Three Books of Occult Philosophy/Book 1/Chapter 56
Of the Sooth sayings of Flashes, and Lightenings, and how Monstrous, and prodigious things are to be interpreted.
NOw the Sooth-sayings of Flashes, and Lightenings, and of wonders, and how monstrous, and prodigious things are to be interpreted, the Prophets, and Priests of Hetruscus have taught the Art. For they have ordained sixteen Regions of the Heavens, and have ascribed Gods to every one of them; and besides eleven kinds of Lightenings, and nine Gods, which should dart them forth, by shewing rules for understanding the signification of them. But as often as Monstrous, prodigious, and wondrous things happen, they do presage, as is most certain, some great matter. Now their interpreter must be some excellent conjecturer of similitudes, as also some curious searcher, and of them who at that time are employed about the affairs of Princes, and Provinces. For the Celestials take such care only for Princes, peoples, and provinces, that before the rest they might be prefigured, and admonished, by Stars, by Constellations, by wonders, and by prodigies. Now if the same thing, or the like hath been seen in former Ages, we must consider that very thing, and what happened after that, and according to these, to fortell the same, or the like, because the same signs are for the same things, and the like for like. So prodigies have come before the birth, and death of many eminent men and Kings; as Cicero makes mention of Midas a boy, into whose mouth, whilest he was sleeping, the Pismire put corns of Wheat, which was an omen of great riches. So Bees sate upon the mouth of Plato when he was sleeping in the Cradle, by which was foretold the sweetness of his speech. Hecuba, when she was bringing forth Paris, saw a burning Torch, which should set on fire Troy, and all Asia. There appeared unto the mother of Phalaris the image of Mercury pouring forth blood upon the earth, with
which the whole house was over-flowed. The mother of Dionysius dreamed she brought forth a Satyr, which prodigious dreams the event that followed made good. The wife of Tarquinius Priscus seeing a flame lick the head of Servius Tullius, foretold that he should have the Kingdom. In like manner after Troy was taken, Aeneas disputing with Anchises his father concerning a flight, there appeared a flame licking the Crown of Ascanius his head, and doing of him no hurt: which thing, seeing it did portend the Kingdom to Ascanius, perswaded him to depart, for monstrous prodigies did fore-run great and eminent destruction. So we read in Pliny, that M. Attilius, and C. Portius being Consuls, it rained Milk, and Blood, which did presage that a very great Pestilence should the next yeer over-spread Rome. Also in Lucania it rained spongious Iron, & in the yeer before Marcus Crassus was slain in Parthia; with which also all the souldiers of Lucania, being a very numerous Army, were slain. Also L. Paulus, and C. Marcellus being Consuls, it rained Wool about the Castle of Corisanum, neer which place a yeer after T. Annius was slain by Milus. And in the wars of Denmark, the noise of Arms, and sound of a Trumpet was heard in the Aire. And Livie concerning the Macedonian wars, saith, in the yeer when Annibil dyed it rained blood for two dayes. Also concerning the second punick war, he saith, that water mixed with blood came down from Heaven like rain, at that time when Annibal did spoil Italy. A little before the destruction of Leuctra the Lacedemonians heard a noise of Arms in the temple of Hercules, and at the same time in the temple of Hercules the doors that were shut with bars, opened themselves, and the arms that were hanged on the wall, were found on the ground. The like events may be prognosticated of other like things, as oftentimes in times past something hath been foretold of them. But concerning these also, the judgements of the Celestial influencies must not be neglected, of which we shall more largely treat in the following Chapters.