Shams al-Ma'arif - The Sun of Wisdom

Arabic Astrological Talismans and Letter Magic

shams al ma arif

The Shams al-Ma'arif

Despite the current popularity of Picatrix the Shams Al-Ma'arif or the Sun of Wisdom is a much more widely known and used book of magic in the Arabic speaking world. The Shams Al-Ma'arif is traditionally attributed to the 13th century Sufi and master of the esoteric science of Arabic letters Ahmad bin Ali Al-buni.

Current scholarship notes that there are no extant versions of the Shams Al-Ma'arif dating before the 17th century and thus views it as an early modern compilation not authored by Al-Buni. While scholars focus on the attribution, the wisdom contained in the Shams Al-Ma'arif and the efficacy of its talismans are not dependent upon it being written by Al-Buni and its influence on Arabic magic is vast.

sun Talisman Back
Sun Talisman Design

Like Picatrix the Shams Al-Ma'arif is not simply a recipe book of talismans, in fact, talismans are secondary to its main purpose of explicating esoteric wisdom, expressed through an understanding of the Cosmos as created, composed and maintained by the One (Allah, God) through the divine speech expressed in divine letters and words for which the spoken words and written letters we are accustomed to could be analogized to shadows or echoes. Nevertheless, spoken and written letters and words are spiritually connected to the divine letters and words and thus can be affected and cause spiritual and magical effects. In addition, the Shams Al-Ma'arif makes significant use of the names of Allah. Often known as the 99 Beautiful Names of Allah, the names are in fact infinite, but the beautiful names are those which are most used esoterically and most respectful to use. Each of these names shows a particular relationship of the One to the Many. One of the most interesting insights of the Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi is that these often the divine relationships are such that the One requires the Many. For example, Ar-Rabb, the Lord, cannot exist without a servant.

The Shams al-Ma'arif combines magic squares, Arabic letter magic, Quranic verses and the names of Allah with astrological timing to create talismans. Since there are 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet and 28 Arabic Mansions of the Moon, the letter correspondences of the Mansions are particularly influential. Still the Shams al-Ma'arif's main purpose is elucidating esoteric knowledge and occult sciences and exemplifying Sufi wisdom. It is a privilege to be able to read the Shams al-Ma'arif and to gain even small glimpses of the wisdom contained in it, as well as participate in the complex creation of Shams al-Ma'arif talismans.

Shams Al-Ma'arif Talismans

I have been privileged to work with my jeweler/mage Muhammed Ajmal who is a master of Arabic magic to create authentic Shams Al-Ma'arif talismans. The use of Quranic verses and the beautiful names of Allah particularly resonate with my Sufi background since I was initiated as a darvish in the Nimullahi tariqah.

Renaissance Astrology has a limited number of talismans created according to the directions in the Shams Al-Ma'arif using the correct designs, astrological timing and consecration. These include the Bronze 3rd Mansion talisman and Silver 3rd Mansion talisman for all good things, the Sun Round Magic Square talisman and Sun Round Magic Square talisman both for fame, authority, success and health and the Jupiter Al-Aliim talisman for esoteric wisdom.

Selected Translations

The Shams Al-Ma'arif translations:

Chapter 16, section 25: Al-Alim "The All Knowing" including a description of its talisman and a discussion of knowledge, esoteric wisdom and the encounter of Moses and Khizr.

Chapter 2: the 28 Mansions of the Moon on the 28 Mansions of the Moon and their relationship with the 28 Arabic letters.