The Agrippa – Book Three – Ceremonial Magic
Chapter i. Of the necessity, power, and profit of Religion.Ow it is time to turn our pen to higher matters, and to that part of Magick which teacheth us to know and perfectly understand the rules of Religion, and how we ought to obtain the truth by Divine Religion, and how rightly to prepare our mind and spirit, by which only we can comprehend the truth; for it is a common opinion of the Magicians, that unless the mind and spirit be in good case, the body cannot be in good health: But then a man to be truly sound when body and soul are so coupled, and agree together, that the firmness of the mind and spirit be not inferior to the powers of the body; But a firm and stout mind (saith Hermes) can we not otherwise obtain, than by integrity of life, by piety, and last of all, by Divine Religion: for holy Religion purgeth the mind, and maketh it Divine, it helpeth nature, and strengtheneth naturall powers, as a Physitian [physician] helpeth the health of the body, and a Husbandman the strength of the earth. Whosoever therefore, Religion being laid aside, do consider only in naturall things, are wont very oft to be deceived by evill spirits; but from the knowledge of Religion, the contempt and cure of vices ariseth, and a safeguard against evil spirits; To conclude, nothing is more pleasant and acceptable to God than a man perfectly pious, and truly Religious, who so far excelleth other men, as he himself is distant from the Immortall gods. Therefore we ought, being first purged, to offer and commend our selves to divine piety and Religion; and then our senses being asleep, with a quiet mind to expect that Divine Ambrosian Nectar (Nectar I say, which Zachary the prophet calleth Wine making maids merry) praising and adoring that supercelestiiall Bacchus, the chiefest ruler of the gods and priests, the author of regeneration, whom the old poets sang was twice born, from whom rivers most Divine flow into our hearts. Chapter ii. Of concealing of those things which are secret in Religion.Whosoever therefore thou art that now desireth to study thisd science, keep silence and constantly conceal within the secret closets of your Religious breast, so holy a determination; for (as Mercury saith) to publish to the knowledge of many a speech throughly filled with so great majesty of the Deity, is a sign of an irreligious spirit; and Divine Plato commanded, that holy and secret mysteries should not be divulged to the people; Pythagoras also and Porphyrius consecrated their followers to a Religious silence; Orpheus also, which a certain terrible authority of Religion did exact an oath of silence, and from those he did initiate to the Ceremonies of holy things: Whence in the verses concerning the holy word he sings, You, that Admirers are of vertue, stay, Consider well what I to you shall say. But you, that sacred laws contemn, prophane? Away from hence, return no more again. But thou O Museus whose mind is high, Observe my words, and read them with thine eye, And them within thy sacred breast repone, And in thy journey, think of God alone The Author of all things, that cannot dye, Of whom we shall not treate — So in Virgil we read of the Sybill The goddess comes, hence, hence, all ye prophane, The Prophet cries, and from her grove refrain. Hence also in celebrating the holy mysteries of Ceres Eleusine, they only were admitted to be initiated, the cryer proclaiming the prophane vulgar to depart; and in Esdras we read this precept concerning the Cabalisticall secret of the Hebrews, declared in these verses, Thou shalt deliver those books to the wise men of the people, whose hearts thou knowest can comprehend them, and keep those secrets. Therefore the Religious volumes of the Egyptians & those belonging to the secrets of their ceremonies, were made of consecrated paper; in these they did write down leters [letters] which might not easily be known, which they call holy. Macrobius Marcellinus and others say, they were called Hieroglyphics, least perchance the writings of this kind should be known to the prophane, which also Apuleius testifies in these words, saying, The sacrifice being ended, from a secret retyred closet he bringeth forth certain books noted with obscure letters, affording compendious words of the conceived speech, partly by the figures of beasts of this kind, partly by figures full of knots, and crooked in the manner of a wheel & set thick, twining about like vine tendrels, the reading thereby being defended from the curiosity of the prophane; Therefore we shall be worthy scholars of this science, if we be silent and hide those things which are secret in religion, for the promise of silence (as saith Tertullian) is due to Religion; but they which do otherwise are in very great danger, whence Apuleius saith concerning secrets of holy Writs; I would tell it you, if it were lawfull to tell it; you should know it; if it were lawfull to hear it; but both ears and tongue would contract the same guilt of rash curiosity. So we read Theodorus the tragick poet, when he would have referred somethings of the mysteries of the Jews Scripture to a certain fable, was deprived of sight. Theopompus also who began to translate somethings out of the Divine law into the Greek tongue, was presently troubled in mind and spirit, whence afterward earnestly desiring God, wherefore this had happened to him, received an answer in a dream, because he had basely polluted Divine things, by setting them forth in publike [public]. One Numenius also being very curious of hidden things, incurred the displeasure of the Divine powers, because he interpreted the holy mysteries of the goddesse Eleusina and published them for he dreamed that the goddesses of Eleusis stood in a whores habit before the Brothell house, which when he wondred at, they wrathfully answered, that they were by him violently drawn from their modestly and prostituted everywhere to all commers, by which he was admonished, that the Ceremonies of the gods ought not to be divulged. Therefore it hath alwaies been the great care of the Ancients to wrap up the mysteries of God and nature, and hide them with diverse Aenigmaes [enigmas], which law the Indians, Brachmans [Brahmans], Æthiopians, Persians, and Egyptians also observed; hence Mercurius, Orpheus, and all the ancient Poets and Philosophers, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato Aristoxenus, Ammonius, kept them inviolably. Hence Plotinus and Origenes and the other disciples of Ammonius (as Porphyry relates in his book of the education and Discipline of Plotinus) sware, never to set forth the Decrees of their master. And because Plotinus, brake his oath made to Ammonius, and published his mysteries, for the punishment of his transgression, he was consumed (as they say) by the Horrible disease of Lice. Crist also himself, while he lived on earth, spoke after that manner and fashion that only the more intimate disciples should understand the mystery of the word of God, but the other should perceive the parables only: commanding moreover that holy things should not be given to Dogs, nor pearles cast to Swine: Therefore the Prophet saith, I have hid thy words in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Therefore it is not fit that those secrets which are amongst a few wise men, and communicated by mouth only, should be publikly written. Wherefor you will pardon me, If I pass over in silence many and the chiefest secret mysteries of Ceremonial Magick. I suppose I shal do enough, if I open those things which are necessary to be known, and you by the reading of this book go not away altogether empty of these mysteries; but on that condition let these things be communicated to you, on which Dionysius bound Timothy, that they which perceive these Secrets, would not expose them to the unworthy, but gather them together amongst wise men, and keep them with that reverence that is due to them. Furthermore I would also warn you in the beginning, that even as the divine powers detest publike things and profane, and love secrecy: So every Magical experiment fleeth the publike, seeks to be hid, is strengthened by silence, but is destroyed by publicationm neither doth any compleate effect follow after; all these things suffer losse, when they are poured into prating and incredulous minds; therefore it behoveth a Magicall operator, if he would get fruit from this art, to be secret, and to manifest to none, neither his work nor place, not time, neither his desire nor will, unless either to a master, or partner, or companion, who also ought to be faithfull, believing, silent, and dignified by nature and education: Seeing that even the prating of a companion, his incredulity and unworthiness hindreth and disturbeth the effect in every operation. Chapter iii. What dignification is required, that one may be a true Magician and a worker of miracles.About the beginning of the first book of this work, we have spoken what manner of person a Magician ought to be; but now we will declare a msyticall and secret matter, necessary for every one who desireth to practize [practise] this art, which is both the beginning, perfection and key of all Magicall operations, and it is the dignifying of men to this so sublime vertue and power; for this faculty requireth in man a wonderfull dignification, for that the understanding which is in us the highest faculty of the soul, is the only worker of wonders, which when it is overwhelmed by too much commerce with the flesh, and busied about the sensible soul of the body, is not worthy of the command of Divine substances; therefore many prosecute this art in vain; Therefore it is meet that we who endeavor to attain to so great a height should especially meditate of two things; first how we should leave carnall affections, fraile sense, and materiall passions. Secondly, by what way and means we may ascend to an intellect pure & conjoyned with the powers of the gods, without which we shall never happily ascend to the scrutiny of secret things, and to the power of wonderfull workings, or miracles; for in these dignification consists wholly, which, nature, desert, and a certain religious art do make up; naturall dignity is the best disposition of the body and its Organs, not obscuring the soul with any grossness, and being without al distemper, and this proceedeth from the situation, motion, light, and influence of the Celestiall bodies and spirits which are conversant in the generation of every one, as are those whose ninth house is fortunate by Saturn, Sol, and Mercury; Mars also in the ninth house commandeth the spirits; but concerning these things we have largely treated in the books of the Stars: But who so is not such a one, it is necessary that he recompense the defecr of nature by education, and the best ordering and prosperous use of natural things untill he become commpleat in all intrinsecall and extrinsecall perfections. Hence so great care is taken in the law of Moses concerning the priest, that he be not polluted by a dead carcase or by a woman a widow, or menstruous, that he be free from leprosie, flux of blood, burstness, and be perfect in all his members, not blind, nor lame, nor crook-backed, or with an illfavored nose. And Apuleius saith in his Apology, that the youth to be initiated to divination by magick spels [magic spells], ought to be chosen, sound without sickness, ingenious, comely, perfect in his members, of a quick spirit, eloquent in speech, that in him the divine power might be conversant as in the good houses; That the mind of the youth having quickly attained experience, may be restored to its divinity. But the meritorious dignity is perfected by two things; namely learning and practice. The end of learning is to know the truth; it is meet therefore, as is spoken in the beginning of the first book, that he be learned and skilful in those three faculties; then all impediments being removed, wholly to apply his soul to contemplation & to convert it self into it self; for there is even in our own selves the apprehension and power of all things; but we are prohibited, so as that we little enjoy these things, by passions opposing us even from our birth, and vain imaginations and immoderate affections, which being expelled, the divine knowledge and power presently takes place; but the Religious operation obtains no ness efficacy which ofttimes of it self alone is sufficiently powerfull for us to obtain this deifying vertue, so great is the vertue of holy duties rightly exhibited and performed, that though they be not understood, yet piously and perfectly observed, and with a firm faith believed, they have no less efficacy then to adorn us with a divine power; But what dignity is acquired by the art of Religion, is perfected by certain Religious Ceremonies, expiations, consecrations, and holy rites, proceeding from him whose spirit the publike Religion hath consecrated, who hath power of imposition of hands, and of initiating with Sacramentall poer, by which the Character of the divine vertue and power os stampt on us which they call the divine consent, by which a man supported with the divine nature, and made as it were a companion of the Angels beareth the ingrafted power of God; & this rite is referred to the Ecclesiastical mysteries: If therefore now thou shalt be a man perfect in the sacred understanding of Religion, and piously and most constantly meditatest on it, and without doubting believest, and art such an one on whom the authority of holy rites and nature hath conferred dignity above others, amd one, whom the divine powers contemn not, thou shalt be able by praying, consecrating, sacrificeing, invocating, to attract spiritual and Celestial powers, and to imprint them on those things thou pleasest, and by it to vivifie every magicall work; But whosoever beyond the authority of his office, without the merit of Sanctity and Learning, beyond the dignity of nature and education, shall presume to work any thing in Magick, shall work in vain, and deceive both himself and those that believe on him, and with danger incur the displeasure of the Divine powers. Chapter iv. Of the two helps of Ceremoniall Magick, Religion and Superstition. There are two things, which rule every operation of Ceremonial Magick, namely Religion and Superstition. This Religion is a continuall contemplation of Divine things, and by good works an uniting one self with God and the Divine powers, by which in a reverent family, a service, and a sanctification of worship worthy of them is performed, and also the Ceremonies of Divine worship are rightly exercised; Religion therefore is a certain discipline of externall holy things and Ceremonies by the which as it were by certain signs we are admonished of internall and spirituall things, which is so deeply implanted in us by nature, that we more differ from other creatures by this then Rationality; whosoever therefore neglects Religion (as we have spoken before) and confides only in the strength of naturall things, are very often deceived by the evil spirits; therefore they who are more religiously and holily instructed, neither set a tree nor plant their vinyard, nor undertake any mean work without divine invocation, as the Doctor of the Nations commands the Colossians, saying, whatsoever you shall do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ giving thanks to him, and to God the Father by him. Therefore to superadde the powers of Religion to Physical and Mathematicall vertues is so far from a fault, that not to joy them, is an hainous sin. Hence in libro senatorum saith Rabbi Hemina, he that enjoyeth any of the creatures without Divine benediction, is supposed both by God and the Church to have used it as taken by theft and robbery, of whom it is written by Salomon [Solomon], he that takes away any things violently from father and mother, is a destroyer; But God is our father, and the Church our mother, as it is written, Is not he thy father who possesseth thee? and elsewhere, Hear my son the discipline of thy father, and despise not the law of thy mother; nothing more displeaseth God, then to be neglected and contemned; nothing pleaseth him more, then to be renowned and adored. Hence he hath permitted no creature of the world to be without Religion. All do worship God, play (as Proclus saith) frame hymnes [hymns] to the leaders of their order; but some things truly after a naturall, others after a sensible, othere a rationall, others an intellectuall manner, and all things in their manner, according to the song of the three children, bless the Lord: But the rites and Ceremonies of Religion, in respect of the diversity of times and places, are diverse. Every Religion hath something of good, because it is directed to God his creator; and although God allows the Christian Religion only, yet other worships which are undertaken for his sake, he doth not altogether reject, and leaveth them not unrewarded, if not with an eternal, yet with a temporal reward, or at least doth punish them less; but he hateth, thundreth against and utterly destroys prophane persons and altogether irreligious as his enemies; for their impoety is greater then he others who follow a false and erroneous Religion: For there is no Religion (saith Lactantius so erroneous, which hath not somewhat of wisdom in it, by which they may obtain pardon, who have kept the chiefest duty of man, if not indeed, yet in intention: But no man can of himself attain to the true Religion, unless he be taught it of God. All worship therefore, which is different from the true Religion, is superstition; In like manner also that which giveth Divine worship, either to whom it ought not, or in that manner which it ought not. Therefore we must especially take heed least at any time, by some perverse worship of superstition, we be envious to the Almighty God, and to the holy powers under him; for this would be not only wicked, but an act most unworthy of Philosophers; superstition therefore altogether it be far different from the true Religion, yet it is not all and wholly rejected, because in many things it is even tolerated, and observed by the chief rulers of Religion; But I call that superstition especially, which is a certain resemblance of Religion, which for as much as it imitates whatsoever is in Religion, as miracles, Sacraments, rites, observations and such like, from whence it gets no small power, and also obtains no less strength by the credulity of the operator; for how much a constant credulity can do, we have spoken in the first book, and is manifestly known to the vulgar. Therefore superstition requireth credulity, as Religion faith, seeing constant credulity can do so great things, as even to work miracles in opinions and false operations; whosoever therefore in his Religion, though false, yet beleeveth most strongly that it is true, and elevates his spirit by reason of this his credulity, untill it be assimilated to those spirits who are the chief leaders of that Religion, may work those things which nature and reason discern not; but incredulity and diffidence doth weaken every work not only in superstition, but also in true Religion, and enervates the desired effect even of the most strong experiments. But how superstition imitateth Religion, these examples declare; namely when worms and locusts are excommunicated, that they hurt not the fruits; when bels and Images are baptised and such like; but because the old Magicians and those who were the authors of this art amongst the ancients, have been Caldeans [Chaldaeans], Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians and Arabians, all whose Religion was perverse and polluted idolatry, we must very much take heed, least we should permit their errors to war against the grounds of the Catholik Religion; for this were blasphemous, and subject to the curse; and I also should be a blasphemer, if I should not admonish you of these thigs, in this science; wheresoever therefore you shall finde these things written by us, know that those things are only related out of other Authors, and not put down by us for truth, but for a probable conjecture which is allyed to truth and an Instruction for imitation in those things which are true; Therefore we ought from their Errors to collect the Truth, which work truly requireth a profound Understanding, perfect Piety, and painfull and laborious Diligence, and also Wisdom which knoweth out of every Evill to extract Good, and to fit oblique things unto the right use of those things which it governeth, as concerning this Augustine gives us an Example of a Carpenter to whom Oblique and Complicate things are no less necessary and convenient then the Straight.