Lux in Tenebris, 2-3



Marsilio Ficino on the Metaphysics and Psychology of Light

Michael J. B. Allen


pp. 50-1 luminous star as heavenly human

p. 50

"The shining Moses of Exodus ... became for Ficino the paradigm not only of the Platonic philosopher and magus, but also ... of the ascendant man as light itself. For what is a man indeed, writes Ficino in a letter to the human race, but an earthly star

p. 51

wrapped in a cloud, while a star is s heavenly human (homo quidem terrena stella est circumfusa nube, stella vero celestis homo) [quoted from Gentile 1990, p. 194]."

Gentile 1990 = Sebastiano Gentile (ed.) : Ficino's Letters. Florence : Olschki.

p. 52-3 varieties of transcendent luminance

p. 52

"Now the Magi, so Ficino [2000-2006] argues in his Platonic Theology 13.4.15, had proclaimed ... the soul's ... ability to surround its own body with light assembled from its circumamient rays, and to lift its body on high with the levity intrinsic to such rays, a feat that was attributed to Zoroaster himself [Allen 2006]. He had learned to do this by way of ascetically practicing a range of "emptyings" and notably the fifth emptying that came after twenty years of meditation in solitude in the wilderness. This "emptying" or vacatory disciple had enabled him both to intuit what the divinities presiding over the stars and planets were contemplating enacting on earth [Platonic Theology 13.2.35]; and ... to create an ... hieroglyphical, system that used astrological-astronomical signs as the basis of writing [Allen 1998, 35-36]. ... .

divine light, ... When it is poured into

the soul


... passes down to the soul's


{ananda maya-kos`a}

... which ... inheres in the aethereal vehicle as its life, containing as it does the the phantasy, sense and vital force [Platonic Theology 13.2.15-20]. Here in the idolum the light becomes sensitive but not yet corporeal.

p. 53

Thence it flows over into the idolum's

aethereal vehicle

{vijn~ana maya-kos`a}

where it becomes corporeal but not yet manifestly visible [Corrias 2012]. Finally, it crosses over into the elemental body, whether

the simpler airy body

{pran.a maya-kos`a : "Vital-Air sheath" ("UH--KSh")}

or the composite terraqueous body,

{anna maya-kos`a}

both of which are vehicles as it were of the aethereal body. In this elemental body

it becomes at last visible."

{as the perispirit}

Ficino 2000-2006 = Marsilio Ficino (transl by Michael J. B. Allen & James Hankins) : Platonic Theology. THE I TATTI RENAISSANCE LIBRARY. Cambridge (MA) : Harvard Univ Pr.

Allen 2006 = Michael J. B. Allen : "Marsilio Ficino, Levitation, and the Ascent to Capricorn". In :- Bruno Pinchard & Pierre Servet (edd.) : E'ducation, Transmission, Re'novation a` la Renaissance. Geneva : Dross. pp. 223-40.

Allen 1998 = Michael J. B. Allen : Synoptic Art : Marsilio Ficino on the History of Platonic Interpretation. ISTITUTO NAZIONALE DI STUDI SUL RINASCIMENTO : STUDI E TESTI XL. Florence : Olschki.

Corrias 2012 = Anna Corrias : "Imagination and Memory in Marsilio Ficino's Theory of the Vehicles of the Soul". INTERNAT J OF THE PLATONIC TRADITION 6:81-114.

"UH--KSh" = "Understanding Hinduism -- Kos`as – Sheaths". s

p. 53 transference into the aithereal body of the subtle tow

"Whenever a human soul ... is filled and possessed by the divine light ..., then that soul "pours its copious rays out into its aethereal vehicle and via its airy body ...,

this ordinary visible body is at last "set ablaze ...," transferred into, transformed into the aethereal body, "like tow wafted up through the flame." (Platonic Theology 13.4.16)

[fn. 15 " Is this ... from Lucretius' De rerum natura 6.879-880 : "There is also ... such ... that ... tow suspended over it, ... bursts into flame"?]

p. 54 praeternatural visions

"Dionysius [the Areopagite] ... talks about people to whom ... visions appear and who are then illuminated. He calls them prophets and teachers of things sacred."

p. 55 mind's flower {cf. Taoist book Secret of the Golden Flower}; rays : lesser & greater

"And ultimately, through our unity, our mind's head or flower (Phaedrus 247C8; 248A3), we will enter into union ... as lesser rays absorbed into ... greater rays."

p. 55 our unity above mind is in the sun within us

"absolute unity above mind, is "the centre of essences above essence," the soul ... united ... through its unity; and this must itself be intense light, and be a source of such light, be the sun blazing within ourselves with the splendor of the absolute good."

p. 55 ingathering into unity of the soul-powers

"In Oracle 112 ... Zoroaster exhorts us, "Let the soul's immortal profundity be ...," ... the illumined and luminous faculty ... impressed ... on our souls ... as the seal or mark of ... unity divine. Upon ... powers of the soul serially depend ... rays ... . In exhorting us to lift up "all eyes ... on high," Zoroaster is telling us that all the soul's powers, with their different levels of knowing, have to be first gathered together into mind and then brought into the illuminated unity above mind ... ."

p. 56 becoming perfected by reflection

"Platonic magic theory ... will ... be perfected at last ... . In the interim the magus will cross over from one level of forms to another, light leaping forth and reflecting back upon itself being the ultimate form-changing magic ... ."

p. 58 elevation to gladness-and-splendor

"So the intellect is filled to overflowing with divine life as living light, and the will is replete with gladness. ...The consequence is that, just as souls are elevated to the clarity and power of celestial minds, so are bodies elevated to the clarity and power of celestial bodies".

pp. 58-9 souls levitate, becoming like meteors

p. 58

"[Platonic Theology] 18.9.5 ... establishes levitation by way of concentrated and abundant light ... in the aethereal body ... that ... will levitate in ... light

p. 59

divine, and ... will become again like shooting stars ... ."

p. 59 Zarathustra as levitator

"Ficino sees Zoroaster, the most ancient of the ancient theologians, ... as himself ... the prime levitator, the worker of a sublime miracle in the pre-Abrahamic ... past. ... In particular we can watch Ficino interpreting the collection of oracles as a whole sub species levitatis, that is, in terms of the supreme religious ... experience of levitation by way of incandescent light."

pp. 60-1 divine radiance more brillant than the sun's is to be received by the soul

p. 60

"Ficino tells "the lttle soul" (animula), we must "take a light which is brighter than the sun's light ..." (Platonic Theology 9.3.3). For ... it is a thousand times clearer ... .

{"The light that the soul has followed, already brighter than many suns, becomes ever brighter as the wayfarer proceeds upward, bursting through the pyramidically shaped causal realm." (RRL, p. 102)} {"From here onward, the soul ... "... shines forth in its naked glory with the radiance of twelve suns."" (RRL, p. 103)}

p. 61

Then ... we must gather all the light into a point ... ."

{Eka-agrata 'one-pointedness' : one's "mind reflected itself" (Laghu-Yoga-Vasis.t.ha, p. 181).}

RRL = Mark Juergensmeyer : Radhasoami Reality : the Logic of a Modern Faith. Princeton Univ Pr, 1991.

Laghu-Yoga-Vasis.t.ha = K. Narayanswami Aiyer (transl.) : A Translation of Yoga-Vasishta -- Laghu (the Smaller). Madras, 1896.

p. 62 praeternatural enlightenment of Prometheus (Allen 1998, pp. 157-9; Allen 2011)

"the time comes at last when Prometheus "is carried back to that same place whence he first received the fire." This clearly implies ... a time when he can regain his status as the most perfect of all the pre-Olympian gods. For at that moment ..., Prometheus's whole being will be flooded with the light of celestial understanding which is properly his."

Allen 2011 = Michael J. B. Allen : "Prometheus among the Florentines : Marsilio Ficino on the Myth of the Triadic Power". RINASCIMENTO 51:27-44.

p. 63, fn. 41 subtle bodies of angeloi

"Ficino's debt to Orthodox theology ... is a topic ...; ... see G. Peers, Subtle Bodies : Representing Angels in Byzantium. (Berkeley : University of California Press, 2001)."



The Memory-Theatre of Giulio Camillo

Lina Bolzoni


pp. 66-7 famous & acclaimed, Camillo is mentioned in, e.g., Orlando Furioso

p. 66

"Giulio Camillo (ca. 1480-1544). As one of the most famous men of his time, he was by many celebrated as a divinity ... . He travelled far and wide through Italy and France in search of patrons who might be willing to finance ... the realization of a universal memory theatre in which one might store, and re-activate at will, all the knowledge contained in a universal mind."

"He was included by Ariosto in the select company of ... men of letters gathered together in the last canto of Orlando Furioso ... ."

p. 67, fn. 3

"(Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, 46,12,5-7) ... Camillo's eulogy was added by Ariosto in the edition of 1532".

p. 67 the 2 principles of Camillo's system

In order to ... create a system ..., Camillo applied a series of procedures based on two principles :

the first was the use of topical places, a traditional component of both rhetoric and logic;

the second was Ramon Lull's clavis universalis."

{"Paolo Rossi has shown that Renaissance encyclopaedists and pansophists viewed the art of Lull as the clavis universalis ... between cosmological hierarchy and the hierarchy of knowledge" ("HRGWLUS", p. 7).}

"HRGWLUS" = Natalia A. Osminskaya : "Historical Roots of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's Universal Science". National Research University, Basic Research Program Working Papers, 40/HUM/2014.

pp. 68-9 his book's original publication; manuscripts

p. 68

"The work that presents in detail the schema for his project, L'idea del theatro, first appeared in print in 1550, six years after his death. ...

p. 69

What is more, manuscripts containing alternative versions of this theatre have gradually surfaced, while other texts, both published and unpublished, shed new light on its secret structure."

p. 69 his scheme acknowledged as a divine secret

"Camillo presents his theatre as a divine secret that must not be divulged. ...

{In-as-much as this proposed theatre of his is replete with idols of pagan (non-Christian antient Hellenic; i.e., of Goeteia) deities, it would accordingly be held as sacred to pagan deities, and be accounted as those deities secret plan for supplanting Christianity with artifices of their own devising.}

Its loci and images were not arbitrary ... in nature, but divine and linked to

the secret, hidden structure of reality itself."

{that is to say, of a reality ruled entirely by pagan deities, leaving no trace of Christianity nor of any other monotheism}

p. 70 the limit of attainment by Mos^eh

[quoted from the translation of Camillo, in Wenneker 1970, p. 209] "Now the most secret theologians ... say that Moses

passed seven times through the seven Sephiroth without being able to pass Binah. {Sic! : read "pass into" instead of simply "pass" (which would naturally imply "pass beyond").} ...

{ERRATUM : Because Biynah is actually (counting upward from Malkuwth) the 8th Spiyrah, Giulio Camillo must have meant to write "without being able to arrive at" (instead "without being able to pass"). This would be in agreement Mos^eh's inability to entre (i.e., to reach) the Promised Land, which the seventh failed attempt (to reach an 8th site) must repraesent.}

To which number Christ also turned, when he gave ... the Lord's Prayer, inasmuch as this prayer, according to the Hebrew text ..., is made up of forty-nine words."

{This #49 could as readily be referred to the 49 Marut-deities, or else to the 49 Agni-deities, who are named in certain Puran.a-s.}

Wenneker 1970 = Lu. B. Wenneker : An Examination of L'idea del theatro of G. Camillo, including an annotated translation ... . PhD diss, Univ of Pittsburg.

{However, because 7 times Mos^eh failed to arrive at an 8th site, the number 56 (for the sought potential) is more pertinent than is the number 49 (for the attained failure). To aequate the 7 failures by Mos^eh with the "Lord's Prayer" would, of course, imply that to pray that prayer to tantamount to pray for failure; in agreement with the fact the mission of Iesous Khristos utterly failed when he was crucified in accordance with the divine command that he be punished on account of his praesumptuous praetentions -- this is the true message of the Eu-angelia.}

p. 71 magical powers are to be attained through the 3 arts of metamorphosis

"Camillo wished to demonstrate how the various philosophical and religious traditions could converge, endowed him with magical powers. His aim was to create an instrument that would not only help those who use the Theatre to understand and remember universal knowledge, but would act directly on words, on things, and on the purification of the soul.

As he tells us in an unpublished treatise titled De transmutatione, the secret objective of his theatre was to teach the three arts of metamorphosis :

alchemy, which acts on things;

{The intended purpose of alchemy is to produce the silvern cord in order to activate the astral body; to produce the golden cord in order to activate the mental body; etc. etc.}

eloquence, which acts on words; and

{The intended purpose of eloquence to produce praeternatural powers by activating magical spells.}

deification, which acts on the soul."

{Deification is to by achieved by employing activated magical spells while occupying the astral body, the mental body, the causal body, and the aitheric body.}

p. 72 the painted-illustrated-version manuscript of Idea del theatro

"Vasari [1984 ('The Life of the Pious Excellent Painters and Sculptors'), p. 517] notes that when he was in Rome ... Camillo entrusted this task to Francesco called "de'Salviati" : Camillo 'had made a books of his compositions ..., and he now caused this book to be adorned with pictures by Francesco ["Salvati"] who executed this task ... .'

This splendid manuscript ... of Idea del theatro, illustrated by 201 paintings by Titian in watercolour on vellum, ... is mentioned in the inventory of the Escorial library compiled by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador in Rome ... ."

Vasari 1984 = G. Vasari (ed. by R. Bettarini, commentary by P. Barocchi) : Le vite dei piu` eccellenti pittori e scultori ..., nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568. Florence : Sansoni.

pp. 73-5 painted by Titian : an illustration described by Camillo, intended to expound a passage (1:20) in the Saturnalia by Macrobius

p. 73

"with the celebrated painting by Titian held in the National Gallery of London, depicting three double heads of men and animals ... : the three human faces, in

p. 74

correspondence with the three animals, are surmounted by ... a motto ... (From the experience of the past, the present acts prudently in order not to compromise future action). ...

[quoted from Camillo] The three heads of the wolf, the lion and the dog ..., Macrobius writes, ... illustrate ... the past, the present and the future ... . That of the wolf signifies time past, for the reason that he has already devoured it. That of the lion is the present ..., in that present trials and tribulations strike such great terror in us, as would ... a lion if we encountered it. And the head of the dog indicates the future, as ... a fawning dog ... holds the promise of better things. ... We encounter this image ... at the third level of the theatre, where we find ... a cave {that mentioned in the Odusseia (CN13BO) as located in Ithake} in which nymphs sit weaving {cf. weaving by the Valkyrja-goddesses} purple {more accurately translated 'dark-red' ("POCN&CM")} cloth and bees make honey. {"Honey is ... “indicative of the pleasure which draws souls downward to generation.“" ("SO--RI")} The three heads are located on the column of Saturn, ... one of whose characteristics is an excellent memory. ... Thus we find them once again, still fixed to Saturn's column, on the fifth level of the theatre, where the image of Pasiphae: with the bull {Zeus in taurine guise} represents the human body ..., and finally, on

p. 75

the sixth and last level, where Prometheus symbolizes the divine side of man."

CN13BO = "by Porphyry, ca. 234-ca. 305" : On the Cave of the Nymphs in the Thirteenth Book of the Odyssey. Translated byThomas Taylor [1758-1835]".

"POCN&CM" = "Porphyry's On the Cave of the Nymphs and the cult of Mithras".

"SO--RI" = "The Secrets of the Odyssey (10): Return to Ithaca through the Cave of the Nymphs".

pp. 75-6 the flying crane

p. 75

"the flying crane cited in Camillo Camilli's work Imprese illustri [di diversi] (Illustrious devices, {Venice,] 1586) [II, no. 32] ... carries in its beak a caduceus (a herald's wand) and in its claws a quiver from which arrows fall ... . Alessandro Canobio, the author of this emblem, designed it ... to express the ideal of detachment from worldly concerns ... .

... "vigilance" {i.e., wakefulness} is traditionally represented by the crane, who holds a stone clenched in its claws

{"The crane keeps itself awake by standing on one foot and holding a stone in the other. If it nods off, the stone falls and awakens it." (SChF, p. 57)} {This tale origin is told by "Aristoteles of a crane holding a stone in its mouth" : which would concord with how "The crane was linked ... in Africa with the gift of speech, and widely with the ability to communicate with the gods." (WDS, s.v. "Crane").}

p. 76

so as not to fall asleep.

[quoted from Camilli 1586, vol. II, p. 22] "This mysterious figure ... derives from Giulio Camillo's Idea del teatro ... ."

SChF = Alva William Steffler : Symbols of the Christian Faith. William B. Eerdmans Publ Co, Grand Rapids (MI), 2002.

WDS = Jack Tresidder : The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols. Watkins Media Ltd, 2012.

{The crane's holding a pebble in its mouth could be related to the tale of Demosthenes' holding a pebble in its mouth in order to achieve eloquence in elocution. The same pebble-motif is also praesent in the myth concerning the cave of Cacus slain by (GM 132.n) Garanos (\geranos\ 'crane'), as to whose entrance-blocking boulder Hera-klees "heaved it aside as though it had been a pebble" (GM 132.m). This Cacus had been allied (at Volturna/Vulturn- in Campania -- cf. the vulture's extending its horns, according to Claudius Claudianus, in Flavius Eutropius 1.352 : L&Sh:LD, s.v. "1. Vultur I.") with (DCM, s.v. "Cacus", p. 82a) Marsuas the flautist from the river named for him in Karia. The signification (according to Hesukhios) 'quern' for \geranos\ would appear to relate to the crane's mating-dance, for the conjunction of both both millstones of a quern when rolled down a hill is mentioned in Philippine tribal mythology as the omen requiring marriage between the sole sibling-couple who survived in the universal deluge, much as the sibling-couple (Deukalion and Purrha) who survived the universal deluge were matched by Megaros, who (GM 38.e) "had been roused from his couch by the scream of cranes that summoned him to the peak of Mount Gerania, which remained above water."}


p. 76 Camillo's emblem repraesenting Ixion

"One figure that recurs both inthe images in Camillo's theatre and in many published collections of emblems, is that of Ixion, eternally bound to a revolving wheel as a punishment ... . ... In the collection of emblems by Camilli, Ixion on his wheel also appears, accompanied by the motto'If but highly' (Pur che altamente) ...; here he is ... used as his expression of his willingness to suffer for unrequited love ... directed towards a much more elevated object. ... According to Camilli, ...

One must know and remember the reason for the punishment, which was the ardent love that Ixion bore for Hera".

{Ixion assaulted "Hera and tried to rape her" (DCM, s.v. "Ixion", p. 240b).}

{It is plainly evident here that Giulio Camillo is advocating sexual violation of the divine bodies of immortal goddesses by mortal men. As for Hera, Zeus "ravished her" (GM 12.a), and thereby attained unto kingship over Heaven -- it can be therefore deduced that for a mortal man sexually to violate the body of a goddess, would win for himself deification with concomitant immortality : in like manner as with the case of Iksion, for (DCM, s.v. "Ixion", p. 240b) "Zeus also gave him a draught of magic liquor which made him immortal." [written morning of 14 July 2018]} {Most probably, Iksion (who "laid a pitfall ... into which the unsuspecting Eioneus fell and was burned" : GM 63.a) is the guardian-spirit of the "trap-door spider" (which catcheth prey in pitfall-traps). [written evening of 14 July 2018 (I seem to remembre I may have recognized this identity some years earlier, though)]} {In etymology, possibly \[W]Iksion\ = Pauran.ik \Vis`va-ks.ena\ ('every harbor') [also written \Vis.vak-sena\]; while \E[w]i[h]oneus\ = \Vis.n.u\. Iksion's wife Di[w]a (well-known as a major goddess in Minoan Linear "B" texts) = possibly Ranga-nayaki (also written \Ranga-naciar\) who is wife of Ranga-natha (apparently a title of Vis`vaks.ena) : W:"Vishvaksena". There is no Marriage Festival celebrated for the divine couple (called Namperumal and Thayar in Tamil) : W:"Ranganayaki". The temple (in Tirucirapalli) of this divine couple is (W:"Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam") the "largest functioning Hindu temple ... the largest temple compound in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world."}



W:"Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam",_Srirangam

pp. 78-9 images which, suradditional to Hieroglyphica, are appended in the 2 books by a later author

p. 78

"In the two books that Celio Agostino Curione first adds to Pierio Valeriano's Hieroglyphica [sive de sacris Aegyptiorum] in 1567 we find many images also present in the Theatro, like Europa kidnapped by the bull,

the pyramid representing the nature of things,

{prototype of the eyed pyramid on the reverse of the U.S. dollar-bill?}

the prime matter, the many-eyed Argus ... . We find also some other ... images, such as Mercury offering Diana a garment and the suspended figure of Juno (which is also visible in Correggio's ... fresco in Parma). ... .

p. 79

... the writer Celio Agostino Curione (1538-1567) ... was the son of one of the most famous among those Italian men of letters who had chosen to adhere tothe Protestant reform and had escaped to Switzerland. He ... published Bembo's works. ... the illustrations he derives from the Theatro ...

were to guide the reader back through the arcane paths of the universe in a bid to recapture man's divine origin." {This is, of course, in utter conflict against Protestanism's professed orthodoxy of religious ministry's preaching "human nature" to be utterly depraved.}

{These "arcane paths", which are entirely non-Christian constructions intended to supplant Christianity through means of Renaissance-style restoration of antient Hellenic neo-Platonic (along with Khaldaian, ostensibly Zarathustrian) religion, must have been the clandestine purpose of the so-called "Protestant" (protesting against Christianity in general, while aiming to restore Paganism) Reformation, if Swiss official "Protestantism" indeed approved Bembo's and Curione's utterly non-Christian, thoroughly Pagan-oriented writings.}

{This thoroughgoing "Protestant"-government-supported promotion of antient non-Christian Hellenic religion (for the ruling-class aristocrats only, never obliged for -- nor even overtly disclosed to -- the subordinated working-class commoners) in western Europe, is very closely parallel to the various (in Yemen, Iran, et al.) Yarsaniy government-supported promotions of antient non-Muslim pagan religions (for the ruling-class aristocrats only, never obliged for -- nor even overtly disclosed to -- the subordinated working-class commoners) in western Asia.}


Peter J. Forshaw (ed.) : Lux in Tenebris : the Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism. ARIES BOOK SERIES : TEXTS & STUDIES IN WESTERN ESOTERICISM, Vol. 23. Brill, Leiden, 2017.