The Mysterium Magnum by Jacob Boehme

(1575-1624)

Jacob Boehme

Chapter 24

The Twenty-Fourth Chapter

Of the Cause and Rise of the Curse of the Earth, and of the Body of Sickness

1. GOD'S cursing of the ground for man's sins' sake, that it should bring forth thorns and thistles, and commanding man not, till after sin was committed, to eat of the herb of the field, and in the sweat of his face to eat his bread, does plainly and sufficiently show us that this had not been in Paradise. The ground should not have borne thorns and thistles and other evil herbs, which are poisonful; but in the curse all these properties became manifest; for as the body was, after the fall, so likewise its food: the half-serpentine man must now eat such food as his desire required [or coveted].

2. The curse is nothing else but the holy element's hiding of itself viz. the holy ens, which budded forth through the earth and bore fruit, and held the property of the four elements as 'twere captive in itself [did withdraw or closely conceal itself]. The heaven in the earth hid itself from the earth; the holy tincture, from the awakened vanity, viz. the heavenly part, which was from the heavenly ens [did keep itself secret] from the part in the curse, viz. in the ens of the dark world.

3. Thus the heavenly part was a mystery unto man, and so remained in the curse between time and eternity, half dead as to the heavenly part, yet anew embraced with the promise in the aim of the Covenant; and as to the earthly [part] strongly bound to the band of the stars and four elements, infected with the distemper of the Serpent and the devil; very hard tied with three strong chains, from which he cannot get free till the total dissolution of his earthly body; for the curse of the earth and the Serpent forced also into the earthly man, viz. into the limus of the earth.

4. For God's said, you are earth, and unto earth you shall return; for when the desire of the limus of the extract of the earth (viz. of the outward man) did enter again into the earth, and imagine after the earthly fruit, then the devil infected his desire by the property of the Serpent; and in each desire is the Fiat, which does impress and make the desire essential [into form]. Thus the earthly hunger became at this instant wholly earthly; therefore God said now unto him: you must turn again to earth, from whence you were taken; for the heavenly disappeared in the earthly, as the gold is disappeared in lead.

5. Thus an earthly body is now sown into the earth, and the earth receives it as its own property. But the ens which is from the eternity (which cannot be destroyed) lies in this earthly-sown body. Nothing is broken or dissolved but the gross beast, viz. the being [or substance] of time. As a fixed metal is not destroyed [or corrupted] in the earth, even so also the fixed part of the human body; and as the artist brings forth an excellent gold out of the earth, so likewise the human gold lies buried in the earth, and waits only for the artist to raise it up.

6. And as there is a various and manifold diversity of metalline property in the earth, so likewise of the ens of human property. Therefore all things shall be proved through the fire. What kind of property everyone has in this time assumed to himself and impressed on his body (viz. with the desire of the Fiat), that shall be tried in the fire, whether or no he has impressed a fixed steadfast property from the divine ens into himself or a hellish bestial one. All this shall be tried and proved in the fire of God; and as the ens is, in each body, such a fire also shall be enkindled in the same ens.

7. And as quicksilver does evaporate in the fire, even so shall all the wicked devilish serpentine works, which have been impressed out [brought forth] of the dark world and devil's desire.

8. Now if a man has in this lifetime impressed into himself [a] divine ens, by earnest faith and divine desire, (understand, introduced [this] by the human soul into the mortal part of the limus of the earth), then it lies shut up in the mortal part, yet as a glimmering incentive which longs and labours to burn and shine, or as the precious gold lies shut up in a gross drossy ore, or in lead, and waits only for the artist to come and release it, even so likewise shall be the delivery and releasement of man's body out of the earth.

9. Now also we do herein understand the body of sickness, and also the physician [or curer thereof]; for when the heavenly ens did disappear and was captivated with the earthly, as the gold in the lead, then the outward astrum awakened in the body. And now as the outward astrum does mutually destroy and ruin one another's ens, and change it into another ens, according to the greatest and most predominant power; so likewise the human mind (which is a magical astrum) is hereby governed and ruled, and the body also; and is thereby brought into strange desire and lust; whereby man does weaken, plague and perplex himself; and one introduced ens does martyr, weaken and annoy another, both through meat, and thoughts, or cumbring molesting care.

10. As we plainly see that man for the most part does rack and plague himself in the astral mind with the desire about that which cannot be his own, which stands not open in his astrum; and his astrum cannot apprehend, take, or receive it. About this the false introduced desire from the strange astrum does plague, perplex and spend itself day and night, whence the great covetousness does arise, that man does desire and introduce that into his astrum which is a hurtful poison and plague unto him; and yet with such [infoisted] strange matter cannot make any fixed steadfast [thing or being] in him which may subsist in eternity.

11. All whatsoever the own peculiar astrum (viz. the life's right astrum) does impress [or foist] into itself from [or of ] a strange astrum, is false, and an adverse will; whence enmity (viz. the great envy in nature) does arise, that the human mind wills to domineer over the strange ens; and if he cannot get it, yet that strange in-foisted, introduced ens burns in him in a spiritual manner, as a poisonful hungry fire of envy, that doth not freely beteem [Or vouchsafe] that to any, that it wills to possess itself.

12. And though it comes about that it may, through the Serpent's craft, draw it to itself or possess it, yet it has no fundamental seat [or true root] in its right life's astrum; for it is not capable of it. But the desire does advance and set it up as a king, and vaunt itself therewith as an absolute peculiar god, which has taken upon itself might over others, and sets itself upon strange authority and domination. Whence the pride of riches and self-assumed honours and domination does arise; and yet in its ground and original it has taken its rise from the devil (through the Serpent's ens), who also departed with the free will from his own peculiar ens into strange desire. Whereby he has introduced and awakened in himself (by reason of his strange in-foisted ens) the hellish torment, pain and sickness, so that his life's astrum is wholly departed from its mutual accord and harmony, and entered into an enchanting sorcering property: and so likewise it goes with the fallen man.

13. But now man has his cure, and the devil has not; for when the divine providence knew that he would not stand, he caused all manner of medicine [for hunger and health] to grow out of the earth, to resist and withstand the strange introduced property, both from the astrum and elements. And for the cure of the mind God has given his Holy Word; that the mind should immerse itself into the Word, and through the power of the Word continually cast away the introduced strange abomination.

14. And if it does not this, but continues in the strange introduced ens (which the devil continually introduces through the Serpent's image), then the strange ens becomes substantial, and surrounds the hidden ens of the heavenly world's being or substance; and even then that ens which is from and of the divine property remains disappeared in death and cannot attain the place of God. And hence comes the eternal death; as is to be seen in Lucifer, in whom also his divine ens is included or shut up into the Nothing, viz. into the greatest hiddenness [or privation], so that he, in his magical astrum in the creatural property, cannot reach or obtain the place of God.

15. Therefore it is very necessary for man wholly to sink and dive himself into the promised incorporated Word of God; and continually and fully reject and cast away the strange introduced ens, which the devil insinuates into his mind (whereby he desires strange things); and only take for his corporal necessity and livelihood that which he may obtain with good truth and real upright honesty which befalls him in his calling [business, affairs]; the same his right life's astrum does bring unto him, and he is capable of it; and it creates him no vexation, trouble, discontent and pain, if he does not let in the Serpent's covetousness, pride, envy and anger thereinto.

16. And it is the greatest folly that man does eagerly and tearingly strive and hale for strange things [heterogene, and hurtful to his soul], and bring that into his desire which does only discontent and disturb him, and at last cast him quite from God; which does shut up his heavenly ens in body and soul. What profit is that unto him, which he sees without him, and does exalt himself in an outside lustre [as in a specious shadow and resemblance of a looking-glass], and yet is not capable of the same? And if he does get to be capable of it he turns it to his temporal and eternal vexation and disquietness.

17. God has created man naked, and given him nothing in this world that he can or may call his own, saying this or that is mine. Indeed all is his, but it is common; for God created only one man: to that one only man he gave all whatsoever is in this world. Now all men are proceeded out of this only man, he is the stem or body, the other are all his branches, and do receive power from their stem, and bring forth fruit out of one root, and each twig enjoys the tree's ens, also they do all alike enjoy the four elements and the astrum [stars, planets] alike.

18. What folly [and madness] is it then, that the twig wills to be an own [selfish] tree; and grows up of itself as a strange plant, as if its fellow-twig did not stand also in its stem. It is the Serpent's introduced ens which seduces and divides the branches on the life's tree of man from the only life of man, bringing each twig into a peculiar sundry hunger, desiring to be a tree by itself in self-full power and domination. And therefore it desires the muchness [abundance] of this world for its own property, that it might greatly enlarge itself in the Serpent's ens, and be a great, thick, strong, fat, well-spread tree.

19. O you self-exalting vapourer, of what do you smell and savour? Even of the Serpent's wantonness, lust, concupiscence and poison, and the temporal and eternal death. And this you are in your own self-tree, and not a whit better, and though you were a king, yet that which is under your jurisdiction is only for your office, and not your own.

20. If you will enter again into the life-tree, and be a twig on the only life of man, then you must utterly forsake in your mind and desire all whatsoever that is in this world; and become as a little child; and look only upon that which your own life's astrum doth cast upon you in your estate, calling and place; and therein you must work, and not say, It is mine alone! Albeit you are a steward therein, yet you serve therein the root alone upon which you stand. You bear fruit to the root in your labour, which you must let stand free, and therewith be diligent and careful in preserving your calling and place, to serve your brother, and help to increase his sap, that he may grow up with you, and bear fruit.

21. In all self-hood and own-hood [Selfish interests, minehood, and thine-hood, meum and tuum] there is a false plant; one brother should be the sovereign cure and refreshment to another, and delight or content his mind with the insinuation of his love-will. There were enough and enough in this world, if covetousness drew it not into a selfish property, and would bear good will to his brother as to himself; and let his pride go, which is from the devil.

22. He runs, with great pride and belly-carking, only to the devil in the bottomless pit [Into the abyss]. He will be noble, and better than his brother. But whence will he have it? Did not God give but one life to man, and out of that one comes the life of all men?

23. But that he fancies to himself that he is more noble and genteel therein [than others] and vaunts therewith, that is an apostacy and fall from God and his Word. For in the Word of God was the only life of man, which the Word breathed into the created image; and this same one only life is from eternity, and never had any beginning. Wherefore does man then bring in a strange life thereinto, that does disquiet and disturb the only life? Now it must come to this pass: that he does either with his will and desire enter again into the only childlike life, and forsake all whatsoever he has introduced, or else remain for ever in disquietness in that, his in-foisted, essence or [life].

24. Now then, seeing I must forsake all whatsoever I have introduced into myself for property, and that the same is only my hurt [loss,damage], wherefore then do not I forsake this false desire, which brings death and hellish vexation and torment into me? Better it is to quash and destroy the desire, then afterward the substance with great anguish and sadness; as it is a very difficult and painful combat when a man must come to destroy the substance in him, by an earnest conversion into the childlike life.

25. But if the free will does in the beginning break and quell the desire and lust, so that the lust does not become substantial, then the cure is already produced; and afterward there need not be such an earnest purpose and endeavour, as he must have who is to depart from his contrived abominations, and forsake and destroy that substance [or matter] which he has forged and made in his mind. And yet it must come so about, or else he cannot attain the gates of the eternal only life which God gave to man; and if he reaches it not, then he also reaches not the gates of God [Or enters not into Paradise].

26. For the only eternal life must be introduced into the Nothing, without [or beyond] every creature and being; for it has its eternal original out of the Nothing, viz. out of the divine understanding, and it is in a disquiet source in the Something; unless that its Something be also bent and set with its desire into the Nothing; and then the Something is a joy to the life; that the life of the Nothing in itself may dwell and work in Something.

27. For God, in reference to the creature, is as a Nothing, but if the creature introduces its desire into him, viz. into the Nothing, then the creature is the Something of the Nothing, and the Nothing moves, wills and works in the Something of the creature, and the creature in the Nothing; and in this working no turba can arise, for it is its own love-play, a mutual loving [of] itself; and it stands at the end of nature with its life.

28. Thus we understand what inheritance Adam has left us, viz. the curse, and the vain desire; and we consider the outward man in its life as a monster of a true human life: unless that the precious noble mind be born again in the spirit of Christ, else the outward centre in the mind is a serpent.

29. And in this serpent the gross beast which is from the astrum and four elements does sit, and holds possession in the house of the mind. And according to its bestial property produces various desires, one desiring this, another that, and causes manifold figures in the minds of men. One makes in his mind a fixed substance, another a [shattered] ruinable [matter], that which he makes to-day, that he breaks down to-morrow, and has an inconstant beast in the mind, falls sometimes upon this, sometimes upon that [and often changes his mind].

30. But he that brings up a fixed beast, he holds it in him for his treasure, and vaunts therewith as if it were the virgin-child, and gathers up earthly treasures for his bestial pleasure, and yet before God he is only a fool with his beast, for he must leave it to the earth and the judgement of God.

31. But he in whom the virgin's child is born, he treads the beast in the mind under foot. He must indeed suffer it outwardly upon him, to creep and falter as a laden ass that must carry the earthly sack. But he has enmity with it, as God said to Adam, I will put enmity between you and the Serpent, and between the woman's seed and the seed of the Serpent, which shall bruise the Serpent's head, viz. the Serpent's beast. This monster of the beast in the earthly mind the true man does bruise the head or its desire and might.

32. Thus a godly man must have enmity in himself; and trample under foot the monster, viz. the Serpent's child, and continually kill it, for if this bestial Serpent's Seed were not [had not been] impressed and wholly incorporated in us, God would not have said, I will put enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent. The enmity is within man, and not without man with the creeping Serpent; this Serpent's seed in man is the devil's riding horse, his stronghold and fort, where he is able to dwell in man.

33. And therefore because the devil was a prince of this world, and still is so, in the anger, it is his will and aim to possess the image of God, which God created in his stead, and to rule it under his jurisdiction, and bring it into his kingdom; and this the curse of God's anger has brought along with it, which now works mightily unto destruction.

34. And on the contrary the Serpent-Bruiser works unto eternal life, and the human mind stands in the midst of these in the free will; to which the free will does engraft [Inoculate, or incorporate] itself; therein the mind works. It brings up a beast, and also an angel, or a beast and a devil; according to the outward world a beast, and according to the inward spiritual world an angel or a devil.

35. Here a grain of seed is sown, which stands in three Principles, and is fit or pregnant to bear a creature in and to all three; for the divine possibility from God's manifested Word in love and anger, viz. the Verbum Fiat lies therein. As the free will conceives itself so it begets (or generates) an ens; and in the ens the spirit arises which forms it a creature out of the ens, and the spirit signs itself in the body what it is: and so stands its figure.

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