Three Books of Occult Philosophy/Book 1/Chapter 6

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Of the wonderfull Natures of Water, Aire, and Winds.

THe other two Elements, viz. Water, and Aire, are not less efficacious then the former; neither is nature wanting to work wonderfull things in them. There is so great a necessity of Water, that without it no living thing can live. No Hearb, nor Plant whatsoever, without the moistening of Water can branch forth. In it is the Seminary vertue of all things, especially of Animals, whose seed is manifestly waterish. The seeds also of Trees, and Plants, although they are earthy, must notwithstanding of necessity be rotted in Water, before they can be fruitfull; whether they be imbibed with the moisture of the Earth; or with Dew, or Rain, or any other Water that is on purpose put to them. For Moses writes, that only Earth, and Water bring forth a living soul. But he ascribes a twofold production of things to Water, viz. of things swimming in the Waters, and of things flying in the Aire above the Earth. And that those productions that are made in, and upon the Earth, are partly attributed to the very Water, the same Scripture testifies, where it saith that the Plants, and the Hearbs did not grow, because God had not caused it to rain upon the Earth. Such is the efficacy of this Element of Water, that Spirituall regeneration cannot be done without it, as Christ himself testified to Nicodemus. Very great also is the vertue of it in the Religious Worship of God, in expiations, and purifications; yea, the necessity of it is no less then that of Fire. Infinite are the benefits, and divers are the uses thereof, as being that by vertue of which all things subsist, are generated, nourished, and increased. Thence it was that Thales of Miletus, and Hesiod concluded that Water was the beginning of all things, and said it was the first of all the Elements, and the most potent, and that because it hath the mastery over all the rest. For, as Pliny saith, Waters swallow up the Earth, extinguish flames, ascend on high, and by the stretching forth of the clouds, challenge the Heaven for their own: the same falling become the Cause of all things that grow in the Earth. Very many are the wonders that are done by Waters, according to the Writings of Pliny, Solinus, and many other Historians, of the wonderfull vertue whereof, Ovid also makes mention in these Verses.

Hornd Hammons Waters at high noon
Are cold; hot at Sun-rise and setting Sun.
Wood, put in bubling
Athemas is Fir'd,
The Moon then farthest from the Sun retir'd,
Circonian streams congeal his guts to Stone
That thereof drinks; and what therein is thrown.
Crathis, and Sybaris (from the Mountains rold)
Color the hair like Amber, or pure Gold.
Some fountains, of a more prodigious kinde,
Not only change the body, but the minde.
Who hath not heard of obscene
Of th'
Æthiopian lake ? for who of this

But only tast, their wits no longer keep,
Or forthwith fall into a deadly sleep.
Who at
Clitorius fountain thirst remove,
Loath Wine, and abstinent, meer Water love.
With streams oppos'd to these
Lincestus flowes :
They reel, as drunk, who drink too much of those.
A Lake in fair
Arcadia stands, of old
Pheneus; suspected, as twofold :
Fear, and forbear to drink thereof by night :
By night unwholsome, wholsome by day-light.

Josephus also makes relation of the wonderfull nature of a certain river betwixt Arcea, and Raphanea, Cities of Syria: which runs with a full Channell all the Sabboth Day, and then on a sudden ceaseth, as if the springs were stopped, and all the six dayes you may pass over it dry-shod: but again, on the seaventh day (no man knowing the reason of it) the Waters return again in abundance, as before. Wherefore the inhabitants thereabout called it the Sabboth-day river, because of the Seaventh day, which was holy to the Jews. The Gospel also testifies to a sheep-pool, into which whosoever stepped first, after the Water was troubled by the Angel, was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. The same vertue, and efficacy we read was in a spring of the Ionian Nymphs, which was in the territories belonging to the Town of Elis, at a Village called Heraclea, neer the river Citheron: which whosoever stepped into, being diseased, came forth whole, and cured of all his diseases. Pausanias also reports, that in Lyceus, a mountain of Arcadia, there was a spring called Agria, to which, as often as the dryness of the Region threatned the destruction of fruits, Jupiters Priest of Lyceus went, and after the offering of Sacrifices, devoutly praying to the Waters of the Spring, holding a Bough of an Oke in his hand, put it down to the bottome of the hallowed Spring; Then the waters being troubled, a Vapour ascending from thence into the Air was blown into Clouds, with which being joyned together, the whole Heaven was overspread: which being a little after dissolved into rain, watered all the Country most wholsomly. Moreover Ruffus a Physitian of Ephesus, besides many other Authours, wrote strange things concerning the wonders of Waters, which, for ought I know, are found in no other Authour.

It remains that I speak of the Aire. This is a vitall spirit, passing through all Beings, giving life, and subsistence to all things, binding, moving, and filling all things. Hence it is that the Hebrew Doctors reckon it not amongst the Elements, but count it as a Medium or glew, joyning things together, and as the resounding spirit of the worlds instrument. It immediately receives into it self the influences of all Celestiall bodies, and then communicates them to the other Elements, as also to all mixt bodies: Also it receives into it self, as it were a divine Looking-glass, the species of all things, as well naturall, as artificiall, as also of all manner of speeches, and retains them; And carrying them with it, and entering into the bodies of Men, and other Animals, through their pores, makes an Impression upon them, as well when they sleep, as when they be awake, and affords matter for divers strange Dreams and Divinations. Hence they say it is, that a man passing by a place where a man was slain, or the Carkase newly hid, is moved with fear and dread; because the Aire in that place being full of the dreadfull species of Man-slaughter, doth, being breathed in, move and trouble the spirit of the man with the like species, whence it is that he comes to be afraid. For every thing that makes a sudden impression, astonisheth nature. Whence it is, that many Philosophers were of opinion that Aire is the cause of dreams, and of many other impressions of the mind, through the prolonging of Images, or similitudes, or species (which are fallen from things and speeches, multiplyed in the very Aire) untill they come to the senses, and then to the phantasy, and soul of him that receives them, which being freed from cares, and no way hindred, expecting to meet such kind of species, is informed by them. For the species of things, although of their own proper nature, they are carryed to the senses of men, and other animals in generall, may notwithstanding get some impression from the Heaven, wilest they be in the Aire, by reason of which, together with the aptness and disposition of him that receives them, they may be carryed to the sence of one, rather then of another. And hence it is possible naturally, and far from all manner of superstition, no other spirit coming between, that a man should be able in a very time to signifie his mind unto another man, abiding at a very long and unknown distance from him; although he cannot precisely give an estimate of the time when it is, yet of necessity it must be within 24. hours; and I my self know how to do it, and have often done it. The same also in time past did the Abbot Tritenius both know and do. Also, when certain appearances, not only spirituall, but also naturall do flow forth from things, that is to say, by a certain kind of flowings forth of bodies from bodies, and do gather strength in the Air, they offer, and shew themselves to us as well through light as motion, as well to the sight as to other senses, and sometimes work wonderfull things upon us, as Plotinus proves and teacheth. And we see how by the South wind the Air is condensed into thin clouds, in which, as in a Looking-glass are reflected representations at a great distance of Castles, Mountains, Horses, and Men, and other things, which when the clouds are gone, presently vanish. And Aristotle in his Meteors shews, that a Rainbow is conceived in a cloud of the Aire, as in a Looking-glass. And Albertus saith, that the effigies of bodies may by the strength of nature, in a moist Aire be easily represented, in the same manner as the representations of things are in things. And Aristotle tels of a man, to whom it happened by reason of the weakness of his sight, that the Aire that was near to him, became as it were a Looking-glass to him, and the optick beam did relect back upon himself, and could not penetrate the Aire, so that whithersoever he went, he thought he saw his own image, with his face towards him, go before him. In like manner, by the artificialnes of some certain Looking-glasses, may be produced at a distance in the Aire, beside the Looking-glasses, what images we please; which when ignorant men see, they think they see the appearances of spirits, or souls; when indeed they are nothing else but semblances kin to themselves, and without life. And it is well known, if in a dark place where there is no light but by the coming in of a beam of the Sun somewhere through a litle hole, a white paper, or plain Looking-glass be set up against that light, that there may be seen upon them, whatsoever things are done without, being shined upon by the Sun. And there is another sleight, or trick yet more wonderfull. If any one shall take images artificially painted, or written letters, and in a clear night set them against the beams of the full Moon, whose resemblances being multiplyed in the Aire, and caught upward, and reflected back together with the beams of the Moon, any other man that is privy to the thing, at a long distance sees, reads, and knows them in the very compass, and Circle of the Moon, which Art of declaring secrets is indeed very profitable for Towns, and Cities that are besieged, being a thing which Pythagoras long since did often do, and which is not unknown to some in these dayes, I will not except my self. And all these, and many more, and greater then these are grounded in the very nature of the Aire, and have their reasons, and causes declared in Mathematicks, and Opticks. And as these resemblances are reflected back to the sight, so also sometimes to the hearing, as is manifest in the Echo. But there are more secret arts then these, and such whereby any one may at a very remote distance hear, and understand what another speaks, or whispers softly.

There are also from the airy Element Winds. For they are nothing else, but Air moved and stirred up. Of these there are four that are principall, blowing from the four corners of the Heaven, viz. Notus from the South, Boreas from the North, Zephyrus from the West, Eurus from the East, which Pontanus comprehending in these verses, saith,

Boreas from the top of 'lympus blows,
And from the bottom cloudy
Notus flows.
From setting
Phoebus fruitfull Zeph'rus flies,
And barren
Eurus from the Suns up-rise.

Notus is the Southern Wind, cloudy, moist, warm, and sickly, which Hieronimus cals the butler of the rains. Ovid describes it thus.

Out flies South-wind, with dropping wings, who shrowds
His fearful aspect in the pitchie clouds,
His white Haire stream's, his Beard big-swoln with showres;
Mists binde his Brows, rain from his Bosome powres.

But Boreas is contrary to Notus, and is the Northern Wind, fierce, and roaring, and discussing clouds, makes the Aire serene, and binds the Water with Frost. Him doth Ovid thus bring in speaking of himself.

Force me befits: with this thick clouds I drive;
Toss the blew Billows, knotty Okes up-rive;
Congeal soft Snow, and beat the Earth with haile:
When I my brethren in the Aire assaile,
(For thats our Field) we meet with such a shock.
That thundring Skies with our encounters rock
And cloud-struck lightning flashes from on high,
When through the Crannies of the Earth I flie,
And force her in her hollow Caves, I make
The Ghosts to tremble, and the ground to quake.

And Zephyrus, which is the Western Wind, is most soft, blowing from the West with a pleasant gale, it is cold and moist, removing the effects of Winter, bringing forth Branches, and Flowers. To this Eurus is contrary, which is the Eastern wind, and is called Apeliotes; it is waterish, cloudy, and ravenous. Of these two Ovid sings thus:

<poem style="padding-left:2em;">To Persis and Sabea, Eurus flies; Whose gums perfume the blushing Mornes up-rise: Next to the Evening, and the Coast that glows

With setting Phoebus, flowry Zeph'rus blows:

Scythia horrid Boreas holds his rain,
Boites, and the frozen Wain :
The land to this oppos'd doth Auster steep
With fruitfull showres, and clouds which ever weep.