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The Philosophy of Natural Magic, by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, L. W. de Laurence ed. [1913], at


Of the Countenance and Gesture, the Habit and the Figure Of The Body, and to What Stars Any of These Do Answer—Whence Physiognomy, and Metoposcopy, and Chiromancy, Arts of Divination, Have Their Grounds.

The countenance, gesture, motion, setting and figure of the body, being accidental to us, conduce to the receiving of celestial gifts and expose us to the superior bodies, which produce certain effects in us, like unto the effects following the methods of gathering hellebore, which, if thou pullest the leaf upward when gathering it, draws the humors upward and causeth vomiting; if downward, it causeth purging, drawing the humor downward. How much also the countenance and gesture of one person doth affect the sight, imagination and spirit of another no man is ignorant. So they that are parents discover those impressions in their children of their previous conditions, and

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that which they did then do, form and imagine. So a mild and cheerful countenance of a prince in the city makes the people joyful; but if it be fierce or sad doth terrify them. So the gesture and countenance of any one lamenting, doth easily move to pity. So the shape of an amiable person doth easily excite to friendship. Thou must know that such like gestures and figures as harmonies of the body, do expose it no otherwise to the celestials, than odors, and the spirit of a medicine, and internal passions, also, do the soul. For as medicines and passions of the mind are by certain dispositions of the heaven increased, so also the gesture and motions of the body do get an efficacy by certain influences of the heavens. For there are gestures resembling Saturn which are melancholy and sad, as are beating of the breast or striking of the head; also such as are religious, as the bowing of the knee, and a fixed look downwards, as of one praying; also weeping, and such like, as are used by the austere and Saturnine man; such an one as a satirist describes:

With hang’d down head, with eyes fixed to the ground,
His raging words bites in, and muttering sound
He doth express with pouting lips.

A cheerful and honest countenance, a worshipful or noble gesture or bearing, clapping of the hands as of one rejoicing and praising, and the bending of the knee with the head lifted up, as of one that is worshiping, are ascribed to Jupiter.

A sour, fierce, cruel, angry, rough countenance and gesture are ascribed to Mars.

Solary are honorable and courageous gestures and countenances; also, walking abroad, a bending of the knee, as of one honoring a king with one knee bent.

Those under Venus are dances, embraces, laughters, and those of an amiable and cheerful countenance.

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Those Mercurial are inconstant, quick, variable and such like gestures and countenances.

Those Lunary, or under the Moon, are such as are movable, poisonous, and childish and the like.

As we have spoken above of gestures so, also, are the shapes of men distinct, as follows:

Saturn bespeaks a man to be of a black and yellowish color, lean, crooked, of a rough skin, great veins, the body covered with hair, little eyes, of a frowning forehead, a thin beard, great lips, eyes intent upon the ground, of a heavy gait, striking his feet together as he walks, crafty, witty, a seducer and murderous.

Jupiter signifies a man to be of a pale color, darkish red, a handsome body, good stature, bold, of great eyes (not black altogether) with large pupils, short nostrils not equal, great teeth before, curled hair, of good disposition and manners.

Mars makes a man red, with red hair, a round face, yellowish eyes, of a terrible and sharp look, jocund, bold, proud and crafty.

The Sun makes a man of a tawny color, betwixt yellow and black dashed with red, of a short stature yet of a handsome body, without much hair and curly, of yellow eyes, wise, faithful and desirous of praise.

Venus signifies a man to be tending towards blackness, but more white, with a mixture of red, a handsome body, a fair and round face, fair hair, fair eyes, the blackness whereof is more intense, of good manners and honest love; also kind, patient and jocund.

Mercury signifies a man not much white, or black, of a long face, high forehead, fair eyes, not black, to have a straight and long nose, thin beard, long fingers, to be ingenious, a subtile inquisitor, a turncoat, and subject to many fortunes.

The Moon signifies a man to be in color white, mixed with a little red; of a fair stature, a round

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face, with some marks in it; eyes not fully black, frowning forehead, and kind, gentle and sociable.

The Signs, also, and the faces of Signs, have their figures and shapes which, he that would know, must seek them out in books of Astrology. Lastly, upon these figures and gestures, both Physiognomy and Metoposcopy, arts of divination, do depend; also Chiromancy, foretelling future events, not as causes but as signs, through like effects, caused by the same cause. And although these divers kinds of divinations may seem to be done by inferior and weak signs, yet the judgments of them are not to be slighted or condemned when prognostication is made by them, not out of superstition but by reason of the harmonical correspondency of all the parts of the body. Whosoever, therefore, doth the more exactly imitate the celestial bodies, either in nature, study, action, motion, gesture, countenance, passions of the mind, and opportunity of the season, is so much the more like to the heavenly bodies and can receive larger gifts from them.

Next: Chapter LIII. Of Divinations, and the Kinds Thereof