« PreviousContinue »
Thophail, of Avicenna, Avempan, Avicebran, etc., received additions from the literature of wonders, and these were openly taught at Salamanca and Toledo (Tiedemann, c. i. p. 98). This public display of magic, it is true, was resisted by some, and a cave was discovered in which the magical exhibitions were made. It appears to have been clearly the case that the Arabs were zealously addicted to magic; and they have defended it with great enthusiasm, and in an eclectic manner, in many of their writings. It would appear never to have been in evil repute amongst them, and there are no laws extant by which they ever sought to oppose it.
In the eleventh century the Arabic learning came into France, England, and Germany, and many persons travelled to Spain in order to make themselves acquainted with it. To this thereading of the books of the church greatly contributed, over the doctrines of which the spirit of critical inquiry began to throw some doubts which required a philosophy to solve. For this purpose they brought the most eminent Arabian books home with them, and thus magic acquired a higher reputation and received a philosophical dress, which, however, was now bedizened with all sorts of tawdry colours and finery There now arose philosophical writers who drew all eyes upon them. Philosophy lifted up its head, and was now openly taught by Raymond Lully, Alexander von Hales, and their disciples: Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and others. All these men were well acquainted with the Arabic writings, and magic now received a host of defenders, who often understood how, with the noblest views, to separate the truth from fable, lies, and deceit. It would be easy for us to produce from the writings of these authors much that is beautiful and instructive, for they contemplated the subject with a true spirit of philosophical inquiry. Such are the writings of Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, and others,-productions of eminent value. Albertus confesses openly that he had made magical experiments (Albert. Magn. Op. t. iii. de an. p. 23, Lugdun. 1651); and in his natural philosophy and descriptions of nature he frequently speaks of sympathy, antipathy, influence of stars, and other magic things. Pomponaz (De naturalium effect. admirandorum causis seu de incaut. liber,
auctore P. Pomponace, Basel, 1517). "All wonders," he says, "that people ascribe to the devil, are either deceit or they are natural. There are men who through the power of their will can produce most marvellous phenomena and cures. But in order to effect these perfectly you must have faith and love, and a fervent desire to help the sick; and for this every one is not qualified. The sick, too, must have faith." He says that children are more susceptible of the magic influence than adults. In the meantime he counsels his reader to keep the matter secret.
At the same time came in practice the wearing of amulets and the names of saints, through which people believed themselves to be defended from the most grievous sickness, and made capable of healing them, by remedies which had been discovered in the books of the most ancient physicians and Arabs. On these people laid a Christian importance, which gave rise to the most confused and superstitious formulas, to which the most powerful philosophical thinkers were no longer able to set bounds. A couple of such healing formulas of the clearer and better sort are the following:
Caspar brings myrrh; Melchior incense; Balthasar gold. Whoever carries these three names about with him, will, through Christ, be free from the falling sickness" (Tiedemann, p. 102). Here is a second. The epileptic patient is taken by the hand, and the operator whispers softly in his ear:-"I abjure thee by the sun and the moon and the gospel of to-day, etc. that thou arisest and no more fallest to the ground; in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." Issues of blood are to be stopped. in the same manner. We see here a magical mode of operation; for that holding of the hand, and the gently speaking in the ear, by which the brain is breathed upon, are very powerful modes of manipulation. To this is added the spiritual effect of addressing the expectant and excited mind with such powerful and holy words.
The magic of that time may be divided into three parts. The first is based on sorcery, and makes a pact with the devil. The second practises with the stellar influences, with sympathy and antipathy. It depends much on the effect of different words, and on other magical customs. A third
kind has been classed with magic, but is rather to be regarded as a mystic magic, whose votaries have sought to annihilate sensuality by piety and purification of the heart in supernatural contemplations; yea, have even sought to arrive at God by them. The first kind has nothing to do with the two latter. The third was, for the most part, united with the second, but they who belonged to the third generally despised the second.
What rank the magic of those times acquired may be conceived from the fact, that not merely secret doctors and the common people, but even kings and emperors, were addicted to it. The Emperor Frederick II., in the thirteenth century, is said to have used magic arts; and Rudolph II. and Charles V. are said to have been much devoted to such studies. Maximilian I. and the Grand Elector of Brandenburg, Joachim I., had even Johannes Trithemius as teacher of astrology, who was the most zealous defender of magic (Cantz, De cult. mag. i. 4; Tiedemann, p. 110; Möhsen's History of Science, in the Brandenburg Mark.) In France, Catherine de Medici was extremely addicted to magic.
Passavant, in his Inquiries into the Magnetism of Life and of Clairvoyance, has collected many facts respecting the magic of the northern nations, of which we will here avail ourselves briefly. At page 305 of the second edition it is said:
"The German and Sclave original races, like the primeval Saga of all peoples which are wrapped in the mists of time, speak of seers and seeresses, whose magical powers were at the command of the public. The prophecies in the Edda are similar to those of many eastern seers of the primeval ages. Odin himself travels to the ancient Vala, the prophetess of the farthermost north. Vala is the guardian spirit of the earth, the earliest of all prophetesses. The oldest portion of the Edda is called from her Voluspa,-the vision of Vala. Aroused by Odin's magic song from the long death-sleep, she prophesies, on the grave of the Huns, the destruction of the world. Before the end of time and the twilight of the gods, will Loke, the wicked one, be set free from his bonds, will go forth with the giants of fire to the conflict with the gods, and all the children of ancient Night will arise to destroy the kingdom of light:
But when the reign of the gods is over, then will Allfather in a new morning create gods and men anew out of the fulness of his glory."
After Passavant has noticed the second-sight of the Scotch, according to Boethius's History of Scotland, and the prophetic vision in Macbeth, which Shakspere has employed as a real fact of history, which became literally fulfilled, he continues:-"Amongst the Finns and Laplanders magic practices have mingled themselves strangely with a variety of heathenish superstitions; and long after their conversion to Christianity, contrary to the strictest prohibitions, magical dealings have been continued almost to the present time. The small number of clergymen, the confined extent of their influence in a wide and thinly-peopled country; the wild, desolate scenery, the frosty sky, the solitude, the hunter-life, the deep roots of ancient usage, all these things contribute to perpetuate those tenacious remains of heathenism. Sturleson, Saxo, J. Zeigler, Olaus Magnus, P. Claudi, Tornäus, Joh. Scheffer, professor in Upsala, all relate many things of this sorcery, accepting with easy credence much that is false; superstitiously misunderstanding other things; and, for the rest, giving us many wellattested and remarkable facts.
The knowledge of magic was formerly in the far north the subject of regular instruction, and the highest nobility sent their sons and daughters to the most celebrated professors of the art. Their wisdom is recorded in the Runes, the primeval northern Sanscrit. A more confined tradition springs up after the extinction of primal and more magnificent traditions handed down from father to children, and thence may have arisen the legends of house and family-spirits, like the Lares and Penates of Latium, which are inherited from age to age.
Some sought with zeal and arduous endeavour to acquire the prophetic faculty; others found it unsought and in their infancy. It is worthy of note, what Tornäus says, who regards the seer-faculty, which formerly was so much in esteem, as the work of the devil :-" Some possess the magic gift from nature, which is horrible. For those whom the devil perceives will be obedient servants and work-tools, he seizes on in childhood with sickness, presenting to them in a state of
unconsciousness many imaginations and visions, from which, according to the capacity of their age, they learn what belongs to black art. Those who a second time are attacked with this ailment see yet more numerous visions, from which they learn yet more. If they fall a third time into this condition, they are so violently affected by it, that they are in danger of death, but at the same time all the visions of the devil and his wonders are revealed to them, so that they attain to the perfect knowledge of the art of sorcery. And these are instructed in it to that degree, that they can see far distant things with the ordinary instruments of enchantment; nay, must probably see them, whether they will or no, so wholly are they possessed by the devil."
Immediately afterwards he relates that a Laplander whom he had often and severely reproved for his magic kettledrum, gave it up freely of himself, confessing sorrowfully, that without the aid of that he saw everything that passed in distant places; adding, that he did not know what was come to his eyes; and hereupon he related everything which had happened to him (Tornäus) on his journey to Lapland.
Their most valuable instrument of enchantment is this sorcerers' kettle-drum, which they call Kannas or Quobdas. They cut it in one entire piece out of a thick tree stem, the fibres of which run upwards in the same direction as the course of the sun. The drum is covered with the skin of an animal ; and in the bottom holes are cut by which it may be held. Upon the skin are many figures painted; often Christ and the Apostles, with the heathen gods, Thor, Noorjunkar, and others jumbled together; the picture of the sun, shapes of animals, lands and waters, cities and roads, in short, all kinds of drawings according to their various uses. Upon the drum there is placed an indicator, which they call Arpa, which consists of a bundle of metallic rings. The drumstick is, generally, a reindeer's horn. This drum they preserve with the most vigilant care, and guard it especially from the touch of a woman. When they will make known what is taking place at a distance, -as to how the chase shall succeed, how business will answer, what result a sickness will have, what is necessary for the cure of it, and the like, they kneel down, and the sorcerer beats the drum; at first with light strokes, but as he proceeds, with ever louder and