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The pentad–5–is the union of an odd and an even number (3 and 2). Among the Greeks, the pentagram was a sacred symbol of light, health, and vitality. It also symbolized the fifth element–ether–because it is free from the disturbances of the four lower elements. It is called equilibrium, because it divides the perfect number 10 into two equal parts.
The pentad is symbolic of Nature, for, when multiplied by itself it returns into itself, just as grains of wheat, starting in the form of seed, pass through Nature’s processes and reproduce the seed of the wheat as the ultimate form of their own growth. Other numbers multiplied by themselves produce other numbers, but only 5 and 6 multiplied by themselves represent and retain their original number as the last figure in their products.
The pentad represents all the superior and inferior beings. It is sometimes referred to as the hierophant, or the priest of the Mysteries, because of its connection with the spiritual ethers, by means of which mystic development is attained. Keywords of the pentad are reconciliation, alternation, marriage, immortality, cordiality, Providence, and sound. Among the deities who partook of the nature of the pentad were Pallas, Nemesis, Bubastia (Bast), Venus, Androgynia, Cytherea, and the messengers of Jupiter.
The tetrad (the elements) plus the monad equals the pentad. The Pythagoreans taught that the elements of earth, fire, air, and water were permeated by a substance called ether–the basis of vitality and life. Therefore, they chose the five-pointed star, or pentagram, as the symbol of vitality, health, and interpenetration.
It was customary for the philosophers to conceal the element of earth under the symbol of a dragon, and many of the heroes of antiquity were told to go forth and slay the dragon. Hence, they drove their sword (the monad) into the body of the dragon (the tetrad). This resulted in the formation of the pentad, a symbol of the victory of the spiritual nature over the material nature. The four elements are symbolized in the early Biblical writings as the four rivers that poured out of Garden of Eden. The elements themselves are under the control of the composite Cherubim of Ezekiel.
The number five is of no small force, for it consists of the first even, and the first odd, as of a Female, and Male For an odd number is the Male, and the even the Female. Whence Arithmeticians call that the Father, and this the Mother. Therefore the number five is of no small perfection, or virtue, which proceeds from the mixing of these numbers:
It is also the just middle of the universal number, viz. ten. For yon divide the number ten, there will be nine and one, or eight and two, or seven and three, or six and four, and every collection makes the number ten, and the exact middle always is the number five, and its equidistant;
and therefore it is called by the Pythagoreans the number of Wedlock, as also of justice, because it divides the number ten in an even Scale.
There are five senses in man, sight, hearing, smelling, tasting:
five powers in the soul, Vegetative, Sensitive, Concupiscible, Irascible, Rational:
five fingers on the hand:
five wandering Planets in the heavens, according to which there are five-fold terms in every sign.
In Elements there are five kinds of mixed bodies, viz. Stones, Metals, Plants, Plant-Animals, Animals, and so many kinds of Animals, as men, four-footed beasts, creeping, swimming, flying.
And there are five kinds by which all things are made of God, viz. Essence, the same, another, sense, motion.
The Swallow brings forth but five young, which she feeds with equity, beginning with the eldest and so the rest, according to their age.
Also this number has great power in expiations: For in holy things it drives away Devils.
In natural things, it expels poisons.
It is also called the number of fortunateness, and favor, and it is the seal of the Holy Ghost, and a bond that binds all things, and the number of the cross, yea eminent with the principal wounds of Christ whereof he vouchsafed to keep the scars in his glorified body.
The heathen Philosophers did dedicate it as sacred to Mercury esteeming the virtue of it to be so much more excellent then the number four, by how much a living thing is more excellent than a thing without life.
For in this number the Father Noah found favor with God, and was preserved in the flood of waters.
In the virtue of this number Abraham, being an hundred years old, begat a Son of Sarah, being ninety years old, and a barren Woman, and past child bearing, and grew up to be a great people.
Hence in time of grace the name of divine omnipotency is called upon with five letters. For in time of nature the name of God was called upon with three letters. Sadai: in time of the Law, the ineffable name of God was expressed with four letters instead of which the Hebrews express Adonai: in time of grace the ineffable name of God was with five letters Ihesu, which is called upon with no less mystery than that of three Letters .
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
– Proverbs 25:11–12
Of Speech, and the vertue of Words.
Agrippa, Book 1, Chapter 69
It being shown that there is a great power in the affections of the soul, you must know moreover, that there is no less Virtue in words, and the names of things, but greatest of all in speeches, and motions, by which we chiefly differ from brutes, and are called rational, not from reason, which is taken for that part of the soul, which contains the affections, which Galen saith, is also common to brutes, although in a less degree; but we are called rational, from that reason which is according to the voice understood in words, and speech, which is called declarative reason, by which part we do chiefly excel all other Animals.
For in Greek signifies reason, speech, and a word.
Now a word is twofold, viz. internal, and uttered;
Words therefore are the fittest medium betwixt the speaker and the hearer, carrying with them not only the conception of the mind, but also the virtue of the speaker with a certain efficacy unto the hearers, and this often times with so great a power, that often times they change not only the hearers, but also other bodies, and things that have no life.
Now those words are of greater efficacy then others, which represent greater things, as intellectual, celestial, and supernatural, as more expressly, so more mysteriously.
Also those that come from a more worthy tongue, or from any of a more holy order: for these, as it were certain Signs, and representations, receive a power of Celestial, and super Celestial things, as from the virtue of things explained, of which they are the vehicle, so from a power put into them by the virtue of the speaker.
Of the vertue of proper names.
Agrippa, Book 1, Chapter 70
That proper names of things are very necessary in Magical operations, almost all men testify: For the natural power of things proceeds first from the objects to the senses, and then from these to the imagination, and from this to the mind, in which it is first conceived, and then is expressed by voices, and words.
The Platonists therefore say, that in this very voice, or word, or name framed, with its Articles, that the power of the thing as it were some kind of life, lies under the form of the signification.
First conceived in the mind as it were through certain seeds of things, then by voices or words, as a birth brought forth, and lastly kept in writings.
Hence Magicians say, that proper names of things are certain rays of things, everywhere present at all times, keeping the power of things, as the essence of the thing signified, rules, and is discerned in them, and know the things by them, as by proper, and living Images.
For as the great operator produces diverse species, and particular things by the influences of the Heavens, and by the Elements, together with the virtues of Planets; so according to the properties of the influences proper names result to things, and are put upon them by him who numbers the multitude of the Stars, calling them all by their names, of which names Christ in another place speaks, saying, Your names are written in Heaven.
Adam therefore that gave the first names to things, knowing the influences of the Heavens, and properties of all things, gave them all names according to their natures, as it is written in Genesis, where God brought all things that he had created before Adam, that he should name them, and as he named any thing, so the name of it was, which names indeed contain in them wonderful powers of the things signified.
Every voice therefore that is significative, first of all signifies by the influence of the Celestial harmony: Secondly, by the imposition of man, although oftentimes otherwise by this, than by that.
But when both significations meet in any voice or name, which are put upon them by the said harmony or men, then that name is with a double virtue, viz. natural, and arbitrary, made most efficacious to act, as oft as it shall be uttered in due place, and time, and seriously with an intention exercised upon the matter rightly disposed, and that can naturally be acted upon by it.
So we read in Philostratus, that when a maid at Rome died the same day she was married, and was presented to Apollonius, he accurately inquired into her name, which being known, he pronounced some occult thing, by which she revived.
It was an observation among the Romans in their holy rites, that when they did besiege any City, they did diligently inquire into the proper, and true name of it, and the name of that God, under whose protection it was, which being known, they did then with some verse call forth the Gods that were the protectors of that City, and did curse the inhabitants of that City, so at length their Gods being absent, did overcome them, as Virgil sings,
– That kept this Realm, our Gods
Their Altars have for sook, and blest abodes.
Now the verse with which the Gods were called out, and the enemies were cursed, when the City was assaulted round about, let him that would know, find it out in Livy, and Macrobius; but also many of these Serenus Samonicus in his book of secret things makes mention of.
Of many words joyned together, as in sentences, and verses, and of the vertues, and astrictions of charms.
Agrippa, Book 1, Chapter 71
Besides the virtues of words, and names, there is also a greater virtue found in sentences, from the truth contained in them, which hath a very great power of impressing, changing, binding, and establishing, so that being used it doth shine the more, and being resisted is more confirmed, and consolidated; which virtue is not in simple words, but in sentences, by which any thing is affirmed, or denied, of which sort are verses, enchantments, imprecations, deprecations, orations, invocations, obtestations, adjurations, conjurations, and such like.
Therefore in composing verses, and orations, for the attracting the virtue of any Star, or Deity, you must diligently consider what virtues any Star contains, as also what effects, and operations, and to infer them in verses, by praising, extolling, amplifying, and setting forth those things which such a kind of Star is wont to cause by way of its influence, and by vilifying, and dispraising those things which it is wont to destroy, and hinder, and by supplicating, and begging for that which we desire to get, and by condemning, and detesting that which we would have destroyed & hindered: and after the same manner to make an elegant oration, and duly distinct by Articles, with competent numbers, and proportions.
Moreover Magicians command that we call upon, and pray by the names of the same Star, or name, to them to whom such a verse belongs, by their wonderful things, or miracles, by their courses, and ways in their sphere, by their light, by the dignity of their Kingdom, by the beauty, and brightness that is in it, by their strong, and powerful virtues, and by such like as these.
As Psyche in Apuleius prays to Ceres; saying, I beseech thee by thy fruitful right hand, I entreat thee by the joyful Ceremonies of harvests, by the quiet silence of thy chests, by the winged Chariors of Dragons thy servants, by the furrows of the Sicilian earth, the devouring Wagon, the clammy earth, by the place of going down into cellars at the light Nuptials of Proserpina, and returns at the light inventions of her daughter, and other things which are concealed in her temple in the City Eleusis in Attica.
Besides, with the diverse sorts of the names of the Stars, they command us to call upon them by the names of the Intelligencies, ruling over the Stars themselves, of which we shall speak more at large in their proper place.
They that desire further examples of these, let them search into the hymns of Orpheus, then which nothing is more efficacious in natural Magic, if they together with their circumstances, which wise men know, be used according to a due harmony, with all attention.
But to return to our purpose.
Such like verses being aptly, and duly made according to the rule of the Stars, and being full of signification, & meaning, and opportunely pronounced with vehement affection, as according to the number, proportion of their Articles, so according to the form resulting from the Articles, and by the violence of imagination, do confer a very great power in the enchanter, and sometimes transfer it upon the thing enchanted, to bind, and direct it to the same purpose for which the affections, and speeches of the enchanter are intended.
Now the instrument of the enchanters is a most pure harmonic spirit, warm, breathing, living, bringing with it motion, affection and signification, composed of its parts, endued with sense, and conceived by reason.
By the quality therefore of this spirit, and by the Celestial similitude thereof, besides those things which have already been spoken of, verses also from the opportunity of time, receive from above most excellent virtues, and indeed more sublime, and efficacious than spirits, & vapors exhaling out of the Vegetable life, out of herbs, roots, gums, aromatic things, and fumes, and such like.
And therefore Magicians enchanting things, are wont to blow, and breath upon them the words of the verse, or to breath in the virtue with the spirit, that so the whole virtue of the soul be directed to the thing enchanted, being disposed for the receiving the said virtue.
And here it is to be noted, that every oration, writing, and words, as they induce accustomed motions by their accustomed numbers, and proportions, and form, so also besides their usual order, being pronounced, or wrote backwards, more unto unusual effects.
Of the wonderfull power of Inchantments.
Agrippa, Book 1, Chapter 72
They say that the power of enchantments, and verses is so great, that it is believed they are able to subvert almost all nature, as saith Apuleius, that with a Magical whispering, swift Rivers are turned back, the slow Sea is bound, the Winds are breathed out with one accord, the Sun is stopped, the Moon is clarified, the Stars are pulled out, the day is kept back, the night is prolonged, and of these sings Lucan,
The courses of all things did cease, the night
Prolonged was, ’twas long before ’twas light;
Astonied was the headlong world, all this
Was by the hearing of a verse–
And a little before.
Thessalian verse did into’s heart so flow,
That it did make a greater heat of love.
No dregs of poison being by him drunk,
His wits decay’d inchanted–
Also Virgil in Damon.
Charms can command the Moon down from the Skie,
Circes Charms chang’d Ulisses company.
A cold Snake being charm’d, burst in the Meads.
And in another place.
Charms bear Corn standing from anothers Farm.
And Ovid in his book, sine Titulo, saith.
With charms doth with’ring Ceres dye,
Dryed are the fountains all,
Acorns from Okes, inchanted Grapes
And Apples from trees fall.
If these things were not true, there would not be such strict penal Statutes made against them, that should enchant fruit.
And Tibullus saith of a certain Enchantress,
Her with Charms drawing Stars from Heaven, I
And turning th’ Course of rivers, did espy,
She parts the earth, and Ghosts from Sepulchers
Draws up, and fetcheth bones away from th’ fires,
And at her pleasure scatters Clouds i’th’ Air,
And makes it Snow in Summer hot, and fair.
Of all which that Enchantress seems to boast her self in Ovid when she saith,
–* At will, I make swift streams retire*
To their fountains, whilest their banks admire;
Seas toss, and smooth; clear Clouds, with Clouds deform,
With Spels. and Charms I break the Vipers jaw,
Cleave Solid Rocks, Oakes from their seasures draw,
Whole Woods remove, the airy Mountains shake,
Earth for to groan, and Ghosts from graves awake,
And thee O Moon I draw –
Moreover all Poets sing, and Philosophers do not deny, that by verses many wonderful things may be done, as Corn to be removed, Lightnings to be commanded, diseases be cured, and such like.
For Cato himself in Country affairs used some enchantments against the diseases of beasts, which as yet are extant in his writings.
Also Josephus testifies that Solomon was skilled in those kind of enchantments.
Also Celsus Africanus reports, according to the Egyptian doctrine, that mans body, according to the number of the faces of the Zodiac Signs, was taken care of by so many, viz. thirty six spirits, whereof each undertake, and defend their proper part, whose names they call with a peculiar voice, which being called upon, restore to health with their enchantments the diseased parts of the body.
A Name is considered by backward folk to be part and parcel of a living being, and as magic can be performed on a person through tangible substances that have come into contact with him, so magic can be performed or influence exerted through the utterance of a person’s name.
In the west of Ireland and in Torres Straits people have refused to tell me their names, though there was no objection to some one else giving me the information; the idea evidently being that by telling their own name to a stranger they were voluntarily putting themselves into the power of that stranger, who, by the knowledge of their name so imparted, could affect them in some way.
Over the greater part of America was spread the belief in a personal soul, which is neither the bodily life nor yet the mental power, but a sort of spiritual body.
In many tribes, writes Dr. Brinton (7, 277), this third soul or ‘astral body’ bore a relation to the private personal name.
Among the Mayas and Nahuas, it was conferred or came into existence with the name; and for this reason the personal name was sacred and rarely uttered.
The name was thus part of the individuality, and through it the soul could be injured.
Professor Rhys has shown (58, 566–7) from philological evidence, that Aryan-speaking peoples ‘believed at one time not only that the name was a part of the man, but that it was that part of him which is termed the soul, the breath of life.’
The dislike of hearing their names mentioned is not confined to human beings, for, as is well known, in the British Islands the Fairies have a very strong repugnance to being so called; hence they should be termed the Wee-folk, the Good People, or by other ambiguous terms.
Certain Scottish and English fishermen believe that the salmon and pig have a similar objection to being ‘named,’ but they do not mind being called respectively the ‘red-fish’ or the ‘queer fellow.’
If power can be exerted over men by the use of their names, it is only reasonable to believe that spirits and deities can be similarly influenced.
Torres Straits islanders believe that a local bogey or a spirit-girl can be summoned by being mentioned by name (29, v. 14, 86), as the witch of Endor brought up the spirit of Samuel.
Dr. Frazer (20, i. 443–6) gives examples to show that people have believed that gods must keep their true names secret, lest other gods or even men should be able to conjure with them; even Ra, the great Egyptian god of the sun, declared that the name given him by his father and mother ‘remained hidden in my body since my birth, that no magician might have magic power over me.’
This probably was one reason why the real name of supreme Gods was known but to a chosen few; one instance will suffice. To the Mohammedans, Allah is but an epithet in place of the Most Great Name; for, according to a Moslem belief, the secret of the latter is committed to prophets and apostles alone. Another reason is that the utterance of these secret names gives tremendous power, for (42, 273) those who know the Most Great Name of God can, by pronouncing it, transport themselves from place to place at will, can kill the living, raise the dead to life, and work other miracles.
According to Jewish tradition, when Lilith, Adam’s first wife, refused to yield obedience to him she uttered the Shem-hamphorash, that is, pronounced the ineffable name of Jehovah and instantly flew away. This utterance evidently gave her such power that even Jehovah could not coerce her, and the three angels, Snoi (Sennoi), Snsnoi (Sansennoi), and Smnglf (Sammangeloph), who were sent after her, were contented with a compromise, and Lilith swore by the name of the Living God that she would refrain from doing any injury to infants wherever and whenever she should find those angels, or their names, or their pictures, on parchment or paper, or on whatever else they might be drawn, ‘and for this reason,’ says a rabbinical writer, ‘we write the names of these angels on slips of paper or parchment, and bind them upon infants, that Lilith seeing them, may remember her oath; and may abstain from doing our infants any injury’ (1, 165). The custom is still maintained in the east of London of printing portions of Scripture and these three names on pieces of paper, which are placed on the four walls of a room where a baby is expected, where they remain eight days for a boy and twenty days for a girl.
Apart from the coercive power which is attributed to the pronouncing of names, there is an analogous belief in the utterance of words or phrases. Those Words of Power have been classed by Mr. Clodd (11, 194) as: (1) Creative Words; (2) Mantrams and their kin; (3) Pass-words; (4) Spells or Invocations for conjuring up the spirit of the dead, or for exorcising demons, or for removing spells on the living; and (5) Cure-charms in formulae or magic words. Mr. Clodd points out that these classes overlap and intermingle.
Even among such backward people as the Australians, certain of the medicine-men or sorcerers were bards who devoted their poetic faculties to the purposes of enchantment, such as the Bunjil-yenjin of the Kurnai, whose peculiar branch of magic was composing and singing potent love charms and the arrangement of marriages by elopement spells (35, 356, 274).
In few countries was the spoken word more effective than in ancient Ireland; a sorcerer, whether a druid or not, would stand on one foot, with one arm outstretched and with one eye shut, and chant an incantation in a loud voice (37, i. 240). The grand weapon of the Irish poets by which they enforced their demands was the satire. A poet could compose a satire that would blight crops, dry up milch-cows, and raise an ulcerous blister on the face.
A story is told (37, i. 454) of Senchan Torpest, chief poet of Ireland, who lived in the seventh century, that once when his dinner was eaten in his absence by rats, he muttered a satire beginning, ‘Rats, though sharp their snouts, are not powerful in battle’ which killed ten of them on the spot. Shakespeare, and other Elizabethan writers, often refer to the belief that Irish bards could rhyme rats to death.
The Irish geis or geas [pronounced gesh or gass], plural geasa [gassa], was the exact equivalent of an ordinary tabu, but people sometimes put an injunction on a person in some such form as ‘I place you under heavy geasa, which no true champion will break through, to do so and so.’ In this manner, the witch-lady forces Finn to search for the ring she had dropped into the lake; and Marbhan put the arch-poet Senchan Torpest under geasa to obtain a copy of a lost story.
When the request was reasonable or just the abjured person could not refuse without loss of honour and reputation and probably in early days personal harm would accrue if the geasa were disregarded. The power of the geis was so strong that when Grania put Diarmuid under geasa of danger and destruction to elope with her, he was advised by his friends against his will to agree: Oisin said, ‘You are not guilty if the bonds were laid on you,’ and Osgar said, ‘It is a pitiful man that would break his bonds’ (25, 347, 8).
Sympathetic magic bulks largely in the life of backward peoples, not merely in the form of actions to be performed, but also in those to be abstained from. The ‘Thou shalt not’ is more in evidence than ‘Thou shalt.’ The prohibitions of savages and barbarians are now spoken of under the general term of tabu. Some tabus are rational from our point of view, others seem to us to be utterly irrational, but this does not affect their validity in any way. So much has been written on this subject by divers writers that only one or two examples need be given here. The subject is again referred to on p. 55.
The old Irish tale, the ‘
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