Three Books of Occult Philosophy/Book 1/Chapter 74

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Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, translated by John French
Book 1, Chapter 74

writing of the Hebrews is of all the most sacred in the figures of Characters, points of vowels, and tops of accents, as consisting in matter, form, and spirit.

The position of the Stars being first made in the seat of God, which is heaven, after the figure of them (as the masters of the Hebrews testifie) are most fully formed the letters of the Celestiall mysteries, as by their figure, form, and signification, so by the numbers signified by them, and also by their various harmony of their conjunction. Whence the more curious Mecubals of the Hebrews do undertake by the figure of their letters, the forms of Characters, and their signature, simpleness, composition, separation, crookedness, directness, defect, abounding, greatness, litleness, crowning, opening, shutting, order, transmutation, joyning together, revolution of letters, and of points, and tops, by the supputation of numbers by the letters of things signified to explain all things, how they proceed from the first cause, and are again to be reduced into the same. Moreover they divide the letters of their Hebrew Alphabet, viz. into twelve simple, seven double, and three mothers, which they say signifie as Characters of things, the twelve Signs, seven Planets, and three Elements, viz. Fire, Water, and Earth, for they account Aire no Element, but as the glew, and spirit of the Elements. To these also they appoint points, and tops: As therefore by the aspects of Planets, and Signs, together with the Elements, the working spirit, and truth all things have been, and are brought forth, so by these Characters of letters, and points, signifying those things that are brought forth, the names of all things are appointed, as certain Signs, and vehicula's of things explained, carrying with them every where their essence, and vertues. The profound meanings, and Signs are inherent in those Characters, and figures of them, as also numbers, place, order, and revolution; so that Origenes therefore thought that those names being translated into another Idiome, do not retain their proper vertue. For only originall names, which are rightly imposed, because they signify naturally, have a naturall activity: It is not so with them which signifie at pleasure, which have no activity, as they are signifying, but as they are certain naturall things in themselves. Now if there be any originall, whose words have a naturall signification, it is manifest that this is the Hebrew, the order of which he that shall profoundly, and radically observe, and shall know to resolve proportionably the letters thereof, shall have a rule exactly to find out any Idiome. There are therefore two and twenty Letters, which are the foundation of the world, and of creatures that are, and are named in it, and every saying, and every creature are of them, and by their revolutions receive their Name, Being, and Vertue.

He therefore that will find them out, must by each joyning together of the Letters so long examine them, untill the voice of God is manifest, and the framing of the most sacred letters be opened, and discovered. For hence voices, and words have efficacy in Magicall works: because that in which nature first exerciseth Magicall efficacy, is the voice of God. But these are of more deep speculation, then to be handled in this book. But to return to the division of the Letters. Of these, amongst the Hebrews, are three mothers, viz. א ו י; seven double, viz. ב ג ד כ פ ר ת. The other 12, viz. ה ז ח ט ל מ נ ס ע צ ק ש are simple. The same rule is amongst the Chaldeans; And by the imitation of these the letters of other tongues are distributed to Signs, Planets, and Elements, after their order. For the Vowels in the Greek tongue, viz. Α Ε Η Ι Ο Υ Ω answer to the seven Planets. Β Γ Δ Ζ Κ Λ Μ Ν Π Ρ Σ Τ are attributed to the twelve Signs of the Zodiack, the other five Θ Ξ Φ Χ Ψ represent the four Elements, and the spirit of the world. Amongst the Latine there is the same signification of them. For the five Vowels A E I O U, and J and V Consonants are ascribed to the seven Planets; and the Consonants B C D F G L M N P R S T are answerable to the twelve Signs. The rest, viz. K Q X Z make four Elements. H the aspiration represents the Spirit of the World. Y because it is a Greek, and not a Latine Character, and serving only to Greek words, follows the nature of its Idiome.

But this you must not be ignorant of, that it is observed by all wise men, that the Hebrew letters are the most efficacious of all, because they have the greatest similitude with Celestials, and the world, and that the letters of the other tongues have not so great an efficacy, because they are more distant from them. Now the disposition of these, the following Table will explain. Also all the Letters have double numbers of their order, viz. Extended, which simply express of what number the letters are, according to their order : and collected, which recollect with themselves the numbers of all the preceding letters. Also they have integrall numbers, which result from the names of Letters, according to their various manners of numbring. The vertues of which numbers, he that shall know, shall be able in every tongue to draw forth wonderfull mysteries by their letters, as also to tell what things have been past, and foretell things to come. There are also other mysterious joynings of letters with numbers : but we shall abundantly discourse of all these in the following Books : Wherefore we will now put an end to this first Book.