Monday, April 4, 2016

Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Occult by Lewis Spence 1920

Thomas Aquinas by Lewis Spence 1920

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Thomas Aquinas who has been under the imputation of magic, was one of the profoundest scholars and subtlest logicians of his day. He was a youth of illustrious birth, and received the rudiments of his education under the monks of Monte Cassino, and in the University of Naples. But, not contented with these advantages, he secretly entered himself in the Society of Preaching Friars, or Dominicans, at seventeen years of age. His mother, being indignant that he should thus take the vow of poverty, and sequester himself from the world for life, employed every means in her power to induce him to alter his purpose, but all in vain. The friars, to deliver him from her importunities, removed him from Naples to Terracina, from Terracina to Anagnia, and from Anagnia to Rome. His mother followed him in all these changes of residence, but was not permitted so much as to see him. At length she induced his two elder brothers to seize him by force. They waylaid him on his road to Paris, whether he was sent to complete his course of instruction, and carried him off to the castle of Aquino, where he had been born. Here he was confined for two years, but he found a way to correspond with the superiors of his order, and finally escaped from a window in the castle. St. Thomas Aquinas (for he was canonised after his death) exceeded perhaps all men that ever existed in the severity and strictness of his metaphysical disquisitions, and thus acquired the name of the Seraphic Doctor.

It was to be expected that a man, who thus immersed himself in the depths of thought, should be an enemy to noise and interruption. He dashed to pieces an artificial man of brass that Albertus Magnus, who was his tutor, had spent thirty years in bringing to perfection, being impelled to this violence by its perpetual and unceasing garrulity. It is further said, that his study being placed in a great thoroughfare, where the grooms were all day long exercising their horses, he found it necessary to apply a remedy to this nuisance. He made by the laws of magic a small horse of brass, which he buried two or three feet under ground in the midst of this highway, and, having done so, no horse would any longer pass along the road. It was in vain that the grooms with whip and spur sought to conquer the animals' repugnance. They were finally compelled to give up the attempt, and to choose another place for their daily exercises.

It has further been sought to fix the imputation of magic upon Thomas Aquinas by referring to him certain books written on that science; but these are now acknowledged to be spurious.

Thomas Aquinas by Francis Barrett 1815

Albert the Great had in St. Thomas a pupil, to whom he would discover every thing he held most secret; perhaps he loved him because he found in him a great depth of piety, joined to an extreme maturity of intellect that merited all his instructions. His docility was as great as his birth, which he derived from the Counts of Aquinas, one of the first houses of Naples.

He died in March 1274, at fifty years of ago, just as he was summoned to the General Council at Lyons. He carefully avoided, in all his works of theology, the appearance of alchemy, persuaded of the dishonour it would bring to his name with those who hold the least tendency towards it, as the height of human folly.

There are some alchemical treatises ascribed to him, which he did not write; but there are others that cannot be doubted. That of the Nature of Minerals, is not worthy of so great a philosopher; nor the Comment on the Turba. But his Treasure of Alchemy, addressed to Brother Regnauld, his companion and friend, is genuine. He cites Albert in this book, as his master in all things, especially in Hermetic philosophy. He addressed other books to Regnauld, on some curious sciences, amongst which is a treatise on Judicial Astrology.

Saint Thomas wrote with neatness and precision. His leading character is secrecy; to preserve this important operation inviolable from unworthy men, none other but the children of light, who live as in the presence of God, being fit for the knowledge, or charge of so great a mystery.

He recommends the salvation of souls, and Christian duties of prayer and preaching, rather than an application to a science that can only procure some temporal advantages.

In his works of Theology, he says, "It is not lawful to sell as good gold, that 'which is made by Alchemy? And yet, when he speaks of philosophy, he testifies, "that the aim of the alchemist "is to change imperfect metal into that which is perfect," and, "that it is possible"

These are contradictions, unless he refers to the law of jurisprudence, in which there is no admission of the fact, that perfect gold can be made by art.

He was named the Angelical Doctor, for his religious works in Theological Casuistry, and the scholastic learning of these times.

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