Three Books of Occult Philosophy/To the reader
To the Reader.
Do not doubt but the Title of our Book of Occult Philosophy, or of Magick, may by the rarity of it allure many to read it, amongst which, some of a crasie judgement, and some that are perverse will come to hear what I can say, who by their rash ignorance may take the name of Magick in the worse sense, and though scarce having seen the title, cry out that I teach forbidden Arts, sow the seed of Heresies, offend pious ears, and scandalize excellent wits; that I am a sorcerer, and superstitious, and divellish, who indeed am a Magician: to whom I answer, that a Magician doth not amongst learned men signifie a sorcerer, or one that is superstitious, or divellish; but a wise man, a priest, a prophet; and that the Sybils were Magicianesses, & therefore prophecyed most cleerly of Christ; and that Magicians, as wise men, by the wonderful secrets of the world, knew Christ the author of the world to be born, and came first of all to worship him; and that the name of Magicke was received by Phylosophers, commended by Divines, and not unacceptable to the Gospel. I believe that the supercilious censors will object against the Sybils; holy Magicians, and the Gospel it self sooner then receive the name of Magick into favor; so consciencious are they, that neither Apollo, nor all the Muses, nor an Angel from Heaven can redeem me from their curse. Whom therefore I advise, that they read not our writings, nor understand them, nor remember them. For they are pernicious, and full of poyson; the gate of Acheron is in this book; it speaks stones, let them take heed that it beat not out their brains. But you that come without prejudice to read it, if you have so much discretion of prudence, as Bees have in gathering hony, read securely, and believe that you shall receive no little profit, and much pleasure; but if you shall find any things that may not please you, let them alone, and make no use of them; for I do not approve of them, but declare them to you; but do not refuse other things, for they that look into the books of Physitians, do together with antidotes and medicines, read also poysons. I confess that Magick it self teacheth many superfluous things, and curious prodigies for ostentation; leave them as empty things, yet be not ignorant of their causes. But those things which are for the profit of man, for the turning away of evil events, for the destroying of sorceries, for the curing of diseases, for the exterminating of phantasmes, for the preserving of life, honor, fortune, may be done without offence to God, or injury to Religion, because they are, as profitable, so necessary. But I have admonished you, that I have writ many things, rather narratively then affirmatively; for so it seemed needful that we should pass over fewer things following the judgements of Platonists, and other Gentile Philosophers when they did suggest an argument of writing to our purpose; therefore if any error have been committed, or any thing hath been spoken more freely, pardon my youth; for I wrote this being scarce a yong man, that I may excuse my self, and say, whilest I was a child, I spake as a childe, I understood as a child, but being become a man, I retracted those things which I did being a boy, and in my book of the vanity and uncertainty of Sciences I did for the most part retract this book. But here haply you may blame me again, saying, Behold thou being a youth didst write, and now being old hast retracted it; what therefore hast thou set forth? I confess whilst I was very yong, I set upon the writing of these books, but hoping that I should set them forth with corrections and enlargements, and for that cause I gave them to Tritemius a Neapolitanian Abbot, formerly a Spanhemensian, a man very industrious after secret things. But it happened afterwards, that the work being intercepted, before I finished it, it was carryed about imperfect, and impolished, and did fly abroad in Italy, in France, in Germany through many mens hands, and some men, whether more impatiently, or imprudently, I know not, would have put it thus imperfect to the press, with which mischeif I being affected, determined to set it forth my self, thinking that there might be less danger if these books came out of my hands with some amendments, then to come forth torn, and in fragments out of other mens hands. Moreover I thought it no crime if I should not suffer the testimony of my youth to perish. Also we added some Chapters, and we inserted many things, which did seem unfit to pass by, which the curious Reader shall be able to understand by the inequality of the very phrase; for we were unwilling to begin the work anew, and to unravell all that we had done, but to correct it, and put some flourish upon it. Wherefore now I pray thee, Curteous Reader, again, weigh not these things according to the present time of setting them forth, but pardon my curious youth, if thou shalt finde any thing in them that may displease thee.