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The Signature of All Things

By Jacob Boehme

Signatura Rerum- Chapter III


1. Courteous reader, observe the meaning right; we understand not by this description a beginning of the Deity, but we shew you the manifestation of the Deity through nature; for God is without beginning, and has an eternal beginning, and an eternal end, which he is himself, and the nature of the inward world is in the like essence from eternity.

2. We give you to understand this of the divine essence; without nature God is a mystery, 1 understand in the nothing, for without nature is the nothing, which is an eye of eternity, an abyssal eye, that stands or sees in the nothing, for it is the abyss; and this same eye is a will, understand a longing after manifestation, to find the nothing; but now there is nothing before the will, where it might find something, where it might have a place to rest, therefore it enters into itself, and finds itself through nature.

3. And we understand in the mystery without nature in the first will two forms; one to nature, to the manifestation of the wonder-eye; and the second form is produced out of the first, which is a desire after virtue and power, and is the first will's son, its desire of joyfulness. And understand us thus; the desire is egressive, and that which proceeds is the spirit of the will and desire, for it is a moving, and the desire makes a form 2 in the spirit, viz. formings of the infinity of the mystery.

4. And this form [or likeness] is the eternal wisdom of the Deity; and we understand herein the Trinity of the only Deity, whose ground we must not know, how the first will arises in the abyss from eternity, which is called Father; only we know the eternal birth, and distinguish the Deity, viz. what purely and merely concerns the Deity, or the good, from nature, and shew you the arcanum of the greatest secret mystery; namely, how the abyss, or the Deity, manifests itself with this eternal generation; for God is a spirit, and as subtle as a thought or will, and nature is his corporeal essence, understand the eternal nature; and the outward nature of this visible comprehensible 3 world is a manifestation or external birth of the inward spirit and essence in evil and good, that is, a representation, resemblance, and typical similitude of the dark fire and light world.

5. And as we have shewn you concerning the original of thunder and lightning with the tempestuous stroke; so likewise the inward nature of the inward world is, and stands in the generation: For the outward birth takes its original from the inward; the inward birth is unapprehensible to the creature, but the outward is apprehensible to it; yet each property apprehends its mother from whence it is brought forth.

6. As the soul comprehends the inward eternal nature, and the spirit of the soul, viz. the precious image according to God, comprehends 1 the birth of the angelical light-world, and the sidereal and elemental spirit comprehends the birth and property of the stars and elements; every eye sees into its mother from whence it was brought forth.

7. Therefore we will set down the generation of all essences out of all mothers and beginnings, how one generation proceeds from another, and how one is the cause of another, and this we will do from the eyesight of all the three mothers.

8. Let none account it impossible, seeing man is a likeness according to and in God, an image of the Being of all beings; and yet it stands not in the power of the creature, but in the might of God; for the sight and science of all essences consist alone in the clearest light.

9. We have made mention before how the external birth, viz. the essence of this world, consists in three things, viz. in Sulphur, Mercury, and Sal: Now we must set down and declare what it is, seeing that all things arise from one original, and then how its inward separation is effected, that out of one beginning many beginnings are produced; this is now to be understood, as is before mentioned, concerning the centre of all essences.

10. For Sulphur in the eternal beginning consists in two forms, and so also in the outward beginning of this world: viz. in the internal the first form, viz. the Sul consists 2 in the eternal liberty; it is the lubet of the eternal abyss, viz. a will or an original to the desire; and the other original is the desire, which is the first motion, viz. an hunger to the something; and in this same hunger is the eternal beginning to the pregnant nature, 3 and it is called Sulphur, viz. a conception of the liberty, viz. of the good, and a conception or comprehension of the desire, viz. of the austere attraction in the desire.

11. Sul in the internal is God, and Phur is the nature; for it makes a spirit of the nature of brimstone, as is to be seen externally in the property of brimstone; for its substance is a dry constringent matter, and is of a painful anxious fiery property, forcing itself forth; it attracts eagerly and hardly into itself, and parches up as a dry hunger, and its painful property does eagerly and anxiously force itself forth: The cause and original is this, because it stands in two beginnings, viz. in the property of the desire, which is an attraction; and in the property of the light or liberty, which is driving forth, or pressing to the manifestation through the desire of nature.

12. The desire, viz. the attraction makes hardness, and is the cause of the fire, and the lubet is a cause of the lustre or light of the fire: Sul is light, and Phur makes fire, yet it cannot be reduced alone in Sulphur to fire and light, but in Mercury, and at last in Sal, which is the real body, but not of the brimstone, but of the essence and water: And so understand, that in the first desire, which arises in the lubet of the liberty, all things are, and are made substantial and essential, from whence the creation of this world is proceeded; and we find herein the property of the earth, so likewise of all metals and stones, and also of the astrum, 1 and the original of the elements, all out of one only mother, which is the lubet and the desire, from whence all things proceeded and still proceed.

13. For Mercury is generated in Sulphur: It is the severing, viz. of light and darkness from one another, the breaking wheel, and cause of the various division or multiplicity: it separates the dark essentiality from the essentiality of the light, viz. the metals from the gross, astringent, dark, stony, and earthly property; for the property of the desire gives and makes dark essence, and the property of the free lubet makes light essence, viz. metals, and all of the same kind and resemblance.

14. Mercury has in the beginning of his birth three properties, viz. the trembling in the austereness, and anguish from the hard impressing of the astringent hard desire, and the expulsion of the multiplicity, viz. the essential life; for the desire attracts very hard to itself, and the attraction makes the motion, or sting of trembling [or horrible compunction], and that which is impressed is the anguish; but if the liberty be therein comprehended, it refuses it, and there arises the original of enmity, and the severing, that one form separates from another, and a twofold will arises.

15. For the lubet of the liberty does again set its desire into the stillness, viz. into the nothing, and forces again out of the darkness of the desire's austereness into itself, viz. into the liberty, without the wrath of the enmity; and so it has only sharpened itself in the austere impression in Mercury, that it is a moving feeling life, and that its liberty is sharpened so that it becomes a lustre, which is, and causes a kingdom of joy in the liberty; and so understand us, that the spirit's dominion, viz. the spirit and the essence 1 do thus separate.

16. The essence remains in the impression, and becomes material; that is not God, but gold, or any other metal, according to the property of the first conception in the Sulphur, or stone, or earth, out of the desire's own peculiar property, all according to the first sude 2 or seething in Mercury; for no metal can be generated without salniter, which is the flagrat in Mercury; which also becomes material in the astringent impression, and divides itself in the separation, one part into brimstone, another into salniter, and a third into a salt sharpness; whereas yet there cannot be any corporeal essence in all these, but only the spirit of the essence; the essence proceeds wholly out of the death through mortification, which is effected in the great anguish of the impressure, where there is a dying source, which is the mercurial life, where the salnitral flagrat arises as an opening, displaying flash: For the liberty, viz. the property of the eternal lubet, does there separate itself, 3 and yet the attracted essence out of the lubet of the liberty continues all along in the comprehension of the attraction in the astringent austere dark anguish: Now if the wrath enters so vehemently into itself as to raise up the salnitral flagrat, then it apprehends the essentiality of the free lubet in itself, from whence arises the flagrat; for the wrath there apprehends the meekness, which is even as if water were poured into fire, which gives a flagrat; and then the wrath of the great anguish dies, and with the flagrat the joy ascends, and the flagrat is out of mercury, or out of the anguish of death, and becomes also material, but by reason of the liberty it changes itself into white, which is salniter: Now if the fire, viz. the horrible anxious sharpness, does again come into it, then the salniter is dismayed, and gives a repulse; 4 for the first property [which was] before the death is again enkindled with the brimstone spirit; a sufficient resemblance of which you have in gunpowder, which is the matter of these properties.

17. Further, we are to know the dying with the enkindling of the fire, all which is done in the flagrat; for it is a flagrat to death, and to life; one part immerses itself into the property of death, viz. into the wrath of the austere desire; and the other part, which is from the lubet or love-essentiality, arises up in the kingdom of joy: But seeing there happens also a mortifying in the free materia (though it is no mortifying, but a redeeming from the wrath, for the materia of the liberty will be free from the wrath), thereupon this materia falls 1 downwards, which is water; and it is not of the property of the wrath, but the wrath holds it captive in itself; but they are separated from one another in the essence and source; the wrath's essence gives earth and stones, and the essence of the liberty is water, which arises with the enkindling of the fire through the mortification out of the meekness of the light.

18. But seeing this water does also separate itself in the salnitral flagrat, and before the salniter was all mutually enwrapt together, thereupon it obtains different properties in the separation, and there is a diversity of water; and this various diversity of properties gives in each property also a bodily or corporeal essence, all according to the first separation of mercury in sulphur, for in the mortification in the salnitral flagrat two things are effected and come forth, viz. a life, and a body of the life; understand an essential, and a lifeless senseless body, whose materia is mortified in the flagrat: Thus there is a diversity of water, and a diversity of the life, and a diversity of the body, 2 or of the materia; as each body is, so is also its essential spirit.

19. Now we must consider this from the first original; as (1) from the lubet of the liberty; and (2) from the desire to nature, or the manifestation of the abyss.

20. First, in the salnitral flagrat there is produced through the anxious mortification a sulphureous water from the anguish, which affords a brimstone, as we plainly see, and all whatever is of the like sort and resemblance.

21. Secondly, there is generated from the astringent, austere, attractive property, which draws in to itself, a salt water; its materia is salt; if it be again impressed through the fire or heat, then it turns into salt; and all whatever is sharp and attractive, be it either in herbs or trees, proceeds from thence; for there is as much diversity of brimstone and salt, as there is variety of taste and fire to be found in all creatures, herbs, and trees; also all whatever lives and grows has brimstone and salt; for the saltish property attracts, and preserves the body; 1 and the brimstone has in it the oil or light, wherein the free lubet to manifestation consists, whence the growth arises.

22. Thirdly, there is brought forth through the salnitral flagrat out of the property of the bitter compunctive attraction, in the first impression in the spirit, an earthly property of water; its materia is earth; for the same arises from the dark essentiality, where the darkness impresses itself in the first desire, wherein the darkness arises, as is before mentioned: Thus it begets out of its property in the impression a mist, smoaky steam, or vapour, which the flagrat in the salniter apprehends, and its essence is dismayed or dies, and falls downwards; this is the materia of the earth, though the earth is not of one only sort, but has in it all whatever became corporeal in the flagrat, all which springs through the death of the earth, according as it was wrapt and driven together in the creation into a lump, as we plainly see.

23. Further, we are to consider of the highest arcanum, viz. of the heavenly essentiality, and then of the precious stones and metals, from whence they all take their rise and original; seeing that all things come out of one mother, which is the lubet and desire of eternity to its own manifestation.

24. Now concerning the incorruptible essence of corporality, the same arises also in the first desire to nature, yet in the impression of the free lubet, and goes all along through all the forms even into the highest sharpness, where it retires again into itself, as a life out of the fire: The eternal fire is magical, and a spirit, and dies not; the liberty is its enkindler, but the eternal nature is its sharpness; this same essence loses the wrath's property in the light; it is in the same fire as a dying, yet there is no dying, but an entrance into another source, viz. out of a painful desire into a love-desire; it yields also spirit and essence from the fire-spirit, and the essence of meekness from the light.

25. For that which dies to the fire, or sinks through death, that is divine essence; and it is effected likewise through the salnitral flagrat of the divine joyfulness, where the property trembles in the joy of meekness, and immerses itself through the death of the fire, which is called God's anger, and quenches it, so that God dwells in a meek light; and the first property to the enkindling of the light is fire, and wrath of the eternal nature, and makes 1 the dark world.

26. The properties of the first mother in the lubet and desire do also divide themselves in the salnitral flagrat of joyfulness into distinct parts, as is to be seen in this outward world; it yields also water, but of a very sovereign essence, and it resembles only a spirit of a pleasant lovely desire: This is the water of which Christ told us that he would "give us to drink," and "whosoever should drink the same, it should spring up in him to a fountain of eternal life."

27. It retains also in the flagrat of the disclosure the fiery property which is called heaven, in which the wonders of the divine kingdom of joy are known and manifest; and in the watery property [it retains] the pleasant spring, or paradise; for in the fiery [property] the eternal element arises, and it is the real essence of the divine corporality, wherein consists all whatever may be known in God, as is sufficiently and in order cleared at large in our other writings of the Divine revelation, treating of the Divine wisdom, and of the Divine eternal abyssal birth: And now we will turn us to the essence of the outward world, viz. to the manifestation of the eternal, viz. to metals, herbs, and trees; so also to men and beasts.

28. We see that the metals have another manner of body than the living creatures, or are otherwise than the earth and stones are: Now reason asks, How is the original of everything, seeing that in the beginning all arose out of one mother, and yet the eternity has no temporal beginning? Here we must again consider the mother of the first pregnatrix, where, and how one essence separates itself from another, viz. the inchoative from the eternal, time from eternity, and yet they stand mutually in each other, but are severed into two principles, viz. into the kingdom of God, and of this world; and yet all is God's: But seeing Christ calls the devil "a prince of this world," and we also are able to declare how far, and in what he is a prince, and that this world is not his own, 2 but he is the poorest creature in this world, and also not at all in this world; now therefore look upon the first ground, upon the mother which has thus generated all creatures.

29. So also as to the earth, stones, and all metals, the earth's property, consists in a spiritual Sulphur, Mercury, and Sal, and all whatever has had beginning is arisen in and out of her impression, and inchoatively thereupon it came forth with the first form of the mother, viz. with the astringent attraction, through the fiat into a creatural being, and affords a diversity of essence and spirit, according to the first property of the separation.

30. As first, the high spirits, which were created out of the free lubet in the desire, in the fire's property, viz. out of the centre of all essences, had in them the properties of both the eternal worlds; but those which after their corporising [or being made creaturely] remained with their desire in the property of the free lubet, and introduced their will out of the fire into the light, they became angels; and the other, which introduced their desire again into the centre (viz. into the austere properties), became devils, viz. outcasts from the free lubet out of the light, as is mentioned in other writings.

31. Therefore the devils have neither the kingdom of God, nor the kingdom of this world in possession; for in the beginning of the creation this world was created out of both the inward properties, whereupon the devil has now only the wrath's part in possession, the other profits him nothing; and thus he is in the world, and also not in the world, for he has but one part thereof in possession, from the other he is cast out.

32. After the creation of the highest spirits, God created this visible world with the stars and elements as an external birth out of the mother of all essences; all which proceeded out of the eternal beginning, and took a temporal beginning: For here we are to consider, that the eternal pregnatrix moved itself, and enkindled its own form [or similitude], where then the one became corporeal in the other; but afterwards God created the earth, which we are thus to consider of.

33. The first desire to nature impresses itself, and introduces itself with the impression into three forms, viz. into Sulphur, Mercury, and Sal, and in the impression all become rising and moving, which is not in the still nothing, and so forces itself into the highest anguish, even to 1 the salnitral flagrat, where then is the original of the fire: Thus the source whirls in itself, as a boiling of water upon the fire: for the austere desire is attractive, and the fiery is expulsive, which is a sulphur; and the astringent attraction is a wrathful sting [or compunction], viz. a contrition; and yet it is held by the austereness, that it cannot move away, whereupon it is painful, and causes pain, as if it were seething, which yet is only spirit without essence,

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which comes to pass in Mercury, and is Mercury's own form.

34. And there is the separation of two wills, viz. one remains, and is the very anxious essence, seeing it originally arises from the desire; the other, which arises out of the lubet of the liberty, retires back again into itself into the liberty, and yet there is no parting or dividing from one another, but thus it goes one with another all along through the enkindling of the fire through the salnitral flagrat, where with the enkindling of the fire the death is effected in the wrath of the fire, where the source dies, and yet there is no death, but a likeness of death; and yet the real, eternal, and temporal death is in that manner, even where the liberty apprehends itself in itself, and the death or flagrat falls down into the liberty as impotent, and freely resigns itself; and the spirit, viz. the source (understand the very sharp, fiery, anxious source), becomes material, and retains only an essential working, like to an impotent desire; and in the enkindling of the fire in the salnitral flagrat each property separates itself in itself, and the whole materia is particularised, viz. to metals, stones, and earth.

35. The highest metal, 1 as gold, arises from the liberty, which is comprised all along in the flagrat in the astringent impression; and it is not free from the materia of the rest, for all is comprised or wrapt up together; but seeing the liberty with the Sul, or light's property, is comprised or comprehended therein also, thereupon Sul is expulsive to the manifestation of itself, as it is the property of the liberty so to be: Hence it comes that metals grow, and not the gross hard stones, which are too hard comprised in the impression out of the wrathful essentiality, and have too little Sul in them.

36. But concerning the precious stones, with their radiant lustre and great virtue, the same have their original in the flash of the fire, where life and death separate; as when one part by reason of the dark essentiality descends, and the other by reason of the liberty ascends, and yet all is brought into essence in the flagrat; so that the same flash or glance becomes also material in the flagrat; and therefore they are hard, and of a blinking glance, like an eye; for so also is the original of the eye or sight in the womb, 2 when the life enkindles; all according to the right of eternity.

37. And therefore they are of so great power, efficacy, and virtue, in that they are so nigh to the Deity, and bear the incorporated names of the divine power in them; as also gold is nigh to the divine essentiality, or heavenly corporality: If man could open [or disclose] the dead body, and reduce it to a flying 1 moving spirit, which only can be effected through the divine motion, then it should be seen what it could be, which no reason believes or understands without divine sight [or vision].

38. Further, we are also to consider of the other metals and minerals, which in like manner do thus take their original; but in the salnitral flagrat each property is separated; as we see that the property of the fire and light is different, and all from the first impression; where before the impression the lubet and desire of the liberty stand mutually in each other, as a chaos, a complexion of great wonders, where all colours, powers, and virtues are contained in this only Chaos, or wonder-eye; which Chaos is God himself, viz. the Being of all beings, who thus manifests himself in particular beings with the eyes of eternity; each materia is an essence according to the spirit from whence it was generated; and if it be enkindled in the fire, it yields likewise such a light as the spirit is in the essence.

39. And thus also we are to consider of the metals; what kind of spirit each of them has, such a glance and lustre it yields, and also such a body 2 it has.

40. As the mind acts and moves the thoughts and senses from the highest to the lowest, and comprehends and commands by the thoughts from the highest to the lowest; so the eternal mind has manifested itself from the highest majesty, even to the lowest [meanest, or outermost thing], viz. to the greatest darkness; and this world, with the sun, stars, and elements, and with every creaturely being, is nothing else but a manifestation of the eternity of the eternal will and mind; and as it was in the beginning, so it still stands in its seething and vegetation, 3 and so it still puts forward to light and darkness, to evil and good. And all things consist in these first three forms, viz. in Sulphur, Mercury, and Sal, as one degree in order after another; for so likewise are the quires of the spirits, as also of the stars, trees, herbs, and of all kinds whatever which have been, and are; so also are the inward heavenly quires with their distinction.

22:1 Mysterium.

22:2 Similitude, likeness, or signature.

22:3 Palpable.

23:1 Or apprehends, or conceives.

23:2 Or stands.

23:3 Or to the nature of the pregnatrix.

24:1 Stars.

25:1 Or substance.

25:2 Boiling.

25:3 Or separates itself in itself.

25:4 Report, clash.

26:1 Sinks.

26:2 Corpus.

27:1 Corpus.

28:1 Gives, or affords.

28:2 Or propriety.

29:1 Or until.

30:1 Or the highest or chiefest of the metals.

30:2 Body.

31:1 Liquid.

31:2 Corpus.

31:3 Boiling, growing, and waxing.



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