1 In her justified concern to emphasize the importance of magic in the Renaissance, Frances Yates misleadingly suggests that these fragments are representative of the treatise as a whole: 'The Asclepius purports to describe the religion of the Egyptians, and by what magic rites and processes the Egyptians drew down the powers of the cosmos into the statues of their gods' (1964, 3). Actually, the art of drawing down the souls of demons or angels into statues is mentioned only in chapters 23-24 and 37-38. The rest of the Asclepius contains little that might be associated with magic or idolatry.

2 All depends, of course, on one's definition of magic. As an example of how difficult it is to distinguish between prayer and spell, see for example the so-called voces magicae (strings of vowels and consonants) found in the Papyri Magicae Graecae, but also in the Hermetic Discourse on the Eight and the Ninth (Nag Hammadi VI,6), which describes a ceremonial process of mystical rebirth (Mahé 1997).

3 Latin orig.: Nock & Festugière 1946; engl. transl.: Copenhaver 1992.

4 Cf. the Greek Nag Hammadi parallel (infra).

5 Cf. Zosimus, The Final Quittance [hè teleutaia apoche] (see re-ed. in Festugière 1944 I, app. I): 'Do not roam about searching for God; but sit calmly at home, and God, who is everywhere, and not confined in the smallest place like the daemons, will come to you' (quoted according to Fowden 1986, 122). God 'lacks nothing' because he is everywhere and nowhere [Zosimus, loc.cit.], cf. for example Corpus Hermeticum XI, 20-22; but the daemons lack their freedom of movement, which is why they need to be kept happy by 'sacrifices, hymns, songs of praise'. Cf. also Iamblichus, Myst. V, 14: 'to offer material sacrifices to immaterial gods is inappropriate, but very suitable to all material gods' (quoted according to Fowden 1992, 143 nt 2). On the continuities between hermetism and Iamblichean theurgy, see infra.

6 Luck (1989, 187-188) infers an ascetic discipline of prolonged silence, the use of material things such as herbs and stones, as well as spoken or written words, the use of magic tools such as the "bull-roarer" and in some cases psychedelic drugs (192-194). He also mentions the enigmatic reference to the "understanding warmed by fire", which would enable the theurgist to 'understand all of theology in a flash'. I wonder about the similarities with the ritual practice described by the 13th-century Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia. The approach towards the 'influx of divine power' into the mystic, which permits him an understanding beyond verbal expression, seemsto have been accompanied by a sensation of warmth in the heart (see Scholem 1946, 136; Idel 1988, 39).

7 'Theurgic union is attained ony by the perfective operation of unspeakable acts correctly performed, acts which are beyond all understanding, and by the power of the unutterable symbols intelligible only to the gods' (Iamblichus, Myst. 2,11; cf. Luck 1989, 186).

8 See Shaw 1985, 3: 'It is a curious fact that Neoplatonism today is identified with Plotinus and an intellectual mysticism which denied formal religious worship, for in the history of the tradition Plotinus stands nearly alone in this attitude. In fact, Neoplatonism was far more influenced by the Syrian Iamblichus and his theurgical mysticism than by Plotinus'. And even Plotinus may not have been wholly averse towards theurgy. At least one well-known anecdote, related by Porphyry (Vita Plotini, ch. 10), suggests that he was perfectly willing to participate in a theurgic ritual (see discussion in Luck 1989, 207-208).

9 One good example would be Carlo Ginzburg's great study of the Witches' Sabbath (Ginzburg 1991).

10 With respect to Ficino's magic, this point has been emphasized in the important recent study of Tomlinson (1993, ch. 5), who makes good use of the relevant anthropological literature. I prefer the term "soul flight" over Tomlinson's "soul loss". The latter term might suggest that the experience is somehow negative (i.e., something is "lost"), whereas in fact it is usually evaluated positively.

11 This combination can frequently be encountered in reports of contemporary "channeling" mediums in the context of the New Age movement (Hanegraaff 1996, ch. 1).

12 Agrippa also refers to Augustine's reference to the Asclepius, but without mentioning that this authority in fact condemns the practice. Cf also Occ.Phil. III,58, which quote Hermes' opinion that it is a sacrilige to approach the one God in the manner appropriate to the terrestrial gods.

13 Illud autem scias nihil operari imagines eiusmodi, nisi vivificentur ita quod ipsis aut naturalis aut coelestis aut heroica aut animastica aut daemoniaca vel angelica virtus insit aut adsistat. At quis modo animam dabit imagini et vivificabit lapidem aut metallum aut lignum aut ceram atque "ex lapidibus suscitabit filios Abrahae"? Certe non penetrat hoc arcanum ad artificem durae cervicis nec dare poterit illa qui non habet: habet autem nemo, nisi qui iam cohibitis elementis, victa natura, superatis coelis, progressus angelos, ad ipsum Archetypum usque trascendit, cuius tunc cooperator effectus potest omnia, sicut de hoc dicemus in sequentibus (ed. Perrone Compagni, 373).

14 Notice, however, that VCC is not explicitly presented as a book on magic. It is the third and final volume of a treatise on the health of intellectuals, entitled De Vita.

15 Boer's translation has an attractive poetic charm but his accuracy has been criticized (Allen 1982). The edition by Kaske & Clark is vastly superior for scholarly purposes.

16 Transl. Armstrong 1984. About the establishment of this passage as the basis for De Vita Coelitus Comparanda, see the discussion by Kaske & Clark in their edition, p. 25ff; cf. Copenhaver 1986, 352-353.

17 Sed cur magum putamus amorem? Quia tota vis magicae in amore consistit. Magicae opus est, attractio rei unius ab alia.

18 See the chapter on "Magic and love" in the invaluable study by Alain Godet (1982), where we read that 'these actions [of magical fascination] take place, exactly as with love, through the belly; their center is not the divine 'anima rationalis' but the 'spiritus animalis', which is understood to be animal-like, resp. the 'anima sensitiva' ... And just like the lover expresses his feelings with a glowing gaze and passionate words, just so the sorcerer uses sweet words ..., and from his eyes flow the disastrousparticles or rays, with the help of which he knows how to subject the weaker mind to his power'. On neoplatonic concepts of "love" and "sympathy" in the context of Ficino's magic, cf. especially Beierwaltes 1978 and Müller-Jahncke 1979, 32ff.

19 Ipse [= spiritus] vero est corpus tenuissimum, quasi non corpus et quasi iam anima, item quasi non anima et quasi iam corpus.

20 Cf. Walker 1958, 51: 'It is clear that Ficino is strongly attracted by this kind of magic or theurgy, that he considers it valuable, and also it is clear that he is aware that it is dangerous'.

21 Unam profecto noxiamque Venus vobis indidit voluptatem, qua noceret quidem vobis, prodesset vero futuris, exhauriens paulatim vos per latentem quandam quasi fistulam, aliudque vestris liquoribus implens atque procreans, vos tandem quasi vetustum quoddam spolium cicadarum iam exhaustum humi relinquens, cicadae interim teneriori prospiciens.

22 ego vero beneficio patris atque fratris quinque promitto vobis, quinque praesto puras, perpetuas, salutares, quarum infima est in olfactu, superior in auditu, sublimior in aspectu, eminentior in imaginatione, in ratione excelsior atque divinior.

23 For terminological distinctions between various types of astrology, see Kaske & Clark 1989, 32-38. Elective astrology is a matter of 'timing one's activities to coincide with the predicted dominance of favorable stars' (o.c., 37).

24 Walker translates aries as goat, but "ram" is certainly more appropriate both literally and astrologically. Ficino mentions aries once (VCC 1.103), in a list of solarian animals. The cock (gallus) is mentioned far more often in the same capacity: VCC 1.103; 13.67; 14.12, 25, 26, 28; 15.74, 76; 18.63.

25 The raven was considered a solarian animal (Ficino VCC 14, 25). Diacceto'sdescription of how to use the sun for curing diseases literally repeats Ficino (VCC 18, 52-54): 'For curing diseases they fashioned an image of the Sun in gold, in his hour, when the first face of Leo was ascending with him: a king on a throne in a yellow garment and a raven and the form of the Sun'. Ficino, in turn, is dependent on the Picatrix (Kaske & Clark 1989, 448 nt 10).

26 Like Ficino, Diacceto refers to the planets as "gods" (Walker 1958, 32).

27 See the discussions in Tomlinson 1993 (partly with reference to Allen and Couliano), esp. 125-127.

28 See esp. Walker 1958, 105: 'His [i.e., Ficino's] magic is eminently private, individual and subjective, and hence is nearer to being a religion than a bogus science'. This seems to reflect the Frazerian view of "magic" as pseudo-science, but it remains unclear why the 'private, individual and subjective' nature of a ritual would make it into "religion" (in Durkheimian terms, it would rather be a reason to speak of magic). On p. 83, we read that 'The production of effects by applied psychology or magic differs from many religious practices only in that no divine cause is assumed' (with a note reference to William James' Varieties of Religious Experience). Here, magic seems to be used as a synonym for applied psychology rather than pseudo-science; and religion is characterized merely by doctrinal opinions about the causality involved.

29 The two fundamental discussions remain Kristeller 1938 & 1960.

30 Published by Brini 1955. On the attribution to Lazzarelli, see Kristeller 1938, 230-231. On the connections between Lazzarelli and Correggio, see Kristeller 1938, 1956a, 1960.

31 Mercurius is a common pseudonym for Hermes, and the Corpus Hermeticum translated by Ficino was known as the Pimander (referring to the first text of the collection, "Poimandres").

32 See esp. his second "preface" addressed to Correggio, published in Kristeller 1938, 244-245.

33 I.e., Giovanni Pontano. This second pupil is suppressed in the version of the Crater Hermetis published by Lefèvre d'Étaples in 1505, and translated into French by M. Gabriel du Preau in 1549. The redactor of the 1505 publication adapted the text in other respects as well, apparently concerned to minimize any too strict connection between Christianity and Hermetism (Moreschini 1985, 200). Moreschini's modern edition of the Crater is based upon the manuscript version (XIII AA 34) in the Biblioteca Nazionale of Naples, which therefore reflects Lazzarelli's original intention. Here I foreshadow the annotated English translation of Lazzarelli's Hermetic writings, currently in preparation (Bouthoorn & Hanegraaff forthcoming).

34 Ipse qui in Hermetis mente Pimander erat, in me Christus Iesus incolatum facere dignatus est.

35 Cf. Lazzarelli, IInd Preface (addressed to Correggio), in: Kristeller 1938, 244-245.

36 Notice that Lazzarelli speaks of 'naturam Dei', instead of 'divinam naturam' (Asclepius 37).

37 Cf. Asclepius 23: 'deorum genus omnium confessione manifestum est de mundissima parte naturae esse prognatum signaque eorum sola quasi capita pro omnibus esse' (Nock & Festugière [ 1946] comment that 'signa' means "astral forms", which are like heads without body, while the statues of gods (species deorum) fabricated by man depict the whole body).

38 Haec certe novitatum novitas nova, / et mirabilibusmaius id omnibus, / naturam quia homo iam reperit Dei / atque ipsam sapiens facit. // Nam sicut Dominus vel genitor Deus / caelestes generans procreat angelos, / qui rerum species,qui capita omnium / exemplaria primaque: // divas sic animas verus homo facit, / quod terrae vocitat turba vetus deos, / qui gaudent homini vivere proximos, / laetanturque hominis bono. NB:line four is difficult to translate (lit.: and knowing [this], makes it [i.e., the nature of God).

39 Genesis 25, 5-6.

40 Super eo enim verbo in Geneseos libro: "deditque Habraamus cuncta quae possederat Isaaco, filiis autem concubinarum largitus est munera", sic Cabalistae enarrant quia quae data sunt concubinarum filiis fuerunt Scemoth Sceltoma, id est nomina immunditiae, ars videlicet magica. Quae autem data sunt Isaaco fuerunt quaedam divina secreta, quae ... Cabalam vocant. Quod nomen nostro tempore apud quosdam cognitum esse coepit. Eius tamen operatio, si unum tantum excipio, omnes penitus latet. NB: It has sometimes been assumed that the 'one person' who knows the working of Kabbalah must have been the founder of Christian kabbalah Pico della Mirandola (Secret 1964, 74, who rejects the suggestion because the chronology does not fit, but does not propose an alternative). To me, it seems obvious thatLazzarelli must have in mind his master Giovanni da Correggio.

41 Iam vero materia ipsa concentus purior est admodum coeloque similior quam materia medicinae. Est enim aer et hic quidem calens sive tepens, spirans adhuc et quodammodo vivens, suis quibusdam articulis artubusque compositus sicut animal, nec solum motum ferens affectumque praeferens, verum etiam significatum afferens quasi mentem, ut animal quoddam aerium et rationale quodammodo dici possit.

42 On this whole subject, see the balanced discussion in Tomlinson 1993, ch. 4.

43 [Praeterea] cum homo concipit rem aliquam corpoream ymaginatione., illa res recipit actualem existentiam secundum speciem in spiritu ymaginario (Al-Kindi, De Radiis, cap. V; ed. d'Alverny & Hudry, p. 231). Translation following Tomlinson (1993, 122); cf. the less precise translation in Couliano 1987, 121.

44 Fabio Paolini, Hebdomades (1589): 'Some people assert that the feelings and conceptions of our souls can by the force of the imagination be rendered volatile and corporeal, so that, in accordance with their quality, they can be carried up to certain stars and planets ... and ... will come down again to us and will obey us in whatever we want' (quoted according to Walker 1958, 136). Hayim Vital (1543-1620), Concerning the Revolution of Souls: 'If a just and pious man applies himself to the law and prays with attention, from these utterances going forth from his mouth, angels and sacred spirits will be created, who will always last and persist' (quoted according to Coudert 1978, 72). In contemporary occultist magic, there exists the belief 'that one can create an entity on the astral plane, by envisioning it; and then, through ritual, sacrifice, prayer, and other actions, store astral force within the entity, for later magical use' (Merkur 1998).

45 It seems more than accidental that Lazzarelli introduces his mystery of soul-making as the 'newest novelty of novelties and a greater miracles than all others', whereas the Asclepius merely speaks of 'the wonderment of all wonders'. Lazzarelli'sChristian hermeticism is new and without precedent, and superior even to the greatest wonder of the ancients.

46 Idel 1988a, 68. The first to point this out was Gershom Scholem, in his Hebrew Elements of the Cabala and Its Symbolism (Jerusalem 1976). Unfortunately, the discussion of Lazzarelli found there is omitted in the english version (Scholem 1965).

47 I am not convinced by Idel's suggestions as to the relevance to Lazzarelli of the specifically magical part of the golem technique (see Idel 1988a, 68-69).

48 Genesis 12:5. On Jewish-esoteric interpretations of this enigmatic verse, see Scholem 1965, 170ff.

49 Quoted according to Idel 1988a, 70.

50 Quoted in Scholem 1965, 188. On such contrasts between the golem and the golden calf, interpreted as a magically animated statue, see Scholem's reference to the anonymous Book of Life (13th cent.) (Scholem 1965, 183).