In Quest of the Animated Statues

The Golem [1915] – Scene

In an introduction to Gustav Meyrink’s novel, The Golem, Robert Irwin describes a golem as “hyle or matter which had not been shaped in form. More curiously Hassidic mystics in twelfth-thirteenth century Germany are known to have practised an obscure ritual which aimed to use the Cabalistic power of the Hebrew alphabet and manipulate the material form of the universe to create a ‘golem’.”

Meyrink himself has the character Zwakh the Puppeteer shrugging his shoulders and saying, “The origin of the story is supposed to go back to the sixteenth century. A rabbi, following instructions in a lost book of the Cabbala, is said to have created an artificial man, the so-called Golem, as a servant to help him ring the synagogue bells and do other menial tasks.”

St. Augustine, in De Civitate Dei, condemned Hermes Trismegistus and how the ancient Egyptians caused spirits to come down into statues and animate them. These spirits, wrote St. Augustine, were wicked and devils. The Egyptians, by Hermetic magic, caused demons to possess the statues. The statues were reverenced as gods. [1]

A statue need not be made of marble or stone. Hermes Trismegistus informed Asclepius about “a conformable power arising from the nature of matter.” To the “conformable matter” a soul was added by calling up the souls of demons or angels and implanting them into the statues. [2]

St. Thomas Aquinas condemned such practices. Who were these discarnate souls called forth into the statues? The animated statues were not imaginary. “No imaginary forms can lead a person to intellectual knowledge beyond the natural or acquired capability of his intellect… Now in these apparitions and speeches that occur in the works of magicians, it frequently happens that a person obtains knowledge of things surpassing the capability of his intellect, such as the discovery of hidden treasure, the manifestation of the future, and sometimes true answers are given in matters of science.” [3]

Movement “of its very nature follows from having a soul [animism], since it is proper to animate things to move themselves. Therefore it is impossible for an inanimate being to be moved by itself, through the power of a heavenly body. Yet it is stated that by the magic art a statue is made to move of itself, or to speak. Therefore it is not possible for the effects of the magic art to be caused by the power of a heavenly body.” [3]

It was not “the power of the stars” which animated the statues, but beings of some type, logically concluded St. Thomas Aquinas. These magical “effects are accomplished by an intellect to whom the discourse of the person uttering these words is addressed. We have an indication of this in the fact that the significative words employed by the magician are invocations, supplications, adjurations, or even commands, as though he were addressing another.” [4]

“I refer to those animated statues, endowed with sense and spirit, that do great and wonderful things, statues gifted with knowledge of the future, and that foretell by dreams and many other things; who afflict men with ailments and heal them, who bring sorrow and joy to them according to their merits.” [3]

Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325), an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, condemned the worshiping of images and thought “the demons used by Magi are evil fallen angels.” [1] (Further background: Evil Magic of the Idolaters, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, May 5, 2015.)

It was said by Hermes Trismegistus that our first ancestors invented the art of making gods. The statues were not made of marble, they were made from “a composition of herbs, stones, and aromatics” which contained “in themselves an occult virtue of divine efficacy.” Worshippers of these animated statues offered sacrifices and songs of praise to them. [1]

In the Middle Ages the quest for making such animated statues was resurrected when Cosimo de’Medici imported rare books into Italy, including the Corpus Hermeticum and the Asclepius of Hermes Trismegistus. A fierce debate over the morality of ancient Egyptian practices ensued. The very first of the Ten Commandments – Thou shalt have no other gods before me – seems to explicitly and definitively prohibit animated statues. Others believed that faith was meant to be active, that the Creator had left His work half-finished. The job of humanity was to actively complete His work, they believed. Only when humanity had risen to the level of God could they truly understand the deity. [1] [5]

——- Sources ——-
[1] Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, by Frances A. Yates. University of Chicago Press, 1991.
[2] Hermetica. Cambridge University Press, 1992. Edited by Brian P. Copenhaver.
[3] Summa Contra Gentiles, by St. Thomas Aquinas. Book III, Chapter CIV: That the Works of Magicians are not due solely to the Influence of the Heavenly Spheres.
[4] Summa Contra Gentiles, by St. Thomas Aquinas. Book III, Chapter CV. Whence the Works of Magicians Derive Their Efficacy.
[5] “Mrs. Earp and the Russian Cosmists”, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, January 11, 2015. https://ersjdamoo.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/mrs-earp-and-the-russian-cosmists/

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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