Skip to main content

Of The Soul Of The World & The Mundane Together With The Prisca Magia

The famous ‘Flammarion engraving’


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is a quote from Scott Gosnell edition and translation of Giordano Bruno’s unpublished works, here gathered under the theme of Magic, taken as natural magic or the understanding of the mysteries of the Cosmos. Here the quote is from the short treatise, ‘On Mathematical Magic’ which in an earlier post we presented as Bruno’s effort to modernize material similar to the pseudo-Apollonius’ ‘Ars Notoria’.


‘Heaven and Earth are animate, moreover the celestials are seen to be bodies, as conceded by the noblest of poets and wisest of philosophers, and that single universal spirit is indwelling in the universal machinery, one infused mind is the driver of the universal mass, as Pythagoras said. If the inferior, mixed and partial had soul and life, why not also their universe, from which they, like pristine seeds are somehow produced, as nobler bodies and greater principles, than are the plants and trees?

Why then should we deny life to that soil and water, from which so many plants and animals are generated, enlivened, nurtured and grown? How is that not the life of a living thing? How are animal produced if it is not living? And is the speech of Theophrastus not to be considered philosophy, when he thinks that celestial bodies live and are animals, animals that is, with rational souls, so they agree to perpetual order among them, and they produce certain rational work. It is therefore the reason of the Earth in the Earth, the Moon in the Moon, the Sun in the Sun, and this soul is not cast out of the body, alike the similar soul of an animal, and it is understood to be together with its body one thing crafted by God, who has for them a higher purpose than for the case of our common bodies; and it implies that a more perfect body should be informed by a more perfect soul. Hence, their motion is more perfect, regulated, ordered, not wayward nor driven away by vicissitudes, perfectly choosing the best way to the best destination. Hence, when the mind is perfect, its counsel does not vary, and sings with other bodies as if constituting one chord and universal harmony on Apollo’s lyre.

True names are then imagined for the celestial animals, of whom some hold the seat of understanding, others provide specific life-strengths and in this way are in ‘Orpheus’ and the ‘Prisca Theologica’.

So, in the ninth sphere the power of knowledge is held by Bachus Cribonius and the life-blessing function devoted to the Muse Calliope. In the heaven of the stars are Picionius & Urania. In the heaven of Saturn, Amphietes & Polyhymnia. In Jove’s heaven, Sabazius & Terpsichore. In the heaven of Mars, Bessarius & Clio. In the Heaven of the Sun, Trietaricus & Melpomene. In the heaven of Venus, Lucius & Erato. In Mercury’s heaven, Sylenius & Euterpe. In the Moon’s heaven, Liaaeus & Thalia.

In Fire, Planeta & Aurora. In Air, Jupiter the thunderbolt-thrower & Juno. In Water, Ocean & Thetys. In Earth, Pluto & Prosperpine. They are also called by different names: In Fire, Vulcan. In Water, Neptune. In Earth, Dite.In the universe, the Magi name Jove as the world, for he is the soul of the world; then Apollo, the mind of the world and Minerva, nature’s mind.’


Original Latin:

XII. ‘De anima mundi et mundanorum iuxta priscorum magiam. Caelum et mundum esse animatum, insuper et caelestia quae videntur corpora, nobilissimis poëtis et sapientissimis philosophis est concessum, et quod unicus spiritus universalis est universae machinae insitus, una mens infusa per ipsius artus universam molem exagitat, ut dicit Pythagoras. Si quippe haec inferiora mixta et partialia animam habent atque vitam, cur non ipsum universum, a quo ista tanquam f…. quoddam producuntur, corpus nobilius et magis principale, quam sit planta, arbor? Cur enim terram et aquam negemus vivere, quae ex se innumerabiles plantas et animantes generant, vivificant, nutriunt et augent? Quomodo a non viventibus vita? Quomodo producet animam viventem non vivens? Et dicit Theophrastus non censendum esse philosophum, qui dubitet caelestia corpora vivere et animata esse, animata inquam anima rationali, ut ad perpetuum ordinem inter se conspirent certisque rationibus opera sua producant. Sit ergo in terra ratio terrenorum, in luna lunarium, in sole solarium, et hanc animam non abiecti corporis animae similem, sed intelligentem esse et cum corpore suo unum ex Diis efficere, quae multo meliores habeat actuum suorum rationes, quam nos nostrorum corporum; et convenit ut perfectius corpus perfectiori anima informetur. Hinc motus ille perfectissimus, regulatissimus, ordinatissimus, non vagus ac vicissim pervagans, electissimam tenens viam ad optimum finem, ubi mens perfecta non variat consilium et cum corporibus aliis vel<ut> unum monochordum constituit et universalem harmoniam per Apollinis lyram decantatam.Nomina vero quae fingunt caelestium animarum, quarum aliae sunt cognoscentes, aliae vivificantes, sunt huiusmodi iuxta Orphicam et priscorum theologiam; unde in nona sphaera virtus cognoscitiva est Bacchus Cribronius, vivificationis Musa Calliopes, in coelo stellato sunt Picionius et Urania, in caelo Saturni Amphietes etc..’

Note: The Latin is not complete: The last section of thequote starts a few sentences and goes on with an ‘etc,…’! Gosnell obviously worked with different manuscripts hence this sentence is longer, providing quite an interesting panorama.

🌿Latin: 🌿More about the Flammarion Engraving:
Of The Soul Of The World & The Mundane Together With The Prisca Magia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

all rights reserved Via Hygeia 2022