In this article I’m going to summarize some of the chapters of the book Three Books of Occult Philosophy or Magic written by Cornelius Agrippa, available for free online.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It has many interesting concepts that I believe to be true about how magic works. But I also found this book to be mixed with medieval superstition in quite a few chapters.
Some of the principles shared in this book sound true and make sense, whilst some claims are definitely false. For example, we know that creatures such as flies cannot get generated from non-living matter, yet this book has quite a few similar claims. Probably such were the widespread beliefs of the time (the sixteenth century), and they made their way into this work for this reason.
How nature works
At the beginning of this work the author explains how nature works. That’s important to understand because magic is based on natural principles.
The book explains that we live in a threefold world – elementary, celestial and intellectual. Inferior things and forces are governed by superior ones, and if we harness the essences of superior forces such as stars, a lot more can be accomplished than by using the essences of inferior things such as plants.
This book explains, therefore, not only how to make use of the essences of plants as well as animals, but also how to capture the rays of the stars, and at what time that is best to do. It explains planetary configurations and times of attracting the rays of particular planets and what materials and other items one should use to gather the forces of each planet.
Through the use of specific materials such as the skin of animals or certain metals one can attract planetary virtues through inscribing those materials with planetary numbers or signatures at specific times and during positive planetary configurations, especially when the Moon makes a positive aspect with the planet whose virtue is sought after.
How to collect the rays from the planets
I have yet another magic book which explains even more in detail about how to collect the rays of each planet. It’s called The Clavis or Key to the Magic of Solomon. It contains many seals instructions to improve health, attract wealth, gain love and accomplish other things.
In vedic astrology yantras are used, which are the plates engraved with the symbols of planets and their numbers, which are told to harmonize planetary energies which is useful for the planets afflicted in the birth chart.
Those yantras were made not only on metals but on tree barks too, which is good to know because the only potent materials to make seals on in western magic are told to be metals and animal skins.
Spirit as the connecting link
Agrippa’s book on magic explains the mechanism behind many magic undertakings. In The Key to the Magic of Solomon it is explained that without the Spirit magic undertakings cannot be effective, as the Spirit is the connecting link. That’s why in magic offerings to the planets some animal is always sacrificed:
So the sacrifice becomes the connecting link between you and the celestial influence. And even if you cannot obtain a specific metal required to inscribe the signature of a planet whose virtues you’re seeking for, animal death is required – as it’s the skin of an animal properly sacrificed that can serve as an alternative seal material.
I could not practice any serious magic for this reason, but I want to know how it works and books such as Agrippa’s or the one on Solomon’s magic truly helped me to understand its mechanism.
As an astrologer I need to know various facets of how stars work, and this knowledge is yet another detail whose integration allows me to see a bigger picture.
The importance of ceremonies
Agrippa’s book also mentions the importance of ceremonies. They have been established as a tool of magic, and we see all kinds of ceremonies in different religions. Lighting a candle before the ceremony has also been practiced for ages in different religions, because it is believed that light repels evil spirits.
The author explains that magic is threefold – natural, celestial and ceremonial. Therefore, plant and animal essences can be used for magic works, working with stars can accomplish the same, as well as all kinds of ceremonies are used for this purpose.
Ceremonies work because they are the representations of things above, so they work as a result of the law of correspondences.
In order to be proficient at magic, the knowledge of how natural things interact with each other is necessary; because some creatures and things agree with each other, therefore increasing the power, and some disagree, thus neutralizing it.
Therefore some diseases can be healed by the introduction of things that naturally disagree with the disease, and some virtues can be obtained by keeping with you the things that strengthen that virtue, like things ruled by Jupiter can increase wealth and wisdom.
So if you know the astrological signatures of things and creatures, by their proper manipulation you can accomplish much. Magic in the past was regarded as the highest and the most secret art for this reason, yet it was demonized by the Catholic Church which itself employs the magic of the nations it deemed demonic.
Interactions of the four elements
This book teaches the way that the four elements interact with one another and are transmuted into one another. In Astrology we also have the same kind of teaching about some elements agreeing and some disagreeing with one another.
For example, air agrees with fire therefore pure Geminis and Sagittarians agree with one another. Fire doesn’t agree with water, therefore pure Leos and Cancers do not get along. Someone with a primarily airy birth chart will not agree with someone who is very earthy because there’s nothing in common between them.
Each thing in this world has a predominant element and a ruling planet; some creatures are ruled by one element but then their species may be ruled by other elements.
For example, birds as creatures are ruled by the air element, yet different species are ruled by different elements. Countries and their inhabitants may be ruled by one element yet individuals are ruled by different elements. The undertone of the element ruling the country will always be felt in every inhabitant of that place.
It’s possible to recognize the element and ruling planet of each country by being familiar with the appearance that the element and planet influence. The same can be said about an individual – without looking at their birth chart it’s sometimes possible to tell what planet and element rule them.
For example, the British are ruled by Aries, which is the fire element, and we see that in the fact that they are the nation that conquers, and we see redness in the faces of many of its inhabitants which again points to the fact that they are ruled by the fire and the combative Aries sign.
One of the ruling signs of China is Libra and we can see that in the fact that they are the people who stand out as being polite and agreeable. Harmony in relationships is important for them. Libra is an air element sign, and air is not stubborn but flexible, which I think is an obvious trait in the social interactions with the Chinese people.
Vapors attract spirits
This book also explains how to prepare different kinds of suffumigations to address different planets. The book on Solomon’s magic also explains how to address different planets when suffumigations are offered.
Some fumes can invite certain spirits, whilst others can repel different kinds of them. Inhaling fumes can make people connect to different dimensions.
That’s one of the ways of how oracles of Greece worked – virgins would inhale fumes and then prophesize. So this makes me wonder what inhaling tobacco or the current vaping craze does to a human spiritually.
Rings and bangles
Rings and bangles can serve as a form of protection. For example, golden bangles protect health as they harmonize the body’s energy field. I believe that was one of the historical reasons why Indian women wear them, though now most of the bangles don’t serve this purpose as they aren’t made of precious metals.
Rings serve the same purpose, though they can also be made for increasing wealth, attracting love and for other purposes too. Rings that serve specific purposes should be made according to the same rules of how seals are made.
If a ring is supposed to give the virtue of the Sun, like for becoming famous or being a leader, it is supposed to be made on the day of the Sun (Sunday), ideally in the hour of the Sun, when the Sun makes no evil aspect to any planet, and ideally is positively aspecting the Moon.
The ring should be made of gold as this metal is ruled by the Sun, and it should have the gemstone ruled by the Sun, which is ruby and according to Agrippa’s book, topaz. It should be vivid colored and not too dark. It should be flawless for it to transmit its solar quality.
So the same applies to making any other rings – they should be made on the appropriate day and hour of the planet, from proper materials and stones. Incantations could be made whilst making them. They could be inscribed with planetary seals.
The stones should be touching the skin, so their base should not be covered with metal, for them to transit their planetary virtues to a human being.
In the Agrippa’s book we find it told that there was once a prince who wore seven rings with seven planets’ virtues. He would wear the ring of the Sun on Sunday, the ring of the Moon on Monday, and so forth. It is told that by doing this he was able to live more than 130 years and he retained his beauty and vigor of youth till old age.
In India people still do this if they can afford. If their natal planets are afflicted, they often wear specific rings to rectify that. Palmistry is also important to know, because each finger is ruled by a different planet. So each ring has to be worn on the right finger.
For example, the Sun ring should be worn on the Sun finger which is the ring finger. I love how all these arts are connected, and that’s why in some of my Life Assessment services I connect astrology, palmistry and numerology to give the most wholesome and accurate picture of a person’s life and future challenges.
Places ruled by planets
Not only people and objects are ruled by different planets, but also places. Jupiter rules spacious places, the Sun rules royal places, Mercury rules trading places and Neptune rules water bodies.
Venus rules bedrooms and beautiful green spaces, Mars rules the places of war and butcher shops; the Moon rules common places where the public gathers. Saturn rules dark places with stagnant water. These are of course just a few examples of what spaces each planet rules.
So in order to further increase the efficacy of planetary seals, they should be made in places ruled by those planets. Herbs should be gathered in places ruled by the particular planets too.
Another important reason to know which places are ruled by which planets is because by staying in those places you increase those particular planets’ powers in your life.
I think many people do this without even knowing it; for example, a person aspiring to fame would try to stay in places that smell of fame, and those who want to become business people would stay near the places of trading.
Gestures ruled by planets
Planets also rule different colors, numbers and even gestures. So to increase the influence of a particular planet, you should consider wearing its color, having its number (such as a door number or a name number), and even making its gesture.
There’s a lot of information about this in astrology books as well as online, so I’m not going to go into detail about the colors and numbers. I will just expand a little on gestures as those are less known.
Sad gestures increase the power of Saturn in your life. So if you walk with your head down, look down when speaking with others and keep an unhappy facial expression, this magnetizes you to the influence of Saturn and unless you change such gestures, you’re going to get more sadness and obstacles in your life.
If you wear attractive clothes, enhance your looks and appear neat; if you are social and smile a lot, you will increase the influence of Venus in your life, attracting admirers and inviting more love into your life.
Also, according to vedic astrology, donating certain items will pacify the planet that malfunctions in your life due to it being negatively aspected or in its detriment in your birth chart.
For example, according to vedic astrology, Venus rules the white color. So if you donate white items, you pacify the influence of Venus in your life.
How to employ auguries to your benefit
Agrippa’s book on magic also explains different auguries. It explains what signs show that what you want to accomplish will succeed or otherwise. For example, if you step out of your house on a journey and you see two ravens, that’s not a good sign and it’s best to go back home and wait for a better hour to start your journey.
Even the kind of people that you meet can give you a clue of whether your plans will work out or not. For example, if the first person that you meet on your way is a beggar or looks miserable, it’s not a good sign and it’s best to start your journey a little later, still cautious of the signs.
Again, I think many people do this naturally. I can also share the incident from my mother’s life. She was driving with her partner in the UK when a crow hit the front window of a car. My mom straight away knew it was a very bad sign, but she said nothing to her partner who doesn’t believe in such things.
Soon after, the driver behind them lost control of his vehicle and crashed into them, making their car spin out of control and roll down the hill. The car was crushed but by the grace of God both of them had only minor injuries.
I’m always attuned to what nature tries to tell me, so I’m especially aware when I step out of my house before some big trip. I always leave the home very early in case there’s a bad sign of stepping out of the house at a wrong time. I then have plenty of time to start the journey at a more auspicious hour.
At this time of leaving home for Spain I got positive omens, like a white pigeon crossing my way. White pigeons symbolize guardian spirits so that was definitely a good sign. I entered the city (where I’m at now) when a beautiful song started being played on the bus, and the city looked so grand and beautiful upon the entry. Again, this is a good sign.
Such signs help me to understand whether I should continue with my plans, whether to change them or to be cautious. The Universe is communicating with us, and it uses animals, places, people, all kinds of sights and sounds to encourage or warn us.
In the last chapter added by Agrippa’s editor it is told that that only pure ones can succeed in magic because spiritual work requires purity. Those who engage in such work being impure eventually either lose their minds or attract multiple evil spirits into their lives.
This is the most dangerous work to undertake and there are very few persons that qualify for such undertakings.
I recommend this book for those who want to understand how magic works and are interested in exploring the esoteric side of astrology. However, this book also contains many medieval superstitions probably popular at the time.
If you can ignore those, you can gain a lot from reading this work. This book also explains how to make the magic mirror which I’ve summarized in this article.