Forth Article In The Series

Doctor Robert Fludd (1574-1637)
By Sharon M.W.

Robert Fludd makes a distinction between what are the mortal and immortal parts of man. As stated, the soul is related to God. Our animal part belongs to nature and returns to the dark regions as dust to dust. The spirit of life, vital spirit, or we would call it, the Vital Life Force, is the central part. "It is etherial, and is connected both with the true mind and the animal spirit. It is that life which is the cause of all the functional aspects of life." (Craven, 96)

"Know truly, that man is framed and consisteth of flesh and an inward soule, and that either of this two hath his bliss and pleasure a part, for as much as the highest happiness and goodness of the Soul is God himself With the mellifluous influence of his sweetness; but the cheefest solace and pleasure of the flesh is the World With his delightful concupiscences. Againe consider that the World is but an external object, When contrarywise nothing is more internal and present With man then God, being that in him are all things, and againe he is exterior to each thing, in so much as he comprehendeth and is above all things. If God then be all in all, above all, Without all, and that be unity, Why shouldest thou so Wickedly teare and rent that Unity and goodness of God in pieces. (Caluminiatours Vision (Fludd) cited Debus, 76)

In other words, the VLF is the midpoint between Cosmic Consciousness and Christ Consciousness. Cosmic Consciousness being the consciousness of the cosmos, the physical universe, matter and its inherent, underlying energies. Christ Consciousness being the perfected consciousness of the Divine Mind in man. Therefore, the Vital Life Force delivers to man in potentiality all manifestation, both physical and spiritual. It is the part of unity that we seek. The marriage of the bride and bridegroom, the goal of true alchemy.

The concept of the three in unity, whether we look at the three phases of consciousness, three points of the triangle, the threefold light, or Yod He Vau, is a recurring theme with Fludd and is reflected by other mystical writers as well. Philo said that there were three kinds of life: that which concerned God, that which was the creaturely life and the intermediate life which combined the two.

The soul of man, says Fludd, also has a threefold nature: corporal, spiritual and intellectual. Respectively the divisions function in spheres of (1) color and sensations, using perceptive attributes of consciousness, (2) spiritual correspondences and (3) reflection within the mind of the virtues.

The second section of Technica Historia is in seven parts which deal with Prophecy, Geomancy, Memory, the art of casting Nativities, Physiognomy, hand reading and the science of the Pyramid.

Again, Fludd brings in the concept of correspondence in the realm of divination. First, having a gift of prophecy does not necessarily make one a benevolent prophet, and the information received is not necessarily of a positive nature.

The distinction of the law of correspondence in terms of divination is an important one, is timeless, and can be readily related to current popular practices or claims. In other words, someone may claim to be a channel for some entity or spirit, or they may claim to call in the angels. Even if one were to accept that this were true, they would be quite gullible to assume that just because it is a disincarnate entity, it is, therefore, of a benevolent nature.

A prophet of pure heart may be filled with God's spirit and make known to others the will of God. However, Fludd admonishes, evil spirits also enter into men, but by the power of the devil, and try to foretell events. In other words, if a questionable entity wanted to win the confidence of a would-be prophet, then naturally they would provide a message or vision that proved out. Once this confidence is established, one can only imagine the rest. Fludd seems to believe, maintains Craven, that even before Christian times, each man had a good and bad spirit continually associating with him. Thus, a person's alignment and motive will have a bearing on messages received. Before a person enters into such a practice, they are advised by Fludd to remove sin and evil from their hearts in order to receive divine light in their soul. "The spirit of lying prophecy cannot stand in the presence of God, but by the light and power of Jehovah is silenced." (Craven, 104-105)

Otherwise, a person may find themselves speaking with gods they do not know. While some prophets may see clearly the Divine light immediately from God or through angels, there are also false gods who have no mission for God nor angels, but from Lucifer. Twelve laws are given to distinguish true from false prophets. (Craven, 104-105)

The doctrine of correspondence also indicates that on every level of the hierarchy from the mineral upwards there is a reflection of the next highest realm. In other words, minerals such as gold, or plants or herbs will contain within them certain attributes of an archetype that will imbue the person wearing or consuming the element certain corresponding effects which in turn prepares them to exercise a certain art.

A point to remember is that in the time of Fludd, the exercise of certain arts was confined to a relatively small group. The notables of this group were very religious people who were devoted to living a holy life. Their beliefs and motives may have acted as a safeguard against psychic confusion. Even so, Fludd went to a great extent to caution his readers to have a pure heart. It is curious to speculate what Fludd's advice would be in today's world where formulas and keys to magical practices are as accessible as a 900 number.

Fludd ends the second tractate with Theosophical and Cabalistic studies. He asks the reader to see in the Hebrew characters the fiery symbols of the sacred Trinity. He explains the ten sephiroths and interprets them as rays emanating from the Sun and acting as a garment of light with which Jehovah covered himself.

The tree of life illustrates his previous treatments of the hierarchal structures and different realms, and once again the Divine Light is an essential theme and the invisible Word of God. "The universal and mystical word, the light uncreated, is exhibited in universal nature by the watery Mem and the igneous Shin. So we are to venerate Jehovah as revealed in the light of the sun, moon and stars; in them, by them existing, and existing beyond all and in all. His power is seen both in macrocosm and microcosm, even in the fire of Gehenna." (Craven, 127)

Fludd ends this section acknowledging that his efforts may be met with mockery, but they were done in good conscience and patience. He does not seek riches but only desires to peacefully serve God. Fludd was correct in his anticipation that his work would be criticized and with great severity.

A French scientist and author named Marin Mersenne accused Fludd of being a magician, an atheist and heretic. Mersenne in a commentary on Genesis, objected to an alchemical interpretation of creation. While he saw the value in alchemy, he felt it should remain divorced from Theology and left entirely to medicine and science. Further, he did not like the idea of Christ being reduced to the angelic world and even worse, a mere angel. Fludd countered this as a misinterpretation on Mersenne's part by saying that a single principle manifests in different ways in different realms. Further, that the first light is reflected in the angelic world much like a mirror. Without the first light there would be no reflection, and without the reflection, nothing could be created. Again, the concept of second causes.

Mersenne was also offended by the concept of the Anima Mundi, a criticism we noted earlier. He was quite outraged that, "All souls, whether of men or of brutes, are none other than particles of this same Soul." (Mersennes Letters, Debus 17)


Craven, J.B. Doctor Robert Fludd, William Peace & Sons 1902

Debus, Allen Robert Fludd and His Philosophicall Key, Neale Watson Academic Publications, Inc. 1979

Godwin, Joscelyn Robert Fludd, Hermetic Philosopher and Surveyor of Two Worlds, Thames & Hudson Ltd. 1979

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