Great People

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim


From De Occulta Philosophia by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa


Chapter 11

How Occult Vertues are infused into the severall kinds of things by Idea's, through the help of the Soul of the World, and rayes of the Stars: and what things abound most with this Vertue.


Platonists say that all inferiour bodies are exemplified by the superiour Ideas. Now they define an Idea to be a form, above bodies, souls, minds, and to be one, simple, pure, immutable, indivisible, incorporeal, and eternall: and that the nature of all Idea's is the same. Now they place Idea's in the first place in very goodness it self (i.e.) God, by way of cause; and that they are distinguished amongst themselves by some relative considerations only, least whatsoever is in the world, should be but one thing without any variety, and that they agree in essence, least God should be a compound substance. In the second place, they place them in the very intelligible it self (i.e.) in the Soul of the world, differing the one from the other by absolute forms, so that all the Idea's in God indeed are but one form: but in the Soul of the world they are many. They are placed in the minds of all other things, whether they be joyned to the body, or separated from the body, by a certain participation, and now by degrees are distinguished more, and more. They place them in nature, as certain small seed of forms infused by the Idea's, and lastly they place them in matter, as Shadows. Hereunto may be added, that in the Soul of the world there be as many Seminal Forms of things, as Idea's in the mind of God, by which forms she did in the Heavens above the Stars frame to her self shapes also, and stamped upon all these some properties; on these Stars therefore, shapes, and properties, all vertues of inferiour species, as also their properties do depend; so that every species hath its Celestiall shape, or figure that is sutable [suitable] to it from which also proceeds a wonderfull power of operating, which proper gift it receives from its own Idea, through the Seminal forms of the Soul of the world. For Idea's are not only essential causes of every species, but are also the causes of every vertue, which is in the species: and this is that which many Philosophers say, that the properties which are in the nature of things (which vertues indeed are the operations of the Idea's) are moved by certain vertues, viz. such as have a certain, and sure foundation, not fortuitous, nor casuall, but efficacious, powerfull, and sufficient, doing nothing in vain. Now these Vertues do not err in their actings, but by accident, viz. by reason of the impurity, or inequality of the matter: For upon this account there are found things of the same species, more, or less powerful, according to the purity, or indisposition of the matter; for all Celestial Influences may be hindred by the indisposition, and insufficiency of the matter. Whence it was a Proverb amongst the Platonists, That Celestial Vertues were infused according to the desert of the matter: Which also Virgil makes mention of, when he sings,

Their natures fiery are, and from above,
And from gross bodies freed, divinely move.

Wherefore those things in which there is less of the Idea of the matter (i.e.) such things which have a greater resemblance of things separated, have more powerfull vertues in operation, being like to the operation of a separated Idea. We see then that the situation, and figure of Celestials is the cause of all those excellent Vertues, that are in inferiour species.

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