« PreviousContinue »
eipally with the three Paracelsian words—the sidereal, the elementary, and the spiritual.
I will here give a condensed epitome of his theory from Sprengel's History of Medicine. “ As in the original world all things are in all, so in the physical world is equally every one and one in all (1. c. lib. i. c. 8). Out of every body proceed images, indivisible substances, which diffuse themselves through infinite space. Therefore bodies can operate on others at the most remote distances, and, on that account, a man is in a condition to impart his thoughts to another man who is hundreds of miles away” (Sprengel’s History of Medi
cine, part 2nd, p. 267.) j
“ Matter is dead and inert, and without power to act; it receives strength and form from the ideas, that is, from nature, which have of themselves no bodies and no extension, but come from God into matter. Everything, however, according to Plato and the Platonists, is of divine origin (e mente divini quid), and on that account God is contained in all things. The stars consist equally of the elements of earthly bodies, and, therefore, the ideas (powers, nature) attract each other. The powers have their foundation first in the ideas, in the spiritual, then in the harmony of the heavens, and, finally, in the elements of bodies, which are in accordance with the sidereal ideas. The operations of this world have their foundation partly in the substantial forms of bodies, partly in the powers of heaven, partly in spiritual things, and, ultimately, in the primal forms of the original image. Influences only go forth through the help of the spirit; but this spirit is diffused through the whole universe, and is in full accord with the human spirit. Through the sympathy of similar, and the antipathy of dissimilar things, all creation hangs together; the things of a particular world within itself, as well as with the congenial things of another world.'
Agrippa speaks in a very extraordinary manner of the moral means which a man must employ in order to procure the necessary insights and knowledge.
“ The magician who will acquire supernatural powers must possess faith, love, and hope.
“ In all things,” he says further, " there is a secret power concealed, and thence come the miraculous powers of magic."
As an example, he introduces the magnet which attracts iron to it, and
yet a diamond can deprive this magnet of its strength. “In every stone and plant there is a wonderful power and activity, but much greater and more wonderful is that of the stars.'
He gives another example of the secret magical power, in everything consorting with its like, and in its appropriating and assimilating all things to itself.
“ For everything living and acting, so soon as it becomes living, does not endeavour to go backwards, but forwards ; that is, does not assimilate itself to the lower, but endeavours to assimilate the lower to itself, as is obviously shown by animals, which do not convert their food into stone or plant, but convert the herb into flesh, and, moreover, into sensitive flesh" (in carnem sensibilem).
He speaks thus of the influence of the stars :-" It is clear that all the low are subject to the higher; that is, the earthly depends on the stellar; but both are in a manner made kindred (quodammodo sibi invicem insunt). As the highest in the lowest, and the lowest in the highest, so there is in heaven the earthly and on the earth the heavenly; in both, however, clothed in their own manner.
Thus we say that there are here sun-life and moon-life, (responding to the sun and moon) in which the sun and the moon especially reveal their strength.” He gives examples of this in various things, even in the human body and its different intestines.
From these agreements of the stars, and of their mutual properties, he deduces, as a direct consequence, the particular agreement of individual things here, as the act of increasing or diminishing the effect of congenial things on each other in the earth.” “ If thou wistest from any particular part of the world to receive the power of a particular star, thou must use the means which stand in a particular relation to this star, and thou wilt experience its influence (Agrippa, c. 33, 34). If thou wilt, for example, draw the power of the sun to thee, use what is of a solar nature, metals, stones," or animals, but always, and best of all, such things as stand in a higher rank.”
This doctrine of the power of the word is given at considerable length. He also ascribes to numbers a particular activity, which he carries sometimes not merely to an unwise but even to an absurd extent. Finally, he asserts, in order to demonstrate the mutual influence of stars and of all things, that he believes the heavens and the heavenly bodies to be ensouled, since from no purely material body can action proceed. You see that Agrippa has, in general, very just ideas; but following these ideas far too passionately, he loses himself in particulars, and in a labyrinth of fables, at the same time that his total separation of spirit from matter, which he supposes to be utterly dead, is by no means philosophical.
In England, Robert Fludd was the most distinguished of the disciples of Paracelsus.
I do not take Fludd to be properly one of those consecrated theosophists, who endeavour to draw all wisdom from the eternal fountain of light: but, notwithstanding this, he was a very profound enquirer, as his book proves, (“Philosophia mosaica, in qua sapientia et scientia creatonis explicantur, auctore Rob. Fludd, Gondæ, 1638,) in which the great aim is to explain creation on principles of natural philosophy. As he enters in it upon the subject of magnetic cures, we will take note of some of his views.
He considers all things under certain modifications to proceed from one primæval being. The soul is a portion of This primæval being, which he calls “principium universale catholicum.” Thence comes the kinship of all souls who have all their origin in this original soul as their central point.
His inquiries into the nature of sympathies and antipathies, and into the power of the magnet, are extensive. He explains the action of these in this manner, that the emanations of this fine spirit take various directions. In sympathy the emanations proceed from the centre to the circumference; in antipathy from the circumference to the centre.
The power and influence of the stars is with him a chief doctrine, and that every body has its
particular star. The pole-star is that expressly appointed to the magnet.
Man, as a little world, is endowed with a magnetic power (magnetica virtus microcosmica). This power, however, is subjected to the same laws as is the power on the large scale of the universe. In the emotions of joy the heart expands, and sends its spirit from the centre to the circumference. In hatred it contracts, as in antipathy, and holds back its spirits. Man, like the earth, has his poles. Fludd adopts two main streams, the northern and the southern. Man, as the little world, is also divided by his perpendicular line into two equal parts. This line forms in the middle the equator; therefore, he says, man should place himself with his face to the east and his back to the west.
When two men approach each other, their magnetism is either active or passive; that is, positive or negative. If the emanations which they send out are broken or thrown back, there arises antipathy, or Magnetismus negativus : but when the emanations pass through each other from both sides, then there is positive magnetism, for the rays proceed from the centre to the circumference. In this case they not only affect sicknesses but also moral sentiments. This magnetism or sympathy is found not only amongst animals, but also in plants and in animals.
As even bodies, such as the earth and the magnet, which appear to be dead and inert substances, have their emanations and their poles, so much the more must these exist in living things, and above all in man. He gives many examples of sympathy and antipathy amongst animals and plants; speaks of talismans, and loses himself in a labyrinth of superstitions ; speaks of spirits, of devils and their exorcism; so that with his noblest views are mixed common superstitions of the vulgar.
This is a Scotch physician, who asserted so clearly the doctrine of magnetism, that you often hear from him
the very words of Mesmer. He was well acquainted with his predecessors, and exerted himself to bring their ideas into a system, and therewith to build up a firm platform of science. On this account he flattered himself that he had raised magnetic medicine out of chaos.
His doctrines are stated with admirable brevity and erspicuity in a little volume. His work first appeared at Heidelberg. Another edition appeared at Frankfort (Medicina magnetica, Libri III., in quibus tam theoria quam praxis continetur; opus novum admirabile, Francof. 1679, 16). His magnetic theory, which much resembles that of Mesmer, may be briefly stated.
“ That which men call the world-soul is a life, as fire, spiritual, fleet, light and ethereal as light itself. It is a life-spirit everywhere, and everywhere the same; and this is the common bond of all quarters of the earth, and lives through and in all.” Adest in mundo quid commune omnibus mextis, in quo ipsa permanent, etc.
This spirit maintains all things in their peculiar condition: all matter is destitute of action, except as it is ensouled by this spirit.
“If thou canst avail thyself of this spirit, and heap it up in particular bodies, thou wilt receive no trifling benefit from it, for therein consists all the mystery of magic. This spirit is found in nature free from all fetters; and he who understands how to unite it with a harmonising body possesses a treasure which exceeds all riches.'' According to the variety of natural directions and
capabilities, an experienced artist can impart it to all bodies and to every man in a surprising manner”- Aphorism 38.
“He who knows how to operate on men by this universal spirit, can heal, and this at any distance that he pleases”-Aphorism 69.
Maxwell believed that this universal spirit was to be found in light, and this, therefore, was his universal medium. Such an one there must be, and it is no other than the life-spirit condensed on some particular object.
"He who can invigorate the particular spirit through the universal one, might continue his life to eternity if the stars were not hostile”—Aphorism 70. “ He who knows this universal life-spirit and its application can prevent all in