The [science of talismans] cannot be proved by physical principles, but demands a knowledge of the sciences of astrology and magic and necromancy, which must be considered elsewhere.
Albertus Magnus on Astrological Magic
As part of his discussion of gems and stones, Albertus touches on the engraving of astrological talismans, noting that because all things in the material world are formed through the mediation of the Heavens that the use of electional astrology allows the mage to infuse gems and stones with occult or hidden powers.
In the excerpts from chapter 5 of the De Mineralibus translated below by Dorothy Wyckhoff in The Book of Minerals (Oxford, 1967) at 140-5, Albertus explains various types of astrological talismans, focusing on the talismans of the constellations.
De MineralibusChapter 5
THE MEANING OF THE IMAGES ON STONES
The Ram (Aries) or the Lion (Leo) or the Archer (Sagittarius) carved [on stones] by reason of Fire and the Eastern triplicity , indicate that stones have a property against fevers and such infirmities as dropsy, paralysis, and the like. And since heat has a beneficial effect, these are said make their wearers skilful and clever, and to raise them to positions honour in the world; the Lion especially [has this effect].
The Twins (Gemini), the Scales (Libra) and the Waterman (Aquarius) if carved on stones, by reason of the triplicity of Air and the West, are said to predispose their wearers towards friendship and righteousness and good manners, diligent observation of laws, and concord.
The Crab (Cancer), the Scorpion (Scorpio) and the Fishes (Pisces), carved on stones, by reason of the triplicity of Water and the North, temper dry fevers, like [those called] ethica and causon, and the like. But according to The Art of Images, they produce an inclination towards lying and unrighteousness and inconstancy and licentiousness. Evidence of this is that the Scorpion is the image of Mahommet, who never taught anything except lies and unrighteousness.
And if the Bull (Taurus), the Maiden (Virgo) or the Horned Goat (Capricornus) are engraved [upon stones], by reason of the triplicity of Earth and South, they are cold and dry, so far as their effects [are concerned]; hence they are said to cure their wearers of fainting fits and hot infirmities. And they incline their wearers towards religious devotion, and wards country occupations, such as agriculture and the planting of vineyards and gardens.
The same considerations [hold good] for the images that have been scribed outside the Zodiac.
Andromeda is the image of a girl turned sideways, seated upon [a rock], with straining hands. And this image, engraved upon gems that are by nature conciliating in love-these have been described above-brings about lasting love between man and wife; indeed it is said to reconcile even those who have been adulterous. Cassiopeia is a maiden sitting in an armchair, with her arms uplifted and bent; and this sort of engraving upon [gems] that bring sleep and restore the members is said to give rest after toil and to strengthen weakened bodies.
The Serpentbearer (Serpentarius, Ophiuchus) is [a man with a serpent wound round his waist]; he holds its head in his right hand and its tail in his left. And this image engraved upon a stone that expels poison is said to be effective against poisons, and to cure the bites of venomous creatures, whether it is worn, or whether scrapings of it are taken in drink.
The constellation of Hercules is a man kneeling, holding a club in his hand and killing a lion; and he holds [a lion's] skin in his other hand. Hence if the image of Hercules is engraved upon a stone that pertains to victory , and the wearer has it with him on the battlefield, it is said that he will be victorious.
Near the North Pole in heaven there are pictured two Bears (Ursa Major, Ursa Minor), and between them is placed a twisting Snake (Draco) and if this is engraved upon a stone that gives wisdom and skill, it will increase cunning and adroitness and bravery.
The Water Snake (Hydra) namely, a Snake having over it the Cup (Urna, Crater) near its head and [the Crow (Corvus) in front of its]tail, above its back-if engraved upon a stone conferring riches, is said to confer riches and wisdom and protection against harm.
Likewise the Altar (Ara), engraved like a shrine enclosing holy relics, is said to confer a love of virginity and chastity.
And [the Sea Monster or Whale (Cetus)] is found engraved [as a crested serpent having a great hump on its back], and it is said to confer good luck by land and sea, and prudence and amiability ; and to restore things that have been lost.
The Ship (Navis, Argo), engraved with all sail set is said to give security in business and certain other affairs.
The Hare (Lepus)]engraved [on a stone] is reported to be efficacious against deceit and insane talk.
Orion, holding in his hand a sickle or sword, is said to confer victory, if engraved on a stone having the same power The Eagle (Aquila) engraved with the Arrow (Sagitta) in front of its head is reported to preserve old honours and to obtain new ones.
Likewise [the Swan (Cygnus), which is in front] of the Waterman (Aquarius), is said to cure quartan fever.
Perseus, holding in his right hand a sword and in his left the Gorgon's head, is said to protect from thunderbolts and storms, and from attack by the envious.
The Stag (Cervus), engraved with the Hunter (Venator) and Dogs (Canis Major, Canis Minor), is said to heal madmen and maniacs.
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Translation by Dorothy Wyckhoff from the Book of Minerals, (Oxford, 1967)
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