The Alchemy web site on Levity.comOswald Croll. Preface of Signatures.
A Treatise of Oswaldus Crollius of Signatures of Internal Things; or, a True and Lively Anatomy of the Greater and Lesser World. London, Printed for John Starkey at the Mitre in Fleet-Street, and Thomas Passenger at the Three Bibles upon London Bridge. 1669.
Transcribed by Sean Brooks.
Oswaldus Crollius, Physician and Hermetic Philosopher,
His Preface to the Reader
Of Signatures, or a true and lively Anatomy of the Greater and Lesser World.
It is greatly to be desired, that the herbalists of our time, who are ignorant of the internal form, knowing only the matter, substance, and corporiety of herbs, would employ as great diligence in enquiring into the signatures of plants, as they are accurate in various, and often very frivolous debates about their denominations; hereby far more abundant and fruitful utility would redound to the weal-publique of medicine. But since for the most part (as almost in all Arts is wont to be) leaving the sweet and pithy kernel of sciences, like plebeians destitute of internal eyes, and only considering the external face of things, they are at length wholly occupied about the exterior bitter rind: hence it is, that many nomenclatures of herbs are found, which magnificently describe the receptacles, habitations, and external vestments of plants (in which their virtues, as in domiciles, are hospited). [The place in which God is said to exist, and from the sign God himself or his essence is known: for all creatures in their properties do as it were demonstrate the presence of God.] But the foot-steps of the invisible God in the creatures, the shadow and image of the creator impressed in the creatures, or that internal force, and occult virtue of operation, (which as Natures gift is insited, and infused by the most high God, into the plant or anima, from the signature and mutual analogic sympathy and harmonious concordance of plants, with the members of the human body,) is by the prudent physician only inquired into : and thence by the industrious help of Vulcan or anatomic knife, is drawn out and applied to its proper use, not drowsily passed over in noxious silence, as is by vulgar herbalists too frequently done.
Although from the monuments of others, without any Foundation of Signature, or separation of the true from the false, very many heteroclite virtues are described, and assigned to several herbs; yet experience, the alone and only mistress of things, testifies that they are insufficient to answer the desired expectation of physicians and patients. If experience, the mother of verity, may be credited, we need not infer many reasons for the proof hereof. There is required a higher ingenuity, and more subtle inquisition, than can be obtained by sight of the eyes only. [Divers and manifold forms are the signs directing to find every singular mystery]. If the plenary and intimate knowledge of plants (such as Nature hath reserved to be searched out, and subtly understood by the studious lovers and admirers of Natural things) we would as perfectly comprehend, as some hundreds of them, at first sight, without the knowledge of their internal virtue, may in the vulgar manner by their names be discerned: Yet names of herbs have not the virtues, therefore their bodies are to be examined, that we may know, what purges, what yields odour, what heals fevers, and what cures wounds. [The qualities of simples are not to be considered; but their arcanum]. Moreover, that fallacious and unjust censure of the four qualities viz. hot, cold, dry, and moist, cannot sufficiently manifest their virtues, such qualities being but the shadows of things, as colours, not having roots, or powerful operations. They will not run this hazard, who knowing the virtue from the root of the center, not from the superficies; and leaving the subtlety of fruitless names, do from things themselves, by intimate and profound speculation, more exquisitely search out the truth.
In things occult consider the manifest foot-steps of Nature divinely impressed, and diligently enquire after the hidden dowries of herbs, by inspecting their external form, and by taste perceiving what the difference is between the shell and the kernel, between the house and the inhabitant, unless unadvisedly to wood and stones, they give the denomination of true representations, or leaving colonies, institute a corporation with disjoined cottages. In all external things the exterior case is only the receptacle of innate and inherent virtues, infused by God, as the soul into the human body. That philosopher most rightly sought to understand the ingenuity and knowledge of the interior man, not by the name, but by expressions, (which are true characters and indications of the mind, and internal faculties,) who whilst a youth stood mute before him, thus compelled him; "Speak O thou young man, if thou meanest I shall know thee". Indeed, by the interpretation of the voice, the arcanums of the mind are opened. In like manner, herbs magically by their signature bespeak the physician's thorough introspection, and to him by similitude manifest their interiors, concealed in the occult silence of Nature. For there is (according to the words of the most excellent Baptista Porta) a way of demonstrating by similitude, wherein very often the chief artificer is wont to manifest divine and occult things, according to the supreme similitude of ideas; nor could he do these in a more excellent or admirable way.
If we now feign that plants do speak, and be willing to manifest their secret commodities wherein they excel, howsoever they express themselves, and in what manner soever they are about to speak, their language is not perceived by all, like as the speech, and characters of writing, to several nations, are proper and peculiar; whence it is needful, that either all be of one nation, or all be able to speak infinite languages, if all should alike understand; which by divine institution is not permitted. So the exquisite artifice of Nature in her similitudes of things, though briefly, and sufficiently perspicuous to all, yet is perceived only by few. All herbs, flowers, trees, and other things which proceed out of the Earth, are books, and magick signs, communicated to us, by the immense mercy of God, which signs are our medicine. But that by their knowledge we may come to the true and appointed medicine, I shall offer somewhat to the ingenuous. Who so desireth to be an expert physician, and to have knowledge of those things which point to medicine, by that art, which Nature externally proposeth by signs, he may understand what those internally signify: for every thing that is intrinsic, bares the external figure of its occult property, as well in insensible and sensible creatures.
Nature as it were by certain silent notes speaks to us, and reveals the ingenuity and manners of every individual; as is aptly declared in that metaphorical saying of Adamantius Polemon, [Greek] "and as our intimate manners, from external figures of the body may be found out; so from the exterior signatures of plants, man may be admonished of their interior virtues". For plants do as it were in occult words, manifest their excellency, and open the treasures of hidden things to sickly mortals; that man, of all creatures the most miserable, may learn in grievous diseases, where to find relief. And as externals lead to the knowledge, both of the internal man, and of diseases; so also by the like anatomy, are found out medicines necessary, and conducent to the human body; for these have affinity with astronomy and philosophy. But that which gives knowledge of the hidden virtue, is magick, which in the light of Nature is doctress [teacher], and of all natural philosophy the most perfect and consummate science: and indeed, nothing more increases piety, nothing, I say, more powerfully excites us to the veneration and love of God, than the true knowledge of him, than the incessant contemplation of the immense and wonderful works of the almighty, than that natural magick (always declaring and showing to us the internal kernel, or signated by the external rind, or signature) the offspring of Heaven, daughter of arts, and inventrix of arcanums, by which we are compelled to say, The whole Heaven, and all the Earth, are filled with thy majesty, and glory, O omnipotent creator! [Chiromancy from the cabalistic art is said to be the inventrix of medicine.]
We see among men, Nature is so esteemed by some, that what is peregrine and accidentally comes to their knowledge, they very much admire; but what they have nearer home, by reason of its familiar use, they despise: so also, for the most part it happens with the admirers of transmarine plants, that through desire of novelty, our own domestics, which our orb brings forth, they have in contempt; yet, than those outlandish they are far better, fresher, more choice and wholesome, because they grow under the influence of our part of Heaven, and to each of our natures are more convenient, may at home be gathered in due season, and with much less difficulty and cost be obtained, and by the father of mercies destinated to our use in exigent necessity. [Physicians, like virgins, ought to look at those things which are before their feet, not ambitiously hunt after foreign things. The production of our own region is sufficient.]
What necessity therefore is there to use those foreign species, if our own Earth produce the same, and equivalent in virtue and efficacy? Physicians by use have found out a medicinal earth, which God has given to us in many places of Germany, in efficacy, goodness, and virtue not inferior to that of Turkey; I mean Terra Siletia of Strigensis, which the wise and experienced John Montanus discovered first of all; after him, in very many places of Germany, John Bertoldus Oschatiensis, a curious and diligent searcher of subterranean things, found it in the field of Solmensus, and divers other places of Haffia. Not far from the Lake Acromium in the Dominion of illustrious Maximilian, Marshal of Bappenheimium, near the Castle, which from a long stone takes its name, in a certain divided rock, great abundance was by Nature dug out, included in a shell, or matrix, like a kernel admirably purified, (the marks whereof are witnesses to this day) which in my physical practice I have used with good success. Our most noble Emperor Rhodolphus the Second, at Brundusium, in his own garden casued to be dug up, besides the Bolus, two Axungias, as Paracelsus calls them, of Sol, and Luna, part of which I received from his majesty as a gift and proving the goodness of them, I found it of the same nature as the true Lemnia is, and most efficacious, in virtue not at all inferior to the earth of Turkey. [The virtue of many things are unknown to us, only through our own negligence of experimenting them.]
So God is pleased bountifully to supply our wants in diverse manners. Whilst the true Unicorn's Horn by reason of its rarity is highly prized, there is another [Greek anprallomicon] which is called mineral, and sometimes is dug out of pools or mountains; As once in Moravia three miles from Brunna (about the time when I was preparing medicine with the most excellent Dr. John Bergerus of Pannonia) not far from the Territory of the Abbot of Abroviensis, under a most high rock, were dug out the bones of two unknown animals of unusual magnitude, together with two of the same likeness younger, which without doubt perished in that solitary place in the time of the Deluge of Waters; some relics of which bones, and wonderful teeth, certain months after coming unawares to the same place and being thereof advised, I caused to be dug up, and in Medicinal use found them not to want much of the efficacy that is attributed to Unicorns Horn.
In the same region, not far off, is the stupendous Antrum, in the hollow of a mountain in Italy, in the village of Costozza, between Patavia and Vicentia, wherein strange and wonderful artifice of Nature is found, whilst from the superior part drops distill down into that cave, and by many intricate turnings and windings in their fall, they are immediately converted to a strong hardness, (by the mediating of Spirit of Salt) and by their high descent, diverse stony statues, and forms, are shaped. [The Earth is God's Pharmacopolion, and much by the virtues of herbs may be effected, if we be not ignorant of the excellentry of very many.] Moreover, this stone reduced to fine powder, and one ounce of it given inwardly, is wont efficaciously to provoke sweat: and in bones broke, contracted and bruised limbs, being externally applied, mixed with convenient plasters, it is exceedingly helpful. If by the benefit of distilled vinegar, it be resolved into a salt, in the stone, and knotted podagrical affects; by reason of its signature, it efficaciously operates : for these two diseases, with the contracture, by reason of the cementous wines in Moravia, are very familiar; and therefore Nature has near at hand provided suitable connatural, and domestic remedies.
Where evil or the distemper is, there, most near, by Nature is exhibited a seasonable remedy, that the means of recovering health may not be far from us. [When with simples we may effect the cure, compounded medicines must not be adhibited.] Therefore Ruellius not improperly saith; That no part of medicine is more uncertain, than that, which from another orb than our own is procured. And Paracelsus, the most diligent searcher into the light of Nature, worthily deriding the disingenious curiosity of many physicians, who (neglecting the knowledge of the internal virtues of plants, by their signature) desiring only to be acquainted with herbs by name, saith, that every plowman has the true Pharmacopolion before his door.
Those who with most simple herbs, and roots effect the cure, sanation [health-giving] therewith is best of all performed, as is witnessed by Carrichterus; for the medicinal essence, or magick gold, is as equally well contained in them, as in others more precious. As the Earth in every region exhibits food, and clothing, if not to answer voluptuous superfluity, yet sufficient for natural sustinence: so also Nature, the same mother and parent of all things, which provides abundantly for all, hath distributed a necessary sufficiency of medicaments. Every particular country has in itself the matrix of its own element, and to itself exhibits what is necessary. To all Earths, and regions, to every nation, climate, heaven , or age, Nature hath produced, and tempered appropriate herbs, peculiar to every earth, region, nation, climate, etc. In which, as in all other creatures, the masculine and feminine kind is found, (as in things created, the divine providence hath not in vain distinguished the male, and female) which in use and application, must not confusedly, without distinction of sex, be adhibited: For as the man and woman in Nature are distinct, so also should their remedies be, and ought rather to be simple than hermaphroditic; yea, some only profit youth, others age, as we see in Hellebores. [According to the climate of regions and its diversity, so are men, customs, and the virtues of plants varied.]
So also Paracelsus adviseth physicians to be mindful of the distinction of herbs, age, medicines, diseases, and the moon: truly therefore Agrippa saith, "it is the part of fools to fetch that from India which we have at home", and to judge neither our own proper earth nor sea sufficient; and things of our own country, peregrine; things frugal, costly; and things easily acquired, difficult; and before them to prefer what is brought from the utmost parts of the earth. And as we see Turks, Indians, Ethiopians and Christians, are in manners, and nature different: so also vegetables according to the four parts of the world, and diversity of climates, undoubtedly differ, and very often; what to others is aliment, to us is medicine; as hath been sufficiently attested by most grave men, of which also infinite other testimonies might be given [Galen Lib 2. Of the Faculties of Aliments.]
Yet this one only example hereof I shall offer, touching the Root of Aron, which confirms the truth of the above said. The Root of Aron in our more cold climate, is so hot and biting, that it inflames the mouth and jaws of those that chew it; but that in Lydia, which grows near the city of Cyrene, in the exterior form plainly answering ours, is said to be sweet and pleasant to the taste, that men may use it like Rapes in their food without detriments. And although the foreign have greater virtues, as those who are negligent to inquire into our own, and always with a peregrine arrogance hunting after outlandish things, affirm; which seek not common health, but a compendium of their own business, persuading us, that none but precious things can profit: yet we judge those healthful only to men living in those climates, where they are created and produced. For if peregrine medicaments be so convenient to our bodies, without doubt Nature would have so ordered (which for all hath provided in abundance) that with us also the same should be brought forth. Therefore transmarine medicaments, and such as in our own country are not produced, by reason of the diversity of climates, and influence, they cannot be so friendly, and familiar, and also because they are either not in due time and place gathered (whence often great peril ensues) or else the worst and dead parts of them only are by barbarous merchants sent to us; or by age, corruption, putrefaction, longitude of the ways, and frauds of sophistications, the greatest part of all their invisible internal virtues are depraved, eaten out, consumed, corrupted, and adulterated. Domestics, which God hath in abundance furnished us with, begin to wax vile, both because in preparing they required the faith and proper diligence of silken physicians declining labour, and also because the greatest part of vulgar apothecaries, cited by the spurs of glory and avarice, neglect their proper duties often and more frequently intend evacuation of the wealth of the sick, than the refection of the body. [And although rewards are commendable, yet that which by physicians ought most to be aimed at, is the cure of the sick.] Hence great detriment ensues to the whole commonwealth, and shipwreck is made of the lives of many, (withness those who buy their death for much money) whilst with us nothing almost is worthy of any acceptation or esteem, that is not believed to be brought from the Red Sea, as I may say, or from the farthest Gades, or Indians, or else of what the world, desirous and willing to be deceived, is so persuaded.
God hath created nothing in vain, but he hath endowed every creature, though never so abject, with peculiar virtues, according to his divine will and pleasure. [No created thing in Nature is found, that may not be converted to medicinal use. Sirac. C.6. ver. 23.] For which cause, they far otherwise understand, who observe Nature in the least and most abject creatures, to be most excellent, and where it seems to be deficient in body, to abound in virtues. [Oftentimes under a dirty coat great wisdom lies hid.] The worm and juice of murex give the purple, the most sumptuous colour of kings. Bees of unimitable industry yield most sweet honey. The weak reed bares wheat, the most desireable staff of life. The vine of all wood the most abject, yields wine, which moderately taken, wonderfully cheers the heart of man. The intellectual soul hospited [situated] in the body of man, as in an earthen vessel, and frail test: all which not without great reason of the eternal sapience are so appointed. [Levit. 26., Psal. 104 ver 15, Ezech. Cap 15. The faithful soul is the Sanctuary of God. The heavenly signature is not from the form, but from the heart : that is, it manifests men by their works and fruits. So our saviour reproves the fox like the mind of Herod; and John Baptist taxeth the pharisees with viperine subtility.]
Paracelsus, the searcher of secrets, in his writings, earnestly persuades the true physician, that is desirous to be instructed, both in the science and use of medicine, to be well acquainted with the signatures and hieroglyphic characters of things; and among other excellent services done to the republic of medicine, he declares, that there are three ways, by which Nature pretermitting no notable thing, manifests man, and all created things. First by Chiromancy, which is the natural astrum of things, and comprehends the external parts of man, as hands, feet, lines, veins. Secondly by physiognomy, which compriseth the face and head. Thirdly by habit and proportion, manners, and use of the whole body, denoting the senses of the mind and cogitations of the heart. After him John Baptista Porta of Naples, a famous phyropta, and most prudent emulator of Nature, in his [Greek- hysiognomonia] , hath set for an excellent work for public profit. From these more perfect, I also thought it expedient to take occasion of this matter, to write of these high and accurate things. He which comes in Autumn, (to whom I hold a light) may taste the sweet cane, and eat more ripe fruits. These few observations of mine, consigned (for it is difficult to tread in unknown paths) to the students of signatures, who with me, are not ashamed to learn, I freely would have common, which both by reading Paracelsus and Porta, and also by my own experience, I have found conveniently and analogically harmonious: for it suffices to publish what we know, till greater light be manifested. It had been well, if that so much desired book of the most excellently learned Carrichterus, Of Plants and Signatures of Things, had been set forth to public view, wherein in a wonderful and harmonious manner, he conforms the Terrene stars of plants, to the stars of the firmament; the knowledge of which would indeed be gratefully received by the botanic public weal [good]. [Many things by most learned men might be obtained, if through false ambition they do not persuade themselves to be sufficiently learned already.]
Stars, according to Paracelsus, are the forms and matrices of all herbs and every star in heaven, is no other, but a herb prefigured in a spiritual and catholic manner, representing the like of every vegetable in the earth. So every herb is a Terrene star growing towards heaven; and every individual star, is a celestial herb in a spiritual form, in nothing differing from herbs growing in the earth, save only in the matter: therefore stars by their excrements, and nostoch [a Paracelsian term for a slime], prenunciate all future diseases. Likewise the celestial herbs tend downward toward the earth, and respect their proper herbs procreated by them. This foundation being known, known also will be the constellations and composition of celestial and terrestrial herbs, viz. this is the star of rosemary, wormwood, etc. and hath the virtues of them. Also in terrene herbs this will be observed, that as many colours of flowers, so many virtues of herbs. Nothing is placed in the family of plants either unadvisedly or in vain, but in a rare manner, from their seasonable ordained causes, are produced in exact number, time, and place. And as in things mute the gesture is instead of speech, by the motion of the body declare the affects of the their sense: so also God to every plant hath insited its discoverer, that the genuine virtues of herbs latently abscondited by their external signatures, that is, by the similitude of their form and figure (as by indexes of their office, essence, and latent virtues) may by their aspect be known, discovered, and manifested: yea so as in the manner aforesaid, by their signatures they magically seem to speak to us. [Syrac. Ch.30 ver.26 . All things created by God subsist in Order, Time, Measure and Weight. Wisdom II ver. 12 Every work manifests and declares its workman and builder, which in medicine is an arcanum and mystery. So the anatomy of forms, shows the nature of things.]
For as men who in digging find a treasure, are wont to note the place by some certain sign: so also God himself hath signated very many things in Nature, which he hath not apparently manifested, by which only signature we may, through diligent inquisition find them out. We see Moses not to be mindful of gems, and metals, created in the hidden parts of the earth, although in them the greatest arcanums of Nature are contained; but he only mentions those which are created obvious to the sight of all. It pleased the almighty absconditely to create metals in the lowest places, that we might know, in them are inwardly hidden occult virtues of Nature. By which name in the occult sense of the sacred scriptures also, the spirit of God is prefigured by metals, and gems, created in the inmost and secret parts of the Earth. [God knew things precious, with labour acquired, would be more acceptable, then such as are obvious to sight, which for the most part men are apt to despise.]
But if this seem strange, why God should create some creatures openly, and abscond other of his creatures from sight; I shall offer these following, diligently to be considered by the true searcher of Hermetic Medicine. Those creatures which God created in the centre of the earth, as minerals and metals, (the sapience of hidden things, viz. Of the creature, or Nature) the most high made them for men only, as for the spirit of life, having its seat in the centre of the heart of man, by conserving and strengthening the natural balsom: as herbs existing in the superficies of the earth (a manifestation of wisdom, that is, of Nature or creature) are appointed to conserve and help the external mass of man's body, and likewise for all other living creatures.
For God hath placed the greatest good in the most secret place, and the lesser obvious to sight. In the centre he hath created all virtues collected together, which in the superficies are dispersed and diffused: and which is wonderful, all celestial stars, which in heaven are manifest in their corporeity, in the earth also with their spirits lie occultly closed: and as the celestial Sol by its spiritual heat generates all things in a terrestrial manner; so the terrestrial Sol by its spiritual heat, creates, and regenerates all things spiritually. By the celestial Sun, the spirit of the Lord in Nature operates in all naturally; in the terrestrial sun the same spirit effects all things, but spiritually. For the spirit operates by no other medium then by the Sun, because in the Sun only, and not elsewhere, he hath corporally placed the tabernacle of his habitation. [Psal. 19: ver.6.]
Like as the superior sun is in operation two-fold, viz. without all things corporally, and manifestly, and within all things occultly: so also is the other Sun biparted, sometimes without all things manifest, and corporal, sometimes within all things occult, and spiritually: and as the supernal Sol is intrinsically spiritual in all things, and the natural heat of all; so the terrene Sol is internally the spiritual native heat in all things, the balsam, light, and oil of all things. [By the Sun, that is, by the heart of the macrocosm the heart of the heart of the microcosm has its life.] It is called the spirit of life latent in all things: this by its own proper and genuine name, is called Sulphur of Nature in all.
If we derogate not from the faith of the most ancient philosophers and cabalists, (whose study was to ascend from the signs to the signated, from the creatures to the Creator, and by the angels to God, and with him be conjoined, and so according to Pythagoras, deified) who told to us the truth; Viz. That superiors are in inferiors, and all inferiors are in superiors; yet, not that they are so in themselves, but according to Nature, and manner of superiors. For as a whole tree comprised in its kernel, astrally is a tree, so the explicit sensible world is in God dealiter complicite. Which Hermes Ter Maximus, a king adorned with a triple diadem (or from a certain right of antiquity) father of all philosophers, has confirmed by an indubitate and most plentiful manifestation of truth, at the beginning of his most famous Table of Emeralds, which before all gems of the whole universe may deservedly be preferred: saying whatsoever are below, are also above, only in a more noble and perfect manner. [From his treble virtue he is called thrice great, and because he was a king, philosopher, and prophet, monarch of triple philosophy.]
In the angelical, and intellectual world the same essences are, as are in this visible machine, but spiritually and invisibly: in the supreme divine [Greek], increate, infinite, incomprehensible, archetype world, both angels and the world are one, and together, in a most perfect divine manner. [The world of the deity, or Paul's third ehaven: above or without God there is no other world or heaven to be found.] Therefore things here below manifest what are above, corporals declare intellectuals; by the natures and properties of inferiors and terrestrials, we ascend into the natures and properties of the superiors and celestials; for indeed these inferior, external things, are both visible exemplary notes of superiors, and symbols of internal invisible things, by which we are led from seductory temporals, to what are sempeternal and spiritually excellent. [The creatures are full of God Psal.34 ver.4.] Every creature, and this ample machine of the world, in which the invisible creator exhibits himself to us, to be seen, heard, tasted, smelled, and handled, is nothing else, but the shadow of God, and figure of internal paradise, [This is the mirror in which the external artificer exhibits himself to be contemplated by his creatures.] viz. that aspect with which creatures clearly see, and understand, the back-parts and effects of the creator, by the knowledge whereof, the creator is known to be the artificer, and first cause, acting all things: for every creature is created, that it may be testimony to the word of the creator, by which it was made: and whoso separates the knowledge of all things from their maker, he only has the shadow of universal things. [The chief aspect of God is face to face; the other is that with which his back parts are seen. God is known in his works: therefore nothing is converted to evil, or joined to destruction.]
But because all things of the archetype, which in this visible world corporeally appear, are contained in an invisible and spiritual manner; and because all things from within, flow into the compound, and nothing is taken from without, the light of Nature by ascending and descending, entering in, and passing out, is proved to manifest itself. [Whatsoever is in all worlds together, that also is contained in each of them; nor is there any one of them in which all are not, that are in any or each of them, as is attested by Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Piatone. Genesis 28 ver.12, 13.]
There are numbered three worlds, and these three are one universe, whilst one world is within another, viz. God, angels, and the visible machine. Every inferior is governed by the superior, and receives the influx of its virtues, so as the archetype itself, and the supreme maker of all things, by angels, heavens, stars, elements, animals, plants, metals, and stones, infuses the virtues of his divine omnipotency upon us, for the service of whom, all these things were by him made, and created. Man is said to enter, or ascend, when by Jacobs Ladder, he is lifted up from the lowest to the highest; ascending from sensibles to intellectuals, from creatures to the creator himself. The cabalists of the Hebrews say, there are fifty gates of intelligencies; they are degrees or limits of all things gathered from the first chapter of Genesis, by which, as by symbols, or notes, we are led to the knowledge of all things visible, and invisible. But a man is said to go out, or descend, when he turns from God to the creatures, from intellectuals to external forms, from the centre to the circumference. As for example, with my sensual eye, I behold this kernel of an apple, but leaving the corporeity, I turn my self from the external form, to the internal invisible seed, and with the eye of my mind, I contemplate the whole tree, with the root, trunk, boughs, sprigs, leaves, flowers, and fruit, comprised in one, and in due time manifested to have received its proper body; but this seed takes nothing of these corporals from without, but of itself from its own penetrales [interior] sends forth all of them gradually.
When therefore the astrum, or seed of this kind, is the image or shadow of the angelic substance, and it comprehends in its inmost parts, the whole corporeal mole of the tree, without quantity, and quality, etc. certainly, one angel will comprise the seeds of all things spiritually in themselves, much more easily, excellently, higher, and better than Nature; for by how much the more simple, by so much the more perfect, absolute, and powerful; and whatsoever an inferior power can do, the same can a superior power perform, and much more excellently and efficaciously. An angel therefore giving to man bread, wine, fruit, and other things, that grow out of the earth, he takes nothing at all from without himself, but from within, of his own penetrales, because he is the perfect image of God, he produces and encreases when he will, and as oft as he will, without diminution or decrease: for an angel bears all things about himself, and has them in a spiritual and angelical manner; [Even as the fire from itself gives forth to infinity and always remains uniform] yea he comprehends in himself the whole machine of the world, and is all inferior things: and whatsoever Nature, and Art, by nature, can do, that also the spirit, or angel constituted, and elevated above Nature, and arts, can much better, and more speedily perform.
Whoso with his intellect and perfect sight of the mind, doth diligently consider this central, or circular philosophy, it will not be difficult for him to believe, that an angel, either can include the whole great celestial firmament in Camaaea, or the whole world in his fist. Since that the angel is the perfect and absolute image of God, and in his own abyss compriseth, hath and possesseth all things, it cannot be denied that he is the first and supreme cause, existing of himself, independent, and complicates with himself all things invisibly, and spiritually, in his own abyss: yea, all things are in the fountain of unity most simply. For all created beings are produced from him, who is all in all, viz the first and the last, cause of all things: not from prejacent matter, nor from any other does he take any thing, nor without himself receives ought whatsoever. For, as is above said, whatsoever an inferiour power can do, and have, the same can a superior power do, and have, but much more excellently, and efficaciously, yea superexcellently.
There is no comparing of the finite with the infinite, of the creator with the creature. [God is ineffable and innominable, in nature he is called, Trigrammus. In the law, Tetragrammus. In grace, Pentagrammus. The state of future happiness.] God is the centre of the circle of himself, inhabiting in himself; that is, in the abyss of infinitude (the Hebrews call it Ensoph, incomprehensible infinity) where to all eternity no place, no beginning, or end, can be found out, or thought of. Nor was or is he made by any other, nor by himself; for by another he could not be made, because none was before him, otherwise he could not be the first cause: also himself he made not, for from nothing, nothing is produced; always therefore he is Jehovah [yod heh vau heh] (and this is an essential [Greek - Tetragrammaton], ineffable name, by reason of his dreadful majesty, and incomprehensibility [Schemhamphoras], the name of God is called great, and terrible, which is above every other name) that is, without a former cause, without time, place or end; receiving nothing from another, but in himself having all things sufficient, deficient in no one thing, and in all his lovers effecting an essential conformity to himself, that they also without them want nothing, but possess all things within them in his country, and this is the kingdom of God in believers, who dwell in God, and God in them to all eternity. [God was before the production of things, from without naked and alone, until it pleased his divine goodness to go forth in production of things, and as it were in a manner to clothe himself.] Therefore Jesus Christ, the Word, and son of God the father, and the deifying wisdom, the true master, was made a man like unto us, that he might make us sons of God, as he himself is, who is blessed for evermore. [But wherefore God created not the world sooner, by reason of the humble obedience, reverence, and fear due to the creator, it is not permitted to the creature, (that sin may be avoided) to enquire.]
God therefore is the unbegotten lord of all, the beginning, middle, and end of universals, wholly without any necessity of Nature, in his own will most free, and from his mere goodness, for his infinite glory, made all things from his own bosom, or from the most profound conceiving, and recess of the divinity, (Hermes saith, from the bowels of darkness) by his word; first he produced light, that is, angelical substances; saying fiat lux: from the light proceeded the angelic stars; from the stars bodies, or this visible machine of the world, compacted of four elements, and so all things are in all in their own manner; and one abides in another; as the seed in the tree, and the tree in the seed, these two, although distinct, yet are one. [The Word of God is the first idea of all things; so this extrinsical world is made and formed according to the figure of the intrinsical, Viz. intelligible world by the most excellent builder of all things.]
All bodies, or visible elements, are in the invisible stars, or spiritual elements, and the stars are in bodies: the stars are in angels, and the angels are in the stars: angels are in God, and God in the angels: yet always so, as the superior itself may be without the inferior, but not on the contrary. [God is the Ens of all entities, that is, the place, original and comprisement of all things created: from which all are, and to which all endeavour to return.] For the visible world, or no corporeals can consist without the presence of the stars; no stars have being without essences of angels being present; angels cannot subsist without the uncreate God, on whom all these have dependence. God being known, angels are known, for they are the perfect and absolute image of God: angels being known, known also are the stars; from the knowledge of the stars, all created things, and this visible world, are manifest. [Angels are most certain mirrors obnoxious to no corruption, which manifest the divinity in them by continual contemplation.]
This visible world being known, at length Man, the microcosmic son of the world, comes to be known; for such as is the son, such is the father through all things; as from visibles we understand such as are invisible. All things from within flow to inferiors, and externals: for on God depend the angelic substances; on angels the stars have dependence, that is, the invisible virtues of things; and on the stars depend visible forms, that is, bodies. [What are in superiors are also seen in inferiors, but degenerated in condition, and adulterated.] Therefore as in God all are divinely, and in angels angelically; so in the world all things are corporally; or mundanely. [All are God, as numbers in unity, and all lines of the circumference in the centre.] As the light shineth in darkness, so the superior in the inferior manifests its brightness: on the other hand; whatsoever is in the visible world sensibly, the same is in elements, and stars astrally, that is, spiritually: and whatsoever is in the stars astrally, the same is in the angels angelically; what is angelically in angels, the same is in God divinely. By this chain, or golden twist, in a divine manner let down upon our frailty on Earth, our mind, or intellectual soul, by divine assistance, through the order of creatures, from the lowest to the middle, and through these ascends, and is lifted up to God himself, the only chief and supreme good, to which, as to the desired end, all creatures with strong endeavor and vehement earnestness aim to come. [Rom. 8 Verse 21,22]
The whole machine of the world in God, is nothing else but God and in angels is an angel, in stars a star, in the seed the whole tree is latent, viz. root, trunk, boughs, leaves, and fruit; from a barley corn proceeds root, reed, spike, other grains, and chaff: also these proceed from the seed, because in it they were all latently comprised. [The supreme creator of Nature, hath created in one moment, without occupation of time, all which he determined to make, and of them hath made an admirable separation, or division as it pleased him.] In like manner the whole machine of the world in the angel is angelically latent, but in God divinely. The seed is a tree complicate, the tree is a seed unfolded and explicated: an angel is a star complicate, stars are an angel unfolded. Unity is a complicate number, number is an unfolded unity. God is, in whom, or in the archetype, the world is complicate in a divine manner: the world (as I may say) is God unfolded. For the most excellent God containing in himself all light, by the rays of his majesty, that is, by his begotten son, he created angelic light, and imparted to them all things, by the angels this light flows into the four visible elements, or stars; from the four visible elements, or stars, it is instilled into corporieties, the visible effects whereof in production of fruits we sensibly behold.
In the microcosm also it is manifest in like manner, that inferiors are in their superiors, the last in the first, and again the former likewise in the former, and another in another, even to the highest. For the five senses are in the imagination, the imagination is in reason, reason is in the mind, the mind is in God, God is in none, but himself, for he is the seat and habitation of himself, because he is all things, and is from himself, and by himself, from whom, as from a most plentiful and everlasting fountain of unity, all things flow; therefore all things derived from the chief good, ought to be returned unto God, as to the proper original from whence they proceeded. [The habitation of God is not distinct from his essence, which is divinely in all places, if distinguished from his divine essence, it is an argument of deficiency in God.] But since these things appertain not to this place, and there are very few, who in their weak cottages, and narrow bounds, can comprehend so great riches, and inexhaustible treasures, and a further manifestation hereof ought not to be so vulgarly communicated; I will please my genius with the quiet silence of Harpocrates: difficultly are these things comprehended by those, who have not drunk of the cabalistical bottomless fountains, and who have known no other than that shadowy, animal, and mundane sapience, which to the celestial is plainly foolishness. [James 3. Ver.15]
But to return to that from whence I am digressed. It is exceeding necessary in the republic of medicine, that this divine study of signatures (which some herbalists indeed mention, but they leave it to others to be learned and proved) should more and more be manifested. [For as man is known by his fruits; so the herbs also by their fruits of signature.] Paracelsus not without a solid cause judges him unworthy of the title of physician, who from the signated sign, that is, with chiromancy, and physiognomy, prepares not his medicines; whilst by reason of the admirable, essential, and harmonious anatomy of the greater and lesser world, the observers of ancient medicine, (without danger of the life of the sick) neither can, nor ought to be without the science.
For every disease (as we have discoursed thereabout before before in the preface of our former book) and its medicine, are of one physiognomony, chiromancy and anatomy. [The anatomy and forms of herbs, must be agreeable to the anatomy and forms of diseases. For unless physiognomony, and chyromancy both of diseases and remedies, with the certain and essential anatomy, be known to the physician, he can hardly with good success perform their cure.] And he, who wants the understanding of this foundation, and is destitute of the knowledge of the philosophic, and medicinal alphabet, cannot be an experienced physician. For the characters of Nature, and these natural signatures, which from the creation, not with ink, but with the very finger of God, are imprinted in all creatures (indeed every creature is a book of God) are the better part of true literature, by which all occult things are read and understood, the four qualities being of less value, serving only as the external rinds of internal virtues. For the invisible and internal things are always more noble, more excellent, and more powerful, than visible externals, which are less perfect and more impure than their internals. So the house with external things is built for the inhabiter; but the inhabitant is more noble than all the wood and stone, and the whole edifice, because he is a living and a rational creature: without physiognomony, and chiromancy, (by the service of which, not only the whole man, whose interiors by some external indication are discovered, but also specifics, and occult virtues of all things, yea even all the secrets of Nature are manifested,) scarcely any arcanum of medicine can be obtained, which may sustain the trial of experience. For the creatures are instructors to the physician created by God. [Signature in philosophy and medicine is the principle foundation. Rom. I. ver.19. Wis. Chap.15 psal.19 Therefore Hermes saith, every created thing discovers the majesty of God, and for that cause God was pleased to create all things, that through every of them we might discern him. For there is nothing found in the world which wants a spark of divine virtue. Chyromancy and physiognomony show the signs of all future members. This signated foundation drawn from the light of Nature, is obtained by magic science. This art, from the light of Nature, by divine grace was communicated to adam, Gen. 2 ver.19,20]
Our first father Adam, in the state of innocency, from predestinated art, that is, from art signated, had absolute knowledge of natural things, and to every thing he gave a proper name, thereby also expressing its internal nautre, for God, by the breathing of his divine spirit, taught that only one man the virtues and nature of all things.
There may be some who hereafter may judge these labours of ours imperfect: those, for the public profits of all students in medicine, I would most lovingly entreat, that better than these, and in more commodious order, they should communicate to posterity. With as much ingenuity, study, and industry, with as much labour, and care, and also with the best of my judgement, I have endeavoured aptly to compile this. Therefore courteous and candid reader, because there hath not wanted a good will, though possibly of a more exquisite completing this necessary work, (in great things it is enough only to will, nor can every thing at all times be done) this my enterprised study of signatures, receive in good part, and enjoy this our Tyrocinium, until God shall stir up any one, who assisted by his infinite goodness, may set his helping hand to the further increase of this most laudable and plainly necessary study.
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Works of Nicolas Flamel
Works of George Ripley
Works of Sendivogius
Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum
Emerald tablet of Hermes
Texts from Musaeum Hermeticum
Spanish alchemical texts
German alchemical texts
French alchemical texts
Russian alchemical texts
Italian alchemical texts