Star Clocks and Astrolabes, Volvelles and Venus

Deus Ex Machina (The instruments for the stars). Volva, star seer.

To navigate with precision you need to know where you are. You figure that out by knowing what the time is, and using a point of reference.

A Navigator (lit. to steer a ship) generally used the passage of the sun, moon, and planets to measure time and tides, but how do you find the correct planet?
You used a Volvelle.

star clock

This is a diagram of how to build a Star Clock : Navigators used Star Clocks / Astrolabes to predict the position of the planets in relation to constellations. By tracking the movement of planets through the stars a navigator can say how far a ship has traveled, and in what direction.
They are called Volvelles, or "Seers" or "Witches" as they can predict the future of the stars. They are also called Deus Ex Machina (The Hand of God, or the machine of the Suns)
In The Saga of Eric The Red he describes the dance of the seer, which is identical to the description and usage of a Volvelle. There are several attachments and tools that go onto the device to aid in alignment and prediction.

By turning the inner wheels you can make a range of calculations, from direction, distance (by measuring a knotted rope dragged overboard (knots) with the rotation of the inner circles)
Note the alignment marks (+) that are still used today, these refer to Earth.
You can also determine season, sunrise, and sunset, as well as find North by finding the Pole Star.
Inside the loop you can see the current phase of the moon.

Add the Sirius (Dog) Gnomon (Ankh/Crux) and you can predict the flooding of the Nile.

When Isis/Jesus is on the Crux/Cross it is the Equinox.

How do you learn the stars? With Mnemonics, or pictures made from the stars, called star signs.
There are usually 12 divisions on the star charts, called houses, or apostles (outer information). The outer circle is also called the Zodiac. (line of animals). Line up the chart with the stars, and then line up the inner circle later, and you can tell how much time has passed, or how much distance has passed. Astrologers used log tables to work out the position and date using information gathered over many generations.

In Norse languages fixed stars are called Angels (stars/lights),
and Planets are Arch-Angels (turning stars).
Yes, the words Angle and Angel are related!

A SunDial is a solar Volvelle. The triangle is called a Gnomon or Wand or SetStokkr, used to "divine the message from the gods" ie see the position of the sun, moon, Pole Star, or planets.

The other Gnomon/Yad possibly work with a Volvelle, predicting the moon or Pole Star. Different Gnomons could measure different planets, so a complete Volvelle set included a set of wands and gnomons and log books.
They are mentioned in the Norse Saga Beowulf. (SetStokkr - set of sticks that can read the stars)
This Mayan Star Calendar predicts the position of stars against constellations, signalling time, harvest, spring, etc.
To "Calibrate" the clock a Gnomon was put in the center, and the device placed on the floor.
When the Gnomon cast no shadow you set the device.
Ankh - "The Key To the Nile"
A Flood Predictor!
This Gnomon / Wand when used with a Volvelle can predict the flooding of the Nile. How? Because the Nile rises and falls with the moon and floods in alignment with the star Sirius.
Predicting the Flood was considered knowledge from the gods.
The word Hiero-Glyph means Planet-symbol.
(Hieros is ancient Greek for planet)
By lining up the Ankh with the Moon and Sirius you can tell the date (quite an achievement if you don't have clocks)
A star chart by the Italian Monk and Scholar Coronelli A disassembled pocket Astrolabe / Volvelle.
The disks were highly valuable and could be upgraded.
Antikythera Mechanism
The Antikythera Device (History Channel)
Wikipedia article

A gnomic section of a volvelle, you can see the pins where it clips into the base.

The Roman starmap contained names for constellations and stars like Noah's Ark, the 12 Apostles, planets like Jesus/Venus, and so on. Characters along the Zodiac were called Saints. Note St Silhouette holding a Shadow Cross, or Double Cross, formed by the symbol of Venus in transit with the Southern Cross. (Marking East Star festival, solar Pass-over or the Longest Day) This remarkable device found near ancient Greece has shown to be an Astrolabe.
Called The Antikythera Device it dates back thousands of years and could predict the position of the Sun, Moon, and Major Planets, operating on a similar principle to other Star Clocks.
It contains ancient Greek writing, and symbols from the Egyptian Calendar.
Is this the oldest mechanical Volvelle?

A page from a log book calculating the position of Jupiter and providing observations for the Volvelle.
(right) A more complete Spherical volvelle (armillary) from 1585.

This cunning Volvelle from 1581 was made from paper.
You bought the Log Book with all the information and cut out the gnomon tools to aid your Astro-log observation and prediction.

A King could claim the throne if he could know where everything was without seeing outside.

This is one of the simplest Volvelles, and is used to predict the path of Venus over 8 years. The direction of the drawing is important (hence the origin of the Hebrew tradition of direction marks in the writing)
The right image is a Veve/Sigil from Haiti that tracks the path of Venus over 1 year, we can tell from the heart shape. The people who used Volvelles were called "Witches" or "Seers" because they could predict the future. If you knew where Venus was you could predict how long until Spring and ration accordingly. (East Star) Predicting Venus and the Moon became an important tradition.
A Solar Volvelle used to calculate a
future position of the Sun.
The path a planet takes is called a Sigil(Hebrew) or Veve (Vodou) or Seal and the symbols can form a complex notation to track a planet.
The person who translated the predictions from the Volvelle was called a Volva (Seer), or perhaps the Volvelle and Volva were the same thing. (an anthopomorphism)

Kings gained power by foretelling the future... were their crowns /coronas actually Volvelle? Old crowns have planetary symbols and Kings are regarded as "God's Messengers"
A Volvelle from 1550 used to calculate the position of the Moon
(and thus the tides) a year in advance.
A Chinese Lodestone compass from
200BCE Han Dynasty
The "Magical Spoon" features in chinese mythology.
People who knew the secret were highly regarded in society and they guarded their knowledge.
The base plate is called
a Heaven Plate or Divining Board used in "Geomancy", seeing earthly events.
The magnetic field was called "Chi".
In Norse Mythology a Volva used a spoon to make preditions. (from the Poetic Edda)
The Spoon always pointed towards the tip of the Cup of the Big Dipper, ie the North Star
A star clock at St Mary's Church, GDansk, Poland.
It predicts the phases of the Moon and Venus to predict when Passover will occur (Equinox).
(Mary = Moon, Jesus = Isis/Venus)
This is the front and back of the St Benedict Medal.
Was this a Venusian Volvelle? The letters translate to
"May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my overlord"
or May I never confuse Venus for Saturn. The + is the symbol for Venus. The word Draco/Dragon means Saturn.
The word Pax is also the word for Spring.
A Volvelle from world war I,
ie a compass.
It can track more then just magnetic north (towards the Pole Star), it can track the sun, and if you know those two variables you can find where you are on a map.
This is known as a Lesser Volvelle,
or personal Volvelle.
A Volvelle from Bartolomeu Velho's wonderful Cosmographica.
It lists the estimated radius of the orbits relative to Earth.
Remarkably the Earth's radius (6350km) was closely estimated around 200BC by measuring the Sun's height from different towns at the same time each day.
This old woodcut of a Norse Volva shows a woman with a necklace of star symbols, holding a spoon, talking to a god who holds rings. Was the Volva the person skilled at interpretting the Volvelle? Or was the Volva an anthopomorphism of the Volvelle? Vermeer's Astronomer using a Astrolabe to track the stars, and on the desk just behind the cloak is a Volvelle!. The constellations and text in the book are superbly accurate and were traced to actual objects and books. On the wall is a painting of Moses
(The Seer, who used a Wand/Staff to guide his people)
Note the Magician's cloak covered in Moon and Star symbols, as well as the plants, since the magician could give the best time when to plant certain seeds.

Now the other part of the Volvelle - geomancy or geography,
the charts and measurements to plot and predict position.
A "Magician" lit. a person who sees the Magi - stars, using Gnomon / wands to predict the future.
A magician's cloak is a Stola - Named in the Poetic Edda as the Sky
(SkarStola - Veil of darkness)

To look up the position of the stars you used a Log book. A Log is a list of observations over the years (sometimes over many generations). You compared your observations with those in the Log to try and figure out position, season, time, eclipses and equinoxes. (Eventide). Was the Bible a log book? The letters in the original Bible had direction marks (Sigils), and are very similar to ancient Norse navigation symbols.

The Norse seers were buried with their Gnomons, and the Egyptian pharoahs were buried with their Ankh and Staff. At certain times of the year they would gather and sing songs, and this would allow them to predict harvest and crops. Were these songs/chants the ancient Volvelle Sagas?

Symbols used on Norse Star Charts (still used today in Astronomy, and found in many Alphabets in the Northern Hemisphere)

Sun Signs  
Mercury (the little lines are wings, not horns)
Pole Star, Polaris, (later Sirius, little dog, little cup)
A planet is descending, Omega.
A planet is ascending, Upsilon (from Norse Uppsala)
Conjunction, crossing, crucifix
Rᶢ Orbital radius relative to Earth's center.
,Revolucao. The small letter represents the planet, g is Gaia = Earth
Star signs: Constellation / group of stars
Seer A person who can read a Volvelle and the star symbols
Volu = To See
Volva (Norse)
Fortune Teller
(possibly Witch)
Log Book Journal
Poetic Edda (oral version in poetic form)
Star Clock
Star Map
Volvelle (Norse)
Wa-Wiel (Cart Wheel)
Sun Dial
Star Tool Vane (Norse)
Transit A planet crossing a star or other planet. Useful as a measuring starting point to identify a planet.
Occultism (As above, so below, It is on Earth as it is in the Heavens)
Star Symbols Star Sign (English)
Sigil (Hebew)
Tarot (Vedic)
Tacna (To Follow, Norse)
Veve (Vodou)
Hiero-Glyphs (Egyptian)
Fixed Star Angel, Angle
Moving Star / Planet Arch-Angel
Pole Star
Magnetic Star
Changes from star to star slowly over generations, a compass points to it.

500BCE - Thuban(snake), Alpha Draconis (first star in Dragon constellation)
5AD - Polaris, Apollo, Kolob (dog), Horned Crow
1500AD it was Fris' Stella Polaris, Ursae Minor (little spoon)
Big Dipper in the Sky = Holy Grail
Scip-Steora (Steer the Ship) The Pole star will drift out by 2102, and only drift back in around 27800AD
The name means Faithful, Needle Star, Steadfast Star.

You find the Pole Star by looking for the Little Dog's Tail, the Bear's tail, the Big Dipper, Spoon (The little spoon is entering the big dipper/cup), or Dragon's Tail.

A verbal tradition of documenting the Volvelles exists and we find evidence of it in ancient texts

The Spae of the Volva - Poetic Edda - 24. Odin (Mercury, Messenger) sped into the sky like a spark, first of the spark into the heavens, and broke through the edge of the board, the Vanes marked the field.
Proto Norse Tyr is the one-handed god; often happens the smith must blow.
Kylver Stone

Found in a cave in Kylver, it contains a set of Runestones, planetary symbols.

It contains an important symbol - The Spruce/Fir tree. (Many branches) Shows which star is currently the North Star in the chart being read.

Norse Tyr is a one-handed god (Blacksmiths must blow hard on him),
and leavings of the wolf and prince of temples. The colour of Mars.
The Delphic Oracle, Pythia Descended into the water on her tripod, with two rods ending in Eagles, to receive the neuma (anima/life)). Possibly a Water-Compass being lowered into a bowl..
The Predictions of Nostradamus (a seer) "The Divine Essense has revealed to me through Astronomical Revolutions"
Moses (A Seer, to draw out, to use water) Used a Wand to predict the tides Struck a rock with a wand, and it showed them the way through. (An early way for making a magnet was to strike an iron needle with a lodestone).
Sumerian, Akkadian A monster stole the Tablets of Destiny, which contained the history of the world, whoever held them was the ruler.
Ancient persion rhyme: Hey diddle diddle, The Cat and the fiddle, The Cow jumped over the moon, The little Dog laughed to see such sport, And the Dish ran away with the Spoon
They be at hand Sir with stick and fidle; They can play a new dance called hey-didle-didle .
This is a Folk song, Folk is a Gutnish word for "Spark" or "Star". Cow may refer to Mercury's horns on the Gnomon. In the oldest translation Cat is called Stick.

Astronomical Clocks on Wikipedia