RENAISSANCE HUMANISM (15th and 16th century) saw a resurgence in
* 1 Artes magicae * 2 Renaissance occultism * 3 Baroque period * 4 List of authors * 5 References * 6 See also * 7 Bibliography
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 .
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
C. S. Lewis
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 Hermetic/Cabalist magic which was created by Giovanni Pico della
The study of the occult arts remained widespread in the universities across Europe up until the Disenchantment period of the 17th Century. 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. As the intellectual mainstream in the early 18th century ceased to believe in witchcraft, the witch trials soon subsided.
LIST OF AUTHORS
Renaissance authors writing on occult or magical topics include: Late Middle Ages to early Renaissance
Renaissance and Reformation
Leonardo da Vinci
Basil Valentine (15th century- published since 1604)
* ^ John S. Mebane, Renaissance Magic -webkit-column-count: 3; column-count: 3;">