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


Of the Wonderful Natures of Fire and Earth.

There are two things, saith Hermes, viz., Fire and Earth, which are sufficient for the operation of all wonderful 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

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in all things bright, and at the same time occult and unknown. When it is by itself (no other matter coming to it, in which it should manifest its proper action) it is boundless and invisible, of itself sufficient for every action that is proper to it, movable, yielding itself after a manner to all things that come next to it, renewing, guarding Nature, enlightening, not comprehended by lights that are veiled over, clear, parted, leaping back, bending upwards, quick in motion, high, always raising motions, comprehending another, not comprehended itself, not standing in need of another, secretly increasing of itself, and manifesting its greatness to things that receive it; Active, Powerful, 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 itself; incomprehensible, impalpable, not lessened, most rich in all dispensations of itself. 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 itself is one, and penetrates through all things, as say the Pythagoreans, also spread abroad in the Heavens, and shining: but in the infernal place straitened, dark and tormenting; in the mid way it partakes of both. Fire, therefore, in itself 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 steel; it is in Earth, and makes that, after digging up, to 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 Air, 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 everything

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that lives, lives by reason of the inclosed heat. The properties of the Fire that is above, are heat, making all things fruitful, and light, giving life to all things. The properties of the infernal Fire are a parching heat, consuming all things, and darkness, making all things barren. The Celestial 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 Celestial 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 Celestial, 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 until 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 custom the priests of the altar did always observe and keep amongst the Romans.

Now the basis and foundation of all the Elements is the Earth, for that is the object, subject, and receptacle

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of all Celestial rays and influences; in it are contained the seeds and seminal virtues of all things; and therefore it is said to be Animal, Vegetable and Mineral. It being made fruitful by the other Elements and the Heavens, it brings forth all things of itself. 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, separated, washed, depurated, subtilized, if you let it lie in the open air a little while, it will, being full and abounding with heavenly virtues, of itself 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.

Next: Chapter VI. Of the Wonderful Natures of Water, Air and Winds