Thursday, April 2, 2009
The First Book of Occult Philosophy - Cornelius Agrippa (Chapter 3)
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. ii. What Magick is, What are the Parts thereof, and how the Professors thereof must be Qualified.
The First Book of Occult Philosophy - Chapter 2
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.
Chapter One. How Magicians Collect vertues from the three-fold World, is declared in these three Books.
Seeing there is a three-fold World, Elementary, Celestiall, 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.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Thanasius Kircher's 1652 depiction of the Tree of Life, based on a 1625 version by Philippe d'Aquin. This is still the most common arrangement of the Sephiroth and paths on the tree in Hermetic Qabalah.
The Sephirah and the Tarot;
The Sephirah can be conceived of as Divine Emanations, or aspects of Reality, Divine, Eternal and Infinite. The 22 paths drawn out between the spheres in the traditional Qabalistic diagrams of the Sephiroth are covered by the cards of the Major Arcana including the fool in the Tarot.
The journey through the various spheres and levels lead to an attainment or realisation of Godhead, leaving the qabalistic religion unable to be classified as Monotheistic in any manner at all.
The Ten Sephirah are listed as Manifesting in the following order;
Ain Suph Aur crystallises Kether, the first sephirah of the Hermetic Qabalistic tree of life. From Kether emanate the rest of the sephirot in turn, viz. Kether (1), Chokhmah (2), Binah, Daath,(3) Chesed (4), Geburah (5), Tiphareth (6), Netzach (7), Hod (8), Yesod (9), Malkuth given a number, due to it's being considered part of Binah or even as a hidden Sephirah.
A correct understanding of the Qabalistic Universe will lead to the correct understanding of God and of Godhead. The Jewish Orthodox Religions and Qabalism have very little in common when properly understood.
Jewish Kabbalah was absorbed into the Hermetic tradition at least as early as the 15th century when Giovanni Pico della Mirandola promoted a syncretic world-view combining Platonism, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah. This was further developed by Athanasius Kircher, a Jesuit priest, hermeticist and polymath, who wrote extensively on the subject in 1652, bringing further elements such as Orphism and Egyptian mythology to the mix. Modern Hermetic Qabalah is the product of all these influences.
Hermetic Qabalah reached its peak in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a 19th century organization that was arguably the pinnacle of ceremonial magic. Within the Golden Dawn the syncretic fusing of Qabalistic principles such as the ten Sephiroth with Greek and Egyptian deities was made more cohesive and was extended to encompass other systems such as the Enochian system of angelic magic of John Dee and certain Eastern (particularly Hindu and Buddhist) concepts, all within the structure of a Masonic or Rosicrucian style esoteric order.
Aleister Crowley, a member of the Golden Dawn, is the most widely known exponent of Hermetic Magic or Magick as he preferred to render it. Crowley's own writings on the Qabalah were idiosyncratic, and in some cases purposely blasphemous. However his book Liber 777 is a good illustration of the wider Hermetic approach. It is a set of tables relating various parts of ceremonial magic and Eastern and Western religion to thirty-two numbers representing the ten spheres and twenty-two paths of the qabalistic Tree of Life. The attitude of syncretism embraced by Hermetic Qabalists is plainly evident here, as one may simply check the table to see that Chesed (חסד "Mercy") corresponds to Jupiter, Isis, the colour blue (on the Queen Scale), Poseidon, Brahma, and amethyst.
Many of the Golden Dawn's rituals were published by Crowley and were eventually compiled into book form by Israel Regardie. The versions Crowley published were often updated so as to be more consistent with his research into New Aeon magick, Regardie tending instead to publish the rituals along more traditional lines