, he shall not be able through this to swallowe downe his meate: If not saith he, he may.”

 

Venus Agrippa Schöner ???
      Beryl*
      Chrysolite**
  Cornelian    
  Lapis Lazuli    
     ?Margarit***? Margasite***
    Sappire (sky coloured)  

 

* Maplet talks of a green Berill, colour of Venus, which seems apt.

 

**Chrysolite , also called Olivin or Peridot is of green colour, fitting for Venus.

 

***Lilly calls it a Margasite, it is ‘Margarit’ in Schoener and ‘Margaret’ in Maplet, who describes it as follows: “The Margaret of all Gemmes, those which be in their kindes white, is esteemed the chiefest: as Isidore consenteth, with others herein. Which kinde he will also have thus named, for that is founde growing in the meate of certain shell fishes, and those of the Sea, as in the Sea Snaile, and in the greatest Oyster, and such like as have their shell. It is engendred of a certain heavenly dewe, which in a certaine time of the yeare, both the Sea Snaile and the Cockle doe take and drik up. Of the which kinde of stone certaine are called Vnions, for that by one and one, they be founde, and never above one: there be some of these also seene sometimes yellow, but the other are the verie best.”

 

Mercury Agrippa Schöner ???
  Achates    
  Marchasite    
  Topaz    

 

Moon Agrippa Schöner ???
  Selenite    
  Crystals Crystals  

On the Astrall Vertue in Minerals

In 1594 George Hartgill published a book called Astronomical Tables. After  62 years, in 1656,  John and Timothy Gadbury wrote and published an updated version of it.  A letter, written by William Lilly,  is included in this edition. Therein he explains the importance of this new edition as the original tables were only valid until 1652 and states that Hartgill’s tables were in a way defective any way, as he, Hartgill, “….followed Copernicus and Alphonsus Tables, in the places of the fixed Stars which at that time were plainly percieved to be imperfect, and generally found to be erronious….” .

What is of interest here is the preface to “The Impartial Reader”, written by the editors of this work, John and Timothy Gadbury. Therein they are addressing  the “Astrall vertues” of plants and minerals. The following is a transcript of the portion dealing with these minerals, ie. gemstones.

“There is also an Astrall vertue in Minerals; as for instance, observe the Adamand or Diamond which of all Minerals is the most glorious, and amongst men is the most valuable! for the Richnesse of it, ’tis attributed to the Sun, as one is the chiefe of Minerals, so is the other the chief of Planets. Pliny saith it is the hardest of all stones, insomuch that it cutteth Glasse, and yeildeth nor either to the Hammer or Fire; it is observed to have a great Antipathy to the Loadstone, for it being laid neer it, it wholly destroyes the Loadstones vertue. Pliny makes six kinds of it, which we purposely omit, as not intending a Treatise of Minerals; we will next observe,

The Selenite or Moonstone, which is a very transparent Gem, like Glasse, and hath a remarkable spot in it, which beares the Image of the Moon, and doth appear more or lesse, as the Moon doth increase or decrease in motion, and thense it is (by Naturalists) called the Moonstone, for that it does so constantly dance after her motion; t is of a white, black, and yellow Colour, and Phisicians use the scrapings of it, as an excellent Remedy against the Falling sicknesse.

The next is the Turcois, being a stone of a dull Sky colour or greenish, which is of excellent use in helping those who are troubled with weak eyes, and spirits, it refresheth the Heart; and if the Wearer be not well, it changeth its Colour, and looketh pale and dim; but on the contrary, increaseth to its perfection, as the Wearer attaineth his health; whence came the Verse.

The sympathizing Turcois true doth tell,

By looking pale, the Wearer is not well.

Such secret MagnetiqueVertues are those Earth-imprison’d Creatures endued withall, that to treat of many, would cause us of a Preface to make a Treatise; therefore we willingly omit the exquisite Vertues of many;

as the Amethyst who (as Aristotle affirmeth) hath power to resist drunkennesse, and the Calcedon, whose secret vertue is such (if worn) that it prevents all fearfull Visions and Dreams; it is a Stone which would be much advantagious to the Epileptique Prophets of our [?]: also the Sardonix, which doth mightily corraborate the Body and Spirits of man, and in one preserveth Chastity. Then there is the Sardim, which maketh the Wearer cheerfull and merry, and some have found by Experience, that it restrains Anger; we could tell you of the Stone Etites, (which some say is found in an Eagles nest) and hath another Stone within it, therefore some of the Ancients have called it the Stone with child, whether that be true or no, we enjoyne no man to beleeve; but Phisicians affirme, that if the stone be hung about  a womans neck, who is with-child, it preventes Abortion. These excellent secrets in Vegitabiles and Minerals, do manifest the power of God in the Stars, beyond the reach of all objection; we will conclude this Astrologicall Phisicall Discourse, and admire what we cannot reach with the Divine Poet .

Oh mickle is the poweful God that lies

In Herbs, Trees, Stones, and their true Qualities,

For naught so vile, that on the Earth does live,

But to the Earth some secret good does give.

And naught so rich, on either Rock or Shelfe,

But if unknown, lies uselesse to it Shelfe;

Therefore who thus doth make his secrets known,

Doth profit others, and not hurt his own.”      

The Precious Stones of John Maplet’s Greene Forest, part 2

The first part of this article about gemstones can be found at https://starsandstones.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/the-precious-stones-of-john-maplets-greene-forest-part-1/ 

Of Ematites

Ematites is a stone somewhat ruddie, somewhat sanguine, found both in Affrick, in Indie and in Arabie: so named for that it resolveth & chaungeth oft into a bloudie colour: and is called of some stench bloud, for that it stoppeth his vent or course of flowing.

Of Gagates 

Gagates is of the precious sort also, which was first found in Sicilie in a certain floud called Gagatus of the which it tooke his name: although that in Britannie, it is a good geast & somewhat common as Isidore saith: It hath two kindes, the one russet in colour, and the other black, this last easie to be fiered, and as smokie as Frankinsence. It being left in the place where Serpents breede, driveth them cleane away. And Diascorides saith, that this being put into ye drink of a Maide or Virgin will easilye give you iudgement whether that she be a true and right Maide yea or no. For saith he, after that she hath drunke of this and does not anone after make water, but can continue, than take hir and esteeme hir a pure Virgin, and contrarywise, if she doe not continue and stay herein some season, iudge of hir otherwise. 

Of the Jasper

The Jasper is a Gem verie greene, like to the Smaragde, but of little more grosse colour. Isid. saith that this has. xvii. severall kinds and he calleth it the greene stone. That of Cypria, (saith Harmolaus) is more duskie coloured and grosse: That of Persia is like to the Ayre, for the which it is called Aerizula: That of Phrygia is purple coloured: There hath bene in ancient time seene a Jasper in waight. xi. Ounces. There is also in the heade of the Serpent Aspis found a little stone much like to the Jasper of marvailos vertue, which some by cutting away the first letter, have called Aspis. It is thought to have so many wayes in working as it has kindes.

Of the Jacinct

The Jacinct is blew, and of nigh neighborhoode with the Saphire. This is a marvellous turncote, for that it doth conforme it self to all settes and dispositions of the Ayre, for being helde in the cloudie and dark Ayre, becommeth also cloudie and darke: and beeing in the bright and cleare Ayre, becommeth also both bright and cleare. It is taken to be medicinable, to give vigor and strength to the lims, to encrease the sinewes, and to provoke quiet and sound sleepe.

Of Iris 

Iris is a kinde of Stone Mathematicallye wrought, as being digged up in forme fire cornered, which at the first was found nigh the red Sea: but is now found in many places, as in Germanie, in Irelande, and in the North parts and quarters, and is of colour as cleare as the Cristall. It is called Iris for likeloode to the Rainebow, which being touched & stricken of the Sunne his beames, under any covert doth represent and shewe both the figure and colours of the Rainebow upon the wall next to it, and that oppositely, as Diascorides saith, it hath the same force and working that the Berill hath, but is not in quantitie so great.

Of the Stone Kaman

Kaman, the stone may well be called a turncote, for that it is now blacke, now white, now shamefast & blushing. And is in colours very diverse, and therfore it is called Kama, as you would say in Greeke Kauma soone kindled. It is found in hote places, and especially in those that have good store of Brimstone and be Sulphureous: as Diascorides reporteth. It helpeth sayth he the dropsie: and is easie to be engraven and carved in.

Of the stone Ligurius

Ligurius, is a stone in colour lyke to Tin. It is engendred in the entrailes and privities of Lynx the wilde Beast, and is of that vertue that it draweth to it any offall chaffe or straw. It also helpeth paine in the stomack, and bewrayeth Venome or Poyson.

Of the Lodestone

The Lodestone commeth from Indie, and is almost Iron colour like. It is founde most rife amongst the Trogloditas people, in the furthest part of Affrick, beyond Aethiopia, who are saide to dwell in Caves, and to eate Serpents flesh. It draweth Iron to it, even as one Lover cueteth and desireth an other. The common people therefore having sometime seene this so done by secret and unknowne working, have iudged and reputed ye Iron lively. There is another kind of Lodestone in Thessalie, that is of contrarie set and disposition, which will have non of Iron, nor will meddle with it. But for the other that is reckned principall and best, which in colour is blue. Saint Augustine saith, that if any man put under any vessel eyther golden or brasse, or holde under these any peece of Iron, and lay above the vessels or upon them this Lodestone, that even through the verie motion or moving of the stone underneath, the Iron shall move up and meete with it as nigh as the vessell wil suffer at the verie top.

Of the Margaret

The Margaret of all Gemmes, those which be in their kindes white, is esteemed the chiefest: as Isidore consenteth, with others herein. Which kinde he will also have thus named, for that is founde growing in the meate of certain shell fishes, and those of the Sea, as in the Sea Snaile, and in the greatest Oyster, and such like as have their shell. It is engendred of a certain heavenly dewe, which in a certaine time of the yeare, both the Sea Snaile and the Cockle doe take and drik up. Of the which kinde of stone certaine are called Vnions, for that by one and one, they be founde, and never above one: there be some of these also seene sometimes yellow, but the other are the verie best.

Of the Marble

The Marble by Greeke worde and name is interpreted greene. There are Marbles in great and huge bignesse, and length: which are of many esteemed and had in reputation for their spottes and colours. The sorts and kinds of Marble are infinite: for not every of them are hewen forth out of Rockes: but many be dispersed under the earth, as the Marble with the Lacedemonians, which is both greene and precious: So likewise that kinde of Marble which is called Ophites, which hath spottes like a Serpent, is much esteemed. Of Ophites two sortes are mentioned: the first white and soft, the other black and hard. There is another kinde almost Corall like, found in Asia, having certaine blottes besprent upon it and about it proporcionally. There is also a Thebane Marble dipped here and there, and dyed like in maner to golden droppes, and is found in a part of Aegypt. There are other kindes also which breede and have the very rocks to be their shop houses, as ye Marble in Corinth, whereof whole Pillars and great Beames are made. And there is another Marble called Caristeum verie greene, having his name of his good looke, for that it is avayleable to their eyesight that engrave therein. The greene colour hereof refresheth the eies. Marble therefore is more sounde, more faire, more profitable than any other stones are, with Lead and not with Iron (contrarie to all others wont) all stones of Marble are hewen and cut, which thing is marveilous. For neyther with Steele nor yet with Iron, neyther with Mallet nor cutting Shears, neyther with Sawe by any force or striving withall, it is subdued.

Of Nesorpora or Todes stone 

Nesorpora is astone of Pontus, verie preciuos, marveilous white, and as they say, it is found in a Todes heade, out of the which it is plucked and taken forth, and is purified by lying a certaine space steeping in strong wines and running water, as Diascorides beareth witnesse. In this stone is apparantly seene verie often the verie form of a Tode, with bespotted and coloured feete, but those uglye and defusedly. It is available against invenoming.

Of Onix or Onichus

Onix of some Onichus, is stone of Indie and Arabie, having colours all about it intermedled verie like to a mans naile: wherupon the Greekes call our naile Onikin. That of Indie hath a colour like to fire, & is dyed with white Vaines or Zones. That of Arabie is black, yet died with white Lines or Zones. It hath many kindes of Sardonix, so called for that by commixture of the Onix which is white and Sardus which is red, it becometh but one of them both. It being borne about one, riddeth him of feare: and in maner of a Glasse it sheweth a mans visage, as saith Diascorides.

Of Oppalus

Oppalus (as saith Diascorides) is a stone in colour like to very many, and those cleane contrarie Gems. For it representeth in some part as good a greene colour as the Smaragde: in some other part it looketh like Purple, and in another part like to a whote Cole as the Carbuncle doth.

Of Pirrites

Pirrites is a kinde of stone, yealow, like to the fire his flame, and in the qualitie almost all one with the fire: for the which I suppose it tooke his name, it is soone kindled and set on fire. It also sparckleth, and being hardly holden & pressed in any mans hande burneth him fore or he percieveth it. Wherupon the Lapidare hath these two Verses.

The Pirrite must with easie hand And marvellous soft enholden be: For being prest and helde to hard Doth burne thy flesh or ere thou se.

Of the Rubie

The Rubie is a stone which of some is supposed to be found in the Crabs heade, most commonly red, yet not withstanding sometimes found in yealow colour. It availeth against the biting of the Scorpion and Weasell, if it be applied thereto plaister like.

Of the Sapphir

The Sapphir is Skie coloured or blew, like to the Skie in the most faire weather. It is one of the Noblest and royall sorts amongst al Gemmes, and most meete to be worne onely upon Kings and Princes fingers. This for his soveraigntie of the Lapidare, is called ye Gem of Gemmes. It is found most especially in Indie, although that sometimes, otherwhere. Cardane sayth, that it is next and above the Adamant in reputation: first or last in the degree of those Gemmes that be noble and precious: he sayth also, it is good (if it be not otherwise overlaide) to the eiesight, and that nothing in the whole worlde, doth more recreate or delight the eies than Smaradge & Sapphir doe. Albartus Magnus saith, that he hath proved it twise, that with the onely touching of this precious stone, the partie so diseased, hath bene rid of the grievous sore the Carbuncle. It is mervelously effectuous against al venome. Wherefore, if thou put a Spider into a Bor, and upon the mouth of the Bor, being shut thou layest the true Sapphir and keepe the Spyder but a verie shorte time within the same, the Spider being vanquished and overcome by such mean of close vertue dieth sodainly. In olde time it was consecrated onelye to Apollo: for the which they thought their businesse in Warres and affaires at home might be the sooner ended, if through such meanes they had enriched and honoured him, who by Oracle in all things those which were waightiest made only the aunswere.

Of the Samradge

The Smaradge hath his name of his excellent and fresh greene colour. For everye thing that is grassie greene, is properly called in Greeke Smaron. It passeth both the leafe and bough of any Tree or plant in this his colour, and in this poynt alone triumphet, neyther is the Sunne by his Sunne beames, any let or hinderance to this his shew. There is no greater refection to the eies than the sight of this. It being polished and dressed, sheweth a man his lively image, whereupon the valiant Caefar had no greater delight, than in looking on this, to see his Warriours fight, and to behold in the Smaragde which of them went best to worke, and was moste active. Isidore sayth, that there be. xii. kindes hereof, but the moste noble is found in Scithia, the next in Bactria. This stone sayth Cardane, serveth to devination, and to tell of a certaintie, things to come, or otherwise. For that that shall come to passe, it will never let it sincke or slip out of minde, and that shall not, it easily suffereth the minde to forget.

Of the Topaze

The Topaze as Plinie sayth, is a Gem of grassie colour: although that in Germanie it is found like to Golde. It was first found in Arabie, in a certaine Ilande there: whereas the people Troglodite such as live by Snakes flesh and other Serpents, being compelled thorow verie extreeme hunger: and they also beeing on the water or Sea, drive thither by tempest, and so both weared and hungrie, digging up the Rootes of certain Hearbes, by hap and chance pulled up this. This Iland afterwards was sought of Mariners and Marchants, and was ransaked where as they founde (having had of them knowledge hereof) their best Marchandise. After that, for those peoples sake, by whom they had so wonne and done so well, they would never chaunge the name hereof, but after their proper and peculiar speach called it a Topaze. For Topazein in Greeke is as much, as to finde by seeking. Plinie sayth, that it hath bene found of that bignesse and quantitie that Philadelphus is saide to have framed, and made thereof a statue or Image in lenght of foure Cubits.

Of the Turches

The Turches or Turcois, is of the common sort called Eranus. It is in colour airelike or like to the Heavens, and looketh cleare also as sayth Cardane. It is called a Turches for that it is only found in Turkland or amongst the Turkes. This hath such vertue and hid maner in working, that it supporteth and sustaineth, being worne in a ring, a man from falling of his horse, and is saide of the above saide Author to receyve the daunger of the fal it self, and to breake and burst in sunder, rather than the man should fall and miscarie.

The Precious Stones of John Maplet’s Greene Forest, part 1

In 1567 John Maplet published a book with the title A greene Forest, or a naturall Historie, Wherein may bee seene first the most sufferaigne Vertues in all the whole kinde of Stones & Mettals. In the first part of his book he gives a description of nearly 80 stones and metals. Some of these are still well known to us today, some are long forgotten.

In the past readers of this web log may have come across strange names of stones in Cornelius Agrippa’s Books of Occult Philosophy or William Lilly’s Christian Astrology. Descriptions of most of these gemstones can be found in John Maplet’s book.  To make this knowledge widely available I will reproduce the most interesting bits here.

Of the Adamant Stone

The Adamant is a Stone of Inde, small and rare, in colour like to Iron; but in cleare reflection and representation of image more Christall like: It is founde in bignesse of a Walnut, and never above: It yeeldeth or giveth place to nothing; neither is it heat by iron or fire. Wherfore the Greekes call it Fickleforce, for that it can not be brought under. But whiles it is invincible or can not be wonne that way: yet notwithstanding with the warme and freshe blood of the Goate, it breaketh and riveth in sunder. It differeth from the Lode Stone for that the Adamant placed neare any iron, will not suffer it to be drawn away of the Lode Stone. Diascorides saith that is called the Stone of reconsiliation and love: for (saith he) that woman that hath withdrawne hir love from hir husband, by this, is brought to love him anew: yea, it goeth furder: for it is said to give proufe whether she be chast or no: for if she be say they, she shal whylest she is in sleepe imbrace hir husband through the working of this stone, if not, she shall flie and go back from him.

Of Alabaster

Alabaster, as saith Isidore, in his xvi. bwke and fift Chapter, is a white kinde of stone died, and bespotted among with divers & sundrie colours. Hereof are made vessels to keepe and containe all Ointments uncorrupt, wherin they be most purely and safely preserved. It groweth about Thebis and Damascum, and especiallye that which is whitest. But the best of this kinde is brought from Indie. It being borne about one, say some, keepeth him in amitie and charitie with all men.

Of the Amitist

The Amitist also groweth in Indie: It is Princes among those Gemes that be Purple coloured. Diascorides sayth, that there be five kindes thereof: but that which is Purple coloured, he reckeneth the chiefest. His force or vertue availeth against drunkenesse, it kepeth a man waking, and driveth away ill cogitations and thouhts, it sharpeth the understanding. And is also one of those sortes that is easie to engrave in.

Of Achates

Achates is a kinde of Gemme, but lack in colour, enterlined here & there with white vaines: and it is called Achates of a certaine floud of that name in Cicilie, about the which floud this Achates was first found. There is a certain kind hereof seene sometimes in Crete as Diascorides witnesseth, having strokes on eche side like to blew vaines. There is another kinde in Indie bespotted on everie parte with spottes like bloud. That of Crete is said to make a man gracious, and to bring him in favour. That of Indie is gwd for the eiesight it remedieth venome, and being put into the fire is odoriferus.

Of  the Stone Albeston

Albeston is a stone of Archadie, in yron colour, having gotten his name of the fire, for that it being once set on fire, can never after be quenched or put out: Whereof in olde time was built that kind of worke Mechanicall, whereas the Gentiles being once taken in sacriledge, dyed. Isidore sayth in his xvi. bwke, that in a certaine temple of Venus there was made and hung up such a Candlesticke, wherein was a light burning on that wise, that no tempest nor storme could put it out, & he beleveth that this Candlesticke had somewhat of Albeston beset within.

Of Amatites

Amatites is that kinde of Gemme, that touching a mans Vesture or Garment, it maketh it able to resist fire: so that it being afterwards cast into ye fire hath no power to burne, but though the fires brightnesse becommeth more bright it selfe. Thus saith Isidore in his xvi. bwk.

Of Astrion

Astrion is a Gem, founde first in Indie, of verie nigh consanguinitie with the Christall, in whose Centre or middle point: as saith Diascorides, a certaine light is seene shining, without reflexion much like to the Moone. The same Author also thinketh that this light that it has, it taketh of the starres, against ye which it is helden.

Of the Berill

Berill is a stone rare, but not so precious, for it alone groweth in Indie: it is founde greene like to the Smaradge. It is first found also raw and rude without eyther good looke or pleasant shelve, but afterwards it is better polished of them of Indie, and they use to polish it in maner and forme of Angle or Corner, to the intent that through ye dullnesse of his owne colour, this maner might shew some glittring the light having his stay in everie eche corner: Some say, they fashion it at the first seaven cornered: and otherwise they say it shimmereth not. There is also another kinde of Berill, which of the Greeke worde is called Golden Berill, as sayth Diascorides, whose interchanged greene colour resembleth almost the wan and yelow colour of Golde. They say that this being borne about a man, and being put now and than to his eies, kepeth a man out of perill of his enimies.

Of the Corall

The Corall groweth in the red Sea, and so long as it is and hath his being in the waters, it is a kinde of Wood, but by and by after that it is taken forth of the water and cometh into the ayre (and his reach) it hardeneth, and becommeth a stone. His boughes under the water are espied white and tender: and being by chaunce through holdefast Nets in part or parcell brought to lande, chaunge also their colour and become red, and for their feeling, are as hard stones. Isidore in his. xvi. bwke. The Mages reporte that it resisteth Lightninges. Therefore even as much worth and of estimation as is the precious Margaret, that, that cometh from Indie, so much worth and in estimatio, like wise is the Coral we them of Indie. Hereof are said to be two onely kindes, the one red & the other white: this last is never found in bignesse & in length more than halfe a fwte: that other often bigger and longer. They say that it is of power to rid us from all divelishe dreams and pievish fantasies.

Of the Carbuncle

The Carbuncle is a stone very precious, so called for that (like to a fierie cole) it giveth light, but especially in the night  season: it so warreth with the pupill or the eiesight, that it sheweth manifolde reflexions. It has as some say. xv. kindes: but those most precious that come nigh the Carbuncles nature: it is found in Libia.

Of the Cristall

The Cristall is one of those stones that shyneth in everie part, and is in colour waerie. Isidore saith, that it is nothing else then a congeled Ise by continuance frosen whole yeares. It groweth in Asia and Cyperus, and especially upon the Alpes and highe Mountains of the North Pole. It engendreth not so much of the waters coldnesse, as of the earthinesse mixt withall. His propertie is to abide nothing in qualitie contrarie to it selfe: therefore it is delighted only with colde.

Of the Diamond

The Diamond is one of those that be counted something precious, it is in colour almost Christallike but somewhat more resplendishing, and is as gwd (if it be of any bignesse) as a looking glasse. Iorach calleth it an other eie: such certaintie & truth giveth it in things done in his presence.

Of Dracontides

Dracontides as his name also mentioneth, is plucked forth of the heade or braine of a Dragon, which onely is in bright and fierie colour (as sayth Isidore) as long as, it is come by, the Dragon being alive: wherfore the Mages skilled in this point, cut it forth out of the Dragon his braine, he being by meanes cast in to sleepe. The moste bolde and adventerous men, are said, to seeke out the lurking holes of the Dragon, and whilest that the Dragon is from home, these men bestrew his Lodge with certaine Graine, which being recieved of the Dragon, bringeth him into a deade sleepe. And whilest they have thus brought their purpose to passe they rippe in sunder the noddle of his head to take forth the Gem, and after that sow it up againe and so depart.

Of  Echites

Echites is a stone both of Indie and Persia, which in the shore and Sea banckes of the Ocean, in the verie bosome of the Indian and Persian Sea, it is found: it is in colour Violet like: And there is a paire of them, Male & Female, and be most commonly found both togither in the Eagles nest, without the which the Eagle can not bring forth hir yong: and therfore kepeth them, as most necessarie in this behalfe alwaies in hir Nest. These stones bound to a womans bodie, being with childe, do hasten childe birth. And Iorach saith, that if any man have these or one of these, and put it under that mans meate or trencher that he suspecteth to be in fault of any thing: If that he be guiltie, he shall not be able through this to swallowe downe his meate: If not saith he, he may.

Of Elutropia

Elutropia is a Gemme, in colour greene, or grassie, in part coloured and bespotted with Purple speckes & bloud coloured vaines. This is a marvellous Jugler, for it wil cause things obiect to be presented to our eies as it lifteth. It being put into a Basan of water chaungeth to a mans eiesight the Sunne his beames, and giveth them a contrarie colour. Being also mooved and beaten in the ayre, maketh to appeare a bloudie Sunne, and darkneth the ayre in maner of an Eclipse: and therfore it is called Eloutropia as you would say, the Sunne his enimie. There is of this name also a certaine Hearbe which Enchaunters & Witches have oftentimes used, and doe use, as also that above said, whereby they have mocked and deluded many, which by meanes and working and enchauntment, have so dazeled the beholders eies, that they have gone by them invisibly.

to be continued…………………..