The Mysterium Magnum by Jacob Boehme

(1575-1624)

Jacob Boehme

Chapter 10

The Tenth Chapter

Of the Creation of Heaven and the Outward World

1. It seems strange and wonderful to reason, to consider how God has created the stars, and the four elements; especially when reason does contemplate and consider of the earth, with its hard stones, and very rough, indigested, harsh substance; and sees that there are great stones, rocks and cliffs created, which are in part useless, and very hindersome to the employment of the creatures in this world. Then it thinks, whence may this compaction arise in so many forms and properties; for there are divers sorts of stones, divers metals, and divers kinds of earth whence manifold herbs and trees do grow.

2. Now when it does thus muse and contemplate, it finds nothing, save only that it does acknowledge that there must be a hidden power and might, which is abyssal, and unsearchable, which has created all things so; and there it sticks, and runs to and fro in the creation, as a bird that flies up and down in the air; and looks upon all things, as an ox looks upon a new door of his stall; and never so much as considers what itself is; and seldom reaches so far as to know that man is an image extracted out of this whole being or essence. It runs up and down, as a beast void of understanding, which desires only to eat and procreate; and when it comes to its highest degree, as to search out and learn something, then it searches in the outward fiction and artifice of the stars; or else in some carved work of outward nature. It will by no means simply and sincerely learn to know its Creator. And when it comes to pass that one attains so far as to teach the knowledge of him, yet then it calls such man a fool, and fantastic; and forbids him the precious understanding of God, and imputes it to him for sin, and reviles him therein.

3. Such mere animals are we, since the fall of Adam, that we do not so much as once consider that we were created in the image of God, and endued with the right, natural and genuine understanding, both of the eternal, and temporal nature; so as to mind and bethink ourselves, by great earnestness, to re-obtain that which we have lost; whereas we have yet that very first soul wherein the true understanding lies; if we did but seriously labour to have that light which we have lost, to shine again in us; which yet is offered unto us out of grace.

4. Therefore there will be no excuse at the great day of the Lord, when God shall judge the secret and hidden things of mankind, because we would not learn to know him, and obey his voice; which daily has knocked amongst us, and in us; and resign up ourselves unto him; that so our understanding might be opened. And a very severe sentence shall he receive who will undertake to be called Master, and Rabbi; [1] and yet neither knows the way of God, nor walks therein, and that which is yet more heinous forbids [2] those that desire to know, and walk therein.

[1. Sir. 2. Or hinders.]

5. The creation of the outward world is a manifestation of the inward spiritual Mystery, viz. of the centre of the eternal nature, with the holy element: and was brought forth by the eternal-speaking Word through the motion of the inward world as a spiration; which eternal-speaking Word has expressed the essence out of the inward spiritual worlds; and yet there was no such essence in the speaking, but was only as a breath or vaporous exhalation in reference to the internal, breathed forth, both from the property of the dark world, and also of the light world: and therefore the outward essence of this world is good and evil.

6. And we are with very entire and punctual exactness to consider of this motion of the eternal Mystery of the spiritual world. 1. How it came to pass that such a wrathful, rough, gross and very compunctive essence and dominion was brought forth and made manifest, as we see in the outward forms of nature, as well in the moving things, as in the stones and earth. 2. Whence such a wrath did arise, which has compacted and introduced the powers of the properties into such a harsh nature [or rude quality] as we see in the earth and stones.

7. For we are not to think that there is the like in heaven, viz. in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world there are only the properties of possibility; but not at all manifest in such a harsh property; but are as it were swallowed up; as the light swallows up the darkness, and yet the darkness does really dwell in the light, but not apprehended.

8. Now we are yet to search out how the desire of the darkness became manifest in the power of the light; that they both came mutually into the compaction or coagulation. And yet it affords us a far greater and more profound consideration; that when man could not stand in the spiritual mystery of the paradisical property [and estate], that God cursed this compaction, viz. the earth; and appointed an earnest judgement to sever the good in this compaction again from the evil; so that the good must thus stand in the curse, that is, in death. He that does here see nothing is indeed blind. Why would God curse his good essence, if something were not come into it which was opposite to the good? Or is God at odds with himself? as reason would be ready to fancy. For it is written in Moses, that God looked upon all that he had made, and behold it was very good.

9. Now man, for whose sake the earth was accursed, had not introduced anything into the earth, whereby it was now made so evil, as to cause God to curse it, save only the false and faithless imagination of his desire to eat of the evil and good: so as to awaken the vanity, viz. the centre of nature in him, and to know evil and good. From which desire the hunger entered into the earth; whence the outward body was extracted as a mass; which set the hunger of its desire again upon its mother; and awakened the root of vanity out of the dark impression of the centre of nature, whence the Tree of Temptation, viz. evil and good, grew manifest to him; and when he did eat thereof the earth was accursed for his sake.

10. Now if man, by his powerful desire, did awaken the wrath in the earth, what then might Lucifer [not] be able to do, who was likewise an enthroned prince, and moreover had many legions? Lucifer had the will of the strong might and power of the centre of all essences in himself as well as Adam [had]. Adam was only one creature, but Lucifer was a king, and had a kingdom in possession, viz. a hierarchy in the spiritual world, viz. in the heavenly Salniter in the generation of the manifested word. He was an enthroned prince in the manifested power of God: therefore Christ calls him a prince of this world: for he sat in the essence (understand, in the spiritual essence) whence this world was breathed forth as a spiration.

11. He it is that by his false desire, which he introduced into the essence, did awaken the wrath in the internal, as Adam stirred up the curse. He raised the centre of nature with his dark wrathful property in the like wrathful properties; for he had first awakened the wrath of God in himself: And then this awakened wrath entered into its mother, viz. into the magical generation, out of which Lucifer was created to a creature: whereupon the generation was made proud and aspiring, contrary to the right [or law] of eternity.

12. Also he sat in his angelical form in the good holy essence, as to the generation of the divine meekness; and therein exalted himself to domineer in the will of his wrath above the meekness, as an absolute peculiar god, contrary to the right of eternity.

13. But when the speaking eternal Word in love and anger, for his malicious iniquity's sake, did move itself in the properties, viz. in the essence wherein Lucifer sat, to cast this wicked guest out of his habitation into eternal darkness; then the essence was compacted: for God would not permit or allow that he should any longer have these manifested powers, wherein he was a prince; but created them into a coagulation, and spewed him out of them.

14. And in this impression or conjunction the powers, viz. the watery and oily properties, were compacted; not that Lucifer did compact or create them; but [they were compacted by] the speaking Word of God, which dwelt in the manifested powers and properties: the same took away the disobedient child's patrimony, and cast him out as a perjured wretch, out of his inheritance into an eternal prison, into the house of darkness and anger; wherein he desired to be master over the essence of God's love, and rule therein as a juggler and enchanter, and mix the holy with unholy, to act his juggling feats and proud pranks thereby.

15. And we see very clearly with quick-sighted eyes, that thus it is: for there is nothing in this world so evil but it has a good in it: the good has its rise originally out of the good or heavenly property, and the evil has its descent from the property of the dark world; for both worlds, viz. light and darkness, are in each other as one.

16. And therefore they also went along together into the compaction or coagulation; and that from the degrees of the eternal nature, viz. from the properties to the fire-life, and also from the properties in the oily and spiritual watery light-essence.

17. For the metals are in themselves nothing else but a water and oil, which are held by the wrathful properties, viz. by the astringent austere desire; that is, by a Saturnine martial fiery property, in the compaction of Sulphur and Mercury, to be one body [or congealed bulk]. But if I wholly destroy this body, and severise [separate] each into its own property, then I clearly find therein the first creation.

I. SATURNUS: SAL

18. As first, according to the astringent desire of the Fiat, viz. of the first form to nature, according to the property of the dark world, I find a hardness and coldness; and further according to this astringent property, secondly a deadly baneful stinking water, from the astringent impression; and thirdly, in this stinking water, a dead earth; and fourthly, a sharpness like to salt, from the native right and quality of the astringency. This is now the coagulated essence of the first form of nature, according to the dark world; and it is the stony substance (understand the grossness of the stones and of all metals); so likewise of the earth, wherein the mortal part (or the close-binding death) is understood.

II. MERCURIUS

19. Secondly, I find according to the second form and property of the dark nature and world essence, in the compaction of the metals and stones, a bitter compunctive raging essence, viz. a poison; which makes a strong harsh noisome taste in the earth and stinking water; and it is the cause of growth, viz. the stirring life: its property is called Mercurius; and in the first form the astringency is called Sal.

III. SULPHUR

20. Thirdly, I find the third property, viz. the anguish, which is the sulphurous-source, in which consists the various dividing of the properties, viz. of the essence.

IV. SALNITER

21. Fourthly, I find the fire or heat, which does awaken the salniter in the sulphurous-source, which severises the compaction; and that is the flagrat. This is the original raiser of the salniter out of the brimstony, watery and earthy property; for it is the awakener of death, viz. [the awakener] in the mortal property, and the first original of the life in the fire: and even to the fire the property of the dark world reaches, and no farther.

V. OIL

22. Fifthly, we find in the compaction of the metals and stones an oil, which is sweeter than any sugar can be; so far as it may be separated from the other properties. It is the first heavenly holy essence; which has taken its original from the free lubet. It is pure and transparent; but if the fire-source be severed from it (albeit it is impossible wholly to separate it, for the band of the great triumphant joy consists therein) then it is whiter than anything can be in nature: But by reason of the fire it continues of a rosy-red; [1] which the light changes into yellow, according to the mixture of red and white; by reason of the earthy property, and predominant influence of the sun.

[1. Or crimson purple-red.]

23. But if the artist can unloose it, and free it from the fire of the wrath, and other properties, then he has the pearl of the whole world, understand the tincture: for Virgin Venus has her cabinet of treasure lying there: It is the Virgin with her fair attire [or crown of pearl].

24. O you earthly man did you have it yet! Here Lucifer and Adam have negligently lost it! O man, did you but know what lay here, how would you seek after it! But it belongs only unto those whom God has chosen thereto. O precious pearl, how sweet art you in the new birth, how fair, and surpassing excellent is your lustre!

VI. THE LIVING MERCURY; SOUND

25. Sixthly, we find in this oily property a sovereign power from the original of the manifested powerful divine Word, which dwells in the heavenly property; in which power the sound or tone of metals is distinguished; and therein their growth consists. For here it is the holy Mercurius: that which in the second form of nature in the darkness is compunctive, harsh, rigid, and a poison, that is here, in the free lubet's property (when the fire in the salnitral flagrat has divided love and anger) a pleasant merry Mercury, wherein the joyfulness of the creature consists.

26. And here, ye philosophers, lies the effectual virtue and powerfull operation of your Noble Stone: here it is called Tincture. This operation can tincture the disappeared water in Luna; for here your Jupiter is a prince; and Sol a king, and virgin Venus the king's sweetest spouse. But Mars must first lay down his sceptre; also the devil must first go into hell; for Christ must bind him; and tincture simple Luna, which he has defiled, with the oil of his heavenly blood; that the anger may be changed into joy. Thus the artist's art is born: understood here, by the children of the Mystery.

VII. ESSENCE, BODY

27. Seventhly, we find in the separation of the compaction of the metals a white crystalline water; that is, the heavenly water, viz. the water above the firmament of heaven; which is severed from the oil, as a body of the oily property. It gives a white crystalline lustre in the metals; and Venus with her property makes it wholly white; and that is a silver property; and Venus in Sol, a gold; and Mars in Venus, a copper; and again, Venus in Mars, an iron; Jupiter in Venus, a tin; Saturn in Venus, a lead: Mercurius in Venus, quicksilver; and without Venus there is no metal, neither fixed nor mineral.

28. Thus understand by Venus, heavenly essentiality, which consists in an oil and crystalline water, which gives body unto all metals, understand the spiritual beautiful body; its own peculiar essence, without the influences of the other properties, is the great meekness and sweetness. Its real peculiar essence is a sweet pure water; but the power of the manifested Word does separate the holiest through the fire into an oil; for in the oil the fire gives a shine or lustre. When the fire tastes the water in itself; then out of the taste it gives an oil; thus the oil is spiritual, and the water corporeal. The oil is a body [1] of the power; and the water a body [1] of the properties, which are living in the oil, and do make or use the water for a mansion. In the water the elemental life consists, and in the oil the spiritual life; [2] and in the power of oil the divine life, viz. the life of the expressed Word, as a manifestation of the Deity.

[1. Text Corpus. 2. Or life of the spirit.]

29. Now we see here, how, in the compaction of the Verbum Fiat, the holy entered along with the unholy into a coagulation. For in all things there is a deadly and also a living water; and also a mortal poisonful virtue, and a good vital virtue; a gross, and a subtile [power]; one evil, the other good: all which is according to the nature of God's love and anger.

30. The grossness of the stones, metals and earth proceed from the property of the dark world, all which are in a mortal [property], understand substance and not spirit: the spirit of the grossness is in the poison-life, in which Lucifer is a prince of this world.

31. But the heavenly [part] holds the grossness and poison-source captive; so that the devil is the poorest creature in the essence of this world; and has nothing in this world for his own possession, save what he can cheat from the living creatures which have an eternal being; that they enter with the desire into the wrath of the eternal; viz. into his juggling incantations.

32. If we would rightly consider the creation, then we need no more than a divine light and contemplation: it is very easy unto the illuminated mind, and may very well be searched out. Let a man but consider the degrees of nature, and he sees it very clearly in the sun, stars, and elements. The stars are nothing else but a crystalline water-spirit; yet not a material water, but powers of the salnitral flagrat in the fire.

33. For their orb, wherein they stand, is fiery; that is, a salnitral fire, a property of the matter of the earth, metals, trees, herbs and the three elements, fire, air and water. What the superior is, that also is the inferior; and that which I find in the compaction of the earth, that likewise is in the astrum; [1] and they belong both together as body and soul.

[1. Or constellation.]

34. The astrum betokens the spirit, and the earth the body; before the creation all was mutually in each other in the eternal generation; but in no coagulation or creature; but as a powerful wrestling love-play, without any such material substance.

35. But it was enkindled in the motion of the Word, viz. the Verbum Fiat: and therewith the inflammation in the salnitral flagrat, each property did divide itself in itself; and was amassed by the awakened astringent impression (viz. the first form of nature, which is called the Fiat), and so each became coagulated in its property; the subtile in its property, and the gross in its property; all according to the degrees; as the eternal generation of nature derives itself from the unity into an infinite multiplicity.

36. Good and evil is manifest in the astrum: [1] for the wrathful fiery power of the eternal nature, so also the power of the holy spiritual world, is manifest in the stars, as an essential spiration. Therefore there are many obscure stars, all which we see not, and many light stars, which we see.

[1. Or constellation.]

37. We have a likeness of this in the matter of the earth, which is so manifold, whence divers sorts of fruit grow, viz. according to the properties of the superior spheres: for so likewise is the earth, being the grossest substance, where the mortal water is coagulated.

38. The earth was coagulated in the seventh form of nature, viz. in the essence; for it is that same essence which the other six properties do make in their desire: it chiefly consists in seven properties, as is above mentioned; but the unfoldment or various explication of the properties is effected in the salnitral fire, where each property does again explicate itself into seven; where the infiniteness and great possibility [2] arises, that of one thing, another can be made, which it was not in the beginning.

[2. Or potency.]

39. The being of all beings is only a magical birth [deriving itself], out of one only, into an infiniteness; the One is God, the infinite is time and eternity, and a manifestation of the One; where each thing may be reduced out of one into many, and again out of many into one.

40. The fire is the workmaster thereunto, which puts forth from a small power a little sprout out of the earth, and displays it into a great tree with many boughs, branches and fruits; and does again consume it, and reduces it again to one thing, viz. to ashes and earth, whence it first proceeded: and so also all things of this world do enter again into the one whence they came.

41. The essence of this world may easily be searched out, but the centre or point of motion will remain dark unto reason, unless there be another light in it: it supposes that it has it in the circle, and can measure it; [1] but it has it not in the understanding.

[1. Or mathematically describe and demonstrate it.]

42. When we consider the hierarchy and the kingly dominion in all the three Principles in the place of this world, so far as the Verbum Fiat reached forth itself to the creation of the outward world, with the stars, and elements, then we have the ground of the punctum [2] of the royal throne, of which the whole creation is but a member.

[2. Central fire or radical heat; the point of motion, the virtue of the light.]

43. For the stars and four elements, and all whatsoever is bred and engendered out of them, and live therein, does hang [or appertain] unto one punctum; where the divine power has manifested itself from itself in a form: and this punctum stands in three Principles, viz. in three worlds: nothing can live in this world without this punc-tum, it is the only cause of the life and motion of all the powers; and without it all would be in the stillness [3] without motion.

[3. Or eternal silence.]

44. For if there were no light, then the elements would be motionless: all would be an astringent harsh property, wholly raw and cold: the fire would remain hidden in the cold; and the water would be only a keen spirit, like to the property of the stars; and the air would be hidden in the water-source, in the sulphur, and be a still, unmoving essence.

45. We see in very deed, that the light is the only cause of all stirring, motion and life; for every life desires the power of the light, viz. the disclosed punctum: and yet the life is not the punctum, but the form of Nature. And if this punctum did not stand open, then the kingdom of darkness would be manifest in the place of this world; in which [place of wrath] Lucifer is a prince, and possesses the princely throne in the wrath of the eternal nature, in the place of this world.

46. Therefore, O man, consider with yourself where [now] you are at home, viz on one part [1] in the stars and four elements; and on the other part [2] in the dark world among the devils; and as to the third part [3] in the divine power in heaven. That property which is master in you, its servant you are, pranck [prank, obs.] and vapour as stately and gloriously in the sun's light as you will; have you not the eternal [light], yet your fountain shall be made manifest to you.

[1. Viz. as to your body and outward carcase of clay you art a guest for a while in this outward world, travelling in the vanity of time.]

[2. Viz. as to your soul, in its own self and creatural being, without the divine light or regeneration, in the abyss of hell.]

[3. As to your divine image, and spirit of love, in the eternal light.]

47. By the two words Himmel und Erde (heaven and earth) we understand the whole ground of the creation; for, in the language of nature, the understanding is couched in those two words. For by the word Himmel (heaven) is understood the spiration of the Verbum Fiat, which created that essence (wherein Lucifer was enthroned) with the creative Word out of itself, that is, out of the spiritual holy world, into a time or beginning. And by the word Erde (earth) is understood the wrath in the essence, that the essence was amassed in the wrath; and reduced out of the properties of the dark Sulphur, Mercury and Salt, viz. out of the powers of the original of nature, and introduced into a compaction or coagulation.

48. This coagulation is the syllable Er, the other syllable, de or den, is the element. For the earth is not the element, but the [element is] the moving, viz. the power, whence it was coagulated; this is that element which is spiritual, and takes its true original in the fire, where the nature, which is a senseless life, dies in the fire; from which dying or mortification there proceeds forth a living motion; and from that which is mortified [in the fire] a dead matter, viz. earth, and a dead water, and also a deadly fire, and venomous air, which makes a dying source in the earthly bodies.

49. When nature was enkindled, the element did unfold [and display] itself into four properties, which yet in itself is only one. The real element dwells in the essence which is mortified in the fire, otherwise the earth could bring forth no fruit. Those which now are called the four elements, are not elements, but only properties of the true element. The element is neither hot nor cold, neither dry nor moist; it is the motion or life of the inward heaven, viz. the true angelical1ife as to the creature. It is the first divine manifestation out of the fire, through nature: when the properties of the eternal nature work therein; it is called Paradise.

50. By the word Himmel (heaven) is understood how the water, viz. the grossness in the mortal part, was coagulated, and separated from the holy crystalline water, which is spiritual. There, with the material, time began, as an essence expressed [or spirated] out of the spiritual water.

51. The spiritual water is living, and the spirated is dumb and unfeeling, void of understanding, and is dead in reference to the living water; of which Moses says, God has separated it from the water above the firmament.

52. The firmament is another Principle, viz. another beginning [or inchoation] of motion: the water above the firmament is the spiritual water, in which the Spirit of God rules and works: for Moses says also, the Spirit of God moves upon the water: for the spiritual element moves in the four elements; and in the spiritual element the Spirit of God moves on the spiritual water: they are mutually in each other.

53. The heaven wherein God dwells is the holy element; and the firmament or gulf between God and the four elements is the death; for the inward heaven has another birth (that is, another life) than the external elementary life has. Indeed they are in one another, but the one does not apprehend the other: as tin and silver never mix aright together; for each is from another [or sundry] Principle; albeit they resemble each other, and have very near affinity to each other, yet they are as the inward and outward water to one another; wherein also they are to be understood. For the inward and outward Venus are step-sisters; they come indeed from one father, but they have two mothers, the one whereof is a Virgin, the other deflowered; and therefore they are separated till the judgement of God, who will purge away her reproach and shame, through the fire.

54. Moses writes, that God created the heaven out of the midst of the waters; [and] it is very right. The astrum [1] is an external water-spirit, viz. powers of the outward water; and the material water is the body wherein the powers work. Now the fiery, airy and also earthly source is in the astrum; the like is also in the material water. The superior [astrum] is the life and dominion of the inferior; it enkindles the inferior, whereby the inferior does act, move and work. The inferior is the body or wife of the superior; indeed the superior is couched in the inferior, but as weak, and impotent.

[1. Understand by the word astrum, the whole starry heaven, with all its powers, properties, influences, and constellations, internal and external.]

55. And the superior were likewise as weak and impotent as the inferior, if it were not enkindled by the light of the sun: the same is the heart of all external powers; and it is the open punctum even to the tenth number. If we were not so blind as to contemn all that we see not with our calves' eyes, it were right and requisite to reveal it; but seeing God has hidden the pearl, [Matthew 13:45-46] and also himself from the sight of the wicked, therefore we will let it alone. Yet hint enough to our school-fellows: we will not give our pearl unto beasts.

56. Thus we understand what the outward heaven is, namely the powers or conception of the water. The word or power Fiat, which began with the beginning of the world, is yet still a creating; [1] it yet continually creates the heaven out of the water: and the spirit of God still moves upon the water; and the holy water is yet continually separated from the water under the firmament.

[1. Or creating.]

57. This holy water is that of which Christ told us, that he would give us it to drink; that should spring up in us to a fountain of eternal life. The holy heavenly corporality does consist therein; it is the body of Christ which he brought from heaven; and by the same, introduced heavenly paradisical essentiality into our dead or decayed body; and quickened ours in his; understand, in the aim [2] of the covenant in the essence of Mary; as shall be mentioned hereafter.

[2. Mark or limit.]

58. In this heavenly essence the Testaments [3] of Christ do consist; and this holy essence of the heavenly holy virginity, with the holy tincture, has destroyed death; and bruised the head of the serpent's might in the wrath of God; for the divine power is the highest life therein.

[3. Baptism, and the Supper.]

59. Thus we understand how the holy heaven, wherein God dwells, moves in the Fiat or the created [heaven], and that God is really present in all places; and inhabits all things: but he is comprehended of nothing. He is manifest in power in the inward heaven of the holy essentiality, viz. in the element. This holy element (in the beginning or inchoation of the four elements) did penetrate through the earth; and sprang [or budded] forth in the holy power's property, and bore fruits, of which man should have eaten in a heavenly manner. But when it did disappear in man, the curse entered into the earth, and so Paradise was quashed in the four elements; and continued retired in itself in the inward [element]. There it stands yet open unto man, if any will depart from this world's essence and enter into it upon the path which Christ has made open.

60. The punctum of the whole created earth belonged unto the centre of Sol,[1] but [does] not any more, at present: he is fallen, he who was a king: the earth is in the curse, and [has] become a peculiar centre; whereunto all whatsoever is engendered in the vanity, in the four elements, does tend and fall: all things fall unto the earth; for the Fiat [2] is yet in the deep, and creates [3] all earthly essence together unto the judgement of God, for separation.

[1. Ad centrum Solis, to the centre of the sun. 2. Or creation. 3. Or draws or concretes.]

61. We mean not that the earth came wholly [4] from the place of the sun; but from the whole sphere, out of both the internal spiritual worlds; but it [i.e. our meaning] has another A B C, in that the earth belongs unto the judgement of God for separation; even then it shall be manifest wherefore it is said: it belongs unto the punctum of Sol.

[4. Or only.]

62. For the worst must be a cause of the best. The eternal joy consists in this: that we are delivered from pain. God has not eternally rejected his holy essence; but only the iniquity which mixed itself therein. But when the crystalline earth shall appear, then will be fulfilled this Saying: it appertains to the punctum of Sol. Here we have hinted enough to the understanding of our school-fellows; further we must here be silent.

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