Abraham, The Jew

Abraham, The Jew: (Alchemist and magician, circa, 1400). Comparatively few biographical facts are forthcoming concerning this German Jew, who was at once alchemist, magician and philosopher; and these few facts are mostly derived from a very curious manuscript, now domiciled in the Archives of the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, Paris, an institution rich in occult documents. This manuscript is couched throughout in French, but purports to be literally translated from Hebrew, and the style of the handwriting indicates that the scribe lived at the beginning of the eighteenth century, or possibly somewhat earlier.

A distinct illiteracy characterises the French script, the punctuation being inaccurate, indeed frequently conspicuous by its absence, but an actual description of the document must be waived till later. Abraham was probably a native of Mayence, having come thence after the exile of the Jews from Spain, and appears to have been born in 1362. We find that his father, Simon by name, was something of a seer and magician, and that the boy accordingly commenced his occult studies under the parental guidance, while at a later date he studied under one, Moses, whom he himself describes as ” indeed a good man, but entirely ignorant of The True Mystery, and of The Veritable Magic.”

Leaving this preceptor, Abraham decided to glean knowledge by travelling, and along with a friend called Samuel, a Bohemian, by birth, he wandered through Austria and Hungary into Greece, and thence penetrated to Constantinople, where he remained fully two years. He is found next in Arabia, in those days a veritable centre of mystic learning; and from Arabia he went to Palestine, whence betimes he proceeded to Egypt. Here he had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Abra Melin, the famous Egyptian philosopher, who, besides entrusting to him certain documents, confided in him by word of mouth a number of invaluable secrets; and armed thus, Abraham left Egypt for Europe, where eventually he settled in Germany, some say at Wurzburg, but better authorities posit Frankfurt.

Soon he was deep in alchemistic researches, but these did not prevent him from espousing a wife, who appears to have been his cousin Matilde Stein; and by her he had three daughters and also two sons, the elder named Joseph and the younger Lamech.

He took great pains to instruct both of them in occul affairs, while, on each of his three daughters, he settled a dowry of a hundred thousand golden florins. This considerable sum, together with other vast wealth, he claim to have gained by travelling as an alchemist; and whateve the truth of this statement, he certainly won great fame being summoned to perform acts of magic before man rich and influential people, notably the Emperor Sigismun of Germanv, the Bishop of Wurzburg, King Henry VI. of England, the Duke of Bavaria, and Pope John XXIII

The remainder of Abraham's career is shrouded in mystery while even the date of his death is uncertain, but it i commonly supposed to have occurred about 1460. The curious manuscript cited above, and from which the foregoing facts have been culled, is entitled The Book the, Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin, as delivered by Abraham the Jew unto his son Lamech. The volume was translated around 1899 by one of the founders of the modern British Golden Dawn, and long time Imperator of its Paris Lodge, MacGregor (Samuel Liddell) Mathers.

This title, however, is rather misleading, and not strictly accurate, for Abra-Melin ha absolutely no hand in the opening part of the
work this consisting of some account of Abraham's youth and early travels in search of wisdom, along with advice to the young man aspiring to become skilled in occult arts. The second part, on the other hand, is base on the documents which the Egyptian sage handed the Jew, or at least on the confidences wherewith the former favoured the latter; and it may be fairly accurately defined as dealing with the first principles of magic in general, the titles of some of the more important chapter being as follows: ” How Many, and what are the Classe of Veritable Magic ? ” – What we Ought to Take int Consideration before the Undertaking of the Operation, ” Concerning the Convocation of the Spirits, ” and ” I what Manner we ought to Carry out the Operations.

Passing to the third and last part, this likewise is most derived straight from Abra-Melin; and here the author eschewing theoretical matter as far as possible, gives information about the actual practice of magic. In the first place he tells how ” To procure divers Visions, – How one may retain the Familiar Spirits, bound or free in whatsoever form, ” and how ” To excite Tempests, while in one chapter he treats of raising the dead, anoth he devotes to the topic of transforming oneself into ” dive shapes and forms, ” and in further pages he descants o flying in the air, on demolishing buildings, on discovering thefts, and on walking under the water. Then he dilates o the Thaumaturgic healing of leprosy, dropsy, paralysis and various more common ailments such as fever and se sickness, while he offers intelligence on – How to be b loved by a Woman, ” and this he supplements by direction for commanding the favour of popes, emperors, and oth influential people.

Finally, he reverts to the question summoning visions, and his penultimate chapter is titled, ” How to cause Armed Men to Appear, ” while the concluding pages treat of evoking ” Comedies, Opera and all kinds of Music and Dances.” It is by employing Kabalistic squares of letters that a these things are to be achieved, or at least, almost all them, and lack of space makes it impossible to deal with the many different signs of this sort, whose use he counsels.

It should be said, in justice to the author that he manifests little selfishness, and seems to have striven after success in his craft with a view to using for the benefit of mankind in general. His writings are besides, a firm belief in that higher self existing in man, and a keen desire to develop it.

See Also:

From : Encyclopedia of Ancient and Forbidden Secrets

You may be also interested in :

The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy -  Mircea Eliade
Herbs in Magic and Alchemy: Techniques from Ancient Herbal Lore - C. L. Zalewski
Arthur Edward Waite – The Secret Tradition in Alchemy: Its Development and Records
Dictionary of Occult, Hermetic and Alchemical Sigils – Fred Gettings
Alchemy Unveiled - Johannes Helmond
Collectanea Chemica: On Alchemy and Hermetic Medicine –  Arthur Edward Waite
Inner Alchemy: Energy Work and the Magic of the Body - Taylor Ellwood
The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy: An Herbalist's Guide to Preparing Medicinal Essences, Tinctures, and Elixirs - Manfred M. Junius
Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy – Robert Allen Bartlett
Mystical Alchemy The Path to Enlightenment - Jacques Tombazian
Alchemy – Eric John Holmyard
The Turba Philosophorum - Arthur Edward Waite
The Tower of Alchemy: An Advanced Guide to the Great Work -  David Goddard
Magic and Alchemy - Robert Michael Place
The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book – Raphael Patai