Three Books of Occult Philosophy/Book 1/Chapter 2

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Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, translated by John French
Book 1, Chapter 2

CHAP. II.

What Magick is, what are the Parts thereof, and how the Professors thereof must be qualified.

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, 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, whence Courage, rage of Bruits,
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,
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.
Arcturns 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, 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, 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 Abbaris the Hyperborean, Charmondas, Damigeron, Eudoxus, Hermippus followed: there were also other eminent, choice men, as Mercurius Tresmegistus, Porphyrius, Iamblicus, Plotinus, Proclus, Dardanus, Orpheus the Thracian, Gog the Grecian, Germa the Babilonian, 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 devoutnesss, 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, 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 skilfull 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, wherein are manifested those immateriall substances, which dispence, 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.