Thursday, 17 March 2016

"An Explanation of the Six Mystical Points" by Jacob Boehme (1620)

(I couldn't find an original title page or early english version)




Written in the year 1620


The precious knowledge is not found unless the soul have once conquered in the assault and struck down the devil, so that it obtains the knight's garland, which the gracious virgin Chastity puts upon it as a token of victory that it has overcome in its dear champion Christ. Then the wonderful knowledge rises, but with no perfection.

On the blood and water of the soul.

All that is substantial and tangible is in this world. Now, since the soul is not a substance or entity in this world, neither is its blood and water a substance or entity in this world.

Certainly the soul with its blood and water is in the outer blood and water; but its substance is magical. For the soul is also a magical fire, and its image or form is generated in the light (in the power of its own fire and light) from the magical fire ; and yet is a veritable image in flesh and blood, but in the original state thereof.

As God's wisdom has being, and yet it, wisdom, is not a being; so the soul with its image has being, and yet it, the soul, is only a magical fire, but its sustenance is from its substance.

As a fire must have substance if it is to burn, so likewise the magical fire of the soul has flesh, blood and water. There would be no blood if the tincture of fire and light were not in water. This tincture is the ens or life of wisdom (which has in it all the forms of of Nature), and is the other magical fire.

For it gives all colours; and from its form goes forth divine power in the gentle nature of the light (understand, according to the property of the light in it) ; and according to the property of the fire in it, it is a sharpness of transmutation. It can bring everything to its highest degree; although it is not a live spirit, but the supreme ens.

Hence also the tincture is such an ens in water, and introduces there-into the property of fire and of light, with all the powers of Nature; whereby it transforms the water into blood ; and this it does in the outer and inner water, as in the outer and inner blood.

The inner blood of the divine substantiality is also magical; for it is Magic which makes it into substance. It is spiritual blood, which outer nature cannot touch (riigen), but by imagination only. The inner imagination introduces the outer will into the inner blood, whereby the flesh and blood of the divine substantiality is corrupted, and the noble image of the likeness of God is eclipsed.

The soul's flesh and blood is in the highest mystery, for it is divine substantiality. And when the outer flesh and blood die, it falls unto the outer mystery, and the outer mystery falls unto the inner.

And every magical fire has its brightness and darkness in itself; on account of which a final day of separation is appointed, when all must pass through a fire and be proved, what shall be fit for it or not. Then everything goes into its own magic, and thereafter is as it was from eternity.

On the election of grace. On good and evil.

God is from eternity alone all. His essence divides itself into three eternal distinctions. One is the fire-world, the second the dark world, and the third the light-world. And yet they are but one essence, one in another; but one is not the other.

The three distinctions are alike eternal and without bounds, and confined in no time nor place. Each distinction shuts itself in itself in a being; and its qualification is in accordance with its property, and in its qualification is also its desire, as the centrum naturae.

And the desire is its making, for desire makes being where there is none, and that in the essence of the desire, according to the property of the desire. And all is together only a Magia, or a hunger after being.

Each form makes being in its desire; and each form fulfils itself out of the mirror of its brightness, and has its seeing in its own mirror. Its seeing is a darkness for another mirror, its form is hidden to another eye; but in feeling there is a difference.

For each form derives its feeling from the original state of the first three forms in Nature, viz. from sour, bitter and anguish ; and yet in these three there is no pain in themselves, but fire causes pain in them, and light transforms it into gentleness again.

The right life is rooted in fire; there is the hinge of light and darkness. The hinge is desire; with whatever it fill itself, to the fire thereof the desire belongs, and its light shines from that fire. That light is the form or seeing of that life; and the substance introduced in the desire is the fire's wood, from which the fire burns, be it harsh or soft; and that also is its kingdom of heaven or of hell.

Human life is the hinge between light and darkness; to whichever it give itself up, in that same does it burn. If it give itself to the desire of essence, it burns in anguish, in the fire of darkness.

But if it give itself to a nothing, then it is desireless, and falls unto the fire of light, and then it cannot burn in any pain; for it brings into its fire no substance from which a fire could burn. Seeing then there is no pain in it, neither can the life receive any pain, for there is none in it; it has fallen unto the first Magia, which is God in his triad.

When the life is born, it has all the three worlds in it. The world to which it unites itself, by that it is held, and in that fire enkindled.

For when the life enkindles itself, it is attracted by all the three worlds; and they are in motion in the essence, as in the first enkindled fire. Whatever essence the life in its desire takes in and receives, its fire burns.

11. If the first essence in which the life enkindles itself be good, then is also the fire pleasant and good. But if it be evil and dark, consisting of a fierce wrathful property, then is the fire also a wi-ath-fire, and has a corresponding desire conforming to the property of the fire.

For every imagination desires only essence like unto itself, wherein it originally arose.

The life of man in this time is like a wheel, where the undermost is soon uppermost. It enkindles itself at every essence, and soils itself with every essence. But its bath is the movement of the heart of God, a water of gentleness ; and therefrom it is able to introduce substantiality into its fire-life. The election of God depends not on the first essence.

For the first essence is only the mysterium for a life; and the first life with the enkindling belongs properly to its mysterium out of which it proceeded, be it wholly fierce essence, or a mixed essence, or an essence of light according to the light-world.

The property from which the life first takes its rise, from that also burns the light of its life. This life has no election, and no judgement is passed upon it ; for it stands in its own primitive condition, and carries its judgement in itself. It separates itself from all other source (Qual) ; for it burns only in its own source, in its own magical fire. 16. Election is in respect of that which is introduced, whether it belong to the light or to the darkness. For according as it belongs to the one property or to the other, so also is its life's will. And here it becomes known whether it is of the fierce wrathful essence, or of the love-essence. So long as it burns in one fire, it is forsaken of the other ; and the election of that fire wherein it burns passes upon the life; for it would have it, it is of its property.

But if that fire's will (as the flying punctum) plunge into another fire and enkindle itself therein, then it may enkindle the whole life with that fire, if it remain in that fire.

Then is the life new-born, either unto the dark world or unto the world of light (in whichever the will has enkindled itself), and upon it comes another election. And that is the reason why God suffers people to teach, and so does the devil. Each wishes the life's will to plunge into his fire, and enkindle itself. And then one mysterium seizes the other.

On sin. What is sin, and how it is sin.

A thing that is one has neither commandment nor law. But if it mix with another, then there are two beings in one, and also two wills, one running counter to the other. There is the origin of enmity.

Thus we are to consider of enmity against God. God is one and good, without any pain or limiting characteristic (Qual) ; and though all source or quality (Qual) be in him, yet it is not manifest. For the good has swallowed up the evil or contrary into itself, and keeps it in restraint in the good, as it were a prisoner; for the evil must be a cause of life and of light, but unmanifest. But the good dies to the evil, that it may dwell in the evil, without pain or feeling, in itself.

Love and enmity are only one thing; but each dwells in itself, and that makes two things. Death is the bound of separation between them; and yet there is no death, save that the good dies to the evil, as the light is dead to the pain of fire, and no longer feels the fire.

Thus then must we explain sin in human life. For life is one and good; but if there be another quality therein, then it (life) is an enmity against  life. What things are sins, and what makes them sins. God; for God dwells in the highest life of man.

Now, no unfathomable existence can dwell in one that is fathomable. For, as soon as the right life awakens pain in itself, it is not identical with the unground, in which there is no pain; hence immediately one separates from the other.

For the good or the light is as nothing; but if something come into it, then this something is another than the nothing. For the something dwells in itself in torment (Qual) ; for where there is something, there must be a quality (Qual) which makes and keeps the something.

And thus we are to consider of love and enmity. Love has but one quality and one will, it desires only its like, and not many. For the good is only one, but quality is many; and the human will that desires many, brings into itself, into the One (wherein God dwells) , the torment of plurality.

For the something is dark, and darkens the life's light; and the One is Light, for it loves itself and is no desire after several.

The life's will must therefore be directed towards the One (as towards the good), and thus it remains in one quality. But if it imaginate into another quality, it makes itself pregnant with the thing after which it longs.

And if this thing be without an eternal foundation, in a frail perishable root, then it seeks a root for its preservation, that it may remain. For every life stands in magical fire ; and every fire must have substance in which it burns.

This same thing must make for itself substance according to its desire, that its fire may have food to feed upon. Now, no fire-source can subsist in the free fire; for it attains not that, inasmuch as it is only a self-thing.

All that is to subsist in God must be freed from its own will. It must have no individual fire burning in it; but God's fire must be its fire. Its will must be united to God, that God and the will and spirit of man may be but one.

For that which is one is not at enmity with itself, for it has only one will. Wherever it goes, or whatever it does, that is all one with it.

One will has only one imagination; and the imagination makes or desires only that which assimilates with it. And so in like manner we are to understand concerning the contrary will.

God dwells in all things; and nothing comprehends him, unless it be one with him. But if it go out from the One, it goes out of God into itself, and is another than God, which separates itself. And here it is that law arises, that it should proceed again out of itself into the One, or else remain separated from the One.

And thus it may be known what is sin, or how it is sin. Namely, when the human will separates itself from God into an existence of its own, and awakens its own self, and burns in its own fire, which is not capable of the divine fire.

For all into which the will enters, and will have as its own, is something foreign in the one will of God. For all is God's, and to man's own will belongs nothing. But if it be in God, then all is its also.

Thus we recognize that desire is sin. For it is a lusting out of one into many, and introduces many into one. It will possess, and yet should be will-less. By desire substance is sought, and in substance desire kindles fire.

Now each particular fire burns in accordance with the character of its own being; and here separation and enmity are born. For Christ says :

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth (Luke xi. 23). For he gathereth without Christ ; and whatsoever is not in Him is out of God.

We see, then, that covetousness is sin; for it is a desire out of God. And we see also that pride is sin, for it will be a thing of its own; and separates itself from God, as from the One.

For whatever will be in God must walk in him, in his will. Seeing then we are in God but one in many members, it is against God when one member withdraws itself from the other, and makes a lord of itself, as pride does. Pride will be lord, and God alone is lord. Thus there are two lords, and one separates from the other.

All, therefore, is sin and a contrary will, that desire possesses as its own, be it meat or drink. If the will imaginate there-into, it fills itself therewith and kindles the fire thereof, and then another fire burns in the first, and there is contrary will and error.

Therefore out of the contrary will must grow a new will, which gives itself up again to the one Unity; and the contrary will must be broken and slain.

And here we are to consider the Word of God that became man. If man place his desire therein, he goes out from pain (Qual) , from his own fire, and is new-born in the Word. And thus the out-going will dwells in God; and the first will in greed, earthhness and plurality.

Accordingly plurahty with the body must break, and it (plurality) must perish and fall away from the out-going will, and then the out-going will is recognized as a new birth. For in the One it takes all again into itself; but not with its own desire, but with  its own love - a love that is united with God, that God may be all in all, and his will the will of all things ; for in God exists but a single will.

Thus we find that evil must be subservient unto the life of the good, provided the will again goes out from the evil, from itself, into the good; for fierceness must constitute life's fire.

But the life's will must be turned against itself in conflict; for it must flee from fierceness, and not will it. It must not will desire, and yet its fire (i.e. life's fire) wills desire, and must have desire. Therefore the thing is, to be born anew in will.

Every will-spirit that remains in the desire of its life's fire (as in the ferventness of the wood for fire), or enters thereinto and possesses the earthly, is separated from God as long as it possesses what is foreign, viz. the earthly.

Thus, we recognize how superfluity of meat and drink produces sin. For the pure will, which goes out from life's fire, is drowned in desire and imprisoned, so that it proves too powerless in combat. For the source of fire (or of desire) holds it captive and fills it with craving, so that this same will carries its imagination into the desire.

Accordingly the will in the desire for meat and drink is earthly, and is separated from God. But the will that escapes from the earthly fire, bums in the inward fire, and is divine.

This will that flees from the earthly desire arises not from the earthly fire. No; it is the will of the soul's fire, which is caught and concealed by the earthly desire. It wills not to remain in the earthly desire, but will enter into its One, into God, out of which it originally sprang.

But if it be kept a prisoner in the earthly desire, then it is shut up in death, and suffers agony. And thus is sin to be understood.


At the creation of the world and of all being, the Father put himself in motion in accordance with his property, viz. by the centre of Nature, by the dark world and the fire-world. These continued in motion and domination till the Father moved himself in accordance with his heart (and the light-world), and God became man. Then the love of the hght overcame the Father's fierce wrathful property, and the Father ruled in the Son with love.

Then the Son had dominion in those that did cleave unto God; and the Holy Spirit (that proceeds from the Father and Son) drew men in the light of love, through the Son, to God the Father.

But in the end the Holy Spirit moves in the Father's and also in the Son's property, and both properties become active at once. The spirit of the Father reveals itself in fire and light, as also in the wrath of the dark world. Then the kingdom falls unto the Father. For the Holy Spirit must govern eternally, and be an eternal revealer in the light-world and also in the dark world.

For the two worlds will stand still; and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and Son, bears rule eternally in the two worlds, according to each world's nature and property.

He alone will be the revealer of the wonders. And thus to the Father (who is all) the eternal dominion, which he exercises with the Spirit, is delivered by the Son.

On magic. What magic is. What the magical ground is.

Magic is the mother of eternity, of the being of all beings; for it creates itself, and is understood in desire.

It is in itself nothing but a will, and this will is the great mystery of all wonders and secrets, but brings itself by the imagination of the desireful hunger into being.

It is the original state of Nature. Its desire makes an imagination (Einhildung) , and imagination or figuration is only the will of desire. But desire makes in the will such a being as the will in itself is.

True Magic is not a being, but the desiring spirit of the being. It is a matrix without substance, but manifests itself in the substantial being.

Magic is spirit, and being is its body; and yet the two are but one, as body and soul is but one person.

Magic is the greatest secrecy, for it is above Nature, and makes Nature after the form of its will. It is the mystery of the Ternary, viz. it is in desire the will striving towards the heart of God.

It is the formative power in the eternal wisdom, as a desire in the Ternary, in which the eternal wonder of the Ternary desires to manifest itself in co-operation with Nature. It is the desire which introduces itself into the dark Nature, and through Nature into fire, and through fire, through death or fierceness into the light of Majesty.

It is not Majesty, but the desire in Majesty. It is the desire of the divine power, not the power itself, but the hunger or craving in the power. It is not God's Almightiness, but the directrix in God's power and might. The heart of God is the power, and the Holy Spirit is the revelation of power.

It is, however, the desire not only in the power, but also in the conducting spirit ; for it has in it the Fiat. What the Will-spirit reveals in it, that it brings into a being by the sourness which is the Fiat; all according to the model of the will. According as the will makes a model in wisdom, so does desiring Magic receive it; for it has in its property imagination as a longing.

Imagination is gentle and soft, and resembles water. But Desire is harsh and dry, like a hunger; it makes the soft hard, and is found in all things, for it is the greatest thing (Wesen) in the Deity. It leads the bottomless to foundation, and the nothing into something.

In Magic are all forms of Being of all beings. It is a mother in all three worlds, and makes each thing after the model of that thing's will. It is not the understanding, but it is a creatrix according to the understanding, and lends itself to good or to evil.

All that the will models in wisdom, if the will of the understanding also enter there-into, that does Magic make into a being. It serves those that love God in God's Being; for it makes in the understanding divine substance, and takes this from imagination, as from the gentleness of the light.

It is Magic that makes divine flesh; and the understanding is born of wisdom, for it is a discerner of colours, powers and virtues. The understanding guides the right true spirit with a bridle; for the spirit is soaring, and the understanding is its fire.

The spirit is not dissentient, that it should dissent from the understanding; but it is the will of the understanding. But the senses in the understanding are flying-out and dissentient.

For the senses are the flash from the firespirit, and bring with them in the light the flames of Majesty; and in the darkness they bring with them the flash of terror, as a fierce flash of fire.

The senses are such a subtle spirit that they enter into all beings, and take up all beings into themselves. But the understanding tries all in its own fire; it rejects the evil and retains the good. Then Magic, its mother, takes this and brings it into a being.

Magic is the mother from which Nature comes, and the understanding is the mother coming from Nature. Magic leads into a fierce fire, and the understanding leads its own mother. Magic, out of the fierce fire into its own fire.

For the understanding is the fire of power, and Magic the burning fire; and yet it is not to be understood as fire, but the power or mother to fire. Fire is called the principle, and Magic is called desire.

By Magic is everything accomplished, both good and bad. Its own working is Nigromantia, but it is distributed into all the properties. In that which is good it is good, and in that which is evil it is evil. It is of use to the children for God's kingdom, and to the sorcerers for the devil's kingdom; for the understanding can make of it what it pleases. It is without understanding, and yet comprehends all; for it is the comprehension of all things.

It is impossible to express its depth, for it is from eternity a ground and support of all things. It is a master of philosophy, and likewise a mother thereof.

But philosophy leads Magic, its mother, as it pleases. As the divine power, viz. the Word (or heart of God), leads the severe Father into gentleness; so also does philosophy (or the understanding) lead its mother into a gentle divine quality.

Magic is the book of all scholars. All that will learn must first learn Magic, be it a high or a lowly art. Even the peasant in the field must go to the magical school, if he would cultivate his field.

Magic is the best theology, for in it true faith is both grounded and found. And he is a fool that reviles it; for he knows it not, and blasphemes against God and himself, and is more a juggler than a theologian of understanding.

As one that fights before a mirror, and knows not what the quarrel is, for his fighting is superficial; so also the unjust theologian looks on Magic through a reflection, and understands nothing of the power. For it is godlike, and he is ungodlike, yea, devilish, according to the property of each principle. In sum: Magic is the activity in the Will-spirit.

On mystery. What it is.

Mystery is nothing else than the magical will, which still lies caught in desire. It may fashion itself in the mirror of wisdom how it will. And as it fashions itself in the tincture, so it is fixed and formed in Magic, and brought into a being.

For Mysterium magnum is nothing else than the hiddenness of the Deity, together with the Being of all beings, from which one mysterium proceeds after another, and each mysterium is the mirror and model of the other. And it is the great wonder of eternity, wherein all is included, and from eternity has been seen in the mirror of wisdom. And nothing comes to pass that has not from eternity been known in the mirror of wisdom.

But you must understand this according to the properties of the mirror, according to all the forms of Nature, viz. according to light and darkness, according to comprehensibility and incomprehensibility, according to love and wrath, or according to fire and light, as has been set forth elsewhere.

The Magician has power in this Mystery to act according to his will, and can do what he pleases.
this place no more is to be said, because of the Turba.
But he must be armed in that element wherein he would create; else he will be cast out as a stranger, and given into the power of the spirits thereof, to deal with him according to their desire. Of which in

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