The discussion of Herba Lunatica / Borixa starts at f96v and ends at f97v. The plant is not illustrated, but the first lines of the text are interlaced with the roots of an illustration of Verbena (the subject of the pages preceding the Lunatica essay).
|Illustration of Vervain and first lines of the Lunatica / Borixa essay|
Vera Segre Rutz discusses a similar Latin text in “Gli Erbari di Ermete” (in “Hermetism from late antiquity to humanism” - Lucentini, Parri, Perrone-Compagni eds. - 2004). The manuscripts mentioned in the paper attribute the text to Hermes Trismegistus with the title “Capitulum Hermetis sapientissimi de arbore qui dicitur borissa id est lunatica” (Essay by the most wise Hermes about the tree that is called Borissa i.e. Lunatica). Segre Rutz lists six manuscripts that include this text, noting that the differences between them are “numerous and significant”:
- London, Arundel 342 – Italian? - before 1361 (the text is appended to the Latin version of the Kyranides)
- Vatican, Pal. Lat. 1339 – XV Century
- Volterra, Guarnacci 5399 – XV Century
- Bethlehem, Lehigh University 1 – Catalan - XV Century
- Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 395 – Catalan - XV Century (a much longer version of the Lunatica essay, pointed out to Segre Rutz by Michela Pereira; this ms also features several illustrations of Lunaria)
- London, Wellcome Institute 261 – Italian - XVI Century? (this ms apparently contains an illustrated herbal)
The fact that the Trinity ms apparently includes a second XIV Century copy of the Lunatica essay could be of a certain interest. This version is considerably longer than the version transcribed by Segre Rutz (Wellcome ms 261). I have been unable to access the Corpus Christi ms in order to understand if the two extended versions are similar.
The overall structure of the essay is the following:
- Title, description of the plant and of its relation with the waxing and waning of the Moon.
- Incantation / prayer one should recite when picking the plant (missing in the Wellcome ms).
- Alchemical use of the plant for the transmutation of metals and more details on the appearance of the plant.
- The plant as an elixir of youth.
- List of specific locations in which the plant can be found (missing in the Wellcome ms). The fact that the most specific locations are in Northern Italy could suggest that (this version of) the text was written there.
- How to use the gold produced with Lunatica to make a magical ring granting dominion on people and demons. The Trinity ms includes several other uses of the ring. The Wellcome ms includes a description of an image to be engraved on the ring: such description is missing in the Trinity ms.
In the following transcription and translation, I have highlighted in bold the passages in which the Trinity and Wellcome manuscripts are closer.
|Trinity College MS O.2.48||Wellcome MS 261|
|[96v] precantio herbe lunatice alij borixeam dicunt alii borixam. alij bona | mitos alij herba constantini. alij lucernalis. quod eius flos et herba tota | lucet in nocte. et pastoribus videntibus eam lucens in nocte quasi | pavescunt quod putant illam esse fantasmata. hac herba est similis maio | rane cuius folia celestis coloris similis foliis viticelle . sunt ro | tunda ad modum denariorum. hac una herba nascitur sine foliis a nove | lunio usque ad plenitudinem lune cotidie unum folium producit. | … medietate mensis lunaris. xv habet folia. deinde [?] cum luna | deminuitur cotidie unum folium amitit. donec sine foliis pe | [97r] nitus denudata||Capitulum Hermetis sapientissimi de arbore que dicitur borissa id est lunatica, que est similis folie maiurane, cuius folia celestis colloris similia sunt foliis viticelle, hec quidem nascitur sine foliis a prima Luna usque ad plenum Lune quotidie unum folium producit et sic usque ad medium mensis lunaris 14 habet folia. Deinde cum Luna minuatur quotidie folium unum perdit donec sit foliis penitus denudata sicut fuit procreata.|
|(+) unum accipiens [?] hanc herbam cum hoc car[mine?] | et vade ad eam mundus et nitidus sic ut de […] et […] | orientem. O magne Rex adonay in cuius sunt omnes potestates et virtu | tes et medicamina omnium herbarum. per omnia sancta nomina tua. et per glorio | sam assensionem tuam ac ressiurectionem et per beatissimam virginem mariam | matrem tuam desponsatam ioseph. te deprecor ut non custodias ad | peccata mea nec ad miseriam meam. sed custioas ad misericordiam | ac pietatem tuam. ut des huic herbe omnes virtutes et omnes potestates | ut qui de hac herba […] habet virtutem efficacem[?] . per te regnante | dominus per infinita secula seculorum amen. + hic signes eam post evellendo | eam dicas hac sancta nomina dei. alpha et omega. agla. octinomos tetragrammaton. | pantoncraton. Emanuel. Enecphaton + . ya vau. Rex [...] . et per semper [...] altera[?] inmortalis agnus inmaculatus sabaoth. | hoc dicendo flexis genibus evelle ipsam uno ictu. Qui tali modo | hanc herbam carminaverit eam tenebit quod sine hac precationem hec | erba evanessetur ante te. et ipsa collecta amiteres ipsam. Quia | a te fugeret +|
|De hac herba accipe et eius sucum extrahe in quo suco | mercurium fac bolire et fit lapis rubeus. et de hac lapide pone super […] et | fiet sol. et de hoc sole pone unam partem super C eius et fiet[?] sol. | Item de radice huius herbe fac pulverem vel de eius stipite. et de hac pulvere | pone super saturnum uncie[?] i super C et fiet optimus sol . Item de […] | herba cum sua radice fac pulverem si est […] ut non habet[?] sucum. | Et pone de hac pulvere uncie[?] i super C . eius et fiet optima luna. Et de hac luna si posueris uncie[?] i super C saturni. fiet sol […] | Hac herba nascitur in montibus et in ripis fluminum. […] | folia sunt rotunda ad modum denariorum[?]. lignum eius ru[be?]um […] | et sucus eius similiter. et eius folia sunt similima in colore […] | viola[rum?] ipsius odor est[?] . ut odor musci. […] | [97v] […] et virtuti in sole. et de ipso sole pone super | […] sol de quo sole simile si super saturnum posueris ut [...] est | […] fiet sol. Item de suco radicis huius herbe. unge ferrum | et fiet luna.||Accipe igitur hanc herbam et eius succum extrahe in quo mercurium fac bullire et fiat lapis rubeus et de hoc lapide proice supra cuprum id est ramum et fiat aurum cuius V° pars super centum. Hec erba nascitur in ripis fluminum et in montibus cuius folia sunt rotunda ad modum dinariorum lignum eius est rubeum et flos eius est citrinus et eius odor sicut muschii et habet lac simile croco. Accipe aquam huius erbe quam terendo et comprimendo extrahe et pone super argentum et vertitur in aurum optimum et de hoc accipe partem unam et pone super plumbum et fiet aurum et de radice huius herbe extrahe succum terendum et unge ferrum aridum et exinde mollificabit fietque lime et de hac lima pone super mercurium et fiet lapis. Accipe de foliis eius et sicca et pone inde super argentum et fiet aurum et si exinde super es posueris fiet luna|
|Item de pulvere huius herbe vel radicis. pondus unius carobie. | accipiatur. et ponatur cum eoque[?] pondere de spica nardi. et ligni[?] aloes. et mirre. | […]. et de hac quis biberit per ix dies pondus trium carubiorum . Omnes pilli | albi et cani cadent. et nigri[?] nascentur. et totum corpus eius efficietur quasi | in forma et etate xxx annorum. et in illo robore erit. Et in | hos ix dies scit[?] dieta ut lac vacinum et suco […]. et lac | amigdalarum. Et in hos ix dies stet in thalamo oscuro ut aliquem | splendor diei scit.||et si de ipso pulvere ponderis unius carube acciperis et equo pondere cum spica romana mescueris et in urina posueris de ipso usque ad octo dies quotidie biberis pondere unius unzie, vel carube omnes albi pilli de tuo corpore cadent et in loco eorum nigri nascentur et infra hos octo dies sit dieta tua in lacte vacce dulci et ita de sene fiet fortis et iuvenis et si vis ad lumen oculorum mirablilem reddit visum|
|Hec dicunt herba invensta[?] fuit a pastoribus | quod […] pastores per hanc herbam sciunt renovationem lunationis. | Et nascitur in montibus magnis sasoxis. et specialiter in illis montibus | invenitur ubi currunt flumina. Quidam eam[?] inveniunt circa aliquas | insulas maris. Item inveniuntur in monte qui dicitur laguarda. quod est super bono | niam. et in ex partia et in monte quod dicitur montbon quod est inter florencem | et bononiam. et in monte habraham quod est super veronam. et in cicilia. | et in apullia. Item invenitur in quodam insula maris ethiopie. qua dicitur | sene et in quodam monte quod est in barbaria.|
|Item de sole facto[?] huius herbe | fac anulum in quo pone margaritam. et sub illa margarita sit de radice | fu[?] si quis hanc anulum super se portaverit omnes homines et mulieres. et | [...] demones obedient ei. Et si quis demoniacus ad collum suum | habuit liberabitur ademonio et fugient ab eo. et dicet […] | […] sua. Ad partum mulieris. Item si hoc anulum | suspenderis[?] ad coxia mulieris parturientis cito pariet et absque | dolore. Ad caducos. Item si quis caducus in digito suo | […] dextera manus habuit[?] numquam cadet. Quis super se habuit[?] numquam dentes doleb[unt?] | […] tenuerit propter magnum calorem non faciet |[...] caloris quod [...] propter febres in estivo tempore.||et si vis omnes demones et homines obedient tibi fac de dicto auro facto de dicta erba fieri anulum in quo ponas unam de margaritis quas tinxisti in qua fac scolpire imaginem bovis que habet caput ad similitudinem piscis et cauda sit sicut cauda pavonis. Deinde cum cera virginea lavetur cum aqua celesti callida et quod decima pars huius aque callide remaneat postea distilletur. Explicit.|
|Trinity College MS O.2.48||Wellcome MS 261|
|[96v] Enchantment of the Lunatica plant, others call it Borixea, others Borixa, others Bonamitos, | others plant of Constantine, others Lucernalis, because its flowers and the whole plant | shine in the night, and the shepherds , seeing it shine in the night, are almost | afraid, mistaking it for phantoms. This plant is similar to marjoram | whose leaves are of a bluish color, they are similar to the leaves of Viticella. They are round like coins. This plant is born without leaves, From the new | moon to the full moon, it produces a new leaf every day. | [In the?] middle of the Lunar month, it has fifteen leaves. Then, as the moon wanes, it loses a leaf every day, until it is without leaves, thoroughly [97r] denuded.||Essay by the most wise Hermes about the tree that is called Borissa i.e. Lunatica, which has leaves similar to Marjoram, whose leaves, of a blue color, are similar to the leaves of Viticella. Indeed it is born without leaves; from the first Moon to the full Moon, it produces a leaf every day until, at the middle of the Lunar month, it has fourteen leaves. Then, as the Moon wanes, it loses a leaf every day, until it is thoroughly denuded of leaves, as it was procreated.|
|+ Pick[?] this plant with this prayer[?] | and go to it being clean and neat as […] | Eastward. O Great King Adonay in whom are all powers and | virtues and the medicines of all plants, for all your sacred names, for your glorious | ascension and resurrection, for your very blessed mother | the Virgin Mary, wife of Joseph, I pray you: do not observe | my sins nor my misery, but observe your mercy | and compassion. Give to his plant all virtues and all powers. | Let he who [picks?] this plant benefit[?] of its effective virtue. By you, Lord, ruling for infinite ages, amen. + Here sign it and, after plucking | it, say these sacred names of God: Alpha and Omega, Agla, Octinomos, Tetragrammaton, | Pantoncraton, Emmanuel, Enecphaton + ya vau King [...] and forever […] [?] immortal, immaculate lamb, Sabaoth. Saying these words, kneeling, pluck it with a single strike. Whoever prayed | the plant in this way, will be able to keep it. Because, without this prayer, this | plant will disappear in front of you: even if it was picked, you will lose it, because | it will flee from you. +|
|Take this plant and extract its juice. Boil mercury | in this juice and a red stone will be produced. Put some of this stone on […] | and the Sun [i.e. gold] will be produced. Put part of this Sun on its body [?Corpus] and the Sun will be produced. | Make powder of the root or stem of this pant, and put one ounce[?] | of this powder on Saturn [i.e. lead] on its body[?] and an excellent Sun will be produced. | Make a powder of this plant, if it is so [dry?] that it has no juice. | Put one ounce[?] of this powder on its body[?] and an excellent Moon [i.e. silver] will be produced. And if you put one ounce[?] of this Moon upon the body[?] of Saturn, the Sun will be produced […] | This plant grows on the mountains and the shores of rivers. […] | [Its?] leaves are round like coins. Its wood is red […] | and its juice similarly. | And its leaves are very similar in color […] | of violets. Its smell is like the smell of musk. […] | [97v] […] put of this Sun on | […] the Sun, of which Sun similarly […] as if you put it on Saturn, | the Sun is produced. Oil iron with the juice of this plant and the Moon will be produced.||Take then of this plant and extract its juice in which you will boil mercury, a red stone will be produced. Put of this stone on Cuprum i.e. Copper and gold will be produced by a five percent of it. This plant grows on the shores of rivers and on mountains. Its leaves are round like coins. Its wood is red and its flower is citric [yellow?] with a smell like musk. It has a milk similar to Crocus. Take the water that you extract from this plant by rubbing and compressing ant put it on silver and it will change into excellent gold. Take a part of this [gold] and put it on lead and gold will be produced. Extract juice of this plant by rubbing and oil dry iron, it will become soft. Make powder by filing and put of this powder on Mercury, the Stone will be produced. Take its leaves, dry them and then put them on silver, gold will be produced. If you then put it on Es[?], the Moon will be produced.|
|Take the powder of this plant or of its root, the weight of one carob, | together with the same quantity of Spica Nardi and aloe wood and myrrh. | If one drinks of it the weight of three carobs for nine days, all the white | and gray hair will fall, and black [hair] will grow. All his body will be transformed almost | in the shape and age of thirty years, and he will have the same strength. During | those nine days, one should have a diet of cow milk, and juice [of …] and almond | milk. During those nine days, one should stay in a dark bedroom [without?] any | daylight.||And if you take the weigh of one carob of that powder and mix it with the same weight of Spica Romana and put it into urine and for eight days drink of it daily the weigh of one ounce or carob, all the white hair will fall from your body; in their place, black hair will grow. During those eight days, your diet will be of sweet cow milk: in this way, from old you will become strong and young and, if you want, it wonderfully restores sight to the light of the eyes.|
|They say this plant was found by the shepherds, | because […] shepherds can tell the phase of the Moon by [observing] this plant. | It grows on great stony mountains, in particular it is found on those mountains | on which rivers flow. Somebody found it in some islands | of the sea. It is found on the mountain called Laguarda [La Guardia?], which is above Bologna, | and in the surrounding areas, and on the mountain called Montbon, which is between Florence and Bologna, and on the Habraham mountain, which is above Verona, and in Sicily, | and in Apulia. It is also found in some island in the Sea of Ethiopia and on some mountain in Barbaria.|
|Of the Sun [i.e. gold] made with this plant | make a ring in which you shall put a pearl, and under that pearl a bit of Fu [i.e. Valerian] root. | If one wears that ring upon himself, all men and women and | devils will obey him. And if one was possessed by the devil and had | [this ring] at his neck, he will be freed and the devils will flee from him. […] | For women giving childbirth: if this ring | is hanged to the tights of a woman giving birth, the childbirth will be fast and without | pain. For the epileptics: if one was epileptic and had it at his finger | […] of the right hand, he will never fall. If one has it upon himself, his teeth will never ache. | […] because of the great heat […] | because of fevers during summertime.||And if you want that all devils and men obey you, have a ring made of the said gold of the said plant in which you will put one of the pearls that you imbued. Have the image of an ox with a head like a fish and a tail like the tail of a peacock engraved on it. Then it should be washed with virgin wax and hot rain water: a tenth of the remaining rain water should be distilled. The end.|