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Lefèvre d‟ Étaples‟ 1493 treatise De Magia naturali, On Natural Magic, demonstrates that the Florentine Natural Magicians‟ prisca theologia is this transdisciplinary Literary practice, which integrates philosophical, mathematical, psychological, and spiritual theory in an imaginal mythopoesis. It embodies this Literary art-form through: mythological beings such as Pan and Venus; imaginal cosmologies such as the Astrological Zodiac and the Dionysian Celestial Hierarchy; and archetypal constructs such as Plato's the One, the Pythagorean Binary, and the Christian Trinity. The imaginal mythopoetics of Renaissance Natural Magic, like that of Late Antiquity, acted as a map in the collective unconscious for future generations of Natural Magicians. C.G. Jung‟s The Red Book encapsulates this archetypal, esoteric tradition in a Neoshamanic imaginal mythopoesis. Jung‟s technique of active imagination employed in creating The Red Book parallels Lefèvre‟s Natural Magic technique of numerical ascension. I teach The Red Book within the Humanities and Jungian Depth & Archetypal Psychology as a Literary, Neoshamanic art-form—Jungian Natural Magic. Like the Florentine esoteric dialogue of De Magia Naturali, The Red Book transmits humankind‟s prisca theologia via this transdisciplinary, Literary practice itself, designed to guide the student on a journey of reintegration within the Divine. Lefèvre and Jung envision humankind as Incarnation where theory and practice—mind, soul, and body—are integrated within a human spirituality. This spiritual art-form, which clearly had no appropriate venue during past eras except within
2 cloistered enclaves of trusted friends, belongs not only in today‟s world of spiritual reintegration, but also in today‟s Academy. Natural Magic speaks for itself through readings from De Magia naturali and The Red Book, and via a cosmological image from each: Lefèvre‟s Dionysian Celestial Hierarchy; and Jung‟s Systema Munditotius.
Keywords: prisca theologia, natural magic, imaginal mythopoesis, critical theory and practice, New Mythos, literary theory, cosmology, celestial hierarchy, depth psychology, archetypal psychology
Natural Magic: Imaginal Mythopoetics in De Magia naturali and The Red Book
§ “anima mundi collende gratia” “for the sake of tending the soul of and in the world” is the founding motto of Pacifica Graduate Institute1 --Stephen Aizenstat, inspired by James Hillman § If indeed the body, which is the soul‟s shadow, is that which follows for the sake of the neglected soul, then similars go forth to those things as her own image in the water, the contemplation of her own shadow. With longing the forms are held—so as not to be torn apart from Narcissus, son of the river god Cephissus, unabashedly they will ever and consuming sight, which Orpheus kept singing. (De Magia naturali, Transl. Evans in-progress, II:75-76 fols. 211v-211r Ch. 8) Depth psychology, or natural magic? Jacques Lefèvre d‟Étaples, Jacobi Fabri Stapulensis: De Magia naturali, Liber Secundus, Caput Octem, On Natural Magic, Book II, Chapter Eight: Siquidem corpus quod anime umbra est, quam qui sequitur anime neglecta causa similes evandunt illis, qui suam imaginem in aqua contemplate, tum suae umbratilis forme desiderio tenentur, ut ne ab ea divelli volunt unquam contabeantque videndo, quod ingénue de Narcisso Celphesi filio decantavit
4 Orpheus. (De Magia naturali, Transcr. in-progress Evans, II:75-76 fols. 211v211r Ch. 8) §
Addressing our conference theme, “Charting the Future & the Unknown in the Middle Ages & Renaissance,” I speak on De Magia naturali in terms of its applicability, through New Mythos theory and practice, to Academia, to our greater world today, and opening into humankind‟s shared future. C. G. Jung predicts: § “We are living in what the Greeks called the right time for a „metamorphosis of the gods,‟ i.e. of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science.” -- C. G. Jung, 1958 The Undiscovered Self, p. 110 § This original image from the De Magia, titled Prisce velate Theologie, Ancient Veil of Theology (available through fair use for viewing only), is the sole visual image that Jacques Lefèvre d‟Étaples includes among his numerous mythopoetic, word-images on natural magic. The image is of a celestial hierarchy inherited from Renaissance Neoplatonists Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. This transmission occurred in the winter of 1491-92, when Lefèvre made his journey across the Italian Alps, in pilgrimage to the Florentine Platonic Academy. Lefèvre returned from his quest bearing this vision of humankind‟s return to divine unity,
5 achieved through natural magic, the practical counterpart to philosophy‟s theory. Rather than a strictly linear view of numerical ascension, Lefèvre‟s image folds back upon itself, like a fetus as ouroboros swallowing its own tail. Here he depicts Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus explaining that similars are attracted to each other, reflect back upon each other. C. G. Jung recorded his soul‟s mythopoetic journey of return in Medieval manuscript style, during the first few decades of the twentieth century. The Red Book: Liber Novus, is a facsimile edition of Jung‟s final illuminated manuscript, along with translation and other scholarly apparatus2. Jung‟s Red Book embodies his recommended theory and practice for depth and archetypal psychology. This art-form enacts his soul‟s, or psyche‟s, journey—Jung‟s psychic journey towards reunion with his individual spirituality—and through that solitary blue star back out into reunion with humankind in the whole pleroma, world unity. Compared with Lefèvre‟s anthropomorphic side-view of world unity, Jung‟s image is a top-down, heart-centered view of the cosmos, titled Systema Munditotius, System of the Whole World. His image depicts a world reflecting back upon itself through the coincidence of opposites. The world is bound together as a unity through the tension between opposites, wherein the infinite dissipation of the multiple pleroma balances against the infinite concentration of the singular soul. Lefèvre also depicts this coincidentia oppositorum through mythopoetic terms such as the love-nexus between Venus and Jupiter. § Jung expresses concern over the methodology of his time:
2 C. G. Jung, The Red Book: Liber Novus. Ed. Sonu Shamdasani. Trans. Mark Kyburz, John Peck, and Sonu Shamdasani. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009)
6 “We should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect; we apprehend it just as much by feeling. Therefore, the judgment of the intellect is, at best, only the half of truth, and must, if it be honest, also come to an understanding of its inadequacy.”
--C. G. Jung, 1921 Psychological Types or The Psychology of Individuation, p. 628
§ Hillman suggests, in Thought of the Heart and Soul of the World: “Let us imagine the anima mundi as that particular soul-spark, that seminal image which offers itself through each thing in its visible form. . . . Our imaginative recognition animates the world and returns it to soul.” -- James Hillman, Thought of the Heart and Soul of the World, p. 101-102 § Prisce velate Theologie, ad Christianam Theologiam affinis vicinaque concordia: Caput 10 Intelligentiarum ordo, a sacrarum rerum studiosis interpretibus hoc pacto descriptus est. Ancient veil of Theology, concordances of affinity and relationship to Christian Theology: Chapter 10 Order of the Intelligences, with studious interpretation of sacred things, is described in this pact. Qui haud nostris numeris cognoscetur esse dissonus, si angeli Lune aptabuntur, Archangeli Mercurio, Dominationes Veneri, Virtutes Soli, Potestates Marti, Principatus Jovi, Troni Saturno, Cherubim Aplani, et Seraphim nono celestiali globo. Suntque Angeli intellectuales infime potentie ex intellectuali binario nate quae ab aliis illustrationis accipiunt. [. . .] Supra quos sunt summi Seraphimi appetitus, aquae intellectibiles, aquarum quae super celos sunt presides in Idee divinitate ut lamina cadens in ignis similitudinem transformatur, nullum iam sui
7 visibile vestigium tam et si corporeum sit relinquens. Suntque summi intellectuales ternarii. (De Magia naturali, Transcr. in-progress Evans, II:80 f. 213r [. . .] II:85 f. 215r Ch. 10) Of what manner our numbers are known by no means to be dissonant; if we will fit those of the Angels to the Moon, those of the Archangels to Mercury, those of the Dominions to Venus, those of the Virtues to Sun, those of the Powers to Mars, those of the Principles to Jupiter, those of the Thrones to Saturn, those of the Cherubim to Unmoving Ground of Truth, and those of the Seraphim to the ninth celestial globe. Thus are the Angel intellectuals the lowest powers born out of the intellectual binary, which we understand from this illustration. [. . . ] Above which are the highest Seraphim longing for the intellectible waters, the waters which are presiding above the heavens within the Idea of divinity, as a leaf descending into fire appears to be transformed, becoming so soon no visible vestige to itself, as much as exists the body relinquished. These are the highest intellectuals of the ternary. (De Magia naturali, Transl. in-progress Evans, II:80 f. 213r [. . .] II:85 f. 215r Ch. 10) Imagining humankind‟s return to world unity as our future, Lefèvre expresses ideas through mythopoetic images such as numbers, geometric shapes, and divine names. Human meaning is artistically expressed, through a heartfelt methodology, as a love-relationship with the greater world.
In Systema munditotius, System of the Whole World, Jung also expresses these ideas mythopoetically. The Above is personified as the Orphic god Phanes; the Below as Abraxas,
8 dominus mundi, lord of the world. On the right side, plenum or fullness are: spiritus sanctus, mater coelestia, coelum, and deus sol. On the left side, inane or emptiness are: serpent-phallus, mater natura et terra, and dea luna satanas. At another reflective level of soul: the right is frigus sive amor dei, coolness as the love of god; the left is calor sive amor naturalis, warmth as the love of nature. In the editor‟s caption to Systema munditotius Jung explains that “it portrays the antinomies of the microcosm within the macrocosmic world and its antinomies.” Above, Ignis and eros are symbolized in balance as three candles each, with the One as larger flame between them; ars balances scientia. Below are the 10 rays of the infernal sun, balanced as five on each side, the number of the natural man; vita futura balances mors3. Central to this whole pleroma of the world soul or anima mundi, is corpus humanum et deus novos—Anthropos, and human soul as new god. Jung explains that “you are the suffering heart of your one star God,” the blue star4.
Lefèvre, Jung, and Hillman envision the anima mundi as the great animal, wherein mind, soul, and body are unified through humankind‟s own empathetic nature. Thus New Mythos critical theory and practice—emerging out of Pacifica Graduate Institute, Opus Archives & Research Center, the Spiritual Psychology of Lisa Miller here at Columbia, and many other organizations inside and outside of the Academy—fulfills our future‟s necessity for ethics, aesthetics, and a vision of world unity.
3 C. G. Jung, Appendix A, p. 364, The Red Book: Liber Novus. Ed. Sonu Shamdasani. Trans. Mark Kyburz, John Peck, and Sonu Shamdasani. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009) [format properly] 4 C. G. Jung, Appendix C, Red Book pp. 370-71, from Black Book 5 of the original manuscripts with which he compiled The Red Book: Liber Novus. Ed. Sonu Shamdasani. Trans. Mark Kyburz, John Peck, and Sonu Shamdasani. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009) [format properly]
9 Works Cited
(editing of Works Cited in progress)
Benz, Ernst. Christian Kabbalah: Neglected Child of Theology. Trans. Kenneth W. Wesche. Ed. Robert J. Faas. St. Paul: Grailstone Press, 2004. Evans, Kathryn LaFevers. De Magia Naturali, On Natural Magic, by Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples: Coincidence of Opposites, the Trinity, & prisca theologia. Diss. Cal State U San Marcos, 2006. <online URL TBA when digitization completed>. Ficino, Marsilio. Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love. Trans. Sears Jayne. Dallas: Spring Publications, Inc., 1988. ---. Three Books on Life. Eds. and Trans. Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark. Book Three: De Vita Coelitus Comparanda, On Obtaining Life from the Heavens. Tempe AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in conjunction with The Renaissance Society of America, 2002. Hillman‟s essay, “The Thought of the Heart” (give full citation in MLA Style) Idel, Moshe. Ascensions on High in Jewish Mysticism: Pillars, Lines, Ladders. Pasts Incorporated CEU Studies in the Humanities. Eds. Sorin Antohi and Laszlo Kontler. Vol. 2. New York: CEU P, 2005. Jung, C. G. The Red Book: Liber Novus. Ed. Sonu Shamdasani. Trans. Mark Kyburz, John Peck, and Sonu Shamdasani. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009. Lefèvre d‟Étaples, Jacques. De Magia naturali. Alternative for Jacobi fabri Stapulensis. Magici naturalis. POKM0145-a, POKM0145-b. Olomouc ms. MI 119. Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Lib., New York.
10 Olomouc, Universitni Knihovna, ms M I 119, ff. 174-342; Book II begins on f. 198; all further references are cited per Evans transcription-translation work-in-progress pagination, eg. Book II begins with page 50, cited “Ch. 1 II:50, f. 198”. Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni. On the Dignity of Man, On Being and the One, Heptaplus. Trans. Charles Glenn Wallis, Paul J. W. Miller and Douglas Carmichael. Cambridge, Mass: Hackett Publishing Co., Inc., 1998. Rice, Eugene F. Jr., ed. The Prefatory Epistles of Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples and Related Texts. New York: Columbia UP, 1972. (Reformat these in MLA Style)
Evans, K. L. (2011). Magic & the binary code: Renaissance Christian kabbalah & Buckminster Fuller’s tensegrity structures. Rose+Croix Journal, 8, 11-39,slideshow of images. http://www.rosecroixjournal.org/ http://www.rosecroixjournal.org/issues/2011/articles/vol8_11_39_evans.p df Hillman, J. (1989). T. Moore (Ed. & Intro.), A blue fire: Selected writings by James Hillman. New York, NY: Harper Perennial. Hillman, J. (1979). The dream and the underworld. New York, NY: Harper Perennial. The James Hillman collection. (accessed 2011). Opus Archives and Research Center. http://www.opusarchives.org/hillman_overview.shtml Jung, C. G. (2009). S. Shamdasani (Ed.). M. Kyburz, J. Peck, & S. Shamdasani (Trans.), The red book: Liber novus. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. (Original work 1959)
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