The Music of the Spheres: Marsilio Ficino and Renaissance Harmonia by Angela Voss In The Harmony Debates, exploring practical philosophies for a sustainable future, Sophia Centre Press, 247-267 Most people are familiar with the exquisite painting by Sandro Botticelli...
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.
Astrology's Hidden Light: Reflections on Marsilio Ficino's De Sole In Sphinx: Journal for Archetypal Psychology and the Arts, vol. 6, 1994, 114-122. In this paper Geoffrey discusses Marsilio Ficino’s approach to astrology in terms of the symbolic imagination,...
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.
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.
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,..
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.
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.
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.
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.