MAGIC AND PHILOSOPHY
TRITHEMIUS OF SPANHEIM.
The Translator'sLETTER to a FRIEND of his, a young Student in these occult Sciences.
KNOWING thee to be a curious searcher after those sciences which are out of the common track of study, (I mean the art of foretelling events, magic, telismans, &c.) I am moved spiritually to give thee my thoughts upon them, and by these ideas here written, to open to thine eye (spiritual) as much information as it seems necessary for thee to know, by. which thou mayest be led by the hand into the delectable field of nature; and to give thee such documents as, guided by the supreme wisdom of the Highest, thou mayest refresh thy soul with a delicious draught of knowledge; so that after recreating thy spirit with the use of those good gifts which may please God to bestow on thee, thou mayest be wrapped up into the contemplation of the immense wisdom of that great munificent Being who created thee.
Now, art thou a man, in whose soul the image of Divinity is sealed for eternity, think first what is thy desire in the searching after these mysteries! Is it wealth, honour, fame, power, might, aggrandizement, and the like? Perhaps thy heart says, All! all these I would gladly crave! If so, this is my answer,--seek first to know thyself thoroughly, cleanse thy heart from all wicked, vain, and rapacious desires. Thinkest thou, oh man! to attain power to gratify thy lusts, to enrich thy coffers, to build houses, to raise thyself to the pinnacle of human admiration; if these are thy hopes and desires, thou hast reason to lament thy being born: all such desires are immediately from
the devil, I mean that Being whose engines (i. e. myriads of demons) are continually in the act of placing sensual delights and luxuries before the depraved minds and hearts of man, and whose chief business and property it is to counteract the benevolent actions and inspirations of those blessed spirits who are the instruments of God our Creator.
Fear God and love thy neighbour; use no deceit, swear not, neither lye; let all thy actions be sincere. Here, O man! is the grand seal of all earthly wisdom, the true talisman of human happiness. When thou shalt accomplish this, behold nothing will be impossible unto thee as far as God permits: then with all speed apply thy mind and heart to attain knowledge and wisdom; with all humility throw thy dependence on God alone, the author of all things that cannot die.
To know thyself is to know God, for it is a spiritual gift from God that enables a man to know himself. This gift but very few possess, as may be daily seen. How many are there tossed about to and fro' upon the perilous sea of contending passions, and who are more light than feathers! how many in this great city who place their chiefest good in debauchery and letchery! See their actions, manners, and dispositions; these poor, unfortunate, miserable wretches, such is their fatal magical infatuation and ignorance, that they think those mad who might even attempt to reason with them on the vanity and misery of their situation. To make myself more intelligible, these are what the world calls men of fashion, a phrase insignificant enough when we consider that the universal fashion of this time is vice, and that so glaring, that it needs no great intellect to discover what is daily open to the view of the observer. But to you, my friend, I have addressed these lines; therefore let it not be supposed that I am reprehending my friend for vices which I cannot suppose him attached to: for I know thou art a young man designed for the receiving of instruction, in much higher and more glorious contemplations than those sons of earth are capable of, therefore I have presented thee with this translation which thou didst desire me to give thee.
But beware of flattery, self-love, and covetousness, so wilt thou thrive; and be diligent in thy occupation, so shall thy body be fed. Idleness is offensive to the Deity, industry shall sweeten thy brown bread, and the fruits of it shall warm thine heart, and inspire thy soul with gratitude to him that blesses thee with enough: seek for no more, for it will damn thee; pray for enough to feed and clothe thy body, but ask no more, lest thou pine away in heart-rending poverty, and spend the remainder of thy days in contumely and beggary. For know a thing most necessary for thee to know, that if by thy study, by thy art, or any other thing, thou couldst command a million of spirits, it should not be lawful for thee to wish to gain riches suddenly, for the Wisdom Eternal has put forth the fiat; and it has been said by him who never spoke in vain, and who cannot lye, that man shall get bread by the sweat of his brow; therefore let us not have in view the enriching of ourselves in worldly goods, by supernatural means, or by a greedy desiring of what we ought to look upon with eyes of contempt, draw upon us the wrath of God. Rather let us cheerfully rely on, and follow in very deed, spirit and truth, these words of the apostle, Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you fear not but that God shall make thy household as a flourishing tree, and thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine. Farewell, remember my poor counsel, and be happy. From thy true friend, F. B.
N. B. To enable thee the better to comprehend this Book, I have drawn out the various figures, of which mention is made in this work, that thou mayest see the very exact method of working; likewise the images of seals, spirits, and various other rare, and curious instruments, which are necessary for thee to know and see with the eye; therefore in the construction of them thou canst not be liable to error.
Fig. I. The form of the crystal for invocating spirits, with the plate of pure gold. in which the crystal must be fastened, with the divine characters around.
Fig 2. A magical circle (C D E F), of a simple construction, for the operator to stand or sit in when he calleth the spirits.
Fig. 3. The crystal (A), two silver or other candlesticks (G G,) with the wax tapers burning, and tripod or vessel for the oderiferous suffumigation.
Fig 4. A wand of black ebony with golden characters. The characters are explained.