The Info List - Renaissance Magic

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Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism
(15th and 16th century) saw a resurgence in hermeticism and Neo-Platonic
varieties of ceremonial magic.


1 Artes magicae

1.1 Nigromancy 1.2 Geomancy 1.3 Hydromancy

2 Renaissance occultism 3 Baroque period 4 List of authors 5 References 6 See also 7 Bibliography

Artes magicae[edit] The seven artes magicae or artes prohibitae, arts prohibited by canon law, as expounded by Johannes Hartlieb in 1456, their sevenfold partition reflecting that of the artes liberales and artes mechanicae, were:

nigromancy ("black magic", demonology, by popular etymology, from necromancy) geomancy hydromancy aeromancy pyromancy chiromancy scapulimancy

The division between the four "elemental" disciplines (viz., geomancy, hydromancy, aeromancy, pyromancy) is somewhat contrived. Chiromancy
is the divination from a subject's palms as practiced by the Romani (at the time recently arrived in Europe), and scapulimancy is the divination from animal bones, in particular shoulder blades, as practiced in peasant superstition. Nigromancy
contrasts with this as scholarly "high magic" derived from High Medieval grimoires such as the Picatrix or the Liber Rasielis. Nigromancy[edit] Practitioners of demonic magic in the late Middle Ages usually belonged to the educated elites due to the contents being written in Latin onto books.Demonic magic was usually performed in groups surrounding a spiritual leader in possession of necromantic books. One such case in 1444, Inquisitor Gaspare Sighicelli took action against a group active in Bologna. Marco Mattei of Gesso and friar Jacopo of Viterbo confessed to taking part in magical practices.[1] Geomancy[edit] The art of geomancy was one of the more popular forms of magic that people practiced during the renaissance period. Geomancy
was a form of divination where a person would cast sand, stone, or dirt on the ground and read the shapes. The Geomantic figures
Geomantic figures
would then tell them "anything" based on geomancy charts that were used to read from the shape. [2] Hydromancy[edit] Hydromancy, a form of divination using water is typically used with scrying. Water is used as a medium for scrying to allow the practitioner see illusionary pictures within it. Hydromancy
originated from Babylonia and was popular during Byzantine times whereas in medieval Europe, it was associated with witchcraft.[3] Renaissance occultism[edit] Both bourgeoisie and nobility in the 15th and 16th century showed great fascination with these arts, which exerted an exotic charm by their ascription to Arabic, Jewish, Romani, and Egyptian sources. There was great uncertainty in distinguishing practices of vain superstition, blasphemous occultism, and perfectly sound scholarly knowledge or pious ritual. Intellectual and spiritual tensions erupted in the Early Modern witch craze, further reinforced by the turmoils of the Protestant Reformation, especially in Germany, England, and Scotland. The people during this time found that the existence of magic was something that could answer the questions that they could not explain through science. To them it was suggesting that while science may explain reason, magic could explain "unreason".[4] C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
in his 1954 English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama differentiates what he takes to be the change of character in magic as practiced in the Middle Ages as opposed to the Renaissance:

Only an obstinate prejudice about this period could blind us to a certain change which comes over the merely literary texts as we pass from the Middle Ages to the sixteenth century. In medieval stories there is, in one sense, plenty of “magic”. Merlin does this or that “by his subtilty”, Bercilak resumes his severed head. But all these passages have unmistakably the note of “faerie” about them. But in Spenser, Marlowe, Chapman, and Shakespeare the subject is treated quite differently. “He to his studie goes”; books are opened, terrible words pronounced, souls imperiled. The medieval author seems to write for a public to whom magic, like knight-errantry, is part of the furniture of romance: the Elizabethan, for a public who feel that it might be going on in the next street. [...] Neglect of this point has produced strange readings of The Tempest, which is in reality [...] Shakespeare’s play on magia as Macbeth
is his play on goeteia (p. 8)

The Hermetic/Cabalist magic which was created by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino
was made popular in northern Europe, most notably England, by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's De occulta philosophia libra tres. Agrippa had revolutionary ideas about magical theory and procedure that were widely circulated in the Renaissance among those who sought out knowledge of occult philosophy. "Agrippa himself was famous as a scholar, physician jurist, and astrologer, but throughout his life he was continually persecuted as a heretic. His problems stemmed not only from his reputation as a conjurer, but also from his vehement criticism of the vices of the ruling classes and of the most respected intellectual and religious authorities." While some scholars and students viewed Agrippa as a source of intellectual inspiration, to many others, his practices were dubious and his beliefs serious. The transitive side of magic is explored in Agrippa's De occulta philosophia, and at times it is vulgarized. Yet in Pico and Ficino we never lose sight of magic's solemn religious purposes: the magician explores the secrets of nature so as to arouse wonder at the works of God and to inspire a more ardent worship and love of the Creator. "Considerable space is devoted to examples of evil sorcery in De occulta philosophia, and one might easily come away from the treatise with the impression that Agrippa found witchcraft as intriguing as benevolent magic"[5] Baroque period[edit] The study of the occult arts remained widespread in the universities across Europe up until the Disenchantment period of the 17th Century.[citation needed] At the peak of the witch trials, there was a certain danger to be associated with witchcraft or sorcery, and most learned authors take pains to clearly renounce the practice of forbidden arts. Thus, Agrippa while admitting that natural magic is the highest form of natural philosophy unambiguously rejects all forms of ceremonial magic (goetia or necromancy). Indeed, the keen interest taken by intellectual circles in occult topics provided one driving force that enabled the witchhunts to endure beyond the Renaissance and into the 18th century.[citation needed] As the intellectual mainstream in the early 18th century ceased to believe in witchcraft, the witch trials soon subsided.[citation needed] List of authors[edit] Renaissance authors writing on occult or magical topics include:

Late Middle Ages to early Renaissance

Johannes Hartlieb (1410-1468) Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino
(1433–1499) Thomas Norton (1433–1513) Johann Georg Faust
Johann Georg Faust

Renaissance and Reformation

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
(1452–1519) Pico della Mirandola
Pico della Mirandola
(1463–1494) Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
(1486–1535) Paracelsus
(1493–1541) Georg Pictorius (1500-1569) Nostradamus
(1503–1566) Johann Weyer
Johann Weyer
(1516–1588) Thomas Charnock
Thomas Charnock
(1524–1581) Judah Loew ben Bezalel
Judah Loew ben Bezalel
(1525–1609) John Dee (1527–1608) Giordano Bruno
Giordano Bruno
(1548–1600) Edward Kelley
Edward Kelley

Baroque period

Basil Valentine
Basil Valentine
(15th century- published since 1604) Nicolas Flamel
Nicolas Flamel
(1330-1418- published since 1612) Heinrich Khunrath
Heinrich Khunrath
(1560–1605) Michael Sendivogius
Michael Sendivogius
(1566–1636) Tommaso Campanella
Tommaso Campanella
(1568–1639) Jan Baptist van Helmont
Jan Baptist van Helmont
(1577–1644) Franz Kessler
Franz Kessler
(1580–1650) Adrian von Mynsicht (1603–1638) Sir Kenelm Digby
Sir Kenelm Digby
(1603–1665) Johann Friedrich Schweitzer
Johann Friedrich Schweitzer
(1625–1709) Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
(1642–1727), see Isaac Newton's occult studies


^ Herzig, Tamar (Winter 2011). "The Demons and the Friars: Illicit Magic and Mendicant Rivalry in Renaissance Bologna". Renaissance Quarterly. 64: 1028 – via JSTOR.  ^ Thorndike, Lynn (1923). A history of magic and experimental science. New York: Macmillan. p. 110. ISBN 9780231088008.  ^ Luck, Georg. Arcana Mundi : Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Collection of Ancient Texts (2nd ed.). The John Hopkins University Press. p. 312.  ^ Dawes, Gregory. "The Rationality of Renaissance Magic". Paregon. 30.  ^ John S. Mebane, Renaissance Magic & the Return of the Golden Age, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

See also[edit]

Alchemy Baroque philosophy Character (symbol) John Crowley's Aegypt Sequence White magic Continuity thesis Hieroglyphica History of magic (other) History of science in the Renaissance Kabbalistic astrology Key of Solomon Natural Magic Scientific revolution The Book of Abramelin


Kurt Benesch, Magie der Renaissance, Wiesbaden, Fourier,(1985). ISBN 3-921695-91-0. Norman Cohn, Europe's Inner Demons: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom, University Of Chicago Press (2001). ISBN 978-0-226-11307-4. Heiser, James D., Prisci Theologi and the Hermetic Reformation in the Fifteenth Century, Repristination Press (2011). ISBN 978-1-4610-9382-4. Nauert, Charles G. Agrippa and the Crisis of Renaissance Thought. Urbana: University of Illinois Press (1965). Ruickbie, Leo, Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician. The History Press (2009). ISBN 978-0-7509-5090-9 Szonyi, Gyorgy E., John Dee's Occultism: Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs, S U N Y Series in Western Esoteric Traditions, State University of New York Press (2005). ISBN