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man on the planet and thought this baby-boomer version

source:newstime:2023-12-04 23:54:31

Magical rings were prepared on the same principle as were talismans. Says CORNELIUS AGRIPPA: "The manner of making these kinds of Magical Rings is this, viz.: When any Star ascends fortunately, with the fortunate aspect or conjunction of the Moon, we must take a stone and herb that is under that Star, and make a ring of the metal that is suitable to this Star, and in it fasten the stone, putting the herb or root under it-- not omitting the inscriptions of images, names, and characters, as also the proper suffumigations...."[1] SOLOMON'S ring was supposed to have been possessed of remarkable occult virtue. Says JOSEPHUS (_c_. A.D. 37-100): "God also enabled him [SOLOMON] to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this; he put a ring that had under the seal a root of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon, to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils: and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return unto him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed."[2]

man on the planet and thought this baby-boomer version

[1] H. C. AGRIPPA: _Occult Philosophy_, bk. i. chap. xlvii. (WHITEHEAD'S edition, pp. 141 and 142).

man on the planet and thought this baby-boomer version

[2] FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS: _The Antiquities of the Jews_ (trans. by W. WHISTON), bk. viii. chap. ii., SE 5 (45) to (47).

man on the planet and thought this baby-boomer version

Enough has been said already to indicate the general nature of talismanic magic. No one could maintain otherwise than that much of it is pure nonsense; but the subject should not, therefore, be dismissed as valueless, or lacking significance. It is past belief that amulets and talismans should have been believed in for so long unless they APPEARED to be productive of some of the desired results, though these may have been due to forces quite other than those which were supposed to be operative. Indeed, it may be said that there has been no widely held superstition which does not embody some truth, like some small specks of gold hidden in an uninviting mass of quartz. As the poet BLAKE put it: "Everything possible to be believ'd is an image of truth";[1] and the attempt may here be made to extract the gold of truth from the quartz of superstition concerning talismanic magic. For this purpose the various theories regarding the supposed efficacy of talismans must be examined.

[1] "Proverbs of Hell" (_The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_).

Two of these theories have already been noted, but the doctrine of effluvia admittedly applied only to a certain class of amulets, and, I think, need not be seriously considered. The "astral-spirit theory" (as it may be called), in its ancient form at any rate, is equally untenable to-day. The discoveries of new planets and new metals seem destructive of the belief that there can be any occult connection between planets, metals, and the days of the week, although the curious fact discovered by Mr OLD, to which I have referred (footnote, p. 63@@@), assuredly demands an explanation, and a certain validity may, perhaps, be allowed to astrological symbolism. As concerns the belief in the existence of what may be called (although the term is not a very happy one) "discarnate spirits," however, the matter, in view of the modern investigation of spiritistic and other abnormal psychical phenomena, stands in a different position. There can, indeed, be little doubt that very many of the phenomena observed at spiritistic seances come under the category of deliberate fraud, and an even larger number, perhaps, can be explained on the theory of the subconscious self. I think, however, that the evidence goes to show that there is a residuum of phenomena which can only be explained by the operation, in some way, of discarnate intelligences.[1] Psychical research may be said to have supplied the modern world with the evidence of the existence of discarnate personalities, and of their operation on the material plane, which the ancient world lacked. But so far as our present subject is concerned, all the evidence obtainable goes to show that the phenomena in question only take place in the presence of what is called "a medium"-- a person of peculiar nervous or psychical organisation. That this is the case, moreover, appears to be the general belief of spiritists on the subject. In the sense, then, in which "a talisman" connotes a material object of such a nature that by its aid the powers of discarnate intelligences may become operative on material things, we might apply the term "talisman" to the nervous system of a medium: but then that would be the only talisman. Consequently, even if one is prepared to admit the whole of modern spiritistic theory, nothing is thereby gained towards a belief in talismans, and no light is shed upon the subject.

[1] The publications of The Society for Psychical Research, and FREDERICK MYERS' monumental work on _Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death_, should be specially consulted. I have attempted a brief discussion of modern spiritualism and psychical research in my _Matter, Spirit, and the Cosmos_ (1910), chap. ii.

Another theory concerning talismans which commended itself to many of the old occult philosophers, PARACELSUS for instance, is what may be called the "occult force" theory. This theory assumes the existence of an occult mental force, a force capable of being exerted by the human will, apart from its usual mode of operation by means of the body. It was believed to be possible to concentrate this mental energy and infuse it into some suitable medium, with the production of a talisman, which was thus regarded as a sort of accumulator for mental energy. The theory seems a fantastic one to modern thought, though, in view of the many startling phenomena brought to light by psychical research, it is not advisable to be too positive regarding the limitations of the powers of the human mind. However, I think we shall find the element of truth in the otherwise absurd belief in talismans by means of what may be called, not altogether fancifully perhaps, a transcendental interpretation of this "occult force" theory. I suggest, that is, that when a believer makes a talisman, the transference of the occult energy is ideal, not actual; that the power, believed to reside in the talisman itself, is the power due to the reflex action of the believer's mind. The power of what transcendentalists call "the imagination" cannot be denied; for example, no one can deny that a man with a firm conviction that such a success will be achieved by him, or such a danger avoided, will be far more likely to gain his desire, other conditions being equal, than one of a pessimistic turn of mind. The mere conviction itself is a factor in success, or a factor in failure, according to its nature; and it seems likely that herein will be found a true explanation of the effects believed to be due to the power of the talisman.