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not the spirits of heaven and of hell, but the spirit of man, which is concealed in him as the fire is concealed in the flint. The human will makes itself master of a portion of its spirit of life, which becomes a connecting property between the corporeal and the incorporeal, and diffuses itself like the light."
Van Helmont, after he relates the fact that a pregnant woman, frightened by some circumstance, stamped this image of terror on the unborn child, explains this truth also according to his theory. “ The imaginative power of a woman, vividly excited, produces an idea, which is the connecting medium between the body and spirit. This transfers itself to the being with which the woman stands in the most immediate relation, and impresses upon it that image which the most agitated herselt.”
Van Helmont asserts further, that many herbs acquire from the imagination of those who gather them an extraordinary power. Nay, he goes farther, and says that, through certain simple and easy manipulations, a man may, if he will, convert a common needle into a magnetic one, and that these same manipulations are ineffectual if they are not accompanied by the will. A hint that a man must most especially attend to the first preparation of the needle, if he will produce the phenomena of the attracting and repelling power in it, which it seems he understood better than we, perhaps, now-a-days give him credit for.
The writings of Van Helmont contain some extremely remarkable facts concerning the power of the will in the state of ecstasy, which Deleuze has collected into two chapters of the “ Bibliothèque du Magn. animal.”
"The will," says Van Helmont, (the human Blas, blas humanum) “is the first of all powers. For through the will of the Creator all things were made, and put in motion. In man the will is the fundamental cause of his movements. The will is the property of all spiritual beings, and displays itself in them the more actively the more they are freed from matter; the strength of their activity demonstrates the purity of spirits.
“ The infinite power of the will in the Creator of all things is also firmly fixed in the created being, and is more or less obstructed by matter. The ideas thus clothed
with physical nature operate also in a natural, that is, physical manner, on the living creature, through the means of the life-activity. They operate more or less, according to the will of the operator, and their activity may also be repelled by the will of those acted upon. A magician will thus operate more strongly on a weak nature than on a strong one, because the power of operating through the will has bounds, and others can oppose it more or less according to their strength.”
Van Helmont corroborates still further the mutual influence of men on animals, and vice versa, by stating that men by looking steadfastly at them (oculis intentis) for a quarter of an hour may cause their death ; which Rousseau confirms from his own experience in Egypt and the East, as having killed several toads in this manner. But when he at last tried this at Lyons, the toad, finding it could not escape from his eye, turned round, blew itself up, and stared at him so fiercely, without moving its eyes, that a weakness came over him even to fainting, and he was for some time thought to be dead. He was recovered, however, by treacle and the powder of vipers. It is also very remarkable what Van Helmont
of the phenomena which appear in certain men of themselves, or through an artistic treatment.
He first relates a singular story of one of his sleepwalking school-comrades, who every night took the key, unlocked the garden door, and walked in the garden. Van Helmont hid the key, but the sleep-walker fetched it from the concealed place without any difficulty.
He relates an extraordinary example in his own person of the transference of a sense to the pit of the stomach; which is the more extraordinary, as he had a perfect remembrance of what took place after being in a complete state of clairvoyance.
In order to make a medical experiment on poisonous plants, Van Helmont prepared the root of aconite, and tasted it with the point of the tongue, without swallowing any of it. He himself says "Immediately my head seemed tied tightly with a string, and soon after there happened to me a singular circumstance such as I had never before experienced. I observed with astonishment that I
no longer felt and thought with the head, but with the region of the stomach, as if consciousness had now taken up its seat in the stomach. Terrified by this urusual phenomenon, I asked myself and inquired into myself carefully; but I only became the more convinced that my power of perception was become greater and more comprehensive. I'his intellectual clearness was associated with great pleasure. I did not sleep, nor did I dream; I was perfectly sober; and my health was perfect. I had occasionally had ecstasies, but these had nothing in common with this condition of the stomach in which it thought and felt, and almost excluded all co-operation of the head. In the meantime
friends were troubled with the fear that I might go mad. But my faith in God, and my submission to His will
, soon dissipated this fear. This state continued for two hours, after which I had some dizziness. I afterwards frequently tasted of the aconite, but I never again could reproduce these sensations” (Van Helmont, Demens idea.)
From this extraordinary phenomenon, Van Helmont concludes that the soul is not necessarily fettered to one organ or another of the body, and that it can, like a permeating light, diffuse itself through all, without having any medium necessary
“ The sun-tissue in the region of the stomach,"
“is the chief seat and essential organ of the soul. There is the genuine seat of feeling, as in the head is that of memory. The proper reflection, the comparison of the past and the future, the inquiry into circumstances,-these are the functions of the head; but the rays are sent by the soul from the centre, the region of the stomach. The isolated recognitions of the future, and that which is independent of time and place, belong solely and alone to the central hearth of the region of the stomach.
Notwithstanding this, however, the feeling soul is not enclosed in the stomach as in a bag, or as the corn in an ear; she has only there her chief seat. And thence proceed the light and warmth which diffuse themselves through the whole body ; from thence the power of life which prevails in all the organs.
After this crisis produced by the aconite, his consciousness received a totally new activity, and the time of sleep, as he himself says, was no longer lost to him. “Since then,"
he says, “I have dreams which enlighten me, and in which my spirit rejoices in its capacities and my judgment in its strength. This caused that, in the words of the Psalmist, I conceived how night unto night shows wisdom.'»
I now give, finally, what Van Helmont says of the inward light of the soul:-“When God created the human soul, he imparted to her essential and original knowledge. The soul is the mirror of the universe, and stands in relationship to all living things. She is illuminated by an inward light; but the tempest of passions, the multitude of sensual impressions, the dissipations, darken this light, whose glory only diffuses itself when it burns alone, and all is peace and harmony within us. When we know ourselves to be separated from all outward influences, and desire only to be guided by this universal light, then only do we find in ourselves pure and certain knowledge. In this state of concentration, the soul analyses all objects on which her attention rests. She can unite herself with them, penetrate through their substance, penetrating even to God himself, and feeling Him in the most important truths.' From all these observations, and from many other
passages in his writings, it is clear that Van Helmont regards the science of medicine in a magnetic light, and practised it as such. His presence was frequently sufficient, according to his statement, to cure the sick. Through his will he operated not only on men, but even imparted through it a peculiar strength to medicines, and relied more on divine help which supported his spirit, without having sometimes recourse to any physical means.
He believed that human wisdom, which consisted merely in uncertain controversies, and an eternal nourishing of pride, was insufficient to afford help to suffering humanity; that all medical knowledge whatever was far indeed from that which God conferred on those whom he had chosen as the instruments of his mercy for the working out the healing of pains and disasters. He believed that we may properly use the means which the experience of many ages has taught us; and above all things should love actuate all our endeavours.
The description of the qualities of a physician is truly the picture of a genuine magnetic and biblical doctor, but of which we, alas, have only a few examples.
“ The physician chosen of God," he says (Van Helmont, Tumulis pestis), “is accompanied by many signs and wonders for the schools. He will give the honour to God, as he employs his gifts to the assuaging the sufferings of his neighbour. Compassion will be his guide. His heart will possess truth, and his intellect science. Love will be his sister; and the truth of the Lord will illumine his path. He will invoke the grace of God, and he will not be overcome by the desire of gain. For the Lord is rich and bountiful, and pays a hundredfold in heaped measure. He will make his labour fruitful, and he will clothe his hands with blessings. He will fill his mouth with comfort, and His word will be a trumpet before which diseases will fly. His footsteps will bring prosperity, and sickness will flee before his face, as snow melts in a summer morn. Health will follow him. These are the testimonies of the Lord to those healers whom he has chosen,—this is the blessedness of those who pursue the way of kindness; and the Holy Spirit will, moreover, enlighten them as the Comforter.”
HENRY CORNELIUS AGRIPPA, OF RETTESHEIM.
Besides the chief disciples of Van Helmont, the principal advancers of the doctrines of Paracelsus in Germany were the following: John Reuchlin, who rested his theosophic doctrines pre-eminently on the Bible, and, therefore, wrote his most remarkable work, on the Power of the Word (De verbo mirifico, etc.) John Trithemius, Abbot of Sponheim, Leonhard Thurneysser, of Thurn, a popular astrologer ; and magician at more than one German court ; Henry Cornelius Agrippa, of Rettesheim. This last had written a remarkable book (De occulta philosophia), in which not only the doctrines of the Cabbalists but also peculiar and most excellent ideas of his own are contained, which, notwithstanding some absurdities, must be highly valuable in magnetic science, and of which, therefore, I shall quote a few. Agrippa occupied himself prin