January 29th - March 12th 2021. A seven-week course: on Friday mornings, 11.00-12.30, with Angela Voss.
DOWNLOAD. This course investigates a rich and dynamic period of cultural history, exploring how the newly discovered esoteric philosophy of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism influenced 15th century practices of musical and astral magic.
The Book of the Sun represents the culmination of Ficino’s life and work. Published in 1494, five years before his death, it is a supreme example of the very synthesis of astrology, religion and philosophy for which Ficino strived all his life and illustrates his ability to convey the deepest mystical experience within a lucid, authoritative prose.
Twenty years ago, I was fortunate enough to mastermind a project of recreating the Orphic Hymns, ancient invocations to the seven planetary deities, to evoke the spirit of Marsilio Ficino's astral magic in 15th century Florence.
72 minute downloadable lecture. In this lecture, I focus on the possibility of a hidden meaning within the fresco The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, painted between 1495 and 1498. I want to ask whether he intended to hide a cosmic dimension behind or within this portrayal of a pivotal episode in Christian history, and if so, why.
Friday 18th & 25th September, Friday 2nd & 9th October.
Time: all sessions 11:00 am to 12:15 pm
Downloadable Podcast. In this session on Renaissance Music and Magic Angela Voss discusses her love of playing and studying the music of 15th-17th centuries, and talks about how the newly-discovered esoteric philosophy of hermeticism and Neoplatonism influenced 15th century practices of musical and astral magic.
I will begin on a personal note. Monteverdi’s music has been a catalyst in my life, awakening me to a ‘spiritual eros’, as the Platonists would describe the intimation of, and yearning for, an experience of union with an ineffable, and undefinable, ‘other’.I have also been an astrologer for nearly forty years, and a central focus of my academic life has been the challenge of addressing the revelatory function of the symbolic in a world which no longer values poetic metaphor as a primary mode of knowledge. Instead, such knowing is assumed to be ‘merely subjective’, incompatible with the sharp scalpel of the rational mind.
The importance of the work of Marsilio Ficino of Florence (1433-1499) in the awakening, transmission and dissemination of esoteric knowledge in the West cannot be overestimated. By ‘esoteric’, we mean a tradition of religious philosophy which embodies an initiatic mode of teaching – a promise of access to hidden meanings deep within the fabric of the world which will eventually lead the searcher to a condition of gnosis or unity with the source of all being.
In this chapter I will be focussing in on a specific phrase used by Ficino in his treatise De vita coelitus comparanda (“On harmonising your life with the heavens”, henceforth Dvcc), the third part of his medico/magical work, the Liber de vita of 1489. Here he addresses the improvisation or composition of suitable music for attracting propitious stellar influences.
Through his revival of Platonic thought, the Florentine philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) stands at the forefront of the great spiritual and cultural rebirth we call the Renaissance. Priest, theologian, astrologer, physician, musician and magician, his life was dedicated to the reconciliation of faith and reason in the quest for self-knowledge, and knowledge of God.
This paper will discuss the relevance of the 'four levels of interpretation' of medieval theology - literal, allegorical, moral, anagogical - to the teaching of astrology at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In an educational system increasingly bound to positivist assumptions a way is required to lead students to a deeper perception, and experience, of the symbolic.
In September 1462, aged almost twenty-nine, Marsilio Ficino wrote to Cosimo de’ Medici in gratitude for his generous patronage:
A few days ago I was celebrating [the hymn to the Cosmos] in an Orphic ritual, when my father brought me some letters, in which the wise Cosimo de’ Medici, most health-giving doctor of my life, said he would reflect on my studies, kindly provide for me, generously favour me, and hospitably and piously welcome me into his sacred dwelling. So it happened that not only your magnificence, but also the ancient prophecy of Orpheus evoked in me the most immense wonder. For he seemed to be directing to you the hymn that he consecrated to the Cosmos,..
In this paper I shall explore the connections between the physiological condition of melancholy and the possession of divinatory knowledge, via the development of the idea of philosophical ‘genius’ which arose in the work of the fifteenth-century Florentine platonist Marsilio Ficino.
The theme of this chapter arose through a strange coincidence and a dream, which I shall briefly relate. Some time ago a friend introduced me to the work of Michael Newton, and I spent a session with my MA students discussing the question of regression therapy and spiritual encounter in relation to Hermetic texts and the mundus imaginalis of Henry Corbin. Shortly after this, I received an email, quite out of the blue, from Michael Newton himself. He was looking for a university department where he could develop his client work into a doctoral thesis, and this initiated a flow of personal communication on the subject of life between lives (LBL) therapy.
It is encouraging to see the current academic interest in therapeutic properties and usages of psychedelics and psycho-active plants. Sociological methods of quantitative data analysis and scientific investigation into the physiology of altered states of consciousness (ASC) are challenging negative and prohibitive attitudes and contributing to a general re-evaluation of legal constraints regarding their use.
Scrying has been variously defined as “the faculty of seeing visions in a smooth surface or clear deep, or both”;“an occult method for obtaining oracular visions in water, glass or crystal;” and “the deliberate act of perceiving events that lie beyond the range of the physical senses by using the agents of the unconscious mind”
Prophecy (from the Greek prophemi meaning "to say beforehand, foretell") can be defined as the ability to foretell future events or conditions through an innate supernatural or paranormal ability to speak from a viewpoint of divine authority. Prophecy is therefore similar to mediumship or channeling in its purported ability to receive emanations from a divine being or higher intelligence, and convey these revelations to others.
‘It is as if we can study everything about religion, except what makes it fiercely religious’ observes Rice University religious studies professor Jeffrey Kripal. Well, what does make religion fiercely religious? Should this highly-charged, sensual, devotional, or emotive impulse indeed find a place in academic studies?
To write about music of any era as an operative magical power in the world poses an epistemological challenge, since it requires the use of discursive and descriptive language to convey intentions and experiences which, in their immediacy, are far removed from any attempts to theorise, categorise or observe from a distance.
I propose to approach the astrological viewpoint of Marsilio Ficino in the light og this "human music". Certainly, by a close examination of his own astrological make-up and an understanding of how the planetary energies worked in his own personal experience, Ficino was able to arrive at an understanding of astrology which can only be termed "psychological".
The Florentine philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) is chiefly remembered for being the first translator of the complete works of Plato into Latin, and thus standing at the forefront of the Humanist revival of classical learning known as the Renaissance. He founded the Platonic Academy in Florence, and dedicated his life to the reconciliation of Platonism with Christianity.
Marsilio Ficino of Florence (1433–99) is chiefly remembered for his role as the head of the Platonic Academy, a cultural centre where the foremost artists and humanists of the day gathered to promote a new Renaissance attitude towards philosophy, religion and the arts.
in his Disputatio contra iudicium astrologorum of 1477, Ficino appears to proclaim his firm opposition to astrological practices. It is as if, adopting an Aristotelian model of rational argument and writing in clear, exegetical prose, he wishes to sweep away all the deadwood of fatalism with a common-sense critique of rigid and arbitrary astrological systems.
Most people are familiar with the exquisite painting by Botticelli known as the Primavera. But perhaps it is not so widely known that the programme of its enigmatic symbolism was inspired by the neoplatonic notion of the harmony of creation, reflected in the correspondences of the mythological characters to both the eight planetary spheres and the eight tones of the musical octave.
How do we interpret the word ‘erotic’ in our contemporary society? It usually conveys a sexual allure, a physical attraction, a suggestion of passion and exoticisim. But do we connect it with spirituality, or a sense of divinity? Not usually. In our secular world the sacred is not accessible through sex. We have separated human sexuality from religious experience, yet surely everyone can testify to the tremendous emotional power of the “longing for the beloved” and probably most have sensed what feels like an
immeasurable distance between the ideal of love, the perfect beauty, and the person sitting next to them at breakfast.
In his work on Sufi mystics, Henry Corbin uses the term mundus imaginalis to designate the psychic space in which the “super-sensible”reality of dreams, theophanies and spiritual beings are manifested, in a visionary sense, to the individual. T
Divination as Divine Revelation: Some thoughts on Ibn’ Arabi’s understanding of imagination by Angela Voss
In the Platonic and Sufi traditions, self-knowledge is the key to spiritual knowledge, thus self knowledge leads to a mode of being in the world in which practical action stems from a profound understanding of its own underlying principles.
The Renaissance has been described as a time when the sleeping beauty of Platonic philosophy was awakened in the West after her thousand-year slumber; this rebirth of pagan wisdom, particularly in its magical aspects, posed a great intellectual challenge to the prevailing Christian orthodoxy.
Monteverdi pioneered a new form of dramatic singing which led to the development of opera and away from the 'old style' of polyphonic composition. How does his Mercury-Venus conjunction in Gemini (among other chart features) help us understand the inner landscape of his creative genius?
John Frawley is a practitioner of what he terms ‘traditional’ astrology. Although never precisely defined in his book, we understand this tradition to be that established more or less definitively by the Roman astronomer Claudius Ptolemy in his Tetrabiblos,
Anthony Rooley's book offers an insight into the potential of performance as a key to self-knowledge.
This is an original and quite extraordinary book, which focuses on the connection between music and magic in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
In many ways The Dawn of Astrology is a tour de force, a vast historical overview of the cosmological, philosophical and metaphysical threads which have woven into the colourful tapestry of astrology in all its forms
The theme of love was central to the Renaissance revival of Platonism led by Marsilio Ficino of Florence (1433–99).
In a letter to Paul of Middelburg, written when he was nearly sixty, Ficino looks back over the great achievements of the Florentine Renaissance: "This age, like a golden age, has brought back to light those liberal disciplines that were practically extinguished: grammar, poetry, oratory, painting, sculpture, architecture, music and the ancient singing of songs to the Orphic Lyre". He is of course referring to both his own and his friends' well-attested skill at improvising or composing musical settings for the Hymns of Orpheus, which he himself had translated from the Greek, and whose ritual use in the practice of natural magic lay at the very heart of Ficino's work with the Platonic Academy.
Human beings have two quite distinct ways of knowing, and always have had – except that during the last four hundred years or so, one particular way has become super-dominant, exercising an authority (especially in the West) which has come to determine our assumptions about how everything happens.
In 1477 the Florentine philosopher Marsilio Ficino wrote, but did not publish, a vehement attack on the practices of astrologers;
At the beginning of CCCU’s ‘Strategic Plan for Research and Enterprise 2018-2-23’, it is claimed that the mission of the University is inspired by its Church of England foundation, “to pursue excellence in higher education: transforming individuals, creating knowledge, enriching communities and building a sustainable future.”
In this contribution to Daniela Boccassini’s wonderful journal, I talk about my ‘moments of awakening’ through music, and also the author Fred Gettings’ similar experiences in the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte in Florence.
In this chapter I argue that a Platonic perspective would benefit a trajectory of paranormal research which seeks to gain some hold on the ontological status of observed phenomena, through establishing a framework for modes of perception beyond the rational.
Magic, Astrology and Music; the astrological music therapy of Marsilio Ficino and his role as a Renaissance Magus
This thesis is structured in four substantial chapters with sub-sections. The first two cover the background of Ficino's thought, the second two present his own attitudes towards magic, astrology and music.
In this chapter, I explore the phenomena of visual apparitions of daimons and spirits, and how in the neoplatonic traditions they have always been seen as lights.
Becoming an Angel: the mundis imaginalis of Henry Corbin and the Platonic path of self-knowledge – Angela Voss
The profoundly alchemical implications of Corbin’s imaginal hermeneutics, in a spiritual sense, are illustrated by his interest in the hieratic art of statue animation, which he describes as:
neither a simple dramaturgy of the unconscious or psychological allegory, nor a simple manipulation of materials practiced in the manner of a mere chemist or pharmacist (droguiste). It is an operation at once material and spiritual, the juncture between the two aspects remaining the hidden secret underneath the symbols of the “Philosophers” (as the alchemists designate themselves).
Alchemy for Corbin is essentially the inner, spiritual work of attaining union between the human soul and its heavenly counterpart