Obelisk Art History
The Magus, Book 1

Natural Magic Defined

Francis Barrett, 1801

Natural Magic is, as we have said, a comprehensive knowledge of all Nature, by which we search out her secret and occult operations throughout her vast and spacious elaboratory; whereby we come to a knowledge of the component parts, qualities, virtues, and secrets of metals, stones, plants, and animals; but seeing, in the regular order of the creation, man was the work of the sixth day, every thing being prepared for his vicegerency here on earth, and that it pleased the omnipotent God, after he had formed the great world, or macrocosm, and pronounced it good, so he created man the express image of himself; and in man, likewise, an exact model of the great world. We shall describe the wonderful properties of man, in which we may trace in miniature the exact resemblance or copy of the universe; by which means we shall come to the more easy understanding of whatever we may have to declare concerning the knowledge of the inferior nature, such as animals, plants, metals, and stones; for, by our first declaring the occult qualities and properties that are hid in the little world, it will serve as a key to the opening of all the treasures and secrets of the macrocosm, or great world: therefore, we shall hasten to speak of the creation of man, and his divine image; likewise of his fall, in consequence of his disobedience; by which all the train of evils, plagues, diseases, and miseries, were entailed upon his posterity, through the curse of our Creator, but deprecated by the mediation of our blessed Lord, Christ.


According to the word of God, which we take in all things for our guide, in the 1st chapter of Genesis, and the 26th verse, it is said--"God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."--Here is the origin and beginning of our frail human nature; hence every soul was created by the very light itself, and Fountain of Life, after his own express image, likewise immortal, in a beautiful and well-formed body, endued with a most excellent mind, and dominion or unlimited monarchy over all Nature, every thing being subjected to his rule, or command; one creature only being excepted, which was to remain untouched and consecrated, as it were, to the divine mandate: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest of it, thou shalt surely die.” Gen. ii. ver. 16. Therefore Adam was formed by the finger of God, which is the Holy Spirit; whose figure or outward form was beautiful and proportionate as an angel; in whose voice (before he sinned) every sound was the sweetness of harmony and music: had he remained in the state of innocency in which he was formed, the weakness of mortal man, in his depraved state, would not have been able to bear the virtue and celestial shrillness of his voice. But when the deceiver found that man, from the inspiration of God, had began to sing so shrilly, and to repeat the celestial harmony of the heavenly country, he counterfeited the engines of craft: seeing his wrath against him was in vain, he was much tormented thereby, and began to think how he might entangle him into disobedience of the command of his Creator, whereby he might, as it were, laugh him to scorn, in derision of his new creature, man.

Van Helmont, in his Oriatrike, chap. xcii., speaking of the entrance of death into human nature, &c., finely touches the subject of the creation, and man’s disobedience: indeed, his ideas so perfectly coincide with my own, that I have thought fit here to transcribe his philosophy, which so clearly explains the text of Scripture, with so much of the light of truth on his side, that it carries along with it the surest and most positive conviction.

“Man being essentially created after the image of God, after that, he rashly presumed to generate the image of God out of himself; not, indeed, by a certain monster, but by something which was shadowly like himself. With the ravishment of Eve, he, indeed, generated not the image God like unto that which God would have inimitable, as being divine; but in the vital air of the seed he generated dispositions; careful at some time to receive a sensitive, discursive, and motive soul from the Father of Light, yet mortal, and to perish; yet, nevertheless, he ordinarily inspires, and of his own goodness, the substantial spirit of a mind showing forth his own image: so that man, in this respect, endeavoured to generate his own image; not after the manner of brute beasts, but by the copulation of seeds, which at length should obtain, by request, a soulified light from the Creator; and the which they call a sensitive soul.

“For, from thence hath proceeded another generation, conceived after a beast-like manner, mortal, and uncapable of eternal life, after the manner of beasts; and bringing forth with pains, and subject to diseases, and death; and so much the more sorrowful, and full of misery, by how much that very propagation in our first parents dared to invert the intent of God.

“Therefore the unutterable goodness forewarned them that they should not taste of that tree; and otherwise he foretold, that the same day they should die the death, and should feel all the root of calamities which accompanies death.”

Deservedly, therefore, hath the Lord deprived both our parents of the benefit of immortality; namely, death succeeded from a conjugal and brutal copulation; neither remained the spirit of the Lord with man, after that he began to be flesh.

Further; because that defilement of Eve shall thenceforth be continued in the propagation of posterity, even unto the end of the world, from hence the sin of the despised fatherly admonition, and natural deviation from the right way, is now among other sins for an impurity, from an inverted, carnal, and well nigh brutish generation, and is truly called original sin; that is, man being sowed in the pleasure of the concupiscence of the flesh, shall therefore always reap a necessary death in the flesh of sin; but, the knowledge of good and evil, which God placed in the dissuaded apple, did contain in it a seminary virtue of the concupiscence of the flesh, that is, an occult forbidden conjunction, diametrically opposite to the state of innocence, which state was not a state of stupidity; because He was he unto whom, before the corruption of Nature, the essences of all living creatures whatsoever were made known, according to which they were to be named from their property, and at their first sight to be essentially distinguished: man, therefore, through eating of the apple, attained a knowledge that he had lost his radical innocency; for, neither before the eating of the apple was he so dull or stupified that he knew not, or did not perceive himself naked; but, with the effect of shame and brutal concupiscence, he then first declared he was naked.

For that the knowledge of good and evil signifies nothing but the concupiscence of the flesh, the Apostle testifies; calling it the law, and desire of sin. For it pleased the Lord of heaven and earth to insert in the apple an incentive to concupiscence; by which he was able safely to abstain, by not eating of the apple, therefore dissuaded therefrom; for otherwise he had never at any time been tempted, or stirred up by his genital members. Therefore the apple being eaten, man, from an occult and natural property ingrafted in the fruit, conceived a lust, and sin became luxurious to him, and from thence was made an animal seed, which, hastening into the previous or foregoing dispositions of a sensitive soul, and undergoing the law of other causes, reflected itself into the vital spirit of Adam; and, like an ignis-fatuus, presently receiving an archeus or ruling spirit, and animal idea, it presently conceived a power of propagating an animal and mortal seed, ending into life.

Furthermore, the sacred text hath in many places compelled me unto a perfect position, it making Eve an helper like unto Adam; not, indeed, that she should supply the name, and room of a wife, even as she is called, straightway after sin, for she was a virgin in the intent of the Creator, and afterwards filled with misery: but not, as long as the state of purity presided over innocency, did the will of man overcome her; for the translation of man into Paradise did foreshew another condition of living than that of a beast; and therefore the eating of the apple doth by a most chaste name cover the concupiscence of the flesh, while it contains the “knowledge of good and evil” in this name, and calls the ignorance thereof the state of innocence: for, surely, the attainment of that aforesaid knowledge did nourish a most hurtful death, and an irrevocable deprivation of eternal life: for if man had not tasted the apple, he had lived void of concupiscence, and offsprings had appeared out of Eve (a virgin) from the Holy Spirit.

But the apple being eaten, “presently their eyes were opened,” and Adam began lustfully to covet copulation with the naked virgin, and defiled her, the which God had appointed for a naked help unto him. But man prevented the intention of God by a strange generation in the flesh of sin; whereupon there followed the corruption of the former nature, or the flesh of sin, accompanied by concupiscence: neither doth the text insinuate any other mark of “the knowledge of good and evil,” than that they “knew themselves to be naked,” or, speaking properly, of their virginity being corrupted, polluted with bestial lust, and defiled. Indeed, their whole “knowledge of good and evil” is included in their shame within their privy parts alone; and therefore in the 8th of Leviticus, and many places else in the Holy Scriptures, the privy parts themselves are called by no other etymology than that of shame; for from the copulation of the flesh their eyes were opened, because they then knew that the good being lost, had brought on them a degenerate nature, shamefulness, an intestine and inevitable obligation of death; sent also into their posterity.

Alas! too late, indeed they understood, by the unwonted novelty and shamefulness of their concupiscence, why God had so lovingly forbade the eating of the apple. Indeed, the truth being agreeable unto itself, doth attest the filthiness of impure Adamical generation; for the impurity which had received a contagion from any natural issues whatsoever of menstrues or seed, and that by its touching alone is reckoned equal to that which should by degrees creep on a person from a co-touching of dead carcases, and to be expiated by the same ceremonious rite that the text might agreeably denote, that death began by the concupiscence of the flesh lying hid in the fruit forbidden; therefore, also, the one only healing medicine, of so great an impurity contracted by touching, consisted in washing: under the similitude or likeness thereof, faith and hope, which in baptism are poured on us, are strengthened.

For as soon as Adam knew that by fratricide the first born of mortals, whom he had begotten in the concupiscence of the flesh, had killed his brother, guiltless and righteous as he was; and foreseeing the wicked errors of mortals that would come from thence, he likewise perceived his own miseries in himself; certainly knowing that all these calamities had happened unto him from the sin of concupiscence drawn from the apple, which were unavoidably issuing on his posterity, he thought within himself that the most discreet thing he could do, was hereafter wholly to abstain from his wife, whom he had violated; and therefore he mourned, in chastity and sorrow, a full hundred years; hoping that by the merit of that abstinence, and by an opposition to the concupiscence of the flesh, he should not only appease the wrath of the incensed Deity, but that he should again return into the former splendour and majesty of his primitive innocence and purity. But the repentance of one age being finished, it is most probable the mystery of Christ’s incarnation was revealed unto him; neither that man ever could hope to return to the brightness of his ancient purity by his own strength, and much less that himself could reprieve his posterity from death; and that, therefore, marriage was well pleasing, and was after the fall indulged unto him by God because he had determined thus to satisfy his justice at the fulness of times, which should, to the glory of his own name, and the confusion of Satan, elevate mankind to a more sublime and eminent state of blessedness.

From that time Adam began to know his wife, viz. after he was an hundred years old, and to fill the earth, by multiplying according to the blessing once given him, and the law enjoined him--"Be fruitful and multiply."--Yet so, nevertheless, that although. matrimony, by reason of the great want of propagation, and otherwise impossible coursary succession of the primitive divine generation, be admitted as a sacrament of the faithful.

If, therefore, both our first parents, after the eating of the apple, were ashamed, they covered only their privy parts; therefore that shame doth presuppose, and accuse of something committed against justice--against the intent of the Creator--and against their own proper nature: by consequence, therefore, that Adamical generation was not of the primitive constitution of their nature, as neither of the original intent of the Creator; therefore, when God foretels that the earth shall bring forth thistles and thorns, and that man shall gain his bread by the sweat of his brow, they were not execrations, but admonitions, that those sort of things should be obvious in the earth: and, because that beasts should bring forth in pain--should plow in sweat--should eat their food with labour and fear, that the earth should likewise bring forth very many things besides the intention of the husbandman; therefore, also, that they ought to be nourished like unto brute beasts, who had begun to generate after the manner of brute beasts.

It is likewise told Eve, after her transgression, that she should bring forth in pain. Therefore, what hath the pain of bringing forth common with the eating of the apple, unless the apple had operated about the concupiscence of the flesh, and by consequence stirred up copulation; and the Creator had intended to dissuade it, by dehorting from the eating of the apple. For, why are the genital members of women punished with pains at child-birth, if the eye in seeing the apple, the hands in cropping it, and the mouth in eating of it, have offended? for was it not sufficient to have chastised the life with death, and the health with very many diseases?--Moreover, why is the womb afflicted, as in brutes, with the manner of bringing forth, if the conception granted to beasts were not forbidden to man?

After their fall, therefore, their eyes were opened, and they were ashamed: it denotes and signifies that, from the filthiness of concupiscence, they knew that the copulation of the flesh was forbidden in the most pure innocent chastity of nature, and that they were overspread with shame, when, their eyes being opened, their understandings saw that they had committed filthiness most detestable.

But on the serpent and evil spirit alone was the top and summit of the whole curse, even as the privilege of the woman, and the mysterious prerogative of the blessing upon the earth, viz. That the woman’s seed should bruise the head of the serpent. So that it is not possible that to bring forth in pain should be a curse; for truly with the same voice of the Lord is pronounced the blessing of the woman, and victory over the infernal spirit.

Therefore Adam was created in the possession of immortality. God intended not that man should be an animal or sensitive creature, nor be born, conceived, or live as an animal; for of truth he was created unto a living soul, and that after the true image of God; therefore he as far differed from the nature of an animal, as an immortal being from a mortal, and as a God-like creature from a brute.

I am sorry that our school-men, many of them, wish, by their arguments of noise and pride, to draw man into a total animal nature (nothing more), drawing (by their logic) the essence of a man essentially from an animal nature: because, although man afterwards procured death to himself and posterity, and therefore may seem to be made nearer the nature of animal creatures, yet it stood not in his power to be able to pervert the species of the divine image: even so as neither was the evil spirit, of a spirit, made an animal, although he became nearer unto the nature of an animal, by hatred and brutal vices. Therefore man remained in his own species wherein he was created; for as often as man is called an animal, or sensitive living creature, and is in earnest thought to be such, so many times the text is falsified which says, “But the serpent was more crafty than all the living creatures of the earth, which the Lord God had made;” because he speaks of the natural craft and subtilty of that living and creeping animal. Again, if the position be true, man was not directed into the propagation of seed or flesh, neither did he aspire unto a sensitive soul; and therefore the sensible soul of Adamical generation is not of a brutal species, because it was raised up by a seed which wanted the original ordination and limitation of any species; and so that, as the sensitive soul in man arose, besides the intent of the Creator and Nature; so it is of no brutal species, neither can it subsist, unless it be continually tied to the mind, from whence it is supported in its life.

Wherefore, while man is of no brutal species, he cannot be an animal in respect to his mind, and much less in respect to his soul, which is of no species.

Therefore know, that neither evil spirit, nor whole nature also, can, by any means or any way whatever, change the essence given unto man from his Creator, and by his foreknowledge determined that he should remain continually such as he was created, although he, in the mean time, hath clothed himself with strange properties, as natural unto him from the vice of his own will; for as it is an absurdity to reckon man glorified among animals, because he is not without sense or feeling, so to be sensitive does not shew the inseparable essence of an animal.

Seeing, therefore, our first parents had both of them now felt the effect throughout their whole bodies of the eating, of the apple, or concupiscence of the flesh in their members in Paradise, it shamed them; because their members, which, before, they could rule at their pleasure, were afterwards moved by a proper incentive to lust.

Therefore, on the same clay, not only mortality entered through concupiscence, but it presently after entered into a conceived generation; for which they were, the same day, also driven out of Paradise: hence followed an adulterous, lascivious, beast-like, devilish generation, and plainly incapable of entering into the kingdom of God, diametrically opposite to God’s ordination by which means death, and the threatened punishment, corruption, became inseparable to man and his posterity, Therefore, original sin was effectively bred from the concupiscence of the flesh, but occasioned only by the apple being eaten, and the admonition despised: but the stimulative to concupiscence was placed in the dissuaded tree, and that occult lustful property radically inserted and implanted in it. But when Satan (besides his hope, and the deflowering of the virgin, nothing hindering of it) saw that man was not taken out of the way, according to the forewarning (for he knew not that the Son of God had constituted himself a surety, before the Father, for man) he, indeed, looked at the vile, corrupted, and degenerated nature of man, and saw that a power was withdrawn from him of uniting himself to the God of infinite majesty, and began greatly to rejoice. That joy was of short duration, for, by and by, he likewise knew that marriage was ratified by Heaven--that the divine goodness yet inclined to man--and that Satan’s own fallacies and deceits were thus deceived: hence conjecturing that the Son of God was to restore every defect of contagion, and, therefore, perhaps, to be incarnated. He then put himself to work how, or in what manner, he should defile the stock that was to be raised up by matrimony with a mortal soul, so that he might render every conception of God in vain: therefore he stirred up not only his fratricides, and notoriously wicked persons, that there might be evil abounding at all times; but he procured that Atheism might arise, and that, together with Heathenism, it might daily increase, whereby indeed, if he could not hinder the co-knitting of the immortal mind with the sensitive soul, he might, at least, by destroying the law of Nature, bring man unto a level with himself under infernal punishment: but his special care and desire was to expunge totally the immortal mind out of the stock of posterity.

Therefore he (the Devil) stirs up, to this day, detestable copulations in Atheistical libertines: but he saw from thence, that nothing but brutish or savage monsters proceeded, to be abhorred by the very parents themselves; and that the copulation with women was far more plausible to men; and that by this method the generation of men should constantly continue; for he endeavoured to prevent the hope of restoring a remnant, that is, to hinder the incarnation of the Son of God; therefore he attempted, by an application of active things, to frame the seed of man according to his own accursed desire; which, when he had found vain and impossible for him to do, he tried again whether an imp or witch might not be fructified by sodomy; and when this did not fully answer his intentions every way, and he saw that of an ass and a horse a mule was bred, which was nearer a-kin to his mother than his father; likewise that of a coney and dormouse being the father, a true coney was bred, being distinct from his mother, only having a tail like the dormouse; he declined these feats, and betook himself to others worthy, indeed, only of the subtile craft of the Prince of Darkness.

Therefore Satan instituted a connexion of the seed of man with the seed and in the womb of a junior witch, or sorceress, that he might exclude the dispositions unto an immortal mind from such a new, polished conception: and afterwards came forth an adulterous and lascivious generation of Faunii, Satyrs, Gnomes, Nymphs, Sylphs, Driades, Hamodriades, Neriads, Mermaids, Syrens, Sphynxes, Monsters, &c., using the constellations, and disposing the seed of man for such like monstrous prodigious generations.

And, seeing the Faunii and Nymphs of the woods were preferred before the others in beauty, they afterwards generated their offspring amongst themselves, and at length began wedlocks with men, feigning that, by these copulations, they should obtain an immortal soul for them and their offspring; but this happened through the persuasions and delusions of Satan to admit these monsters to carnal copulation, which the ignorant were easily persuaded to and therefore these Nymphs are called Succubii: although Satan afterwards committed worse, frequently transchanging himself, by assuming the persons of both Incubii and Succubii, in both sexes; but they conceived not a true young by the males, except the Nymphs alone. The which, indeed, seeing the sons of God (that is, men) had now, without distinction, and in many places, taken to be their wives, God was determined to blot out the whole race begotten by these infernal and detestable marriages, through a deluge of waters, that the intent of the evil spirit might be rendered frustrate.

Of which monsters before mentioned, I will here give a striking example from Helmont: for he says, a merchant of Ægina, a countryman of his, sailing various times unto the Canaries, was asked by Helmont for his serious judgment about certain creatures, which the mariners frequently brought home from the mountains, as often as they went, and called them Tude-squils; 1 for they were dried dead carcasses, almost three-footed, and so small that a boy might easily carry one of them upon the palm of his hand, and they were of an exact human shape; but their whole dead carcass was clear or transparent as any parchment, and their bones flexible like gristles; against the sun, also, their bowels and intestine were plainly to be seen; which thing I, by Spaniards there born, knew to be true. I considered that, to this day, the destroyed race of the Pygmies were there; for the Almighty would render the expectations of the evil spirit, supported by the abominable actions of mankind, void and vain; and he has, therefore, manifoldly saved us from the craft and subtilty of the Devil, unto whom eternal punishments are due, to his extreme and perpetual confusion, unto the everlasting sanctifying of the Divine Name.

Further reading atsacred-texts.com
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Of the wonders of natural magic, displayed in a variety of sympathetic and occult operations throughout the families of animals, plants, metals, and stones, treated of miscellaneously.

Of The Wonders Of Natural Magic

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