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Black Art, but the high and pure Theurgy which repels all converse with the evil demon.
Theurgical magic, the magic which seeks its converse with the Power, the Intelligence, and the Angel, might have been first diffused in Spain by the sectaries of the Gnostic doctrines, who appear to have found numerous adherents in that country during many centuries. After the Moorish conquest, it extended its empire. The Castilian was subdued into respect for his hereditary enemies. He bowed to their imaginary wisdom as well as to their real knowledge. Nor did these pursuits fail to find the highest patronage. Alfonso the Wise thus ordered that the book of King Piccatrix the philosopher should be rendered into Latin, out of the Saracen tongue. At his command the translation was made in the year of our Lord 1256, and in the year of the era of Alexander 1568, and in the year of the era of Cesar 1295, and in the year of the Arabs 556. We are informed by bibliographers that even in the last century very large prices were given for this Encyclopedia of magic, by persons who thought it would certainly enable them to evoke any spirit whom they chose.—The work, however, has little originality. Arbatel and the Clavicula Salomoiiis, both of which are comparatively common books, though less extensive, are nearly as curious in all material points. King Piccatrix was a mere compiler, and he confesses, conjurer as he was, . that he made the book from the works of two hundred authors, amongst whom we find the honoured names of Abentaria, Empedocles, Queen Folopodria, Tinliquiz Zadilair, Zatrac, Mercury of Babylon, Hermes Trismegistus, Alforz, Alphila, Adam, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, and the great Geber Abenhayen. Those, however, who have not ready access to the volumes of the beforementioned sages and magicians, may satisfy themselves with the treatise of Piccatrix.—It will be useful to the student who, without much research or labour, wishes to acquire a compendious and practical notion of the art and mystery of talismans and astral magic, whilst the general reader may receive it as an authentic record of Arabian superstition. There is no reason whatever to doubt its imputed origin. Many of the magical planetary seals appear to be Cufic monograms, and the whole theory involved by the invocations of Piccatrix, and the other tomes of the same nature, is in conformity with the astral theurgy of the Semitic nations. Michael, Gabriel, Samael, Raphael, Uriel, Zadkiel, and Satiel, move in the planets and inform the celestial spheres. They were adjured and bound by holy names; and aloes and sandal wood and fine spices were burned in the censer. Purified by fasting and by orison, clad in white linen, armed with the elemental sword, shielded by the Pentacle of David, the Master entered the circle of • • -- characters characters traced on the consecrated ground, and the threatening prayer was read aloud which bound the planetary king to descend from his orb, and obey, or at least assist, the gifted mortal.
The Latin invocations are intermixed with words and phrases in other languages, Greek, and Hebrew, and Chaldee; some there are which cannot be easily recognized, but which may possibly be Egyptian. The Egyptian name of the sun, <I>PH, is often found on the Gnostic or Basilidian gems, which owe their origin to sectaries, whose religious opinions were analogous to the doctrines recorded in the magical treatises of a much later date. The visionary shapes whom we are taught to evoke in the magical treatises do not belie their historical character. Many of the hideous monsters engraved upon the gems correspond with the description of the genii of the planets, The angel of Saturn may be peculiarly recognized—Tall of stature, with an awful aspect, four faces frown around hi& head, on each knee is seen a human countenance, but black and glaring. His motion is like the tempestuous blast, earth shakes beneath his tread. The talismans of the middle ages always retained a close affinity to their prototypes, and the seals continued to be armed with the imagery of the supposed disciples of Babylon. A very curious talismanic ring of this class was lately found near St. Albans, and is now in the possession of Lord Verulam. The gem is a red stone, upon which is engraved a lion grasping the head of some animal; above is a star. The ring is of silver, and two inscriptions in concentric circles surround the stone—Ecce Vicit Leo. SiCillvm Iohannis Delaval. The characters are of the reign of Edward I. or his successor. The magical figures engraved on the stone are copied from prototypes of much older date; three have been published by Chifflet in his Essay on the Basilidian Gems (pi, vii.)
An anathema had been denounced against the vain and presumptuous pursuits of magic. When assembled in public, and debating in the college, the Doctors allowed of no distinction between Celestial and Goetic magic, between the invocation of a good demon and the compact with an evil one. But the restless aspirations of ardent minds would not be obedient to the decree. And many a sound theologian, who exclaimed loudly in the chair against these heresies and errors, would seek a secret communion with beings descending from other spheres. But to justify himself to his own conscience, he endeavoured to fancy that he was not acting in repugnance to the faith and doctrine which he owned. The rites of Christianity were secretly and silently blended with the magical ceremonies of the Eastern tribes, and the spells of the middle ages exhibit a strange confusion of the practices of the
church and the Platonic cabala. The sign of the cross alternates with the pentalpha, and the names of the Evangelists are added to the angels of the stars. Holy water which chased away the demon, also assisted in consecrating the hallowed Lamen and the Periapt. The lustration was in direct disobedience to the ritual whence it derived its power; but with equal perverseness, the sacrifice of the mass was thought to perfect the charm which subjected the thaumaturgist himself to the dread penalty of excommunication, and deprived him of the benefit of the sacrament.
It is somewhat singular to observe how rapidly these abuses gained ground in the ages approaching to the century of the Reformation. Ecclesiastical ceremonies during that period were the invariable accompaniments of magic and demonolatry. No spell could be Cast without a priest; images were baptized in the font and placed upon the altar for the purpose of striking the victim whom they represented with disease and death. There were few of the magicians of Catharine of Medicis who were not in holy orders. The Calvinists of France owed little charity to popery, or to the reigning dynasty, and their credulity has sometimes exaggerated the charges, but in the main they are not to be denied. The causes which induced these perversions of doctrine, also conVerted the saint into a being whose character assimilates with the attributes of the Agathodemon of a classical age; whilst the prayers addressed to the canonized martyr or confessor echo the voice of the magic lay.
Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, the three kings of Cologne, appear as favourites in this system of magical hagiology.—Their names were inscribed in phylacteries, which were worn as preservatives against sudden death. But the same names also constituted the potent charm which revealed the fatal hour. - It was thought, that if, on new year's eve, these names were written with blood upon the forehead, the person thus seeking the painful foreknowledge, would see himself reflected in the mirror, under the semblance in which he was fated to expire.
When these orisons, the comfort of fond and doting age, were in the vernacular tongues, they were almost always couched in rhythm, if not in verse, muttered or sung by the crone, and spelt by lisping childhood. The following, perhaps in the language of the thirteenth century, was used to staunch blood:—
Longes J>e knyht him understod
To Cristes syde his spere he sette
Jer com out water an blod.
In J;e nom of J?e vader astond blod!
In J>e nom of f e holi gost asta blod!
At Cristes will ne driple fe na more!
A happy and lucky day was secured in France by a rhythmical invocation, which we notice on account of its relation to another article of popular belief in that country, namely, that whoever saw the image of St. Christopher, was preserved during that day from misfortune:—
Seint Jehan et son agnel
Seint Christofle et son fardel
Seinte Marie et sa brassee
Me tloint bonne et eureuse journee. No sanction has been given by the Church of Rome to these 'superstitious observances,' which, on the contrary, were severely and sincerely reprobated by her prelates. But the corruptions of which Rome approved, could not fail to induce others which she condemned; and the boundary between legitimate hagiolatry and forbidden saint-worship was so faint that such censures would possess but little real influence amongst the uninformed and illiterate vulgar. The feasts of the saints became associated with many magical observances obviously derived from the times of heathenism. Both among the eastern and the western nations, the eve of Saint John, on whose morrow the sun completed his highest course, was deemed the fitting time for those mystic rites which command the evil spirits and give an insight into futurity. In aftertimes the pure and splendid Artemis herself could no longer be addressed by the maiden of France or England; it was therefore necessary that the invocation should take another form, and the 'moon was charmed,' at the hour when the silver beams of the newborn crescent first shone forth, by the name of Saint Lucia or Saint Agnes.
Love-charms were sometimes dispensed by beldames of no ambiguous character. Philtres, in most cases, were evidently poisons, and the persons who dispensed them, though innocent of sorcery, were not undeserving of the punishment of the law. Sympathetic magic compelled the desired object to appear, unwilling, perhaps, and unconscious of the power which attracted him. One of the most amusing episodes in the most amusing of romances is founded upon this belief. Pamphila, ignorant of the deception practised by her attendant, burns the tresses which she supposes 10 have belonged to the Boeotian youth. The three wine sacks, whence the hair was cut, become filled with feeling and with life; they rise, they obey the irresistible spells of the Thessalian sorceress, and stumble with blind alacrity through the street, until they arrive at her door. Here Apuleius meets them, and mistaking the goat skins, thus animated, for as many midnight robbers, he attacks them with all the valour of the knight of La Mancha, until his sword has laid them low. It is rather sorrowful than amusing to find that another
version version of this old story was produced as a charge against the luckless Doctor Fiat). Daphnis was also compelled to appear really and corporally at the bidding of Hecate; and the magic of Thessaly, transmitted from age to age, yet lurks by the village rire-side. The task allotted to the lynx is now performed by the ' Dumb Cake;' the method of composing it, may be found in Mother Bunch. Some difficulty, however, must be encountered in making this charm stand firm and good, as rather a painful duty is imposed upon the three spinsters who blend the ingredients. If they speak one word during four-and-twenty hours, the spell is broken. In Scotland, the stories which are told respecting its effect, have all a fatal catastrophe. They tell you, that the bridegroom thus conducted by the infernal powers, enters the opened door at midnight, and looking earnestly at his intended spouse, casts some weapon on the table, and then vanishes. A marriage, of course, takes place, and the wife must keep the murderous token with fearful care. If she parts with it, his love is lost; and if it is discovered by the husband, and according to the story, he always discovers it, then the magical necessity compels him to plunge it in her breast. A moral might be fancied to lurk in this idle legend. Supposing it to be an apologue —and it possesses as good a right to be so considered as the fables of classical antiquity—an intelligible lesson is conveyed. The bearer is warned to distrust an affection raised by fraud or guile; and to consider that no passion can produce a durable happiness, unless it fairly arises from the heart.
The wily Tregetour must take his rank amongst the natural magicians. When he played in the hall, and cast the balls in the air, and pierced his body with the innocuous sword, the guests eyed him half with delight and half with horror, nothing doubting that some minor fiend, if not Zabulon himself, assisted in the sport and deceit. Originally, there is no doubt that the juggler was a real magician. In the laws of Edward and Guthrum, the pigleri is associated with the witch and the murderer, against whom are denounced the pains of banishment or death.* Bodin is loud in exclaiming against the famous Trois Eschelles,—he must not be identified with the expert finisher of the law in Quentin Durward— who was guilty of the diabolical trick of slipping the rings from off a golden bracelet, which nevertheless remained entire. It is said that Trois Eschelles confessed that he performed this and other feats of a like nature, at the court of Charles IX., by the help of an evil spirit, to whom he had sold himself, and he was condemned to die. A pardon was granted; but the juggler relapsed, and
* It is probable the English word juggler is derived from the Saxon pijlen and not from the French jongleur.