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Thread: Alchemical & Magickal Symbolism in Religious/Spiritual Traditions & Ancient Alphabets

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Marcus View Post
    But I don't fundamentally disagree with this! It's easy from this end of time to be critical of Ficino, but we have so much more material than they had access to. And I think he was trying to "sort it out". I think his approach is more "scholarly" than the more "occult personalities" of his time. "in circulation at his time" is something I said.. I think this has to do with what standard he's being held to, who we are comparing him with. In this regard, someone I would contrast him with is Agrippa.
    LOL. I'm not critical of Ficino. I even had a T-shirt stamped with him as if he was a rockstar. Of course he was a philosopher and probably the one who invented the spirit of the Renaissance. The Renaissance paintings we like are nothing but a graphic representation of his ideas (this is specially true for Michelangelo and Botticelli, though also Leonardo), but he also invented what an artist is.

    And yet he was wrong about the antiquity of some texts, which is not a horrible criticism against him... There was zero experience with a big part of the books he was translating (i.e, he didn't have the chance of reading the opinion about them by other commentators). So it was very hard to date them.

    Agrippa wrote a comprehensive Encyclopedia of the Occult... and a few minor philosophical works which are not relevant. I.e, "On the superiority of women"... in which the main argument is that Eve is the last thing that God creates on Genesis, because she was so perfect that it didn't make sense to create something else. Probably a nice example of proto-feminism, but hardly an unforgettable philosophical book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Marcus View Post
    This leads back to the different periods we date the Yetsirah to. Since I date it to before Marcus, I dispute his influence - on the Yetzirah. At the same time, I find very little of a specific Hebrew character, except the parts concerning the hebrew alphabet.
    The Sepher Yetzirah and Marcus' theory as it is explained by Iraneus is not simply similar, but identical to the point that we are forced to accept that there was a plagiarism there. All the ideas are identical. I think it's not even possible to debate it. So we are left with 2 options: the author of the Yetzirah plagiarized Marcus... or Marcus plagiarized the yetzirah. I do not see a third option.

    Given these two options, it is possible to trace the lineage of Marcus and see how the ideas he expressed are almost an appendix to the ideas of Valentinus. i.e, we can see nowadays the evolution that leads to Marcus.
    Having said such thing: it does not make much sense to me to imagine that this non-documented previous existence of the Sepher Yetzirah is real: is Marcus the last step of an evolution that leads to something that already existed?

    I can't avoid seeing the Sepher Yetzirah as a second century creation; but I also think that a correct dating is important. Otherwise we end up in the same mistakes that Ficino had (i.e, Plato and the Corpus Hermeticum say exactly the same things quite often... if the Corpus Hermeticum was written thousands of years before Plato, then it must be that Plato was a crypto-Hermeticist).

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Marcus View Post
    This brings me to.. your dismissal of oral tradition. How much would we have to disregard (discussing the hebrew tradition would just be a minor part).
    I don't disregard the notion of an oral tradition at all and in several cases it is even necessary to assume that there was one. Two obvious examples:
    Pythagoras... we can't disregard the existence of an oral tradition there, we are even forced to admit that there was one.
    Plato... the works we know (and in the case of Plato we are lucky, there are no missing books) are probably only an advert of his Academy... yeah, we only get to see the commercials. Aristotle was not a fool and he was a direct student. He comments and criticizes ideas of Plato that don't show up in any of his books, meaning that he had more ideas or teachings than the ones we can know because of his books.

    Those two cases are good examples of a documented oral tradition. it's not a speculation that the oral tradition existed, it's even documented.

    I am, however, skeptic when we talk about an oral tradition that remains absolutely undocumented and there is no way to verify its existence (i.e, when it becomes a matter of faith).

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoas23 View Post
    Agrippa wrote a comprehensive Encyclopedia of the Occult...
    And this is how I related him to Ficino, Agrippa's "comprehensive study". I'm only speaking about his tone/style. I think he "reads" more like an occult author than academic/scholarly. Of course the Western Occult tradition has "claimed him". But I think a lot of authors, from his time to this day don't credit him, when he's so obviously a "source" for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by zoas23 View Post
    I can't avoid seeing the Sepher Yetzirah as a second century creation; but I also think that a correct dating is important. Otherwise we end up in the same mistakes that Ficino had (i.e, Plato and the Corpus Hermeticum say exactly the same things quite often... if the Corpus Hermeticum was written thousands of years before Plato, then it must be that Plato was a crypto-Hermeticist).
    And I respect your opinion, but probably won't agree. I mean, I agree on everything but the later dating, and the reliance on Marcus. I don't think the Greek that influenced it was waiting on Marcus. But you strike a nice balance between my opinion, and the "extreme" dating of the Yetsirah to the medieveal period.


    Quote Originally Posted by zoas23 View Post
    I don't disregard the notion of an oral tradition at all and in several cases it is even necessary to assume that there was one. Two obvious examples: Pythagoras... we can't disregard the existence of an oral tradition there, we are even forced to admit that there was one. Plato... the works we know (and in the case of Plato we are lucky, there are no missing books)
    Well, Plato is "historical" (through his actual writings), while Pythagoras is "Legendary". There are no first or second hand accounts of Pythagoras or his actual works. I think there may not even be "third hand". What we know of Pythagoras and the teachings is pieced together from even later sources. Iamblichus' "Life of Pythagoras" was written well over 1000 years after his suggested "life" from these types of sources.

    To be honest, I doubt the literal physical existence of Pythagoras. I think it may be a "magical name" based on the snake. I think that being "taught by Pythagoras" could be like "receiving from Metatron".

    This came up in my memories today in an excerpt about the "letter of Petosiris to Nechepso":

    The attribution of ancient authors is a typical practice of Neoplatonism and Gnosticism
    The basic idea is older than that, it was common practice to ascribe your writings to your Master/Teacher, or the school in general. The "scribes of thoth" recorded the "books of thoth" based on what they "received". The essenes speak of their mysterious "True Teacher". I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the way "Pythagoras" could be understood.

    Regardless of the above, and just in terms of Pythagoras' "legend", it's easier to talk about Plato/Platonism with certainly, much of what we know about Pythagoras is at least somewhat based on "belief/faith".

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
    You might as well call them Hermetists or neo-Pythagoreans, though -perhaps with slight variations on emphasis from one to another... Their focus was not so much to make new discoveries, as to retrieve the wisdom of the ancients.
    This is the exact discussion Zoas and i have having in this thread. As mentioned, "Pythagorean\Platonic\Gnostic" is the way I use to distinguish it from other forms of Greek Philosophy. The term "hermetic" is problematic these days because what it has come to mean ("I read the Kybalion! I'm a hermeticist!"). But I'm with you on this, I think i've discussed it somewhere in these forums.. That in terms of the "Hermetic Art", I don't think it just refers to the Corpus Hermeticum or Hermes Trismegistus, or even Hermes.. but the knowledge of the previous groups mentioned. And also Classical mythology.

    But the term we are discussing, 'Prisca theologia', literally traces to Ficino and his circle of Neo-platonists. There are Pythagorean/Neo-pythagorean trends at the time (and less credible "occult/pseudo" systems), but what Ficino was doing represents a seperate stream.

    This holds particular significance for me is that it was how I got my start studying. A vague notion about this "prisca theologia" although I had no terminology to express it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
    Fact is that all the Renaissance natural philosophers operated within a cosmological framework that had been woven together from Pythagorean, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Hermetic and other sources. This is particularly true for the alchemists.
    Why do you resist using the term Rosicrucian? You forgot "Kabbalah" but otherwise I totally agree with you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
    However, trying to draw exact lines between different schools of thought is generally misleading when it comes to Renaissance philosophers and tantamount to an exercise in mental masturbation.
    I say "intellectual wanking". This relates back to Bruno and the pedants. His big problem was with their reliance on dogma, while he was all about his personal gnosis. The connections he makes are often based as much on this as any studies. In fact, in some ways, he seems kind of lazy. His math doesn't evolve beyond basic Pythagoreanism, and like his contemporaries, he doens't bother to learn to read Hebrew, instead depending on an assistant to translate what he feels are relevant passages.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
    I was talking about modern students of science diligently learning 'facts' from their text-books, with information on when, how and by whom those 'facts' were established at best being the subject of a footnote. It is indeed the reason for many a dead end in modern science that its source texts are far from being adequately studied. E.g., much of Maxwell's theory was lost to students of electromagnetism after it had been curtailed by Heaviside and Gibbs.
    Faraday is a good example. If I remember correctly he was the first to discover field lines with his iron filings. But he wasn't taken seriously by the scientific community of his time, he didn't come up with anything particularly practical. It's only looking back at him AFTER Maxwell that he finally receives his due.

    Maxwell could have gone the same way. He did early work on light with polarized lenses.. It seems as though he was trying to get a look at the underlying structure of space (which I think modern pictures of particle collisions hint at). He left a collection of watercolor diagrams of these experiements..

    But it was his equations that made him, and through that reputation we can look back and "see" Faraday.

  4. #44
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    geometric designs and metaphysical teachings.

    Several things have come up during this discussion.

    One of them is Otto Van Veen's "Physicae et Theologicae Conclusiones" (1621) I found this and posted it to my blog two years ago, as of Nov. 21. I have never found a translation of it, but I did find "The Geometrical Order of the World: Otto Van Veen's Physicae et Theologicae Conclusiones" by Christoph Geissmar (known nowadays as Dr. Christoph Geissmar-Brandi), published in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Volume 56, 1993. The author notes that the "conception of this paper was made possible by a Frances A. Yates fellowship at the Warburg Institute." And it is information from there that I used in my blog.

    From the Prologue:

    "In the prologue Van Veen refers in general terms to the Platonic tradition of diagrammatic explanation in mathematical figures which he wishes to revive and apply to theology. His central concern is the problem of predestination and free..."

    Example:



    "Imagination, like all created things, is real and constant in its body, spirit and soul. Just as God (AAA) through his imagination or verbum (NNN) has created the universe (B). so the imagination of man (O) creates real beings (entia realia) (P) which act corporally on things and bodies. If imagination or thought in the natural, rational spirit is accompanied by faith it extends itself marvellously. The state of the deity in man, when with faith it soars upwards supernaturally by means of the imagination, cannot be understood by natural reason; knowledge of it is for God alone."

    That's just a quick sample.. If that interests you, the rest is here: https://atrightanglestoreality.blogs...orld-beta.html

    The next thing has to do with the Aesch Majim image. I'll redisplay it here for reference:



    Compared to this image I recently came across:



    This is from a work called "Schola sapientum, das ist: Schul der Weisen : verfasset in unterschiedlichen mystischtheologischen Tractaten". I have no idea what it is about.. I'd need Florius to check it out and weigh in. It seems to be a relatively rare title, with only two entries on WorldCat, and everyone's electronic version linking to Google's inferior digitized version. This comes from Embassy of the Free Mind. (Online viewing only). https://embassyofthefreemind.com/nl/...6-683a87443231

    I'd point out the "6" structure, and the fact the four smaller circles around the circumference mark out the square (rotated 45 degrees, like Aesch Majim). What's interesting is that this dates originally to 1703/5, with the Ritman version being 1711.

    I'd compare the concentric circles to Van Veen's diagrams, and this, a representation of the emanation of the Decad, from the cover of "The Theology of Arithmetic - On the Mystical, Mathematical, and Cosmological Symbolism of the First Ten Numbers, Attributed to Iamblichus". (concentric circles is another version of the diagram of the Sefirot):



    And finally, these are from another Embassy of the Free Mind offering. They have it catalogued as "Der Compass der Weisen" but is actually "Des Hermes Trismegists wahrer alter naturweg". I'm not sure if is a piece of Compass, with new diagrams or what its relation is. I know it's been mentioned in passing in the forums, 7 years ago. I've found this same text elsewhere, with uncolored versions of the images. The first is familiar to everyone, the second is Mynsicht's seal from Aureum Saeculum Redivivum, discussed in another thread, and the third is a version of a diagram from Abraham the Jew/Flamel. I'd note the rose in the center of this one.






  5. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Marcus View Post
    If i'm remembering correctly, I don't think there was ever a group of scholars that he met and didn't end up in some kind of confrontation with. Going off on the "pedants" was a favorite of his.. I remember it being a recurring theme in his career.
    It must have been hard for Bruno to pursue and share his cosmic vistas in a world full of small-mindedness, and he did have his Italian temper, but I don't think he was as a compulsive complainer. He indeed had contacts with groups of well educated people that he did not run into trouble with, such as the aforesaid circle around John Dee and the Paracelsian followers of the Swiss alchemist Raphael Eggli.

    I think the john dee circle you mentioned is the "trend of pseudo-Pythagorean occult science" mentioned by Yates.
    No, Yates mentions them as the actual heirs of England's scholastic tradition as represented by Roger Bacon and Michael Scotus.

    By the time Bruno arrived in Oxford, those and other authors (including Thomas of Aquinas) had fallen into disfavour; any books that treated astronomy or mathematics, or that were even slightly reminiscent of Catholic scholasticism in any manner, were looked at with contempt and (in many cases) destroyed. Treatises on the sophistry of grammer, shallow narratives and song lyrics were all the rave!

    I think you are mis-remembering the title of the book in question, unless maybe you are referring to an earlier paper that her books were based on? Her book titles contain all the pieces of the work you refer to.. "The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethean Age", "The Rosicrucican Enlightenment", "Renaissance and Reformation", and finally "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition". Obviously you are talking about the last one. Perhaps you're confusing it with Gatti's "Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science"? I just came upon that searching to see if Yates had a paper with your title. But it turns out I collected Gatti's works that i could find in June, so I guess this isn't the first time she's come up.
    The title I mentioned is the literal translation of Giordano Bruno in der englischen Renaissance, a book by Yates that was published by the Karl Wagenbach Verlag (Germany) in 1989. I assumed I was referring to it by its original title, but oddly enough, upon checking, I couldn't find the latter inside my copy of the book or anywhere else.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Marcus View Post
    And finally, these are from another Embassy of the Free Mind offering. They have it catalogued as "Der Compass der Weisen" but is actually "Des Hermes Trismegists wahrer alter naturweg". I'm not sure if is a piece of Compass, with new diagrams or what its relation is. I know it's been mentioned in passing in the forums, 7 years ago. I've found this same text elsewhere, with uncolored versions of the images. The first is familiar to everyone, the second is Mynsicht's seal from Aureum Saeculum Redivivum, discussed in another thread, and the third is a version of a diagram from Abraham the Jew/Flamel. I'd note the rose in the center of this one.


    You are right, it's from ICH's true and old natural path. See this book (last pages)

    That first image, that is sometimes attributed to Basilius Valentinus is very intersting. We already discussed it in other threads. But I recently found out that this somehow must be related to Jakob Böhme.
    In his Aurora he mentioned "7 Quellgeister", "seven source - spirits". Those are:

    Begierde (desire),
    Bewegnis (movement),
    Angstqualität (quality of fear),
    Feuerblitz (firebolt),
    Liebe (love),
    Hall oder Schall (reverb or sound),
    Verständnis (understanding).

    One can see similarities to the qualities of the seven astrological gods, which are depicted in that VITRIOL image.

    Rudolf Steiner says the seven Quellgeister are the "seven spirits of god" (see. Apocalypsis of John), and is a sevenfold division of the holy spirit. It is inlcuded in this symbol called "the mystical lamb":


    The VITRIOL image shows that the seven spirits all seem to be connected to a reversed triangle (symbol of water) and there are quite some alchemical recipies that mention a sevenfold repetition (seven distillations) to "evoke/shake" all seven of these Quellgeister.



    I never was a fan of Steiner really, but here he gives interersting symbols on how one eventually becomes seven:




    This way he makes a connection to the gunas Tamas, Rajas, Sattwa of the indian Samkhya or Bhagavadgita.

    One can't say alchemy would not be syncretistic

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    @Greg:

    You might want to have a look at the last pages of this book:

    https://www.e-rara.ch/zut/content/titleinfo/7822816

    From p. 66 (book page, not digitalisat page) there is an alchemical explanation of many of our discussed symbols including some pythagorean play on numbers and the Tetragrammaton. It even gives a nice explanation of the meaning of the (coptic and St. Andro's) cross.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    That first image, that is sometimes attributed to Basilius Valentinus is very intersting. We already discussed it in other threads.
    Yes, we've talked about this at length. Probably because of McLean, it is known as the "Azoth" sequence. The German and Latin seemed to have been published at the same time, with the french later. I don't think the German mentions "Azoth" at all?:

    Occvlta philosophia : von den verborgenen philosophischen Geheimnussen der heimlichen Goldblumen vnd lapidis philosophorum
    Azoth, sive aureliae occcultae philosophorum
    Azoth, ou, Le moyen de faire l'or caché des philosophes

    But the images are from the second of two tracts, probably better referred to as "Aureliae Occultae Philosophorum", and it is related to Agrippa's "De occulta philosophia".. Not his 3 Books, but an earlier tract of about 80 pages. Turns out there's another text attributed to B.V., and also related to this work of Agrippa's, "Revelation des mysteres des teintures essencieles des sept metaux", published in 1646.

    In the Yetzirah, the 10 is divided 3 and 7. (well, the 22 is divided 3, 7, 12). The first element is "The Spirit of the Living God". The other 3 are Air, Fire, and Water:

    Three primary letters: Alef, Mem, Shin. Mem lifts up, Shin hisses, Alef is the balancing item.
    -
    Shin is King over Fire, Formed Heaven in the Universe, Hot in the Year, and the Head in the Soul.
    Mem is King over Water, Formed Earth in the Universe, Cold in the Year, and the Belly in the Soul.
    Alef is king over breath (Air), formed air in the universe, temperate in the year, and the chest in the soul.

    The lower seven sefirot have planetary/metallic correspondences:



    The first three represent the "upper upper" world, the lower seven the "upper" world, and finally physical creation, represent by the "cube of space", for the 3D "bodies" that occupy that realm.

    The 5 sefirot that surround Tiferet are known as the arms, legs, and "phallus" of the Blesed Holy One. Yesod is the "Pillar" or "Foundation". The lower aspect is the connection to the physical realm. In this configuration, It's like the upside down pentagram. He has Earth, but has lost his Crown (connection to Above). The regular pentagram is the symbol of "Perfected Man", with his head in the clouds. The realm perfected man would be the Seal of Solomon, with both the Crown and Foundation. Adam Kadmon (Protanthropos)/Tiferet/Arik Anpin is sometimes consider that "totality" of the Tree of Life. That's the man in the Vitriol image. Theres also a term for this in the greek.. I thought it was "Kenoma" but thats not right..

    The way the earlier Kabbalistic texts describe this is 6 rings with the 7th in the middle (referred to in the Bahir as "The Holy Palace". I don't really like the Azoth diagram as there is no way to cut the circle into seven with straight edge and compass.

    Boehme also shows it like this, although this is a translation of the Secret Figures version:


  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    @Greg:

    You might want to have a look at the last pages of this book:

    https://www.e-rara.ch/zut/content/titleinfo/7822816

    From p. 66 (book page, not digitalisat page) there is an alchemical explanation of many of our discussed symbols including some pythagorean play on numbers and the Tetragrammaton. It even gives a nice explanation of the meaning of the (coptic and St. Andro's) cross.

    Wow, that's nice. And its french, which means with machine translation and wife's help I should be able to make it out without much difficulty. And very related to the things I'm working on lately.

    Since you brought it up, here's another Rose/Supreme Center (of fire) with the Cross, again from Secret Figures:



    (those are my attempted recreations of Secret Figures pages from awhile ago.. I'm no good with color/pallettes, but they are all easily replaceable)

  10. #50
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    Are the Sephiroth somehow related to that children game?





    It's called "Himmel und Hölle" (Heaven and Hell, sometimes Earth, Hell and Heaven).

    No, Azoth is not mentioned in that text attributed to B.V. but you can see it on that image of Paracelsus.

    Last edited by Andro; 1 Week Ago at 07:13 PM. Reason: Image fix.

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