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


Whence the Occult Virtues of Things Proceed.

It is well known to all that there is a certain virtue in the Loadstone by which it attracts iron, and that the Diamond doth by its presence take away that virtue of the Loadstone. So also, Amber and Jet, rubbed and warmed, draw a straw to them; and the stone Asbestos, being once fired, is never or scarce extinguished. A Carbuncle shines in the dark; the stone Aetites put above the young fruit of women or plants strengthens them, but being put under, weakeneth. The Jasper stauncheth blood; the little fish Echeneis stops the ships; Rhubarb expels choler; the liver of the Chameleon, burnt, raiseth showers and thunders. The stone Heliotrope dazzles the sight, and makes him that wears it to be invisible; the stone Lyucurius takes away delusions from before the eyes, the perfume of the stone Lypparis calls forth all the beasts, the stone Synochitis brings up infernal ghosts, the stone Anachitis makes the images of the Gods appear. The Ennectis, put under them that dream, causeth oracles. There is an herb in Æthiopia with which, they report, ponds and

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lakes are dried up, and all things that are shut to be opened; and we read of an herb, called Latace, which the Persian kings give to their embassadors, that whithersoever they shall come they shall abound with plenty of all things. There is also a Scythian herb with which, being tasted or at least held in the mouth, they report the Scythians will endure twelve days’ hunger and thirst; and Apuleius saith that he was taught by an Oracle that there were many kinds of herbs and stones with which men might prolong their lives forever, but that it was not lawful for men to understand the knowledge of those things because, whereas they have but a short time to live, they study mischief with all their might and attempt all manner of wickedness; if they should be sure of a very long time, they would not spare the Gods themselves. But from whence these virtues are none of all these have shewed who have set forth huge volumes of the properties of things, not Hermes, not Bochus, not Aaron, not Orpheus, not Theophrastus, not Thebith, not Zenothemis, not Zoroaster, not Evax, not Dioscorides, not Isaaick the Jew, not Zacharias the Babylonian, not Albertus, not Arnoldus; and yet all these have confessed the same, that Zacharias writes to Mithridites, the great power and human destinies are couched in the virtues of Stones and Herbs. But to know from whence these come, a higher speculation is required. Alexander the peripatetic, not going any further than his senses and qualities, is of the opinion that these proceed from Elements, and their qualities, which haply might be supposed to be true, if those were of the same species; but many of the operations of the Stones agree neither in genere nor specie. Therefore Plato and his scholars attribute these virtues to Ideas, the formers of things. But Avicen reduceth these kinds of operations to Intelligence, Hermes to the Stars, Albertus to the specifical forms of things. And although these

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authors seem to thwart one the other, yet none of them, if they be rightly understood, goes beside the truth; since all their sayings are the same in effect in most things. For God, in the first place, is the end and beginning of all Virtues; he gives the seal of the Ideas to his servants, the Intelligences; who, as faithful officers, sign all things intrusted to them with an Ideal Virtue; the Heavens and Stars, as instruments, disposing the matter in the mean while for the receiving of those forms which reside in Divine Majesty (as saith Plato in Timeus) and to be conveyed by Stars; and the Giver of Forms distributes them by the Ministry of his Intelligences, which he hath set as Rulers and Controllers over his Works, to whom such a power is intrusted in things committed to them that so all Virtues of Stones, Herbs, Metals, and all other things may come from the Intelligences, the Governors. The Form, therefore, and Virtue of things comes first from the Ideas, then from the ruling and governing Intelligences, then from the aspects of the Heavens disposing, and lastly from the tempers of the Elements disposed, answering the influences of the Heavens, by which the Elements themselves are ordered, or disposed. These kinds of operations, therefore, are performed in these inferior things by express forms, and in the Heavens by disposing virtues, in Intelligences by mediating rules, in the Original Cause by Ideas and exemplary forms, all of which must of necessity agree in the execution of the effect and virtue of everything.

There is, therefore, a wonderful virtue and operation in every Herb and Stone, but greater in a Star, beyond which, even from the governing Intelligences every thing receiveth and obtains many things for itself, especially from the Supreme Cause, with whom all things do mutually and exactly correspond, agreeing in an harmonious consent, as it were in hymns, always praising the highest Maker of all things, as

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by the three children in the fiery furnace were all things called upon to praise God with singings. Bless ye the Lord all things that grow upon the Earth, and all things which move in the Waters, all fowls of the Heavens, beasts and cattle, together with the sons of men. There is, therefore, no other cause of the necessity of effects than the connection of all things with the First Cause, and their correspondency with those Divine patterns and eternal Ideas whence every thing hath its determinate and particular place in the exemplary world, from whence it lives and receives its original being: And every virtue of herbs, stones, metals, animals, words and speeches and all things that are of God, is placed there. Now the First Cause, which is God, although he doth by Intelligences and the Heavens work upon these inferior things, Both sometimes (these mediums being laid aside, or their officiating being suspended) works those things immediately by himself, which works then are called Miracles. But whereas secondary causes, which Plato and others call handmaids, do by the command and appointment of the First Cause, necessarily act, and are necessitated to produce their effects, if God shall notwithstanding, according to his pleasure, so discharge and suspend them, that they shall wholly desist from the necessity of that command and appointment; then they are called the greatest Miracles of God. So the fire in the Chaldeans’ furnace did not burn the Children. So also the Sun at the command of Joshua went back from its course the space of a whole day; so also at the prayer of Hezekiah it went back ten degrees or hours. So when Christ was crucified the Sun was darkened, though at full Moon. And the reason of these operations can be by no rational discourse, no Magic, or occult or profound Science whatsoever be found out or understood, but are to be learned and inquired into by Divine Oracles only.

Next: Chapter XIV. Of the Spirit of the World, What It Is, and How by Way of Medium It Unites Occult Virtues to Their Subjects