Obelisk Art History
The Magus, Book 1

Of Unctions, Philters, Potions, & Their Magical Virtues

Francis Barrett, 1801

Unguents, or unctions, collyries, philters, etc., conveying the virtues of things natural to our spirits, do multiply, transform, transfigure, and transmute it accordingly; they also transpose those virtues, which are in them, into it, so that it not only acts upon its own body, but also upon that which is near it, and affects that (by visible rays, charms, and by touching it) with some agreeable quality like to itself. For, because our spirit is the pure, subtil, lucid, airy, and unctuous vapour of the blood, nothing, therefore, is better adapted for collyriums than the like vapour, which are more suitable to our spirit in substance; for then, by reason of their likeness, they do more stir up, attract, and transform the spirit. The same virtue have other ointments, and confections. Hence, by the touch, often plague, sickness, faintings, poisoning, and love, is induced, either by the hands or clothes being anointed; and often by kissing, things been held in the mouth, love is likewise excited.

Now the sight, as it perceives more purely and clearer than the other senses, seals in us the marks of things more acutely, and does, most of all, and before all others, agree with our fantastic spirit; as is apparent in dreams, when things seen do more often present themselves to us than things heard, or any thin coming under the other senses. Therefore, when collyriums transform the visual spirits, that spirit easily affects the imagination, which, being affected with divers species and forms, transmits the same, by the same spirit, unto the outward sense of sight, by which there is formed in it a perception of such species and forms, in that manner, as if it were moved by external objects, that there appear to be seen terrible images, spirits, and the like. There are some collyriums which make us see the of images of spirits of the air, or elsewhere; which I can make of the gall of a man, and the eyes of a black cat, and some other things. The same is made, likewise, of the blood of a lapwing, bat, and a goat; and if a smooth shining piece of steel be smeared over with the juice of mugwort, and be made to fume, it causes invocated spirits to appear. There are some perfumes, or suffumigations and unctions, which make men speak in their sleep, walk, and do those things that are done by men that are awake, and often what, when awake, they cannot, or dare not do; others, again, make men hear horrid or delightful sounds, noises, and the like.

And, in some measure, this is the cause why mad and melancholy men believe they hear and see things equally false and improbable, falling into most gross and pitiful delusions, fearing where no fear is, and angry where there is none to contend. Such passions as these we can induce by magical vapours, confections, perfumes, collyries, unguents, potions, poisons, lamps, lights, &c.; likewise by mirrors, images, enchantments, charms, sounds, and music; also by divers rites, observations, ceremonies, religion, etc.

Next chapter

Showing how, and by what power, Magical Suspensions receive virtue, and are efficacious in natural magic

Of Magical Suspensions And Allegations

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Western Esoteric Art, Age of Exploration

Western Esoteric Art

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