Agrippa von Nettesheim and the Dragon*

Agrippa von Nettesheim in his “De 0cculta Philosophia” makes a reference to two magical images of the head and tail of the Dragon.

“They (the ancients) made also (and image of) the head and taile of the Dragon of the Moon, namely betwixt an Aeriall and fiery circle, the likeness of a Serpent, with the head of an Hawke tyed about them, after the manner of the great letter Theta, & they made it when Jupiter with the head obtain’d the midst of Heaven: dragon which Image they affirm to availe much for the success of Petitions, and would signifie by this Image a good and fortunate Genius, which they would represent by this Image of the Serpent; for the Egyptians and Phenicians [Phoenicians] do extoll this creature above all others, and say it is a divine creature and hath a divine nature; for in this is a more acute spirit, and a greater fire than in any other, which thing is manifested both by his swift motion without feet, hands or any other instruments; and also that it often reneweth his age with his skin, and becometh young again: but they made the Image of the taile like as when the Moon Ecclipsed [eclipsed], in the Taile, or ill affected by Saturn or Mars, and they made it to introduce, anguish, infirmity and misfortune; and they called it the evill Genius…” De occulta philosophia, Book 2, Chap. xlv.


Image from

In this description we have a dragon that is between an airy and a fiery circle. This is the dragon described in the Bundahisn. We have the head of the dragon in the mutable air sign Gemini and the tail in the mutable fire sign Sagittarius. If we blend out the dragon shown in the illustration we have two discs slightly offset from one another. These two discs represent an eclipse. Of interest here is that the head and tail of the dragon are placed at the intersection of the two discs, reflecting the astronomical connection of the nodes with an eclipse.

Agrippa’s description of the talismans shows a more earth-centred attitude, prosperity for the Dragon’s Head and poverty for the Tail. In fact the “rulership” is reversed. Where in the Bundahisn the Head is disposited by Mercury here it is associated with benign Jupiter and the Tail which is disposited by Jupiter is associated with the malefics Saturn and Mars. The reason for this is that the focus is not on the eclipse itself but on the nature of the nodes in their ascending and descending quality.

Just a note on the side. Agrippa mentions that this image is similar to the Greek letter “theta”. The symbol for “theta” is very similar to the alchemical symbol for salt (A circle or oval divided in the centre by a line).

*Dear reader. I am offering this for completeness. A word of warning. This is not a recommendation for talismanic magic. I consider it a very dangerous undertaking and best left alone.


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