In the previous post, we drew the guideline of the mnemonic related to magic: substantially, the world is composed of an infinite number of “sensible objects” which represents the shadows of the “real objects” (or archetypes). Recognizing the different shadows which belong to the same object, allows us to grasp the different aspects of the same object (the archetype) and, at the same time, “to introject” the object by reflecting it in the mind.
Thus, the archetypes are a sort of “main index” of the contents of the world. In turn, every entry creates different levels of “sub-indexes” until it achieves the apparent infinity of the created objects.
Through the guidance of symbols (figures, diagrams, allegorical images), the Magus begins to ascend a sort of “Ray of Creation”, from the bottom to the top, from the apparent plurality of things, to the unity that those things imply.
These concepts, that may not be so simple to be grasped by the logical mind, are examined in depth by Giordano Bruno in De Umbris Idearum, a magical text where the author explained in depth, the art of memory.
The work that Giordano Bruno revealed in De umbris Idearum begins with a talk about the nature of the “shadows” and the concept of “ideas” which are interpreted in the text in a neoplatonic way. Then, he lists the images-guide, which are the practical parts of the text.
Those symbolic figures represent:
- the thirty-six i trentasei decans of the zodiac, i dello zodiaco, namely, the magical “governors” of the so-called decades, described by the ancient Egyptians as demons;
- seven planetary images for each planet, with a total of forty-nine images;
- twenty-eight images of the lunar phases;
- an image of the Draco Lunae or “dragon”;
- thirty-six images linked to the duodenary division of the zodiac.
Through the astrological symbols (a fundamental science in the hermetic approach), the Magus impresses in the mind, the “higher shadows” – the nearest categories to the “pure ideas” that can inhabit only the “divine mind”. Those are still shadows, however, they are closest to the archetypes.
If the archetypes are the “indexes” of the library of the universe, then we can certainly hypothesize that, from the view of the renaissance Magus, the astrological symbols represent the immediate “sub-indexes”, namely, the intelligible categories which are closest to that which can only be foreseen, but never understood.
Through impressing such symbols in the mind, the hermetist lays in some way, the foundations for the further cataloguing of every other object that, in turn, will receive a collocation based on the ratio that links it with its main symbols.
In such a way, the Magus will be able to recognize, in every material and less material object, the connections and the Laws that express in the world, the presence of the Divine, and which shows that the apparent multiplicity (the duality) that we perceive in the world belong to an unique plan, expression, and substance of the Absolute. In such a plan, every apparent difference manifests itself, justifies its existence, then extinguishes. Thus, every Law concludes in the unique fact of the omnipresence of the divine consciousness.
This was only a brief and limited excursus about the art of memory, and my hope is that I have been able to summarize one of the most interesting experiences of seeking in Western culture and esoteric knowledge.