Behenian fixed star

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The Behenian fixed stars are a selection of fifteen stars considered especially useful for magical applications in the medieval astrology of Europe and the Arab world. Their name derives from Arabic bahman, "root," as each was considered a source of astrological power for one or more planets. Each is also connected with a gemstone and plant that would be used in rituals meant to draw the star's influence (e.g., into a talisman). When a planet was within six degrees of an associated star, this influence was thought to be particularly strong.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa discussed them in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (Book II, chapters 47 & 52) as the Behenii (singular Behenius), describing their magical workings and kabbalistic symbols. He attributed these to Hermes Trismegistus, as was common with occult traditions in the Middle Ages. Their true origin remains unknown, though Sir Wallis Budge suspects a possible Sumerian source.

The following table uses symbols from a 1531 quarto edition of Agrippa, but other forms exist. Where the name used in old texts differs from the one in use today, the modern form is given first.

Table of Behenian Stars[edit]

Name Astronomical Designation Location1 Planet Gemstone Plant Symbol
Algol Caput Algol Beta Persei 26 Taurus 07 Saturn & Jupiter diamond black hellebore Algol symbol (Agripe 1531).svg
Pleiades M45 (Taurus) 29 Taurus 55 Moon & Mars rock crystal fennel Pleiades (Agrippa 1531).svg
Aldebaran Aldaboram Alpha Tauri 9 Gemini 11 Mars & Venus ruby / garnet milk thistle Aldaboram (Agripa 1531).svg
Capella Alhayhoch, Hircus Alpha Aurigæ 21 Gemini 48 Jupiter & Saturn sapphire thyme Agrippa1531 Hircus.png
Sirius Canis major Alpha Canis Majoris 14 Cancer 03 Venus beryl juniper Sirius - Agrippa.png
Procyon Canis minor Alpha Canis Minoris 25 Cancer 45 Mercury & Mars agate water buttercup Agrippa1531 Canisminor.png
Regulus Cor leonis Alpha Leonis 29 Leo 47 Jupiter & Mars granite mugwort Agrippa1531 corLeonis.png
Alkaid Cauda Ursæ Eta Ursæ Majoris 27 Virgo Venus & Moon magnet succory Agrippa1531 caudaUrsae.svg
Gienah Ala Corvi Gamma Corvi 13 Libra 23 Saturn & Mars onyx burdock Agrippa1531 alaCorui.png
Spica Alpha Virginis 23 Libra 47 Venus & Mercury emerald sage Agrippa1531 Spica.png
Arcturus Alchameth Alpha Boötis 24 Libra 11 Mars & Jupiter jasper plantain Agrippa1531 Alchameth.png
Alphecca Elpheia Alpha Coronæ Borealis 12 Scorpio 14 Venus & Mars topaz rosemary Agrippa1531 Elpheia.png
Antares Cor scorpii Alpha Scorpii 9 Sagittarius 43 Venus & Jupiter sardonyx birthwort Agrippa1531 corScorpii.png
Vega Vultur cadens Alpha Lyræ 15 Capricorn 16 Mercury & Venus chrysolite[disambiguation needed] winter savory Agrippa1531 Vulturcadens.png
Deneb Algedi Cauda capricorni Delta Capricorni 5 Pisces 18 Saturn & Mercury chalcedony marjoram Agrippa1531 caudaCapricorni.png

1 These locations are given in celestial longitude, the relativistically fixed reference frame of tropical signs used in astrology. All celestial bodies, including stars and constellations, are located within this fixed framework. For example 26 Taurus 07 means 26 degrees 07 minutes of the tropical sign Taurus. See Ecliptic coordinate system for further information.

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