Magicians, students, and observers of the operations of Nature, know how, by the application of active forms to a matter fitly disposed, and made, as it were, a proper recipient, to effect many wonderful and uncommon things that seem strange, and above Nature, by gathering this and that thing beneficial and conducive to that effect which we desire; however, it is evident that all the powers and virtues of the inferior bodies are not found comprehended in any one single thing, but are dispersed amongst many of the compounds here amongst us; wherefore it is necessary, if there be a hundred virtues of the sun dispersed through so many animals, plants, metals, or stones, we should gather all these together, and bring them all into one form, in which we shall see all the said virtues, being united, contained. Now there is a double virtue in commixing: one, viz. which was once planted in its parts, and is celestial; the other is obtained by a certain artificial mixture of things, mixed among themselves, according to a due proportion, such as agree with the heavens under a certain constellation; and this virtue descends by a certain similitude or likeness that is in things amongst themselves, by which they are drawn or attracted towards their superiors, and as much as the following do by degrees correspond with them that go before, where the patient is fitly applied to its agent. So from a certain composition of herbs, vapours, and such like, made according to the rules of Natural and Celestial Magic, there results a certain common form; of which we shall deliver the true and infallible rules and experiments in our Second Book, where we have written expressly on the same.
We ought, likewise, to understand that by how much more noble and excellent the form of any thing is, by so much the more it is prone, and apt to receive, and powerful to act. Then the virtue of things do indeed become wonderful; viz. when they are applied to matters, mixed and prepared in fit seasons to give them life, by procuring life for them from the stars, our own spirit powerfully co-operating therewith; for there is so great a power in prepared matters, which we see do then receive life, when a perfect mixture of qualities do break the former contrariety; for so much the more perfect life things receive, by as much the temper and composition is free from contrariety. Now the heavens, as a prevailing cause, do, from the beginning of every thing, (to be generated by the concoction and perfect digestion of the matter) together with life, bestow celestial influences and wonderful gifts, according to the capacity that is in that life and sensible soul to receive more noble and sublime virtues. For the celestial virtue otherwise lies asleep, as sulphur kept from flame; but in living bodies it doth always burn, as kindled sulphur, which, by its vapour, fills all the places that are near.
There is a book called, “A Book of the Laws of Pluto,” which speaks of monstrous generations, which are not produced according to the laws of Nature. Of these things which follow we know to be true; viz. of worms are generated gnats; of a horse, wasps; of a calf and ox, bees. Take a living crab, his legs being broken off, and he buried under the earth, a scorpion is produced. If a duck be dried into powder, and put into water, frogs are soon generated; but if he be baked in a pie, and cut into pieces, and be put in a moist place under ground, toads are generated. Of the herb garden-basil, bruised, and put between two stones, are generated scorpions. Of the hairs of a menstruous woman, put under dung, are bred serpents; and the hair of a horse’s tail, put into water, receives life, and is turned into a most pernicious worm. And there is an art wherewith a hen, sitting upon eggs, may be generated the form of a man, which I myself know how to do, and which magicians call the mandrake, and it hath in it wonderful virtues.
You must, therefore, know which and what kind of matters are either of art or nature, begun or perfected, or compounded of more things, and what celestial influences they are able to receive. For a congruity of natural things is sufficient for the receiving of influence from celestial because, nothing hindering, the celestials send forth their light upon inferiors they suffer no matter to be destitute of their virtue. Wherefore as much matter as is perfect and pure is, as we before said, fitted to receive celestial influences; for that is the binding and continuing of the matter of the soul to the world, which doth daily flow in upon things natural, and all things which Nature hath prepared, that it is impossible that a prepared matter should not receive life, or a more noble form.