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Christopher Warnock, Esq.
Rats Begone!
Cornelius Agrippa Talisman Example


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Description of Talisman Image
Astrological Election
Ritual Portion of Talisman Creation
An Inauspicious Election
The Ascendant of Rats
The Election Chart
The Creation of the Talisman & Results
Some Observations on Astrological Talismans





Description of Election & Talisman Image

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In the autumn of 1998, we had some sightings of a rat in our house -- not too unusual in a n old brick townhouse in Washington, D.C. The owner quickly had the house sealed up and put down traps. After two weeks, when the rat was still running around, I turned to Agrippa for an astro-magical solution.
Agrippa says,
But to chase away certain animals from certain places, that they be not generated or abide there, let an image be made under the ascension of that animal, which thou wouldst chase away, and after the likeness thereof; as if thou wouldst chase away scorpions from any place, let an image of the scorpion be made, the sign of Scorpio ascending with the Moon,
Cornelius Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk. II, Chapter 50, p. 402.
This is an example of astrological pest control. Agrippa says that if we wish to get rid of scorpions, that we should use a talisman inscribed with a picture of a scorpion and make it when the sign of Scorpio is rising and the Moon is in the ascendant. Both the picture of the scorpion and the sign Scorpio correspond and are connected to actual scorpions.

Astrological Election

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Agrippa then says,
[A]nd thou shall make unfortunate the ascendant, and lord thereof, and the Lord of the house of Mars; and thou shall make unfortunate the lord of the ascendant in the eighth house and let them be joined with an aspect malignant, opposite or quadrant:
Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk. II, Chapter 50, p. 402.
Agrippa instructs the astrologer to choose a time when the ascendant is in astrologically poor condition, e.g., when Saturn is applying to a square aspect of the degree of the ascendant. Ideally, for this election, at the chosen time the ruler of the ascendant should also be in astrologically poor condition, as should the ruler of the house where the lord of the ascendant is placed. For best results, at the chosen time the ruler of the ascendant should also be in the eighth house and be making an applying square or opposition to the degree of the ascendant and the ruler of the eighth house.
Agrippa then says,
and let there be writ upon the image the name of the ascendant, of the lord thereof and of the Moon and of the lord of the day and the lord of the hour.
Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk. II, Chapter 50, p. 402. Once the astrologer has chosen an appropriate time, with as many of the listed astrological conditions as possible fulfilled, then he uses that time to construct his talisman. The talisman contains a picture of the pest to be driven away and the names of the sign and planets actually used in the election.

Ritual Portion of Election

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Finally, Agrippa says,
And let there be a pit made in the middle of the place, from which thou wouldst drive them; and let there be carried into it, some of the earth taken out of the four corners of the place, and let the image be buried there with the head downwards, with saying, this is the burying of the scorpions, that they may not come into this place and so of the rest.
Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk. II, Chapter 50, p. 402.
This is the ritual portion of the talisman making process. Symbolically, the boundaries of the place from which the pests are to be driven are established and the effect that the astrologer wishes to manifest against the actual pests are performed on the image that corresponds to them.

An Inauspicious Election

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This is a very interesting election because, atypically, we wish to find an extremely inauspicious and unfortunate time, at least for the rat, in order to make the talisman. It was traditionally recognized that "bad" times could be good for certain purposes. The Hundred Aphorisms attributed to Ptolemy say, "In the Election of days and hour, the two Infortunes are very useful, and thou must use them as the Physician doth poison, skilfully, for the Cure of Man." John Partridge, Mikropanastron, [London, 1679] Issaqah, WA, JustUs & Assoc., 1995, p. 306. This particular anti-pest election is very traditional appearing in the 9th century Sabian astrologer Thabit bin Qurra's De Imaginibus (On Images) and in renowned 13th century philosopher Albertus Magnus' Speculum Astronomiae (Mirror of Astronomy) in almost identical form to that given by Agrippa. Thabit bin Qurra, The Astronomical Works of Thabit b. Qurra, ed. F. Carmody, California, UCal Press, 1960, p.181; Zambelli, Paola, The Speculum Astronomiae and Its Enigma, Dordrecht, Netherlands, Kluwer, 1992, p. 271.

The Ascendant of Rats

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My first task was to determine the appropriate ascendant for the chart: the ascendant of rats. Al-Biruni says that Capricorn rules "creeping things". Al-Biruni, Book of Instruction in the Elements of Astrology [Ghaznah, 1029] trans. R. Wright, London, Luzac, translation originally published 1934, Ballantrae, undated reprint, 371, p. 224. This is confirmed by the natural planetary rulers of rats and mice. The famous English astrologer William Lilly says Saturn rules mice and "all manner of creeping Creatures breeding of putrification, either in the Earth, Water or Ruines of Houses." William Lilly, Christian Astrology, [London, 1647] Regulus, London, 1985, p. 60.
Since we consider rats to be vermin and they are well described as creeping creatures associated with putrefaction a Saturn ruled sign is an appropriate ascendant. As Capricorn was considered a bestial sign, being represented as a goat/fish, not a human representation like Aquarius, and it is an earth sign representing low, dark places near the ground or threshold, it seems most the appropriate of the Saturn ruled signs as the ascendant of rats. Lilly, Christian Astrology, pp. 89, 98. Because Capricorn is represented by a mammal, at least partially, it gets the nod over Scorpio, which would be the natural choice for anti-insect magic, particularly against stinging insects.

The Election Chart

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Now following Agrippa, we wish to have the Moon ascending in our chosen sign Capricorn.
Regiomontanus Houses
2:29 p.m. (EDT +4) September 28, 1998
Washington, D.C. 38 N 55 77 W 03
Checking my ephemeris I found the soonest the Moon entered Capricorn was September 28, 1998. After a certain amount of jockeying I elected 2:29 p.m. EDT on September 28, 1998 and obtained the chart shown at figure [?]. Once again this was for Washington, D.C., 38 N 55 77 W 03. The Moon ascends in Capricorn. The 17th century English astrologer William Ramesey says, "Let therefore (in all manner of Elections for good) the Moon be...not in the Ascendant..." (emphasis added) William Ramesey, Astrologia Restaurata, [London, 1653] Issaquah, WA, JustUs & Assoc., 1996, p. 127. The Moon is seriously afflicted as it is peregrine (that is, not in its own sign, exaltation, triplicity, term, or face) and also in detriment. We note also that it is Moon day (Monday) and Moon hour, increasing the emphasis on the Moon.
Saturn, the Greater Malefic, is lord of the ascendant sign Capricorn, retrograde, peregrine, and conjunct the cusp of the 4th house, the house of the grave and the "end of things". Lilly, Christian Astrology, p. 52. Venus, the almuten of the ascendant, that is the planet with greatest dignity at the degree of the ascendant, is afflicted by being in its fall and under the Sun's beams. It is two degrees away from the 8th house, even if neither it nor Saturn, ruler of the ascendant, are in the eighth as Agrippa directs.
Venus is also what Agrippa calls the lord of the house of Saturn or what we in modern terminology would refer to as the dispositor of Saturn. The Sun, ruler of the 8th house, which signifies death, is peregrine and in its fall. Both Venus and the Sun square the Moon and square the ascendant. The Sun is applying to a square of the Moon without reception rendering the aspect particularly malefic. This election, therefore, fulfills almost all of the conditions set forth by Agrippa.

The Creation of the Talisman & Results

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So at 2:29 p.m. on September 28, 1998
I created the image of the rat on paper shown at left. As Agrippa instructs I wrote the glyph of the sign of the ascendant, Capricorn, the glyph of the Lord of the ascendant and the Lord of the Moon, Saturn, the glyph of the Lord of the day and hour, the Moon. I also wrote the effect desired, "Rat Begone" on the back as instructed by Agrippa in the previous chapter. Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk. II, Chap. 69, p. 400. I then went to the four corners of the house and collected some dirt from each corner which I placed upon the paper. I folded the paper tightly and then placed it into a convenient opening in a central wall, as near to the center of the house as I could, saying, "This is the burying of the rat, that he not come into the house, Rat Begone".
That very day the rat was caught in a trap.

Some Observations on Talismanic Magic

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I have a number of observations from my personal experience with this election. First of all, I did not have a strong belief that the election and talisman would or would not work despite the fact that Ficino emphasizes the importance of the spirit and intention of the maker and particularly the belief of the user of the talisman. It appears to me that magic is not just a function of the "placebo effect" and limited to purely psychological effects on the individual believer. Just by doing the appropriate ritual, at the appropriate time, even without belief, a magical effect can be manifested. Certainly belief is helpful, but it does not appear to be invariably necessary in astrological magic.
What I did notice was that as the time for the election approached I inexplicably got angrier and angrier, for no particular reason. I certainly was not angry at the rat. But by the time set for the election, I was so angry that I could barely complete the ceremony. Perhaps this vehement emotion substituted for the strong belief. Certainly it was appropriate given the malevolence of the elected time.
Another point to remember is that I did the election with the desire that the "Rat Begone" not that it get caught in a trap set by the landlord. I would have preferred that it simply left the house. What this indicates to me is that if you use magic, you must be careful what you wish for, as you may get it, in fact you may get more than you bargained for. Like any use of power, be it electricity, dynamite or atomic fusion, care must be exercised.


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Specializing in Horary Astrology, Electional Astrology Astrological Magic and Astrological Talismans.

Copyright 2000, Christopher Warnock, All Rights Reserved.
This article originally appeared in The Mountain Astrologer