The present text has already been translated into English over at digitalambler.com. However, I learn best by translating a next myself, and so I have undertaken to make a fresh version. I hope others will also benefit from having two translations available to compare and contrast.
This Book of Runes (as its editor has entitled it) is, for its length, a fairly comprehensive handbook of astral magic. It was composed in the 15th century, presumably in Northern Europe where runes were still in use; in spirit, however, it continues the tradition of planetary talismans or ‘image magic’ that Latin Christians had derived from Arabic sources around the 12th century. Thus, its tone is neither overtly Christian nor tangibly Nordic, but non-sectarian or philosophical, and the names it gives to the astral spirits closely resemble those from Arabic works, like the Liber Antimaquis.
It teaches, in short, the names of twelve “parts of the signs” overlapping the twelve zodiac signs; twenty-three runes and their connection to the parts, the zodiac and the elements (triplicities); the names of the angels of the seven planets; a cryptographic method for inscribing these names in runes on talismans; some materials these talismans may be made of; and the formula for invoking the angels or spirits to accomplish works appropriate to their planets. One especially rich manuscript (Pal. lat. 1439, off-site link) also includes some unrelated astrological symbols for use in talismans, which I include in the last three sections of this page.
(1) To receive an understanding of the operations (experimenta) whose efficacy is caused by the influence of heaven or of the planets, one should know, in short, what the zodiac is, what a sign, what a degree, what a decan (facies), what a triplicity is, and everything else that is common (knowledge) among us; hence, I omit this. And what the order of the planets is and so on, I omit.¹ But I go on to more needful things, the above said being received and understood.
1: For these subjects, see section 4.
(2) Now, we must speak about the names of the parts of the signs from which the characters that are called runes are derived:
- Thus, you must know that the stars which are in the end of Aries and in the head and belly¹ of Taurus are called Salmadis.
- But those which are in the end of Taurus and in the head and belly of Gemini are called Lathlym.
- The end of Gemini together with the head and belly of Cancer are called Celech.
- Rohob are the stars in the end of Cancer and in the head and belly of Leo.
- Ayleyl is the name of the end of Leo and the head and belly of Virgo.
- Alyobe is the end of Virgo with the head and belly of Libra.
- But the end of Libra with the head and belly of Scorpio is called Affoguil.
- Whereas Baltharie are the stars in the end of Scorpio and in the head and in the belly of Sagittarius.
- Hanapel is the end of Sagittarius with the head and belly of Capricorn.
- Balyoel is the end of Capricorn and the head and belly of Aquarius.
- Cariophel is the end of Aquarius with the head and belly of Pisce.
- Rynybel is the end of Pisces with the head and belly of Aries.
1: The head is the first decan (1–10°),
the belly the second (11–20°),
the end the last (21–30°) of a given sign.
(3) Now that you have the names of the parts of the signs from which the runes are derived, we must consider their separations and natures. You must note, namely, that Salmadis is divided into two parts, of which the first is the end of Aries, and the second is the head and belly of Taurus. Also understand the same thing of Lathlym, that its first part is the end of Taurus, and the second the head and belly of Gemini. And all the other parts of the signs in order must be understood in the same way.
- ᛆ ᛒ : So, from Salmadis are derived to characters, of which the first is called Ar (Old Norse ár), the second Byerke (ON bjarkan). The first is extracted from the first part of Salamadis and is fiery, the second from the second and is earthy.
- ᚴ ᛑ : From Lathlym two, Kon (ON kaun) and Tyr Stungen (ON tyr stunginn). The first is from the first part of Lathlym, and is earthy, the second is from the second part, and is airy.
- ᛂ ᚠ : From Celech two, that is, Stugnen Is (ON íss stunginn) and Foe (ON fé). The first is from the first part, and is airy, the second is from the second part, and is watery. And in the same waay, in each part of the signs, two characters are derived, except for Rynybel, from which only Zazir is taken.
- [g]¹ ᚼ : From Rohob, two characters are taken, which are called Koen (ON kaun) and Hagel (ON hagall); the first is watery, the second fiery.
- ᛁ ᛒ : From Aylel two, Iys (ON íss) and Byarke (ON bjarkan); the first is fiery, the second earthy.
- ᛚ ᛘ : From Alyobe two, Lager (ON logr) and Mather (ON maðr); the first is earthy, the second airy.
- ᚿ ᚮ : From Affoguil two, Noth (ON nauð) and Oos (ON óss); the first is airy, the second watery.
- ᛔ [q]¹ : From Baltharie two, Bierke Stungen (ON bjarkan stunginn) and Byerke Blesend (ON bjarkan …?); the first is watery, the second fiery.
- ᚱ ᛍ : From Hanapel two, Rether (ON reið) and Sol (ON sól); the first is fiery, the second earthy.
- ᛐ ᚢ : From Balyoel two, Tir (ON tyr) and Ur (ON úr); the first is earthy, the second airy.
- [x]¹ [y]¹ : From Cariophel two, Xers and Yois; the first is airy, the second watery.
- [z]¹ : From Rynybel, which is the end of Pisces and the head and belly of Aries, only one character is derived, namely Zazir, which is watery.
1: These rune shapes appear to be unique to this text; see section 3.
(4) Now that we have seen the natures of the characters, it is necessary to see how these characters are to be used in place of Latin letters in the composition of the names of the spirits of the planets, by whose mediation any operation (opus experimentacionis) is effected. It will be thus, I say, if someone knows how to find the influence from supercelestial bodies appropriate to such a work. Therefore, note that these 23 characters derived from the stars are used in place of the 23 characters of the Latins, in this manner, that the first of the former is used in place of the first of the latter, the second for the second, and so on, according to the order of the characters. That is, to give an example, Ar is be used for A, Byerke for B, and so on for the rest.¹
1: See section 3.
(5) And you should note that it is not useful to do any operation using a given planet, unless it is something pertaining to it, whether good or evil. But let us see what operation should be done through through each of the planets:
- In the hour of Saturn and his sign, those operations which belong to Saturn are done, like deceptions, ruinations, curses (maleficia) and things like these.
- In the hour of Jupiter and his sign, those operations which belong to Jupiter are done, like wealth, reconciliation and justice.
- In the hour of Mars and his sign, those operations which belong to Mars are done, like acts of revenge, dissensions, grudges and battles.
- In the hour of the Sun and his sign, those operations which belong to the Sun are done, like praise, rulership and power.
- In the hour of Venus and her sign, those operations which belong to Venus are done, like entertainment, delight, joy and all things that aim at diversion.
- In the hour of Mercury and his sign, those operations which belong to Mercury are done, like those which are for the sake of wealth, like business, computation and learning.
- Through the Moon, you can do an operation for every matter, even if it is in the house of any (other) planet to which such an operation may seem to pertain.
(6) Next in line, we must consider the angels of the planets. And you must know that ever planet has an angel by whose mediation it influences and acts among the lower beings which receive its impressions. And the names of these angels are the following:
- The name of the angel of Saturn is Atelateyl.
- But the angel of Jupiter is called Lachleym.
- The angel of Mars is Mamarayl.
- The angel of the Sun is Machmereyl.
- The angel of Venus is Behonydyn.
- The angel of Mercury is Antyym.
- The name of the angel of the Moon is Lyeleyl.
(7) Now that you have the names of the spirits of the planets, we must see how these names must be engraved into the metals or stones attributed to the planets through the characters, so that the natures of the characters follow each other, like the signs and triplicities; that is, fiery signs are written before earthy, and airy before watery in these compositions and engravings, so that Aries, which is a fiery sign, is placed before Taurus, which is earthy, and Gemini, which is airy, is placed before Cancer, which is watery. And note that two characters of one and the same nature shall never stand together in the engraving, that is, neither two nor more (characters) of one triplicity shall stand together. You must begin from any character, of whichever nature or triplicity is, according to the exigency of the engravings.¹
1: I.e., beginning from the element assigned to the first letter, the subequent letters of the word must observe the order fiery, earthy, airy, watery. If they conflict with this order, they must be replaced.
(8a) Now, we must speak about the changing of the characters derived from the stars according to the differences of the parts of the signs, the manner in which a replacing character (figura subintrans) is written in place of a conflicting character (figura obstans), and how the changing of the characters is accomplished – which is nothing other than the removal of a conflicting character and the appropriate placing of a another, replacing character.
But to understand the different (elements of this) change, note that, of the derived characters, some are said to be standing as themselves (per se stantes), others are called conflicting, and some again replacing:
- Characters standing as themselves are those which require no change and are are appropriately written in the engraving according to the exigency of good composition.
- Conflicting characters are those which cannot be written in the engraving because it would confuse the order of the characters.
- Replacing characters which are correctly written in place of the conflicting ones.
Also note that characters which stand as themselves can become conflicting and the reverse, and likewise, replacing characters can come to stand as themselves or conflict.¹
1: I.e., these properties are contextual, not inherent to the runes.
And concerning the characters which stand for themselves, you should know that they should not be changed and are always written in the engraving without change, and they make the engraver ascend the circle or the parts of the signs through which they descend, that is, to the characters which are derived from the parts of the circle, that is, the zodiac, in respect to the characters which are written in the engraving.
But because this manner of engraving may well seem difficult to some hearers and readers, its manner is made clear in the name of the angel of the Moon and of Venus, which are engraved in this order.¹
1: These examples are missing in the text, but see section 3.
Also note that the replacing characters, which are written in place of the conflicting ones, always should be taken from the lower parts of the (zodiacal) circle relative to that part from which the character standing for itself is derived.
(8b) So, when it should please you to do an operation through some planet, write the name of the angel of the Moon (=Lyeleyl) and of that planet, observing everything outlined above. And when you have written them, you shall invoke the angels by their names, “O Lyeleyl and Behonydyn” or “Machmereyl”, or whichever angel it may be, “I invoke you by the power of the First Cause, which emanates and brings forth all things into being, that you may do this thing for me”, and name the thing you are requesting, and you will attain it if you have done the operation correctly.
(9) But since there bodies of different kinds that can be given markings or characters of this kind, namely plants, gems and metals, let us see which are assigned to each planet:
- And, briefly speaking, lead¹ belongs to Saturn, […]
- Stannum (silver-lead alloy):¹ Jupiter has a share together with the Moon, and in it, things for good purpose (or ‘benevolence’), but not for anything evil, are made.
- Copper belongs to Venus, and Mars also has a share in it,
- In iron and steel (adamas), Mars together with Venus has a share, and in these, things for good purpose and favor are made.
- Gold belongs to the Sun. With it, the hearts of people are softened and their inclinations are harmonized, and a talisman (ymago) made from this is very powerful for good purpose. If you make a bracelet from it and engrave the name of the angel of the Sun in the requisite manner, all who see the one who carries it will love and fear that person.
- Quicksilver¹ belongs to Mercury. It is part of many good preparations, but this is not the place to speak about it. However, if you sprinkle it in a bed where two lovers lie, they will hate each other. The alchemistsm make much use of it.
- Silver belongs to the Moon, and in it, talismans (ymagines) and engravings (sculpture) for friendship and safety of will are made.
1: Exposure to lead and quicksilver is a serious health risk.
(10) Now it remains only to give examples of engravings from the foregoing, and I will give only one, namely from Venus. On its pattern, you will be able to operate through whichever planet you wish, as has been said above. And it is this:
- That you engrave the name of the angel of the Moon and that of Venus, and the name of a girl or woman, in a leaf of stannum, or of silver, which is better.
- When you have written these things, bury the leaf in a place of fire, so that it will always be warm, but the heat of the fire also does not destroy the engraving.
- And then you do this: invoke the angels, as explained above, and add after that: “Now burn the heart of such-and-such with the fire of love for me, just as this tablet is inflamed by the fire!” You shall invoke this seven times.
- And you will obtain the effect of your operation if you have done it well.
I leave everything else to the intellect, because enough has been said here for the intelligent, lest I seem to be revealing philosophical secrets to the ignorant. Therefore, brief expressions of this art may suffice, so they may be captured acutely by the memory of the operator.
And here is the end.
3 Shapes and application of the runes
The runes used in this text are basically those of the medieval futhork, which was coordinated with the Latin alphabet, but there are some unique features, most obviously including some rather unique letters for X, Y and Z:
However, for the practical purposes of the book, the X and Z are not needed, and the written-out examples in manuscript Pal. lat. 1439 uses the same rune for Y as for I.
Some of the less used letters have taken on a rather odd shape; see N and T below. Presumably, these became distorted over the course of the manuscript tradition.
Most interesting, however, are the group of runes for B, C, G, K, P and Q, which are essentially all based on two runes, ᛒ (bjarkan) and ᚴ (kaun). Their primary use is to stand in for B and C, but the rune for G also takes the name kaun, although it is graphically based on the Roman G (see below) rather than the dotted kaun ᚵ of the medieval futhork, which one would expect here. Further, the name bjarkan and a variant form of ᛒ are used for K, probably based purely on graphical similarity. P is represented by a rune called bjarkan stunginn, ordinarily written as ᛔ, although here appearing in a different form (see below). Finally, Q is also named as a variation on bjarkan, but its form is (as far as I am aware) entirely unique. In fact, it differs significantly among the manuscripts.
Given the variation between the copies of the text that have come down to us (), it does not seem like the specific forms matter too much. Where the transmitted letters diverge drastically from the medieval futhork, this its at least partially due to copyist’s errors.
Rune shapes used in Pal. lat. 1439
The elements assigned to each character
A (ᛆ): fiery
B (ᛒ), C (ᚴ): earthy
D (ᛑ), E (ᛂ): airy
F (ᚠ), G (ᚵ): watery
H (ᚼ), I (ᛁ): fiery
K (ᛒ or ᛕ), L (ᛚ): earthy
M (ᛘ), N (ᚿ): airy
O (ᚮ), P (ᛔ): watery
Q (ᛩ), R (ᚱ): fiery
S (ᛍ), T (ᛐ): earthy
V (ᚢ), X: airy
Y (ᛁ), Z: watery
(I have substituted ᚵ and ᛩ for the odd symbols of the Book of Runes.)
Examples of how to change the characters
The manuscript Pal. lat. 1439 also includes worked out runic spellings of the spirits’ names, but these must be used with care. They are based on different forms of the names than I have included in the text above, and they contain errors. For instance:
The basis of this spelling is not Atelateyl, but Acelaceyl (c and t are easy to confuse in many medieval Roman scripts). Besides, one sign is missing: it should read ᛆ·ᛐ·ᛂ·ᚮ·ᛆ·ᛐ·ᛂ·ᛁ·ᛩ = ACEOACEYQ (I am using ᛩ = Q for the final sign for the sake of convenience). We get there as follows, using the rules of chapters 7 and 8a:
- A is fiery.
- Consequently, the next letter must be earthy; C satisfies this, so it can stand for itself.
- The next letter must be airy, which again E satisfies.
- But the fourth letter must be watery, whereas L is earthy, which means it is conflicting. Instead, then, we use the next watery letter, O, as a replacing character.
- The next three letters repeat the same same pattern (ATE).
- Y is watery, so it can stand.
- Instead of the final L, we need a fiery character, so we use Q.
Here, we have ᛚ·ᛘ·ᚮ·ᚼ·ᛚ·ᛂ·ᛁ·ᛩ = LMOHLEYQ.
- Here, the sequence LAC is replaced by the first airy and watery signs after L (not those after A and C, but in the “lower part of the circle”, per chapter 7).
- HLEY stands.
- And M is replaced by Q.
ᛘ·ᚮ·ᚱ·ᛍ·ᛘ·ᚢ·ᛁ·ᛩ = MORSMUYQ.
- MORS is just the airy, water, fiery and earthy letters beginning from M in a row.
- But then we should have not MUYQ, but UYQL.
In all, the correct engraving would seem to be ᛘ·ᚮ·ᚱ·ᛍ·ᚢ·ᛁ·ᛩ·ᛚ = MORSUYQL or, ignoring the “lower part of the circle” rule, ᛘ·ᚠ·ᚱ·ᛒ·ᚢ·ᚠ·ᛩ·ᛚ = MFRBUFQL (as a variant later in the manuscript has it).
ᛘ·ᚮ·ᚱ·ᛍ·ᛘ·ᚮ·ᚱ·ᛍ·ᛂ·ᚮ = MORSMORSEO.
- Twice the sequence MORS initiated by the M in Math– and –mere-.
- Then E, one of the next airy signs after Y, and O, the next watery sign after L.
ᛒ·ᛂ·ᚮ·ᚱ·ᛍ·ᛂ·ᚠ·ᛩ·ᛍ = BEORSEFQS. The second E (ᛂ) has been misspelled as an A (ᛆ).
- BE (earthy and airy) stands, H is replaced by O (watery), O by R (fiery).
- N is replaced by S (earthy), Y by E (airy), D by F (watery), I by Q (fiery).
- Finally, N by S (earthy).
ᛆ·ᛒ·ᛂ·ᛁ·ᛩ·ᚱ (misspelled as ᛆ·ᛒ·ᛆ·ᛁ·ᛩ·ᚱ) = ABEYQR.
- A (fiery) is retained; NT is replaced by BE (earthy and airy); Y (watery) stands.
- Y (or rather I?) is replaced by Q, and M (incorrectly!) by R.
The correct substitution is ᛆ·ᛒ·ᛂ·ᛁ·ᛩ·ᛍ = ABEYQS (as per a variant later in the manuscript).
ᛚ·ᛂ·ᚠ·ᚱ·ᛍ·ᛂ·ᚮ = LEFRSEO (E is misspelled as A both times).
- L (earthy) stands; Y is replaced by E (airy), and E by F (watery), while L is replaced by R (fiery).
- E is replaced by S (surprisingly), Y by A, and L by O.
Later, the manuscript offers the preferable variant ᛚ·ᛂ·ᚠ·ᚱ·ᛕ·ᛂ·ᚮ = LEFRKEO.
The manuscript at this point (off-site link) repeats the seven names in runic spelling thrice more, with some variations (which I have not had the leisure to investigate closely, though I may do so in the future).
If you use the names I employed in my main text, you will have to adjust some of the runic spellings.
4 Appendix A: basics of astrology (from one manuscript)
The zodiac is an oblique circle divided into twelve queal parts, which have been designated the twelve signs by the philosophers:
- A sign is a twelfth of the zodiac.
- A degree is a thirtieth of a sign.
- A decan (facies) is a third of a sign.
Concerning the triplicity, you should know that every three signs which agree in one and the same nature, constitute one triplicity. For instance, the following three, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, constitute one triplicity, because a triplicity is the agreement of three signs in similar qualities, and so, four triplicities are distinguished in the signs.
- The first of these is fiery, which consists of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
- The second is earthy, and consists of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.
- The third is airy, and consists of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.
- The fourth is watery, and consists of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.
Again, the qualities and triplicities of the signs are contained in the following verses:
“Leo, Aries and Sagittarius are warm and dry (=fiery),
Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are cold and dry (=earthy),
Libra, Gemini and Aquarius are warm and wet (=airy),
Scorpio, as well as Pisces and Cancer, are cold and wet (=water).”
Est Leo sic Aries calidus siccusque Sagittarius
frigidus et siccus Thaurus Virgo Capricornus
nempe Libra calet Gemini et Aquarius humet
Scorpio cum Pisce Cancro frigescit et humet.
But the order and names of these signs are made clear in the following verses:
“It is: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo,
And Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius,¹ Pisces.”
Est Aries Thaurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo
Libraque Scorpius Architenenes Caper Anphora Pisces.
1: Architenens and Sagittarius both mean Archer,
Caper means Goat, Capricorn Goat-Horned,
Amphora means Water Pitcher, Aquarius Water-Carrier.
Now we must speak about the order of the planets and their qualities. To understand them, you must note that there are seven erratic stars, which are regarded as lords and rulers of the higher and lower spheres, because the higher spheres change and transform the lower; and they are called planets, meaning errant, Greek planes being error in Latin, because they make their course, sometimes forwards, sometimes backwards, independently of the firmament.
These planets possess seven circles or spheres, which are called heavens:
- In the highest circle, which is the farthest from the Earth, Saturn is located, whose nature is cold and dry, without temperation.
- In the following circle, Jupiter is located, whose nature is hot and wet, in temperation.
- In the third circle in descending order, Mars is located, in whom there are hot and dry qualities, without temperation.
- In the fourth circle, the Sun is located, whose nature is hot and dry, in temperation.
- In the fifth sphere, Lucifer (the Morningstar) is located, which by another name is called Venus, and whose nature is cold and wet, in temperation.
- In the sixth cirle, the star Mercury is located, equal to the Sun in speed, mixed from the nature of (all) the planets.
- In the seventh sphere, which is the closest to Earth, the Moon is located: cold, wet, and windy.
Again, the qualities of the planets are contained in the following verses:
“Cold, dry Saturn causes bad temperation, behold!
The hot star Jupiter causes temperation and moisture.
Hot, dry Mars distempers the troops of war.
The Sun, which tempers and rules the sphere, is hot and dry.
Wet, freezing Venus, I say, tempers the art.
Mercury turns the sphere towards any given sign.
The wet and shining cold Moon gives forth wind.”
Frigens Saturnus siccus distemperat ecce
temperat hic calidus at humet Iupiter astris
Mars calidus siccus distemperat agmina belli
Sol calidus siccus qui temperat et regit orbem
humida frigescens Venus, inquam, temperat artem
quodlibet ad signum vertit Mercurius orbem
humida dat ventum resplendens frigida Luna.
5 Appendix B: sample invocations (from two manuscripts)
Example concerning Jupiter: “O Lyeleyl and Lathleym, I invoke you by the power of the First Cause, which emanates and brings forth all things into being, that you may do this thing for me, etc.”
(Mercury.) “O Lyeleyl and Antyym, I invoke you by the power of the First Cause, etc., …”
Example concerning the Sun: “O Lyeleyl and Machmereyl, I invoke you by the power of the First Cause, etc., …”
(Jupiter.) “O Lyeleyl and Lathleym, I invoke you by the power of the First Cause, etc., that you may reconcile John to me, and make good peace between him and me.”
6 Unrelated marginalia: astrological symbols from Pal. lat. 1439, fol. 345v
7 More unrelated marginalia: Pal. lat. 1439, fol. 346r
8 More unrelated marginalia: Pal. lat. 1439, fol. 348r
top left: Saturn – Capricorn & Aquarius
top center: Jupiter – Pisces & Sagittarius
top right: Mars – Aries & Scorpio
bottom left: Sun – Leo
bottom center left: Venus – Libra & Taurus
bottom center right: Merucurius – Virgo & Gemini
bottom right: Moon – Cancer only