Behenian Fixed Stars

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.[1]

Table of Behenian Stars

Name Astronomical Designation Location1 Planet Gemstone Plant Symbol
Algol Caput Larvæ Beta Persei 26 Taurus 10 Saturn & Jupiter diamond black hellebore  
Pleiades M45 (Taurus) 29 Taurus 58 Moon & Mars rock crystal fennel  
Aldebaran Aldaboram Alpha Tauri 9 Gemini 47 Mars & Venus ruby / garnet milk thistle  
Capella Alhayhoch, Hircus Alpha Aurigæ 21 Gemini 51 Jupiter & Saturn sapphire thyme  
Sirius Canis major Alpha Canis Majoris 14 Cancer 05 Venus beryl juniper  
Procyon Canis minor Alpha Canis Minoris 25 Cancer 47 Mercury & Mars agate water buttercup  
Regulus 2 Cor leonis Alpha Leonis 29 Leo 50 Jupiter & Mars granite mugwort  
Polaris Cauda Ursæ Alpha Ursæ Majoris 28 Gemini 34 Venus & Moon magnet succory  
Algorab Corvi Delta Corvi 13 Libra 27 Saturn & Mars onyx burdock  
Spica Alpha Virginis 23 Libra 50 Venus & Mercury emerald sage  
Arcturus Alchameth Alpha Boötis 24 Libra 14 Mars & Jupiter jasper plantain  
Alphecca Elpheia Alpha Coronæ Borealis 12 Scorpio 18 Venus & Mars topaz rosemary  
Antares Cor scorpii Alpha Scorpii 9 Sagittarius 46 Venus & Jupiter sardonyx birthwort  
Vega Vultur cadens Alpha Lyræ 15 Capricorn 19 Mercury & Venus chrysolite winter savory  
Deneb Algedi Cauda capricorni Delta Capricorni 23 Aquarius 30 Saturn & Mercury chalcedony marjoram  

These locations are given in celestial longitude, the relatively fixed reference frame of tropical signs used in astrology and are derived from the measurements listed at Constellations of Words. Due to Precession of the Equinoxes the Fixed Stars appear to drift or move through space at the rate of 1 degree of Arc per 72 years. In order to fix the measurement to a specific date and degree of arc the values published through that scholarly work are utilized for the year 2000. All celestial bodies, including stars and constellations, are measured according to various fixed frameworks, in this instance a geocentric tropical zodiac. Cf. Heliocentric model as a fixed framework and sidereal and tropical astrology to identify the measuring system used here. For example, 26 Taurus 10 means 26 degrees 10 minutes of the tropical sign Taurus. See Ecliptic coordinate system for further information.