Culture and Cosmos is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the history of astrology and cultural astronomy published in association with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Vol 18 no 2 (Autumn/Winter 2014 will be published in July/August 2016. Vol. 19 (2015) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2013 Sophia Centre conference on Celestial Magic and is scheduled for publication in September/October 2016. Vol. 20 (2016) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2014 Sophia Centre conference on the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Volume 20

The Worldly Faces of the Heavens: Nature and Seventeenth-Century English Astrological Images

Alexander Cummins


The astrological image magic of early modern Europe included the magical use of representations of planets, zodiacal signs, fixed stars, decans, lunar mansions and even geomantic figures. These images were utilised magically to bring about particular conditions. Along with investigating representations of occult identity and magical purpose in these pictorial forms of the stars of the heavens - considering the symbolic iconography of early modern sigils - this paper will explore the material and environmental dimensions of their construction and use: analysing alchemical notions of planetary metals as living organic matter, and interrelations between written, ideographic and iconographic astrological charms. The paper will also consider the locative aspects of consecrating, deploying, and disposing of such astrological images in contemporary magical practices: from charging love charms in brothels, to burying magical objects at crossroads and to pitching curse-dolls into rivers. Finally, this paper will explicate relations between natural components of the landscape and their representation in astrological image magic, such as the various significances of the laurel and the apple in an image of Venus. It will demonstrate that such relations between affective space and effective ritual are central to early modern occult philosophy and magical practice.

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