Three Books of Occult Philosophy/Book 2/Chapter 2

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

CHAP. II.

Of Numbers, and of their power, and vertue.

SEverinus Boethius saith, that all things which were first made by the nature of things in its first Age, seem to be formed by the proportion of numbers, for this was the principall pattern in the mind of the Creator. Hence is borrowed the number of the Elements, hence the courses of times, hence the motion of the Stars, and the revolution of the heaven, and the state of all things subsist by the uniting together of numbers. Numbers therefore are endowed with great and vertues. For it is no wonder, seeing there are so many, and so great occult vertues in naturall things, although of manifest openations, that there should be in numbers much greater, and more occult, and also more wonderfull, and efficacious, for as much as they are more formall, more perfect, and naturally in the celestialls, not mixt with separated substances; and lastly, having the greatest, and most simple commixtion with the Idea's in the mind of God, from which they receive their proper, and most efficacious vertues: wherefore also they are of more force, and conduce most to the obtaining of spirituall, and divine gifts, as in naturall things, elementary qualities are powerfull in the transmuting of any elementary thing. Again, all things that are, and are made, subsist by, and receive their vertue from numbers. For time consists of number, and all motion, and action, and all things which are subject to time, and motion.

Harmony also, and voices have their power by, and consist of numbers, and their proportions, and the proportions arising from numbers, do by lines, and points make Characters, and figures: And these are proper to Magicall operations, the middle which is betwixt both being appropriated by declining to the extreams, as in the use of letters. And lastly, all species of naturall things, and of those things which are above nature, are joyned together by certain numbers: which Pythagoras seeing, saith, that number is that by which all things consist, and distributes each vertue to each number. And Proclus saith, Number hath alwaies a being: Yet there is one in voyce, another in the proportion of them, another in the soul, and reason, and another in divine things. But Themistius, and Boethius, and Averrois the Babilonian, together with Plato, do so extoll numbers, that they think no man can be a true Philosopher without them. Now they speak of a rationall, and formall number, not of a materiall, sensible, or vocall, the number of Merchants buying, and selling, of which the Pythagoreans, and Platonists, and our Austin make no reckoning, but apply it to the proportion resulting from it, which number they call naturall, rationall, and formall, from which great mysteries flow, as well in naturall, as divine, and heavenly things. By it is there a way made for the searching out, and understanding of all things knowable. By it the next access to naturall prophesying is had: and the Abbot Joachim proceeded no other way in his Prophecies, but by formall numbers.