The Work of Magic, the Work of Love

Plotinus Enniad 4.4

“How does magic work? It works by sympathy and by the innate harmony of things that are similar and the disharmony of things that are opposite. It also works through the richness of the many powers which contribute to a living thing.

Many things are attracted and enchanted without anyone casting a spell. The real magic is the Love and the Strife which is in the Totality. This is the first wizard and that is the first potion-master—it is by observing this that people come to use his potions and spells on each other.

Because loving is innate and whatever inspires love compels people towards one another, a force of magical erotic art has developed. Some people apply different magical potions to others which pull them together and possess an erotic force. They join different spirits together, as if they were interweaving plants rooted some distance apart.”

Τὰς δὲ γοητείας πῶς; ἢ τῇ συμπαθείᾳ, καὶ τῷ πεφυκέναι συμφωνίαν εἶναι ὁμοίων καὶ ἐναντίωσιν ἀνομοίων, καὶ τῇ τῶν δυνάμεων τῶν πολλῶν ποικιλίᾳ εἰς ἓν ζῷον συντελούντων. καὶ γὰρ μηδενὸς μηχανωμένου ἄλλου πολλὰ ἕλκεται καὶ γοητεύεται· καὶ ἡ ἀληθινὴ μαγεία ἡ ἐν τῷ παντὶ φιλία καὶ τὸ νεῖκος αὖ. καὶ ὁ γόης ὁ πρῶτος καὶ φαρμακεὺς οὗτός ἐστιν, ὃν κατανοήσαντες ἄνθρωποι ἐπ᾿ ἀλλήλοις χρῶνται αὐτοῦ τοῖς φαρμάκοις καὶ τοῖς γοητεύμασι. καὶ γάρ, ὅτι ἐρᾶν πεφύκασι καὶ τὰ ἐρᾶν ποιοῦντα ἕλκει πρὸς ἄλληλα, ἀλκὴ ἐρωτικῆς διὰ γοητείας τέχνης γεγένηται, προστιθέντων ἐπαφαῖς φύσεις ἄλλας ἄλλοις συναγωγούς καὶ ἐγκείμενον ἐχούσας ἔρωτα· καὶ συνάπτουσι δὲ ἄλλην ψυχὴν ἄλλῃ, ὥσπερ ἂν εἰ φυτὰ διεστηκότα ἐξαψάμενοι πρὸς ἄλληλα.

This made me think more than a little of Empedocles:

Empedocles, fr. 17.23-33

“Come, listen to my stories: for learning will certainly improve your thoughts.
As I said before when I declared the outline of my speeches,
I will speak a two-fold tale. Once, first, the one alone grew
Out of many and then in turn it grew apart into many from one.
Fire, and Water, and Earth and the invincible peak of Air,
Ruinous strife as well, separate from these, equal to every one,
And Love was among them, equal as well in length and breadth.
Keep Love central in your mind, don’t sit with eyes in a stupor.
She is known to be innate to mortal bodies,
She causes them to think of love and complete acts of peace,
Whether we call her Happiness or Aphrodite as a nickname….”

ἀλλ’ ἄγε μύθων κλῦθι· μάθη γάρ τοι φρένας αὔξει·
ὡς γὰρ καὶ πρὶν ἔειπα πιφαύσκων πείρατα μύθων,
δίπλ’ ἐρέω· τοτὲ μὲν γὰρ ἓν ηὐξήθη μόνον εἶναι
ἐκ πλεόνων, τοτὲ δ’ αὖ διέφυ πλέον’ ἐξ ἑνὸς εἶναι,
πῦρ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ γαῖα καὶ ἠέρος ἄπλετον ὕψος,
Νεῖκός τ’ οὐλόμενον δίχα τῶν, ἀτάλαντον ἁπάντηι,
καὶ Φιλότης ἐν τοῖσιν, ἴση μῆκός τε πλάτος τε·
τὴν σὺ νόωι δέρκευ, μηδ’ ὄμμασιν ἧσο τεθηπώς·
ἥτις καὶ θνητοῖσι νομίζεται ἔμφυτος ἄρθροις,
τῆι τε φίλα φρονέουσι καὶ ἄρθμια ἔργα τελοῦσι,
Γηθοσύνην καλέοντες ἐπώνυμον ἠδ’ ᾿Αφροδίτην·

Merlin in a medieval manuscript of a compilation of texts of astronomy by Alfonso the Wise (c. 1400)

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