The Mysterium Magnum by Jacob Boehme

(1575-1624)

Jacob Boehme

Chapter 3

The Third chapter

How out of the Eternal Good an Evil is come to be; which in the Good had [has] no Beginning to the Evil: And of the Original of the Dark World, or Hell, wherein the Devils dwell.

Note by the compiler, Martin Euser:

Also see Glossary of Terms

In chapter 3, some new terms are introduced, like the Flagrat (German: Schreck, English: fright, astonishment, dismay) and Lubet (German: Lust, which means a longing desire, but also joy, delight, imagination. In man it manifests as a moving will to good/evil or love/anger). Jacob Boehme's work becomes difficult to understand if you don't know about the original words he used. Also, it is useful to know that the first three properties of nature in Boehme's description can be understood in one aspect as contraction, expansion and rotation/spin respectively. Some useful links and bibliography can be found at my Scribd.com page. Read more about this terminology question (partly borrowed from Paracelsus) at the following site: About Boehme - terminology
The signs of the planets are so well known that they are omitted after the name of the planets in the text that follows.

1. Now then, seeing Light and Darkness, moreover Pain and Source, are seen in the outward World, and yet all originally proceed from the Eternal Mystery, viz. from the inward spiritual World, and the inward spiritual World proceeds out of the Eternal Generating and Speaking Word, thereupon we are to consider, how out of the Eternal Good an Evil is come to be, which in the Good has no Beginning to the Evil; whence Darkness, Pain, and Source arise; and then from whence a Lustre or Light arises in the Darkness

2. For we cannot say that the Eternal Light, or the Eternal Darkness, is created; otherwise they should be in a Time and a comprehensive Beginning; and of this they are void; for they are concomitant in the Generation; yet not in the Wisdom, or Generation of the Word of the Deity; but they take their Original in the Desire of the Speaking Word.

3. For in the Eternal Speaking Word (which is void [Beyond or without] of all Nature, or Beginning) is only the Divine Understanding or Sound; there is neither Darkness nor Light; neither thick nor thin; neither Joy nor Sorrow; moreover, no Sensibility, or Perception [Finding or Apprehension]; but it is barely a Power of the Understanding in one Source, Will, and Dominion; there is neither Friend nor Foe to it, for it is the only Good, and nothing else.

4. Seeing then this Eternal Good cannot be an Insensible Essence, (for so it were not manifest to itself) it introduces itself in itself into a Lubet, to behold and see what itself is; in which Lubet is the Wisdom. And then the Lubet thus seeing what itself is, it brings itself into a Desire to find out and feel what itself is; viz. to a sensible Perception of the Smell and Taste of the Colours, Powers, and Virtue. And yet no Perception could arise in the free spiritual Lubet, if it brought not itself into a Desire, like a Hunger.

5. For the Nothing hungers after the Something, and the Hunger is a Desire, viz. the first Verbum Fiat, or creating Power. For the Desire has nothing that it is able to make or conceive; it conceives itself, and impresses itself; it coagulates itself; it draws itself into itself, and comprehends itself, and brings itself from Abyss into Byss, and overshadows itself with its Magnetical Attraction; so that the Nothing is filled, and yet remains as a Nothing. It is only as a Property, viz. a Darkness. This is the eternal Original of the Darkness; for where there is a Property, there is already Something; and the Something is not as the Nothing; it yields Obscurity [causes Darkness], unless something else, viz. a Lustre, fills it; and then it is Light, and yet it remains a Darkness in the Property.

6. In this Coagulation, or Impression, or Desire, or Hunger, by any of which I might express it to the Understanding, I say, in this Compaction or comprehensive Complication, we are to understand two Things; 1.) The free Lubet, which is the Wisdom, Power, and Virtue of the Colours; and 2.) The Desire of the free Lubet in itself: For the free Lubet, viz. the Wisdom, is no Property; but it is free from all Inclination, and is one with God. But the Desire is a Property: Now the Desire arises from the Lubet; therefore the Desire conceives and comprehends the free Lubet all along in the Compaction, in the Impression, and brings it also in feeling and finding.

7. And understand us right, and punctually here: The Desire arises out of the Will to the free Lubet, and makes itself out of the free Lubet, and brings itself into a Desire; for the Desire is the Father's Property; and the free Lubet, viz. the Wisdom, is the Son's Property; although God, seeing he is a [or one] Spirit, is not called Father or Son in this Place, till the Manifestation through the Fire in the Light; and there he is called Father and Son; but I set it down, by Reason of the Birth of Nature, for a better Understanding of the true Ground, that Man might understand to what Person in the Deity Nature, and to what the Power in Nature is to be ascribed. The Center of the Eternal Nature; how the Will of the Abyss brings itself into Nature and form.

8. The Desire proceeding from the Will of the Abyss is the first form; and it is the Fiat, or, as it is expressed, Let there be; and the Power of the free Lubet is God; who governs the Fiat; and both together are named Verbum Fiat, that is, the Eternal Word, which creates where Nothing is, and [is] the Original of Nature and all Beings.

9. Saturn ( ). The first Property of the Desire is Astringent, harsh, eagerly-impressing, conceiving itself, overshadowing itself; and it makes, first, the great Darkness of the Abyss. Secondly, it makes itself substantial in a spiritual Manner, wholly rough, harsh, hard, and thick, and it is a Cause of Coldness, and all Keenness and Sharpness; also of all whatsoever is called Essence; and it is the Beginning of Perception, wherein the free Lubet finds and perceives itself, and introduces the Contemplation of itself; but the Desire in itself brings itself thereby into Pain and Source: Yet the free Lubet does only so receive finding [or Perception.]

10. Mercury ( ). The second form or Property is the Constringency of the Desire; that is, a Compunction, Stirring, or Motion; for each Desire is attractive and constringent; and it is the Beginning of Motion, Stirring and Life, and the true Original of the Mercurial Life of the painful [or tormenting] Source. For here arises the first Enmity between the Astringency or Hardness, and the Compunction or Sting of Stirring; for the Desire makes hard, thick, and congeals, as the Cold stiffens and freezes the Water: Thus the Astringency is a mere raw Coldness; and the Compunction, viz. the Attraction, is yet brought forth with the Impression (or close constringent Desire.]

11. It is even here as Father and Son: The Father would be still, and hard; and the Compunction, viz. his Son, stirs in the Father, and Causes Unquietness; and this the Father, viz. the Astringency, cannot endure; and therefore he attracts the more eagerly and earnestly, in the Desire, to hold, refrain, and keep under the disobedient Son; whereby the Son grows only more strong in the Compunction [Or Sting]. And this is the true Ground and Cause of Sense; which in the free Lubet is the Eternal Beginning of the Motion [or Manifestation] of the powers, Colours, and Virtue, of the Divine Kingdom of Joy: And in the dark Desire it is the Original of Enmity, Pain, and Torment; and the Eternal Original of God's Anger, and all Unquietness and Contrariety, [or Antipathy].

12. Mars ( ). The third Property is the Anguish [distress], or Source, or rising Spring, which the two first Principles make. When the Compunction, viz. the Stirring, strives and moves with Rage in the Hardness, or Impression, and bruises the Hardness, then in the Contrition [brokenness] of the Hardness the first Sense of Feeling arises, and is the Beginning of the Essences; for first it is the Severation, whereby each Power becomes sensible [Feeling or distinct] and separable in itself in the free Lubet, in the Word of the Powers; it is the Original of Distinction, (or different Variety) whereby the Powers are mutually manifest, each in itself; also the Original of the Thoughts and Mind.

13. For the Eternal Mind is the All-Essential Power of the Deity: But the Senses arise through Nature with the Motion in the Division of the Powers, where each Power perceives, and feels itself in itself; it is also the Original of Taste and Smell: When the Perception of the Powers in the Distinction has mutual Intercourse, and Entrance into each other, then they feel, taste, smell, hear, and see one another; and herein arises the Source of Life, which could not be in the Liberty in the Stillness of the Power of God: Therefore the Divine Understanding brings itself into spiritual Properties, that it might be manifest to itself, and be a Working Life.

14. Now we are to consider of the Anguish in its own Generation and peculiar Property. For like as there is a Mind, viz. an Understanding in the Liberty, in the Word of the Power of God, so likewise the first Will to the Desire brings itself in the Desire of the Darkness into a Mind, which Mind is the Anguish Source, viz. a Sulphureous Source; and yet here [the] Spirit is only to be understood.

15. The Anguish-Source is thus to be understood. The Astringent Desire conceives itself, and draws [contracts] itself into itself, and makes itself full, hard, and rough; now the Attraction is an Enemy of the Hardness; the Hardness is retentive; the Attraction is fugitive; the one will have it into itself, and the other will out of itself. But seeing they cannot separate, and part asunder one from the other, they remain in each other as a rolling Wheel; the one will ascend, the other descend.

16. For the Hardness Causes Substance and Weight; and the Compunction gives Spirit and the Active Life: These both mutually circulate in themselves and out of themselves and yet cannot go any where [parted]. What the Desire, viz. the Magnet, makes hard, that the Attraction again breaks in Pieces; and it is the greatest Unquietness in itself; like a raging Madness; and it is in itself an horrible Anguish; and yet no right feeling is perceived [to be understood] till the Fire (kindling of the Fire in Nature, which is the fourth Form, wherein the Manifestation of each Life appears). And I leave it to the Consideration of the true understanding Searcher of Nature, what this is, or means; let him search and bethink himself; he shall find it in his own natural, and paternal Knowledge.

17. The Anguish makes the Sulphureous Spirit; and the Compunction makes the Mercury, viz. the Work-Master of Nature, he is the Life of Nature; and the astringent Desire makes the keen Salt-Spirit; and yet all three are only one. But they divide themselves into three forms, which are called Sulphur, Mercurius, and Sal: These three Properties impress the Free Lubet into them, that it also gives a material Essentiality, which is the Oil of these three forms (viz. their Life and joy) which mollifies, meekens, and allays their Wrathfulness; and this no rational Man can deny. There is a Salt, Brimstone and Oil in all Things; and Mercurius, viz. the vital Venom [poison Life], makes the Essence in all Things; and so the Abyss brings itself into Byss and Nature.

18. Sol ( ). The fourth Form of Nature is the Enkindling of the Fire; where the sensitive [Feeling and Understanding] and intellective Life first arise, and the hidden God manifests himself. For without Nature he is hid to all Creatures; but in the Eternal and Temporal Nature he is perceived and manifest.

19. And this Manifestation is first effected by the Awakening of the Powers, viz. by the three above-mentioned Properties, Sulphur, Mercurius, and Sal, and therein the Oil, in which the Life has its vital Being and Beauty, Life and Lustre [burns and shines]: The true Life is first manifest in the fourth Form, viz. in the Fire and Light; in the Fire the Natural, and in the Light the Oily Spiritual; and in the Power of the Light the divine intellectual [or understanding Life is manifest.]

20. Reader, attend, and mark right; I understand here, with the Description of Nature, the Eternal not the Temporal Nature: I only show thee the temporal Nature thereby, for it is expressed, or spoken forth out of the Eternal, and therefore do not foist in or alledge Calves, Cowes, or Oxen, as it is the course of irrational Reason in Babel to do.

21. First know this; that the Divine Understanding does therefore introduce itself into Fire, that its Eternal Lubet might be majestical and Lustrous [a Light]; for the Divine Understanding receives no Source into itself: It also needs none to its own Being; for the All needs not the Something; the Something is only the Play of the All, wherewith the All does melodize and play; and that the TOTAL or All might be manifest to itself, it introduces its Will into Properties: Thus we as a Creature will write of the Properties, viz. of the manifested God; how the All, viz. the Immense, Abyssal, Eternal Understanding manifests itself.

22. Secondly, the Abyssal and Divine Understanding does therefore introduce itself into an anxious Fire-will, and Life, that its great Love and Joy, which is called God, might be manifest; for if all were only One, then the One would not be manifest to itself; but by the Manifestation the Eternal Good is known, and makes a Kingdom of Joy : Else, if there were no Anguish, then Joy would not be manifest to itself; and there would be but one only Will, which would do continually one and the same Thing. But if it introduces itself into Contrariety, then in the Contest, the Lubet of Joy becomes a Desire, and a Love-play to itself; in that it has to work and act, to speak according to our human Capacity.

23. The Original of the Eternal Spiritual and Natural Fire is effected by an Eternal Conjunction or Copulation, not each seperately, but both jointly; viz. the Divine Fire, which is a Love-flame; and Natural Fire, which is a Torment, and consuming Source: Understand it thus, as it is.

24. One Part, viz. the Will of the Father, or of the Abyss, introduces itself into the greatest Sharpness of the Astringency, where it is a cold Fire, a cold painful Source, and it is Sharpened by the Astringent Compunctive Anguish; and in this Anguish it comes to desire the Liberty, viz. the free Lubet, or Meekness; and the other Part is the Free Lubet, which desires to be manifest; it longs after the Will of the Father, which has generated it without Nature, and uses it for its Play; this here does again desire the Will, and the Will has here re-conceived itself to go again out of the Anguish into the Liberty; viz. the Lubet.

25. Understand; that it is the re-conceived Will which desires the Free Lubet of God: But now it has taken into itself the horrible, astringent, hard, compunctive Sharpness; and the Free Lubet is a great Meekness, in reference to the wrathful Nature, as a Nothing, and yet it is: Now both these dash together in one another; the sharp Will eagerly and mightily desires the Fire-Lubet, and the Lubet desires the Austere Will, and in that they enter into and feel each other, a great Flagrat [fire] is made, like a Flash of Lightning; in manner as the Fire, or celestial Lightning, or etherial Blaze, is enkindled in the Firmament.

26. And in this Flagrat the Fire is enkindled: for the Astringent harsh Darkness, which is cold, is dismayed at the Light and great Meekness of the Free Lubet, and becomes in itself a Flagrat of Death, where the Wrathfulness and cold Property retires back into itself, and closes up itself as a Death; for in the Flagrat the dark Mind becomes essential; it sadly betakes itself into itself; as a great Fear before the Light [as being afraid, or dismayed at the Light]; or as an Enmity of the Light; and this is the true Original of the dark World, viz. of the Abyss, into which the Devils are thrust, which we call Hell.

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