Sunday, 24 June 2018

Pretiosissimum Donum Dei (The Most Precious Gift of God) [Early 15th C.]

The Pretiosissium Donum Dei, or "Most Precious Gift of God" is a classic early alchemical text, and includes a well-known image sequence. Dozens of versions of the Donum Dei exist in manuscript form, dating to the 15th century. The sequence is known under other names, often with different text - usually elucidations from pseudonoymous authors like Thomas Aquinas and Arnoldus.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Abraham von Franckenberg - The Key to the House of David (1646) [beta]

This is an Appendix of Abraham von Franckenberg's publication [1646] of Guillaume Postel's 'Absconditorum clavis, ou La Clé des choses cachées et l'Exégèse du Candélabre mystique dans le tabernacle de Moyse' [The Key of Secrets, or, The Key of Hidden Things and the Exegesis of the Mystic Candelabra in the tabernacle of Moses.], first published by Postel in 1547. Franckenberg served as the Editor, and added several appendixes, of which "The Key of David" is one. In the text below, Franckenberg is the "Editor", and Postel is the "Author". 

In latin, the opening greeting is "Salve Philomysta". Philomysta doesn't seem to exist elsewhere, and is probably a combination of Philo (philosophy) and "mysta", which translates to "deacon", "priest", and other variations through it's connection to "magister sacrorum". A more literal translation would be "Officiating Priest of Philosophy".

Translation and diagram are my own. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Hunting of the GREENELYON


ALL haile to the noble Companie
Oftrue Students in holy Alchimie,
Whose noble practise doth hem teach
To vaile their secrets with mistie speach;
Mought yt please your worshipfulnes
To heare my silly soothfastnes,
Of that practise which I have seene,
In hunting of the Lyon Greene:

The Geometrical Order of the World - beta

This was originally going to be a post of the diagrams from Otto Van Veen's "Physicae et Theologicae Conclusiones" (1621), but I found an old paper, "The Geometrical Order of the World: Otto Van Veen's Physicae et Theologicae Conclusiones" by Christoph Geissmar (known nowadays as Dr. Christoph Geissmar-Brandi), published in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Volume 56, 1993. The author notes that the "conception of this paper was made possible by a Frances A. Yates fellowship at the Warburg Institute."

In the paper, Geissmar-Brandi provides a paraphrasing of the latin text that accompanies each diagram (each considered a "chapter"). This is this basis for the english explanations included below - they have only been slightly edited to fit this format. After the 20 chapters, Geissmar-Brandi provides some comparisons to other works of Van Veen, and those of Kepler and Jacob Boehme, parts of which I will include at the end as well.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Zeus and the Sky-Pillar (The Elysian Way)

The word elysion, which thus signifies both the spot struck by lightning and the abode of the divinised dead, is presumably related to elysie, a ' way' The term is remarkable, and its applicability is not at once clear. We must suppose that the Greeks recognised a definite ' way ' from earth to heaven, along which those honoured by the summons of Zeus might pass. This conception would at least square with certain Pindaric phrases. In a context of Pythagorean import the poet tells how —

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio - Book IX of De Architecture

"Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC), commonly known as Vitruvius or Vitruvi or Vitruvio, was a Roman author, architect, civil engineer and military engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled De architectura. His discussion of perfect proportion in architecture and the human body, led to the famous Renaissance drawing by Da Vinci of Vitruvian Man." 


English translation by Morris Morgan (1914).  Headings are changed to reflect the chapters in the Latin versions. Images are from several 16th century Latin publications (1511, 1523, 1567).

Monday, 13 June 2016

Biography of Ramon Llull (1232-1316)

Image Source: Wikipedia
Source: "Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Volume 8" by Charles Coulston Gillispie (Ed.)
LULL, RAMON (b. Ciutat de Mallorques [now Palma de Mallorca], ca. 1232; d. Ciutat de Mallorques [?], January/March [?] 1316), polymathy.
A Catalan encyclopedist, Lull invented an "art of finding truth" which inspired Leibniz's dream of a universal algebra four centuries later. His contributions to science are understandable only when examined in their historical and theological context. The son of a Catalan nobleman of the same name who participated in the reconquest of Mallorca from the Moors, Lull was brought up with James the Conqueror's younger son (later crowned James 11 of Mallorca), whose seneschal he became. About six years after his marriage to Blanca Picany (1257) he was converted from a courtly to a religious way of life, following a series of visions of Christ crucified. He never took holy orders (although he may have become a Franciscan tertiary in 1295), but his subsequent career was dominated by three religious resolutions: to become a missionary and attain martyrdom, to establish colleges where missionaries would study oriental languages, and to provide them with "the best book[s] in the world against the errors of the infidel."{1}

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Biography of Albrecht Dürer

"DÜRER, ALBRECHT (1471–1528), German painter, draughtsman and engraver, was born at Nuremberg on the 21st of May 1471. His family was not of Nuremberg descent, but came from the village of Eytas in Hungary. The name, however, is German, and the family device—an open door—points to an original form Thürer, meaning a maker of doors or carpenter. Albrecht Dürer the elder was a goldsmith by trade, and settled soon after the middle of the 15th century in Nuremberg. He served as assistant under a master-goldsmith of the city, Hieronymus Holper, and in 1468 married his master's daughter Barbara, the bridegroom being forty and the bride fifteen years of age. They had eighteen children, of whom Albrecht was the second. The elder Dürer was an esteemed craftsman and pious citizen, sometimes, as was natural, straitened in means by the pressure of his numerous progeny. His famous son writes with reverence

Monday, 16 May 2016

Stephan Michelspacher - Cabala: The Mirror of Art and Nature (1663) [English text]

Cabala: The Mirror of Art and Nature
by Stephan Michelspacher

{Latin: Cabala Speculum Artis et Naturae in Alchymia}
{German: Cabala: Spiegel Der Kunst und Natur}


Aesch Mezareph (The Purifying Fire)



The Purifying Fire.


"Aesch mezareph ; or, purifying fire : a chymico-kabalistic treatise collected from the Kabala denudata of Knorr von Rosenroth"