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© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, :o1o DOI: 10.

1163/156798910X520584
ARIES . () –
ARIES
www.brill.nl/arie
Oratorium—Auditorium—Laboratorium:
Early Modern Improvisations on
Cabala, Music, and Alchemy
Peter J. Forshaw
University of Amsterdam
Abstract
La gravure du Lab-Oratorium, dans l’Amphithéâtre de la Sagesse Eternelle (1¡o¡/ 1ooo), du
paracelsien Heinrich Khunrath de Leipzig (1¡oo–1oo¡)—‘docteur des deux médecines et
fidèle amoureux de la théosophie’—est une image bien connue des historiens de l’ésotérisme
du début des Temps Modernes, mais peu de choses ont été dites sur la signification des
instruments musicaux qui sont au premier plan de l’image. Cet article examine les diverses
références qui, dans les écrits de Khunrath, concernent la musique et le thème y relatif de
l’harmonie dans le contexte des activités kabbalistiques et alchimiques de Khunrath en son
Oratoire et son Laboratoire. Il examine l’influence d’idées pythagoriciennes sur les pratiques
théurgiques de Khunrath, identifie la source christiano-kabbalistique de l’hymne polyglotte
qu’il relie à l’une des images théosophiques sur la table de son Oratoire, et propose une
réflexion sur l’usage de la musique dans cette dimension kabbalistique de son œuvre. Etant
donné que Khunrath est connu surtout comme praticien de l’alchimie, la seconde section de
l’article traite de quelques exemples de chant et de musique, à commencer par un manuscrit
qui a survécu dans le travail de Khunrath, et se termine par un bref examen de la plus célèbre
combinaison d’alchimie et de musique; à savoir, l’Atlanta Fugiens (1o1¬), de son admirateur
le Comte Michael Maier (1¡o8–1o::).
Keywords
Music; Harmony; Alchemy; Cabala; Heinrich Khunrath; Michael Maier; Oratory; Labora-
tory
In his Raphael oder Artzt-Engel (1o¬o), Abraham von Franckenberg (1¡o¡–
1o¡:), disciple and early biographer of Jakob Boehme, has a section on ‘Kabal-
istic or Spiritual Medicine,’ which includes a table of correspondences between
1¬o Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
Kabala, Magia and Chymia. At the bottomof the table we discover that the loci
for these practices are, respectively, Oratorium, Auditorium, and Laboratorium.
1
xanaia xacic aicuixy
Spirit Soul Body
Divine Natural Artificial
Belief Reason Sense
God Human Creature
Teology Mathematics Physics
Intellect Reason Sense
Divine Angelic Human
Spirit Word Flesh
1000 100 10
Alpha X Omega
Ora- Audi- Labora-
roiiux.
Tis association of esoteric sciences and spaces is undoubtedly inspired by
the Paracelsian doctor Heinrich Khunrath of Leipzig (1¡oo–1oo¡), whose
De Igne magorum (1oo8) insists on the vital necessity of working alchemy,
magic and cabala in conjunction.
2
Tese three arts combine in Khunrath’s
Christian-Cabalist, Divinely-Magical, and Physico-Chemical magnum opus the
Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae (1¡o¡/ 1ooo), finding their most profound
expression in his image of the Lab-Oratorium, probably one of the best-known
images of early modern esotericism.
3
In this ‘Teosophical figure’
4
Khunrath presents the domains of the
Christian-Cabalist at prayer before the Oratory tabernacle on the left and of
the alchemist in the Laboratory on the right. In his words, we hear the universal
voice of Wisdom
with the ears of the senses, of reason, of the Intellect and of the Mind: Praying in
the Oratory, Working Micro and Macro-Cosmically, Physically, Physico-Medically,
Physico-Chemically, etc. in the Laboratory.
5
1)
Franckenberg, Raphael oder Artzt-Engel, :¬.
2)
Khunrath, De Igne magorum, o¡.
3)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo. On the sequence of engravings in Khunrath’s book,
see Eco, Lo Strano Caso della Hanau .
4)
Khunrath, Totique, celestis exercitus spiritualis, … Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae,
solius verae, 1¡o¡, Title-page: ‘exornatum figuris quatuor Teosophicis.’
5)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 18–1o.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 1¬1
Heinrich Khunrath’s Lab-Oratorium, Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae
(1ooo) (Courtesy of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam)
In another of his works, Vom hylealischen Chaos (1¡o¬), Khunrath makes
it explicitly clear that these domains are intimately connected and castigates
those who ‘utterly un-Philosophically separate Oratory and Laboratory from
each other.’
6
Only one experienced in both will comprehend the “analogical
harmony” (Harmonia analogica) between Christ, Son of the Microcosm, and
the Philosophers’ Stone, Son of the Macrocosm.
7
Movement between these
two disciplinary domains itself performs a probatory function, for the works
6)
Khunrath, Vom hylealischen Chaos, :¡:.
7)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 1o¬; Khunrath, Magnesia Catholica Philosophorum,
¡o.
1¬: Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
of the alchemist and cabalist are mutually confirming. Although Khunrath is
well aware he risks being accused of blasphemy, he firmly asserts that ‘if the
one exists, so does the other’, Christ can be known naturally through the Stone
and the Stone theosophically through Christ.
8
So inspired is he by this revela-
tion that he exuberantly exclaims, ‘Oh, wondrous Regenerative harmony of the
Macro and Microcosm’.
9
Given the apparent significance of the Lab-Oratorium
image, it is particularly frustrating to discover that Khunrath is far less forth-
coming about the specific details of his engraving and its harmonious message,
in particular the objects that occupy centre stage, indeed dominate the very
foreground of the engraving, the musical instruments in what Franckenberg
so fittingly names the Auditorium.
In Franckenberg’s table of correspondences, the Auditorium mediates be-
tween Oratory and Laboratory, and Mathematics stands between Teology and
Physics. Anyone familiar with the medieval university curriculum will know
that in addition to the verbal arts of the Trivium, students also studied the
numerical subjects of the Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and
music), in preparation for the more advanced study of philosophy or theology.
Khunrath’s central table presumably represents the third of his Amphitheatre’s
activities, magic and, given his penchant for describing this endeavour as
both ‘physical’ and ‘hyperphysical’, the engraving allows for the interpretation
that the reader meditating on this image enters Khunrath’s world by way of
the instruments on the table, thereafter turning to the realms of physics or
metaphysics as the spirit moves him. Te notion of music mediating between
the verbal activity of the Oratory and manual activity of the Laboratory finds
support fromthe famous third-century musical theorist Aristides Quintilianus’
claim that ‘Only music teaches both by word and by the counterparts of
actions’.
10
Tis reading is partly encouraged, too, by one of the most famous
Renaissance magi, Marsilio Ficino (1a¡¡–1aoo), who justified his personal
combination of medicine, music and theology with the argument that music
is as important for the intermediary spirit as medicine is for the body and
theology for the soul.
11
True, Franckenberg prefers soul as the intermediary
principle, but the table-cloth beneath Khunrath’s instruments bears the more
“pneumatic” message: ‘Sacred Music is the dispeller of sadness and evil spirits,
8)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 1o: (mispaginated as 1o¡), 1o¬.
9)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, ¡a.
10)
Mathiesen, ‘Harmonia and Ethos’, :o8.
11)
Kristeller, ‘Music and Learning’, :oo; Ehrmann, ‘Marsilio Ficino und sein Einfluß’,
:a1, :a¡.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 1¬¡
because the siiiir of iiuovau gladly sings in a heart filled with pious joy’
(xusica saxcra tristitiae spirituumque malignorum fuga quia siiiirvs yuvu
lubenter psallit in cordi gaudio pio perfuso).
Looking at the four musical instruments on the table, at the most basic level
of interpretation they could be taken as symbolising the harmonies vibrating
between Heaven and Earth, a reminder of the Hermetic dictum appearing
on the Amphitheatre’s 1ooo title page, from the Emerald Tablet, ‘that which
is niiow is like that which is anovi; And that which is anovi is like that
which is niiow’.
12
More than likely, there is also an intended reference to
the sympathies existing between the Microcosm and Macrocosm, a notion
that crops up repeatedly in Khunrath’s works, frequently in company with the
medieval topos of God’s Two Books of Scripture and Nature. As shall be seen,
there is also a tacit acknowledgement of the universal and musical harmony
made famous by Pythagoras and Plato in antiquity, for whom harmonia is
above all a cosmic principle of order, the ‘unification of things that appear
on a lower level to be dissimilar or unrelated or lacking in order’ into a lasting
relationship.
13
Tis notion was perpetuated in the Renaissance by hermetic and
cabalistic works like Francesco Giorgi’s De harmonia mundi (1¡:¡) and John
Dee’s Propaedeumata aphoristica (1¡¡8).
14
Te presence of four instruments
could also be alluding to the concord of the four elements and their qualities
in nature or the balance of the four humours of the human body.
15
In his Life of Pythagoras, the third-century Neoplatonist Iamblichus writes of
how the master alone could hear the harmony and consonance of the spheres
and the stars moving through them.
16
Tis Pythagorean resonance is present
in the most influential source for Khunrath’s Cabala, the German humanist
Johannes Reuchlin (1a¡¡–1¡::), author of two of Christian Cabala’s most
influential works, De verbo mirifico (1aoa) and De arte cabalistica (1¡1¬), in
which he sets forth the fundamental harmony between this mystical form of
Judaism and the philosophy or ‘symbolic theology’ of Pythagoras.
17
Certainly,
a Pythagorean presence is immediately evident in the plaque suspended over
12)
On the sympathetic harmony between internal, external and Olympic fire, see, for
instance, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, :o:.
13)
Mathiesen, ‘Harmonia and Ethos’, :oo.
14)
Schmidt-Biggemann, Philosophia Perennis, ¡o¡–¡1o. Szönyi, John Dee’s Occultism, 1oo;
Cavallaro, ‘Te Alchemical Significance of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica’.
15)
Finney, ‘Music’, ¡o.
16)
Godwin, Music, Mysticism and Magic, :o.
17)
Reuchlin, De Arte Cabalistica, :¡¡, :a1.
1¬a Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
the Amphitheatre’s Oratory table, where we read the injunction ‘Do not speak
of God without light’ (Ne loquaris de deo absque lvmine). Khunrath’s most
likely direct source for this statement is one of his favoured authors, Heinrich
Cornelius Agrippa (1a8o–1¡¡¡), who explains that
the first, and most wise institutors of religions, and ceremonies ordained, that prayers,
singings, and all manner of divine worships whatsoever should not be performed with-
out lighted candles, or torches. (Hence also was that significant saying of Pythagoras:
do not speak of God without a light).
18
Khunrath and Agrippa could well have lifted this saying from Marsilio Ficino’s
De Sole (1aoa) or his translation of Iamblichus’s De Mysteriis Aegyptiorum,
Chaldaeorum, Assyriorum (1ao¬), where it is included among the ‘Symbols of
Pythagoras the Philosopher.’
19
Returning to the instruments on the table, we see that on the left lie a lyra
da braccio and harp and on the right a lute and what appears to be a cittern.
20
It
may be coincidental, but the latter two instruments, those closest to the earthly
laboratory are fretted, perhaps intimating of the clearly defined quantitative
divisions of weight and measure necessary for the alchemical study of nature.
Tis notion is encouraged by the presence of the balance scales and weights
behind these two instruments and, in combination with the open book with
staves of music behind the harp and lyre on the left, they should probably be
understood as an allusion to a scriptural verse popular among both alchemists
and cabalists, from Wisdom 11::1 ‘Tou hast ordered all things in measure,
and number, and weight.’
21
Michael Maier (1¡o8–1o::), like Khunrath no
stranger to the Bohemian court of Rudolf II, was to allude to the same source
in his alchemical Cantilenae intellectuales (1o::), declaring that ‘by a certain
number, weight and measure all celestial and terrestrial bodies rejoice in as it
were a real blending of musical harmony, as do spiritual creatures … led by its
melodies and symphonic intervals’.
22
18)
Agrippa, ree Books of Occult Philosophy, 1a.
19)
See Ficino’s translation of Iamblichus de mysteriis, sig. 8o
r
and Ficino, De Sole, sig. [L
v
].
Versions of the phrase also appear in Iamblichus, On the Pythagorean Way of Life, 1oo ‘Do
not speak without light’, 1:o ‘Do not talk about Pythagorean matters without light.’ See
too Fideler (ed), e Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, ¬8, 8¡.
20)
Cf Rebotier, ‘La Musique de Flamel’, ¡¡: luth, un dessus de viole, cistre, harpe; Meinel,
‘Alchemie und Musik’, :o: zwei Lauten, Harfe und Viola.
21)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 1¡o.
22)
Maier, Cantilenae intellectuales, o, 8. For more on Maier, see Tilton, e Quest for the
Phoenix; De Jong, Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens; Godwin, Atalanta fugiens.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 1¬¡
As the declaration on the Lab-Oratoriumtable-cloth makes clear, Khunrath’s
focus is on the powers of ‘Sacred Music’ and his claim resonates well with
Agrippa’s statement in a chapter ‘Of the Composition and Harmony of the
humane soul’, from De occulta philosophia (1¡¡¡), that ‘there is nothing more
efficacious to drive away evil spirits than Musicall Harmony (for they being
fallen from that Celestiall Harmony, cannot endure any true consent, as being
an enemy to them, but fly from it)’.
23
Certainly the two instruments on the
Oratory side of the table have strong associations with religious and divine fig-
ures known for their musical abilities to sway souls: Orpheus could charmeven
stones when he played his lyre and David’s harp-playing allayed Saul’s wrath
when he was troubled with an evil spirit.
24
In a chapter ‘Of Musicall Harmony,
of the force and powere thereof ’, Agrippa indeed provides a long list of prisci
theologi and philosophi who enjoy a reputation for musical cures, including
Arion, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Asclepiades who ‘were wont to
do many wonderful things by sounds.’
25
Mention of the prisci theologi brings us
back to Ficino who is well-known for his association of the Lyre with Orpheus
as well as for his own practice of singing Orphic hymns, while accompanying
himself on the lyre.
26
In De musica, Aristides Quintilianus explains how ‘all
the parts of music—pitch, scale, tonos, rhythmic pattern, and so on—are like
the order of the universe, and therefore through mimesis, music may make the
order of the soul like the order of the universe.’
27
For the astrologer-musician
Ficino, this assumption was assuredly behind the composition of De vita libri
tres (1a8o) the best known Renaissance promotion of the power of music to
dispel Saturnine melancholy.
28
Knowledge of this was presumably at a pre-
mium in the court of the melancholy emperor Rudolf, where more than a few
early modern magi, including Khunrath, paid their dues.
29
Khunrath’s sacred music, however, seems to be somewhat less exotic than
that of Ficino. In his Lab-Oratorium, he can be seen kneeling before a table
bearing a psalter, open at Psalm 1a¡:1o promising that ‘Jehovah does the
23)
Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, ¡a1; ree Books of Occult Philosophy, ¡¡¡.
24)
Walker, ‘Orpheus the Teologian’, 1o1. Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta philosophia, ¡::,
¡a1. See too Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, :8.
25)
Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta philosophia, ¡::; ree Books, ¡¡¡.
26)
Voss, ‘Orpheus redivivus’, ::¬; eadem, ‘Marsilio Ficino, the Second Orpheus’.
27)
Mathiesen, ‘Harmonia and Ethos’, :o8.
28)
Tomlinson, Music in Renaissance Magic; refs to Aristides and Gafori, also Chapter Four:
Ficino’s Magical Songs, 1o1–1aa; Allen, ‘Ficino, Daemonic Mathematics, and the Spirit’;
Ammann, ‘Music and Melancholy’.
29)
For Khunrath on melancholy, see Quaestiones Tres.
1¬o Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
Will of them that fear him’. Elsewhere in the Amphitheatre he cites Paul’s
advice to the Ephesians (¡:18) ‘be ye filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking
to yourselves in psalms and hymns and Spiritual canticles, in your hearts to
the ioio.’
30
He leaves us in no doubt of his faith in the powers of sacred
music: Jehoshaphat, he recalls, routed the army of the sons of Ammon and
Moab with a single hymn, and David allayed the madness of Saul; ‘those who
understand the occult Nature of things,’ he states, ‘are capable of furnishing
many similar instances, which the multitude takes to be miracles.’
31
It is
possible that Khunrath’s reference to the power of sacred music to dispel evil
spirits is connected with exorcism, for the Pythagorean injunction not to speak
of God without light is apparently also connected with exorcistic practices;
we find the same utterance in the pseudo-Agrippan Fourth Book of Occult
Philosophy in a passage discussing ‘How the devils are to be driven away’.
32
Another possible application for the four musical instruments is natural magic.
As a Christian Cabalist, Khunrath is, of course, familiar with Giovanni Pico
della Mirandola’s Conclusiones Nongentae, in omnigenere scientiarum (1a8o),
including those concerning the Orphic hymns,
33
where we find the intriguing,
but slightly puzzling statement that ‘Nothing is more effective in natural magic
than the hymns of Orpheus …’.
Next to the psalter in Khunrath’s Oratory stand two images, which are in fact
two of the Amphitheatre’s circular engravings. Te first of these presents a series
of concentric rings of Hebrewtext including the Decalogue, the Hebrewalpha-
bet, the names of the angelic orders, the Cabalist Sephiroth and their related
Shemoth or Divine Names, together with the Hebrew Tetragrammaton com-
bined with the Pythagorean Tetraktys. At their centre stands Christ resurrected,
surrounded by a fiery pentagram, the five largest tongues of flame each bearing
a Hebrew letter of the the Christian-Cabalist name par excellence, yusvu, as
proclaimed by Reuchlin in his De verbo mirifico. Khunrath’s Isagoge to this cir-
cular figure includes a rather theurgic musical dimension in the advice, albeit
unacknowledged, fromthe same source, to ‘Make your vows and prayers to the
30)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 1¡¬.
31)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, :8, 8¡.
32)
Agrippa, Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, 1¡8.
33)
Farmer, Syncretism in the West, ¡oa–¡1¡. For Khunrath’s references to Pico’s conclusions,
see Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, ¬a; Vom hylealischen Chaos, ::; De Igne Magorum, ¡¬. Indeed,
Khunrath also quotes from Orpheus’s De Lapidibus—On Stones, a text which must have
held an obvious attraction for an alchemist seeking the Philosophers’ Stone.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 1¬¬
First, Your hymns to the Lesser Powers.’ Tis is evidently of some importance,
for it also appears in another of the Amphitheatre’s engravings in a set of seven
‘Oracular Laws’ all taken from Reuchlin.
34
It is surely with the first circular
figure in mind that Khunrath advises his readers,
Learn, therefore, to invoke the xaxi oi coo, with Seth, Abram, Moses, David, [and]
the Disciples … [quoting the psalms]: I will sing to the name of the ioio, the Most
High, isalm ¬ … I will be glad and rejoice in you, I will sing to your name, Oh Most
High, Psalm o:¡.
35
Reuchlin’s influence persists in the second circular figure on the Oratory table.
At its centre is the Cabalist image of Adam Kadmon or Adam Androgyne, the
universal man, surrounded by an alchemical exhortation to spiritual regenera-
tion plus two ‘scales’: ten Grades of Cognition, as found in both Aristotle’s De
Anima and Reuchlin’s De arte cabalistica, and a ten-step Ladder of Conjunction
and Union.
36
Khunrath also provides a curious polyglot hymn incorporating
divine Hebrew names, references to the Greek underworld, and Greek terms
which serve equally well for Olympic Jove or heavenly Christ:
Generator and craftsman of everything,
King of those above, Light of genius, hope of men,
Trembling of the shadowy shade of Phlegethon,
Incredible love of heavenly beings,
Invincible terror of the denizens of Tartarus,
Celebrated religion of the children of the earth,
Lord, Our Lord, Our God,
King, Almighty, Born before all,
One coo, Very coo, Bountiful coo,
Descending from on high, flow into us,
you, you, you
Remain here
Quicken the inert
Warn us what are false
Teach us what may be true.
37
34)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 18o. Although not noted by Khunrath, this advice,
together with six other injunctions in the Isagoge to the first two circular figures again reveal
Reuchlin’s influence, all being taken verbatim from De verbo mirifico, ¡o.
35)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 81.
36)
Aristotle, On the Soul, 1o¡–1o¬. Reuchlin, De arte, ¡1.
37)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 188; Reuchlin, De verbo mirifico, ¡8.
1¬8 Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
Tis hymn is another unacknowledged borrowing from Reuchlin’s De verbo
mirifico, where it appears in the context of what Charles Zika describes as ‘a
kind of purgative rite’, aimed at ‘predisposing the individual to accept powers
from the divinity’, in ‘preparation for the revelation of the wonder-working
word’.
38
In his Isagoge to this figure, Khunrath gives us a clear idea of the results he
expects from the performance of this rite, introducing it immediately after the
promise that ‘We shall experience without deception the good axciis amicably
helping us, faithfully advising us, familiarly teaching us by the benevolent
command of Jehovah, and guiding us safely on our ways.’ He follows Reuchlin
in advising that the hymn be sung in the ‘Ionic mode’ (ionico modulamine)
and with an accentuation suitable for stirring the mind to sacred things.
39
Te
theory that music based on the Greek Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian scales,
and so forth could induce various emotions in the soul dated from antiquity.
Anyone seeking advice on music in relation to ‘divine magic’ or theurgic ritual
could read Iamblichus’s account of how Pythagoras directed the ‘passions of
the soul’ by ‘divinely contriving mixtures of certain diatonic, chromatic, and
enharmonic melodies’.
40
Plato had spoken of the musical modes in the Republic
and Aristotle in the Politics.
41
With the Renaissance rediscovery of classical
antiquity in the fifteenth century Gemistus Pletho (1¡¡¡–1a¡:) practised a
form of music-magic that placed great importance on musical modes, special
body postures and times of performance.
42
True, Plato had dismissed the
Ionian mode as ‘soft and convivial’, as ‘lax’, and as unbefitting the guardians
of the Republic,
43
and Aristophanes claimed that prostitutes made use of it
for saucy songs;
44
but other sources Khunrath knew, like Athenaeus in his
Deipnosophists, praised the Ionic mode as ‘neither bright nor cheerful but
38)
Zika, ‘Reuchlin’s De Verbo Mirifico’, 11¬. In the updated version of this article in Zika,
Exorcising our Demons, ao n. a1 Zika suggests that Reuchlin intends Ionic ‘metre’ rather
than Ionic ‘mode’. For a German translation of this hymn, see Rhein, ‘Johannes Reuchlin’,
1a¡.
39)
Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, 1ooo, II, 188.
40)
Godwin, Music, Mysticism and Magic, :o. Iamblichus, On the Pythagorean Way of Life,
8o.
41)
Plato, Republic, :a¡ff. Aristotle, Politics, Book VIII, v. ¬, o¡of.
42)
Walker, Spiritual & Demonic Magic, oo.
43)
Plato, Republic, :a¬. See Mountford, ‘Te Musical Scales of Plato’s Republic’.
44)
Litchfield West, Ancient Greek Music, 18:.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 1¬o
austere and hard, having a seriousness which is not ignoble; and … well
adapted to tragedy’.
45
By the sixteenth century attitudes had changed and we find the Swiss
humanist and musical theorist, Heinrich Glarean (1a88–1¡o¡), who himself
owned a copy of Reuchlin’s De verbo mirifico,
46
referring to this scale in his
Dodekachordon (1¡a¬), in which he propounds his theory of twelve church
modes.
47
In contrast to the negative opinions of Plato and Aristotle, Glarean
explains that Lucian writes of ‘Ionicae iucunditatem’, the ‘delightfulness of
the Ionic mode’,
48
and declares that for the last four hundred years it had
been deeply admired by church singers, enticed by its ‘sweetness and allur-
ing charm.’
49
Agrippa touches on music in De occulta philosophia and in a
discussion of the voices of the planets attributes the quality of being ‘delight-
ful’ (iucundos) to Mercury, information which would presumably appeal to a
Hermetic philosopher.
50
Neither Reuchlin nor Khunrath give any indication
of whether the Ionic mode, today’s ‘major’ scale, was meant to elevate their
minds through solemnity or joy, both of which would be fitting, in their ways,
for Khunrath’s self-confessed ‘enthusiasm’.
51
Khunrath’s ‘Musica sancta’ should not, however, be exclusively related to
Neopythagorean Christian Cabala in the Oratory, for connections can also
be made with the Laboratory. Any hermetic philosopher worth his salt would,
after all, have been familiar with the story of Hermes inventing the first Lyre out
of a tortoise shell, so we should not be too surprised to find some connections
between music and the hermetic art.
52
Such a reference occurs, for example, in
Jean Brouaut’s Traité de l’Eau de Vie ou anatomie théorique et pratique du Vin
45)
Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, ¡¬1. Te same sentiments are also attributed to Heraclides
Ponticus. See West, Ancient Greek Music, 18:.
46)
Fenlon, ‘Heinrich Glarean’s Books’, 8¡.
47)
Glareanus, [Dodekachordon], ¬o, ¬o, 8of. For more on Glarean’s modes, see Atcherson,
‘Key and Mode in Seventeenth-Century Music Teory Books’.
48)
Glareanus, [Dodekachordon], 8o. Lucian, ‘Harmonides’, :1¬.
49)
Fuller, ‘Defending the “Dodecachordon” ’, :1:.
50)
Fellerer, ‘Agrippa von Nettesheimund die Musik’, 8¡. See Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta
Philosophia, ¡:¡.
51)
For references to Aristoxenus’s consideration of catharsis of the soul effected by music
in his biography of Pythagoras and Teophrastus on music’s three sources as sorrow, joy
and religious ecstasy in On Divine Infilling (Peri enthousiasmou), see Anderson, ‘Musical
Developments in the School of Aristotle’, 8¬. See also Finney, ‘Ecstasy and Music in
Seventeenth-Century England’.
52)
Maier, Arcana Arcanissima, a–¡; Fabre, Pan-Chymici Opus, 1o¡. See also Borthwick, ‘Te
Riddle of the Tortoise and the Lyre’, ¡¬¡–¡¬a.
18o Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
Basil Valentine, Révelation des mystères des teintures essentielles des sept métaux (1oao). Title
page engraving. (Courtesy of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam)
(1oao),
53
a work printed by the seventeenth-century publisher of alchemical
and musical works, Jacques de Senlecque, who is a useful example of a reader
that interprets Khunrath’s ‘Musica Sancta’ in an alchemical light. Senlecque
uses an interesting engraving on the title pages of both Brouault’s Traité de l’Eau
de Vie and an edition of Basil Valentine’s Révelation des mystères des teintures
essentielles des sept métaux (1oao/ 1oo8).
Tere we find the “Occidental Philosopher” Basil Valentine and the “Orien-
tal Philosopher” Hermes Trismegistus busy in the laboratory. If we look closely
we discover a phrase obviously inspired by Khunrath: ‘Harmonia sancta, spir-
ituum malignorum fuga seu [Saturni] intemperiei Medicina est’ (Sacred har-
mony is the dispeller of evil spirits or medicine [against] the extremely intem-
53)
Brouaut, Traité de l’Eau de Vie, 1¬.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 181
perate behaviour of Saturn). We need have no doubt that Senlecque did have
Khunrath in mind, for in a lengthy address ‘L’Imprimeur au Lecteur’ in the
Révelation des mystères, he recommends the ‘singular’ works of Henry Khun-
rath to his readers.
54
Senlecque’s engraving deserves more attention than space
permits, but it is worth singling out the phrase ‘Psallite Domino in Chordis
et Organo’ (Play to the Lord on Chords and Organ)
55
and the seven organ
pipes associated with the symbols for the seven planets and their related met-
als. Giving some support to the possible symbolismof the numbers of strings in
Khunrath’s engraving is the fact that Senlecque explicitly associates his planet-
metal septenary with the strings of the Viol, ‘called Lyre in antiquity’.
56
His
variation on the Lab-Oratorium’s ‘Musica Sancta’ message nicely transforms
Khunrath’s ‘sadness’ into a more Ficinian Saturnine melancholy, and intro-
duces the notion of a chemical medicine for both human beings and metals.
In his Arcana arcanissima (1o1¡), Michael Maier provides an alchemical read-
ing of the mythical birth of Harmonia, daughter of Venus (Copper) and Mars
(Iron), conceived when they were trapped in the steel net fashioned by Vulcan
(Fire), with the explanation that she represents the alchemists’ ‘harmonically
composed’ Golden Philosophical Medicine.
57
Although no music is provided in Khunrath’s printed works or appears to
have survived in manuscript, we do have Ein Philosophisch Lied, Von Saltz-Leib
Werdung deß Geists des Herrn: So Gen: .. auff dem Wasser schwebete. Tis short
text also exists in an anonymous seventeenth-century English translation as A
Philosophicall short songe of the incorporating of the Spirit of the Lord in Salt
and stands as an example of Khunrath’s curious blending of alchemical theory
and Christian faith, an instance when Oratorium and Laboratorium conjoin
in the Auditorium.
58
Tere is no doubting the devotional nature of this song,
with each of the seven stanzas ending with the liturgical refrain from the Mass,
54)
Valentine, Révelation des mystères, sig. B
v
.
55)
Clement of Alexandria, e Instructor, II. a, cited in Finney, ‘A World of Instruments’,
o¡.
56)
Brouaut, Traité de l’Eau de Vie, ¡:, ¡a. On Senlecque, see Secret, ‘Littérature et alchimie
au XVIIe siècle’.
57)
Maier, Arcana Arcanissima, 11¬–118. See Pernety, Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermetique, 1o¡.
See also Rebotier, ‘Le mythe d’Harmonie’.
58)
Khunrath, A Naturall Chymicall Symbolum. A hand-written copy of this can also be
found in the end-papers of the British Library edition of Khunrath’s Von hylealischen
… Chaos (Magdeburg, 1¡o¬), entitled Ein Philosophisch Lied. Schmieder, Geschichte der
Alchemie, ¡:: records another text attributed to Khunrath on ‘Te Art of Preparing the
Philosophers’ Stone according to the High Song of Solomon.’
18: Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy upon us). As an illustration, here is the first
stanza:
Spirit Divine, blest be thy state,
Tat art in Salt incorporate
And in the Worlds true virgin wombe
A pure Quintessence art becomme.
Lord have mercy upon us.
In a marginal note, the “Spirit Divine” is equated with the Ruach Elohim,
the Spirit of the Lord that brooded over the waters in the Mosaic account of
Creation. Khunrath provides an alchemical reading of Genesis with the Spirit
of the Lord as the Paracelsian Light of Nature, implying that both Christ and
the Philosophers’ Stone were conceived in virginal wombs.
59
Alchemical songs are fairly rare. Te earliest known is the Antiphona, ‘En
pulcher lapis noster’ of the fifteenth-century Bohemian Priest, Johann Tecenen-
sis (Jan Tˇ eˇ sínsk´ y), of which several manuscripts survive. Yale University is
fortunate enough to possess a copy dating from around 1aoo that includes
a musical arrangement like a Gregorian chant in the Phrygian mode.
60
Te
union of liturgical musical form and alchemical text can also be found in the
early sixteenth-century alchemical mass, Processus sub forma missae (c. 1¡1o)
of Nicolaus Melchior Cibinensis, from Hermannstadt in Siebenbürgen. Like
Khunrath’s Philosophicall Short Song it contains the Kyrie Eleison (sung to the
tune of Gaudeamus), though Melchior differs from Khunrath: rather than
speaking of an “analogous harmony,” he makes a direct identification of Christ
with the Philosophers’ Stone: ‘Christe, Hagie, lapis benedicte artis’ (Christ,
Holy One, blessed stone of the art).
61
Tis evidently made an impression on
Michael Maier, for he includes Melchior as the alchemical representative of the
Hungarian nation in his Symbola aureae mensae duodecim nationum (1o1¬).
62
In the same work, incidentally, Maier mentions the Venetian priest Giovanni
Agostino Pantheo, whose Ars et eoria Transmvtationis Metallicae, first pub-
lished in 1¡1o, is the first work we know that attempts to combine alchemy
59)
For a comparable alchemical reference to Genesis, see Valentine, Von dem grossen Stein
der uhralten Weisen, ¡o.
60)
Meinel, ‘Alchemie und Musik’, :1o; Beinecke Library, Yale, Mellon MS ¡.
61)
See Zetzner (ed.), eatrum chemicum, Vol. III, ¬¡8–¬o1. See also Kiss, et al, ‘Te
Alchemical Mass of Nicolaus Melchior Cibinensis’, 1a¡ and Benedek Lang, Unlocked Books,
1aa–1o1.
62)
Maier, Symbola aureae mensae, ¡o¬–¡1o.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 18¡
and cabala.
63
Pantheo was to be a source of inspiration for Khunrath, Dee, and
other Paracelsian-minded alchemists, and this work also includes a reference to
Harmony and the Pythagorean musical intervals.
64
An example of a less reli-
gious, more popular kind of alchemical song, which nevertheless concludes
with the importance of the ‘Magisterium of Salt’, is provided by Benedict
Figulus (editor of Khunrath’s On the Fire of the Mages and Philosophers), who
includes a Gesang von der Materia Prima—Song on Primal Matter (1oo¡) in his
esaurinella Olympica aurea tripartita (1oo8).
65
Alchemical songs may be rare, but references to music and harmony in
alchemical texts can be found as far back as the works of Zosimus of Panopolis
at the end of the third century and Stephanos of Alexandria in the seventh.
66
In
his Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs, Marcellin Berthelot includes a short
treatise by an anonymous philosopher, in which analogies are drawn between
alchemical and musical composition, with emphasis on the importance of
systematic processes and the necessity of guarding against haphazard action.
Just as in music one should observe the correct rules of harmonic progression,
the cycles of fourths and fifths, so in alchemy one should respect the correct
sequence of colour changes, i.e., moving from nigredo to albedo and so forth.
67
Robert of York, in his Correctorium alchimiae (c. 1¡a8) suggested that both
the elements with which the alchemist worked and the projecting rays of the
planets … might be arranged according to musical proportions.
68
Probably the most quoted passage on alchemy and music appears in Tomas
Norton’s fifteenth-century Ordinall of Alchymy, a work translated into Latin by
Michael Maier and included in his Tripus Aureus (1o18),
69
as well as being
popularised in Elias Ashmole’s compendium of English alchemical poetry, the
eatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1o¡:). Tere, we read:
Joyne your Elements Musically,
For two causes, one is for Melody:
Which there accords will make to your mind,
Te trewe effect when that ye shall finde.
And also for like as Diapason,
63)
Maier, Symbola aureae mensae, ¡88.
64)
Pantheo, Ars et eoria (1¡¡o), 8.
65)
Figulus (ed.), esaurinella Olympica, :1¡–:1o.
66)
Wellesz, ‘Music in the Treatises of Greek Gnostics and Alchemists’.
67)
Berthelot, Collection des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs, :ff.
68)
Finney, ‘Music’, ¡o. Torndike, A History of Magic, Vol. III, 11a.
69)
Maier (ed.), Tripus Aureus, 1¡o–1¡¬.
18a Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
With Diapente and with Diatesseron,
With ypate ypaton, and with Lecanos muse,
With other accords which in Musick be,
With their proporcions causen Harmony,
Much like proportions be in Alkimy.
70
Here, of course, we are back with Pythagoras, who was said to have discovered
the musical proportions, Diapason (Octave), Diapente (Fifth), and Diatesseron
(Fourth), after hearing a blacksmith’s hammer clanging on his anvil.
71
Te
Tetraktys (1+:+¡+a = 1o), which Iamblichus in his Life of Pythagoras calls
‘the harmony in which the Sirens are’,
72
embodies the three musical intervals
after Perfect Unison (1:1): Octave (1::), the Perfect Fifth (::¡) and the Perfect
Fourth (¡:a).
73
Returning to Khunrath’s engraving, it is possible that the number of strings
on the four musical instruments alludes to these intervals: the harp has eight
strings, the cittern and the lute both have five strings or courses, and the lyre
four. Pythagorean music theorists like Nicomachus in the first century, related
the Tetraktys to the notes of the classical tetrachords,
74
which included the notes
mentioned by Norton, Hypate hypaton and lichanos meson being notes from
the two main scalar systems of ancient Greek music. Te most likely source for
Norton’s musical ruminations was Boethius’s early sixth-century De Institutione
musica, the main conduit for the transmission of classical musical theory to the
West. Norton’s Hypate hypaton is the lowest note of the lowest pitched of the
four classical tetrachords. In a chapter discussing which lyre-string is related
to which planet, Boethius recounts that Cicero attributes hypate hypaton to
Mercury and lichanos meson to Saturn.
75
As alchemists have the tendency to
translate planets into their respective metals, this would make Philosophical
Mercury the lowest note on the scale, or what Martianus Capella called the
‘principle of principles’ (principalis principalium), a suitable enough location
for the primal matter of the Great Work, while the mean (meson) note, a perfect
fifth higher, would be Lead.
76
70)
Norton, e Ordinall of Alchimy, oo.
71)
See Maier, Intellectual Cantilenae, ¡o. See also Kepler, Welt-Harmonik, 88.
72)
Iamblichus, On the Pythagorean Way of Life, 1o¬.
73)
Anderson, ‘Musical Developments’, 8a. Bowen, ‘Ficino’s Analysis’, :1.
74)
Nicomachus, Harmonices Manuale, a1.
75)
Boethius, De Musica, cols. 11o:–11o¡. But see Nicomachus, Harmonices Manuale, o,
¡¡, who assigns the lowest note, hypate hypaton, to Saturn, presumably since it is the slowest
moving planet.
76)
Capella, De nuptiis philologi, 1¬o, Sig. Z:.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 18¡
Te best example, however, of an alchemist’s engagement with music is
Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens—Atalanta fleeing (1o1¬), a work based on the
Greek myth of the swift-footed huntress Atalanta, who could run faster than
the East Wind and was only prepared to marry a man who could beat her in a
foot race; those suitors who were too slow she killed with her arrows. She was
eventually defeated by Hippomenes who outran her by dropping three golden
apples given to him by Aphrodite in order to distract her from the contest.
77
Te Author’s Epigram at the start of the work explains this succinctly:
Tree Golden Apples from the Hesperian grove.
A present Worthy of the Queen of Love.
Gave wise Hippomenes Eternal Fame.
And Atalanta’s cruel Speed O’ercame.
In Vain he follows ’till with Radiant Light,
One Rolling Apple captivates her Sight.
And by its glittering charms retards her flight. …
78
Te Epigram also explains the basic alchemical significance of the myth: Ata-
lanta has the volatile nature of quicksilver while Hippomenes has the fiery
nature of sulphur. In medieval chrysopoeia or gold-making alchemy, these were
the two ingredients necessary for the creation of Gold and the Philosophers’
Stone:
What is Hippomenes, true Wisdom knows.
And whence the Speed of Atalanta Flows.
She with Mercurial Swiftness is Endued,
Which Yields by Sulphur’s prudent Strength pursued.
On the title-page Maier explains that these are ‘NewChymical Emblems of the
Secrets of Nature, adapted partly for the eyes and intellect in figures engraved
on copper, with legends, Epigrams and notes attached, partly for the ears and
the soul’s recreation with some ¡o musical fugues in three voices, of which
two are set to a simple melody suitable for singing the couplets, to be looked
at, read, meditated, understood, weighed, sung and listened to, not without
77)
See Ovid, Metamorphoses 1o.¡oo–o8o; Hyginus, Fabulae 18¡. For another reference to
the myth in an alchemical context, see [Bonneau], Abrege de l’Astronomie Inferieure, o¡.
78)
Maier, Atalanta fugiens, 1o18, :. English translation British Library MS. Sloane ¡oa¡.
My thanks to AdamMaclean for publishing this on the Alchemy Website: http://www.levity
.com/alchemy/atl1–¡.html
18o Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
a certain pleasure’. Manfred Kelkel suggests that Maier chose the number ¡o
because it represents the sum total of the sides of the regular Platonic solids
(tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron), pointing out
that he was in Rudolf II’s court at the same time as Johannes Kepler, author of
the Mysterium Cosmographicum (1¡oo) and Harmonices Mundi (1o1o), both of
which deal with melodic proportions and celestial harmonies of the planetary
spheres.
79
In the ‘Preface to the Reader’, Maier explains further about his musical
compositions:
My Muses gives you here three-voiced fugues in order to express this race in such
musical forms as are most similar to it. One voice remains simple, still and withdrawn
and presents the golden apple, but the other, Atalanta, is fugitive and the third [Hip-
pomenes] follows directly after her. Let the fugues proclaimthemselves to your ears, and
the emblems to your eyes, and then let your understanding test the mysteries hidden
therein. I have brought you these things that, by way of the senses, it may stimulate
your insight so that you, allured by that, may understand what treasures are hidden
therein.
80
Tese three voices are, then:
1) Atalanta fugiens (Atalanta fleeing) = the ‘Dux’ or ‘Leader’;
:) Hippomenes sequens (Hippomenes following) = the ‘Comes’ or ‘Compan-
ion’;
¡) Pomum morans (the apple delaying) = Cantus Firmus.
79)
Kelkel, ‘A la recherche d’un art total’, ¡:. See Kepler, Le Secret du Monde, facing p. ¡8 for
the famous engraving of the ¡ regular bodies. See especially Chapter XII, ¬8–8a ‘Division du
Zodiaque et Aspects’, which includes speculations on musical tones. See also Kepler, Welt-
Harmonik, 8o–oa ‘Exkurs über die pythagoreische Vierheit’; ‘Über die Zusammensetzung
von Systemen’, 1aa–1ao.
80)
Tis is the rather free English translation of Atalanta fugiens (1o18), o. Cf Etienne
Perrot’s more faithful rendition in Atalante Fugitive, ¡o ‘De même que cette Atalante fuit,
une voix musicale fuit toujours devant l’autre, et cette autre la poursuit, comme Hippomène.
Cependant elles sont stabilisées et consolidées dans la troisième qui est simple et d’une seule
valeur comme par une pomme d’or. Cette même vierge est purement chymique; elle est
le mercure philosophique fixé et retenu dans sa fuite par le soufre d’or.’ Here it is worth
mentioning that Maier was familiar with Khunrath’s work, praising his alchemical astuteness
in Examen Fucorum, ¡1–a¡ passim. Te fact that the music in Atalanta fugiens is in the
form of “fugues” should, perhaps, cast Khunrath’s description of sacred music in the Lab-
Oratoriumengraving—as that which ‘puts to flight’ (fuga) sadness and evil spirits—in a new
light.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 18¬
Te music consists of ¡o two-part canons on a single unvarying cantus
firmus, which has been identified as the Christe Eleison from the tenth-century
West Frankish plainchant Kyrie Cunctipotens genitor Deus in the liturgical
Missa in Festis Apostolorum, dating back to the eleventh century.
81
F.H. Sawyer
remarks that writing all ¡o canons against the same cantus firmus must have
been a particularly thankless task, noting that it is ‘one of the most extended
examples of Canon against Canto Fermo in existence.’
82
Whatever the aesthetic
considerations may be of the value of such a decision, on an alchemical level
the cantus firmus voice of the golden apple forms the common element in all
¡o pieces, while the voice of Atalanta takes on a new musical form in each
fugue, all three voices relating to one another with different musical intervals
between the voices: fourth, fifth, and so forth. Te voice of the apple sometimes
appears as the bass line, sometimes mediates between the two other voices,
and occasionally rises to the highest part, representing the sublimation and
condensation of matter in the alchemical opus. At the end of the book, Maier
includes an ‘Index Fugarum Atalanticarum’ in which he divides the fugues
into groups depending on the intervals between the voices of Atalanta and
Hippomenes.
83
In the first fugue, for example, Atalanta has the first voice,
Hippomenes the second, the apple the third. Te apple melody, incidentally,
is in the Dorian mode, which the Greeks considered to be an equalising,
balancing mode, suitable here for that which mediates between Atalanta and
Hippomenes. It was also the mode appropriate, incidentally, for the worship
of Apollo, which suits the solar, golden signification of the apples.
84
In terms
of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Paracelsian alchemy, the apple could be
argued to represent the third substance of Salt, introduced by Paracelsus to
symbolise the principle that fixes and preserves the volatile Mercury and fiery
Sulphur.
Maier’s ‘discourses’ on each of the alchemical engravings provide us little
direct insight into the relation between his music and alchemy, although there
are one or two passages emphasising its importance, including:
Te angels sing (as the Holy Scriptures declare), the heavens sing, as Pythagoras
confirmed; and they proclaim the glory of God, as the Psalmist says; the Muses and
81)
Raasveld, ‘Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens (1o1¬)’, ¡¡o.
82)
Sawyer, ‘Te Music in “Atalanta Fugiens”’, :8¡. For more information on the Cantus
Firmus, with passing references to Maier, see Sawyer. ‘Te Use and Treatment of Canto
Fermo’.
83)
Maier, Atalanta fugiens (1o18), Dd:
v
.
84)
Godwin, Atalanta fugiens, a1.
188 Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
Apollo sing, as the poets say; men and even children sing, birds sing, sheep and geese
sing on their musical instruments; so if we too sing, we don’t do it without reason.
85
Maier gives us at least a hint of what he intends in his commentary on the
first engraving, which portrays Boreas the North Wind, carrying a foetus in
his belly, alluding to the line from the Emerald Tablet concerning ‘Te wind
bore it in its belly’. Maier explains that this should be understood on various
levels of meaning:
Chymically, it is sulphur, which is carried in quicksilver … Physically, it is the foetus
… Arithmetically, it is the Cube root; Musically, it is the Disdiapason; Geometrically,
it is the initial point of the flowing line; Astronomically, it is the centre of the planets
Saturn, Jupiter and Mars.
86
A hunt through Maier’s other works for further references to the Pythagorean
intervals in relation to alchemy turns up little more.
87
In his Viatorium, On the
mountains of the seven planets or metals, published a year after Atalanta fugiens
in 1o18, writing of two different kinds of sulphur, Maier states that
one is the cause of blackness, imperfection, and destruction of metals; the other of
yellowness, perfection and their endurance in fire, whence the Double Octave, by
which they say that these two sulphurs differ from one another.
88
Perhaps we can imagine that with these harmonic relationships between the
two substances (the Disdiapason or Double Octave has the ratio a:1), Maier
had something similar in mind to Agrippa’s De occulta philosophia, where in a
chapter on ‘the Celestial bodies, and what harmony and sound is correspondent
of every Star’, he writes that ‘between Fire and Aire … there ariseth … an
Harmony of a double Diapason and a Diapente … Betwixt the Aire and Water
… Diapason and Diapente’, and so forth.
89
Furthermore, Agrippa informs us,
85)
Maier, Atalanta fugiens, 1o18, ¡¡.
86)
Maier, Atalanta fugiens, 1a. Cf Robert Fludd (1¡¬a–1o¡¬), Utriusque Cosmi Historia,
Vol. 1, 8o ‘Nam terra in musica mundana se habet, ut [gamma] in musica, unita in
Arithmetica & punctum in Geometria: Est enim quasi terminus, a quo ratio materiae
proportionalis habenda est.’
87)
Although he does not discuss music, Maier does refer to the myth of Atalanta and
Hippomenes in the Cantilenae. See Chansons intellectuelles, ¡¬.
88)
Maier, Viatorium, :¬.
89)
Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta philosophia, Lib. :, Cap. xxvi, ¡:8.
Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () – 18o
the distance between the earth and the moon is 1:o,ooo miles, which equals
one tone; the distance between the moon and mercury is imagined to be half
that distance, therefore a semi-tone. It is conceivable that an alchemist could
translate the astronomical correlation between planetary distances and musical
consonances into an alchemical relationship between the weight of substances
and musical intervals.
Although critics have been less than complementary about some of Maier’s
musical compositions, there is a certain degree of sophistication in some of
the fugues.
90
Hildemarie Streich, Manfred Kelkel, and Jacques Rebotier each
identify several techniques employed at significant moments in the sequence.
For example, in the first ao fugues all three voices move in the same direc-
tion, but in Fugue a1 there is a change and the voice of the Apple suddenly
moves in the opposite retrograde direction, the crab or cancrizans motion, a
compositional technique in which the voice is read backwards, from the back
to the front. Streich and Kelkel suggest that this is the moment when Hip-
pomenes drops the first Apple and Atalanta stoops to pick it off the ground.
91
In Fugue aa Maier employs the technique of the proportional canon, in which
the imitating voice moves in longer or shorter note-values than the leading
voice. For the first time the voice of Hippomenes begins at the same time as
those of Atalanta and the Apple, but his voice hurries ahead of the others, sug-
gesting that he has seized his chance to beat Atalanta at her game and win the
race.
92
In conclusion, let us return, with a somewhat crab-like motion, to Khun-
rath’s ambiguously named Amphitheatre, stadium for footraces and stage for
musical and dramatic performances. Its engravings, in particular that of the
Lab-Oratorium embrace both possibilities and constantly reinforce the impor-
tance of harmonious balance between different domains. Te musical instru-
ments so invitingly laid out for us to pluck or strum intimate of the necessary
combination of theory and practice, spirit and matter, of becoming intellectu-
ally and physically attuned to the Creator and his creation, with the Hermetic
understanding that true knowledge of music means knowing the arrangement
of all things and that ‘this ordering of all separate things into one, achieved
by skillful reason, makes the sweetest and truest harmony with the Divine
90)
Sawyer, ‘Te Music in “Atalanta Fugiens”’, :8¡.
91)
Kelkel, ‘A la recherche d’un art total’, ¡a; Streich, ‘Musikalische und psychologische
Entsprechungen’, ¡oo; Rebotier, ‘La musique cachée’.
92)
Streich, ‘Musikalische und psychologische Entsprechungen’, ¡oo.
1oo Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES . () –
Song’.
93
Ultimately, it encapsulates the Pythagorean belief that the supreme
formof Mousike is Philosophia or, in Khunrath’s case, Philotheosophia, the “Love
of Divine Wisdom”.
94
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Peter J. Forshaw / ARIES

. (

)

Kabala, Magia and Chymia. At the bottom of the table we discover that the loci for these practices are, respectively, Oratorium, Auditorium, and Laboratorium.1
 Spirit Divine Belief God eology Intellect Divine Spirit 1000 Alpha Ora Soul Natural Reason Human Mathematics Reason Angelic Word 100
X

Audi.

 Body Artificial Sense Creature Physics Sense Human Flesh 10 Omega Labora-

is association of esoteric sciences and spaces is undoubtedly inspired by the Paracelsian doctor Heinrich Khunrath of Leipzig ( – ), whose De Igne magorum ( ) insists on the vital necessity of working alchemy, magic and cabala in conjunction.2 ese three arts combine in Khunrath’s Christian-Cabalist, Divinely-Magical, and Physico-Chemical magnum opus the Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae ( / ), finding their most profound expression in his image of the Lab-Oratorium, probably one of the best-known images of early modern esotericism.3 In this ‘ eosophical figure’4 Khunrath presents the domains of the Christian-Cabalist at prayer before the Oratory tabernacle on the left and of the alchemist in the Laboratory on the right. In his words, we hear the universal voice of Wisdom
with the ears of the senses, of reason, of the Intellect and of the Mind: Praying in the Oratory, Working Micro and Macro-Cosmically, Physically, Physico-Medically, Physico-Chemically, etc. in the Laboratory.5

Franckenberg, Raphael oder Artzt-Engel, . Khunrath, De Igne magorum, . 3) Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, . On the sequence of engravings in Khunrath’s book, see Eco, Lo Strano Caso della Hanau . 4) Khunrath, Totique, celestis exercitus spiritualis, … Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae, solius verae, , Title-page: ‘exornatum figuris quatuor eosophicis.’ 5) Khunrath, Amphitheatrum, , II, – .
1) 2)

’6 Only one experienced in both will comprehend the “analogical harmony” (Harmonia analogica) between Christ. Vom hylealischen Chaos. . II. Forshaw / ARIES . . Khunrath makes it explicitly clear that these domains are intimately connected and castigates those who ‘utterly un-Philosophically separate Oratory and Laboratory from each other. Son of the Microcosm. Khunrath.Peter J. ( ) – ( Heinrich Khunrath’s Lab-Oratorium. Khunrath. Magnesia Catholica Philosophorum. for the works 6) 7) Khunrath. Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae ) (Courtesy of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. .7 Movement between these two disciplinary domains itself performs a probatory function. Vom hylealischen Chaos ( ). Son of the Macrocosm. and the Philosophers’ Stone. Amphitheatrum. . . Amsterdam) In another of his works.

Although Khunrath is well aware he risks being accused of blasphemy. . in preparation for the more advanced study of philosophy or theology. by one of the most famous Renaissance magi. he firmly asserts that ‘if the one exists. . thereafter turning to the realms of physics or metaphysics as the spirit moves him.10 is reading is partly encouraged. wondrous Regenerative harmony of the Macro and Microcosm’. music and theology with the argument that music is as important for the intermediary spirit as medicine is for the body and theology for the soul. ‘Oh. ‘Marsilio Ficino und sein Einfluß’. ‘Harmonia and Ethos’. Forshaw / ARIES .9 Given the apparent significance of the Lab-Oratorium image. 10) Mathiesen. Christ can be known naturally through the Stone and the Stone theosophically through Christ. who justified his personal combination of medicine. the Auditorium mediates between Oratory and Laboratory. in particular the objects that occupy centre stage. but the table-cloth beneath Khunrath’s instruments bears the more “pneumatic” message: ‘Sacred Music is the dispeller of sadness and evil spirits. it is particularly frustrating to discover that Khunrath is far less forthcoming about the specific details of his engraving and its harmonious message. e notion of music mediating between the verbal activity of the Oratory and manual activity of the Laboratory finds support from the famous third-century musical theorist Aristides Quintilianus’ claim that ‘Only music teaches both by word and by the counterparts of actions’. . . 11) Kristeller. the musical instruments in what Franckenberg so fittingly names the Auditorium. . ‘Music and Learning’. Khunrath. so does the other’. II. astronomy and music). Ehrmann. and Mathematics stands between eology and Physics.11 True. . Franckenberg prefers soul as the intermediary principle. too. Anyone familiar with the medieval university curriculum will know that in addition to the verbal arts of the Trivium. given his penchant for describing this endeavour as both ‘physical’ and ‘hyperphysical’. students also studied the numerical subjects of the Quadrivium (arithmetic. . ( ) – of the alchemist and cabalist are mutually confirming. geometry. magic and. In Franckenberg’s table of correspondences. Marsilio Ficino ( – ). Amphitheatrum. Amphitheatrum. Khunrath. .Peter J. 8) 9) (mispaginated as ). Khunrath’s central table presumably represents the third of his Amphitheatre’s activities. .8 So inspired is he by this revelation that he exuberantly exclaims. the engraving allows for the interpretation that the reader meditating on this image enters Khunrath’s world by way of the instruments on the table. II. indeed dominate the very foreground of the engraving.

. .16 is Pythagorean resonance is present in the most influential source for Khunrath’s Cabala. John Dee’s Occultism. 13) Mathiesen. 17) Reuchlin. there is also an intended reference to the sympathies existing between the Microcosm and Macrocosm. – . Forshaw / ARIES . . Music. in which he sets forth the fundamental harmony between this mystical form of Judaism and the philosophy or ‘symbolic theology’ of Pythagoras. see. 14) Schmidt-Biggemann. a notion that crops up repeatedly in Khunrath’s works. II.15 In his Life of Pythagoras. the German humanist Johannes Reuchlin ( – ).12 More than likely. from the Emerald Tablet. ‘Music’. the ‘unification of things that appear on a lower level to be dissimilar or unrelated or lacking in order’ into a lasting relationship. Mysticism and Magic.17 Certainly. Looking at the four musical instruments on the table. . Amphitheatrum. 15) Finney. a Pythagorean presence is immediately evident in the plaque suspended over On the sympathetic harmony between internal. De Arte Cabalistica. Philosophia Perennis. a reminder of the Hermetic dictum appearing on the Amphitheatre’s title page. e presence of four instruments could also be alluding to the concord of the four elements and their qualities in nature or the balance of the four humours of the human body. De verbo mirifico ( ) and De arte cabalistica ( ). author of two of Christian Cabala’s most influential works. . ‘Harmonia and Ethos’. ( ) – because the  of  gladly sings in a heart filled with pious joy’ (  tristitiae spirituumque malignorum fuga quia   lubenter psallit in cordi gaudio pio perfuso). Szönyi. there is also a tacit acknowledgement of the universal and musical harmony made famous by Pythagoras and Plato in antiquity. As shall be seen.13 is notion was perpetuated in the Renaissance by hermetic and cabalistic works like Francesco Giorgi’s De harmonia mundi ( ) and John 14 Dee’s Propaedeumata aphoristica ( ). frequently in company with the medieval topos of God’s Two Books of Scripture and Nature. And that which is  is like that which is ’.Peter J. at the most basic level of interpretation they could be taken as symbolising the harmonies vibrating between Heaven and Earth. . . 12) . ‘ e Alchemical Significance of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica’. the third-century Neoplatonist Iamblichus writes of how the master alone could hear the harmony and consonance of the spheres and the stars moving through them. 16) Godwin. for whom harmonia is above all a cosmic principle of order. Cavallaro. . external and Olympic fire. for instance. ‘that which is  is like that which is .

harpe. e Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library. zwei Lauten. 18) 19) . Meinel. and all manner of divine worships whatsoever should not be performed without lighted candles. and number.’19 Returning to the instruments on the table.Peter J.20 It may be coincidental. was to allude to the same source in his alchemical Cantilenae intellectuales ( ). ‘Do not speak without light’. and weight.22 Agrippa. sig. For more on Maier. Cantilenae intellectuales. Forshaw / ARIES . 20) Cf Rebotier.’21 Michael Maier ( – ).18 Khunrath and Agrippa could well have lifted this saying from Marsilio Ficino’s De Sole ( ) or his translation of Iamblichus’s De Mysteriis Aegyptiorum. see Tilton. those closest to the earthly laboratory are fretted. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa ( – ). . . See Ficino’s translation of Iamblichus de mysteriis. II. from Wisdom : ‘ ou hast ordered all things in measure. . singings. is notion is encouraged by the presence of the balance scales and weights behind these two instruments and. like Khunrath no stranger to the Bohemian court of Rudolf II. Atalanta fugiens. declaring that ‘by a certain number. in combination with the open book with staves of music behind the harp and lyre on the left. un dessus de viole. . that prayers. Khunrath’s most likely direct source for this statement is one of his favoured authors. where it is included among the ‘Symbols of Pythagoras the Philosopher. 21) Khunrath. . perhaps intimating of the clearly defined quantitative divisions of weight and measure necessary for the alchemical study of nature. and ceremonies ordained. Harfe und Viola.’ See too Fideler (ed). weight and measure all celestial and terrestrial bodies rejoice in as it were a real blending of musical harmony. On the Pythagorean Way of Life. De Sole. . ‘Alchemie und Musik’. sig. they should probably be understood as an allusion to a scriptural verse popular among both alchemists and cabalists. and most wise institutors of religions. cistre. ree Books of Occult Philosophy. [Lv]. Chaldaeorum. Versions of the phrase also appear in Iamblichus. 22) Maier. Amphitheatrum. where we read the injunction ‘Do not speak of God without light’ (Ne loquaris de deo absque lvmine). ‘La Musique de Flamel’. we see that on the left lie a lyra da braccio and harp and on the right a lute and what appears to be a cittern. as do spiritual creatures … led by its melodies and symphonic intervals’. . Assyriorum ( ). De Jong. r and Ficino. ( ) – the Amphitheatre’s Oratory table. luth. (Hence also was that significant saying of Pythagoras: do not speak of God without a light). e Quest for the Phoenix. Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens. but the latter two instruments. ‘Do not talk about Pythagorean matters without light. Godwin. or torches. who explains that the first.

see Quaestiones Tres.28 Knowledge of this was presumably at a premium in the court of the melancholy emperor Rudolf.29 Khunrath’s sacred music. and so on—are like the order of the universe. scale. . Pythagoras.’25 Mention of the prisci theologi brings us back to Ficino who is well-known for his association of the Lyre with Orpheus as well as for his own practice of singing Orphic hymns. – . including Arion. De Occulta Philosophia. II. 26) Voss. as being an enemy to them. Ammann. ‘Ficino. Forshaw / ARIES . In his Lab-Oratorium. . De Occulta philosophia. .23 Certainly the two instruments on the Oratory side of the table have strong associations with religious and divine figures known for their musical abilities to sway souls: Orpheus could charm even stones when he played his lyre and David’s harp-playing allayed Saul’s wrath when he was troubled with an evil spirit. . and therefore through mimesis. however. Cornelius Agrippa. Allen. . he can be seen kneeling before a table bearing a psalter. . . . See too Khunrath. and the Spirit’. 25) Cornelius Agrippa. refs to Aristides and Gafori. Aristides Quintilianus explains how ‘all the parts of music—pitch. 27) Mathiesen. Khunrath’s focus is on the powers of ‘Sacred Music’ and his claim resonates well with Agrippa’s statement in a chapter ‘Of the Composition and Harmony of the humane soul’. 28) Tomlinson. that ‘there is nothing more efficacious to drive away evil spirits than Musicall Harmony (for they being fallen from that Celestiall Harmony. tonos. ‘Music and Melancholy’. Daemonic Mathematics. ‘Marsilio Ficino. . cannot endure any true consent. Orpheus. also Chapter Four: Ficino’s Magical Songs. of the force and powere thereof ’. and Asclepiades who ‘were wont to do many wonderful things by sounds. while accompanying himself on the lyre. including Khunrath. eadem. . rhythmic pattern. seems to be somewhat less exotic than that of Ficino. Walker. ree Books of Occult Philosophy. the Second Orpheus’. Music in Renaissance Magic. 23) 24) . paid their dues. Empedocles. De Occulta philosophia. ‘Harmonia and Ethos’. music may make the order of the soul like the order of the universe. ‘Orpheus redivivus’. ree Books.’27 For the astrologer-musician Ficino. . Amphitheatrum. 29) For Khunrath on melancholy. but fly from it)’.24 In a chapter ‘Of Musicall Harmony. from De occulta philosophia ( ). where more than a few early modern magi. this assumption was assuredly behind the composition of De vita libri tres ( ) the best known Renaissance promotion of the power of music to dispel Saturnine melancholy.Peter J.26 In De musica. Agrippa indeed provides a long list of prisci theologi and philosophi who enjoy a reputation for musical cures. open at Psalm : promising that ‘Jehovah does the Cornelius Agrippa. ‘Orpheus the eologian’. ( ) – As the declaration on the Lab-Oratorium table-cloth makes clear.

33 where we find the intriguing. ‘are capable of furnishing many similar instances. II. which the multitude takes to be miracles.’31 It is possible that Khunrath’s reference to the power of sacred music to dispel evil spirits is connected with exorcism. and David allayed the madness of Saul. II. including those concerning the Orphic hymns. speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and Spiritual canticles. Amphitheatrum. 33) Farmer. . . – . . . for the Pythagorean injunction not to speak of God without light is apparently also connected with exorcistic practices. in your hearts to the . surrounded by a fiery pentagram. Elsewhere in the Amphitheatre he cites Paul’s advice to the Ephesians ( : ) ‘be ye filled with the Holy Spirit. from the same source. familiar with Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Conclusiones Nongentae.’30 He leaves us in no doubt of his faith in the powers of sacred music: Jehoshaphat. he recalls. routed the army of the sons of Ammon and Moab with a single hymn. the five largest tongues of flame each bearing a Hebrew letter of the the Christian-Cabalist name par excellence.32 Another possible application for the four musical instruments is natural magic. . the Hebrew alphabet. ( ) – Will of them that fear him’. Indeed. 32) Agrippa. For Khunrath’s references to Pico’s conclusions. As a Christian Cabalist. e first of these presents a series of concentric rings of Hebrew text including the Decalogue. as proclaimed by Reuchlin in his De verbo mirifico. Amphitheatrum. . we find the same utterance in the pseudo-Agrippan Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy in a passage discussing ‘How the devils are to be driven away’. together with the Hebrew Tetragrammaton combined with the Pythagorean Tetraktys.’ he states. Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy. the names of the angelic orders. albeit unacknowledged. II. Next to the psalter in Khunrath’s Oratory stand two images. De Igne Magorum. a text which must have held an obvious attraction for an alchemist seeking the Philosophers’ Stone. Khunrath also quotes from Orpheus’s De Lapidibus—On Stones. see Amphitheatrum. Vom hylealischen Chaos. in omnigenere scientiarum ( ). At their centre stands Christ resurrected. but slightly puzzling statement that ‘Nothing is more effective in natural magic than the hymns of Orpheus …’. . . Syncretism in the West. . . of course. the Cabalist Sephiroth and their related Shemoth or Divine Names. 30) 31) . Forshaw / ARIES . Khunrath is. to ‘Make your vows and prayers to the Khunrath. which are in fact two of the Amphitheatre’s circular engravings. ‘those who understand the occult Nature of things. Khunrath. .Peter J. Khunrath’s Isagoge to this circular figure includes a rather theurgic musical dimension in the advice.

King of those above. with Seth.34 It is surely with the first circular figure in mind that Khunrath advises his readers. to invoke the   . Light of genius. Reuchlin. Descending from on high. David.36 Khunrath also provides a curious polyglot hymn incorporating divine Hebrew names. Your hymns to the Lesser Powers. flow into . therefore. . for it also appears in another of the Amphitheatre’s engravings in a set of seven ‘Oracular Laws’ all taken from Reuchlin. salm … I will be glad and rejoice in you. Our God. references to the Greek underworld. Amphitheatrum. King. – . the universal man. Bountiful . Forshaw / ARIES . ( ) – First. .37 Khunrath. II. II.’ is is evidently of some importance. Our Lord. On the Soul. 34) . this advice.Peter J. and Greek terms which serve equally well for Olympic Jove or heavenly Christ: Generator and craftsman of everything. Abram. Amphitheatrum.  Remain here Quicken the inert Warn us what are false Teach us what may be true. . 36) Aristotle. At its centre is the Cabalist image of Adam Kadmon or Adam Androgyne. the Most High. Lord. Amphitheatrum. Born before all. Very . Psalm : . One . hope of men. Although not noted by Khunrath. . . 37) Khunrath. . . . Incredible love of heavenly beings. Trembling of the shadowy shade of Phlegethon. De verbo mirifico. all being taken verbatim from De verbo mirifico. II. I will sing to your name. Invincible terror of the denizens of Tartarus. surrounded by an alchemical exhortation to spiritual regeneration plus two ‘scales’: ten Grades of Cognition. De arte. . 35) Khunrath. Moses. Oh Most High. [and] the Disciples … [quoting the psalms]: I will sing to the name of the . Celebrated religion of the children of the earth. . Learn. Almighty. and a ten-step Ladder of Conjunction and Union.35 Reuchlin’s influence persists in the second circular figure on the Oratory table. . together with six other injunctions in the Isagoge to the first two circular figures again reveal Reuchlin’s influence. as found in both Aristotle’s De Anima and Reuchlin’s De arte cabalistica. Reuchlin.

Anyone seeking advice on music in relation to ‘divine magic’ or theurgic ritual could read Iamblichus’s account of how Pythagoras directed the ‘passions of the soul’ by ‘divinely contriving mixtures of certain diatonic. v. 42) Walker. For a German translation of this hymn. Phrygian. special body postures and times of performance. f. introducing it immediately after the promise that ‘We shall experience without deception the good  amicably helping us.44 but other sources Khunrath knew. In the updated version of this article in Zika. ( ) – is hymn is another unacknowledged borrowing from Reuchlin’s De verbo mirifico. II. Ancient Greek Music. 40) Godwin. and enharmonic melodies’. 43) Plato. Plato had dismissed the Ionian mode as ‘soft and convivial’. . as ‘lax’. see Rhein.Peter J. ff. aimed at ‘predisposing the individual to accept powers from the divinity’. 39) Khunrath. and guiding us safely on our ways. . ‘Johannes Reuchlin’. Khunrath gives us a clear idea of the results he expects from the performance of this rite. Spiritual & Demonic Magic. 44) Litchfield West. and so forth could induce various emotions in the soul dated from antiquity.42 True. 41) Plato. Forshaw / ARIES . . Dorian. ‘Reuchlin’s De Verbo Mirifico’. . . like Athenaeus in his Deipnosophists.40 Plato had spoken of the musical modes in the Republic and Aristotle in the Politics. Exorcising our Demons. Republic. Book VIII. See Mountford. and as unbefitting the guardians of the Republic. praised the Ionic mode as ‘neither bright nor cheerful but Zika. 38) . .41 With the Renaissance rediscovery of classical antiquity in the fifteenth century Gemistus Pletho ( – ) practised a form of music-magic that placed great importance on musical modes. . n.38 In his Isagoge to this figure. Amphitheatrum. familiarly teaching us by the benevolent command of Jehovah. ‘ e Musical Scales of Plato’s Republic’. Iamblichus. faithfully advising us. Lydian scales. Mysticism and Magic. . .43 and Aristophanes claimed that prostitutes made use of it for saucy songs.’ He follows Reuchlin in advising that the hymn be sung in the ‘Ionic mode’ (ionico modulamine) and with an accentuation suitable for stirring the mind to sacred things. Aristotle. chromatic. Zika suggests that Reuchlin intends Ionic ‘metre’ rather than Ionic ‘mode’. in ‘preparation for the revelation of the wonder-working word’. where it appears in the context of what Charles Zika describes as ‘a kind of purgative rite’. On the Pythagorean Way of Life.39 e theory that music based on the Greek Ionian. Politics. Music. Republic. .

for connections can also be made with the Laboratory. was meant to elevate their minds through solemnity or joy.50 Neither Reuchlin nor Khunrath give any indication of whether the Ionic mode. 51) For references to Aristoxenus’s consideration of catharsis of the soul effected by music in his biography of Pythagoras and eophrastus on music’s three sources as sorrow. Forshaw / ARIES . Lucian. information which would presumably appeal to a Hermetic philosopher. ‘Agrippa von Nettesheim und die Musik’. . 47) Glareanus. for example. f. .46 referring to this scale in his Dodekachordon ( ). joy and religious ecstasy in On Divine Infilling (Peri enthousiasmou). 52) Maier. however. after all. – .48 and declares that for the last four hundred years it had been deeply admired by church singers. so we should not be too surprised to find some connections between music and the hermetic art. for Khunrath’s self-confessed ‘enthusiasm’.Peter J. the ‘delightfulness of the Ionic mode’.45 By the sixteenth century attitudes had changed and we find the Swiss humanist and musical theorist. See also Finney. . See Cornelius Agrippa. in which he propounds his theory of twelve church 47 modes. who himself owned a copy of Reuchlin’s De verbo mirifico. both of which would be fitting. Heinrich Glarean ( – ).’49 Agrippa touches on music in De occulta philosophia and in a discussion of the voices of the planets attributes the quality of being ‘delightful’ (iucundos) to Mercury. Glarean explains that Lucian writes of ‘Ionicae iucunditatem’. Deipnosophists. and … well adapted to tragedy’. Pan-Chymici Opus. Any hermetic philosopher worth his salt would. ‘Key and Mode in Seventeenth-Century Music eory Books’. . 45) . ‘Heinrich Glarean’s Books’. . ‘ e Riddle of the Tortoise and the Lyre’. [Dodekachordon]. Fabre. Ancient Greek Music. be exclusively related to Neopythagorean Christian Cabala in the Oratory. 48) Glareanus. enticed by its ‘sweetness and alluring charm. In contrast to the negative opinions of Plato and Aristotle. . For more on Glarean’s modes. in Jean Brouaut’s Traité de l’Eau de Vie ou anatomie théorique et pratique du Vin Athenaeus. ‘Ecstasy and Music in Seventeenth-Century England’. 46) Fenlon. ‘Defending the “Dodecachordon” ’. . e same sentiments are also attributed to Heraclides Ponticus. .51 Khunrath’s ‘Musica sancta’ should not. . ‘Harmonides’. – . De Occulta Philosophia. See also Borthwick. see Anderson. . 50) Fellerer. 49) Fuller. ‘Musical Developments in the School of Aristotle’. See West. having a seriousness which is not ignoble. in their ways. have been familiar with the story of Hermes inventing the first Lyre out of a tortoise shell.52 Such a reference occurs. Arcana Arcanissima. . ( ) – austere and hard. . see Atcherson. today’s ‘major’ scale. [Dodekachordon].

Peter J. ere we find the “Occidental Philosopher” Basil Valentine and the “Oriental Philosopher” Hermes Trismegistus busy in the laboratory. Senlecque uses an interesting engraving on the title pages of both Brouault’s Traité de l’Eau de Vie and an edition of Basil Valentine’s Révelation des mystères des teintures essentielles des sept métaux ( / ). . spirituum malignorum fuga seu [Saturni] intemperiei Medicina est’ (Sacred harmony is the dispeller of evil spirits or medicine [against] the extremely intem- 53) Brouaut.53 a work printed by the seventeenth-century publisher of alchemical and musical works. Forshaw / ARIES . ( ) – Basil Valentine. who is a useful example of a reader that interprets Khunrath’s ‘Musica Sancta’ in an alchemical light. Traité de l’Eau de Vie. . (Courtesy of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. Title page engraving. Amsterdam) ( ). Jacques de Senlecque. If we look closely we discover a phrase obviously inspired by Khunrath: ‘Harmonia sancta. Révelation des mystères des teintures essentielles des sept métaux ( ).

entitled Ein Philosophisch Lied. see Secret. ‘A World of Instruments’. See also Rebotier. Traité de l’Eau de Vie. ‘Littérature et alchimie au XVIIe siècle’. We need have no doubt that Senlecque did have Khunrath in mind. Clement of Alexandria. records another text attributed to Khunrath on ‘ e Art of Preparing the Philosophers’ Stone according to the High Song of Solomon. an instance when Oratorium and Laboratorium conjoin in the Auditorium. 57) Maier. and introduces the notion of a chemical medicine for both human beings and metals. Michael Maier provides an alchemical reading of the mythical birth of Harmonia.57 Although no music is provided in Khunrath’s printed works or appears to have survived in manuscript. . . A hand-written copy of this can also be found in the end-papers of the British Library edition of Khunrath’s Von hylealischen … Chaos (Magdeburg. e Instructor. .58 ere is no doubting the devotional nature of this song. with the explanation that she represents the alchemists’ ‘harmonically composed’ Golden Philosophical Medicine. 54) 55) Brouaut. he recommends the ‘singular’ works of Henry Khunrath to his readers. Valentine. – . daughter of Venus (Copper) and Mars (Iron). Schmieder. Forshaw / ARIES . II. we do have Ein Philosophisch Lied. ‘Le mythe d’Harmonie’. conceived when they were trapped in the steel net fashioned by Vulcan (Fire). Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermetique. A Naturall Chymicall Symbolum. with each of the seven stanzas ending with the liturgical refrain from the Mass.’ 56) .Peter J. Bv. . ‘called Lyre in antiquity’. See Pernety. but it is worth singling out the phrase ‘Psallite Domino in Chordis et Organo’ (Play to the Lord on Chords and Organ)55 and the seven organ pipes associated with the symbols for the seven planets and their related metals. Giving some support to the possible symbolism of the numbers of strings in Khunrath’s engraving is the fact that Senlecque explicitly associates his planetmetal septenary with the strings of the Viol. ( ) – perate behaviour of Saturn). for in a lengthy address ‘L’Imprimeur au Lecteur’ in the Révelation des mystères. ). Geschichte der Alchemie. On Senlecque. . Révelation des mystères. In his Arcana arcanissima ( ). 58) Khunrath. Von Saltz-Leib Werdung deß Geists des Herrn: So Gen: . sig. cited in Finney.54 Senlecque’s engraving deserves more attention than space permits. is short text also exists in an anonymous seventeenth-century English translation as A Philosophicall short songe of the incorporating of the Spirit of the Lord in Salt and stands as an example of Khunrath’s curious blending of alchemical theory and Christian faith. . Arcana Arcanissima.56 His variation on the Lab-Oratorium’s ‘Musica Sancta’ message nicely transforms Khunrath’s ‘sadness’ into a more Ficinian Saturnine melancholy. auff dem Wasser schwebete.

See also Kiss. whose Ars et eoria Transmvtationis Metallicae. first published in . – . Forshaw / ARIES . the Spirit of the Lord that brooded over the waters in the Mosaic account of Creation. et al. and Benedek Lang. implying that both Christ and the Philosophers’ Stone were conceived in virginal wombs. III. at art in Salt incorporate And in the Worlds true virgin wombe A pure Quintessence art becomme. 62) Maier. ( ) – Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy upon us). blest be thy state. e earliest known is the Antiphona.59 Alchemical songs are fairly rare. Processus sub forma missae (c.Peter J. Mellon MS . Yale. Yale University is eˇ y fortunate enough to possess a copy dating from around that includes a musical arrangement like a Gregorian chant in the Phrygian mode.62 In the same work. here is the first stanza: Spirit Divine. ‘Alchemie und Musik’. of which several manuscripts survive. Johann Tecenensis (Jan Tˇsínsk´).). ‘ e Alchemical Mass of Nicolaus Melchior Cibinensis’. 61) See Zetzner (ed. 60) Meinel.61 is evidently made an impression on Michael Maier. As an illustration. – .60 e union of liturgical musical form and alchemical text can also be found in the early sixteenth-century alchemical mass. from Hermannstadt in Siebenbürgen. Unlocked Books. eatrum chemicum. though Melchior differs from Khunrath: rather than speaking of an “analogous harmony. is the first work we know that attempts to combine alchemy For a comparable alchemical reference to Genesis. – . the “Spirit Divine” is equated with the Ruach Elohim. Maier mentions the Venetian priest Giovanni Agostino Pantheo. Holy One. Like Khunrath’s Philosophicall Short Song it contains the Kyrie Eleison (sung to the tune of Gaudeamus). ‘En pulcher lapis noster’ of the fifteenth-century Bohemian Priest. Symbola aureae mensae. Lord have mercy upon us. Beinecke Library. lapis benedicte artis’ (Christ. .” he makes a direct identification of Christ with the Philosophers’ Stone: ‘Christe. Khunrath provides an alchemical reading of Genesis with the Spirit of the Lord as the Paracelsian Light of Nature. 59) . see Valentine. In a marginal note. incidentally. for he includes Melchior as the alchemical representative of the Hungarian nation in his Symbola aureae mensae duodecim nationum ( ). Vol. . Hagie. blessed stone of the art). Von dem grossen Stein der uhralten Weisen. ) of Nicolaus Melchior Cibinensis.

Symbola aureae mensae. the cycles of fourths and fifths. a work translated into Latin by Michael Maier and included in his Tripus Aureus ( ). Figulus (ed.). Finney. i. Marcellin Berthelot includes a short treatise by an anonymous philosopher. esaurinella Olympica. Berthelot.63 Pantheo was to be a source of inspiration for Khunrath. Maier. ( ) – and cabala. Vol. – . more popular kind of alchemical song. 63) 64) 65) 66) 67) 68) 69) . Pantheo.Peter J.69 as well as being popularised in Elias Ashmole’s compendium of English alchemical poetry.). A History of Magic. ere. and other Paracelsian-minded alchemists. . so in alchemy one should respect the correct sequence of colour changes. . is provided by Benedict Figulus (editor of Khunrath’s On the Fire of the Mages and Philosophers). moving from nigredo to albedo and so forth. one is for Melody: Which there accords will make to your mind. Dee. ‘Music’. and this work also includes a reference to Harmony and the Pythagorean musical intervals. orndike. Just as in music one should observe the correct rules of harmonic progression. ) suggested that both the elements with which the alchemist worked and the projecting rays of the planets … might be arranged according to musical proportions. . Wellesz.66 In his Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs. – . And also for like as Diapason. who includes a Gesang von der Materia Prima—Song on Primal Matter ( ) in his esaurinella Olympica aurea tripartita ( ).. but references to music and harmony in alchemical texts can be found as far back as the works of Zosimus of Panopolis at the end of the third century and Stephanos of Alexandria in the seventh.64 An example of a less religious. Maier (ed. Ars et eoria ( ). For two causes.68 Probably the most quoted passage on alchemy and music appears in omas Norton’s fifteenth-century Ordinall of Alchymy. in which analogies are drawn between alchemical and musical composition. ‘Music in the Treatises of Greek Gnostics and Alchemists’.65 Alchemical songs may be rare. Forshaw / ARIES . with emphasis on the importance of systematic processes and the necessity of guarding against haphazard action. which nevertheless concludes with the importance of the ‘Magisterium of Salt’. Collection des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs.67 Robert of York. ff. Tripus Aureus. we read: Joyne your Elements Musically. in his Correctorium alchimiae (c.e. the eatrum Chemicum Britannicum ( ). . III. e trewe effect when that ye shall finde.

. 74) Nicomachus. Z .72 embodies the three musical intervals after Perfect Unison ( : ): Octave ( : ). See Maier. Harmonices Manuale. Welt-Harmonik. Much like proportions be in Alkimy. In a chapter discussing which lyre-string is related to which planet. Hypate hypaton and lichanos meson being notes from the two main scalar systems of ancient Greek music. With other accords which in Musick be. De Musica. On the Pythagorean Way of Life. . . who was said to have discovered the musical proportions. the main conduit for the transmission of classical musical theory to the West. With their proporcions causen Harmony.Peter J. . 75) Boethius. we are back with Pythagoras. . Boethius recounts that Cicero attributes hypate hypaton to Mercury and lichanos meson to Saturn. 73) Anderson. and the lyre four. Norton’s Hypate hypaton is the lowest note of the lowest pitched of the four classical tetrachords. which Iamblichus in his Life of Pythagoras calls ‘the harmony in which the Sirens are’. of course. e Ordinall of Alchimy. Harmonices Manuale. the cittern and the lute both have five strings or courses. the Perfect Fifth ( : ) and the Perfect Fourth ( : ). cols. Pythagorean music theorists like Nicomachus in the first century. 72) Iamblichus. would be Lead. presumably since it is the slowest moving planet. e most likely source for Norton’s musical ruminations was Boethius’s early sixth-century De Institutione musica. With ypate ypaton. Diapente (Fifth). after hearing a blacksmith’s hammer clanging on his anvil.76 Norton. – . . and with Lecanos muse.75 As alchemists have the tendency to translate planets into their respective metals. See also Kepler. . ‘Musical Developments’. ( ) – Here. Sig.74 which included the notes mentioned by Norton. hypate hypaton. Intellectual Cantilenae. a suitable enough location for the primal matter of the Great Work. But see Nicomachus. this would make Philosophical Mercury the lowest note on the scale. related the Tetraktys to the notes of the classical tetrachords. while the mean (meson) note. . 76) Capella. Diapason (Octave).70 . to Saturn. De nuptiis philologi. Forshaw / ARIES With Diapente and with Diatesseron. 70) 71) . who assigns the lowest note.71 e Tetraktys ( + + + = ). a perfect fifth higher. or what Martianus Capella called the ‘principle of principles’ (principalis principalium). and Diatesseron (Fourth). . Bowen. ‘Ficino’s Analysis’.73 Returning to Khunrath’s engraving. . it is possible that the number of strings on the four musical instruments alludes to these intervals: the harp has eight strings.

levity . A present Worthy of the Queen of Love.Peter J. She was eventually defeated by Hippomenes who outran her by dropping three golden apples given to him by Aphrodite in order to distract her from the contest. And whence the Speed of Atalanta Flows. She with Mercurial Swiftness is Endued. those suitors who were too slow she killed with her arrows. One Rolling Apple captivates her Sight. For another reference to the myth in an alchemical context. – . On the title-page Maier explains that these are ‘New Chymical Emblems of the Secrets of Nature. of which two are set to a simple melody suitable for singing the couplets. Metamorphoses . to be looked at. adapted partly for the eyes and intellect in figures engraved on copper.77 e Author’s Epigram at the start of the work explains this succinctly: ree Golden Apples from the Hesperian grove. sung and listened to. And Atalanta’s cruel Speed O’ercame. these were the two ingredients necessary for the creation of Gold and the Philosophers’ Stone: What is Hippomenes. In medieval chrysopoeia or gold-making alchemy. ( ) – e best example. . who could run faster than the East Wind and was only prepared to marry a man who could beat her in a foot race. Gave wise Hippomenes Eternal Fame. Abrege de l’Astronomie Inferieure. of an alchemist’s engagement with music is Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens—Atalanta fleeing ( ). partly for the ears and the soul’s recreation with some musical fugues in three voices. Fabulae . weighed. read. not without See Ovid. Sloane .com/alchemy/atl – . understood. see [Bonneau]. Epigrams and notes attached.html 77) . And by its glittering charms retards her flight. 78) Maier. . however. Atalanta fugiens. My thanks to Adam Maclean for publishing this on the Alchemy Website: http://www. meditated. with legends. a work based on the Greek myth of the swift-footed huntress Atalanta. In Vain he follows ’till with Radiant Light. …78 e Epigram also explains the basic alchemical significance of the myth: Atalanta has the volatile nature of quicksilver while Hippomenes has the fiery nature of sulphur. English translation British Library MS. . Which Yields by Sulphur’s prudent Strength pursued. Forshaw / ARIES . Hyginus. true Wisdom knows.

une voix musicale fuit toujours devant l’autre. See also Kepler. Maier explains further about his musical compositions: My Muses gives you here three-voiced fugues in order to express this race in such musical forms as are most similar to it. Let the fugues proclaim themselves to your ears. See Kepler. Cf Etienne Perrot’s more faithful rendition in Atalante Fugitive. I have brought you these things that.79 In the ‘Preface to the Reader’. both of which deal with melodic proportions and celestial harmonies of the planetary spheres. facing p. but the other. cast Khunrath’s description of sacred music in the LabOratorium engraving—as that which ‘puts to flight’ (fuga) sadness and evil spirits—in a new light. . Atalanta. – ‘Division du Zodiaque et Aspects’.Peter J. . One voice remains simple. for the famous engraving of the regular bodies. Cette même vierge est purement chymique. ) Hippomenes sequens (Hippomenes following) = the ‘Comes’ or ‘Companion’. by way of the senses. then: ) Atalanta fugiens (Atalanta fleeing) = the ‘Dux’ or ‘Leader’.80 ese three voices are. is fugitive and the third [Hippomenes] follows directly after her. perhaps. ) Pomum morans (the apple delaying) = Cantus Firmus. – ‘Exkurs über die pythagoreische Vierheit’. praising his alchemical astuteness in Examen Fucorum. may understand what treasures are hidden therein. allured by that. and the emblems to your eyes. WeltHarmonik. dodecahedron.’ Here it is worth mentioning that Maier was familiar with Khunrath’s work. ‘De même que cette Atalante fuit. and then let your understanding test the mysteries hidden therein. et cette autre la poursuit. See especially Chapter XII. comme Hippomène. icosahedron). e fact that the music in Atalanta fugiens is in the form of “fugues” should. elle est le mercure philosophique fixé et retenu dans sa fuite par le soufre d’or. 80) is is the rather free English translation of Atalanta fugiens ( ). pointing out that he was in Rudolf II’s court at the same time as Johannes Kepler. which includes speculations on musical tones. 79) . Manfred Kelkel suggests that Maier chose the number because it represents the sum total of the sides of the regular Platonic solids (tetrahedron. Forshaw / ARIES . ‘Über die Zusammensetzung von Systemen’. author of the Mysterium Cosmographicum ( ) and Harmonices Mundi ( ). ( ) – a certain pleasure’. Le Secret du Monde. Cependant elles sont stabilisées et consolidées dans la troisième qui est simple et d’une seule valeur comme par une pomme d’or. Kelkel. still and withdrawn and presents the golden apple. octahedron. ‘A la recherche d’un art total’. cube. it may stimulate your insight so that you. – passim. – .

81 F. Atalanta fugiens ( ). on an alchemical level the cantus firmus voice of the golden apple forms the common element in all pieces. with passing references to Maier. while the voice of Atalanta takes on a new musical form in each fugue. is in the Dorian mode. ‘Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens ( )’. and they proclaim the glory of God. 84) Godwin. . . fifth. all three voices relating to one another with different musical intervals between the voices: fourth. suitable here for that which mediates between Atalanta and Hippomenes. including: e angels sing (as the Holy Scriptures declare). which has been identified as the Christe Eleison from the tenth-century West Frankish plainchant Kyrie Cunctipotens genitor Deus in the liturgical Missa in Festis Apostolorum. incidentally. Maier includes an ‘Index Fugarum Atalanticarum’ in which he divides the fugues into groups depending on the intervals between the voices of Atalanta and Hippomenes. . ‘ e Use and Treatment of Canto Fermo’. the apple the third.H. Hippomenes the second. It was also the mode appropriate. as the Psalmist says. representing the sublimation and condensation of matter in the alchemical opus. For more information on the Cantus Firmus. ‘ e Music in “Atalanta Fugiens” ’. and occasionally rises to the highest part. sometimes mediates between the two other voices. introduced by Paracelsus to symbolise the principle that fixes and preserves the volatile Mercury and fiery Sulphur. see Sawyer. 83) Maier. dating back to the eleventh century. Forshaw / ARIES . Sawyer remarks that writing all canons against the same cantus firmus must have been a particularly thankless task. for example. Maier’s ‘discourses’ on each of the alchemical engravings provide us little direct insight into the relation between his music and alchemy. for the worship of Apollo. Sawyer. golden signification of the apples. although there are one or two passages emphasising its importance. the apple could be argued to represent the third substance of Salt.83 In the first fugue. Dd v. the Muses and Raasveld. noting that it is ‘one of the most extended examples of Canon against Canto Fermo in existence.84 In terms of sixteenth. which the Greeks considered to be an equalising. e apple melody. Atalanta has the first voice. Atalanta fugiens.’82 Whatever the aesthetic considerations may be of the value of such a decision. and so forth. as Pythagoras confirmed. incidentally. which suits the solar.and seventeenth-century Paracelsian alchemy. the heavens sing. 81) 82) .Peter J. At the end of the book. e voice of the apple sometimes appears as the bass line. ( ) – e music consists of two-part canons on a single unvarying cantus firmus. balancing mode.

it is the foetus … Arithmetically. Agrippa informs us. as the poets say.’ 87) Although he does not discuss music.88 Perhaps we can imagine that with these harmonic relationships between the two substances (the Disdiapason or Double Octave has the ratio : ).89 Furthermore. where in a chapter on ‘the Celestial bodies. whence the Double Octave. carrying a foetus in his belly. . De Occulta philosophia. it is the Disdiapason. ‘Nam terra in musica mundana se habet. Utriusque Cosmi Historia. birds sing. Jupiter and Mars.86 A hunt through Maier’s other works for further references to the Pythagorean intervals in relation to alchemy turns up little more. . unita in Arithmetica & punctum in Geometria: Est enim quasi terminus. Vol. Cf Robert Fludd ( – ). On the mountains of the seven planets or metals. xxvi. Musically. See Chansons intellectuelles. Geometrically. sheep and geese sing on their musical instruments. it is the initial point of the flowing line. writing of two different kinds of sulphur. published a year after Atalanta fugiens in . 88) Maier. Maier had something similar in mind to Agrippa’s De occulta philosophia. Forshaw / ARIES . . by which they say that these two sulphurs differ from one another.Peter J. ut [gamma] in musica. and destruction of metals.85 Maier gives us at least a hint of what he intends in his commentary on the first engraving. Viatorium. so if we too sing. . . Atalanta fugiens. it is the centre of the planets Saturn. Maier explains that this should be understood on various levels of meaning: Chymically. Atalanta fugiens. Lib. Maier. and so forth. which is carried in quicksilver … Physically. imperfection. we don’t do it without reason. Maier states that one is the cause of blackness. Maier. alluding to the line from the Emerald Tablet concerning ‘ e wind bore it in its belly’. . the other of yellowness. 85) 86) . a quo ratio materiae proportionalis habenda est. Cap. 89) Cornelius Agrippa. Astronomically. he writes that ‘between Fire and Aire … there ariseth … an Harmony of a double Diapason and a Diapente … Betwixt the Aire and Water … Diapason and Diapente’. it is the Cube root. which portrays Boreas the North Wind.87 In his Viatorium. ( ) – Apollo sing. . Maier does refer to the myth of Atalanta and Hippomenes in the Cantilenae. perfection and their endurance in fire. . men and even children sing. and what harmony and sound is correspondent of every Star’. it is sulphur.

a compositional technique in which the voice is read backwards. Rebotier. e musical instruments so invitingly laid out for us to pluck or strum intimate of the necessary combination of theory and practice. to Khunrath’s ambiguously named Amphitheatre. For the first time the voice of Hippomenes begins at the same time as those of Atalanta and the Apple. . Kelkel. in which the imitating voice moves in longer or shorter note-values than the leading voice. therefore a semi-tone. Although critics have been less than complementary about some of Maier’s musical compositions. but his voice hurries ahead of the others. achieved by skillful reason. ‘Musikalische und psychologische Entsprechungen’. Forshaw / ARIES .90 Hildemarie Streich. ‘La musique cachée’.91 In Fugue Maier employs the technique of the proportional canon. but in Fugue there is a change and the voice of the Apple suddenly moves in the opposite retrograde direction. in particular that of the Lab-Oratorium embrace both possibilities and constantly reinforce the importance of harmonious balance between different domains. Its engravings. which equals one tone. let us return. the crab or cancrizans motion.92 In conclusion. from the back to the front. and Jacques Rebotier each identify several techniques employed at significant moments in the sequence. Streich and Kelkel suggest that this is the moment when Hippomenes drops the first Apple and Atalanta stoops to pick it off the ground. ‘A la recherche d’un art total’. 92) Streich. suggesting that he has seized his chance to beat Atalanta at her game and win the race. . Streich. For example. with the Hermetic understanding that true knowledge of music means knowing the arrangement of all things and that ‘this ordering of all separate things into one. spirit and matter. . 90) 91) . ‘Musikalische und psychologische Entsprechungen’. the distance between the moon and mercury is imagined to be half that distance. ‘ e Music in “Atalanta Fugiens” ’. in the first fugues all three voices move in the same direction. with a somewhat crab-like motion. ( ) – the distance between the earth and the moon is . makes the sweetest and truest harmony with the Divine Sawyer. It is conceivable that an alchemist could translate the astronomical correlation between planetary distances and musical consonances into an alchemical relationship between the weight of substances and musical intervals. there is a certain degree of sophistication in some of the fugues. of becoming intellectually and physically attuned to the Creator and his creation.Peter J. Manfred Kelkel. stadium for footraces and stage for musical and dramatic performances. miles. .

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