JF Ptak Science Books Post 1166
Working on the next installment of cosmological images [and also a continuation of the series on writing systems] I put together a series on naming the stars, ideas providing the mechanics for naming the celestial kingdom, applying an alphabet for relative discussions of the heavens. The most provocative of them all, I think, belonged to Guillaume Postel (1510-1581), a scholar who took flight in his imagination and who established a world system which for him created a harmony between all things that existed and the maker of the universe, and which basically was an attempt to move far past any identification system to a catechize the stars. Postel’s was a communication system between man and the beyond, not a coordinate system. He incised the stars in his vault of heaven with Hebrew letters which would be the keys to understanding all things–and at the basis of all of this was his conception of a world unified religion which incorporated Christian ideas and values and to which all other religions would transpire.
There were numerous other attempts to establish divine alphabets, though none so far as I know were inscribed directly on the stars intended to serve as a means of transferring information and insight. The extraordinarily accomplished (Renaissance man of the Renaissance, physician, astrologer, botanist, occultist, and general fill-in for whatever discipline needed help) Paracelsus’ Alphabet of the Magi also used Hebrew letters supplemented with magical alphabets for divination purposes, though not on the stars. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (an astrologer/magician/theologian/occultist, 1486-1535) in the early 16th century came close to the Postel idea with his Angelic Alphabet, though this was used to communicate with angels and again was not incised on the stars themselves. John Dee’s (a man of many and high accomplishments, a mathematician, occultist, astronomer, astrologer, alchemist and divine, 1527-1608) angelic alphabet was somewhat similar to Agrippa’s; his “Enochian” language used to communicate with angels.
Letters and numbers were of course used on stars but in general were used to identify the magnitude and position of stars in the constellations. Johann Bayer (1572-1625) applied Greek letters to stars according to their relative luminosity in his revolutionar Uranometia (published in 1603). John Flamsteed (1646-1719, and who was "The King's Astronomical Observator" and the first British Astronomer Royal)would come a little later and use an arabic numeral and Greek letter system, which would give the relative luminosity as well as the star’s position from the western-most edge of its constellation.
But it was this image by Postel which is the most astonishing, really, attempting as it did to read the heavens and the works of God without ever having to actually see the Creator (a thing most impossible, as stated in Exodus 33:20).