A Translation on Astrological Spirits

from the Liber Antimaquis



mercury face ruler

The Liber Antimaquis is an medieval astrological magic text and a source quoted in Picatrix and appears to be a Latin translation of the Arabic Kitab al-Istamatis. The text says that it is, like the Book of the Treasure of Alexander, the instructions of Aristotle to Alexander giving the secret sayings of Hermes. Like Picatrix the Liber Antimaquis is both philosophical and magical, explaining the underlying basis of astrological magic as well as giving instructions for its actual practice.

The following partial translation of Liber Antimaquis is by John Michael Greer from the Latin critical edition of Charles Burnett in Hermetis Trismegisti Astrologica et Divinatoria (Brepols, 2001) page 205 with a commentary by Christopher Warnock.

Liber Antimaquis on Astrological Spirits


From these spirits, as well as those we have already described and the spirits of the seven regions, a spiritual virtue enters into every part of the world. From them come good and evil, fortune and misfortune to all creatures, as each one (of the spirits) is moved in its sphere, its sign, and its powers. From them come prayers, and by them (the influence of) magical workings are received, and those miracles performed that man is able to do, and they are assigned to the men of every part of the world, and to every man according to the share of intellect he has, and to the offices that are used by men.

By them riches are given and taken away, because these same (spirits) forewarn and forbid, punish and destroy. By them spirits are embodied in the souls to which they are united. The virtues that come from them and the natures and complexions thereof run into these (souls) so that they are conjoined, because in every man, as the planets operate in his nativity, so descend the spiritual virtues of each of these spirits that we have named according to their names.

Those (spirits) that are assigned to this class are not embodied. Three of these spirits have nothing terrestrial in their composition, and they belong to the planet that is above and the one that is in front and the one that is behind. This is because the spirit that is above remains with the firmament above because of its subtlety and simplicity, and because it dwells closer to the realm of superior spirits; the spirit in front, because the planet is not visible that sents the spirit into the microcosm; and the spirit behind, similarly, is not composite because it cannot be seen, nor can vision extend to it.

These three spirits are not embodied, because they are most subtle in their simplicity and their subtlety, and they indicate the most noble and subtle virtues of the regions that are assigned to them. But three other spirits are embodied, and are compounded with terrestrial things. These (spirits) are of the planets that are to the right, to the left, and below. These are according to their motions in their spheres.

The three spirits that are not embodied because of their simplicity and subtlety send their virtues into the microcosm, which is man, so that by this is formed all things that are formed, both celestial and terrestrial, with their full complement of creatures. The superior spirits are above, in front, and behind because the virtues of these spirits foretell the complexion and birth of man. The other three, which are assigned to the right, the left, and below, are embodied and conjoined to diverse bodies and plants in the manner which we have described.

Commentary by Christopher Warnock


The Liber Antimaquis is a Latin translation of the Arabic Kitab al-Istamatis, a medieval book of astrological magic and a source for Picatrix, the most famous grimoire of astrological magic. Similar to Picatrix, the Liber Antimaquis includes both philosophical and practical explanations of astrological magic.

In the beginning of this passage, the Liber Antimaquis speaks of “these spirits” and the spirits of the seven regions. By mentioning the planets later and by the fact that the sections immediately before and after the translated portion discuss the spirits of the planets, we can be sure that “these spirits” are the spirits of the 7 planets. So we have our first key point, that the spirits of the planets and not the visible, material bodies, are what is important. This is emphasized as the the Liber Antimaquis says that the spirits of the planets move in their spheres, signs and powers.

As the planetary spirits move through their spheres and through the Zodiac, changing in essential dignity, as well as accidental dignity from these movements come “good and evil, fortune and misfortune” to all creatures, all that is created of matter. This is a classic explanation of the role of the stars and planets, as the intermediaries between the purely spiritual and the material. The cycles of the Heavens foretell or control the cycles on Earth, depending on what paradigm you adopted.

But the influence of the planets is not equally or promiscuously distributed, instead the people in particular parts of the world, the regions ruled by each planet and depending on the function each person performs, are also ruled by each planet. Finally, Liber Antimaquis says that the planets are assigned to “every man according to the share of intellect he has.” On one hand we could take this as a quantitative measure of intelligence, but I think rather that it has to do with the different thought processes and thinking typified by each planet.

What is the mechanism for this influence exerted by the planets? The Liber Antimaquis explains that the powers (“virtues”) of the planets are embodied into souls and the natures and complexions of the planets run into and are conjoined with souls. Ok, to moderns this is somewhat confusing. Soul, spirit, virtue, complexion, have all changed their meaning since the Renaissance. Let’s begin to see some connections by looking at the macrocosm, the Great World of the Cosmos and the microcosm, the Little World of each individual. As Agrippa notes in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, the cosmos can be seen as having a three fold structure of the Material World, Divine World and Intermediate Celestial World. In the individual these correspond to the physical body, the divine spirit and the intermediate astral body. Sometimes the divine spirit is called soul and sometimes this term is used for the intermediate spiritual body, referred to in other traditions as chi or prana.

So the astrological spirits, themselves intermediary, are connected to the intermediate astral body. Their powers are their natural qualities, their nature. This is in a sense an active influence, but also like the warmth of the Sun or coolness of a breeze, simply an expression of the basic nature of these spirits being what they are. Finally the Liber Antimaquis says, “in every man, as the planets operate in his nativity, so descend the spiritual virtues of each of these spirits”

So now we again have a differentiation of the planets, whose powers are different depending on a person’s nativity. As I read this it is not saying, for example, that if Saturn rules the 7th in your natal chart, that Saturn can be used as a love talisman for you. Saturn’s power is his nature which is not changed by the time of your birth, rather the question is how apt are you to accept this nature? The natural power of Saturn will descend strongly, moderately or perhaps only a little, if Saturn is strong, moderate or weak in your chart.

In discussing astrological magic, Picatrix says, “…workings were more certain if the planet was strong in the natal chart of those people who performed the working.” Picatrix Bk I ch 5. And paralleling the Liber Antimaquis Picatrix says of a Jupiter ritual, that the spirit of Jupiter “will reach out to him…especially if Jupiter is strong in his nativity.” Picatrix Bk III ch 8.

Thus “Reaches out to him” encapsulates very nicely the sense of the astrological spirits as personalities with a specific predisposition to each individual and really shows the underlying devotional focus that guides my interactions with the celestial spirits.

Learning More About Astrological Magic & Talismans

If you are interested in astrological magic and astrological talismans the Renaissance Astrology website is an excellent resource with over 300 pages of material on traditional astrology and magic. Here is a useful page on Astrology and Magic Books some of which are available directly from Renaissance Astrology, links are provided for other useful book sources.

Check out the Renaissance Astrology Facebook page, and the Spiritus Mundi Discussion Group to learn and be part of the Renaissance Astrology community.

For those that desire to delve deeper into Astrology and magic I offer my Planetary Magic Mini-Course and Mansions of the Moon Mini-Course, Decan/Face Mini-Course, and Green Magic Mini-Course which allow students to immediately start making talismans and elections and are a great introduction to my longer Astrological Magic Course.

Please Contact me with any questions about taking Renaissance Astrology courses.