The Book of Ceremonial Magic
§ 5. The Fourth Book of Cornelius Agrippa
It is a matter now almost of general knowledge that a Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy is attributed to Cornelius Agrippa, and that it is rejected as spurious. The authenticity of the famous three books has never been questioned and is indeed beyond challenge; the fourth is perhaps less interesting from the nature of its contents than from this question of its authorship. It is, at the same time, a much more skilful performance than the common run of magical impostures; it connects with and rises out of the genuine work in a very curious manner; and, having regard to the special magical complexion of the latter, there might seem no inherent reason why it should not have been the production of Agrippa.
The difficulties concerning it may be reduced to three heads. One is of time; it appeared after the death of the restless speculating philosopher of Nettersheim. Now, a posthumous publication is not necessarily open to suspicion unless it is a treatise on Magic, but a treatise on Magic of the period concerned, not appearing in the lifetime of its writer, is open to the gravest suspicion, because of the scandalous company to which it belongs.
The second difficulty is internal, and I do not think that it can be overridden. It is to a considerable extent a rechauffé of various portions of the three undisputed books, and, even in the days of Agrippa, it is not likely that any author would have so liberally reproduced himself. The third difficulty is that it was rejected as a forgery by Wierus, the pupil of Agrippa, who must have had a good opportunity of knowing; its rejection by later writers simply follows the lead of Wierus, and is therefore of no moment. The strength of the case against it lies mainly in the third difficulty, but other objections are possible. Though not the work of Agrippa, it was evidently produced in immediate proximity to his period.
The book itself, which is quite informally written, falls into several divisions. There is, firstly, an elaborate treatise on the method of extracting the names of the good and evil spirits referred to the seven planets. This is a further development of a subject treated at some length in the third book of Occult Philosophy. The method is of no importance to our inquiry, but those who have sought to unravel it confess that they have been baffled. I ask leave to assure my readers that I have not emulated their zeal by seeking to follow in their footsteps, and, so far as I am concerned, the method therefore remains in the bosom of its proper mystery. Possibly Agrippa and his successor were only fooling their readers, and did not disclose the secret. The treatise on Names is followed by one upon Characters and, depending as it does from the first, this is also not readily intelligible. I have left it to those whom it may concern. Thereafter comes a formal tabulation of all the known shapes familiar to the spirits of the planets, followed by a disquisition upon Pentacles and Sigils, another upon the consecration of instruments used in magical ceremonies, as also of fire, water and so forth. The work concludes with methods for
the invocation of good and evil spirits and a short process in Necromancy. As I shall have occasion to cite it frequently in the Second Part, the analysis may here be confined to establishing its connection with diabolism, and the kind of manifestations which are supposed to be obtained by its processes.
Like the Lemegeton, it gives specific directions for communicating with evil spirits, and there is no question whatever as to the lawful nature of the experiment, by which I mean that no doubt on the subject entered into the mind of the writer, who offers what he has to the artist without attempting to justify its nature. Refinements of this kind were evidently outside the magic of the fifteenth century. In the following citation I shall depart from my usual custom of translating at first hand, and make use, with some needful prunings, of the version of Robert Turner, which is quite faithful and has, moreover, the pleasant flavour of antiquity.
CONCERNING THE INVOCATION OF EVIL SPIRITS
If we would call any evil Spirit to the circle, it first behoveth us to consider and to know his nature, to which of the planets it agreeth, and what offices are distributed to him from the planet. This being known, let there be sought out a place fit and proper for his invocation, according to the nature of the planet and the quality of the offices of the same
Spirit, as near as the same may be done. For example, if his power be over the sea, rivers or floods, then let a place be chosen on the shore, and so of the rest. In like manner, let there be chosen a convenient time, both for the quality of the air-which should be serene, clear, quiet and fitting for the Spirits to assume bodies---and for the quality and nature of the planet, and so
too of the Spirit, to wit, on his day, noting the time wherein he ruleth, whether it be fortunate or unfortunate, day or night, as the stars and spirits do require. These things being considered, let there be a circle framed at the place elected, as well for the defence of the invocant as for the confirmation of the Spirit. In the circle itself there are to be
written the general Divine Names, and those things which do yield defence unto us; the Divine Names which do rule the said planet, with the offices of the Spirit himself; the names, finally, of the good Spirits which bear rule and are able to bind and constrain that Spirit which we intend to call. If we would further fortify our circle, we may add characters and pentacles agreeing to the work. So also, and within or without the circle, we may frame an angular figure, 1 inscribed with such numbers as are congruent among themselves to our work. Moreover, the operator is to be provided with lights, perfumes, unguents and medicines compounded according to the nature of the planet and Spirit, which do partly agree with the Spirit, by reason of their natural and celestial virtue, and partly are exhibited to the Spirit for religious and superstitious worship. The operator must also be furnished with holy and consecrated things, necessary as well for the defence of the invocant and his fellows as to serve for bonds which shall bind and constrain the Spirits. Such are holy papers, lamens, pictures, pentacles, swords, sceptres, garments of convenient matter and colour, and things of the like sort. When all these are provided, the master and his fellows being in the circle, and all those things which he
useth, let him begin to pray with a loud voice and a convenient gesture and countenance.
Let him make an oration unto God, and afterwards entreat the good Spirits. I he will read any prayers, psalms or gospels for his defence,
they should take the first place. Thereafter, let him begin to invocate the Spirit which he desireth, with a gentle and loving enchantment to all the coasts of the world, commemorating his own authority and power. Let him then rest a little, looking about him to see if any Spirit do appear, which if he delay, let him repeat his invocation as before, until he hath done it three times. If the Spirit be still pertinacious and will not appear, let him begin to conjure him with Divine Power, but in such a way that all the conjurations and commemorations do agree with the nature and offices of the Spirit
himself. Reiterate the same three times, from stronger to stronger, using objurgations, contumelies, cursings, punishments, suspensions from his office and power, and the like.
After all the courses are finished, again cease a little, and if any Spirit shall appear, let the invocant turn towards him, receive him courteously, and, earnestly entreating him, let him require his name. Then proceeding further, let him ask whatsoever he will. But if in anything the Spirit shall shew himself obstinate or lying, let him be bound by convenient
conjurations, and if you still doubt of any lie, make outside the circle, with the consecrated sword, the figure of a triangle or pentacle, and compel the Spirit to enter it. If you would have any promise confirmed upon oath, stretch the sword out of the circle, and swear the Spirit by laying his hand upon the sword. Then having obtained of the Spirit
that which you desire, or being otherwise contented, license him to depart with courteous words, giving command unto him that he do no hurt. If he will not depart, compel him by powerful conjurations, and, if need require, expel him by exorcism and by making contrary fumigations. When he is departed, go not out of the circle, but stay, making prayer for your defence and conservation, and giving thanks unto God and the good
angels. All these things being orderly performed, you may depart.
But if your hopes are frustrated, and no Spirit will appear, yet for this do not despair, but, leaving the circle, return again at other times, doing as before. And if you shall judge that you have erred in anything, then you shall amend by adding or diminishing, for the constancy of reiteration doth often increase your authority and power, and striketh terror
into the Spirits, humbling them to obedience.
Hence some do use to make a gate in the circle, whereby they go in and out, which they open and shut as they please, and fortify it with Holy Names and pentacles. This also we are to take notice of, that when no Spirits will appear, but the Master, being wearied, hath determined to cease and give over, let him not therefore depart without licensing the
Spirits, for they that do neglect this are very greatly in danger, except they are fortified with some sublime defence. Oftentimes also the Spirits do come, although they be not visible (for to cause terror to him that calls them), either in the thing which he useth or in the operation itself. But this kind of licensing is not given simply, but by a kind of dispensation with suspension, until they shall render themselves obedient.
When we intend to execute any effect by evil Spirits where an apparition is not needful, this is to be done by making the required instrument or subject of the experiment itself, whether it be an image, a ring or a writing, any candle, character or sacrifice, or anything of the like sort. The name of the Spirit is to be written thereon, with his character, according to the exigency of the experiment, either writing with blood or using some perfume agreeable to the Spirit, making also frequent prayers to God and the good angels before we invocate the evil Spirit, and conjuring him by the Divine Power.
Over and above the formal diabolism of this process, there are instructions for composing a book of evil spirits, to be prepared ceremonially, according to their name and order. By means of a "holy oath," the ready obedience of the Spirit, whose name is written therein, is supposed to be insured. The book itself must be formed of most pure and clean paper which has never been used previously--a stipulation which may have been of moment in the days of the palimpsest, but is, of course, scarcely necessary in our own. The image of the Spirit must be drawn on the left side, and his character on the right, preceded by the oath which embodies the name of the Spirit, together with his dignity, place, office and power. The operation must be performed on the day and in the hour of the planet to which the Spirit is attributed. When the book has been composed, it must be well bound and emblazoned, being furnished also with markers and seals, for to open it at random after its consecration might endanger the operator. It should be kept reverently and free from profanation, for otherwise it will lose its virtue. Its consecration is a matter of some difficulty, as every Spirit whose name appears therein must be called before the circle, the bonds read over in his presence, and each in succession must be compelled to impose his hand where his respective image and character are drawn, and to "confirm and consecrate the same with a special and common oath." In a word, the document must be regularly and legally delivered as the act and deed of each. During this ceremony the book must be laid within a triangle described outside the circle.
There can be no doubt that these directions are the work of a writer well acquainted with the Lemegeton, or that the Liber Spirituum in question is identical with that mentioned by Wierus. The forms assumed by the evoked Spirits differ
somewhat from those of the Lesser Key, which, moreover, at least in its Goëtic portion, has no planetary attribution. According to pseudo-Agrippa, the Spirits of Saturn usually appear with a tall and lean body and an angry countenance, having four faces, of which one is in the usual position, another at the back of the head, and two, with beaks, on either
side. They have also a face on each knee, of a shining black. Their motion is like that of the wind, and it is accompanied with a kind of earthquake. Their sign is white earth, "whiter than any snow." Their particular forms are a bearded king riding on a dragon; 1 an old bearded man; an old woman leaning on a staff; a boy; a dragon; an owl; a black garment; a hook or sickle; a juniper-tree. How the three last manifestations are provided with the six visages is a perplexity which must be surrendered to occult commentators.
The Spirits of Jupiter appear with a sanguine and choleric body; they are of middle stature; their motion is "horrible and fearful," but they are mild of countenance and gentle in speech. They are of iron colour, which ought to have connected them with Mars; their motion is that of flashing lightnings, and withal thunderous; their sign is the apparition of men about the circle who seem to be devoured by lions. Their particular forms are a king with drawn sword riding on a lion; 2 a mitred personage in a long vestment; a maid crowned with laurel and adorned by flowers; a bull; a stag; a peacock; an azure garment; a sword; a box-tree.
The Spirits of Mars have a tall body and choleric, a filthy countenance, brown, swarthy or red in colour; they have horns like the hart, claws like a griffin and they bellow like wild
PLATE V: CHARACTERS OF EVIL SPIRITS
bulls. They have the motion of burning fire, and their sign is thunder and lightning about the circle. Their particular forms are an armed king riding on a wolf; 1 an armed man; a woman holding a buckler on her thigh; a she-goat; a horse; a stag; a red garment; wool; a cheestip. Wool of a choleric disposition is perhaps a Goëtic form of gun-cotton.
The Spirits of the Sun are usually large of body and limb, sanguine, gross, and of a gold colour tinctured with blood--which recalls Mrs. Browning's pomegranate. Their motion is that of lightning; their sign is to produce sweat in the operator, which might, however, be the normal property of all these stellar nondescripts of the world infernal. Their particular forms are a sceptred king riding on a lion; a crowned king; 2 a queen with a sceptre; a bird-not otherwise described, but anything probably except that of paradise; a lion; a cock; a golden garment; a sceptre; and lastly, something which Robert Turner wisely left untranslated--caudatus, i.e., tailed.
The Spirits of Venus have a body of medium height and a pleasant visage, of which the upper part is golden and the lower white or green. Their motion is like that of a brilliant star. Their sign is the semblance of maids sporting about the circle and luring the Magician to join them. Their particular forms are a sceptred king riding on a camel; a naked maid; a she-goat; a camel--possibly the atrocious demon of Cazotte; a dove; a white or green garment; the herb savine. 3
The Spirits of Mercury appear commonly with a body of middle stature, cold, liquid, moist, which sounds redundant, but
the reference is to the properties of quicksilver--that is to say, the Mercury of the philosophers was supposed not to wet the hand, but the Mercurial spirits of the sorcerer apparently did. They are withal fair, affable in speech, of human shape and like unto armed knights. They are comparable to silver-coloured clouds in their motion. Their sign is that they cause horror and fear in the operator. Their special shapes are a king riding on a bear; 1 a comely youth; a woman holding a distaff-it is difficult to understand how such an apparition can be like an armed knight, an observation which, if it were worthwhile, might apply to the remaining modes of manifestation; a dog; a she-bear; a magpie; a garment of many changing colours; a rod; and a little staff.
Finally, the Spirits of the Moon have a large, soft, phlegmatic body, even as a dark cloud in colour. Their countenance is swollen, their head bald, their eyes are red and rheumy, their teeth like those of a wild boar. Their motion is like that of a great tempest sweeping the sea. Their sign is a heavy shower of rain about the circle. Their particular shapes area
king like an archer riding on a doe; a little boy; a huntress with bow and arrows; a cow; a small doe; a goose; a green or silver-coloured garment; an arrow; a many-footed creature- -perhaps a centipede.
The imbecility of this muddled tabulation places the forged Fourth Book in a more absurd light than it otherwise deserves. It really reproduces the manner of Agrippa's treatise with a fidelity which is not unskilful and has quite as much claim to be taken seriously as any of the composite Rituals. It is difficult to say whether it is more especially on the side of the devil or on that of folly, except in so far as these two are one.
80:1 Compare the figures of the Lemegeton, Part ii. c. 4.
84:1 Alternatively, the image of a man, having the countenance of a hart and the feet of a camel, a scythe in his right and a dart in his left hand. This also rode upon a dragon.
84:2 Also on an eagle or dragon. Another form was that of a naked man crowned, and yet another a Man having the head of a lion or ram and the feet of an eagle.
87:1 Otherwise, on a lion, and armed with a naked sword, while in his left hand is a man's head.
87:2 This manifestation seems to have been seated on a throne, with a raven in his breast and a globe under his feet.
87:3 Other forms were a woman with the head of a bird and the feet of an eagle, who held a dart in her hand; also a little maid in long white garments, with a comb in her left hand and flowers in her right.
88:1 There is another riding on a peacock, with eagle's feet and crested head.