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by Johannes Kepler
Johannes Keppleri

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Translated by Dominique Awis

Johannes Keppleri

Translated by Dominique Awis


Cover: Johannes Vermeer, “The Astronomer” (1668)

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The Dream, or Moonlight Astronomy

I n the year 1608, when the boiling disagreement

between two brothers, Emperor Rudolph and
Archduke Mathias, was ofen referenced in Bohemian
history, I was spurred by this public curiosity and
visited the Bohemian legends.
And when I fell upon the story of the heroine
Libussa1, celebrated in the magical arts, something
that night happened. Afer contemplating the stars
and Moon, I setled to bed and slept deeply, and in
my sleep apparently there was a book from the
market I was reading, herein whose tenor was:

“Duracotus is my name, my country is Iceland, that

the ancients call Thulen, my mother was Fiolxhilidia,
who recently died, freeing me to write, whereof long
since I have been eager. While alive she strictly did
not let me write.
She said that there are many dangerous haters of
arts, that is because the dullness of their minds do
not understand, that they falsely accuse, which was
injurious to the human race. Indeed, it is not a few
1 Wise princess of Czech legend

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that were damned by the law and swallowed by the
whirlpools of Hekla2.
What was my father’s name she never told me;
he was a fisherman and died at one-hundred and fify
years old when I was three years old, she asserted,
afer they were married for more or less than seventy
In my early childhood years my mother dragged
my hand sometimes, ofen pulled me on her shoulder,
to the usually low-lying peaks of Hekla, especially
around the feast of Saint John3, when the Sun is
insight for 24 hours, leaving no place to the night.
She collected several herbs, cooked them in many
rituals at home, making bags of goat skin, which she
carried these bags to the nearby port to sell to the
navy captains; by this means she sustained herself.
Once out of curiosity, I cut open a bag, whom my
mother unknowingly sold, herbs and linen, which
embroidered with curious peculiarities, were revealed.
Since I cheated her out of her profit, my mother was
inflamed black, she kept the money surrendered me
to the shipowner in its place until she could produce
another, keeping the money.
But on the next day, he unexpectedly lef the
port, a lucky wind was headed toward Bergen of
Norway. Afer several days, a north wind surged

2 Volcano in Iceland, classically called the “Gateway to Hell”

3 Saint of Healing

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carrying us between Norway and England, he aimed
for the sea of Denmark, he had leters from an
Icelandic bishop, to be delivered to Tychoni Brahe
Dano, who on the island of Hven lived.
I was sick from the rocking and unaccustomed to
the hot weather. The boat landed ashore, I was lef
near the home of an island fisherman with the leters,
and promising to return, he again made his leave.
Upon delivering the leters, Brahe very pleased,
he began to ask me many questions, but I did not
understand his language except for a few words.
Therefore, he instructed his students, who in great
numbers he supported, to speak with me repeatedly,
and through Brahe’s generosity, and a few weeks of
exercises, I began to speak Danish well. No less than
I were they willing to question me.
Finally, the ship’s master called me back, but he
was rejected, which made me very happy.
In a surprising way, I was pleased by astronomy
exercises. With instruments aimed at the night, the
students of Brahe watched the Moon, which I was
then reminded of my mother, in fact she herself
would talk constantly about the Moon.
In this way, although I come from a semi-
barbarous country and indigent conditions, in the
divine science I gained knowledge, which set me on
the road to greater things.

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Afer years on the island, I had the desire to
return again to my homeland, that I deemed it not
dificult for me with my acquired science, to emerge
as dignified to my crude people.
I said farewell to my patron afer obtaining his
favor, and came to Copenhagen, which I knew the
language and region, and patrons took me into their
protection; I returned to my homeland five years afer
I lef.
The first joy of my return was, that I found my
mother still alive and practicing the same old. An end
to a long regret, an error of the loss of her son, alive
and brought distinguished.
The year was turning to Autumn, our long nights
were drawing closer, for the month of Christ’s
Nativity alter4, the Sun at noon barely emerges and
footsteps back, hidden.
Thus by this, my mother had holiday from her
work and kept close to me, not leaving me, with me
where ever I went with the recommendation leters,
inquiring me about the lands that I visited, about the
skies; she was delighted by the science that I learned,
comparing what she knew with my accounts. She
exclaimed that she was ready for death, and her
knowledge, that only she possessed, would be lef to
her son to inherit.

4 Christmas

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By nature I am passionate to discover a new
proficiency, out of her arts I asked, as those whom are
adepts with the people are of another league. Then
one day she took the time to talk, the whole thing
from the beginning, was nearly echoed in this way:

‘Sight is, my son, not only in other provinces from

where you came, but our homeland also. Although
we are burdened by cold and darkness, I feel now
that, as I understand from other regions afer hearing
from you, we have a wealth of genius. At our service
are sentient spirits, who detest the light of other
lands and noise of other peoples, our shadows they
seek and consort with us with familiarity.
Among them nine are principle, know especially
to me, and is the best of all, the most gentle and
harmless, twenty-one symbols will evoke him,
through this power in an instant moment of time,
anywhere I say, transported. If I am discouraged by
the length of the distance, inquiring about the
destination as if I was present there, learning
Many of the things you have seen, or heard
reported, or taken out of books, he told me also just
as you have.
Specifically, of which so ofen, more than any
other, has spoken to me about one place of great
wonder, and as my companion, I want you to see.’

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And then she invoked, ‘Levania’5.

With no delay, I agreed her master she should

summon and ask him, preparing myself to listen to
everything and every detail, and description of the
The time was now Spring; as soon as the Sun fell
under the horizon, the horns of the crescent Moon,
conjunction with the planet Saturn in the sign of
Taurus, began to shine. My mother pulled away from
me at the nearest crossroads, and raising a shout,
spoke a few words. She came back when the
ceremony was finished, raising her hand commanded
silence, siting down beside me.
We cloaked our heads (as was custom), when the
hawking rose and a blunt voice and in this way, but in
the Icelandic language, began:

The Daemon from Levania

‘Fify thousand German miles in the sky high is

the island of Levania; the path to it from here or
back to this Earth, is rarely open, for our kind it is
easy, but transporting humans is very dificult and
to life has the greatest risks.

5 The Moon

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