The Agrippa – Of Occult Philosophy-Book I

The Agrippa-Of Occult Philosophy-Book I


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Chap. i. How Magicians Collect vertues from the three-fold World, is declared in these three Books.

Seeing there is a three-fold World, Elementary, Celestial, and Intellectual, and every inferior is governed by its superior, and receiveth the influence of the vertues thereof, so that the very original, and chief Worker of all doth by Angels, the Heavens, Stars, Elements, Animals, Plants, Metals, and Stones convey from himself the vertues of his Omnipotency upon us, for whose service he made, and created all these things: Wise men conceive it no way irrationall that it should be possible for us to ascend by the same degrees through each World, to the same very originall World it self, the Maker of all things, and first Cause, from whence all things are, and proceed; and also to enjoy not only these vertues, which are already in the more excellent kind of things, but also besides these, to draw new vertues from above. Hence it is that they seek after the vertues of the Elementary world, through the help of Physick [=medicine], and Naturall Philosophy in the various mixtions of Naturall things, then of the Celestiall world in the Rayes, and influences thereof, according to the rules of Astrologers, and the doctrines of Mathematicians, joyning the Celestiall vertues to the former: Moreover, they ratifie and confirm all these with the powers of divers Intelligencies, through the sacred Ceremonies of Religions. The order and process of all these I shall endeavor to deliver in these three Books: Whereof the forst contains naturall Magick, the second Celestiall, and the third Ceremoniall. But I know not whether it be an unpardonable presumption in me, that I, a man of so little judgement and learning, should in my very youth so confidently set upon a business so difficult, so hard, and intricate as this is. Wherefore, whatsoever things have here already, and shall afterward be said by me, I would not have any one assent to them, nor shall I my self, any further then they shall be approved of by the Universall Church, and the Congregation of the Faithfull.

Chap. ii. What Magick is, What are the Parts thereof, and how the Professors thereof must be Qualified.

Magick is a faculty of wonderfull vertue, full of most high mysteries, containing the most profound Contemplation of most secret things, together with the nature, power, quality, substance, and vertues thereof, as also the knowledge of whole nature, and it doth instruct us concerning the differing, and agreement of things amongst themselves, whence it produceth its wonderfull effects, by uniting the vertues of things through the application of them one to the other, and to their inferior sutable subjects, joyning and knitting them together thoroughly by the powers, and vertues of the superior Bodies. This is the most perfect and chief Science, that sacred and sublimer kind of Phylosophy [philosophy], and lastly the most absolute perfection of all most excellent Philosophy. For seeing that all regulative Philosophy is divided into Naturall, Mathematicall, and Theologicall: (Naturall Philosophy teacheth the nature of those things which are in the world, searching and enquiring into their Causes, Effects, Times, Places, Fashions, Events, their Whole, and Parts, also
The Number and the Nature of those things,

Cal’d Elements, what Fire, Earth, Aire forth brings:
From whence the Heavens their beginnings had;
Whence Tide, whence Rainbow, in gay colours clad.
What makes the Clouds that gathered are, and black,
To send forth Lightnings, and a Thundring crack;
What doth the Nightly Flames, and Comets make;
What makes the Earth to swell, and then to quake:
What is the seed of Metals, and of Gold
What Vertues, Wealth, doth Nature’s Coffer hold.

All these things doth naturall Philosophy, the viewer of nature contain, teaching us according to Virgil’s Muse.
———-Whence all things flow,
Whence Mankind, Beast; whence Fire, whence Rain, and Snow,
Whence Earth-quakes are; why the whole Ocean beats
Over his Banks, and then again retreats;
Whence strength of Hearbs [herbs], whence Courage, rage of Bruits [brutes],
All kinds of Stone, of Creeping things, and Fruits.

But Mathematicall Philosophy teacheth us to know the quantity of naturall Bodies, as extended into three dimensions, as also to conceive of the motion, and course of Celestiall Bodies.
—– As in great hast [haste],
What makes the golden Stars to march so fast;
What makes the Moon sometimes to mask her face,
The Sun also, as if in some disgrace.

And as Virgil sings,
How th’ Sun doth rule with twelve Zodiack Signs,
The Orb thats measur’d round about with Lines,
It doth the Heavens Starry way make known,
And strange Eclipses of the Sun, and Moon.
Arcturus also, and the Stars of Rain,
The Seaven Stars likewise, and Charles his Wain,
Why Winter Suns make tow’rds the West so fast;
What makes the Nights so long ere they be past?

All which is understood by Mathematicall Philosophy.
—– Hence by the Heavens we may foreknow
The seasons all; times for to reap and sow,
And when ’tis fit to launch into the deep,
And when to War, and when in peace to sleep,
And when to dig up Trees, and them again
To set; that so they may bring forth amain.

Now Theologicall Philosophy, or Divinity, teacheth what God is, what the Mind, what an Intelligence, what an Angel, what a Divell [devil], what the Soul, what Religion, what sacred Institutions, Rites, Temples, Observations, and sacred Mysteries are: It instructs us also concerning Faith, Miracles, the vertues of Words and Figures, the secret operations and mysteries of Seals, and as Apuleius saith, it teacheth us rightly to understand, and to be skilled in the Ceremoniall Laws, the equity of Holy things and rule of Religions. But to recollect my self) these three principall faculties Magick comprehends, unites, and actuates; deservedly therefore was it by the Ancients esteemed as the highest, and most sacred Philosophy. It was, as we find, brought to light by most sage Authours [authors], and most famous Writers; amongst which principally Zamolxis and Zoroaster were so famous, that many believed they were the inventors of this Science. Their track [footsteps] Abbaris the Hyperborean, Charmondas, Damigeron, Eudoxus, Hermippus followed: there were also other eminent, choice men, as Mercurius Tresmegistus [Trismegistus], Porphyrius [Porphyry], Iamblicus [Iamblichus], Plotinus, Proclus, Dardanus, Orpheus the Thracian, Gog the Grecian, Germa the Babilonian [Babylonian], Apollonius of Tyana, Osthanes also wrote excellently in this Art; whose Books being as it were lost, Democritus of Abdera recovered, and set forth with his own Commentaries. Besides Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, Plato, and many other renowned Philosophers travelled far by Sea to learn this Art: and being returned, published it with wonderfull devoutness, esteeming of it as a great secret. Also it is well known that Pythagoras, and Plato went to the Prophets of Memphis to learn it, and travelled through almost all Syria, Egypt, Judea, and the Schools of the Caldeans [Chaldaeans], that they might not be ignorant of the most sacred Memorials, and Records of Magick, as also that they might be furnished with Divine things. Whosoever therefore is desirous to study in this Faculty, if he be not skilled in naturall Philosophy, wherein are discovered the qualities of things, and in which are found the occult properties of every Being, and if he be not skilful in the Mathematicks, and in the Aspects, and Figures of the Stars, upon which depends the sublime vertue, and property of every thing; and if he be not learned in Theologie [theology], wherein are manifested those immateriall substances, which dispence [dispense], and minister all things, he cannot be possibly able to understand the rationality of Magick. For there is no work that is done by meer Magick, nor any work that is meerly Magicall, that doth not comprehend these three Faculties.


Chap. iii. Of the four Elements, their qualities, and mutuall mixtions.

There are four Elements, and originall grounds of all corporeall things, Fire, Earth, Water, Aire, of which all elementated inferiour bodies are compounded; not by way of heaping them up together, but by transmutation, and union; and when they are destroyed, they are resolved into Elements. For there is none of the sensible Elements that is pure, but they are more or less mixed, and apt to be changed one into the other: Even as Earth becoming dirty, and being dissolved, becomes Water, and the same being made thick and hard, becometh Earth again; but being evaporated through heat, passeth into Aire, and that being kindled, passeth into Fire, and this being extinguished, returns back again into Aire, but being cooled again after its burning, becometh Earth, or Stone, or Sulphur, and this is manifested by Lightening [lightning]: Plato also was of that opinion, that Earth was wholly changeable, and that the rest of the Elements are changed, as into this, so into one another successively. But it is the opinion of the subtiller sort of Philosophers, that Earth is not changed, but relented and mixed with other Elements, which do dissolve it, and that it returns back into it self again. Now, every one of the Elements hath two specificall qualities, the former whereof it retains as proper to it self, in the other, as a mean, it agrees with that which comes next after it. For Fire is hot and dry, the Earth dry and cold, the Water cold and moist, the Aire moist and ot. And so after this manner the Elements, according to two contrary qualities, are contrary one to the other, as Fire to Water, and Earth to Aire. Moreover, the Elements are upon another account opposite one to the other: For some are heavy, as Earth and Water, and others are light, as Aire and Fire. Wherefore the Stoicks called the former passives, but the latter actives. And yet once again Plato distinguished them after another manner, and assigns to every one of them three qualities, viz. to the Fire brightness, thinness and motion, but to the Earth darkness, thickness and quietness. And according to these qualities the Elements of Fire and Earth are contrary. But the other Elements borrow their qualities from these, so that the Aire receives two qualities of the Fire, thinness and motion; and one of the Earth, viz. darkness. In like manner Water receives two qualities of the Earth, darkness and thickness, and one of Fire, viz. motion. But Fire is twice more thin then Aire, thrice more movable, and four times more bright: and the Aire is twice more bright, thrice more thin, and four times more moveable then Water. Wherefore Water is twice more bright then Earth, thrice more thin, and four times more movable. As therefore the Fire is to the Aire, so Aire is to the Water, and Water to the Earth; and again, as the Earth is to the Water, so is the Water to the Aire, and the Aire to the Fire. And this is the root and foundation of all bodies, natures, vertues, and wonderfull works; and he which shall know these qualities of the Elements, and their mixtions, shall easily bring to pass such things that are wonderfull, and astonishing, and shall be perfect in Magick.


Chap. iv. Of a three-fold consideration of the Elements.

There are then, as we have said, four Elements, without the perfect knowledge whereof we can effect nothing in Magick. Now each of them is three-fold, that so the number of four may make up the number of twelve; and by passing by the number of seven into the number of ten, there may be a progress to the supream Unity, upon which all vertue and wonderfull operation depends. Of the first Order are the pure Elements, which are neither compounded nor changed, nor admit of mixtion, but are incorruptible, and not of which, but through which the vertues of all naturall things are brought forth into act. No man is able to declare their vertues, because they can do all things upon all things. He which is ignorant of these, shall never be able to bring to pass any wonderfull matter. Of the second Order are Elements that are compounded, changeable, and impure, yet such as may by art be reduced to their pure simplicity, whose vertue, when they are thus reduced to their simplicity, doth above all things perfect all occult, and common operations of nature: and these are the foundation of the whole naturall Magick. Of the third Order are those Elements, which originally and of themselves are not Elements, but are twice compounded, various, and changeable one into the other. They are the infallible Medium, and therefore are called the middle nature, or Soul of the middle nature: Very few there are that understand the deep mysteries thereof. In them is, by means of certain numbers, degrees, and orders, the perfection of every effect in what thing soever, whether Naturall, Celestiall, or Supercelestiall; they are full of wonders, and mysteries, and are operative, as in Magick Naturall, so Divine: For from these, through them, proceed the bindings, loosings, and transmutations of all things, the knowing and foretelling of things to come, also the driving forth of evill, and the gaining of good spirits. Let no man, therefore, without these three sorts of Elements, and the knowledge thereof, be confident that he is able to work any thing in the occult Sciences of Magick, and Nature. But whosoever shall know how to reduce those of one Order, into those of another, impure into pure, compounded into simple, and shall know how to understand distinctly the nature, vertue, and power of them in number, degrees, and order, without dividing the substance, he shall easily attain to the knowledge, and perfect operation of all Naturall things, and Celestiall secrets.


Chap. v. Of the wonderfull Natures of Fire, and Earth.

There are two things (saith Hermes) viz. Fire and Earth, which are sufficient for the operation of all wonderfull things: the former is active, the latter passive. Fire (as saith Dionysius) in all things, and through all things, comes and goes away bright, it is in all things bright, and at the same time occult, and unknown; When it is by it self (no other matter coming to it, in which it should manifest its proper action) it is boundless, and invisible, of it self sufficient for every action that is proper to it, moveable, yielding it self after a maner to all things that come next to it, renewing, guarding nature, enlightening, not comprehended by lights that are vailed [veiled] over, clear, parted, leaping back, bending upwards, quick in motion, high, alwayes raising motions, comprehending another, not Comprehended it self, not standing in need of another, secretly increasing of it self, and manifesting its greatness to things that receive it; Active, Powerfull, Invisibly present in all things at once; it will not be affronted or opposed, but as it were in a way of revenge, it will reduce on a sudden things into obedience to it self; incomprehensible, impalpable, not lessened, most rich in all disensations of it self. Fire (as saith Pliny) is the boundless, and mischievous part of the nature of things, it being a question whether it destroys, or produceth most things. Fire it self is one, and penetrates through all things (as say the Pythagorians) also spread abroad in the Heavens, and shining: but in the infernall place streightened, dark, and tormenting, in the mid way it partakes of both. Fire therefore in it self is one, but in that which receives it, manifold, and in differing subjects it is distributed in a different manner, as Cleanthes witnesseth in Cicero. That fire then, which we use is fetched out of other things. It is in stones, and is fetched out by the stroke of the steele; it is in Earth, and makes that, after digging up, to smoake [smoke]: it is in Water, and heats springs, and wells: it is in the depth of the Sea, and makes that, being tossed with winds, warm: it is in the Aire, and makes it (as we oftentimes see) to burn. And all Animals, and living things whatsoever, as also all Vegetables are preserved by heat: and every thing that lives, lives by reason of the inclosed heat. The properties of the Fire that is above, are heat, making all things Fruitfull, and light, giving life to all things. The properties of the infernall Fire are a parching heat, consuming all things, and darkness, making all things barren. The Celestiall, and bright Fire drives away spirits of darkness; also this our Fire made with Wood drives away the same, in as much as it hath an Analogy with, and is the vehiculum of that Superior light; as also of him, who saith, I am the Light of the World, which is true Fire, the Father of lights, from whom every good thing that is given, Comes; sending forth the light of his Fire, and communicating it first to the Sun, and the rest of the Celestiall bodies, and by these, as by mediating instruments, conveying that light into our Fire. As, therefore the spirits of darkness are stronger in the dark: so good spirits, which are Angels of Light, are augmented, not only by that light, which is Divine, of the Sun, and Celestiall, but also by the light of our common Fire. Hence it was that the first, and most wise institutors of Religions, and Ceremonies ordained, that Prayers, Singings, and all manner of Divine Worships whatsoever should not be performed without lighted Candles, or Torches. (Hence also was that significant saying of Pythagoras, Do not speak of God without a Light) and they commanded that for the driving away of wicked spirits, Lights and Fires should be kindled by the Corpses of the dead, and that they should not be removed untill the expiations were after a Holy manner performed, and they buried. And the great Jehovah himself in the old Law Commanded that all his Sacrifices should be offered with Fire, and that Fire should always be burning upon the Altar, which Custome the Priests of the Altar did always observe, and keep amongst the Romanes. Now the Basis, and foundation of all the Elements, is the Earth, for that is the object, subject, and receptacle of all Celestiall rayes, and influencies; in it are contained the seeds, and Seminall vertues of all things; and therefore it is said to be Animall, Vegetable, and Minerall. It being made fruitfull by the other Elements, and the Heavens, brings forth all things of it self; It receives the abundance of all things, and is, as it were the first fountain, from whence all things spring, it is the Center, foundation, and mother of all things. Take as much of it as you please, seperated, washed, depurated, subtilized, if you let it lye [lie] in the open Aire a little while, it will, being full, and abounding with Heavenly vertues, of it self bring forth Plants, Worms, and other living things, also Stones, and bright sparks of Metals. In it are great secrets, if at any time it shall be purified by the help of Fire, and reduced unto its simplicity by a convenient washing. It is the first matter of our Creation, and the truest Medicine that can restore, and preserve us.

Author: Henry Cornelius Agrippa

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