Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Paracelsus on the Signatures of Things

Hakannson p.292 In De signatura rerum Paracelsus states that each occult art devoted to the the reading of natural signs has its own particular stars, and that these stars “sign” terrene things “in a supernatural manner.” Thus, the stars that produce marks in the earth “sign or impress their marks on terrestrial bodies of the whole world in many and various ways”, not only by producing earthquakes, hills and valleys, but also by bringing forth De signatura rerum “gamaheos on bare shapes and images having remarkable powers and potencies.” Paracelsus never discusses these remarkable powers,however, confining himself to the remark that they are received from the seven planets just as a target receives a thrown bullet or spear.

from De signatura rerum

“Hinc enim multae aliae quoque artes prodeunt, ut Geomantia,Pyromantia, Hydromantia, Chaomantia, & Necromantia, quarum quaelibet suapecularia astra habet quae astra modo supernaturali ita signant. Et sciendumest, astra Geomantiae signa sua signare seu imprimere in terreno corpori universi orbis, multis quidem ac variis modis.Nam & terram mutant, & terrae motus ac hiatus pariunt, gignunt colles& valles, multa nova crescentia paturiunt, proferunt Gamaheos nudis figuris& imaginibus, insignes vires & potentias habentes, quas quidem aseptem planetis accipiunt, non secus acorbis seu scopus glandem aut telum accipit a iaculatore.”
see Waite p.191 for this passage English’d

here's Waite's rendering of this passage and a little further

The four arts of Geomancy, Hydromancy, Pyromancy, and Necromancy are thus noticed: Spirits which are (normally) unable to communicate visibly with men, have by lying arts invaded their imagination, and have raised up therein Geomancy, Pyromancy, Hydromancy, and Necromancy, arts not invented from the light of Nature or of men, but instilled by spirits, who, by their frauds, after they had descried some one or other discoverer suitable for their purposes, then added fitting disciples to these, namely, cultivators and admirers of the said arts. The first discoverers were obsessed by the devil, and sought out through his power and instigation arts of this kind. There are some, indeed, who, hiding the matter, affirm that they have been revealed from God ; but they are deceived, for God is not the author and teacher of inquiries into the future by means of such devices. He in no wise created us that we might devote ourselves to the investigation of what is to come, but ordered rather that, directing His attention to His commandments, we should seek out the knowledge of Himself and His manifest will. It is, therefore, a false pretence that these arts proceed from God when they emanate from spirits alone. It is, indeed, true that the spirits extracted them from God, not from the devil. But we on the earth derive them from spirits, not from God. Now, communication with such spirits is forbidden, though they themselves neglect the mandate. It is equally forbidden to the spirits to teach these arts, but here, also, they pay no attention to the command. And this is the reason why they are silent and tell lies when it is least becoming to do so. Thus, in order that man may act disobediently towards God, and plunge into superstitions they have devised the four above-mentioned methods for inquiring into the future. Geomancy is the art of points, having sixteen signs and figures, which they have arranged according to their property. To these they added translations, creta (sir), form, points, and similar things, and have taught the erection of the whole figure, fixing certain rules by wbich each figure could be understood each recognised in its own hou>e. with a sufficient und necessary interpretation,

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