The Mysterium Magnum by Jacob Boehme

(1575-1624)

Jacob Boehme

Chapter 20

The Twentieth Chapter

Of the Lamentable and Miserable Fall and Corruption of Man

1. Now when Adam did awake from sleep he saw his wife Eve standing before him, and took her unto him, for he knew that she was his own, that she was his matrix; and [he] cast the property of his desire upon her, as he had done before when he loved himself: So now also the fiery tincture of Adam's soul entered into the spirit's or light's tincture in Eve.

2. But they both stood yet in Paradise, in the garden in Eden, and knew neither evil nor good; for they lived yet in joy and delight, in the kingdom of heaven; and it was Eve's first longing to eat of good and evil: for Adam's desire had introduced and imprinted it into the magical image, while it was yet in Adam's essence; as a child receives a mark [or impress] in the womb, which the mother imprints on it.

3. Thus also Adam had impressed the false desire into his essence, whence the woman was made; therefore the woman so soon lusted after the vanity; as to this day, mere earthly lust of the flesh is found in most of them. So soon as this sex comes but to any years, the selfish lust [and will] does predominantly appear in pride and glistering shows of fleshly desires; and they soon long after the forbidden tree, contrary to the virgin-like modesty, chastity and angelical humility.

4. The abomination which Adam introduced into his matrix is so exceeding strong in them, that they are as 'twere in naked shame before the image of God, which [image] God himself created in Adam. Therefore they must be subject to the man, in that they are the cause that the vanity was enkindled, to which the devil also was a strong promoter.

5. For when he saw Eve, he then knew his insinuated desire in her, which he had introduced into Adam; the same did show forth and discover itself in Eve's lust. Therefore the devil came now in a strange form, viz. in the Serpent's essence, which was the most subtle beast, and laid himself on the Tree of Temptation towards Eve, that the introduced concupiscence in Eve, which the devil had also infected, did amuse itself upon the outward Serpent, and so one lust took another; whereupon Eve did strongly imagine and long after the forbidden fruit, which the devil persuaded her to eat; and then her eyes should be opened, and she be as God, and know evil and good.

6. Which indeed was true: this knowledge did stick in the fruit, for the essences were discordant and unlike therein; but he told her not that the enmity would awaken in the essences of her body, and that heat and cold, moreover sickness and death, would force into her. Herein he was silent, and fairly coloured it over, and drew her in by collusion; as if God had withheld some great thing from them, which she might find as a treasure; so craftily did he deceive Eve.

7. And when she yielded to discourse with the Serpent she was taken in the voice; for the devil infected the same with false delight, until he persuaded her she should be wise if she did eat thereof.

8. For the devil thought that if Eve should bring forth children in Paradise then his design would miscarry: they might then possess his angelical kingdom.

9. Now the question is, Wherefore the devil did deceive Eve by the Serpent only, and not by some other means? Could he not do it in his own form: why did he even speak through the Serpent to Eve? And wherefore did the Serpent address itself to the Tree, to persuade her against God's prohibition?

10. Here the veil lies before Moses his clear eyes, for he sets down the history very right. But how can an unilluminated mind understand it, in that he writes of the Serpent, saying, that the Serpent spoke with Eve, and deceived her, whereas indeed it cannot speak. And also is only a beast, without divine understanding, and in its selfhood cannot know the image of God; much less did the Serpent understand the heavenly powers, or the prohibition.

11. But hear what Moses says: The Serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, which the Lord God had made: Here the first question is, whence its subtlety came, that even the devil would choose to speak through its subtlety, and deceive Eve? Herein sticks the Mystery.

12. When God moved himself according to his expressed Word in the Verbum Fiat, according to both the inward worlds, viz. according to God's love and anger, according to the eternal nature of the darkness, and according to the eternal nature and power of the light, then all the properties in evil and good did amass [compacted] themselves; for the Fiat was the centre in all those properties, as well as in those wherein the divine power was manifest in holiness. Now, according as each [central] point was opened, understand, according as the lubet to the manifestation of the Grand Mystery of all essences [was in every punctum], even so the Fiat, viz. the first form to nature did apprehend and bring forth an ens or limus out of the earth, and so also above the earth, in each magical astrum [star or planet], according to the degrees of severation. And so in the same ens there was a spirit according to the same degree or magical astrum, and the Fiat did figure and shape even such a body or corpus as the same spirit was.

13. Now, seeing that prince Lucifer did sit as a hierarch in divine pomp, and would domineer in divine power in the fire's might, above and in all, and contemned God's love and humility, and entered with his false desire into the essence of the expressed Word in the Fiat, as a juggler or wicked impostor, that would also form and make [according to his proud perverse will], thereupon he infected that same essence, according to the dark world's property, which came forth also in the Fiat into a compaction, viz. into an ens, wherein evil and good are mutually linked together. For he, the devil, as an apostate rebellious juggler, did desire the greatest subtlety [proceeding] from the centre of nature, and would domineer in the revealed magic in the Fiat.

14. And out of the like ens, [proceeding] from this infected ens (where evil and good was manifest in great power), the Serpent was created in the Fiat. Therefore Moses says very right, it was more subtle than all the beasts of the field; for the devil's will, viz. his desire, which he introduced into that ens, whence it was created, was in it; it had the devil's subtlety and will. And as the devil was an angel in the beginning, and was from a good essence, and yet introduced himself into an evil one, so likewise the Serpent's ens was good before the devil's infection, before its creation; but in the devil's desire it was brought into a property of subtlety and craft.

15. For the devil's desire drew forth the compunctive stinging thorny sharp subtlety out of the centre of nature, and introduced it through the enkindling of the fire into the heavenly salniter, viz. into that property wherein he sat and was an angel; and here that very craft came forth along in the same ens into a compaction in the Fiat.

16. For the Serpent's ens was, as to one part, viz. as to the heavenly, a great power; as also there was a great heavenly power in the devil, for he was a prince of God; and so he brought his extracted subtlety and lies into a powerful ens, desiring to play his enchanting feats thereby as a peculiar [uncontrollable] god.

17. This the learned searchers of nature do in like manner understand, viz. that there lies excellent art, and also virtue, in the ens of the Serpent. If the devil's poison be taken from it, the greatest cure doth then lie in it for the healing of all fiery venomous hurts and distempers; also [the best antidote] against poison, and all whatsoever that has the semblance of a fiery poison; for therein the divine power lies in a fiery hunger, but hidden in the curse of the anger of God.

18. As God does dwell hiddenly in the cursed earth, so likewise is it here. Notwithstanding, it is given to the wise godly searcher of the art, and he need not be astonished or afraid of the curse; for he shall rule in divine power in faith over all creatures. If he were not so much captivated in a bestial and proud manner in the Serpent's essence our sense and meaning might be opened unto him, and he might here well find the arcanum [or secret] of the world.

19. This crafty Serpent was now in external show and semblance an exceeding well-favoured, comely, handsome, neat, fine, brave, pretty beastling, accurately dressed, and set forth according to the pride of the devil. Not that we are to conceive that the devil was a creator of the Serpent; but the Fiat was manifest in it according to God's great good power, arid also very potently manifest according to the power of his wrathful anger.

20. This Serpent was a living figure of the Tree of Temptation; like as the Tempting Tree was a dumb power [or lifeless resemblance], so the Serpent was a living power. And therefore the Serpent applied itself to this Tree, as to its likeness, even the likeness of its essence. Which the devil saw, and possessed the Serpent in the part of his infected and introduced poison, and armed its tongue, and spoke out of its great subtlety to Eve, so that she knew not the horrible enemy, and very hideous ugly guest, the devil.

21. And the devil therefore brought the Serpent to the Tree of Temptation, seeing he saw that Eve was taken much with beholding of the Tree, and fain would eat of its fruit, that so he might make Eve monstrous by the Serpent [Or, form strange imaginations of pride, in seeing the fair Serpent]; and the true eye-mark [to reach the real understanding of the Serpent's deceiving Eve] is this:

22. Eve did now long after the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; for Adam had introduced this lust into his ens whence Eve was created. But now the command stood against it, and she feared God, and would not do contrary to the prohibition; therefore the devil cunningly insinuated into the Serpent's ens, viz. into the greatest subtlety; and yet craftily put forth the great power and wit in the Serpent's essence, that Eve might see and know how prudent, wise and subtle the Serpent was; and hung there upon the forbidden tree, and it did it no hurt; and she looked upon the Serpent and set her mind amusing after it, in manner as a woman with child does amuse herself and strangely or monstrously form herself [in her mind] and brings such a figure upon the child. Even so did Eve amuse herself upon the wit and craft of the Serpent, and also upon its nimble agility and art, whereupon she longed to eat of the Tree; for the Serpent persuaded her by the devil's voice and speech, and pretended that it had its craft and art from the Tree.

23. Eve's essence was heavenly, but already somewhat poisoned and infected by Adam's imagination. Now, Eve's good desire of the good essence in her entered into the Serpent's great power and inward virtue, which it had from the heavenly essence, viz. from the good part of the ens of the earth; and the infected property of Eve, which Adam had insinuated and let in by imagination, entered into the Serpent's craft, viz. into the centre of the dark world, into God's anger. And on the other side, the devil's strong desire and imagination entered through the essence of the Serpent into Eve's essence; both by the sound and voice in their intercourse of speech, and also by the conjunction of both desires.

24. And here Eve's desire and the devil's desire were espoused [or united] in this conjunction; for the devil's desire made Eve's lust wholly monstrous, and did so egg or force her on in the lust till he overcame her; and she gave full consent thereto in her desire; she would fain also eat of the Tree of understanding and wise subtlety; and desired likewise to be, or to be made, so wise, prudent and crafty, as the Serpent.

25. For the devil said the fruit would not hurt, but the eyes of her sharp understanding would be opened; and they should be as God. This, Eve did like very well; that she should be a goddess, and wholly consented thereunto. And in this full consent she fell from the divine harmony, from the resignation in God, and from the divine desire, and entered with her own desire into the craft, distemper and vanity of the Serpent, and the devil.

26. Here, in this juncture [or point of time] the devil's desire took full possession of Eve's will, and introduced it into a serpentine substance; and even here Eve became monstrous in her own essence [according to the essence of the Serpent]; and here the devil built up his fort, rampart and stronghold in the human essence; and here is the death of the heavenly essence, viz. of the heavenly essence or being; here the Holy Spirit of God departed from Eve her essence: thus in this point [of time] the heavenly part of man, viz. the heavenly limus, in the flesh, did disappear; and this is it which God said, in the day that you eatest thereof thou shall die the death (Gen. ii. 17).

27. When Eve had turned her will from the obedience of God, and introduced it into the Serpent's craft, then the power of the heavenly meekness and humility in the heavenly limbus did disappear; not that she fully received the dark world's essence into her essence; no, but as God said to her, you shall die, that is die or disappear, in [as to] the kingdom of heaven. For the kingdom of heaven receives no true death; only, when the light of the divine Principle extinguisheth, then that essence wherein it did burn, and from whence it shone, is dumb, and as 'twere dead, without feeling and understanding, as a nothing. Like as a candle burning in a dark place makes the whole room light, but if it goes out there is not the print or impression of it to be seen; its power enters into the nothing, in manner as God made all things of nothing.

28. Not that we are to understand that man's heavenly ens became a nothing; it remained in man, but it was as 'twere a nothing to man in its life; for it stood hidden in God; and to man was un-apprehensible, without life. Nothing dies in God; but in the human life the holy ens did disappear.

29. Now when Eve did reach to the Tree, take the fruit, and pluck it off, [it was] the same she had already done by the earthly limus, and by the will of the soul, which desired the subtlety from the centre of nature; which subtlety [or discretion] she already perceived in her, in the centre, and yet [it] was not manifest in the divine power and in the resigned humility. In this essay the devil's desire reaches along in her monstrous image to the fruit; and when she took the fruit into the mouth, and did eat thereof; that her body's essence received this essence into itself; the human essence took the essence in the Tree.

30. And seeing she did not forthwith fall down and die, she thought it would not hurt her, for the anger-source still rested in her; and she persuaded Adam, that he also did eat thereof; seeing he saw that it hurt not Eve.

31. But now when they had eaten, the wrath of God's anger did awake in the monstrous image, viz. the properties of the dark world, viz. the devil's introduced desire, which now had its seat in the monstrous image, in the Serpent's essence. In this instant all the forms of subtlety and craftiness did awake in the human mystery [hiddenness]; for so long as man stood resigned in God, in the equal accord in the divine harmony, the heavenly part, viz. the life of the heavenly limus, penetrated the earthly limus; and the properties could not be manifest, for they were all in equal measure and weight; as the time is in God and God in the time.

32. But when man's own will began effectually and actually to work, then also the properties of the universal magical astrum began also to work in him, each [astrum or star] in its selfhood; for the universal magical astrum lay in man, for he was created on the sixth day, in the sixth manifestation of the divine Mystery, as a limus of all beings; a limus or extern [or extracted] birth, whence all the creatures were created; an astrum of the universal astrum; for he should rule above all creatures of this world, and be lord over all creatures, and yet not be ruled or lorded over by any.

33. For he stood in equal essence; but now, every astrum of every essence of all the creatures in man do depart from their mutual accord, and each steps into its selfhood; whence the strife, contrariety and enmity arose in the essence, that one property does oppose itself against the other. Thus likewise the outward spirit of the outward astrum and four elements did presently domineer in them [Adam and Eve], and heat and cold were also manifest in their body; moreover, the property of all evil and good beasts: all which properties, before, did lie hidden.

34. Here the craft and subtlety of the Serpent was manifest, and the precious image was corrupted, and became, according to the limus of the earth, a beast of all beasts. Whereupon there are now so many and various properties in man, as one a fox, wolf, bear, lion, dog, bull, cat, horse, cock, toad, serpent. And, in brief; as many kinds of creatures as are upon the earth, so many and various properties likewise there are in the earthly man; each of one or other; all according to the predominant stars [or planets] which make such a property in the seed, in the time of the seeding, by reason of their predomination or [potent influence]. That astrum which is most predominant in the constellation, that has its desire in the seed; and if the seed be sown, such a property is hatched forth in the earthly part of man.

35. Not that the whole man is such [a very brute beast in outward shape], but there is such a figure of the desire in the earthly essence; and the man must bear such a beast in the body, which stirs him up and drives him to the bestial property. Not that he has this form according to the outward [person]; but [he has it] really, in the earthly essence: according to the outward [personal shape] he remains in the first formation [or platform].

36. Yet this beast does somewhat put forth its signature externally in everyone; if one do but heed and well mind the same, he may find it. Hence Christ called the Pharisees a generation of vipers, and the seed of serpents; also others he called wolves, ravening wolves, foxes, dogs and the like; for they were such in the earthly essence. And he taught us, that we must be born anew, and forsake this bestial property, and become as children, or we should notpossess the kingdom of God.

37. For as the essence is, in the body, even so the spirit doth figure and form itself internally, and the poor soul stands in this prison, bound and married to such a beast, unless that a man be born anew: for which ground [and end] God ordained the Circumcision in the Old Testament; and in the New the Baptism in the spirit of Christ.

38. Here we are highly to consider, what horror, lamentation and misery, anguish, fear and distress, did arise and awake in man; and was manifest as a false life and will in man. of which we have a type in the death of Christ, when he, upon the cross, destroyed the death in our human awakened property, and overcame [it] with the great love in his heavenly blood, which he introduced thereinto; that even then the earth, viz. the limus of the earth, whence Adam's outward essence was extracted, did tremble and shake at it. Now, when the great love forced [itself] into the human earth, wherein the anger of God, in the curse, was living and effectually working, [I say] when it now was to die, and to be changed into another source, it did tremble before this great love-fire; like as the love-fire in Adam and Eve did tremble in the awakening of the anger in them; whereby they were astonished, and crept behind the trees in the garden, and were afraid. For the dread and horror of God's anger was awakened in their essence, and they knew their bestial properties.

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