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The Philosophy of Natural Magic, by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, L. W. de Laurence ed. [1913], at


Of the Kinds of Compounds, what Relation They Stand in to the Elements, and What Relation There Is Betwixt the Elements Themselves and the Soul, Senses and Dispositions of Men.

Next after the four simple Elements follow the four kinds of perfect Bodies compounded of them, and they are Stones, Metals, Plants and Animals: and although unto the generation of each of these all the Elements meet together in the composition, yet every one of them follows, and resembles one of the Elements, which is most predominant. For all Stones are earthy for they are naturally heavy and descend, and so hardened with dryness that they cannot be melted. But Metals are waterish and may be melted, which naturalists confess, and chemists find to be true, viz., that they are generated of a viscous Water or waterish argent vive. Plants have such an affinity with the Air, that unless they be abroad in the open air, they do neither bud nor increase. So also all Animals

Have in their Natures a most fiery force,
And also spring from a Celestial source.

p. 57

[paragraph continues] And Fire is so natural to them, that that being extinguished they presently die. And, again, every one of those kinds is distinguished within itself by reason of degrees of the Elements. For amongst the Stones they especially are called earthy that are dark and more heavy; and those waterish which are transparent and are compacted of water, as crystal, beryl and pearls in the shells of fishes; and they are called airy which swim upon the water, and are spongeous, as the stones of a sponge, the pumice stone and the stone sophus; * and they are called fiery out of which fire is extracted, or which are produced of fire, as thunder-bolts, fire-stones and the stone asbestos. Also amongst Metals, lead and silver are earthy; quicksilver is waterish; copper and tin are airy; and gold and iron are fiery. In Plants also, the roots resemble the earth by reason of their thickness; and the leaves water, because of their juice; flowers the air, because of their subtility, and the seeds the fire, by reason of their multiplying spirit. Besides, they are called some hot, some cold, some moist, some dry, borrowing their names from the qualities of the Elements. Amongst Animals also, some are in comparison of others earthy, and dwell in the bowels of the earth, as worms and moles, and many other small creeping vermin; others are watery, as fishes; others airy, which cannot live out of the air;  others also are fiery, living in the fire, as salamanders, and crickets, such as are of a fiery heat, as pigeons, ostriches, lions, and such as the wise men call beasts breathing fire. Besides, in animals the bones resemble the earth, flesh the air, the vital spirit the fire, and the humors the water. And these humors also partake of the Elements, for yellow choler is instead of fire, blood instead of air, phlegm instead of water, and black choler, or melancholy,

p. 58

instead of earth. And lastly, in the Soul itself, according to Austin, the understanding resembles fire, reason the air, imagination the water, and the senses the earth. And these senses also are divided amongst themselves by reason of the Elements, for the sight is fiery, neither can it perceive without fire and light; the hearing is airy, for a sound is made by the striking of the air; the smell and taste resemble the water, without the moisture of which there is neither smell nor taste; and lastly, the feeling is wholly earthy, and taketh gross bodies for its object. The actions, also, and the operations of man are governed by the Elements. The earth signifies a slow and firm motion; the water signifies fearfulness and sluggishness, and remissness in working; air signifies cheerfulness and an amiable disposition; but fire a fierce, quick and angry disposition. The Elements, therefore, are the first of all things, and all things, are of and according to them, and they are in all things, and diffuse their virtues through all things.


57:* Probably meerschaum (sea-froth), or sepiolite, one of the bisilicates.

57:† Birds in general are undoubtedly here meant.

Next: Chapter VIII. How the Elements Are in the Heavens, in Stars, in Devils, in Angels, and lastly in God Himself