Three Books of Occult Philosophy/Book 1/Chapter 54

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Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, translated by John French
Book 1, Chapter 54

her manner of flying, whether on the right hand, or left, whether clamorous, or silent, whether she goes before, or follows after, whether she waits for the approach of him that passeth by, or flies from him, and which way she goes; all these things must be diligently observed. Orus Apollo saith in his Hyeroglyphicks, Daws that are twins signifie marriage, because this Animall brings forth two eggs, out of which male, and female must be brought forth: But if (which seldom happens) two males be generated, or two females, the males will not couple with any other females, nor females with any other males, but will alwaies live without a mate; and solitary. Therefore they that meet a single Daw, divine thereby that they shall live a single life. The same also doth a black Hen Pigeon betoken; for after the death of her mate, she alwaies lives single. Thou shalt as carefully observe Crows, which are as significant as Daws, yea, and in greater matters. It was Epictetus the Stoicks Philosophers judgment, who was a Sage Author, that if a Crow did croke over against any one, it did betoken some evill, either to his body, fortune, honour, wife, or children. Then thou shall take heed to Swans, who foreknow the secrets of the waters, for their cheerfulness doth presage happy events not only to Marriners, but all other travellers, unless they be overcome by the coming over of a stronger, as of an Eagle, who by the most potent Majesty of her soveraignty makes null the predictions of all other birds, if she speaks to the contrary; for she flies higher then all other birds, and is of more acute sight, and is never excluded from the secrets of Jupiter: She portends advancement, and victory, but by blood; because she drinks no water but blood. An Eagle flying over the Locrensians, fighting against the Crotoniensians gave them victory. An Eagle setting her self unawares upon the Target of Hiero, going forth to the first War, betokened that he should be King. Two Eagles sitting all day upon the house at the birth of Alexander of Macedonia, did portend to him an omen of two Kingdomes, viz. Asia, and Europe. An Eagle also taking off the hat of Lucias Tarquinius Priscus, Son to Demarathus the Corinthian (flying from home by reason of some discord, and being come into Hetraria, and going to Rome) and then flying high with it, and afterwards putting it upon his head again, did portend to him the Kingdome of the Romans. Vulturs signifie difficulty, hardness, ravenousness, which was verified in the beginning of building of Cities. Also they foretell the places of slaughter, coming seven dayes before hand; and because they have most respect to that place where the greatest slaughter shall be, as if they gaped after the greatest number of the slain; therefore the ancient Kings were wont to send out spies to take notice what place the Vulturs had most respect to. The Phoenix promiseth singular good success, which being seen anew, Rome was built very auspiciously. The Pellican, because she hazards her self for her young, signifies that a man should out of the zeal of his love undergo much hardship. The painted bird gave the name to the City of Pictavia, and foreshewed the lenity of that people by its colour, and voice. The Heron is an Augurium of hard things. The Stork is a bird of concord, and makes concord. Cranes gives us notice of the trechery of enemies. The bird Cacupha betokens gratitude, for she alone doth express love to her Dam, being spent with old age. On the contrary, Hippopotamus that kils his Dam, doth betoken ingratitude for good turn, also injustice. The bird Origis is most envious, and betokens envy.

Amongst the smaller birds, the Pie is talkative, and foretels guests. The bird Albanellus flying by any one, if from the left to the right, betokens cheerfulness of entertainment, if contrarywise, betokens the contrary. The scritch Owl is alwaies unlucky, so also is the horn Owl, who because she goes to her young by night unawares, as death comes unawares, is therefore said to foretell death: yet sometimes, because she is not blind in the dark of the night, doth betoken diligence, and watchfulness, which she made good, when she sate upon the spear of Hiero. Dido, when she sees the unlucky Owl, pittied Æneas, whence the Poet sang,

The Owl sitting on top of th' house alone,
Sends forth her sad complaints with mournfull tone.

And in another place,

The slothfull Owl by mortals is esteem'd
A fatall omen
-----

The same same bird sang in the Capitoll when the Romane affaires were low at Numantia, and when Fregelia was pulled down for a conspiracy made against the Romans. Almadel saith, that Owls, and night-ravens, when they turn aside to strange countries, or houses, betoken the death of the men of that country, and those houses; for those birds are delighted with dead Carkases, and perceive them before hand. For men that are dying have a neer affinity with dead Carkases. The Hawk also is a foreteller of contention, as Naso sings.

We hate the Hawk, because that arms amongst
She alwaies lives
-----

Lelius the Embassadour of Pompey was slain in Spain amongst the Purveyours, which misfortune, a Hawk flying over the head, is said to foretell. And Almadel saith, that these kind of birds fighting amongst themselves, signifie the change of a Kingdome; but if birds of another kind shall fight with them, and are never seen to come together again, it portends a new condition, and state of that Country. Also little birds by their coming to, or departing from, foreshew that a family shall be inlarged, or lessened, and their flight, by how much the more serene it is, by so much the more laudable. Whence Melampus the Augure conjectured at the slaughter of the Greeks by the flight of little birds, when he saith, Thou seest that no bird taketh his flight in fair weather. Swallows, because when they are dying they provide a place of safety for their young, do portend a great patrimony, or Legacy after the death of friends. A Bat meeting any one running away, signifies an evasion: for although she have no wings, yet she flies. A Sparrow is a bad omen to one that runs away, for she flies from the Hawk, and makes hast to the Owl, where she is in as great danger: yet in love she is fortunate, for being stirred up with lust, couples seven times in an hour. Bees are a good omen to Kings, for they signifie an obsequious people. Flies signifie importunity, and impudency, because being oftentimes driven away, they do yet continually return. Also domestick birds are not without some Auguria's, for Cocks by their crowing promote hope, and the journey of him that is undertaking it. Moreover Livia the mother of Tiberius, when she was great with him, took a Hen-Egg and hatched it in her bosome, and at length came forth a Cock chick with a great comb, which the Augures interpreted that the child that should be born of her should be King. And Cicero writes that at Thebais Cocks, by their crowing all night, did presage that the Bætians would obtain victory against the Lacedæmonians: and the reason is according to the Augures interpretations, because that bird when he is beaten is silent, but when he himself hath overcome, crows. In like manner also omens of events are taken from beasts. For the meeting of a Weesel is ominous, also meeting of a Hare is an ill omen to a traveller, unless she be taken. A Mule also is bad, because barren. A Hog is pernicious, for such is his nature, and therefore signifies pernicious men. A Horse betokens quarrellings, and fightings: whence Anchises seeing of white Horses, cries out in Virgil,

With War are Horses arm'd, yea threaten War.

But when they are joyned together in a Chariot, because they draw with an equall yoke, they signifie that peace is to be hoped for. An Asse is an unprofitable creature, yet did Marius good, who when he was pronounced an enemy to his country, saw an Asse disdaining provender that was offered to him, and running to the water, by which Augury, he supposing he saw a way of safety shewed to him, intreated the aid of his friends, that they would convey him to the Sea; which being granted, he was set into a little ship, and so escaped the threats of Silla the Conqueror. If the Foal of an Asse meet any one going to an Augury, he signifies labor, patience, and hinderances. A Wolf meeting any one is a good sign, the effect whereof was seen in Hiero of Sicilia, from whom a Wolf snatching away a book whilest he was at school, confirmed to him the success of the Kingdom: but yet the Wolf makes him speechless whom he sees first. A Wolf rent in pieces a Watchman of P. Africanus, and C. Fulvius at Minturn, when the Romane Army was overcome by the fugitives in Sicilia. Also he signifies perfidious men, such as you can give no credit to: which was known in the progeny of Romanes. For the faith which they long since sucked from their mother the Wolf, and kept to themselves from the beginning, as by a certain law of nature, passed over to their posterity. To meet a Lion, seeing she is amongst Animals the strongest, and striking terrour into all the rest, is good. But for a woman to meet a Lionesse, is bad, because she hinders conception, for a Lionesse brings forth but once. To meet Sheep, and Goats is good. It is read also in the Ostentarian of the Tuscians, if this Animall shall wear any unusuall colour, it portends to the Emperour plenty of all things, together with much happiness. Whence Virgil to Pollio sings thus,

But in the Meadows Rams shall Skarlet bear,
And changing, sometimes golden Fleeces wear.

It is good also to meet Oxen treading out Corn, but better to meet them plowing, which although breaking the way hinder thy journey, yet by the favour of their Auspicium will recompence thee again. A Dog in a journey is fortunate, because Cyrus being cast into the woods was nourished by a Dog till he came to the Kingdom, which also the Angel, companion of Tobit did not scorn as a companion. The Castor, because he bites off his Testicles, and leaves them to the Hunters, is an ill omen, and portends that a man will injure himself. Also amongst small Animals, Mice signifie danger. For the same day that they did gnaw Gold in the Capitoll, both the Consuls were intercepted by Hannibal by way of ambush neer Tarentum. The Locust making a stand in any place, or burning the place, hinders one from their wishes, and is an ill omen; on the contrary the Grass-hoppers promote a journey, and foretell a good event of things. The Spider weaving a line downwards, is said to signifie hope of money to come. Also the Pismires, because they know how to provide for themselves, and to prepare safe nests for themselves, portend security, and riches, a great Army. Hence, when the Pismires had devoured a tame Dragon of Tiberius Caesar, it was advised, that he should take heed of the tumult of a multitude. If a Snake meet thee, take heed of an ill tongued enemy; For this Animall hath no power but in his mouth. A Snake creeping into Tiberius his pallace, portended his fall. Two Snakes were found in the bed of Sempronius Gracchus, wherefore a Soothsayer told him, if he would let the male, or the female escape, either he or his wife would shortly dye; he preferring the life of his wife, killed the male, and let the female escape, and within a few dayes he dyed. So a Viper signifies lewd women, and wicked children; and an Eel signifies a man displeased with every body: For she lives apart from all other fishes, nor is ever found in the company of any. But amongst all Auspicia's and omens, there is none more effectuall, and potent then man, none that doth signifie the truth more cleerly. Thou shalt therefore diligently note, and observe the condition of the man that meeteth thee, his age, profession, station, gesture, motion, exercise, complexion, habit, name, words, speech, and all such like things. For seeing there are in all other Animals so many discoveries of presages, without all question these are more efficacious, and cleer, which are infused into mans soul; which Tully himself testifies, saying, that there is a certain Auspicium naturally in mens souls of their eternity, for the knowing of all the courses, and causes of things. In the foundation of the City of Rome the head of a man was found with his whole face, which did presage the greatness of the Empire, and gave the name to the Mountain of the Capitoll. TheBrutian souldiers fighting against Octavius, and M. Antonius, found an Aethiopian in the gate of their Castle; whom though they did slay as a presage of ill success, yet they were unfortunate in the batle, and Brutus, and Cassius both Generals, were slain. Meeting of Monks is commonly accounted an ill omen, and so much the rather, if it be early in the morning, because these kind of men live for the most by the sudden death of men, as Vulturs do by slaughters.

Chapter lv. How Auspica's are verified by the light of Naturall instinct, and of some rules of finding of it out.[edit]

Auspicia, and Auguria, which foretell things to come by Animals, & birds, Orpheus the divine himself (as we read) did teach and shew first of all, which afterwards were had in great esteem with all Nations. Now they are verified by the light of naturall instinct, as if from this, some lights of divination may descend upon four-footed beasts, winged, and other Animals, by which they are able to presage to us of the events of things: which Virgil seems to be sensible of, when he sings,

Nor think I Heaven on them such knowledge states,
Nor that their prudence is above the fates.

Now this Instinct of nature, as saith William of Paris, is more sublime then all humane apprehension, and very neer, and most like to prophecy. By this instinct there is a certain wonderfull light of divination in some Animals naturally, as it manifestly appears in some Dogs, who know by this instinct theeves, and men, and finde them out, and apprehend them, falling upon them with a full mouth. By the like instinct Vulturs foresee future slaughters in batles, and gather together into places where they shall be, as if they fore-saw the flesh