Behenian Fixed Stars

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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.[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 Algol symbol (Agripe 1531).svg
Pleiades M45 (Taurus) 29 Taurus 58 Moon & Mars rock crystal fennel Pleiades (Agrippa 1531).svg
Aldebaran Aldaboram Alpha Tauri 9 Gemini 47 Mars & Venus ruby / garnet milk thistle Aldaboram (Agripa 1531).svg
Capella Alhayhoch, Hircus Alpha Aurigæ 21 Gemini 51 Jupiter & Saturn sapphire thyme Agrippa1531 Hircus.png
Sirius Canis major Alpha Canis Majoris 14 Cancer 05 Venus beryl juniper Sirius - Agrippa.png
Procyon Canis minor Alpha Canis Minoris 25 Cancer 47 Mercury & Mars agate water buttercup Agrippa1531 Canisminor.png
Regulus 2 Cor leonis Alpha Leonis 29 Leo 50 Jupiter & Mars granite mugwort Agrippa1531 corLeonis.png
Polaris Cauda Ursæ Alpha Ursæ Majoris 28 Gemini 34 Venus & Moon magnet succory Agrippa1531 caudaUrsae.svg
Algorab Corvi Delta Corvi 13 Libra 27 Saturn & Mars onyx burdock Agrippa1531 alaCorui.png
Spica Alpha Virginis 23 Libra 50 Venus & Mercury emerald sage Agrippa1531 Spica.png
Arcturus Alchameth Alpha Boötis 24 Libra 14 Mars & Jupiter jasper plantain Agrippa1531 Alchameth.png
Alphecca Elpheia Alpha Coronæ Borealis 12 Scorpio 18 Venus & Mars topaz rosemary Agrippa1531 Elpheia.png
Antares Cor scorpii Alpha Scorpii 9 Sagittarius 46 Venus & Jupiter sardonyx birthwort Agrippa1531 corScorpii.png
Vega Vultur cadens Alpha Lyræ 15 Capricorn 19 Mercury & Venus chrysolite winter savory Agrippa1531 Vulturcadens.png
Deneb Algedi Cauda capricorni Delta Capricorni 23 Aquarius 30 Saturn & Mercury chalcedony marjoram Agrippa1531 caudaCapricorni.png

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.