On Scholastic Image Magic


Scholastic Image Magic or SIM was one of two main branches of magical practice in the Medieval Era and the Renaissance. It was heavily influenced by the science of the Arabic world, and incorporated astrology, optics, mathematics, and the philosophy of antiquity. The European version was an outgrowth of Medieval Scholasticism; a movement which attempted to reconcile Christianity with the works of Plato, Aristotle and the mystical Neoplatonists.

Scholastic Image Magic focuses primarily upon the creation of talismans; objects created or modified to become repositories of celestial light which alter the attributes and destinies and basic nature of anything in their proximity, including human beings.

It also includes celestial petitions, which are akin to highly ritualized prayers which facilitate the granting of expressed wishes. This is where Scholastic Image Magic and theurgy, the other main branch, cross over.

(The other branch is also sometimes called necromancy, depending on emphasis. It largely focuses on angel magic and spirit evocation, and use of Biblical charms and sometimes variants of Kabbalah. There is significant overlap, but the rationales for these traditions are different at heart.)

Both the creation of talismans and the making of petitions are endowed power largely through astrological timing. Some have asserted that Scholastic Image Magic is a subcategory of Electional Astrology, the choosing of fortunate times. It certainly is dependent upon it; but I and others believe in the importance of the materials used as well. There is no way to become minimally competent in this tradition of magic without being very skilled in Medieval or Renaissance Era Astrology.

Scholastic Image Magic may also include the creation of confections, suffumigations (incenses), and potions; though these are often considered to be alchemy.

Many of us who have experimented with Scholastic Image Magic believe it to be the most powerful (and sometimes dangerous) form of magic in Western history. The demands usually exceed those of other magical traditions in numerous ways, and the results are proportional. It is not for the dilettante. Many of us have studied under Christopher Warnock, whose RenaissanceAstrology.com is a great place to learn a major flavor of this from tabula rasa. Without having some background in the generalities of Traditional Astrology you’ll probably be very confused. John Michael Greer often describes this stuff as the rocket science of the Middle Ages. (And he should know, because he translated Picatrix with Christopher Warnock a few years back.)

Scholastic Image Magic has a body of literature which we refer to frequently. The most central text is the Picatrix, which has two popular editions at present. Another, harder to find text is the Treasure of Alexander. Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books on Occult Philosophy (especially the upcoming complete Eric Purdue translation) is an excellent source for Scholastic Image Magic and much else besides, and large portions of the somewhat derivative The Magus from Francis Barrett are appropriate. Though the available version of De Imaginibus is purged of suffumigation recipes and incantations, it is still of great value. I find the Liber Lunae to be very fascinating, and has had an influence on Kabbalah. The Mysterium Sigillorum and the Kyranides have content of interest. Many shorter texts such as the Quindecim Stellis and De Mineralibus, Seals & Stones of Solomon, Seals & Sigils of Chael, Talismans of Hermes, and the Seals of Thetel are also very important, and sections of the works of Giordano Bruno and even parts of the so-called Greater Key of Solomon merit study. But all of this is built upon a foundation of antique astrology and metaphysics, such as the essential writers Guido Bonatti, Johannes Sacrobosco, and Abu Yusuf Al-Kindi, which the authors expected the readers to have expertise in.

I have studied and practiced Scholastic Image Magic in a very focused way for over a decade, I have witnessed it cure incurable diseases, draw hundreds of thousands of dollars from nowhere, conjure storms, raise and banish spirits, repel dangerous animals, hypnotize and compel obedience, and make a subject fall hopelessly in love. In my own experience it is vastly closer to the kind of magic which appears in myths and Fantasy literature than anything else I’ve seen. (And I have expertise in many other traditions of magic, which have their own distinctive advantages.)

If this tickles your fancy and you’re considering putting in the effort, welcome aboard. SIM is one of my very favorite flavors of magic. If it isn’t your cup of tea, there’s a lot of additional material on my blog to inform and tantalize.


Durability of SIM Talismans’ Effects

“If you carefully attend to the proper harmony, and harmoniously join figures together and prepare them, they will be the first matter and foundation of this work. When images are fashioned in this way, they will be lasting and complete in their effects, and if they are not fashioned in this way, their effects will be destroyed by the destruction of their terrestrial material and the destruction of the composition thereof.” –Picatrix, IV:4

Meaning that if a talisman is constructed properly, with every aspect in harmony with the celestial hierarchy in question, the effects will even persist long after the talisman is destroyed.

Useful to know for talismans made of wax and other perishable materials, fragile talismans generally, and curse talismans which could be discovered and destroyed by a target.

A Venus Petition

VENUS PETITON: Venus and Moon in Taurus, Cancer ASC, Moon triumphed, Venus sextile ASC.


Talismanic elections have been few and far between of late, and I’m taking a break from curse talismans for a while– so that leaves petitions. This one was slightly experimental.

Now, the key with petitions as opposed to talismans is that you’re trying to arrange a relationship between the petitioner and the planetary hierarchy in question using the chart. So instead of putting a strong planet on the ASC or MC and thus make the talisman an embodiment of the planetary strength, you make the planet aspect the ASC or ASC ruler in a benevolent manner. This represents assistance rather than embodiment. ASC and ASC Ruler need to be fortified, the planet petitioned needs to be fortified, and the Moon needs to be unafflicted.

This election has Cancer on the ASC and the Moon is exalted, fast, applying in perfection with a Benefic and (arguably) triumphed by “reverse besiegement”, protected by combustion in her own Sign, the Ruler of the Moon’s Sign is not cadent, and she is in a benevolent succedent House. Venus is very essentially dignified, applying by sextile to the ASC (and Venus loves sextiles more than trines), and is protected by combustion in her own Sign. The pars fortuna is also on the ASC. Day of Venus by both Arab/Jewish and Zoroastrian/Christian planetary days, but not Hour.

Nice stuff.

The negatives are that the Moon is in fact separating from conjunction with Venus, and one may be concerned about the combustions of Moon and Venus but since both are highly dignified in Taurus and the Sun is also there, it is a good case for these planets shielded by the flames rather than burnt. The 4th Lunar Mansion is not ideal for most matters of Venus, but you can’t have everything.

The petition text was taken from Picatrix, and I attempted the “dress in the manner of Arabians” option. But only if the Arabs in question were fond of terrycloth bathrobes. I’ll hope Venus has a sense of humor about it. I wanted to do more than dress in blue, and I just wasn’t feeling like doing a ritual in drag this morning.

The suffumigation listed was gall, frankincense, gum mastic, long pepper, and raisins. I don’t have any gall, but I took pomegranate seeds from one of the alternate suffumigation recipes and made do. It was very smoky and I teared up a lot.

I won’t say what I asked for, but it wasn’t necessarily what you think. The following are from Picatrix in various places:

“Ask from Venus the desire for copulation, the virtue of causing loves and enthusiasms and expelling sorrow and sloth, invigorating the appetite, increasing generation, multiplying children, extinguishing fire, and being safe from animals.”

“Venus is the source of the power of flavor. And she rules grammar and the art of measuring sound and song. Among languages she has Arabic; among the internal organs, the right nostril, and among internal organs, those that meet in sexual intercourse and project sperm, and the stomach, and those from which come the virtue and flavor in eating and drinking; among religion, Islam; among clothing, all painted clothing; and of professions, all professions of painting and shaping, selling things that smell good, playing instruments that are good to listen to, singing, dancing and making stringed instruments; among flavors, all sweet things that taste good; and of places, place of vice, places in which men seek healing, and in which men dance, and places of cheerfulness where there is singing and speech, and places of ladies and beautiful women, and also places of eating and drinking; and of precious stones, pearls, and of rocks, lapis lazuli and almartach; and of plants, all plants with a good odor like saffron and arhenda, roses and all flowers with a good odor and smell and are pleasant to look at; among medicines balsam and grains of julep, and those that emit a strong smell, such as nutmeg and amber; among animals, females, camels that are beautiful and all beautiful animals with symmetrical bodies such as gazelles, sheep, gazelles, hares, partridges, calandras and the like. Among small animals, she has those that are colorful and beautiful; among colors, sky blue and gold tending a little to green.”

“Venus is cold and moist, and a fortune. She signifies cleanliness, splendor, preciousness, word games, delight in music, joy, adornments, laughter, pictures, beauty, loveliness, playing music by the voice or stringed instruments; delighting in marriage, desiring spices and things that have good odors; sending dreams; provoking games of chess and dice; desiring to lie with women and to fall in love with them and receiving promises from them; desiring to appear beautiful, loving liberty, magnanimity of heart, and joy. She abhors anger, brawling, vengeance, and lawsuits; she desires to serve the desires and wills of friends concerning the world’s opinion; tends toward false promises; is inclined to cupidity; desires to drink much; incessantly desires much copulation, and of shameful kinds, and to do it in inappropriate places, as women are accustomed to do with one another; delighting in animals and children and in making them good; making things equal; delighting in merchants and living with them and being loved by their women; and that they may be delighted by men. When she is well received, she plays a part in the making of crowns, building stables and working in stone, having sweet speech, disdaining the world and having no fear of it; sustaining people so that neither anger, strife, or discord can be felt by them; it designates a weak heart and a weak will in lawsuits and combat, and signifies desire for all beautiful combinations of things which may be in conformity with the will; making colors and laboring diligently in skills involving them; selling merchandise, spices, and prayers; those who observe the religious law; and those who adhere to sciences and philosophies of forbidden kinds.”


The Gems of Bedazzling Ardor

GEMS OF BEDAZZLING ARDOR: The Talismans of the Twenty-Sixth Mansion.



“When the Moon is passing through it, take white wax and mastic and melt them together; from these fashion the image of a woman with her hair unbound and before her a vessel placed as if to receive her hair. Suffumigate it with sweet-smelling odors, and say: ‘You, Tagriel, bring me to the love and friendship of such and such a woman.’ Place the image in a small bag, and place with it also some of the most sweet-smelling of substances; carry it with you, and it shall be completed as you have requested. Know that Tagriel is the name of the lord of this Mansion.”

IBN HATIM via Lippincott:

“The image is a woman whose hair hangs down; on her are varieties of coloured cloths; between her two hands is a pot in which is a perfume (with which) she perfumes herself. You should shape her, in accordance with the name of whomever among women you wish, out of white wax and mastic. Fumigate it with varieties of perfumes. You should write on her chest the name of the man overcoming her love for herself. You should keep the image in the house so that she refrains from going to him, if God wills. The name of her lord is Nafsiyal taghriyal. Its speciality is for love that she entice (?) the man marvellously and promote lust. It is four stars, similar to a bucket.”



This was a slightly unconventional election and also slightly unconventional in implementation.

The Moon was in the 5th House of good fortune and pleasure, while the North Node was conjoined to the Ascendant. The Moon was extremely fast, waxing, and in a Sign whose ruler was not cadent (though retrograde.) The Moon was making benevolent aspects to the Sun and Mercury; the former very tightly.

These were loose gem talismans. Three lapis lazuli cabochons (fairly large) were inscribed with the ymage described, but with the North Node sigil at the apex, the number 26 at the bottom, and TAGRIEL on the obverse center. The suffumigation was a blend of dried rosebuds and lignum aloes. No oil was used.

The North Node functions similarly to a benefic planet when placed on the ASC or MC, and adds strength to any election– particularly one which requires an overcoming of an obstacle or an adversary. It is dependent on the strength of the election’s configuration overall, for though it magnifies the luck and power of other factors by itself it is highly unstable and cannot be the sole power drawn upon. Fortunately the speed, phase and aspects of the Moon are good enough for a potent election on their own, and though the placement of the Moon in a Succedent House easily offset by the benevolence and relevance to the election’s goal. The Dragon’s Head is really just the cherry on top, but what a cherry it is!

Due to the relative softness of the lapis lazuli and the intense speed of the Moon, these talismans should be very fast acting. Their durability at this stage is not clear, but the configuration suggests to me that the effect would be extensive and enduring.

The Rings of the Kiss of Darkness

THE RINGS OF THE KISS OF DARKNESS: Venus in Zero Scorpio, Cazimi.


[I am only including this post, unedited, for historical purposes. This was one of the dumbest, riskiest, and most malefic talismans I’ve ever created. It did not work as intended, but was a magnet for terrible misfortune. Awful.]

This is the first set of rings I’ve ever made which could conceivably require a safeword.

I’ve been dropping hints left and right about experimental rings, talismans of debauchery and so on… all leading up to this.

Most of you will think this is a curse talisman. It is not. (Nor is it perfect, but nothing is.)

“In the jungle of the senses; Tinker Bell and Jack The Ripper.”

I have long theorized that talismans must be possible which go beyond the morality/luck vs immorality/misfortune dichotomy. Everything in the skies is reflected on Earth and vice versa. So luck with sinful endeavors must be possible to elect, and furthermore imbue into a talisman. So I made myself a triad of rings that shoots perverto-beams.

One method to do this is to use mixed Essential Dignity and Essential Debility. Some consider peregrination to be an intermediate state; I don’t. It is a state of powerlessness and inertia, which when combined with Essential Debility results in misfortune and an inability to escape it, as well as poor judgement. But when Essential Debility is combined with any manner of Essential Dignity, the powerlessness of peregrination is annulled and the Debility represents vice and immoral aims, while Dignity represents power and skill in this sphere of influence. That’s how you signify someone who is really good at being really bad.

“But you know evil is an exact science; Being carefully, correctly, wrong.”

Venus is in Scorpio, putting her in Detriment. This is a -5 and peregrine by most reckonings. However, though most tables of Essential Dignities and Debilities give Mars both diurnal and nocturnal triplicity for the Watery Signs, some give Venus diurnal Triplicity for Water. This makes much sense to me, as Venus loves moisture and lending so much power to Mars without balance strikes me to be unreasonable. Thus, Venus receives a +3 through Triplicity, ultimately being a mere -2 tally and escapes peregrination.

“Very little fruit is forbidden.”

Nevertheless, Venus is at 0 Scorpio and that’s the heart of the Via Combusta. This election was very, very wicked.

But extremely strong by accidental dignity, because Venus is also firmly in cazimi. She is unified with the dark flame of the Sun in Scorpio. Ka-pow.

So, Venus is lucky in bad, naughty, no-good, dastardly Venus matters. And because Venus is in cazimi/combustion, she can do them secretly and nobody will ever know.

“Love has no meaning– not where they come from. But we know pleasure is not that simple.”

What does Lilly say about Venus when ill dignified? “Then he is Riotous, Expensive, wholly given to Loosenesse and Lewd companies of Women, nothing regarding his Reputation, coveting unlawful Beds, Incestuous, an Adulterer; Fennatical, a meer Skip-jack, of no Faith, no Repute, no Credit; spending his Means in Ale-houses, Taverns, and amongst Scandalous, Loose people; a meen Lazy companion, nothing careful of the the things of this Life, or any thing Religious; a meer Atheist and natural man.”

Well, that’s just so very judgmental of you, Mr.Lilly.

If I ever feel like being wholly given to the lewd companies of women, coveting unlawful beds, and spending excessively in taverns among scandalous, loose people, I know who I won’t be inviting to the party. But I know which ring I’ll be wearing for the occasion.

I’ll also totally get away with it, because a planet under combustion is hidden and escapes scrutiny. And it will come easily because Triplicity signifies ease, and it will be immensely strong because cazimi is pretty mighty.

“This is the splendor of our achievement; Call in the air strike with a poison kiss.”

This really is the Rock Star Lifestyle ring, except that it’s sneaky. I’m okay with that.

In any case, let’s break down the rest of the details.

The Moon is combust and in the 1st House and separating from Venus, but afflictions of the Moon are rectified by having a benefic on the ASC or MC. I don’t think this is a really big deal, but it must be noted.

Venus Day and Hour. Nice.

The Moon is in the 17th Mansion, which offers durable loves and friendships. It’s not clear if this is a genuine factor. I guess if my newly acquired slaves stick around I can make them do the laundry. 🙂

Saturn is in Scorpio, which will weaken the election somewhat, but I do not deem this a significant factor.

The Moon is conjoined to the Part of Fortune, but that’s normal for a chart of this kind.

Anyway, the inscription on the rings was the bird headed girl holding an apple and comb, with the OAOIOA looking bit. The herbs beneath the ring were violet and thyme, and the suffumigation was violet, thyme, and storax resin. Tarot liked this, but actually wanted storax and myrtle for a suffumigation but I was all out of myrtle. I need to do better inventory.

The oil used was Luckymojo.com Magnet Oil. Magnet Oil has a reputation for powerful influences on money and lovers which are extreme and somewhat unnatural in character and extent. Considering the flavor of this ring, I knew it wasn’t going to be Marriage Oil.

“Cover Him up, I think we’re finished. You know it’s never been so exotic.”


The Rings of the Dragonfire Kiss

THE RINGS OF THE DRAGONFIRE KISS: The talisman of Venus in Libra, embraced by the Sun and conjoined with the Dragon’s Head.


This was one hell of an experimental election. It’s one of the potentially strongest Venus elections possible masquerading as one of the worst.

Let’s start with the basics. Venus Day but not Hour, Ascending, in Domicile. The Moon is fast, in Triplicity and Exaltation, towards the end of a Sign but not quite in the last two degrees. (Also in a malefic House, but I don’t see this as a significant consideration here. A benefic on the ASC rectifies an afflicted Moon anyway.) Venus is also fairly tightly conjoined with the North Node, radically strengthening her.

The main objective for this election was to put Venus in conjunction with the North Node and strong Essential Dignity, which is not easily achievable.

There’s just one problem.

Venus is combust.

Most people would stop here, but the story isn’t over. Venus isn’t combust in just any Sign, but both planets are in Venus’ Domicile. Ancient sources suggest that this either neutralizes the afflictive nature of the combustion, or actually is a strong accidental dignity.

I take the view currently that while combustion is normally akin to a subject trembling before a king, begging for mercy, this is like the king visiting a beloved vassal in their estate to pay him a great honor and treat him almost as an equal.

Even if we accept this interpretation, there is another problem– and it’s a tough one. While Venus is in +5 Rulership, the Sun is in -4 Fall. Does this mean the king is a lousy houseguest? Is this hostility? Most sources are ambiguous on the issue. Picatrix is not.

It’s too long to quote here, but in Picatrix Rubeus pages 90-91 the author says that when planets are in conjunction, the higher planet dominates the union and it is its nature which is signified thereby– with a few notable exceptions. That means normally when the Moon conjoins Saturn, the latter’s nature wholly devours the influence of the Moon. Nothing of the Moon’s significance remains, except as fuel for the nastiness of Saturn. This pattern is the case for all planets, where the naturally slower (higher) planet absorbs the power of the naturally slower one.

The exceptions appear to be conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn, which are roughly co-equal; and Mars and Saturn, where Mars will dominate the union.

A third exception is when the lower planet is highly dignified and the higher planet is highly debilitated. Then the lower planet dominates the conjunction and incorporates the power of the greater planet.

That is what is happening here, where Venus is extremely strong and the Sun is extremely weak. So, Venus easily wins the struggle with the Sun, in part because it’s on her home turf.

I often say, conjunction is fighting or fucking. With Venus… it’s realllllly not fighting.

She’s lured the king to her palace (or brothel), tied him to the bedposts and worn the poor guy out. She’s the king now, in everything but title. He can barely lift his head. Everything aches. But don’t worry about him, he’ll get a second wind in Scorpio. And he had a great time with Mistress V.

There are other factors which should be noted. Venus is making a sextile with Mars, but as this is an amicable aspect and Venus is one of the very few planets which gets along with Mars, it’s not a serious affliction.

The Moon being v/c is never a real problem. It’s a minor consideration, even in Mansion talismans. Even so, it’s not deemed an affliction at all according to Bonatti if the Moon is also in any Essential Dignity, which it is here. And Lilly (I think) made a separate list of Signs where v/c is very mild, which overlaps the Bonatti list to a large degree.

In any case, I made three rings. The theme was red; the stone was carnelian, and the herbs under the stone and suffumigation were vervain and saffron. The oil was Luckymojo.com Venus Oil.

The ymage was of the giant housefly head over the zebra head which cures stomach ailments, though I believe in this instance it will do very different stuff. But a heartburn cure isn’t a bad thing, as a bonus.

The Talismans of Union

TALISMANS OF UNION: The Talismans of Nedeyrahe, Lord of the Sixth Mansion of the Moon.


Picatrix says in the Pseudo-Pliny Mansions:

“The sixth Mansion is Achaya and it is for putting love between two people. When the Moon is passing through this Mansion, make two images from white wax, make them embrace each other, and wrap them in white silk. Suffumigate them with amber and lignum aloes, and say: ‘You, Nedeyrahe, bring together so and so and so and so, and place between them friendship and love.’ It will be as you wish. Know that Nedeyrahe is the name of the lord of this Mansion.”

Ibn Hatim, surely the origin of this section, says much the same.

The election was rather novel as you shall see shortly, so I took the opportunity with whatever I had at hand.

Fortunately, I keep incense-grade amber and powdered aloeswood handy, and recently bought quartz cabochons in bulk from eBay. (White wax figures seem to substitute well with quartz cabochons if clear or milky. Color matters, and in spite of the temptation to glue two cabochons together, doing this as a single gem has proven effective on prior projects.)

Now, the first thing you’ll note is that the Moon is not on the MC or even angular. It is, however, in a benevolent House (although just barely succedent) and fast enough. But what makes this such a dynamic election is that the Moon is TIGHTLY flanked or Warded or Celebrated by the Benefics– something which we sometimes call reverse besiegement. That’s always a good thing.

I put Cancer on the ASC even though it’s at the end of the Sign simply because Warding is such a tremendously positive accidental dignity that it easily beat anything going on with the Sun when Leo was to Ascend.

I also wanted to get Jupiter in the 1st House, because that would strengthen the election by the mere virtue of having a Benefic there.

It also is good that the Moon was trining a dignified Mercury (itself tightly conjoining the North Node) and the North Node as well. It is an additional fortitude that the Moon is the House of Mercury (Gemini) while trining Mercury.

The result was a five minute electional window and two talismans. (I’m lightning at 2am if you give me some Red Bull.)

I have a roll of white silk which I cut out a pair of rough disks and glued the cabochon within, along with a bit of the amber and a pinch of the aloeswood. The inscription was of a man and a woman intertwined naked, with the text “Nedeyrahe, join XY and XX” on it, with the names substituted.

The main innovation of this experiment was that I combined the Plinian instructions with the incantations on page 50 of the Rubeus edition.

“You, Nedeyrahe, let XY be joined to XX and conjoined with her, as fire, air, and water with earth; and let him so be moved toward her as the rays of the Sun move the light of Earth and its virtues; and let they and their works be coupled together in their vision as heaven is conjoined with its stars, and trees with their flowers. Let his spirit be thus raised on high and sublime above the spirit of XX, as the water is raised up over the earth; and let each of the aforesaid be unable to eat, or drink, or dance, or take pleasure in anything without the other.”

Recited three times, in part because Nedeyrahe is a not easy to say at 2AM.

And that’s how this is done.

The Rings of the Casino

THE RINGS OF THE CASINO: The Second Face of Cancer, Somachalmais


There was a similar election two days prior, but at my location the Moon was conjoining to Algol for all but four minutes before the electional window had elapsed.


“There rises in the second face of Cancer a woman with a beautiful face,
and on her head she has a crown of green myrtle, and in her hand is a stem of the plant called water lily, and she is singing songs of love and joy. This is a face of games, wealth, joy and abundance. This is its form.”


In other sources it adds that it bestows the love of women, which is probably a side effect of the affinity the talismanic ymage creates in people, places, and things depicted therein.

The Moon trining Mars is an affliction, but as the Moon is waning it’s not all that bad. The Day/Hour of Mercury definitely adds to the electional power. The Moon’s Sign ruler being cadent would normally rule out this election, but having a benefic on the ASC offsets this. Unfortunately, Jupiter is combust but I still think it’s enough to offset this effect. The Sun is greatly strengthened, however, by conjoining Jupiter and in elections which prioritize the Sun (as most Face elections do) the role of the Moon is lessened as she is always subservient to the Sun.

So, it’s not the best election but I think it’ll work. It’s an upgrade from my former Somachalmais rings.

Four agates in gold were used; three yellow and one brown agate. Attraction Oil was used in this instance, and the suffumigation and herb beneath the stones were gum arabic.

I have attached both the election data and a hastily drawn ymage template I created for Kat Lunoe so she could make her own Somachalmais talisman two days prior to mine. It’s not great art, but you don’t have a lot of space to work with on a gemstone cabochon.

Next time I’ll have her mouth open because she’s singing. I just realized that goof now. Oh well. At least on my rings, she’s actually smiling.