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Re: VMs: Necromancy

Hi, Nick

I would welcome the corroboration of any history buffs
on the list; it is my understanding that Agrippa was
more or less an anthologist and did not innovate on
any of the subjects he was explaining.

For example, the reference to the Orphic theogony
which falls under his description of the significance
of the number eight is one that predates the Common
Era.  Throughout his bookes he quotes authors right
and left, at least by name, if not by passage.  It is
painstaking, but you can find his sources and document
them, as I did for the "Orpheus" attribution of the
four figures and the egg, if you become interested in
doing so.

Yes, I can understand why most of the necromancers
appeared to be "in the church" as minor clerics. 
Those who attended university were earmarked for such
positions in the Church.  And they are the ones who
were taught astronomy, astrology, and had the capacity
to use ceremonial magic (magic was in fact, although
it makes us smile, an early version of what we now
call science).  Knowledge of astrology was considered
essential to a positive outcome of such a ritual, even
in necromancy.  So although others with less formal
education may have been prepared to enact other forms
of witchcraft, those who were capable of necromancy
were pretty much those who had more education and thus
were headed for careers in the Church.

A belief I find more interesting, actually, with
relation to the VMs, was that each human being born
was given a spirit of a star, as a "guardian angel." 
Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), as you probably know,
wrote during the fifteenth century Italian
Renaissance.  Ficino writes about this belief, which
he attributes to Plato and "to which all the ancients
ascribed", in his Three Books of Life, in the final
book: _On Obtaining Life From the Heavens_, chapter

All those "nymphs" with their potbellies, each
pointing to a star, certainly make me think of this

Hmmm.  The gnostics, who told of the Orphic theogony,
were all about reincarnation.  Perhaps the gist of the
ritual was to reincarnate the spirit of a certain dead
person into a new baby by way of the stars. . . ?  No,
gnostics didn't like life in the body and thought it
was evil.  They wanted to ultimately return to God,
not to be reincarnated again and again.  Ironically,
it would have been a heresy against gnosticism.

Well, thanks for the "food for thought"!   



--- Nick Pelling <nickpelling@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Hi Pamela,
> At 05:04 11/09/2004 -0700, Pamela Richards wrote:
> >Agrippa, who was initially published in Germany, is
> >the most widely read authority on necromancy and
> other
> >forms of magic, declares what you have just stated:
> >that evil spirits are most likely fallen angels. 
> But
> >previous to that explanation, he states that the
> >spirit of each angel (that is _each_ angel,
> seemingly
> >regardless of fallen or unfallen state) is bound to
> a
> >star (either a fixed star or a wandering star; that
> >is, a planet).
> The relevant question here is: was connecting demons
> to particular fixed 
> stars part of the medieval necromantic tradition, or
> was it a later 
> Renaissance addition? You suspect the former (based
> on your 16th century 
> reading), while I suspect the latter (based on my
> 15th century reading) - 
> perhaps someone on-list more informed (perhaps on
> Agrippa?) might be able 
> to say which is more likely?
> >I guess you might say that most necromancers were
> >within the Church, particularly if you kept in mind
> >that everyone was expected to be in the Church.
> What Kieckhefer meant was that, based on trial
> records, it appears to be 
> the minor orders of clergy that were most drawn to
> necromancy, rather than 
> the laity (per se).
> >This is why there are few surviving materials on
> this
> >subject, and many of them in manuscript form; there
> >were few publishers willing to go out on a limb and
> >disseminate heretical instructions in black and
> white.
> >  Agrippa's publisher was anonymous.
> FWIW, this is Kieckhefer's justification for going
> into so much detail on 
> Clm 849.
> >Yes, I agree it is not a large part of the
> document.
> >So what do you think of the circular motif of the
> four
> >figures with an "egg?"  Do you find it consistent
> with
> >the magic circle?
> IIRC, some necromantic conjurations involve (for
> example) a white egg from 
> a black hen: so it's perfectly conceivable that the
> items being held by the 
> characters in each magic circle are required for
> that particular ritual. A 
> ring was another recurrent item (which we also can
> apparently see being 
> held up in the VMs), as was a sword (which we
> apparently don't): so, the 
> connections are many, but subtle.
> Cheers, .....Nick Pelling..... 
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"I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing, than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance."

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