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The Magus, Book 1

Introduction to the Study Of Natural Magic

Francis Barrett, 1801


It has been a subject of ancient dispute whether or not the stars, as second causes, do so rule and influence man as to ingraft in his nature certain passions, virtues, propensities, &c., and this to take root in him at the very critical moment of his being born into this vale of misery and wretchedness; likewise, if their site and configuration at this time do shew forth his future passions and pursuits; and by their revolutions, transits, and directed aspects, they point out the particular accidents of the body, marriage, sickness, preferments, and such like; the which I have often revolved in my mind for many years past, having been at all times in all places a warm advocate for stellary divination or astrology: therefore in this place it is highly necessary that we examine how far this influence extends to man, seeing that I fully admit that man is endowed with a free-will from God, which the stars can in no wise counteract. And as there is in man the power and apprehension of all divination, and wonderful things, seeing that we have a complete system in ourselves, therefore are we called the microcosm, or little world; for we carry a heaven in ourselves from our beginning, for God hath sealed in us the image of himself; and of all created beings we are the epitome, therefore we must be careful, lest we confound and mix one thing with another. Nevertheless, man, as a pattern of the great world, sympathizes with it according to the stars, which, agreeably to the Holy Scriptures, are set for times and seasons, and not as causes of this or that evil, which may pervade kingdoms or private families, although they do in some measure foreshew them, yet they are in no wise the cause; therefore I conceive in a wide different sense to what is generally understood that “Stars rule men, but a wise man rules the stars:” to which I answer, that the stars do not rule men, according to the vulgar and received opinion; as if the stars should stir up men to murders, seditions, broils, lusts, fornications, adulteries, drunkenness, &c., which the common astrologers hold forth as sound and true doctrine; because, they say, Mars and Saturn, being conjunct, do this and much more, and many other configurations and afflictions of the two great infortunes (as they are termed), when the benevolent planets Jupiter, Venus, and Sol, happen to be detrimented or afflicted; therefore, then, they say men influenced by them are most surely excited to the commission of the vices before named; yet a wise man may, by the liberty of his own free-will, make those affections and inclinations void, and this they call “To rule the stars;” but let them know, according to the sense here understood, first, it is not in a wise man to resist evil inclinations, but of the grace of God, and we call none wise but such as are endued with grace; for, as we have said before, all natural wisdom from the hands of man is foolishness in the sight of God; which was not before understood to be a wise man fenced with grace; for why should he rule the stars, who has not any occasion to fear conquered inclinations?—therefore a natural wise man is as subject to the slavery of sin as others more ignorant than himself, yet the stars do not incline him to sin. God created the heavens without spot, and pronounced them good, therefore it is the greatest absurdity to suppose the stars, by a continual inclining of us to this or that misdeed, should be our tempters, which we eventually make them, if we admit they cause inclinations; but know that it is not from without, but within, by sin, that evil inclinations do arise: according to the Scriptures, “Out of the heart of man proceed evil cogitations, murmurs, adulteries, thefts, murders, &c.” Because, as the heavens and apprehension of all celestial virtues are scaled by God in the soul and spirit of man; so when man becomes depraved by sin and the indulgence of his gross and carnal appetite, he then becomes the scat of the Infernal Powers, which may be justly deemed a hell; for then the bodily and fleshly sense obscures the bright purity and thinness of the spirit, and he becomes the instrument of our spiritual enemy in the exercise of all infernal lusts and passions.

Therefore it is most necessary for us to know that we are to beware of granting or believing any effects from the influences of the stars more than they have naturally; because there are many whom I have lately conversed with, and great men, too, in this nation, who readily affirm that the stars are the causes of any kinds of diseases, inclinations, and fortunes; likewise that they blame the stars for all their misconduct and misfortunes.

Nevertheless, we do not by these discourses prohibit or deny all influence to the stars; on the contrary, we affirm there is a natural sympathy and antipathy amongst all things throughout the whole universe, and this we shall shew to be displayed through a variety of effects; and likewise that the stars, as signs, do foreshew great mutations, revolutions, deaths of great men, governors of provinces, kings, and emperors; likewise the weather, tempests, earthquakes, deluges, &c.; and this according to the law of Providence. The lots of all men do stand in the hands of the Lord, for he is the end and beginning of all things; he can remove crowns and sceptres, and displace the most cautious arrangements and councils of man, who, when he thinks himself most secure, tumbles headlong from the seat of power, and lies grovelling in the dust.

Therefore our astrologers in most of their speculations seek without a light, for they conceive every thing may be known or read in the stars; if an odd silver spoon is but lost, the innocent stars are obliged to give an account of it; if an old maiden loses a favourite puppy, away she goes to an oracle of divination for information of the whelp. Oh! vile credulity, to think that those celestial bodies take cognizance of, and give in their configurations and aspects, continual information of the lowest and vilest transactions of dotards, the most trivial and frivolous questions that are pretended to be resolved by an inspection into the figure of the heavens. Well does our legislature justly condemn as juggling impostors all those idle vagabonds who infest various parts of this metropolis, and impose upon the simple and unsuspecting, by answering, for a shilling or half-crown fee, whatever thing or circumstance may be proposed to them, as if they were God’s vicegerents on earth, and his deputed privy counsellors.

They do not even scruple ever to persuade poor mortals of the lower class, that they shew images in glasses, as if they actually confederated with evil spirits: a notable instance I will here recite, that happened very lately in this city. Two penurious Frenchmen, taking advantage of the credulity of the common people, who are continually gaping after such toys, had so contrived a telescope or optic glass as that various letters and figures should be reflected in an obscure manner, shewing the images of men and women, &c.; so that when any one came to consult these jugglers, after paying the usual fee, they, according to the urgency of the query, produced answers by those figures or letters; the which affrights the inspector into the glass so much, that he or she supposes they have got some devilish thing or other in hand, by which they remain under the full conviction of having actually beheld the parties they wished to see, though perhaps they may at the same time be residing many hundreds of miles distance therefrom; they, having received this impression from a pre-conceived idea of seeing the image of their friend in this optical machine, go away, and anon report, with an addition of ten hundred lies, that they have been witness of a miracle. I say this kind of deception is only to be acted with the vulgar, who, rather than have their imaginations balked, would swallow the most abominable lies and conceits. For instance, who would suppose that any rational being could be persuaded that a fellow-creature of proper size and stature should be able by any means to thrust his body into a quart bottle?—the which thing was advertised to the public by a merry knave (not thinking there were such fools in existence), to be done by him in a public theatre. Upwards of 600 persons were assembled to behold the transaction, never doubting but the fellow meant to keep his word, when to the great mortification and disgrace of this long-headed audience, the conjuror came forth amidst a general stir and buz of “Ay, now! see! now! see! he is just going to jump in."—"Indeed,” says the conjuror, “ladies and gentlemen, I am not; for if you were such fools as to believe such an absurdity, I am not wise enough to do it:"—therefore, making his bow, he disappeared, to the great discomfort of these wiseheads, who straightway withdrew in the best manner they could.

As for the telescope magicians, they were taken into custody by the gentlemen of the police office, in Bow Street; nor would their familiar do them the kindness to attempt their rescue.

But to have done with these things that are unworthy our notice as philosophers, and to proceed to matters of a higher nature: it is to be noted what we have before said, in respect of the influences of the stars, that Ptolemy, in his quadrapartite, in speaking of generals, comes pretty near our ideas on the subject of planetary influence, of which we did not at any time doubt, but do not admit (nay, it is not necessary, seeing there is an astrology in Nature), that each action of our life, our afflictions, fortunes, accidents, are deducible to the influential effects of the planets: they proceed from ourselves; but I admit that our thoughts, actions, cogitations, sympathize with the stars upon the principle of general sympathy. Again, there is a much stronger sympathy between persons of like constitution and temperament, for each mortal creature possesses a Sun and system within himself; therefore, according to universal sympathy, we are affected by the general influence or universal spirit of the world, as the vital principle throughout the universe: therefore we are not to look into the configurations of the stars for the cause or incitement of men’s bestial inclinations, for brutes have their specifical inclinations from the propagation of their principle by seed, not by the sign of the horoscope; therefore as man is oftentimes capable of the actions and excesses of brutes, they cannot happen to a man naturally from any other source than the seminal being infused in his composition; for seeing likewise that the soul is immortal, and endued with free-will, which acts upon the body, the soul cannot be inclined by any configuration of the stars either to good or evil; but from its own immortal power of willingly being seduced by sin, it prompts to evil; but enlightened by God, it springs to good, on either principle, according to its tendency, the soul feeds while in this frail body; but what further concerns the soul of man in this, and after this, we shall fully investigate the natural magic of the soul, in which we have fully treated every point of enquiry that has been suggested to us by our own imagination, and by scientific experiments have proved its divine virtue originally scaled therein by the Author of its being.

Sufficient it is to return to our subject relative to astrology, especially to know what part of it is necessary for our use, of which we will select that which is pure and to our purpose, for the understanding and effecting of various experiments in the course of our works, leaving the tedious calculation of nativities, the never-ceasing controversies and cavillations of its professors, the dissensions which arise from the various modes of practice; all which we leave to the figure-casting plodder, telling him, by-the-by, that whatever he thinks he can foreshew by inspecting the horoscope of a nativity, by long, tedious, and night-wearied studies and contemplations; I say, whatever he can shew respecting personal or national mutations, changes, accidents, &c. &c., all this we know by a much easier and readier method; and can more comprehensively, clearly, and intelligibly, shew and point out, to the very letter, by our Cabal, which we know to be true, without deviation, juggling, fallacy, or collusion, or any kind of deceit or imposture whatsoever; which Cabal or spiritual astrology we draw from the Fountain of Knowledge, in all simplicity, humility, and truth; and we boast not of ourselves, but of Him who teaches us through his divine mercy, by the light of whose favour we see into things spiritual and divine: in the possession of which we are secure amidst the severest storms of hatred, malice, pride, envy, hypocrisy, levity, bonds, poverty, imprisonment, or any other outward circumstance; we should still be rich, want nothing, be fed with delicious meats, and enjoy plentifully all good things necessary for our support: all this we do not vainly boast of, as figurative, ideal, or chimerical; but real, solid, and everlasting, in the which we exult and delight, and praise his name forever and ever: Amen.

All which we publicly declare to the world for the honour of our God, being at all times ready to do every kindness we can to our poor neighbour, and, as far as in us lies, to comfort him, sick or afflicted; in doing which we ask no reward: it is sufficient to us that we can do it, and that we may be acceptable to Him who says—"I am the light of the world; to whom with the Father, and Holy Spirit, be ascribed all power, might, majesty, and dominion: Amen.”

To the faithful and discreet Student of Wisdom.


Take our instructions; in all things ask counsel of God, and he will give it; offer up the following prayer daily for the illumination of thy understanding: depend for all things on God, the first cause; with whom, by whom, and in whom, are all things: see thy first care be to know thyself; and then in humility direct thy prayer as follows.

A Prayer or Oration to God

Almighty and most merciful God, we thy servants approach with fear and trembling before thee, and in all humility do most heartily beseech thee to pardon our manifold and blind transgressions, by us committed at any time; and grant, O, most merciful Father, for his sake who died upon the cross, that our minds may be enlightened with the divine radiance of thy holy wisdom; for seeing, O, Lord of might, power, majesty, and dominion, that, by reason of our gross and material bodies, we are scarce apt to receive those spiritual instructions that we so earnestly and heartily desire. Open, O, blessed Spirit, the spiritual eye of our soul, that we may be released from this darkness overspreading us by the delusions of the outward senses, and may perceive and understand those things which are spiritual. We pray thee, oh, Lord, above all to strengthen our souls and bodies against our spiritual enemies, by the blood and righteousness of our blessed Redeemer, thy Son, Jesus Christ; and through him, and in his name, we beseech thee to illuminate the faculties of our souls, so that we may clearly and comprehensively hear with our ears, and understand with our hearts; and remove far from us all hypocrisy, deceitful dealing, profaneness, inconstancy, and levity; so that we may, in word and act, become thy faithful servants, and stand firm and unshaken against all the attacks of our bodily enemies, and likewise be proof against all illusions of evil spirits, with whom we desire no communication or interest; but that we may be instructed in the knowledge of things, natural and celestial: and as it pleased thee to bestow on Solomon all wisdom, both human and divine; in the desire of which knowledge he did so please thy divine majesty, that in a dream, of one night, thou didst inspire him with all wisdom and knowledge, which he did wisely prefer before the riches of this life; so may our desire and prayer be graciously accepted by thee; so that, by a firm dependence on thy word, we may not be led away by the vain and ridiculous pursuits of worldly pleasures and delights, they not being durable, nor of any account to our immortal happiness. Grant us, Lord, power and strength of intellect to carry on this work, for the honour and glory of thy holy name, and to the comfort of our neighbour; and without design of hurt or detriment to any, we may proceed in our labours, through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer: Amen.


Before we proceed to particulars, it will not be amis to speak of generals; therefore, as an elucidation, we shall briefly show what sciences we comprehend under the title of Natural Magic; and to hasten to the point, we shall regularly proceed from theory to practice; therefore, Natural Magic undoubtedly comprehends a knowledge of all Nature, which we by no means can arrive at but by searching deeply into her treasury, which is inexhaustible; we therefore by long study, labour, and practice, have found out many valuable secrets and experiments, which are either unknown, or are buried in the ignorant knowledge of the present age. The wise ancients knew that in Nature the greatest secrets lay hid, and wonderful active powers were dormant, unless excited by the vigorous faculty of the mind of man; but as, in these latter days, men have themselves almost wholly up to vice and luxury, so their understandings have become more and more depraved; ‘till, being swallowed up in the gross senses, they become totally unfit for divine contemplations and deep speculations in Nature; their intellectual faculty being drowned in obscurity and dulness, by reason of their sloth, intemperance, or sensual appetites. The followers of Pythagoras enjoined silence, and forbade the eating of the flesh of animals; the first, because they were cautious, and aware of the vanity of vain babbling and fruitless cavillations: they studied the power of numbers to the highest extent; they forbade the eating of flesh not so much on the score of transmigration, as to keep the body in a healthful and temperate state, free from gross humours; by these means they qualified themselves for spiritual matters, and attained unto great and excellent mysteries, and continued in the exercise of charitable arts, and the practice of all moral virtues: yet, seeing they were heathens, they attained not unto the high and inspired lights of wisdom and knowledge that were bestowed on the Apostles, and others, after the coming of Christ; but they mortified their lusts, lived temperately, chaste, honest, and virtuous; which government is so contrary to the practice of modern Christians, that they live as if the blessed word had come upon the earth to grant them privilege to sin. However, we will leave Pythagoras and his followers, to hasten to our own work; whereof we will first explain the foundation of Natural Magic, in as clear and intelligible a manner as the same can be done.

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