isis unveiled, vol 2: chapter ii (sorcery)

“About the time of the Reformation, the study of alchemy and magic had become so prevalent among the clergy as to produce great scandal. Cardinal Wolsey was openly accused before the court and the privy-council of confederacy with a man named Wood, a sorcerer, who said that “My Lord Cardinale had suche a rynge that whatsomevere he askyd of the Kynges grace that he hadd yt”; adding that, “Master Cromwell, when he…was servaunt in my lord cardynales housse…rede many bokes and specyally the boke of Salamon…and studied mettells and what vertues they had after the canon of Salamon.” This case, with several others equally curious, is to be found among the Cromwell papers in the Record Office of the Rolls House.

A priest named William Stapleton was arrested as a conjurer, during the reign of Henry VIII, and an account of his adventures is still preserved in the Rolls House records. The Sicilian priest whom Benvenuto Cellini calls a necromancer, became famous through his successful conjurations, and was never molested. The remarkable adventure of Cellini with him in the Colosseum, where the priest conjured up a whole host of devils, is well known to the reading public. The subsequent meeting of Cellini with his mistress, as predicted and brought about by the conjurer, at the precise time fixed by him, is to be considered, as a matter of course, a “curious coincidence.”

In the latter part of the sixteenth century there was hardly a parish to be found in which the priests did not study magic and alchemy. The practice of exorcism to cast out devils “in imitation of Christ”, who by the way never used exorcism at all, led the clergy to devote themselves openly to “sacred” magic in contradistinction to black art, of which latter crime, were accused all those who were neither priests nor monks.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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