Category Archives: Esotericism


Tarot is a subject that has only interested me mildly. I enjoy the symbolism of the cards, but that is about it. At some point I bought myself a ‘Crowley tarot’, mostly because the cards that are drawn by Frieda Harris (1877-1962). See the card on the right above.

Some time ago I was reading something and the author kept referring to symbols on the Rider/Waite tarot (second from the right above) but without images. The images for this deck are drawn by Pamele Colman Smith (1878-1951) and designed by the (in)famous Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942). Rider was the company that first published the deck. read more

The nine worlds in nordic mythology

I remember yet the giants of yore
Who gave me bread; in the days gone by
Nine worlds I knew, the nine in the Tree
With mighty roots beneath the mold.
(Völuspa 2, translated by Ari Óðinssen)

This is the second verse from the Poetic Edda. “Nine worlds I knew, nine in the Tree”. The nine worlds come back in Northern mythology more often, such as in Alvíssmál 9 in which the dwarf Alvis says: “All the nine worlds I have travelled over” and also Vafthrudnir has travelled to nine worlds (VafÞrúðnismál 43). Because the concept is rather vague, it has been open to speculation what exactly these nine worlds are. Óðinssen writes in a note to the quoted verse:

“Nine worlds are Asgarth, home of the Aesir,
Ljossalfheimr, home of the ljossalfar, or ‘light’ elves,
Mithgarth, ‘middle-ground’ home of mankind,
Vanaheimr, home of the Vanir, in this manuscript referred to by the Anglo-Saxon term Wanes,
Jotunheimr, home of the Jotnar, or ‘giants’,
Muspellheimr, firey region, home of Surt,
Svartalfheimr, home of the svartalfar, or ‘dark’ elves,
Niflheimr, bitter cold region,
Helgardhr, home of Hela and the newly dead”

And in this vein you can find much much more lists which all differ from eachother. A result of a quick scan of the internet:
Asgard, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Midgard, Jotunheim, Svartalfheim, Hel(heim), Niflheim, Muspelheim.
Nidavellir, Niflheim and Muspelheim are added, left out or replaced another world and even Yggdrasil (“the Tree” from Völuspa 2, the world-tree”) and Ginnungagap (the void that existed before creation) sometimes come up in lists!

Also you can see very nice depictions of the world-tree containing the nine worlds, but this is where the problems really start! Just a few examples:


All of these follow the idea of “Nine worlds I knew, nine in the Tree”, but there are also more schematic versions of the nine worlds.

As you can see the left picture by Francis Melville (I scanned it from his Book Of Runes) has ten worlds, the second picture from the left more lives upto the descriptions of the tree in the Edda with roots going everywhere, but also here, ten worlds of which only nine are numbered. The other two aren’t any clearer.

Yggdrasil is described in different places in the Edda under which in the Grimnismál. In the same text the domains of the different gods are named, which led people to conclude that the nine worlds can be found in the Grimnismál. This is not the case! As a matter of fact, the nine worlds are not named or explained anywhere in the ancient Nordic literature that came to us. Even when Gangleri asks Hár about other worlds than that of the gods in Gylfaginning 17, the answer is not what we are looking for. This is the major reason why people try to fill in the picture themself which as result: many different lists most of them without much explanation how people came up with the line that they give.


It may be a better idea to work the other way around. Most people will agree on the fact that the Nordic peoples had the numbers three and nine in high esteem. There are many threes and nines in the mythology. Both numbers come back in the worldview. The most simple division of the cosmos in the Northern mind is heaven, earth, underworld. It is only logical to use this division in regard of the nine worlds too. This brings us to another logical conclusion: there must be 3×3 worlds. Most people who write about the nine worlds do not pay attention to this logical thought of three times three. Two of these divisions in these three are easy; Asgard, the realm of the gods or the upper garden and Midgard, ‘our realm’ or the middle garden.

Asgard seems to have two meanings in the texts, both that of Asgard and Asaheimr (see below).

Midgard is mentioned in the story about creation in both the Prose Edda (Gylfaginning 9) and the Poetic Edda (Grimnismal 41). The latter says: “and of his [Ymir’s] brows the gentle powers formed Midgard for the sons of men”. This is why Midgard of often bluntly said to be the realm of mankind. I will come back to this.

So what about the third cosmic area? The most common name for that is Utgard. This term also comes from the Prose Edda (Gylfaginning 45). Most scholars agree to this term, even though Utgard is not really a place, but a castle. As you may see in the images above, Utgard is not regarded as a ‘gard’, but the sum of different worlds. It is strange that Melville gives Asgard and Midgard and puts all the rest in, or as, Utgard.

In an online discussion about this subject, someone made the just remark that the lists are actually strange, because everybody uses different terms right through eachother. There are ‘gard’s (‘gardens’), ‘heimr’ (worlds) and ‘hallr’ (halls). In this case all of the castles or places of the gods would be halls and the cosmic division of three, gardens. The nine worlds consequentally should all be worlds/heimr. A very interesting starting point, but it results in the conclusion that you will not easily find nine ‘heimr’ that logically fit in a nine-world-scheme.

What do we have to far?
In Asgard, we have the world of the Aesir, called “Asaheimr”. Asaheimr is named in the Ynglingasaga 2 (the first part of Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla or ‘history of the Norse kings’).
Second in Asgard is the world of the other gods: the Vanir and they live in Vanaheim. The term “Vanaheimr” also comes from the Ynglingasaga.
I will come back to the third heimr of Asgard later.

Midgard, in which we at least find the world of mankind and beings on ‘our plane’, suggestions below.

Utgard, the outer garden is the underworld with the ‘evil’ giants and Hel. Again see below.


In the earlier referred to discussion, somebody else gave this list:
“In ásgard we find: ásaheimr, valhöll and vanaheimr
In midgard we find: dvergheimr, mannaheimr and álfheimr (also svartalfheimr, mannaheimr and hvitalfheimr)
In útgard we find: muspellsheimr, hel and niflheimr”

In the ‘3×3 thought’ this is the best list so far. Some names do not need discussion, other might. As you can see they are all “heimr” instead of Walhalla. This ‘problem’ can be ‘fixed’ with a quote from the Grímnismál: “Gladsheim a fifth is called, there gold-bright Valhall rises peacefully, seen from afar” (verse 8). So if Walhalla is a part of Gladsheim we can use that term too.

Then we come to Midgard. I have not been able to locate the term “dvergheimr” (world of the dwarves) and “álfheimr” isn’t an often-used term either, but it is named in the earlier referred to Gylfaginning 17. Sometimes Alfheimr is divided in light and dark elves worlds, like in Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie: “The above-named döckâlfar (genii obscuri) require a counterpart, which is not found in the Eddic songs, but it is in Snorri’s prose. He says, p. 21: ‘In Alfheim dwells the nation of the liosâlfar (light elves), down in the earth dwell the döckâlfar (dark elves), the two unlike one another in their look and their powers, liosâlfar brighter than the sun, döckâlfar blacker than pitch.'” (This comes from Gylfaginning 17, earlier the same chapter says: “It is said that to the south and above this heaven is another heaven, which is called Andlang. But there is a third, which is above these, and is called Vidblain, and in this heaven we believe this mansion (Gimle) to be situated; but we deem that the light-elves alone dwell in it now.”). Some people say that the light-elves are elves and the dark-elves or svartalfar are called dwarves. Svartalfheimr is a ‘heim’ that is mentioned frequently, but I haven’t been able to trace the source of it. It is supposed to be located in the earth.
Mann(a)heimr obviously means ‘world of men’ and can be found in the Ynglingasaga 9: “To Saeming Earl Hakon the Great reckoned back his pedigree. This Swithiod they called Mannheim, but the Great Swithiod they called Godheim; and of Godheim great wonders and novelties were related.”

And in Utgard we find the two worlds of two kinds of giants (fire- and frostgiants), Muspelheimr and Niflheimr; together Jotunheimr. Muspel- and Niflheimr are also mentioned in the story of creation to be found in the first chapters of the Gylfaginning.
Hel(heim) is the place where dead people go to and where Hel, a daughter of Loki rules, an ‘underworld’ pre-eminently.

Cautious conclusions and summery

At present the most logical division of the nine worlds (to me) would be:
Asgard, formed by: Asaheimr, Vanaheimr, Gladsheimr
Midgard, formed by: Mannaheimr, Alfheimr, Svartalfheimr
Utgard, formed by: Muspelheimr, Niflheimr, Helheimr

I prefer to refer to the three levels as ‘gards’ , ‘gardens’ and here we have the upper, middle and outer garden.
All the worlds in this list are ‘heimr’ and personally I find this grouping the most logical. “Gladsheimr” is a little bit forced, I admit. In general the third world in the higest level is a problem, because there are two kinds of gods, not three. Walhalla (a part of Gladsheimr) is the hall in which the fallen warriors dwell and since Odin can definately be seen as an inititiation-god (this subject is an article on itself), maybe you can say that ‘deified’ (initiated) people can punch through to the level of the gods, but not be in the same world/heim…

Mankind obviously lives in Midgard and “Mann(a)heimr” is a good term for our world. On the same plane we have light and dark elves/alfar, both in their own world.

Muspelheimr is the realm of the dark fire giants and Muspelheimr that of the frost-giants. Helmheimr is the world where people can go to when they die. Gylfaginning 34 suggests that Hel has her world in Niflheim, but if we put it like this, a human being can be on all three of the planes, which may fit well enough in the Northern picture.

Not totally convincing, but let me know when you find or figure out something better!

Here visually, this is not my best computer-skill, but the idea is there.
read more

The Balder play

The beginning of this tale is, that Balder dreamed dreams great and dangerous to his life. When he told these dreams to the asas they took counsel together, and it was decided that they should seek peace for Balder against all kinds of harm. So Frigg exacted an oath from fire, water, iron and all kinds of metal, stones, earth, trees, sicknesses, beasts and birds and creeping things, that they should not hurt Balder. When this was done and made known, it became the pastime of Balder and the asas that he should stand up at their meetings while some of them should shoot at him, others should hew at him, while others should throw stones at him; but no matter what they did, no harm came to him, and this seemed to all a great honor.
Gylfaginning 49, Rasmus Anderson translation read more

Cubic stones from the sky

Johannes Bureus (1568-1652) (about him and his system more in other articles) said that his “15 adalrunor [“noble runes”] [were] inscribed on a cubical stone which fell from the heavens as a sign of the powerfull divinity on the mediator between God and Man.” (Flowers 1998, p. 12). For Bureus, runes formed the most ancient, original and divine language and the many runestones that can be found in Bureus’ country (Sweden) were mediators between the world of men and the upper world. The fact that Bureus ‘chose’ a cubic stone that fell from the sky is interesting.

Bureus was fairly well informed about the ancient mythology of Scandinavia. His information was mostly ‘second hand’, such as the writings of Roman historians. His understanding of the native mythology was therefor indirect, linking Roman (or southern European) gods with the gods of the ancient North. With all the present-day information about Teutonic mythology, I don’t know about stones falling from the skies or cubic stones in this tradition. So where did Bureus find his inspiration?

In Celtic mythology, stones fall from the sky frequently. These stones are often seen as the Holy Grail or they contain a sword that can only be pulled out by the new king. The most famous example of the first is the “lapsit exillis” (this is not proper Latin, but an anagram; also there are alternative ways of writing, such as “lapis exellis”) from Wolfram von Eschenbach’s (1170-±1220) Parzival (1215). This is the jewel that comes from the stars, or -as some say- it fell out of the crown of the rebel Lucifer during his battle with the angels. (Logghe 1997, p.V and 28). In the mentioned book the hermit Trevrizent says that only the chosen can obtain the grail. The name of the chosen can be found on the edge of the stone. Logghe (p.598) continues with saying that the Dutch mystic Jan van Ruusbroec (1293-1381) refers to verse 2:17 of the Book of Revelation, which says: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” Ruusbroec explains that a new name (which is the name given before the beginning of the world) is given to any person coming back to God. This may mean, at death or at initiation. There are more stones with text on it. Guénon (2004, p. 280) refers to the black stone of Ouga and the one of Mecca, which are meteorites (thus: fallen from the sky) saying: “In certain circumstances inscriptions of similarly ‘non-human’ origin also appeared on the lapsit exillis. The latter was therefore a ‘speaking stone’, or, we might say, a ‘oracular stone’.

And so we come to the Lia Fail or the ‘stone of destiny’ that screams when the rightfull new king passes has, according to some, fallen from the sky (Guenon p. 281), while other say that it was brought by the Túatha dé Dánann (Logghe p.188). But did Bureus know Celtic mythology? I don’t think that this is likely, but of course he was royal archivist so he probably saw most of the ancient documents that were in the possession of the Swedish royal house of his time.

The symbology of the lapis is strong and complex, let me quote Logghe (1997, p.212, my translation from Dutch): “The Vajra, as Divine potestas [in the Buddhist tradition], expressed as a diamond, is nothing else than this jagged stone about which we spoke, the ‘caput anguli’. The confusion that Wolfram von Eschenbach rose with this is big because the Grail that is described as ‘lapsit exilis’ can refer to a stone that fell from the heavens (‘lapsit ex coelis’), but also to a banned stone ‘lapis exilis’), as is expressed in the Rosarium philosophorum (The Rosegarden of the Philosophers): “This banned stone still exists, and his price is low. He is despised by fools, and more beloved by scholars.”. [“Hic lapis exilis extat, precio quoque vilis Spernitur à stultis amatur plus ab doctis”.] Even more peculiar things get when we know that the Holy Cup (‘Santo Cáliz’) from the cathedral of Valencia has an Arabic inscription that is read as ‘alabsit sillîs’ which comes close to our ‘lapsit exillis’.” Von Eschenbach even refers to the fact that the inspiration for his story came from the Arabic ‘Flegetanis’, which -according to Logghe- is a reference to the other world.

On page 603/4 Logghe gives even more explanations of Von Eschenbach’s term. Lapis elixer or philosopher’s stone. lapis exilis or small and insignificant stone, lapis ex caelis / lapsit ex caelis or stone from the heavens and the last term we already saw lapis exilis which can mean both stone of destruction and banned stone.

With the reference to the Rosarium Philosophorum we have another lead. The Rosarium “is a famous series of 20 woodcuts [by Arnold of Villanova (±1238-±1310)] which were first printed in the second volume of De Alchimia opuscula complura veterum philosophorum… Frankfurt 1550″ (quote). In alchemy there are more references to heavenly stones. Another very nice example is a quote from the Rosinus ad Saratantam (a 13th century text that was found in a 1572 compilation): “In the way way this stone, that is no stone, thrown into the earthly landscapes, elevated into the mountains. He lives in the air, feeds in the river and rests on top of the mountains. It is Mercury, who is named with many names.” (Timmer 2001, p.421, under “lapis angularis” (cubic stone)). Sometimes the philosopher’s stone (which has many names, such as ‘lapis aetherus’ or ‘stone from the sky’) is said to have fallen from the sky or seen as a cube (i.e. of perfect form). Many emblematic images have cubic stones (see for example the Maurisches Handbuch of 1829 on the site of Adam McLean, or here).

Bureus had -as you can read in the other articles- an interest in Kabbalism and esotericism in general. He was a supporter of the “Rosicrucian brotherhood” and wrote answers to the Rosicrucian manifestoes that appeared in the early 17th century. I haven’t been able to find references to cubic stones or stones that fall from the sky in Kabbalistic texts (sometimes the sephira Yesod is referred to as a cubic stone, but I think this is more in ‘neo-Kabbalism’ than in traditional Kabbalah), but a nice reference is made by Robert Ambelain (pdf-link) who writes that the cubic stone is “a real Ritual Object, which allows the Forces summoned by the Mage to be set in motion, behind the veil of immediate reality.” And he continues: “That is why, as Masonry knows, the four sides of this Cubic Stone are covered with a compact network of Numbers and Letters, from which, with recourse of traditional keys, one can discover “passwords” and “mysterious diagrams”. Understanding what is being concealed behind the “Cubic Stone”, and knowing how to put it in practise, is the necessary proof of a true Mage.”

As for the Rosicrucian writings, I have only found even more indirect references. On used to be very interesting article about the “Rosicrucian” symbolism of stones that fall from the sky in Freemasonry. Both Antoine Guillaume Chéreau (who lived somewhere around 1800) and Lambert de Lintot (1736-?) wrote about the symbolism of the cubic stone in Freemasonry. Of course, Freemasonry is (symbolically) all about shaping the perfect cubic stone from a rough block, but especially Chéreau, made the symbolism much deeper than just the working on the stone. His stone contains magic squares and diagrams with masonic and alchemical elements. This strongly reminds of the reference made by Ambelain to magical symbols. (Note: the article says that their diagram comes from Waite’s A New Encyclopedia Of Freemasonry, but in my version of this book, the diagram is in the form of a cross and there are also three triangles with text. This image can be seen here.

Could it have been Freemasonry then? ‘Officially’ Freemasonry ‘started’ in 1717 when the Grandlodge of London was founded, but in fact, there was (pre)Masonic activity already in Bureus’ time. In 1599 the first speculative lodge was founded in Edinburgh, UK (Scotland). On the other hand, nowadays scholars think that in the UK speculative Freemasonry began and later spread over the continent and the rest of the world. The center for the spread supposedly where the Netherlands, the but first lodge in my country wasn’t founded before 1754! It is not likely that Bureus was inspired directly by Masonic teachings.

Sure, Bureus used his runic system for some kind of magic, but the reason he came up with the runic stone, is to show that the gods sent the original language by throwing it down to earth. Is it a reference to the “Enochian language” that John Dee (1527-1608) received from the angels? It is more likely that Bureus’ source was Guillaume Postel (1510-1581) whom he drew heavily upon. As far as I know, Postel thought that the original language was Hebrew and the letters where all formed out of the smallest letter “Yod” and not carved in a rock that fell from the sky.

So I must conclude that my search has so far only pointed towards a few likely sources for Bureus’ idea for the runestone. Maybe not Celtic mythology (but should he have known this, there was plenty of inspiration), but pre-Masonic and alchemical symbolism. There are quite some nice articles about the symbol of the lapsit exillis and cubic stones on the internet and in books, but so far I haven’t found anything that could be provable or at least convincingly Bureus’ inspiration.

<font size=2"literature:
Johannes Bureus and Adalruna by Stephen Edred Flowers, 1998 Rûna Raven Press
De Graal, tussen Heidense en christelijke erfenis by Koenraad Logghe, 1997 Mens en Cultuur
Symbols Of Sacred Science by Rene Guenon, 2004 Fons Vitae, isbn 0900588772
Van Anima Tot Zeus by Maarten Timmer, 2001 Lemniscaat, isbn 905633528
A New Encyclopedia Of Freemasonry by Arthur Edward Waite, 1996 University Books, isbn 0517191482

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(Runic) magical formulae

I had never really looked at the subject of runic inscriptions, let alone magical runic inscriptions. Once I read a nice article on the Dutch website about the magical words “Alu” and Laukaz” in runic inscriptions, my interest was caught by the inscription on a bone-amulet found in Lindholm, Sweden (see image above this article):

ek erilaz sa wilagaz hateka :
aaaaaaaazzznn(n?)bmuttt : alu :

Similar inscriptions were found, such as “kk. kiiii. kkk” on the Ellestad stone, “ltlsssiiikutramsstltttll” (Nore stave church, Norway), “laþu aaduaaaliia alu” (Funen bracteate), or “þmkiiissstttiiilll” which can be read on both the Ledberg and the Gorlev stone. It is funny to read what interpretations can be given to these lines of runes.

Arild-Hauge, for example, gives an inscription that goes “r.a.þ.k.m.u:iiiiii:ssssss:tttttt:iiiiii:llllll” (“This inscription is attached to the Galder song Buslubæn, i.e. Bula’s curse, which is written in Bóse’s saga.”) and says: “The inscription is interpreted “ristil aistil þistil kistil mistil listil” by means of each of the 6 first runes – r.a.þ.k.m.u. – is attached one rune in each of the 5 groups with i s t i l”.

Something similar you can read on the website, where about the Ellestad inscription (kk. kiiii. kkk) is written:

a magical formula with Kaunan and Isaz as the basis.
Often, these secret runes can be interpreted as follows. The group of identical runes represents the rune carved, and the number of times that the rune is repeated represents the position of the second rune in the same aett. For example, kk represents rune k, Kaunan, since it is found in the first aett, and it is repeated twice, it is also referring to the second rune of the first aett which is Uruz. So kk represents Kaunan followed by Uruz; kkk represents Kaunan followed by Thurisaz, while iiii, with Isaz being the second aett, represents Isaz followed by Ihwaz. The magical formula would be thus: ku kiï kþ. read more

The philosophical Renaissance in Italy

What we usually hear about the Renaissance is that it was a period in history that came after the Middle Ages with a growing economy, early investigations of the universe and an upliving (“rebirth”) of the classical antiquitiy in art and literature. The invention of bookprinting also resulted in a much faster spreading of new ideas to a wider audience. About these ideas many people don’t know much though.
In academic circles there have been available writings of or about for example Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) or Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), but it was mainly Frances Amelia Yates (1890-1981) who also wrote for a larger audience. Subjects of Yates include the early Christian Cabala, the Hermetic tradition, the named thinkers or “the occult philosophy in the Elizabethan age”. Later also writers such as Michael Baigent (1948-) and Richard Leigh (1943-2007) picked up such subjects, but they had a much more populistic approach. Because more and more texts, translations and information becomes available about this very interesting part of our history which seems to be coming after a still growing interest in Hermetism, Gnosticism and alchemy of recent times, I thought it would be a good idea to make you acquainted with the philosophical Renaissance. It began in Italy and reached the rest of Europe via Hungary. In this article I will focus on Italy, because there is enough to tell about that. The rest of Europe will come in a separate article.

The preamble

The Middle Ages are characterised by a high level of dogmatism of the Christian doctrine and the theological foundation and proving of it. This theology is called “scholasticism”. To force submission from the folk, the inquisition was founded in 1231. As we will see, this institution has existed all through the Renaissance. Still there came a bit more freedom and open-mindedness.
Following thinkers such as Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) and Giovani Boccaccio (1313-1375), humanism originated. This is a philosophy reverting to classical texts and placing man in the middle of creation. The reason for the first point was the same as with the scholasticists, but the humanists were of the opinion that in the Middle Ages the theologians had strayed away from their sources. As time passed humanism became less theological and more rational and more and more ‘human-centered’ than ‘God-centered’. Especially Greek texts were unravelled, but here and there also other texts and thinkers.
A revival came when freethinkers from Byzantium were forced to leave when the Turks took over the near East and middle Asia in 1453 and ended an imperium that has existed since 660BC. Many of the mentioned thinkers moved to Greek and Italy.
In this last country the city of Florence underwent a peak in it’s economical growth. Florence was founded by Julius Ceasar (100-44BC) as a fortress and later became a small town. For about 1000 years Florence slowly grew to a peak. Several times there was a new government, but from 1250 on things went very well. Many merchants settled down in the city, one family of which was that of De Medici who owned a large network of banks and had considerable fortune. They built villas and other buildings in Florence and in 1253 Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464) even came to rule Florence.
Cosimo had good trading and management skills, but also a big interest in philosophy. As a rich humanist in his time behooved, Cosimo was an enthousiastic collector of original classical texts. Like others he had several people travelling around looking for books to enlarge his rich library.

In 1438 a council was held in Ferrara to try to bring the Eastern and Western Christian churches more on one line. This council was a failure, but Cosimo organised a new one in Florence in 1439. One of the spokesman was George Gemistos (1360-1452), better known as “Plethon” (‘the new Plato). Plethon was one of the first churchfathers who openly spoke about his admiration for Plato (427-347 BC). He was one of those who fled from Byzantium about who I spoke earlier. Plato wasn’t quite a beloved person from the past in those times. Not only there were hardly any texts available in Latin, but also the church regarded him as heathen. Quite different things were with Plato’s student Aristotle (389-322 BC) whose teachings were already incorporated in the Christian doctrines by the Medieval theologist Thomas Aquinas (±1225-1274). Plethon and especially his student Johannes Bessarion (1403-1472) would also incorporate Plato in the Christian world of thought. Of course this didn’t happen in a day.
Cosimo was so impressed by the lectures about Plato that he took up the plan to start a ‘Platonic academy’. It would take a fews years before this really happened though.

Marsilio Ficino

Cosimo had a family doctor named Diotifeci d’Angelo Ficino (?-±1477) of who one son was the famous Marsilio. Marsilio already visited the De Medici family at an early age. However he would first follow his father in practise, Cosimo rose an interest in the philosophy of the divine Plato. Ficino proved to be very gifted and soon started to make translations for Cosimo. The plan was to translate the entire works of Plato and the neoplatonist Plotinus (204-270) to Latin. This was shortly interrupted by the finding and translation of the Corpus Hermeticum (see my articles about the Hermetic Tradition).

Besides this massive translative-work Ficino wrote a massive amounts of books, essays and letters in the 66 years of his life. Letters especially, because Ficino never travelled, but he was in contact with many people all around the world. Of every letter Ficino kept a copy for himself and five years for his death he wrote an introduction to them. After he passed away, Ficino’s letters were published in twelve books. Parts of these are available in other languages than Latin as well.

Ficino was a real ‘uomo universale’, a popular term for people from the Renaissance, but especially fitting for Ficino. As mentioned he started to study medicine. In his time 25% of this study was astrology. Further he was very well-read and acquainted with classical mythology and philosophy, but also churchfathers of his own time and before. He was a esteemed musician and writer of a wide variety of subjects. You can think off about everything between magic and theology and philosophy, but also medicine, health, early science, astronony, astrology, psychology, politics and leadership and everyday life. Ficino put a lot of stress on love and friendship.

The Platonic academy and its influences

The Platonic academy was founded by Cosimo de Medici in 1462. Also after Cosimo’s death Ficino was leader of the academy. Ficino’s fame spread around the globe. People from far places came to Florence to listen to him and handwritten copies his writings first circulated under the richer interested. After the invention of bookpressing Ficino much faster reached a much larger audience though.

The history of the academy hasn’t been free of problems, but I don’t want to go into this too deeply. Shortly I will mention the deaths of a few De Medici’s that Ficino outlived (sons followed up their father at the bank and the academy); the attempt to chase away the De Medici’s from Florence with the help of the Vatican in 1478 and eventually Ficino himself who had to defend himself against the church even though he had become a Dominican priest in 1473. Ironically enough the Dominican order was founded in the 13th century to test people and groups on their Christianity and their conclusions were often used by the inquisition. I suppose this was not as much the case in Ficino’s time, otherwise I can’t imagine him joining.

One of the friends of Ficino who would become a rising star on the philosophical plane is the quite well-known Giovani Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494). At first he was a follower of Aristotle, but to Ficino’s delight, he later turned towards the divine Plato. In contradiction to Ficino, Pico travelled all around Europe and studied on several big universities. Pico is mainly known for his preface “About human dignity” (1486) to his 900 statements that he wanted to defend against the church of Rome. Pico took these statements from a variety of sources, also sources that the church didn’t appreciate much, like the Hermetic writings. However the discussion never took place and only 3 of the 900 statements were declared heathen, Pico never more received the grace of the church.

Besides philosophical influences the academy and her ideas also had influence on the art and culture in Florence and elsewhere. Yet it was not until after Ficino’s death that also people with another primary interest than philosophy joined the academy. The best-known example is of course Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).

From Ficino to Bruno

The next best-known Italian thinker from the Renaissance is Giordano Bruno, but between hem en Ficino there is quite a gap. In this periode you can see some interesting developments, such as on the political-philsophical plane or early science. This last thing is of course well in line with the growing rationalism of the time. Because the information here is mostly scarce, I will speak about this periode shortly.

To start in the political corner, I of course can’t make it to not mention the famous Nicolò Machiavelli (1469-1527). He started his carreer in the political Florence of 1498. He mostly gained recognition with his political-philosophical writings that were not afflicted by the popular neoplatonism of his time. Besides this Machiavelli was a good (political) historian. He thought that history repeats itself over and over and he tried to explain events in the present by comparing them to events in the past. One of his ideas that caused quite a stir, was that he was of the opinion that not the church, but the state had to be in charge of a nation. Also Machiavelli wrote stories.
Francesco Guicciardini (1521 – 1589) can be compared with Machiavelli in more than one sence. Also he was political scientist, but as you can see he lived some time after Machiavelli. Therefor he could continue the path that Machiavelli started.
Besides politicians there were also a couple of ‘naturalists’ in Italy in that time. Naturalists explored nature in all its facets with led to early-scientific experiments and investigations. Two names that I want to mention are Bernardo Thelesio (1508-1588) and Francesco Patrizzi (1529-1591).
Hieronymus Cordanus (1500-1536) went further than the previous two. Besides nature and early science, Cordanus was involved in medicine, but also for example alchemy. This caused him often being called the Italian counterpart of the Swiss Paracelsus (1493-1541).
That Plato didn’t entirely rule the minds of the philsophers is proven by Pietro Pomponazzi (1462-1525) who lead an Aristotelic school. The battle between the followers of Plato and his student Aristotle continued.
Unfortunately not too much information can be found about the interesting subject of the Christian Cabala. Some say that this was a typical Renaissance-phenomenon. It actually came quite quickly after the ‘original’ version, the Jewish Kabbalah. This last may be based on a centuries-long tradition, but was not really crystallised before the time that the Muslims ruled Spain, where a lot of Jews lived at that time. This was in the 15th century and also around the end of this very century people like the mentioned Pico, Bruno or for example Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1502) were working on a more Christian version of it. The way the words are written is to keep the two versions apart.

Giordano Bruno

Bruno was born as Filippo in the small village of Nola, that can be found about 30 kms from Napels. He was a real child of the Renaissance that has spread all over Europe in his time. Especially in the England of queen Elizabeth (1533-1603) there was a big revival.

Also Bruno joined a Dominican order in 1565 and took the name Giordano. Because of his critical mentality he didn’t make much friends and felt forced to leave. After this he travelled all across Europe and most of the times him being critical gave him problems and caused him to have to leave again. First Bruno was in Switserland and then in France. Here he caught the attention of king Henri III. In 1583 he was in London and Oxford, but also here he wasn’t welcomed with overwhelming enthousiasm. Especially his anti-Aristotelic and pro-Copernical theories (especially the Oxford university still as was an Aristotle bastion at that time) gave him problems. Still it was in this English periode that Bruno wrote his quite well-known ‘Italian Dialogues’. In contradiction to most texts of Bruno there were not written in Latin, but in his native language. Also in contradiction to his texts in Latin, the Italian Dialogues were not much of a magical nature, but very philosophical and esthetic. Both because of his rebelish ideas but also the (just) accusition of plagiarism of Ficino Bruno thought it was a better idea to go back to France. In 1586 he was already in Germany with a short visit to the ‘Hermetic emperor’ Rudolf II in Prague and in 1591 he arrived back in his home country. He tried to conciliate with the Roman church, but instead he fell in the hands of the inquisition.

In more than one sence Bruno followed the medieval philosopher and magician Ramon Lull (1232-1361). Bruno heavenly leaned agains Lull’s art of memory (‘mnemonism’). Bruno followed Lull’s idea that memory is determined by the manipulation and combination of images. This is why their art of memory is often called ‘ars combinatoria’ or the art of combining. Both Lull and Bruno worked on different technicques to train the memory.
Further both men are regarded as the predecessors of ‘pansofism’, a pantheistic philosophy. Bruno’s Italian Dialogue “About the cause, the principle and the one” (“De la causa, principio et uno”) part V is a long disquisition about the endlessness of the universe that is “undefinable and unboundable”. Bruno’s expression “all things exist in the universe and the universe exists in all things” sounds very pantheistic. Especially this was to become Bruno’s biggest problem. During his last stay in Italy Bruno was picked up by the inquisition which was followed by a seven-year imprisonment and eventually our friend was burned at the stake on the Campo de Fiori in Rome in 1600. Until today a bronze statue of Bruno can be found there.

Partly because of his end Bruno has always been relatively well-known in Italy and under freethinkers in the rest of the world. Because of this Bruno’s very original ideas have had their influence and his writings have been fairly accessible in their original languages. Still it is quite new that translations make Bruno accessible for a bigger audience as well.

After Bruno the highlight of the Renaissance can be especially found outside Italy, which may be something for another article.


The occult Renaissance

a word of advice: you may want to read my article about “the philosophical renaissance in italy” first to put things in a wider perspective and for background information.

In my article “The Philosophical Renaissance In Italy” I have written about the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy focussing on the philosophical side. In this article I will leave Italy and since especially in other countries there came a more esoteric side, I will speak some more about that. In the mentioned article I told about the humanist tradition as starting-point for Renaissance-thinking. Ironically enough, humanism outside Italy has brought forth two very opposital movements. One is the more occult movement, the other led to the reformation and the coming up of Protestantism. Initially the two weren’t too hostile towards each other, but later there came friction and when the Catholics started to win back territory (the so-called counter-reformation) occultism was completely not-done. I will leave the reformation for what it is and go to the second offspring of humanism here, but of course the two can’t be taken apart entirely.

My aim for this article is a less historical one and more focussing on the ideas. In order to keep the length in proportions, I will only speak about some of the big names. You will get an idea of the development of the occult. First I have to make a jump in history to give a good view of the story.

The art of memory

Frances Amelia Yates (1890-1981) wrote an entire book about this subject, which she felt needed to to give a good idea of the history of the Hermetic tradition. Three classical sources are recognised: 1) the anonymously written Ad Herenium that was rediscovered in 1482 and which was initially believed to be by Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC); 2) Cicero himself; and 3) Fabius Quintillian (35-100). Also Aristotle (384-322BC) and St. Augustine (of Hippo 354-430) have written about the subject as did many other classical writers.
Very simply explained the idea is as follows. In order to remember something (a speech, information, images) you imagine that your memory is a large building with different rooms. The rooms should not look too much alike, otherwise you won’t keep them apart. The things you need to remember, you ‘put into’ the rooms and when you need to bring it back to memory, you walk through your building, looking inside the rooms. Archetypical images were used to make them easier to remember/recognise. There were different techniques for different things to remember, but here you have the general idea.

In times that book printing wasn’t yet invented, this art was highly acclaimed. In the Middle Ages for example famous theologians like Tomas of Aquino (1226-1274) and Albertus Magnus (1200-1280) were much in favour of this art, which they turned into a religious/devotional art. The big medieval Christian orders of the Dominicans and Franciscans even had their own systems that they taught to their pupils.

Also in the Middle Ages there was a non-classical art of memory, coming from the first person I want to talk about.

Ramon Lull

Ramon Lull (1232-1316) was born in Spain in an exciting time in the Middle Ages. It wasn’t just scholacism and dogmatism in these days. The Cathars prospered in southern France and especially in Spain under the rule of the Muslims and with a lot of Jews living there, some interesting developments took place. The Jewish esoteric system Kabbalah (“tradition”) was crystallised in Spain in this period. The Sepher Zohar (book of splendour) for example, was first printed in 1275. Frances Yates has an interesting theory about these developments. She says that maybe the influence of the ideas of John Scotus Erigena (810-875) came back in the interest because of the Clavis Physicae of Honorius Augustodunensis (1080-1157). Ramon Lull built his system partly on these Scotian ideas and the Kabbala became a Jewish version of it. It is also possible that Lull was influenced by Jewish and Arabic ideas, but this is not certain. He did write several works in Arabic, but mostly in the hope that Arabic readers would take over his ideas.

Lull lived in a time where astrology was regarded heretic, but still he wanted to use it in the “Art” that was revealed to him in a vision on mount Randa (on Mallorca) in 1272. He came up with an equally genius as difficult solution: letters.

Scotus divided the world in four parts, from divine to material. The second highest world is that of the names of God, which became Lull’s “Dignitates Dei”, divine dignities (also called “principiae”, principles) of which Lull recognised nine, but sometimes ten or sixteen. The nine most-used dignities are bonitas (goodness), magnitudo (magnitude), eternitas (eternity), potestas (power), sapientia (wisdom), voluntas (will), virtus (strength), veritas (truth) and gloria (glory). These dignities or creative primordial causes got the letters BCDEFGHIK. A is reserved for the Holy Trinity (essentia, unitas, perfectio) and the I or J is always left out. The divine attributes form themselves into a trinitarian structure by which they became a reflection of the Trinity. Also they work through the elements.

“Lull believed that he had found a way of calculating from the fundamental patterns of nature”, Frances Yates writes in her Lull & Bruno.

Lull’s use of letters is interesting. It had never been done before, but his Jewish contemporaries were also experimenting with systems and meditations on Hebrew letters It has never been proved that Lull was really influenced by this. Ironically enough he never wrote anything about the Kabbala, but after his death pseudo-Lullian Kabbalistic and alchemical writings appeared. For both systems the original Ars Raymundi proved helpful.

Also in threes are the three powers of the soul of Augustine that Lull recognised; the intellectus or the knowing and finding of the truth; the voluntas the training of the will towards loving the truth and the memoria or remembering the truth.

Further Lull uses elements (A, B, C and D) to group the stars and constellations, questions, subjects, virtues, etc. which are all put in rotating schemes. But Lull’s art wasn’t just a way to remember things, it was a dynamic system involving the asking of questions and combining possibilities. Yates quotes Lynn Thorndike (1882-1962) in Lull & Bruno saying: “By properly arranging categories and concepts, subjects and predicates in the first place, one could get the correct answer to such prepositions as might be put.” The wheels are used to get answers to questions by turning the wheels and thus combining different possibilities. Ars Combinatoria is not for nothing the title of one of Lull’s writings, but also one of his Arts.

Augustine has been mentioned and this is also the starting point of Lull leaving behind the scholastic Middle Ages behind for a more neoplatonic system. Lull was really a predecessor of the Renaissance, he replaced the images that the classical and medieval memory students used by letters and the static buildings became revolving schemes, incorporated with astrological imaginary.

Lull was familiar with the classical art of memory and saw his art as an expansion of it. His system resembled the Kabbalistic meditation system of Abraham Abulafia (1240-1292), but without Hebrew. The Dominicans didn’t feel much for Lull’s system, but the Franciscans were not entirely uninterested and even approved his writings.

Because Lull put much stress on the elements and the names of God and these are also recognised in the Jewish and Muslim worldviews, he thought that his art had missionary possibilities. His lifework was to convert Jews and Muslims to Christianity.

Most of the massive amount of writings of Ramon Lull have never been published or studied properly, but they deal with a wide variety of subjects. His art on the level of ‘coelum’ (heaven) for example, involved the twelve signs of the zodiac and the seven holy planets to which again letters are assigned and in combination with the dignitates dei Lull came to some kind of astral science and also astral medicine in which powers can be used for beneficial matters. Herein Lull is also a predecessor of Ficino and Bruno (see later).

Lull was a predecessor of the Renaissance in various ways, so these very rough sketches of the Ars Raymundi can be seen as an introduction and foundation of the rest.

Marsilio Ficino

In my article about the philosophy in Renaissance Italy I have given you the story of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), so I will not tell too much about the person this time. As we now know Ficino was the turn-on of a renewed interest in Plato (427-347BC) and Plotinus (204-270), but also of the Hermetic tradition, since he was the first translator of the Corpus Hermeticum. Besides massive translation-works Ficino wrote a lot material himself. Ficino had quite a magical worldview. Like Lull he wrote about medicine, but not in a way we understand this today. For a good doctor astrological knowledge was evident and Ficino even incorporated some kind of astrological magic. Ficino said that you can use the powers in the universe and from earth to do good and his magic is mostly called “natural magic” or “spiritual magic”. Angels or spirits (forces of nature) could be stemmed favourable for beneficial purposes by using sound, music, scent or talismans. Ficino’s knowledge of talismans and his magic in general he learned from the Hermetic writings Asclepius and the Picatrix and Ficino wrote most about it in his De Vita Coelitus Comperanda (on obtaining life from the heavens – 1489).

Music was particularly important to Ficino. He played his lyre and sang “Orphic hyms” which were probably magic incantations. Ficino did his utmost -though- to stay away of ‘demonic magic’ which involved the calling of demons (bad angels). One point to make here is the following: Ficino had three souls, a lower, a higher and a middle soul. The middle soul is the mediator between the other two and called “spiritus”. This non-rational soul is influenced by ‘spiritual magic’ and however Ficino’s magic also must have had darker elements, he scarcely kept that to himself. More you will read about this in the following piece about Pico.

Giovani Pico

Even within Ficino’s “Platonic Academy” a more ‘strong’ kind of magic appeared. Giovani Pico (of Mirandola) (1463-1494) was introduced to Ficino’s academy at an early age. In the beginning he was still a follower of Aristotle and couldn’t quite find himself in Ficino’s Platonism, but later in his life he came more to Plato. Pico travelled all across Europe and in Spain he studied with Jews. Shortly before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Pico was taught Hebrew and was introduced to the Kabbala. He wanted to use the Kabbala to prove the truth of the Christian doctrines and therewith became the founder of the Christian Cabala. Pico always wrote this word with a “c” and I follow him therein to divide the Jewish version (“Kabbalah”), from the Christian one.

It wasn’t just Christianity and Cabala that Pico brought together. Pico compared the knowledge that he got from his Jewish friends with the Hermetica that he learned from Ficino and discovered that both recognised that creation took place by Word. This and other parallels led Pico to not only believe that both systems are from the same time (that of Moses), but he worked the systems to one.

However Pico was of the opinion that there is difference between good (or natural) magic and bad magic, his aims surpassed those of Ficino. Natural magic carefully avoided to reach ‘beyond the stars’ where both good and bad demons live and dealt only with spirits by using talismans and the like. Pico’s complementary ‘more strong philosophy’ of Christian Cabala went as far as to summon angels and archangels by using the power of their names in the Hebrew language. As you may know Hebrew characters also have a numerological value, so each word also has a numerological value. The combination of sound and number proved a good way to do magic. Pico really “tried to tap the higher spiritual powers beyond the natural powers of the cosmos” to quote Frances Yates some more. Where Ficino still used the angels as powers to try to work with him, Jewish occultists summoned angels for their benefit and ever since Pico angels have mostly been used in a Kabbalistic and magical way. Still, in Pico’s well-known 900 ‘conclusiones’ he states that magic should always be accompanied by Cabala to make it both powerful and safe.

Francesco Giorgi

This Franciscan friar was a much more ‘harmonious’ person than most of the people I write about in this article. This resulted in the fact that Giorgi (1466-1540) didn’t fall from grace when the suppression of the occult started.

Giorgi’s most famous book is De Harmonia Mundi Totius (about universal harmony – 1525), a large work about the harmony between the micro- and macrocosmos. Giorgi had met Pico and was much influenced by his Christian Cabala. Also Giorgi learned Hebrew and got himself a large library of Hebrew books. However in basis he stood more in the Pythagorean tradition that was popular in medieval times, Giorgi added Ficinian hermetism and Pician Cabala in his worldview.

What is most remarkable about Giorgi is that he was a very theoretical person. He didn’t come to practical magic or Cabala, but wrote and pondered mostly. The summit of the ‘harmonia mundi’ for Giorgi was to be found in architecture in which the architecture could design a building reflecting the universe. His cosmos was based on number and his god was a great architect and as the sun the heart of the cosmos. Giorgi helped designing and building Francesco church in Venice.

Another large interest of Giorgi was astrology and here we come to another strange thing in his philosophy. Like his contemporaries Giorgi recognised the 12 signs of the zodiac, the 7 holy planets and the angels as natural forces, but he was of the opinion that casting horoscopes is a too lengthy and uncertain process and goes as far to identify someone’s leading planet with his/her guardian angel to make the process easier. This –for his time- weird unity of planets and angels led the official church to take over some of Giorgi’s ideas on these subjects.

Johann Reuchlin

With this German humanist, lawyer and contemporary of Pico, we leave Italy and go to Germany. Reuchlin (1455-1522) was also a fervent traveller and met Pico in Italy. Just as all of the previous mentioned persons, Reuchlin mastered different languages, in his case Latin, Greek and Hebrew and of course his native language.

Reuchlin was very much into Cabala en Hebrew. His Rudimenta Hebraica (1506) was the first book about Hebrew grammar by a non-Jew. He was regarded an authority on the subject of the Jews but fell victim to a Jewish controversy in which his opinion was asked. This plus the problems about his own person gave Reuchlin a bad name in the later years of his life.

The Cabala had become quite popular in Germany already, but after Reuchlin things took a high flight. His first work on the subject was De Verbo Mirifico (about the wonderful word -1494) in which he (among other things) speaks about the power of Hebrew words and their numerological values. Large parts of the book are dedicated to the putting of Jesus Christ in the Jewish texts. The unpronouncable name of God “YHVH” (the tetragrammaton, most given as either “Jehova” or “Jahwe”) is expanded with an “S” making it “YHSVH”, Joshua or Jesus Christ, in this way the Creator. De Verbo Mirifico is a beginnersbook (“a beginner rushing to print” Joseph Blau wrote) and contains several mistakes. Reuchlin even gives an incorrect Kabbalistic tree for example! Some mistakes would later be corrected, some not.

It took 20 years for Reuchlin to finish his second Cabalistic word being the famous De Arte Cabalistica (about the art of the Cabala – 1517). This book is said to be the first full treatise on the subject by a non-Jew and became the bible of the Christian Cabalists. De Arte Cabalistica not only speaks about numerological magic, but also the Cabalistic letter-manipulations and meditative techniques.

Reuchlin had a Hermetic Academy in Heidelberg where he met Trithemius (see below). Trithemius is mostly notorious because of his summoning of angels and also Reuchlin experimented with this, which was of course fuel on the fire of his enemies. I will now move to Reuchlin’s student for a bit more like on this kind of magic.

Johann Trithemius

It is said that Johann Heidenberg (1462-1516) couldn’t read until he was 15 years old. Then he had a vision in which he was given the choice between the knowledge of language and the knowledge of images. Thinking that the word was the power of creation, Johann chose the knowledge of language and so it was and he started writing. Born in Trittenheim in Germany, he named himself after his village of birth and Heidenberg has ever since been known as ‘Trithemius’.

After his vision the development of Trithemius went fast. He met the Reuchlin in Heidelberg -as said- and at the age of 21 Trithemius already was abbot of a Benedictine monastery in Sponheim. There he studied the medieval system of the hierarchies of angels of the pseudo-Dionysus (the Areopagite) as many occultists did before him. According to the Areopagite there are nine hierarchies of angels. Trithemius largely expanded this system and taught that there are angels ruling over hours of the day (book II Steganographia-see later) and regions of the world (book I Steganographia). These angels are ruled by seven planetary angels (book III Steganographia). I have schemes of these angels in a text called The art of drawing spirits into crystals, but I haven’t been able to find out from what book of Trithemius this is. The most famous work of this German is the Steganographia which has existed as manuscript for many many years, but wasn’t published until 1606. Followers and Trithemius himself thought that it would be too dangerous to publish and it is a strange work for sure!

On first sight it seems to be a work to summon angels. You have to find the appropriate angel first. You have to find the correct angel of the hour by dividing the hours that it is light (or dark of course) in twelve and look up the angel in a table. This angel you summon by using the numerological value of his name and an ununderstandable incantation. Then you can use this angel to have a message brought to someone. Also Trithemius hoped that he could get angels to give him information and/or images of things that happen on another part of the world.

As has been known for a long time Trithemius was very fond of cryptography (which is the literary translation of “steganographia”) (writing secret messages) and however he gives a ‘key’ to the first two books of the Steganographia in his Clavis Steganographia it wasn’t until 1996 that the codes have been cracked. The Steganographia turned out to be nothing more than Trithemius writing secret messages in the vein of: “see how I can write secret messages”!! So there are different layers of purposes in one of the strangest works of the Renaissance I asume.

Trithemius used magic to invent the early telephone and television, but he put much stress on the difference between magic and superstition (‘witches and wizards’) an opinion that people after him would take over.

Henry Cornelius Agrippa

Agrippa (1486-1535) can be seen as the person in who all I wrote about before came together. Like the previous persons, Agrippa can be regarded as a Christian Cabalist and he wanted to prove the authenticity of Christianity using Cabala. Also Agrippa was of the opinion that his magic was a good kind of magic, but many people were of another opinion. Even in his life Agrippa was regarded as a black magician and his black dog was an incarnation of the devil. Agrippa used the natural magic of Ficino, the Cabala of Pico and Reuchlin and further developed Trithemius’ angelic incantations. Agrippa learned Hebrew and was in short contact with Giorgi, but most of all he was a student of Johann Reuchlin and Trithemius, but Agrippa intended to surpass his masters. Especially because of his ceremonial works of magic, Agrippa got his bad name, but as mentioned, he saw himself as a good Christian. Living in the time of the reformation he also said that he was a follower of the Dutch humanist and early reformist Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) and he was not the only one supporting the reformation.

Agrippa’s first encounter with magic was a book of the medieval Albertus Magnus and it is said that he was the centre of an occult circle in his hometown Köln/Cologne in Germany, but has said to be travelling constantly (on behalf of this group?). London, Paris, Antwerp, Italy, Agrippa has been all across Europe to study or lecture on Lullism (which was his specialty), alchemy, science, Hermetism and the like.

However he wrote more works, Agrippa is best known for his ‘opus magnum’ De Occulta Philosophica (1531). A massive compendium of three books about the magic of the Renaissance that he wrote at the age of 24. The worldview in the Renaissance always had three worlds and also Agrippa recognised these. His ‘three books of occult philosophy’ follows this division. Book I is about (Ficino’s) natural magic (in the elemental world), dealing with the worldsoul and world of ideas; book II about celestial magic (numerology, geometry, optics, etc.) (in the celestial world) and book III is about ceremonial magic (angels, cabala, etc.) (in the supercelestial/spiritual/intellectual world). This book it far too large to speak about in short. Maybe an idea for a whole article?

Agrippa took some distance from magic for safety by writing that all knowledge, including magical, is in vein, but later in his life he even abandoned his magical pursuits and put his efforts to the Christian doctrines.

Philipus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus

This joke is told so often that I probably don’t have to give the wellknown name of this man anymore. Especially not when I also add “Von Hohemheim” after the place of his birth. I actually can’t continue without mentioning Paracelsus (1493-1541) but so much can be said about this son of a nobility-bastard from Germany that I will be forced to stay to a few elements of this man. Like his father, Paracelsus started to study medicine when he was 16. This included astrology in that time, but the interests of the young Paracelsus reached further. He was an utter and complete bastard without repect of other people’s opinions, but still Paracelsus has had students all the time he was travelling throughout Europe. Paracelsus was a fanatical alchemist, not to make gold, but to find the ultimate medicine. This caused him to become not only the inventor or chemical medicine, but also of homeopathics. People where delighted by the medicines of Paracelsus, because now they no longer had to eat cockroaches to get rid of their aches. But there were more breakthoughs coming from the man like on the fields of psychology, psychiatry, gyneology and anaesthetics.

And alchemy also wasn’t Paracelsus’ only esoteric interest. He further developed the astrological medicine of Ficino and formed theories that are either or not still used today. He said that there are three basic materials: salt, sulpher and mercury. You are ill when these are out of balance and getting them in balance may include the calling on of celestial forces. Paracelsus gives detailed instructions of the making of talismans, what to engrave on what material and when (astrologically determined). This sometimes looks a lot like the system of Trithemius of who Paracelsus has shortly been a student.

John Dee

After Agrippa John Dee (1527-1608) from the United Kingdom is probably the best-known magician from the Renaissance. At an early age he was interested in mathematics which in that time was still regarded as magical (numerology) and not too long after his mathematical efforts Dee found interest in astronomy. This interest brought him in contact with the famous Belgian globe-maker Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594), a friendship that would last.

After some changes in the kingship in England with kings and queens that were much in favour of Dee or not at all, Dee started to study the Cabala. He taught himself Hebrew and started to buy texts for his rapidly expanding library. Also Dee believed that “the word” from Genesis was a Hebrew word and that Hebrew was the language of creation. Therefore a magician should be able to use this language for his own creations or alterations therein. Dee’s study of the Cabala (and Kabbala) made him acquainted with the summoning of angels and he started to make systematic principles (‘prayers’) to summon angels. He eagerly started to collect the writings of Trithemius and had to travel to Antwerp to lay his hands on a copy of the Steganographia. Following Trithemius in his opinion, Dee made a sharp division between magic and superstition.

However Dee then showed a growing interest in alchemy, his efforts to get answers from spiritual beings continued all his life. He proved unable to summon angels himself and had a large number of mediums doing this for him, but almost every single one of them was unfit. They either couldn’t get in contact with the correct beings or were unable to transfer the information correctly. In 1582 there was hope though.

“Mr Clerkson” who had brought Dee more mediums, introduced Dee to Edward Talbot. However Dee was well informed in the happenings in the occult world (he was very well aware of the bad name of Trithemius), he didn’t know about the reputation of this man who came to him under a false name. Edward Kelly (1555-1595) was regarded a fraud, a forgerer, a necromancer and a criminal who used some magical powder to produce gold.

So Dee got one of his ‘shew stones’ and asked ‘Talbot’ to ‘skry’. Of course this was preceded by some preparations, like prayers to the angel Dee hoped to appear. Already in the first sessions there were conversations with the archangel Uriel who Dee wanted to ask about his Arabic book with the names of angels the Book of Sogya, but however Uriel confirmed its authenticity, only the archangel Michael could explain the strange text in the angelic language (Enochian). It was the book that was given to Adam after all!

During the years Dee and Kelly split up and came together several times, Dee received magical tables, texts and books as well as practical information for his daily life. Not only from archangels, but from all kinds of spiritual beings. Kelly sees and tells Dee what to write down in his magical diaries. Dee also wrote a personal diary which is still available and as said the two received several books. Dee also wrote a book about his ‘skrying techniques’ and either together (and with the families) or alone, Dee and Kelly travelled all across Europe ever continuing their summonings.

However the drawings that Dee received look a bit too much like drawings of Trithemius, Dee is often regarded as the receiver of the Enochian language. Dee spent his life trying to ‘crack the code’ and found out that like Hebrew Enochian is alphanumeric, a letter is also a number and he used Cabalistic methods to work on them. Dee indeed very much was interested in coding, numbers and ciphers and wrote books on mathematics. Also he was a spy for queen Elizabeth (1533-1603).

Dee’s most famous writing is the Monas Hieroglyphica (1582). A strange and short work explaining his famous symbol using astrological, Cabalistic and magical imaginary. His symbol gave the name to these pages and it’s logo!

Giordano Bruno

My previous article has also given the story of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), so I won’t tell you too much about his life this time. Important is that “the Nolan” (after his birthplace in Italy) like Pico travelled all across Europe, but every time he got problems and was forced to leave. However at first side it may not seem like it, but Bruno was in some regards even ahead Agrippa. Bruno was a big admirer of Ficino, but also here Pico’s and Reuchlin’s Cabala had his interest. However all of the previous persons (but Agrippa) have worked with the art of memory, I now come back to Ramon Lull with who I opened this article. Bruno who incorrectly saw Lull as an alchemist and Cabalist, leaned heavily on several of Lull’s arts. One of these was Lull’s mnemonics, or the art of memory, but Lull’s ‘ars combinatoria’ was Bruno’s favourite magical system.

Bruno wrote several works about the art of memory such as De Umbris Idearum (of the shadows of ideas – 1582) and Cantus Circaeus (incantations of circe -1582). Where the Cantus already contains magical incantations, Bruno later made two books with ‘Lullianesk’ diagrams, but then for magical purposes.

Bruno had three ways of conjuring angels. The first was the use of word and song (natural magic), the second by using images, seals (as talismans) and characters (which he called mathematical magic), but his most favourite system is the previously described reworked Lullian diagrams which he called the system of imagination.

He used ‘links’ to conjure angels. Ficino already described these, but Bruno put the theory to practise. Bruno’s links where the rulers of the four cardinal points and also Bruno used the (numerological value of their) names for incantations and seals.

Whereas all the previous persons did their utmost to seem like devote Christians, Bruno openly critised the church and was of the opinion that the original Egyptian language (that Bruno thought was learned by Hermes Trismegistus) was far superior. This was really the drop that made the bucket flow over (as we say in the Netherlands) and Bruno was lured back to Italy and burned at the stake in 1600 after seven years of imprisonment.

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Steganographia vs Theurgia/Goetia

In my article about Angel Magic I very shortly compared the Steganographia of Trithemius with the second book of the Lemegeton: Theurgia/Goetia (T/G). In this article I will make a slightly closer investigation of the differences and the similarities of the two writings. For this purpose I used the Latin Steganographia and the English T/G from and the translation of the T/G by S.L. MacGregor Mathers that can be found online on several pages. Later I also checked the English translation of the Steganographia by Adam McLean (it is still available, but very expensive, so I went to the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica to see it).

Comparing the two writings it becomes very clear that Trithemius used the older writing as basis for his own work. Not only the names of the angels, dukes, etc. are almost always roughly the same, but even the order corresponds mostly.

Both books speak of 31 angels, dukes, spirits and the like and both books have a diagram like a compass somewhere in the beginning. In T/G this diagram is complex and extensive, with Trithemius simple and half-finished:

T/G has several stars over eachother, this is clearer in the diagram in the Esotericarchives-version. This doesn’t really matter, because the order the angels, etc. are treated in, do not really follow the star anyway. In the ‘top star’ of the T/G-diagram you can find the names Barmiel (south), Uriel (sw), Malgaras (w), Usiel (nw), Rasiel (n), Armadel (ne), Pamersiel (e) and Camuel (se).

The order of the book T/G is as in the table below. There are 4 emperors, 16 chief spirits and 11 wandering dukes. Trithemius is on the right. I shove a bit with the tables, because Trithemius first treats the spirits, then the emperors and then the wandering dukes. Now you have the same names on the same lines.

order T/G function extra information (T/G) order Trithemius




Amenadiel   west  
Demoriel   north  

chief spirit

east Pamersiel


"second spirit of the
east" (etc.)
Camuel   <skipping two points on the
Asteliel   <skipping two> Aseliel
Barmiel   south Barmiel
Gediel     Gediel
Asyriel   <skipping two> Asiriel
Maseriel     Maseriel
Malgaras     Malgaras
Darochiel     Dorothiel
Usiel     Vsiel
Cabariel     Cabariel
Raysiel     Raysiel
Symiel     Symiel
Armediel   <skipping two> Armadiel
Baruchas   <skipping two> Baruchas
      Demoriel <emperor>

wandering duke

[on same ‘ray’ as Soleviel] Geradiel


[with Hydriel] Buriel
Hydriel   [see above] Hydriel
Pirichiel   [with Bidiel] Pyrichiel
Emoniel   [with Peridiel, but on another
‘ray’ also with Geradiel]
Icosiel   [with Soleriel] Icosiel
Soleviel / Soteriel   [in four rays in different
Menadiel   [in two other rays] Menadiel
Maceriel   [with Uriel] Macariel
Uriel   [with Bidiel and also see above] Vriel
Bidiel   [see above] Bydiel

The names between Trithemius and the T/Gs that I used differ, but this is also the case between the two T/Gs.

Both books give some information about the emperors, spirits and dukes. This information is for example, how many spirits of the day and night the treated entity rules over. Most of the time, the numbers correspond. They do not with Padiel (Trithemius has 10x as much spirits of the night).
The next part of the information are tables with the names of spirits under the command of the treated entity. T/G not only gives the seals of the emperor, chief spirit and duke, but also of the spirits under their command. Trithemius has no seals whatsover, he only refers to them sometimes. The tables do always correspond in number, even in division, but the names sometimes differ, sometimes a lot too! For example with the spirits under command of Asyriel we have “Astor” with Trithemius and “Alitors” in T/G, “Cusiel” vs “Cuopiel” and “Malqueel” vs “Malugel”.

After this follow the conjurations. In T/G they are almost all the same, with Trithemius there is something completely different going on. After the conjuration T/G goes to the following entity, but Trithemius gives much, much more information including a second spell. Trithemius had a different idea with his Steganographia: you summon a spirit, give him an encrypted message, the receiver gets a letter from you and then summons the same spirit and receives the encrypted message. The summonings are examples and codes for different kinds of encryptions, but still you get two of them, one spell for the sender, one for the receiver. Here I give all summonings without further comment. People who like to try to decipher them here have all the codes. Parmesiel (I know) is every other letter of every other word. See my Angel Magic article for this.

Looking over the names, you can at least see immediately that Trithemius followed the order of the T/G. The differences in names can possibly be caused by Trithemius having another (older) version of the text, but for the rest, there can be little doubt for his ‘inspiration’.

Trithemius -though- adds some information, about the entities: good or bad, only for advanced magicians or also for beginners, how they should appear; what kind of letters you should send to the receiver, sometimes how to act when an entity appears, etc.

And here follow the summonings from the Steganographia. Sometimes they are right in the text, sometimes marked. When it doesn’t say anything between <broken brackets>, I had to find the code myself, since it was right in the middle of the rest of the text. Two times the codes are printed in red, so I suppose it is the same in the original. At other times Trithemius bluntly says “coniuratio” (conjuration) or “carmen” (song) before giving an encrypted line, this information is added between the broken brackets.

Pamersiel oshurmy delmuson Thafloyn peano charustea melany, lyaminto colchan, paroys, madyn, moerlay, bulre + atloor don melcour peloin, ibutsyl meon mysbreath alini driaco person. Crisolnay, lemon asosle mydar, icoriel pean thalmõ, asophiel il notreon banyel ocrimos esteuor naelma besrona thulaomor fronian beldodrayn bon otalmesgo mero fas elnathyn bosramoth.

Padiel aporsy mesarpon omeuas peludyn malpreaxo. Condusen, vlearo thersephi bayl merphon, paroys gebuly mailthomyon ilthear tamarson acrimy lon peatha Casmy Chertiel, medony reabdo, lasonti iaciel mal arsi bulomeon abry pathulmon theoma pathormyn.

Padiel ariel vanerhon chio tarson phymarto merphon am prico ledabarym, elso phroy mesarpon ameorsy, paneryn atle pachum gel thearan vtrul vt solubito beslonty las gomadyn triamy metarnothy.

Camuel aperoys, melym meuomanial, casmoyn cralti busaco aeli lumar photyrion theor besamys, aneal Cabelonyr thiamo vesonthy.

Camuel Busarcha, menaton enatiel, meran sayr abasremon, naculi pesarum nadru lasmõ enoti chamabet vsear lesponty abrulmy pen sayr thubarym, gonayr asmon friacha rynon otry hamerson, buccurmy pedauellon.

Aseliel aproysy, melym, thulnear casmoyn, mauear burson, charny demorphaon, Theoma asmeryn diuiel, casponti vearly basamys, ernoti chaua lorson.

Aseliel murnea casmodym bularcha vadusynaty belron diuiel arsephonti si pa normys orleuo cadon Venoti basramyn.

Barmiel buras melo charnotiel malapos veno masphian albryon, chasmia peluo morophon apluer charmya noty Mesron alraco caspiel hoalno chorben ouear ascrea cralnoty carephon elcfor bumely nesitan army tufaron.

Barmiel any casleon archoi bulesan eris, Casray molaer pessaro duys anale goerno mesrue greal cusere drelnoz, parle cufureti basriel aflymaraphe neas lo, carnos erneo, damerosenotis anycarpodyn.

Gediel asiel modebar mopiel, casmoyn, rochamurenu proys nasaron atido casmear vearsy maludym velachain demosar otiel masdurym sodiuiel mesray seor amarlum, laueur pealo netus fabelron.

Gediel aprois camor ety moschoyn diuial palorsan, fermel, asparlon Crisphe Lamedon ediur cabosyn arsy thamerosyn.

Asiriel aphorsy Lamodyn to Carmephyn drubal asutroy Sody baruchõ, vsefer palormy thulnear asmerõ chornemadusyn coleny busarethõ duys marphelitubra nasaron venear fabelronty.

Aseriel onear Camersin, Cohodor messary lyrno balnaon greal, lamedõ odiel, pedarnoy nador ianozauy chamyrin. Coniuratione expleta sicut oportet missus spiritus nebulatenus apparebit. Dictoque verbo mystico veritatem loquetur ad aurem, & omnia quæ sibi fuerant commissa fideliter intimabit. Nullus tamen circum sedentium sentiet quicquam: modo tu constans & imperterritus, sicut oportet, perseueres.

Maseriel bula~ lamodyn charnoty Carmephin iabru~ caresathroyn asulroy beuesy Cadumyn turiel bulan Seuear; almos lycadusel ernoty panier iethar care pheory bulan thorty parõ Venio Fabelronthusy.

Maseriel onear Camersin, Cohodor messary lyrno balnaon greal, lamedõ odiel, pedarnoy nador ianozauy chamyrin.

Malgaras ador chameso bulueriny mareso bodyr Cadumir auiel casmyo tedy pleoryn viordi eare viorba, chameron vest thuriel vlnauy, beuesy meuo chasmironty naor ernyso, chorny barmo caleuodyn barso thubra sol. Coniuratione dicta sis vir fortis & constans: apparebunt tibi statim visibiles quos vocasti. Quod si vocato ex nocturnis non statim venerint: non propterea intermittas opus tuum: sed vrgeas eos iterata Coniuratione, donec obediant. Sunt enim aliquantulum pigri, & non libenter veniunt inter homines, sicut prædiximus.

Malgaradas apro chameron asoty mesary throes Zamedo sogreal paredon adre Caphoron onatyr tirno beosy. Cha merõ phorsy mellon tedrumarsy dumaso duise Casmiel elthurnpeson alproys fabelronty Sturno panalmo nador.

Dorothiel cusi feor madylon busar pamersy chear ianothym baony Camersy vlymeor peathã adial cadumyr renear thubra Cohagier maslon Lodierno sabelrusyn.

Dorothiel onear chameron vlyfeor madusyn peony oriel nayr druse mouayr pamerson etro dumeson, dauor caho. Casmiel hayrno, fabelrunthon. Completo carmine isto si moram fecerit spiritus in veniendo; iterum legat vsque tertio: & sine omni dubio visibilis apparebit, & reuelabit ad aurem commissa.

Vsiel parnothiel chameron briosy sthrubal brionear Caron sotronthi egypia odiel Chelorsy mear Chadusy notiel ornych turbelsi paneras thorthay pean adresmo boma arnotiel Chelmodyn drusarloy sodiuiel Carson, eltrae myre notiel mesraym Venea dublearsy mauear melusyron chartulneas fabelmerusyn.

Vsiel asoyr paremon cruato madusyn sauepy mauayr realdo chameron ilco paneras thurmo peã elsoty fabelrusyn iltras charson frymasto chelmodyn.

Cabariel onear chameron fruani, parnaton fofiel bryosi nagreal fabelrontyn adiel thortay nofruau pena afefiel chusy. Completo carmine, si fuerit in die, statim aderit spiritus vocatus sine mora. Si aute~ fuerit in nocte & moram fecerit in veniendo spiritus quem vocasti: totiens vrgeas eum, doneo veniat per repetitionem Carminis, quod valde reuereri solent.

Cabariel afiar paremon chiltan amedyn sayr pemadon chulty mouayr sauepor peatha mal frimaston dayr pean cothurno fabelrusyn elsoty chelmodyn. Hoc carmine dicto versus Circium, angelus statim apparebit visibilis, reserans illi commissum arcanu~; referetque tibi, si quid ille commiserit.

Raysiel afruano chameron fofiel onear Vemabi parnothon fruano Caspiel fufre bedarym bulifeor pean Curmaby Layr Vaymeor pesarym adorcus odiel Vernabi peatha darsum laspheno deuior Camedonton phorsy lasbenay to charmon druson olnays, Venouym lulefin, peorso fabelrontos thurno. Calephoy Vem, nabelron bural thorasyn charnoty Capelron.

Raysiel myltran, fruano fiar chasmy clymarso pean Sayr pultho chulthusa medon vepursandly tusan axeyr afflon.

Symiel myrno chamerony theor pasrõ adiueal fanerosthi sofear Carmedõ Charnothiel peasor sositran fabelrusy thyrno pamerosy trelno chabelron chymo churmabõ, asiel, peasor carmes nabeyros toys Camalthonty.

Symiel marlos chameron pyrcohi pean fruary fabelronti gaelto siargoti melaflor hialbra penor olefy Aiulbrani ordu Casmeron omer vemabon.

Armadiel marbeuo pelrusan neor chamyn aldron pemarson Cathornaor pean lyburmy Caueron Tharty abesmeron vear larso charnoty theor Caueos myat drupas Camedortys ly pa ruffes ernoty mesoryn elthi chaor atiel; lamesayn rouemu fabel rusin, friatochasalon pheor thamorny mesardiel pelusy madiel baseroty sarreon prolsoyr asenosy cameltruson.

Armadiel afran meson Casayr pelodyn, Cauoti chameron thersoruy marbeuon pheor Casoyn myruosy lyburmy deon fabelronton. Chubis archmarson.

Baruchas maluear chemorsyn charnotiel bason ianocri medusyn aprilty casmyrõ sayr pean cauoty medason peroel chamyrsyn cherdiel auenos nosear penaõ sayr chauelontr genayr pamelronfrilcha madyrion onetiel fabelronthos.

Baruchas Mularchas chameron notiel pedarsy phroys lamasay myar chalemon phorsy fabelrontho theras capean Vear almonym lierno medusan therfiel peatha thumar nerosyn cral nothiel peson segalry madon scoha bulayr.

Carnesiel aphroys chemeryn mear aposyn. Layr peã noema ouearma sere cralty caleuo thorteam chamerõ ianoar pe lyn Layr, baduson iesy melros ionatiel delassar rodiuial meron sau ean fabelron clumarsy preos throen benarys sauean demosynon laernoty chamedonton.

Carnesiel aproysi chamerõ to pemalroyn phroys Cadur mearmol benadron Vioniel saviron army pean arnotiel fabelronthusyn throe chabelron sauenear medaloys vear olmenadab cralty sayr.

Caspiel aloyr chameron noeres padyr diuiel prolsyn vear maduson cralnoti fruon phorsy larsonthon thiano pemarson theor. Caueos adeueos friato briosi panyeldrubon madiel sayr fabelrusyn gonear pean noty nabusran.

Caspiel asbyr Chameronty churto freueon dayr fabelron Cathurmy meresyn elso peano tailtran Caspio fuar Medon clibarsy Caberosyn vlty pean Vearches pemasy natolbyr meldary noe Cardenopen men for diuiel adro…

Amenadiel aprolsy chameronta nosroy throen mesro salayr chemaros noe pean larsy freueon ionatiel pelroyn rathroy Caser malusan pedon Cranochyran daboy seor marchosyn lauo pedar venoti gesroy phernotiel Cabron.
Amenadiel bulurym chameroty eriscoha pedarmon flusro pean tuarbiel fabelrõ greos belor malgoty nabarym stilco melros fuar pelaryso chitron amanacason.

Demoriel onear dabursoy Cohyne chamerson ymeor pean olayr chelrusys noeles schemlaryn venodru patron myselro chadarbon veuaon maferos ratigiel personay lodiol camedon nasiel fabelmerusin sosiel chamarcchoysyn.

Demoriel osayr chameron chulty saue porean lusin dayr pean cathurmo fomarson ersoty lamedon iothar busraym fuar, menadroy chilarso fabelmerusyn.

Geradiel onayr bulesar modran pedarbon sazeuo nabor vielis proyn therdial masre reneal Chemarson cuhadiam almona saelry penoyr sarodial chramel nadiarsi thorays Vayr pean esridiel cubal draony myar dearsy colludarsy memador atotiel Cumalym drasnodiar parmy sosiel almenarys satiel chulty dealny peson duarsy cuber fruony maroy futiel, fabel merusi venodran pralso lusior lamedõ fyuaro larboys theory malrosyn.

Geradiel osayl chamerusin chulti pemarsoniel dayr fayr chaturmo les bornatyn ersoty camylor sayr fabelmerodan cosry damerson maltey nabelmerusyn.

Buriel mastfoyr chamerusyn, noel peam Ionachym mardusan philarsij, pedarym estlis carmoy boycharonti phroys fabelronti, mear Laphany vearchas, clareson, notiel, pador aslotiel, marsyno reneas, Capedon, thisinasion melro, lauair carpentor, thurneam camelrosyn.

Bvriel, Thresoy chamerontis, hayr plassu, marso, neany, pean, sayr. fabelron, chaturmo, melros, ersoty caduberosyn.

Hydriel, apron chamerote, satrus pean néarmy chabelon, vearchas, belta, nothelmy phameron, arsoy pedaryn onzel, Lamedo drubel areon veatly cabyn & noty maleros haytny pesary does, pen rasi medusan ilcohi person.

Hydriel omar, penadon epyrma narsoy greol fabelrusin adiel pedrusij nozeui melrays vremy peã larfoy naes chemerotyn.

Pyrichiel marfoys chameron, nael peanos pury lames iamene famerusyn mearlo canorson theory torsa, nealthis dilumeris maphroy carsul ameor thubra phorsotiel chrebonos aray pemalon layr toyfi vadiniel nemor roseuarsy cabti phroys amenada machyr fabelronthis, poyl carepon vemij naslotyn.

Pyrichiel osayr Chamerosy culty mesano dayr fabelron cathurmo pean ersoty meor iathor cabon Frilastro melrusy.

Emoniel aproisi chamerusyn thulnear peanos meuear, pandroy cralnotiel narboy mauy fabelrontos, arliel chemorsyn nety pransobyr diuiel malros ruelty person roab chrumelrusyn.

Emoniel lebos chamerothy meor pemorsy dyor medulorsyn fraypeam, Crymarsy melrosyne vari chabaryn dayr. Aschre cathurmo fabelron ersoty marduse.

Icosiel aphorsi chamersyn thulneas ianotiel menear peanos erasnotiel medusan matory fabelron ersonial cathurmos laernoty besrayn alphayr lamedonti nael cabelron.

Icosiel osayr penarizo chulti meradym phrael melchusy dayr pean cathurmo fabelron ersoti chamerusan iltham pedaly fuar melrosyn crymarsy phroyson.

Soleuiel marfoy chamerusyn oniel dabry diuiel pean vear, lasmyn cralmoty pedaros drumes, pean vear chameron loes madur noty basray erxo nadrus peliel thabron thyrso ianothin vear perasy loes pean nothyr fabelron bauesy drameron eschiran pumelon meor dabrios crimorsiel penyvear nameroy lyernoti pralsones.

Soleuiel curtiel chamerusyn saty pemalros dayr ianothy cathurmo parmoy iotran lamedon frascu penoy ilthon fabelmerusyn.

Menadiel marfoy peanos onael chamerusyn theor ianothy ofayr melros tudayr penorsyn sachul tarno roseuas peathã asiel morfoy maplear casmyron storeal marpenu nosayr pelno dan layr thubra elnodion carsephy drumos fabelmerusyn andu pean, purays calbyn nachir loes philuemy casaner.

Menadyel murty chamerose dayr pean cathurmo phameron ersoti pray saruepo, fabel metij rean, charon ietlas Meduse fayr lamerosyn alty merchahon.

Macariel myrno chamerosy purmy maresyn amos peanam olradu, chabor ianoes fabelron dearsy chadon vlyses Almos rutiel pedaron deabry madero neas lamero dearsy, thubra dorpilto melrosyne draor chalmea near, parmõ dearsy charõ alnodiel parsa radean, maroy reneas charso gnole, melrosin te dranso casmar ebroset. Landrys masfayr therasonte noel amalan.

Macariel osayr chamerose chulti pesano dayr fameron; cathurmo pean ersoty lamedon so uapor casrea mafyr. Ianos tharfia, peathan non acri pean etion matramy.

Vriel marfoys lamedonti noes, chameron, anducbarpean phusciel arsmony tuerchoy iamersyn nairiel penos raseon loes vear fabelruso cralty layr parlis meraij mear, thubra aslotiel dubyr reanu nauosti masliel pedonyto chemarphin.

Vriel Aflan pemason cosayr chameron, chulty fabelmerõ deyr pean, cathurmo merosyn ersoti chalmon sauepo Meduse rean lamerosyn.

Bydiel marchan chamerosi philtres maduse vear casmyren cralnoti: pean deuoon fabelros eltida camean veor. Oniel vear thyrso liernoty: ianos prolsato chanos elasry peanon elsatha melros notiel pen soes probys chyras lesbroy mauear iothan liernoti chrymarson

Bydiel maslo chameron theory madias near fabelron thiamy marfoy vear pean liernoty calmea drules: Thubra pleory malresa teorty melchoy vemo chosray.


The Monas Hieroglyphica of John Dee (1527-1608)

However the best-known work of Dee, his Monas Hieroglypica is by far his most mysterious and difficult one. Other writings are accounts of his conversations with angels, the Monas was written through direct inspiration by God in a trance-like state. In a preface and 24 ‘theorems’ Dee wants to “revolutionize astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, linguistics, mechanics, music, optics, magic, and adeptship” to quote Joe Peterson in the short intro of his online version of the text.

Dee starts to explain that the circle and the line are the first forms in creation and therefor come back in the hieroglyph. The point in the circle is the earth and the circle the sun (a circle with a point is also the Egyptian symbol for the sun), the crescent is of course the moon and adds to the idea of the sun. Together they are day and night, the first day of creation even.

The cross represents both the number two (two lines) and four (four lines). Dee doesn’t say anything about the two, but of course you can think of opposites, like the sun and the moon. The number four is explained more lenghty. The cross stands for the four elements, I could add the ‘four corners of the world’ or the four worlds of the Kabbalah. Dee also walks on less obvious paths. The cross can also be 10, because 1+2+3+4=10.

The two ‘leggs’ are of the zodiacal sign Aries which signifies fire, so the “M” can also said to be ‘ignis’, which results in the following summing-up: luna, sol, elementa, ignis. “The Sun and the Moon of this Monad desire that the Elements in which the tenth proportion will flower, shall be separated, and this is done by the application of Fire. “

Dee even manages to find more astrology in his hieroglyph: Saturn (definately!), Jupiter (on its side), Mars (with some imagination) and Mercury of course, both its ancient and modern sign. He continues by explaining the highness of Mercury as alchemical quicksilver and the god of knowledge (Egypt: Tehuti/Thoth, Greece: Hermes).

What follows then is an astrological explanation based on the sun and the moon. The sun is linked with the constellation of Taurus (sun and moon together in the hieroglyph) and the Moon with Aries (the bottom part of the hieroglyph).

Dee continues with linking the cross with letters from the Latin alphabeth and the numbers they represent. Numerological values have its significance. The same goes for the Greek letters that Dee finds in his symbol, but these have even more significances such as elements, divine names and periods in Genesis.

After this you will lean the proportions and symmetry of the hieroglyph and to conclude the 14 permutations of the Pythagorean quarternary is spoken about resulting in complex schemes.
All in all a short text, but long if you look at the symbol it explains. It can be read online in English translation at

“The stanzas of dzyan” and “the sifra di-tseniutha”

“There can be little doubt in my opinion that the famous stanzas of the mysterious Book Dzyan on which Mme. H.P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, is based owe something, both in title and content, to the pompous pages of the Zoharic writing called Sifra Di-Tseniutha. The first to advance this theory, without further proof, was L.A. Bosman, a Jewish Theosophist, in his booklet The Mysteries of the Qabalah (1916) p. 31. This seems to me, indeed, the true ‘etymology’ of the hitherto unexplained title. Mme Blavatsky has drawn heavily upon Knorr von Rosenroth’s Kabbala Denudata (1677-1684), which contains (vol. II, pp. 347-385) a Latin translation of the Sifra Di-Tseniutha. The solemn and magniloquent style of these pages may well have impressed her susceptible mind. As a matter of fact, H.P.B. herself alludes to such a connection between the two ‘books’ in the very first lines of Isis Unveiled (vol. I, p. 1) where she still refrains from mentioning the Book Dzyan by name. But the transcription used by her for the Aramaic title shows clearly what she had in mind. She says: “There exists somewhere in this wide world an old Book… It is the only copy now in existence. The most ancient Hebrew document on occult learning-the Siphra Dzeniuta-was compiled from it.” The Book Dzyan is therefore nothing but an occultistic hypostasy of the Zoharic title. This ‘bibliographical’ connection between fundamental writings of modern and Jewish theosophy seems remarkable enough.” read more