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The Nature and Extent of the Force of Imagination.
MANY authors have written at length concerning the force of imagination: for example Pico della Mirandola, De Imaginationibus; Marsilio Ficino, De Theologia Platonica, Book 13; Alonso Tostado, On Genesis, Chapter 30; Miguel de Medina, De Recta in Deum Fide, II, 7; Leonard Vair,11 De Fascino, II, 3; and countless others. All are agreed that the imagination is a most potent force; and both by argument and by experience they prove that a man's own body may be most extensively affected by his imagination. For they argue that as the imagination examines the images of objects perceived by the senses, it excites in the appetitive faculty either fear or shame or anger or sorrow; and these emotions so affect a man with heat or cold that his body either grows pale or reddens, and he consequently becomes joyful and exultant, or torpid and dejected. Therefore S. Thomas (Contra Gent. III, 103) has well said that a man's body can be affected by his imagination in every way which is naturally correspondent with the imaginative faculty, such as local motion in those who are asleep: but that his other bodily dispositions which bear no natural relation with the imagination cannot be so affected; so that imagination cannot, for example, cause any man to add one cubit to his stature.
The argument is proved also by the daily experience of sleep-walkers who do wonderful things in their sleep: for it is agreed that such things are done through the power of imagination while the senses are asleep. Many such matters are discussed by Martin Delrio, Disquisitiones Magicae, Quaest. I, 3.
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MARTIN DELRIO tells of what happened at a monastery at Liège a few years ago. There was a certain lay brother whose duty it was during the day to teach the rudiments of the Catechism to a class of boys: and when he slept his thoughts were occupied with the same subject, so that he used to teach in his sleep, encouraging and scolding the boys as loudly and fervently as he did when he was awake; and in this way he disturbed the sleep of those near him. Another lay brother who slept next to him often complained to him about it; and one day he jokingly threatened that, if he made that noise again, he would get up in the night and go to his bed and beat him with a rope whip. And what did Gundislaus, as his name was, do? In the middle of the night he arose in his sleep and went from his bed to his fellow's cubicle with a pair of scissors in his hand which he pointed straight at the bed of the other who had threatened him. But see the providence of God! The moon was shining, and the night was clear and cloudless; so that the brother, who was awake, saw him coming and at once threw himself from the bed on that side where the partition was farthest removed. The sleeper came up to the bed and stabbed the mattress three or four times with the scissors, and quickly went back where he came from. In the morning he was questioned, and said that he remembered nothing of it, adding that he had never had the least thought of doing such a thing; but that he had only contemplated frightening that brother and driving him off with the scissors if he had approached him with a whip.
Two friends were travelling together back to their own country and came one day to a town where one of them had an acquaintance with whom he lodged, while the other went to an inn for the night, intending to resume their journey the next day. But while his guest was sleeping the innkeeper, conceiving a greedy desire to take his money, killed him; and having done so began to think how he could smuggle the body out of the town to bury it. The same night the murdered man appeared in a dream to his companion who was sleeping in his friend's house, and said: "My friend, my friend, help me; for the innkeeper means to kill me." An hour or two later he appeared again, saying: "Ah, my friend, you did not help me; and behold, the cruel innkeeper has destroyed me." A little later on the same night he came the third time in his dream, and said: "My friend, you did not help me to escape from my murderer's hands, and now I am lying dead. And the murderer is considering how to dispose of and bury my body in the fields outside the town walls; and already he has hidden it in a cart-load of dung. I beg you, as you love me, not to allow this, but at least to see to it that I go to my burial in an honourable and befitting manner." In the morning the man awoke and, terrified by his dream, went to look for his friend. He asked the innkeeper: "Where is my friend?" He answered, in the words of Cain: "Am I his keeper? He arose and went away, taking his belongings with him. I do not know where he went." The friend stood for a while in doubt what he should do: but meanwhile he saw in the yard a cart laden with dung. The unhappy man was then struck with the vision he had seen in his imagination and, since he could not find his friend, quietly thought the matter over with himself. He waited some time to see whether his friend would come back; and when he did not return, he said that perhaps he had started on his journey, and added: "Good-bye then: if my friend comes, say that I have gone on, and tell him to follow me." He then went straight to the mayor and told what had happened to his friend, mentioning the load of dung and adding all other necessary information. The mayor sent his officers, who stood at a distance and watched what the innkeeper would do. The murderer, thinking that all was safe since the dead man's friend had gone away, started off with his cart to go out of the town. Seeing this the officers ran up and said: "Where are you off to, my good fellow, and what is this dung for? We have been ordered to take possession of it." And overturning the cart they found the murdered man lying amidst the dung. The murderer was taken, and met with the terrible punishment which his crime deserved.CHAPTER 2
Of Artificial Magic.
MAGIC is of two kinds, natural and artificial. Natural or legitimate magic was, together with all other knowledge, a gift from God to Adam, who by peopling the world handed it down to posterity. This, as Psellus (De Daemonibus) and Proclus (De Magia) have noted, is no more than a more exact knowledge of the secrets of Nature, which by observing the courses and influence of the stars in the heavens, and the sympathies and antipathies subsisting between separate things, compares one thing with another and so effects marvels which to the ignorant seem to be miracles or illusions. As when Tobias dispersed his father's blindness with the gall bladder of a fish, a virtue which Galen and many others attribute to the dragonet. Also the sound of a drum made from a wolf's skin will burst a drum made from the skin of a lamb. Many other notable examples are mentioned by S. Augustine: such as the peacock's flesh which cannot decompose; chaff which by its coldness preserves snow, and by its heat ripens fruit; a chalk which is set on fire by water, but will not burn if oil be poured upon it; the salt of Girgenti which melts in fire, but becomes hard and groans in water; and many other such things.
The other kind is artificial magic, which effects marvels by means of human skill. This again is two-fold, Mathematic and Prestidigital. Mathematical magic involves the principles of Geometry, Arithmetic or Astronomy: and examples of this are the setting fire to the ships at the siege of Syracuse by means of mirrors; the flying wooden doves of Archytas of Tarentum ; the golden singing birds of the Emperor Leo; and such matters. Yet we affirm that by this means nothing can be effected which is opposed to the nature of things, but rather that it necessarily requires the help of natural causes and the correct application of certain movements and dimensions. The other sort, which may be called Prestidigital, is ludicrous and illusionary, and its effects are not such as they seem to be. To this sort belongs much that is believed to be done by conjurers and rope-walkers by means of feigned incantations as well as by the agility of their hands and feet. Such feats are at times performed by carefully trained brute animals; sometimes they are effected by the stealthy movements of hidden persons, as in the case of the priests of Bel who claimed that the food was eaten by the Dragon. Now thaumaturgy and natural magic are in themselves good and lawful, as any art is of itself good. But it may happen to become unlawful: first, when it is done for an evil purpose; second, when it gives rise to scandal, being thought to be done with the help of demons; third, when it involves any spiritual or bodily danger to the conjurer or the spectators. And it must be noted that, for every ten tricks of prestidigital illusion, these men perform one of pure sleight of hand, so as to foster the belief that there is no illusion or sorcery in anything that they do, but that all is done by pure skill and dexterity. Ulricus Molitor states that the devil is able to make one thing seem as if it were another; and Nider tells us that many other tricks are practised by conjurers. For this prestidigital art was taught by the giant demons before the Flood, and from them Ham learned it, and from him the Egyptians, then the Chaldaeans and Persians, and so in succession. S. Clement in his Recognitions (IV) says: Zoroaster was the first of the Chaldaeans, and he was struck by lightning as a fit reward for his deeds.
A certain virgin of Cologne was said to have performed in the presence of the nobles wonders which seemed to be due to magic art: for she was said to have torn up a napkin, and suddenly to have pieced it together again before the eyes of all; she threw a glass vessel against the wall and broke it, and in a moment mended it again; and other like things she did. She escaped from the hands of the Inquisition with a sentence of excommunication.
From the same source we hear of a conjurer in France named Trois Eschelles, who in the sight of all and in the presence of Charles IX, called the Praiseworthy King, charmed from a certain nobleman standing at a distance from him the rings of his necklace, so that they flew one by one into his hand, as it seemed; and yet the necklace was soon found to be whole and uninjured. This man was convicted of many actions which could not have been due to human art or skill or any natural cause, and confessed that they were all devil's work, although he had obstinately denied this before.
John Trithemius tells that much earlier, in the year 876 during the time of the Emperor Louis, a certain Zedechias, a Jew by religion and a physician by profession, worked wonders in the presence of Princes. For he appeared to devour a cart loaded with straw, together with the horses and the driver; he used to cut off men's heads and hands and feet, and exhibit them in a bowl dripping with blood, and then suddenly he would restore the men unharmed each to his own place; and in mid-winter he created in Caesar's palace a most beautiful garden, with trees, grass, flowers, and the singing of suddenly produced birds.
Thomas Fazelli, O.P., relates in his De rebus Siculis, Decade II. v. 2 (also Dec. I. iii. 1) wonders of a certain Diodorus, commonly known as Lio-dorus, who was endowed with magic art and flourished at Catania by means of his marvellous skill in illusions. This man, by the force of his incantations, appeared to change men into brute beasts, to effect a metamorphosis of nearly all things into new shapes, and instantly to bring to himself objects very far distant from him. Moreover by slandering and insulting and reviling the people of Catania he bound them with such vain credulity that he incited them to worship him. When he was delivered up to be punished with death, by means of his pre- eminent skill in incantations he had himself carried out of his gaolers' hands through the air from Catania to Byzantium, to which Sicily was then subject, and back again from Byzantium to Catania in a very short space of time. And the people so wondered at this magic that they thought there was some divine power in him, and in sacrilegious error began to worship him. At length Leo, the Bishop of Catania, received a sudden power from God and in the midst of the city caused him to be cast in the sight of all into a furnace of fire, in which he was burned. In this way divine justice prevailed; for he who had escaped death at the too lenient hands of the judges, could not escape from the hands of the Holy Man.
In our own times they say that one Cesare, a Maltese, was captured by the Parisians, but cunningly escaped from prison; and this, among other charges, was brought up against him in judgement by Bazius the Inquisitor. But as he was being exhorted to fear damnation, and the Governor of that time had required the Ecclesiastical Judges to preside over the enquiry, he broke away into the midst of the Court and there began to do many fresh marvels. He caused another person to hold magic cards in his hands, and standing at a distance he altered their appearance two or three times: he charmed to himself vessels placed on another part of the table by merely moving a small piece of glass: at times he divined the thoughts of others, as when he scattered on the table a great number of small grains of sugar, and told each man which grain he was thinking of; and even if any one was doubtful of his choice, he would then come to a decision after a little hesitation, boasting that he had long before known which they would choose: and many other such marvels he claimed to perform. Wherefore he was a third time called to trial by the illustrious Archbishop of Malines, the learned Hovius, 30 in the year 1600; and though he undertook to appear, he escaped to a refuge with a Prince who was the chief champion of Antichrist. This Prince who unlawfully kept the conjurer from the Judge's authority hardly lived two years longer, but died in the prime of his life; and after he had undertaken the defence of an evil cause nothing prospered in his government. From this it is clear that God never leaves unpunished those Princes who defend His enemies; for He has expressly commanded: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Exodus xxii, 18).
Whether this Magic can produce True Effects
ANY man who maintained that all the effects of magic were true, or who believed that they were all illusions, would be rather a radish than a man. Most often the devil, being the father of lies, deceives us and blinds our eyes or mocks our other senses with vain illusory images: and not seldom God prevents him from achieving on behalf of witches what he would and could truly essay; and when he sees that this is so he has recourse to glamours, so that his impotence may not be perceived. But when God permits it, and the devil wishes to produce a true effect, provided that it does not exceed his power, then there is nothing to prevent him from effecting a genuine result; for he then applies active to passive principles, and natural causes engender a true effect. Dionysius of Athens (De Diuinis Nominibus, IV.) proves this when he affirms that the Devil did not, in sinning, lose his natural gifts, so that he has the greatest natural strength together with agelong and unlimited experience to enable him to produce a true effect when he desired. But witches' works are illusions, not real but apparent. This is shown by Glycas 31 where he speaks of the Egyptian Magicians who seemed to do as Moses did, and says: "They indeed changed their rods into serpents, but the rod of Moses swallowed their rods. And they also changed the water into blood, but once it had been changed, they could not restore it to its former state. They brought forth frogs also, but they were unable to protect the houses of the Egyptians from them. They had power to plague the Egyptians, but they had no power to ease their afflictions. Rather did God afflict the magicians with the same boils and blains as the rest of the people suffered; that it might be shown that not only were they unable to avert the divine punishment, but they must themselves partake of it."
We read that the sorcerer Pasetes by means of certain enchantments caused a sumptuous feast to appear, and again he made all vanish at his pleasure. He used also to buy things and count out the price, and shortly the money would be found to have passed back secretly from the seller to the buyer. In S. Clement of Rome we also read much concerning Simon Magus: that he made a new man out of air, whom he could render invisible at will; that he could pierce stones as if they were clay; that he brought statues to life; that when cast into the fire he was not burned; that he had two faces like another Janus; that he could change himself into a ram or a goat; that he flew in the air; that he suddenly produced a great quantity of gold; that he could set up kings and cast them down; that he com-manded a scythe to go and reap of itself, and that it went and reaped ten times as much as the others; and that when a certain harlot named Selene was in a tower, and a great crowd had run to see her and had entirely surrounded that tower, he caused her to appear simultaneously at all the windows and exhibit herself to all the people.
Excerpted from Compendium Maleficarum by Francesco Maria Guazzo, E. A. ASHWIN. Copyright © 1988 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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