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John Ellistone – The ABC Of A True Theosophical School

Rare early portrait

of Jacob Boehme,

from the library of the late

Dr. Charles Musès.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is by John Ellistone as a foreword to Jacob Boehme’s ‘Signatura Rerum’ translated by him, for John Sparow’s first English edition, London, 1651, printed by John Macock for Gyles Calvert. Transcribed as is from our Via-HYGEIA library’s original. John Ellistone walks us through the emblematic arcane alleys of the early English Boehmian theosophical school-carefully delineating its program-not as someone external, but as an generous insider.


‘…..It is uncertain to me whether the author wrote a preface to this treatise or not : and I could wish that the little spark of breathing desire which is in me after true knowledge, were able to write any thing which might be worthy of an introduction unto this book ; which is a true mystical mirror of the highest wisdom, for albeit I have been trained up in the schools of learning, and have made some progress in the tongues and arts, according to my mean capacity, yet I do acknowledge myself to be but an unlearned A. B. C. scholar in Sophia’s School, that would fail learn to read her Christ’s Cross line.

Indeed the best treasures that a man can attain unto in this world, is true knowledge; even the knowledge of himself: for Man is the great Mystery of God, the microcosm, or the compleat abridgement of the whole universe: he is the Mirandum dei opus, God’s master-piece, a living emblem, and a hieroglyph of Eternity and Time; and therefore to know whence he is, and what his temporal and Eternal Being, and well being is, must needs be that ONE necessary thing, unto which all our chief study should aim, and in comparison of which all the wealth of this world is but loss and dross.

Hence Salomon the wisest of the Kings of Israel saith : “Happy is the Man that findeth Wisdom, and the Man that getteth Understanding, for the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and there-of than fine gold ; she is more precious then rubies, and all things that can be desired are not to be compared unto her…

This is that Wisdom which dwelleth in Nothing, and yet possesseth All things, and the humble resigned Soul is its play fellow: this is the Divine alloquy, the Inspiration of the Almighty, the Breath of God, the Holy Unction, which instructeth it aright in all things; and searcheth the depths of God, 1 Cor.2.10.

This is the precious Pearl, whose beauty is more glorious, and whose virtue more Sovereign than the Sun: it is a never-failing comfort in all afflictions, a balsam for all sores, a Panacea for all diseases, a sure antidote against all poison and Death it self; it is that joyful and assured companion and guide, which never forsakes a man, but convoyes him through this valley of misery and death, into the blessed Paradise of perfect Bliss.

If thou asketh what is the way to attain to this Wisdom: Behold! Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, telleth plainly in these words, Luc,9.23: “…If any man comes after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, daily, and follow me ”; or as he saith elsewhere, “… Unless ye be born again, ye cannot see the kingdom of heaven ” ; or as St. Paul saith, 1 Cor.3.18: “If any man seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

Herein lieth that simple child like way to the Highest Wisdom, which no sharp reason or wordly learning can reach unto; nay, it is foolishness unto reason, and therefore so few go the way to find it. The proud sophisters and wiselings of this world have always trampled it under foot with scorn and contempt, and have called it Enthusiasm, madness, melancholy, whimsey, phancy, etc…but wisdom is justified of her children.

Indeed every one is not fit or capable of the knowledge of the Eternal and Temporal Nature in its Mysterious operations, neither is the proud covetous world, worthy to receive a clear manifestation there-of and therefore the only wise God (who giveth Wisdom to every one that asketh it aright if him) hath lock up the jewells in his blessed treasury, which none can open but those that have the Key, which is this: viz. “Ask and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you…” The father will give the Spirit to them that ask him for it.

This is the true Theosophick school wherein this Author learned his A.B.C. and unto which we must go if we would understands his writings; for we must know that the sons of Hermes, who have commenced in the high school of true magick and theosophy, have always spake their hidden wisdom in a mystery ; and have so coucht it under shadows and figures, parables and similies, that none can understand their obscurely-clear writings, but those that have had admitance into the same school, and have tasted of the feast of Pentecost. And this doth not at all seem strange to the babes of Divine Mercury, for the mysteries of philosophy, divinity and theosophy, must not be profaned and laid open to the views of the outward astral reason, which turns all to its selfish pride, coveteouness, envy, wrath and cunning hypocrisies; and therefore a parabolical or magical phrase or dialect is the best and plainest habit and dress that mysteries can have to travel in up and down this wicked world ; and thus parables have a double and different respect and use, for as they do conceal and hide secrets from the rude and vulgar sort, who are not able or patient to bear any things but what suites with their common conceit and opinions, so likewise, they do sweetly lead the minds of the true searcher into the depths of wisdom councel; They are as the cloudy pillar of Moses: they have a dark part and they have a light part, they are dark to the Egyptians- the pharisaical sons of sophistry-but light unto the true Israel-the children of the mystery.

And therefore whosoever will be a nursling of Sophia and learn to understand and speak the language of Wisdom, he must be born again of, and in, the word of wisdom, Christ Jesus, the immortal Seed; the Divine Essence, which God breathed into his paradissical soul, must be revived and must become one again with that which he has in God before he was a creature, and then his Eternal Spirit may enter into that which is within the Vail, and see not only the litteral but the moral, allegorical and analogical meaning of the Wise and their dark sayings; he then I say will not fit to enter, not only into Solomon’s porch, the outer court of natural philosophy, sense and reason, but likewise into the inward court of holy and spiritual exercise, in divine understanding and knowledge; and so he may step into the most inward and holiest place of Theosophical Mysteries, where-into none are admitted to come, but those that have received the high and holy Unction.

But lest I should transgress in being too large, I will endeavour briefly to hint unto the reader what this book doth contain, albeit the spirit of Wisdom herein cannot be deliniated with pen and ink, no more then a sound can be painted, or the wind grasped in the hollow of the hands; but know that herein he doth lively decipher and represent unto thee the Signature of all things, and gives the contents of Eternity and Time, and glanceth at all Mysteries.

Herein the Author sets forth fundamentally the birth, sympathy and antipathy of all beings, how all beings do originally arise out of one Eternal Mystery, and how that same mystery doth begeth itself in itself from Eternity to Eternity; and likewise how all things, which take their Original out of this Eternal Mystery may be changed into Evil, and again out of Evil into Good, with a clear and manifest demonstration how Man hath turned himself out of the Good into Evil, and this transmutation is again out of Evil into Good; moreover, herein is declared the outward Cure of the body; how the outward life may be freed from sickness by its likeness or assimilate, and be again introduced into its first Essence, where also by way of parables or similitude the Philosopher’s stone is lively described for the temporal Cure; and along with it the Holy Corner Stone, Christ alone, for the everlasting Cure, Regeneration and perfect restitution of all the true, faithful, eternal Souls. In a word, his intent is to let thee know the inward Power and Property by the outward sign; for Nature hath given marks and notes to everything, whereby it may be known ; and this is the language of Nature, which telleth for what everything is good and profitable. And herein lieth the Mystery, or central science of the high Philosophical Work in the true Spagiric Art, which consumates the Cure not only for the body but for the Soul.

But let the Reader know the sharp speculation of his own reason will never pry into the depth of this book, but rather bring him into a maze of doubtful notions, wherein he will bewilder himself, and think the Author’s phrases tedious, irksome and strange ; and therefore the understanding lieth only in the manifestation of that Spirit, which in the Day of Pentecost gave forth the true sense and meaning of all language in one. Now if that Spirit doth rule and dwell in thee, then thou mayst understand this Author in the deepest ground, according to thy creatural Constellation, both in the Eternal and Temporal Nature; but if not, these things will be but as the Relation of tifles and chimera’s unto thee. And therefore if thou beest of a Saturnine property, dull and dark, shut up in the house of Luna, soar not too high with thy outward reason, lest thou fall indeed into the deep abyss of darkness; but wait patiently till the divine Sol shall shine again in thy dark and selfish Saturn, and give thee some beams and glimpses of his Eternal Light, and then thy angry Mars will be changed into pure Love-zeal, and thy prating pharisaical and hypocritical Mercury into a meek, mild and Christian Speaking of God’s works and wonders into the dispensation of his Wisdom; and thy doubtful, unsettled Jupiter will be turned into a plerophory, or most full assurance of true joy, and saving comfort in thy Religion; thy earthly Venus into heavenly Love, and thy eclipsed mutable Luna into pure, perfect and cristaline streams of Light, Life and Glory.

But the proud scorner that will take no warning is of Lucifer’s regiment, who saw the Mystery of God’s Kingdom to stand in meekness, simplicity and deep humility, and therefore out of his pride would aspire to be above the divine Love and Harmony of obedience to God’s Will, and so fell into the abyss of the dark world, even into the outmost darkness of the first principle, which we call Hell, where he and his legions are captives, from which the Almighty God of Love deliver us. Amen !

And so I will end with the words of the Author at the conclusion of the book, where he saith thus :

I have faithfully with all true admonition represented unto the Reader what the Lord of all Beings hath given me; he may behold himself in this Looking-glass within and without, and so he shall find what, and who he is: Every Reader, be he good or bad, will find his profit and benefit therein: It is a very clear Gate of the Great Mystery of all beings; by glosses, comments, curiosity and self-wit, none shall be able to reach or apprehend it in his own ground; but it may very well meet and embrace the true Seeker, and create him much profit and joy, yea be helpful unto him in all natural things, provided that he apply himself thereunto aright, and seek in the fear of God, seeing it is yet a time of seeking, for a Lilly blossometh upon the mountains and valleys in all the ends of the Earth: He that Seeketh, Findeth.

And so I commend the Reader unto the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Yours in the true service of all Christian Love. John Ellistone.’

‘Signatura Rerum’ frontispiece, for the 1730 third German edition, also called the second Gichtel edition.


John Ellistone – The ABC Of A True Theosophical School

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