Arcana divina

From Theatrum Paracelsicum
Zweites Silentium Dei
Geheimen Himmelsschlüssels zweiter Teil/
Dei Magia oder Magia Divina

I. Basic information

Printing History, Manuscripts. Several manuscripts. – The writer of all four manuscripts of version B (see below) was Johann Salomon Haussen (1729–1802) of Glücksbrunn, who probably operated a mail-order supply of alchemical and magical texts, which would explain the extreme length of some of his manuscripts texts, filled with pages of empty words (see also De septem stellis (§ ‎5.9), where Haussen’s version was blown up from 1.500 to 30.000 words without addition of any notable content). First edited by Cölestin Fuchs in 1913.

Editions. Not edited by Huser or Sudhoff.

Relationship between different versions. There are two known versions: version A, not attributed to Paracelsus; version B, an enlarged version attributed to Paracelsus. The main title of this second version is “Das zweyte Silentium Dei;” section titles include “Arcana divina” and “Universal-Anleitung,” while the whole version is styled as “Geheimen Himmelsschlüssels zweiter Teil” (the Second Part of the Secret Celestial Key).

Structure, genre/form, perspective, style. Description of the construction and usage of a “magical machine” (with a series of three lenses used as energy source) for alchemical purposes. Directly addresses the reader. The enlarged version contains drawings of the “machine” and is written partly in cipher (the key to the cipher being supplied at the end of the text).

Relationship to other texts. Related to an 18th century German Rosicrucian text, Thesaurus Thesaurorum a Fraternitate Rosae et aureae Crucis. The relationship to L.v.H., ed., Magia Divina (no place, 1745; reprinted in Scheible’s Das Kloster, vol. 3), remains to be studied.

Authenticity, authorship.

Time of writing. Allegedly written in Schaffhausen in 1535 or 1551 or 1555. With a preface allegedly written by Johann Arndt in 1599. Actually rather written in the 18th century.

II. Sources


version A

  • Darmstadt, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek: Hs. 1703
  • Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek: Mscr.Dresd.App.953
  • London, Wellcome Library: MS 971
  • New Haven, Beinecke Library: Mellon MS 88
  • Trogen, Kantonsbibliothek: Sammlung Carl Meyer, CM Ms. 20
  • Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek: Cod. Ser. n. 4135
  • olim Nürnberg (Library of Adam Rudolph Solger, 18th century) Ms. Nr. 37; 63 pages
  • olim Ossegg/Osek (Stiftsbibliothek)
  • olim Praha, Ústřední knihovna ČVUT: Cod. C 1177
  • olim Antiquariat Karl und Faber, offered for auction in 1937

version B

  • Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica: M126
  • München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Kiesewetteriana 1e
  • München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Kiesewetteriana 25d
  • New Haven, Beinecke Library: Mellon MS 136

First printed: Allegedly printed, according to an unreliable source, in Strasburg in 1618 as a work of Johann Arndt. – Not edited before Fuchs (1913).

Historical Manuscript Catalogues: von Linden (1786), 19 n° 30, 44 n° 299; von Linden (1788), part 2, 13 n° 12 & 13, 273 n° 360

III. Bibliography

Essential bibliography: Sudhoff, Paracelsus-Handschriften, 24–25, 684–686, 798 n° IV/13, IV/14 and IV/16.

Further bibliographical references:

Adam Rudolf Solger, Bibliotheca sive supellex librorum impressorum […] et codicum manuscriptorum, pars I (Nürnberg: Johann Andreas Endter, 1760), 250 n° 37.

Christoph Gottlieb von Murr, Memorabilia Bibliothecarum publicarum Norimbergensium et Universitatis Altdorfinae, Pars I (Nürnberg: Johann Hösch, 1786), 410.

Katalog Knihovny c.k. vysokých škol technických v Praze (Praha, 1898), 524.

Cölestin Fuchs, Arcana divina: Manuscript des Stiftes Ossegg (Komotau: Staats-Gymnasium, 1912) (“Schulprogramm”), 18 pages.

F. Leigh Gardner, A Catalogue Raisonné of Works on the Occult Sciences, vol. 1: Rosicrucian Books, 2nd. ed. (no place, 1923), 9 n° 60.

Karl & Faber, München, Auktion XV: Bibliothek Dr. J. Häberlin (Frankfurt a.M.) und andere Beiträge (November 1937), 1, n° 3.

Peuckert, Pansophie (1956), 476, 481.

Paul M. Allen, A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology (Blauvelt (NY), 1968), 605.

Joachim Telle, “Manuscripta alchemica der Sammlung Mellon. Bemerkungen zum Katalog,” Sudhoffs Archiv, 65 (1981), 79–96, on 83, 95.

Gilly, Paracelsus in der BPH (1993), 67–69 n° 60.

Franziska Schaudeck, Die alchemische Handschriftensammlung der Leopold-Sophien-Bibliothek in Überlingen am Bodensee (Wiesbaden, 2020).

Telle, Alchemie und Poesie (2013), 467.

Hereward Tilton, “Bells and Spells: Rosicrucianism and the Invocation of Planetary Spirits in Early Modern Germany”, in Celestial Magic, special issue of Culture and Cosmos, 19 (2015), 167–188, on 181–182 n. 51.

Hereward Tilton, “The Urim and Thummim and the Origins of the Gold- und Rosenkreuz”, in Hans Thomas Hakl, ed., Octagon: Die Suche nach Vollkommenheit im Spiegel einer religionswissenschaftlichen, philosophischen und im besonderen Maße esoterischen Bibliothek, 2 vols. (Gaggenau, 2016), 2: 35–70.

Richard Ashrowan, Alchemical Catoptrics: Light, matter and methodologies of transformation in moving image practice, PhD Thesis (Edinburgh College of Art, Univ. of Edinburgh, 2016).