The Queen’s Talisman

Caterina-TalismanNo Queen in France caused such execration as Catherine de Medici, who was accused of being a power-hungry, unscrupulous woman, a witch, a poisoner. After centuries of ill repute in the twentieth century, historians have reassessed the figure of this Florentine who married a man who did not love her preferring his lover, the beautiful Diane de Poitiers, and became widow too soon and found herself in the position to rule over a great nation and fight palace intrigues plotted by those who from the beginning with contempt had called her “l’italien”, the italian, the foreigner. Doing justice to her political genius, historians point out that Catherine averted for about thirty years in France a bloody wars between Catholics and Protestants, and under the threat of Spanish Imperialism, the widow of Henry II managed to preserve the integrity and autonomy in the country using all means at her disposal. A few years ago, on the occasion of an exhibition dedicated to her,  one of her jewels was exposed, a plaque engraved with the hermetic and cabalistic formulas, a talisman. Catherine de Medici was involved with magic with the help of her court astrologer, Cosimo Ruggeri, son of the astrolger of the Medici family in Florence. Catherine’s cultural background in fact was part of the Neoplatonic, Hermetic and Astrological Tradition that had already firmly rooted to the Valois court. Strongly influenced by Marsilio Ficino, she was interested in the science of the stars as “an aspiration both of Florentine Platonism and of the french philosophical and prophetic tradition: a spiritual and moral renewal that asks peace and prosperity to the wisdom of the stars.” says Luisa Capodieci, art historian, in her book “Medicaea Medaea. Art, Astres et Pouvoir à la Cour de Cathérine de Médicis”. Catherine’s talisman was made from metals melted during favorable astrological signs and then mixed with human and goat blood. The astral talisman, which the Queen always used to bring with her, was destroyed when she died, but a copy can be found at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris. It was an object created to attract power and love. It is oval shaped: one side has depicted Jupiter, seated on a eagle, and a hermetic and magical female image with beak and bird claws; on the back of the image of Venus, goddess of beauty and love, accompanied by the names of demons engraved including Asmodeus, the demon of carnal desire, usually invoked to get the specific energy to win the love of another person.


Let’s look closer to the images and words engraved on the talisman. The female figure with the bird head and eagle feet is holding a dart with her right hand and with her left hand an object like a convex mirror or a lens. The female figure on the other side is holding a heart in her right hand and a comb in her left hand. We can reconize in those two pictures two magical images of Venus from the Picatrix.

The Picatrix says:

Forma Veneris secundum opinionem sapientis Picatricis est forma mulieris tenentis in eius dextra manu malum et in sinistra pectinem similem tabule et is tis figuris scriptum: OɅOIOɅ . Et hec est eius forma. Forma Veneris secundum opinionem sapientis Mercurii est forma habens corpus hominis et vultum et caput avis. pedes vero aquile. Et hec est eius forma.

The image of Venus according to the opinion of the sage Picatrix is the image of a woman holding an apple in her right hand and a comb like a wooden tablet and on this figure written OɅOIOɅ. That is her image. The image of Venus according the opinion of the learned Mercurius is an image having human body, face and head of a bird and feet like a eagle. That is her image.

Moreover Agrippa in his “Three Books of Occult Philosophy” says:

From the operations of Venus they made an Image, which was available for favor, and benevolence, at the very hour it ascending into Pisces, the form of which was the Image of a woman having the head of a bird, and feet of an Eagle, holding a dart in her hand.

About the male figure we can also find a suitable description in the Picatrix.

Forma Iovis secundum opinionem Beylus est forma hominis super aquilamsedentis et in uno panno involuti. et pedes supra lumbos aquile. et caput panniin quo involvitur sua dextra tenentis. Et hec est eius forma.

The image of Jupiter according to Beylus is the image of a man setting on an eagle and wrapped in a cloack, and his feet are above the loin of the eagle and his head, which is covered by the cloack, is held in his right hand.

and also

Et si ab officialibus et iudicibus volueris diligi. facias ex operibus Iovis formam hominis formosi cum vestimentis amplis supra aquilam equitantis in hora Iovis in ascendente et in sua exaltacione existentis in lapide cristalli. Qui vero hanc ymaginem secum portaverit ab officialibus et iudicibus diligetur

If you wish to be esteemed by officials and judges, make under the influence of Jupiter the form of a handsome man with ample robes riding an eagle in crystal stone in the hour of Jupiter when Jupiter is in the ascendant and his exaltation. It is true that officials and judges will esteem those that carry these images with them.


Venus: seal and sigils

We can also see on the talisman among other obscure names and glyphs:

  • the seal of Venus
  • the sigil of Hagiel, the Intelligence of Venus and his name
  • the name of the Angel of Venus, as Anael and as Haniel
  • the name of the demon Asmodeus as Asmodel
Catherine de' Medici

Catherine de’ Medici

Unfortunately, Catherine’s love talisman failed miserably in regard to her marriage. Her husband Henri II kept favouring his famed mistress, Diane de Poitiers till his death. More than a bloodthirsty Medea this talisman concur to prove who Caterina really was: a woman who for her whole life tried desperately to be loved and to be valued as a woman and queen.


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