oldmanuscripts

Engraving from Speculum Sophicum Rhodostauroticum (“The Mirror of the Wisdom of the Rosy Cross”), 1618, an early manuscript on the esoteric order of Rosicrucianism by Theophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, a likely pseudonym of the alchemist, physician, and astronomer Daniel Mögling

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Faust’s Höllenzwang, known as The Book of Hell’s Charms, is a legendary book kept in a church in Zellerfeld. If you’re unlucky enough to be able to read it, it summons the Devil. If he is summoned, pray that you’re able to read it backwards or he may take your soul.

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An Aludel, also known as Hermetic Vase, the Philosopher’s Egg, and the Vase of the Philosophy, is a tool used in alchemy to turn to solids such as mercury, sulfur into gasses. The device is place in a furnace and the condensation is trapped at the top. Image: Alchemiae Gebri, 1545


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In the 16th and 17th century, women accused of witchcraft were often subjected to a trial by water. Their hands were bound and they were thrown into water. If they floated—a witch. If they sunk—innocent. While they often had rope tied around their waists to bring them back, there were many accidental drownings. From: Bericht von Erforschung, Herman Neuwaldt, 1611. Source: University of Glasgow Library

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The title plate from Michael Maier’s Arcana Arcanissima, 1614. Above are three figures from the Egyptian myth of the dismemberment of Osiris by his brother Typhon, and reassembling by his sister Isis. The Greek gods Hercules and Dionysus flank the sides and below are the Egyptian mythological creatures of Ibis, Apis, and Cynocephalus.

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Pages from The Complaint, and the Consolation ; Or, Night Thoughts by Edward Young, 1797. Source: The John Rylands Library

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The Italian manuscript Lusus naturae, Human and Natural Monstrosities, 18th Century, contained 54 watercolor illustrations of beasts and men with medical conditions or deformities, along with unworldly creatures. Source: John Rylands Library

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Images from a German alchemical manuscript, Alchemica, 15th Century. Source: The John Rylands Library

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Based on the work of Paracelsus, Robert Fludd devised an alchemical theory of creation wherein god separated the materials of the universe out of a chaotic prima materia, in the same way that an alchemist in a laboratory would do. These engravings from the History of the Two Worlds, 1617, illustrated his wild theories. Source: archive.org


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Title page of De Arte divina & sacra, sine Aenigmate tradita & del praxin conscripta by Anonymous, ca. 1700. At the top of the painting you can see the Greek God Hermes, representing the element Mercury, the peacock representing the end of the Nigredo stage, and the element of air, represented by the faces blowing. From Manly P. Hall’s collection of alchemical manuscripts Box 3, MS 14

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Drawings and watercolor paintings of sacred geometry from Cabala, Unknown Author, 1700. The manuscript contains 13 images, a holy number that represents the oneness of God for the Jewish people, with no accompanying text, and prominently features a Star of David or hexagram. From: Manly P. Hall’s Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts, Box 17 MS 71

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Tables showing occult correspondences of “seven rulers of the earth,” celestial spirits of the planets. The second chart shows how to recognize them in geomantic divination, and the correspondences to help with interpretation of the reading. From Theomagia, or, The Temple of Wisdome, John Heydon, 1663. Source: The Getty Alchemy Collection


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