Twilit Grotto -- Esoteric Archives Contents Prev agripp1d Next timeline

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa: Of Occult Philosophy, Book I. (part 4)

This digital edition by Joseph H. Peterson, Copyright © 2000. All rights reserved.

Chapter lxiv. How the Passions of the mind change the body by way of imitation from some resemblance; Also of the transforming, and translating of men, and what force the imaginative power hath not only over the body, but the soul.


The foresaid Passions sometimes alter the body by way of imitation, the reason of the vertue which the likeness of the thing hath to change it, which power the vehement imagination moves, as in setting the teeth on edge at the sight or hearing of something, or because we see or imagine another to eat sharp or soure things; So he which sees another gape [yawn], gapes also; and some when they hear any one name soure things, their tongues waxeth tart. Also the seeing of any filthy thing causeth nauseousness. Many at the sight of mans blood fall into a swoun [swoon]. Some when they see bitter meat given to any, perceive a bitter spitle [spittle] in their mouth. And William of Paris saith, that he saw a man, that at the sight of a medicine, went to stool as oft as he pleased; when as neither the substance of the medicine, nor the odour, nor the tast [taste] of it came to him: but only a kind of resemblance was apprehended by him. Upon this account some that are in a dream think they burn, and are in a fire, and are fearfully tormented, as if they did truly burn, when as the substance of the fire is not neer them, but only a resemblance apprehended by their imagination. And sometimes mens bodies are transformed, and transfigured, and also transported, and this oft-times when they are in a dream, and sometimes when they are awake. So Cyprus after he was chosen King of Italy, did very much wonder at, and meditate upon the sight [fight?], and victory of Buls [bulls], and in the thought thereof did sleep a whole night, but in the morning was found horned, no otherwise then by the vegetative power being stirred up by a vehement imagination, elevating corniferous humors into his head, and producing horns. For a vehement cogitation, whilest it vehemently moves the species, pictures out the figure of the thing thought on, which they represent in their blood, and the blood impresseth from it self, on the members that are nourished by it, as upon those of the same body, so upon those of anothers. As the imagination of a woman with child impresseth the mark of the thing longed for upon her infant, and the imagination of a man bit with a mad Dog, impresseth upon his Urine the image of Dogs. So men may grow grey on a suddain. And some by the dream of one night, have grown up from boies [boys] into perfect men. Hitherto may be referred those many scarrs of King Dagobertus, and Marks of Franciscus, which they received, the one whilest he was afraid of correction, the other whilest he did wonderfully meditate upon the wounds of Christ. So, many are transported from place to place, passing over rivers, fires and unpassable places, viz. when the species of any vehement desire, or fear, or boldness are impressed upon their spirits, and, being mixed with vapors, do move the Organ of the touch in their original, together with phantasie, which is the original of locall motion. Whence they stir up the members, and Organs of motion to motion, and are moved without any mistake unto the imagined place, not out of sight, but from the interiour fantasy [phantasy]. So great a power is there of the soul upon the body, that which way soever that imagines, and dreams that it goes, thither doth it lead the body. We read many other examples by which the power of the soul upon the body is wonderfully explained, as is that which Avicen describes of a certain man, who when he pleased could affect his body with the palsie [palsy]. They report of Gallus Vibius, that he did fall into madness, not casually, but on purpose: for whilest he did imitate mad men, he assimilated their madness to himself, and became mad indeed. And Austin [Augustine] makes mention of some men who would move their ears at their pleasure, and some that would move the crown of their head to their forehead, and could draw it back again when they pleased: and of another that could sweat at his pleasure. And it is well known, that some can weep at their pleasure, and pour forth abundance of tears: and that there are some that can bring up what they have swallowed, when they please, as out of a bag, by degrees. And we see that in these dayes there are many who can so imitate, and express the voices of Birds, Cattle, Dogs, and some men, that they can scarce at all be discerned. Also Pliny relates by divers examples, that women have been turned into men. Pontanus testifieth, that in his time, a certain woman called Caietava, and another called Aemilia, who after many years, after they were married, were changed into men. Now how much imagination can do upon the soul, no man is ignorant: for it is neerer to the substance of the soul then the sense is; wherefore it acts more upon the soul then the sense doth. So women by certain strong imaginations, dreams, and suggestions brought in by certain Magicall Arts do oftentimes bind them into a strong loving of any one. So they say that Medea only by a dream, burnt in love towards Jason. So the soul sometimes is by a vehement imagination, or speculation altogether abstracted from the body, as Celsus relates of a certain Presbyter, who as oft as he pleased, could make himself senseless, and lie like a dead man, that when any one pricked, or burnt him, he felt no pain, but lay without any motion or breathing, yet he could, as he said, hear mens voices as it were afar off, if they cryed out aloud. But of these abstractions we shall discourse more fully in the following Chapters.

Chapter lxv. How the Passions of the Mind can work out of themselves upon anothers Body.

The Passions of the Soul which follow the phantasie, when they are most vehement, cannot only change their own body, but also can transcend so, as to work upon another body, so that some wonderfull impressions are thence produced in Elements, and extrinsecall things, and also can so take away, or bring some disease of the mind or body. For the Passions of the Soul are the chiefest cause of the temperament of its proper body. So the Soul being strongly elevated, and inflamed with a strong imagination, sends forth health or sickness, not only in its proper body, but also in other bodies. So Avicen is of the opinion, that a Camell may fall by the imagination of any one. So he which is bitten with a mad Dog presently fals into a madness, and there appear in his Urine the shapes of Dogs. So the longing of a woman with Child, doth act upon anothers body, when it Signs the infant in the womb with the mark of the thing longed for. So, many monstrous generations proceed from monstrous imaginations of women with Child, as Marcus Damascenus reports that at Petra Sancta, a Town scituated [situated] upon the territories of Pisa, viz. a wench that was presented to Charls [Charles] King of Bohemia, who was rough and hairy all over her body, like a wild beast, whom her mother affected with a religious kind of horrour [horror] upon the picture of John Baptist, which was by her bed, in time of conception, afterwards brought forth after this fashion. And this we see is not only in men, but also is done amongst bruit [brute] Creatures. So we read that Jacob the Patriarch, with his speckled Rods set in the watering places, did discolour the Sheep of Laban. So the imaginative powers of Pea-Cocks, and other Birds, whilest they be coupling, impress a colour upon their wings. Whence we produce white Pea-Cocks [peacocks], by hanging round the places where they couple, with white Clothes. Now by these examples it appears how the affection of the phantasie, when it vehemently intends it self, doth not only affect its own proper body, but also anothers. So also the desire of Witches to hurt, doth bewitch men most perniciously with stedfast [steadfast] lookes. To these things Avicen, Aristotle, Algazel, and Gallen assent. For it is manifest that a body may most easily be affected with the vapour of anothers diseased body, which we plainly see in the Plague, and Leprosie [leprosy]. Again, in the vapours of the eyes there is so great a power, that they can bewitch and infect any that are near them, as the Cockatrice, or Basilisk, killing men with their looks. And certain women in Scythia, amongst the Illyrians, and Triballi, killed whomsoever they looked angry upon. Therefore let no man wonder that the body, and soul of one may in like manner be affected with the mind of another, seeing the mind is far more powerfull, strong, fervent, and more prevalent in its motion then vapours exhaling out of bodies; neither are there wanting Mediums, by which it should work, neither is anothers body less subjected to anothers mind, then to anothers body. Upon this account they say, that a man by him affection, and habit only, may act upon another. Therefore Philosophers advise, that the society of evill, and mischievous men must be shunned, for their soul being full of noxious rayes, infects them that are near with a hurtfull Contagion. On the contrary, they advise that the society of good, and fortunate men be endeavored after, because by their nearness they do us much good. For as the smell of Assa-fetida [asafetida], or Musk, so of bad something of bad, of good something of good, is derived upon them that are nigh, and sometimes continues a long time. Now then if the foresaid Passions have so great a power in the Phantasie, they have certainly a greater power in the reason, in as much as the reason is more excellent then the Phantasie; and lastly, they have much greater power in the mind; for this, when it is fixt upon God for any good with its whole intention, doth oftentimes affect anothers body as well as its own with some divine gift. By this means we read that many miracles were done by Apollonius, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Philolaus, and many Prophets, and holy men of our Religion.

But of these more fully in the following Chapters, where we shall discourse of Religion.

Chapter lxvi. That the Passions of the mind are helped by a Celestiall season, and how necessary the Constancy of the mind is in every work.

The Passions of the mind are much helped, and are helpfull, and become most powerfull by vertue of the Heaven, as they agree with the heaven, either by any naturall agreement, or by voluntary Election. For, as saith Ptolomeus [Ptolomy], he which chooseth that which is the better, seems to differ nothing from him who hath this of nature. It conduceth therefore very much for the receiving of the benefit of the Heavens, in any work, if we shall by the Heaven make our selves sutable [suitable] to it in our thoughts, affections, imaginations, elections, deliberations, contemplations, and the like. For such like passions do vehemently stir up our spirit to their likeness, and suddenly expose us, and ours to the superior significators of such like passions; and also by reason of their dignity, and neerness to the superiors, do much more partake of the Celestials, then any materiall things. For our mind can through imaginations, or reason by a kind of imitation, be so conformed to any Star, as suddenly to be filled with the vertues of that Star, as if it were a proper receptacle of the influence thereof. Now the contemplating mind, as it withdraws it self from all sense, imagination, nature, and deliberation, and cals [calls] it self back to things separated, unless it exposeth it self to Saturn, is not of present consideration, or enquiry. For our mind doth effect divers things by faith, which is a firm adhesion, a fixt intention, and a vehement application of the worker, or receiver, to him that co-operates in any thing, and gives power to the work which we intend to do. So that there is made as it were in us the image of the vertue to be received, and the thing to be done in us, or by us. We must therefore in every work, and application of things, affect vehemently, imagine, hope, and believe strongly, for that will be a great help. And it is verified amongst Physitians [physicians], that a strong belief, and an undoubted hope, and love towards the Physitian [physician], and medicine, conduce much to health, yea more sometimes than the medicine it self. For the same that the efficacy, and vertue of the medicine works, the same doth the strong imagination of the Physitian [physician] work, being able to change the qualities in the body of the sick, especially when the patient placeth much confidence in the Physitian [physician], by that means disposing himself for the receiving of the vertue of the Physitian [physician], and Physick [=medicine]. Therefore he that works in Magick, must be of a constant belief, be credulous, and not at all doubt of obtaining the effect. For as a firm, and strong belief doth work wonderfull things, although it be in false works, so distrust and doubting doth dissipate, and break the vertu [vertue] of the mind of the worker, which is the medium betwixt both extreams, whence it happens, that he is frustrated of the desired influence of the superiors, which could not be joyned, and united to our labours without a firm, and solid vertue of our mind.

Chapter lxvii. How mans mind may be joyned with the mind, and Intelligencies of the Celestials, and together with them impress certain wonderfull vertues upon inferiour things.

The Philosophers, especially the Arabians, say, that mans mind, when it is most intent upon any work, through its passion, and effects, is joyned with the mind of the Stars, and Intelligencies, and being so joyned is the cause of some wonderfull vertue be infused into our works, and things; and this, as because there is in it an apprehension, and power of all things, so because all things have a naturall obedience to it, and of necessity an efficacy, and more to that which desires them with a strong desire. And according to this is verified the Art of Characters, images, inchantments [enchantments], and some speeches, and many other wonderfull experiments to every thing which the mind affects. By this means whatsoever the mind of him that is in vehement love affects, hath an efficacy to cause love, & whatsoever the mind of him that strongly hates, dictates, hath an efficacy to hurt, and destroy. The like is in other things, which the mind affects with a strong desire. For all those things which the mind acts, and dictates by Characters, Figures, Words, Speeches, Gestures, and the like, help the appetite of the soul, and acquire certain wonderfull vertues, as from the soul of the operator, in that hour when such a like appetite doth invade it, so from the opportunity, and Celestiall influence, moving the mind in that manner. For our mind, when it is carried upon the great excess of any Passion, or vertue, oftentimes presently takes of it self a strong, better, and more convenient hour, or opportunity. Which Thomas Aquinas in his third book against the Gentiles, confesseth. So many wonderfull vertues both cause, and follow certain admirable operations by great affections, in those things which the soul doth dictate in that hour to them. But know, that such kind of things confer nothing, or very little but to the Author of them, and to him which is inclined to them, as if he were the Author of them. And this is the manner by which their efficacy is found out. And it is a generall rule in them, that every mind that is more excellent in its desire, and affection, makes such like things more fit for it self, as also efficatious to that which it desires. Every one therefore that is willing to work in Magick, must know the vertue, measure, order, and degree of his own soul, in the power of the universe.

Chapter lxviii. How our mind can change, and bind inferiour things to that which it desires.

There is also a certain vertue in the minds of men, of changing, attracting, hindring, and binding to that which they desire, and all things obey them, when they are carried into a great excess of any Passion or vertu [vertue], so as to exceed those things which they bind. For the superior binds that which is inferior, and converts it to it self, and the inferior is by the same reason converted to the superior, or is otherwise affected, and wrought upon. By this reason things that receive a superior degree of any Star, bind, or attract, or hinder things which have an inferior, according as they agree, or disagree amongst themselves. Whence a Lion is afraid of a Cock, because the presence of the Solary vertue is more agreeable to a Cock then to a Lion: So a Loadstone draws Iron, because in order it hath a superior degree of the Celestiall Bear.

So the Diamond hinders the Loadstone, because in the order of Mars it is superior to it. In like manner any man when he is opportunely exposed to the Celestiall influencies, as by the affections of his mind, so by the due applications of naturall things, if he become stronger in a Solary vertue, binds and draws the inferior into admiration, and obedience, in order of the Moon to servitude or infirmities, in a Saturnall order to quietness or sadness; in order of Jupiter to worship, in order of Mars to fear, and discord, in order of Venus to love, and joy, in a Mercuriall order to perswasion [persuasion], and obsequiousness, and the like. Now the ground of such a kind of binding is the very vehement, and boundless affection of the souls, with the concourse of the Celestiall order. But the dissolutions, or hinderances of such a like binding, are made by a contrary effect, and that more excellent or strong, for as the greater excess of the mind binds, so also it looseth, and hindreth. And lastly, when the [thou] fearest Venus, oppose Saturn. When Saturn or Mars, oppose Venus or Jupiter: for Astrologers say, that these are most at enmity, and contrary the one to the other (i.e.) causing contrary effects in these inferior bodies; For in the heaven, where there is nothing wanting, and where all things are governed with love, there can in no wise be hatred, or enmity.

Chapter lxix. Of Speech, and the vertue of Words.

It being shewed that there is a great power in the affections of the soul, you must know moreover, that there is no less Vertue in words, and the names of things, but greatest of all in speeches, and motions, by which we chiefly differ from bruits [brutes], and are called rationall; not from reason, which is taken for that part of the soul, which contains the affections, which Galen saith, is also common to bruits [brutes], although in a less degree; but we are called rationall, from that reason which is according to the voice understood in words, and speech, which is called declarative reason, by which part we do chiefly excell all other Animals. For logoV [logos] in Greek signifies, reason, speech, and a word. Now a word is twofold, viz. internall, and uttered; An internall word is a conception of the mind, and motion of the soul, which is made without a voice. As in dreams we seem to speak, and dispute with our selves, and whilest we are awake we run over a whole speech silently. But an uttered word hath a certain act in the voice, and properties of locution, and is brought forth with the breath of a man, with opening of his mouth, and with the speech of his tongue, in which nature hath coupled the corporeall voice, and speech to the mind, and understanding, making that a declarer, and interpreter of the conception of our intellect to the hearers, And of this we now speak. Words therefore are the fittest medium betwixt the speaker and the hearer, carrying with them not only the conception of the mind, but also the vertue of the speaker with a certain efficacy unto the hearers, and this oftentimes with so great a power, that oftentimes they change not only the hearers, but also other bodies, and things that have no life. Now those words are of greater efficacy then others, which represent greater things, as intellectuall, Celestiall, and supernaturall, as more expressly, so more misteriously [mysteriously]. Also those that come from a more worthy tongue, or from any of a more holy order; for these, as it were certain Signs, and representations, receive a power of Celestiall, and supercelestiall things, as from the vertue of things explained, of which they are the vehicula, so from a power put into them by the vertue of the speaker.

Chapter lxx. Of the vertue of proper names.

That proper names of things are very necessary in Magicall operations, almost all men testifie: For the naturall power of things proceeds first from the objects to the senses, and then from these to the imagination, and from this to the mind, in which it is first conceived, and then is expressed by voices, and words. The Platonists therefore say, that in this very voice, or word, or name framed, with its Articles, that the power of the thing as it were some kind of life, lies under the form of the signification. First conceived in the mind as it were through certain seeds of things, then by voices or words, as a birth brought forth, and lastly kept in writings. Hence Magicians say, that proper names of things are certain rayes of things, every where present at all times, keeping the power of things, as the essence of the thing signified, rules, and is discerned in them, and know the things by them, as by proper, and living Images. For as the great operator doth produce divers species, and particular things by the influencies of the Heavens, and by the Elements, together with the vertues of Planets; so according to the properties of the influencies proper names result to things, and are put upon them by him who numbers the multitude of the Stars, calling them all by their names, of which names Christ in another place speaks, saying, Your names are written in Heaven. Adam therefore that gave the first names to things, knowing the influencies of the Heavens, and properties of all things, gave them all names according to their natures, as it is written in Genesis, where God brought all things that he had created before Adam, that he should name them, and as he named any thing, so the name of it was, which names indeed contain in them wonderfull powers of the things signified. Every voice therefore that is significative, first of all signifies by the influence of the Celestiall harmony: Secondly, by the imposition of man, although oftentimes otherwise by this, then by that. But when both significations meet in any voice or name, which are put upon them by the said harmony or men, then that name is with a double vertue, viz. naturall, and arbitrary, made most efficatious to act, as oft as it shall be uttered in due place, and time, and seriously with an intention exercised upon the matter rightly disposed, and that can naturally be acted upon by it. So we read in Philostratus, that when a maid at Rome dyed [died] the same day she was married, and was presented to Apollonius, he accurately inquired into her name, which being known, he pronounced some occult thing, by which she revived. It was an observation amongst the Romanes in their holy rites, that when they did besiege any City, they did diligently enquire into the proper, and true name of it, and the name of that God, under whose protection it was, which being known, they did then with some verse call forth the Gods that were the protectors of that City, and did curse the inhabitants of that City, so at length their Gods being absent, did overcome them, as Virgil sings,

----- That kept this Realm, our Gods
Their Altars have forsook, and blest abodes.

Now the verse with which the Gods were called out, and the enemies were curst [cursed], when the City was assaulted round about, let him that would know, finde it out in Livy, and Macrobius; but also many of these Serenus Samonicus in his book of secret things makes mention of.

Chapter lxxi. Of many words joyned together, as in sentences, and verses, and of the vertues, and astrictions of charms.

Besides the vertues of words and names, there is also a greater vertue found in sentences, from the truth contained in them, which hath a very great power of impressing, changing, binding, and establishing, so that being used it doth shine the more, and being resisted is more confirmed, and consolidated; which vertue is not in simple words, but in sentences, by which any thing is affirmed, or denyed; of which sort are verses, enchantments, imprecations, deprecations, orations, invocations, obtestations, adjurations, conjurations, and such like. Therefore in composing verses, and orations, for attracting the vertue of any Star, or Deity, you must diligently consider what vertues any Star contains, as also what effects, and operations, and to infer them in verses, by praising, extolling, amplifying, and setting forth those things which such a kind of Star is wont to cause by way of its influence, and by vilifying, and dispraising those things which it is wont to destroy, and hinder, and by supplicating, and begging for that which we desire to get, and by condemning, and detesting that which we would have destroyed, & hindered: and after the same manner to make an elegant oration, and duly distinct by Articles, with competent numbers, and proportions. Moreover Magicians command that we call upon, and pray by the names of the same Star, or name, to them to whom such a verse belongs, by their wonderfull things, or miracles, by their courses, and waies in their sphear [sphere], by their light, by the dignity of their Kingdome, by the beauty, and brightness that is in it, by their strong, and powerfull vertues, and by such like as these. As Psyche in Apuleius prayes to Ceres; saying, I beseech thee by thy fruitfull right hand, I intreat thee by the joyfull Ceremonies of harvests, by the quiet silence of thy chests, by the winged Chariots of Dragons thy servants, by the furrows of the Sicilian earth, the devouring Wagon, the clammy earth, by the place of going down into cellars at the light Nuptials of Proserpina, and returns at the light inventions of her daughter, and other things which are concealed in her temple in the City Eleusis in Attica. Besides, with the divers sorts of the names of the Stars, they command us to call upon them by the names of the Intelligencies, ruling over the Stars themselves, of which we shall speak more at large in their proper place. They that desire further examples of these, let them search into the hymns of Orpheus, then which nothing is more efficatious in naturall Magick, if they together with their circumstances, which wise men know, be used according to a due harmony, with all attention. But to return to our purpose. Such like verses being aptly, and duly made according to the rule of the Stars, and being full of signification, & meaning, and opportunely pronounced with vehement affection, as according to the number, proportion of their Articles, so according to the form resulting from the Articles, and by the violence of imagination, do confer a very great power in the inchanter [enchanter], and sometimes transfers it upon the thing inchanted [enchanted], to bind, and direct it to the same purpose for which the affections, and speeches of the inchanter [enchanter] are intended. Now the instrument of inchanters [enchanters] is a most pure harmoniacall spirit, warm, breathing, living, bringing with it motion, affection, and signification, composed of its parts, endued with sence, and conceived by reason. By the quality therefore of this spirit, and by the Celestiall similitude thereof, besides those things which have already been spoken of, verses also from the opportunity of time, receive from above most excellent vertues, and indeed more sublime, and efficatious then spirits, & vapors exhaling out of the Vegetable life, out of hearbs, roots, gums, aromaticall things, and fumes, and such like. And therefore Magicians inchanting [enchanting] things, are wont to blow, and breath [breathe] upon them the words of the verse, or to breath [breathe] in the vertue with the spirit, that so the whole vertue of the soul be directed to the thing inchanted [enchanted], being disposed for the receiving the said vertue. And here it is to he noted, that every oration, writting [writing], and words, as they induce accustomed motions by their accustomed numbers, and proportions, and form, so also besides their usuall order, being pronounced, or wrote backwards, more unto unusuall effects.

Chapter lxxii. Of the wonderful power of Inchantments [Enchantments].

They say that the power of inchantments [enchantments], and verses is so great, that it is believed they are able to subvert almost all nature, as saith Apuleius, that with a Magicall whispering, swift Rivers are turned back, the slow sea is bound, the Winds are breathed out with one accord, the Sun is stopt, the Moon is clarified, the Stars are pulled out, the day is kept back, the night is prolonged, and of these things sings Lucan,

The courses of all things did cease, the night
Prolonged was, 'twas long before 'twas light;
Astonied was the headlong world, all this
Was by the hearing of a verse

And a little before.

Thessalian verse did into 's heart so flow,
That it did make a greater heat of love.

And elsewhere.

No dregs of poison being by him drunk,
His wits decay'd inchanted [enchanted]

Also Virgil in Damon.

Charms can command the Moon down from the Skie,
Circes Charms chang'd
Ulisses [Ulysses'] company.
A cold Snake being charm'd, burst in the Meads.

And in another place.

charms bear Corn standing from anothers Farm.

And Ovid in his book, sine Titulo, saith.

With charms doth with'ring Ceres dye,
    Dried are the fountains all,
Acorns from Okes [oaks], inchanted [enchanted] Grapes
    And Apples from trees fall.

If these things were not true, there would not be such strict penall Statutes made against them, that should inchant [enchant] fruit. And Tibullus saith of a certain Imchantress [enchantress],

Her with Charms drawing Stars from Heaven, I
And turning th' Course of rivers, did espy,
She parts the earth, and Ghosts from Sepulchers
Draws up, and fetcheth bones away from th' fires,
And at her pleasure scatters Clouds i'th' Air,
And makes it Snow in Summer hot, and fair.

Of all which that Inchantress [enchantress] seems to boast her self in Ovid, when she saith,

----- At will, I make swift streams retire
To their fountains, whilest their banks admire;
Sea toss, and smooth; clear Clouds, with Clouds deform.
With Spells, and Charms I break the Vipers jaw,
Cleave Solid Rocks, Oakes from their seasures [seizures] draw,
Whole Woods remove, the airy Mountains shake,
Earth for to groan, and Ghosts from graves awake,
And thee O Moon I draw

Moreover all Poets sing, and Philosophers do not deny, that by verses many wonderfull things may be done, as Corn to be removed, Lightenings to be commanded, diseases to be cured, and such like. For Cato himself in Country affairs used some inchantments [enchantments] against the diseases of beasts, which as yet are extant in his writings. Also Josephus testifies that Solomon was skilled in those kinds of inchantments [enchantments]. Also Celsus Africanus reports, according to the Egyptian doctrine, that mans body, according to the number of the faces of the Zodiack Signs, was taken care of by so many, viz. thirty six spirits, whereof each undertake, and defend their proper part, whose names they call with a peculiar voice, which being called upon, restore to health with their inchantments [enchantments] the diseased parts of the body.

Chapter lxxiii. Of the vertue of writting [writing], and of making imprecations, and inscriptions.

The use of words, and speech, is to express the inwards of the mind, and from thence to draw forth the secrets of the thoughts, and to declare the will of the speaker. Now writing is the last expression of the mind, and is the number of speech and voice, as also the collection, state, end, continuing, and iteration, making a habit, which is not perfected with the act of ones voice. And whatsoever is in the mind, in voice, in word, in oration, and in speech, the whole, and all of this is in writing also. And as nothing which is conceived in the mind is not expressed by voice, so nothing which is expressed is not also written. And therefore Magicians command, that in every work, there be imprecations, and inscriptions made, by which the operator may express his affection: that if he gather an Hearb [herb], or a Stone, he declare for what use he doth it; if he make a picture, he say, and write to what end he maketh it; with imprecations, and inscriptions. Albertus also in his book called Speculum, doth not disallow, without which all our works would never be brought into effect; Seeing a disposition doth not cause an effect, but the act of the disposition. We find also that the same kind of precepts was in use amongst the Ancients, as Virgil testifies, when he sings,

----- I walk a round
First with these threads, in number which three are,
'Bout th' Altars thrice I shall thy Image bear.

And a little after.

Knots, Amaryllis tye [tie]! of Colours three,
Then say, these bonds I knit, for
Venus be.

And in the same place.

As with one fire this clay doth harder prove,
The wax more soft; so
Daphnis with our love.

Chapter lxxiv. Of the proportion, correspondency, reduction of Letters to the Celestiall Signs, and Planets, according to various tongues, and a Table shewing this.

God gave to man a mind, and speech, which (as saith Mercurius Trismegistus) are thought to be a gift of the same vertue, power, and immortality. The omnipotent God hath by his providence divided the speech of men into divers languages; which languages have according to their diversity received divers, and proper Characters of writing, consisting in their certain order, number, and figure, not so disposed, and formed by hap, or chance, nor by the weak judgement of man, but from above, whereby they agree with the Celestiall, and divine bodies, and vertues. But before all notes of languages, the writing of the Hebrews is of all the most sacred in the figures of Characters, points of vowels, and tops of accents, as consisting in matter, form, and spirit.

The position of the Stars being first made in the seat of God, which is heaven, after the figure of them (as the masters of the Hebrews testifie) are most fully formed the letters of the Celestiall mysteries, as by their figure, form, and signification, so by the numbers signified by them, and also by their various harmony of their conjunction. Whence the more curious Mecubals of the Hebrews do undertake by the figure of their letters, the forms of Characters, and their signature, simpleness, composition, separation, crookedness, directness, defect, abounding, greatness, litleness, crowning, opening, shutting, order, transmutation, joyning together, revolution of letters, and of points, and tops, by the supputation of numbers by the letters of things signified to explain all things, how they proceed from the first cause, and are again to be reduced into the same. Moreover they divide the letters of their Hebrew Alphabet, viz. into twelve simple, seven double, and three mothers, which they say signifie as Characters of things, the twelve Signs, seven Planets, and three Elements, viz. Fire, Water, and Earth, for they account Aire no Element, but as the glew [glue], and spirit of the Elements. To these also they appoint points, and tops: As therefore by the aspects of Planets, and Signs, together with the Elements, the working spirit, and truth all things have been, and are brought forth, so by these Characters of letters, and points, signifying those things that are brought forth, the names of all things are appointed, as certain Signs, and vehicula's of things explained, carrying with them every where their essence, and vertues. The profound meanings, and Signs are inherent in those Characters, and figures of them, as also numbers, place, order, and revolution; so that Origenes therefore thought that those names being translated into another Idiome, do not retain their proper vertue. For only originall names, which are rightly imposed, because they signify naturally, have a naturall activity: It is not so with them which signifie at pleasure, which have no activity, as they are signifying, but as they are certain naturall things in themselves. Now if there be any originall [language], whose words have a naturall signification, it is manifest that this is the Hebrew, the order of which he that shall profoundly, and radically observe, and shall know to resolve proportionably the letters thereof, shall have a rule exactly to find out any Idiome. There are therefore two and twenty Letters, which are the foundation of the world, and of creatures that are, and are named in it, and every saying, and every creature are of them, and by their revolutions receive their Name, Being, and Vertue.

He therefore that will find them out, must by each joyning together of the Letters so long examine them, untill the voice of God is manifest, and the framing of the most sacred letters be opened, and discovered. For hence voices, and words have efficacy in Magicall works: because that in which nature first exerciseth Magicall efficacy, is the voice of God. But these are of more deep speculation, then to be handled in this book. But to return to the division of the Letters. Of these, amongst the Hebrews, are three mothers, viz., [Alef, Vav, Yod] é, å, à;1 seven double, viz. ú, ø, ô, ë, ã, ð, á. The other 12, viz. ù, ÷,ö,ò, ñ, â, î, ì, è,ç, æ, ä are simple. The same rule is amongst the Chaldeans; And by the imitation of these the letters of other tongues are distributed to Signs, Planets, and Elements, after their order. For the Vowels in the Greek tongue, viz. A E H I O U W answer to the seven Planets. B G D Z K L M N P R S T are attributed to the twelve Signs of the Zodiack, the other five Q X F C Y represent the four Elements, and the spirit of the world. Amongst the Latine there is the same signification of them. For the five Vowels A E I 0 U, and J and V Consonants are ascribed to the seven Planets; and the Consonants B C D F G L M N P R S T are answerable to the twelve Signs. The rest, viz. K Q X Z make four Elements. H the aspiration represents the Spirit of the World. Y because it is a Greek, and not a Latine Character, and serving only to Greek words, follows the nature of its Idiome.

1. Cf. Zorzi 1: 5, 15, f 96v where the “mothers” are correctly given as Alef, Mem, and Shin.

But this you must not be ignorant of, that it is observed by all wise men, that the Hebrew letters are the most efficacious of all, because they have the greatest similitude with Celestials, and the world, and that the letters of the other tongues have not so great an efficacy, because they are more distant from them. Now the disposition of these, the following Table will explain. Also all the Letters have double numbers of their order, viz. Extended, which simply express of what number the letters are, according to their order: and collected, which recollect with themselves the numbers of all the preceding letters. Also they have integrall numbers, which result from the names of Letters, according to their various manners of numbring [numbering]. The vertues of which numbers, he that shall know, shall be able in every tongue to draw forth wonderfull mysteries by their letters, as also to tell what things have been past, and foretell things to come. There are also other mysterious joynings of letters with numbers: but we shall abundantly discourse of all these in the following Books: Wherefore we will now put an end to this first Book.

This electronic edition was based on the London 1651 Moule edition
found in the British Library:

  Title: Three Books of Occult Philosophy ... Translated ... by J. F. [i.e. John French.] 
  Main heading: AGRIPPA. Henricus Cornelius 
  Additional headings: F.. J. 
  Additional headings: FRENCH. John. M.D. 
  Publication details: pp. 583. R. W. for Gregory Moule: London, 1651. 4o. 
  Shelfmark: 1471.g.5. 
  Shelfmark: E.617. 
  Shelfmark: 232.l.7.(1) 

Graphics were supplied from 1533 Latin edition:
  Title:      De occulta philosophia libri tres
  Authors:    Agrippa von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius, 1486?-1535.
  Published:  [S.l. : s.n., 1533]

Twilit Grotto -- Esoteric Archives Contents Prev agripp1d Next timeline