Sola Busca Cards: Nabuchodenasor

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Sola Busca - Nabuchodenasor - Trump XXI

Sola Busca Tarot


Robert Fludd - Utriusque Cosmi - 1612 - detail of pg.165

The king wears his armour. He seems to be rising from the earth. He holds a staff in his right hand. An helmet with a crown is in front of him. Above the king there is a globe; it is divided in four parts; in the middle of the globe, between the stars, there is a winged dragon. The globe is very similar to that we see in the King of Swords, Alexander. From Kaplan vol.II pg. 298 it seems that the globe was not starred in the original engraving. The stars were likely added by the illuminator.

Identification of the Subject

Nabuchodonosor II (also Nebuchadrezzar or Nebuchadnezzar, reigned 605 BC - 562 BC), is perhaps the best known ruler of Babylon. He is famous for his conquests of Judah and Jerusalem. He is mentioned in some books of the Bible: "The Book of Judith", "The Book of Daniel", "The Book of Ezra", "The Book of Esther" and others.

Image references

Illumination from a pseudo-Lullian Alchemical text now in Florence

Pseudo-Lull alchemical text

A pseudo-Lullian alchemical text (possibly Ms. B.R. 52 Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, "III Raim. LULII Opera Chemica 27" illuminated by Gerolamo da Cremona in 1474) features an interesting image of a king. The king seems to be rising from a cloud, so only the upper part of his body is visible. The king holds a banner on which what he "says" can be read: Ego sum rex fortis et potens careo timore nisi de isto dracone ("I am a strong and powerful king. I am free from all fear but of this dragon"). The full image can be seen at this site

Robert Fludd

An image with a dragon in a globe is present in the 1612 edition of "Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, physica atqve technica historia, in duo volumina secundum cosmi differentiam diuisa" by Robert Fludd. "Metaphysical, physical and technical history of both major and minor words, divided in two volumes according to the differences between the words".

The following is a partial translation from Latin to English of pages 163-167 of the first volume.

The dragon that appears in the illustration represents the Devil, the Prince of Darkness, that Fludd calls Lucifugus "He who hides from the light".

Text by Robert Fludd




About the opposite movement of universal form and matter. About the proportion of the same in every sky. A most effective demonstration of the position of the Sun in the middle of the sky.

In the previous discourse we showed how the light of the form, which is driven downwards, is less and weaker. And the matter that rises more is thinner, more spiritual and lesser in its proportion. That splendor of the form goes down to the earth from its origin, the sky of Empyreus, as a pyramid. Its base is close to the concave surface of the Empyreus sky; its cone is close to the earth. And indeed God is root, source, origin and father of it. On the other hand, matter rose from the abyss of darkness, and all the darkness gathered in the body of the earth. The prince of darkness is the Devil, so its movement is contrary to the movement of light. His pyramid has its basis down in the center of the earth, and his cone rises to the concave surface of the Empyreus sky.

So every sky is made of matter and form. The skies are so much made of form as they are higher. The skies are more subject to matter as they are lower and closer to the center.


Robert Fludd - Utriusque Cosmi - 1612

pg.164 The universe was called “image of God” (Dei imaginem) by the wise. According to Trismegistus: God before the creation of the universe shone in himself, and reflexed in himself his own fire. So the true Trinity is outside everything and its reflex is in everything. The pyramid of form and light pervades the universe and the universe is not disjoint from it; indeed the basis of the pyramid is the same as the basis of the Trinity; and the splendor of the real and not understandable essence of the Trinity is continuous as the rays of the Sun is in the body. And the strength of the light of God is judged to be huge, above that of the Devil, Prince of darkness; even if he is hiding in the center of the earth, Lucifugus is reached by the ray and power of God. But to whatever extent any creature exists so far from him, it rises from the basis of the single pyramid of matter, which is contained and does not contain. Indeed to whatever part of the spiritual circumference might lead the basis of the material pyramid, from the center of the earth, so surely happens because the Devil be known not to have in himself any infinity.

pg.165 Such is the proportion of the soul of the world (animae mundi proportio) according to the ancient philosophers. Such theory is not different from our intention, since the matter that has taken form increases in proportion when going down. The demonstration follows. ..... A. B. C. is the place of the mind that was not created and cannot be comprehended, that shone to itself and to no creature before the creation of the universe. And when it thought to itself of the creation of the universe, it said Let it be (FIAT); and its face shone in the darkness; as Trismegistus said, “all the things were transformed in a strong, playful and sweet light”. And the power and form of God penetrated until the center of the machine. On the other hand, the matter of darkness moved in a contrary direction, in order to oppose resistance; and in its movement always decreases in its substance and is made thinner; so it formed the pyramid E.F.G. And the pyramid of form, which above we called the image of God, is described by the letters B.C.D. Whose base B.C. Is the same as the basis of the true Trinity.

pg.166 ..... And the middle of that pyramid is the true place of the Sun, and the position of the true balance of nature. ......

pg.167 So in the place of the intersection of the two triangles, matter and form, between H and I, is the true balance of the sphere. The union of the universal male and female, the true sulfur of the chemist, and the due and proportionate part of Mercury: from this union the child of the sun (infans solaris), pride of the universe and true soul of it, was born. So it is truly said the “sphere of the soul” (animae sphaera).

The Ripley Scroll

Lucas Cranach's signature on "Venus and Cupid"
Crowned Snake with A Wing of Bat

The dragon on the card has no legs: it looks like a winged snake. This makes possible a connection to a XV century alchemical text known as the Ripley Scroll:

On the Ground there is a Hill,

Also a Serpent within a Well:

His Tayle is long with Wings wide,

All ready to fly on every side,

Repaire the Well round about,

That the Serpent pas not out;

For if that he be there agone,

Thou loosest the vertue of the Stone ...

A winged snake also appeared as the signature of Lucas Cranach (1472 - 1553) German painter, engraver and designer of woodcuts.

Textual references

Bible: Book of Daniel

{1:1} In the third year of the reign of Joakim, king of Juda, Nabuchodonosor, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem, and beseiged it. {1:2} And the Lord delivered into his hands Joakim, the king of Juda, and part of the vessels of the house of God: and he carried them away into the land of Sennaar, to the house of his god, and the vessels he brought into the treasure house of his god.

{4:25} All these things came upon king Nabuchodonosor. {4:26} At the end of twelve months he was walking in the palace of Babylon. {4:27} And the king answered, and said: Is not this the great Babylon, which I have built, to be the seat of the kingdom, by the strength of my power, and in the glory of my excellence? {4:28} And while the word was yet in the king's mouth, a voice came down from heaven: To thee, O king Nabuchodonosor, it is said: Thy kingdom shall pass from thee. {4:29} And they shall cast thee out from among men, and thy dwelling shall be with cattle and wild beasts: thou shalt eat grass like an ox, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. {4:30} The same hour the word was fulfilled upon Nabuchodonosor, and he was driven away from among men, and did eat grass, like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven: till his hairs grew like the feathers of eagles, and his nails like birds' claws. {4:31} Now at the end of the days, I, Nabuchodonosor, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my sense was restored to me: and I blessed the most High, and I praised and glorified him that liveth for ever: for his power is an everlasting power, and his kingdom is to all generations. {4:32} And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing before him: for he doth according to his will, as well with the powers of heaven, as among the inhabitants of the earth: and there is none that can resist his hand, and say to him: Why hast thou done it? {4:33} At the same time my sense returned to me, and I came to the honour and glory of my kingdom: and my shape returned to me: and my nobles, and my magistrates, sought for me, and I was restored to my kingdom: and greater majesty was added to me. {4:34} Therefore I, Nabuchodonosor, do now praise, and magnify, and glorify the King of heaven: because all his works are true, and his ways judgments, and them that walk in pride he is able to abase.

Bible: Book of Judith

{2:1} In the thirteenth year of the reign of Nabuchodonosor, the two and twentieth day of the first month, the word was given out in the house of Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, that he would revenge himself. {2:2} And he called all the ancients, and all the governors, and his officers of war, and communicated to them the secret of his counsel: {2:3} And he said that his thoughts were to bring all the earth under his empire. {2:4} And when this saying pleased them all, Nabuchodonosor, the king, called Holofernes the general of his armies, {2:5} And said to him: Go out against all the kingdoms of the west, and against them especially that despised my commandment. {2:6} Thy eye shall not spare any kingdom, and all the strong cities thou shalt bring under my yoke. {2:7} Then Holofernes called the captains, and officers of the power of the Assyrians: and he mustered men for the expedition, and the king commanded him, a hundred and twenty thousand fighting men on foot, and twelve thousand archers, horsemen

Fazio degli Uberti Dittamondo Book 6, Chapter XIV, verses 46-54

Italian original

Sedechias fu che venne dopo lui,

lo quale Ieremia in pregion mise,

per dire il ver, non per mal fare altrui.

In quel tempo Ierusalem conquise

Nabuchodonosor e il regno tutto, 50

lo qual partio come volse e divise.

Sedechias prese e con pianto e con lutto

gli occhi li trasse e poi lo ’mpregiona

con molti piú e in Caldea fu condutto.

English Translation

Zedekiah came after him [Jehoiachin],

he put Jeremiah in prison,

because he said the truth, not for having harmed anyone.

At that time Jerusalem and all the kingdom

were conquered by Nebuchadnezzar

that divided it as he pleased.

He captured Zedekiah with tears and grief,

put out his eyes and imprisoned him and

carried him to Chaldea with many others.

External links

  • [1] ECHO: European Cultural Heritage Online. Complete "Utriusque Cosmi" by Robert Fludd
  • [2] Verses from the Ripley Scrowle on