Financial Vipers of Venice
“… Hermeticism is once again relevant, this time to the realm of quarks, M-theory and DNA. As science itself becomes more magical, Hermeticism’s time has truly come.”
—Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince,
The Forbidden Universe: The Occult Origins of Science and the Search for the Mind of God, p. 210.
“We here, then, have a Jove, not taken as too legitimate and good a vicar or lieutenant of the first principle and universal cause, but well taken as something variable, subject to the Fate of Mutation …”
ON ASH WEDNESDAY in the year 1600, a man who was a constant irritation to Churchianity—and to its hierarchy preaching more than hypocritically about the God of Love—was led through the arched corridors of various buildings into a public square, where he was tied to a stake at which cords and bundles of wood were thrown at his feet. When this was done, the man was most likely brushed with tars and oils according to the practice of the period, and flame was put to the bundles of wood. The flames and smoke rose, boiling and baking the skin, perhaps amid cries of anguish and suffering, until, overcome with pain, he finally lapsed into unconsciousness and death.
This burnt offering of a man had made his way to France, thence to Geneva, back to Paris, onward to London and Oxford, back to Paris, to Germany and Bohemia, and finally back to his native Italy. Along all these travels, he had managed to anger the Anglican doctors and dons of Oxford, the Puritans of Cambridge, the Calvinists of Geneva, and of course, the Lutherans of Germany and the Catholics of France and his homeland.
After the burning was complete, the red- and purple-robed authorities breathed a sigh of relief. The ideological threat the man posed had brought them perilously close to losing not just power, but centuries of status and standing. They were, however, but agents for deeper, murkier powers, powers whose long-term plans and goals were very directly threatened by the man and his ideas.
Those powers were Venice and the Vatican.
And the man’s name was Giordano Bruno.
Bruno was a martyr to a Metaphor, to a way of thinking and viewing the cosmos that he—most definitely not alone—had come to hold and to champion. His martyrdom to that metaphor is an icon of a tremendous clash of forces that was transforming his world and time, forces deeply embedded in religion, alchemy, money, magic, and even, as we shall see, physics.
However, to understand how Bruno came to such a tragic fate, and why this brilliant man could symbolize such a constellation of forces, we must first look deeper into his life, and into the powers that conspired to end it. We must look into the Hermetic Metaphor by which he lived and for which he died, and into the tremendous threat it posed to the financial power of Venice and the religious power of the Vatican (and for that matter, to the Protestant world as well). Accordingly, in this chapter we will explore Bruno’s life and doctrine, in the next chapter we will explore the Hermetic Metaphor itself and its relation to Bruno’s doctrine, and in the third and fourth chapters we will explore Venice’s financial doctrine and power. These three chapters in turn will afford the portal of entry into a deeper exploration of medieval jurisprudence, philosophy, physics, and finance in the subsequent sections of this book.
A. BRUNO’S LIFE AND WANDERINGS
Though the exact date of his birth is unknown, it is known that Giordano Filippo Bruno was born in the year 1548 in Nola, within the then-Kingdom of Naples. Throughout his life, he and others thus referred to himself as “the Nolan.” He received what was then a traditional education, and entered the Dominican order at the Naples monastery of San Domenico Maggiore at the age of seventeen, taking for his ecclesiastical and monastic name “Giordano, after Giordano Crispo, his metaphysics tutor.”2
He was ordained a priest in 1572, and early in his life showed a remarkable ability with memory, even journeying to Rome to demonstrate his memory system to Pope Pius V. However, it was also during this period that his tendency to think “outside” the box of ecclesiastical doctrine and dogma took hold, manifest in his reading of banned works of the North European humanist Erasmus, in his rejection of images of the saints, and in his defense of the Arian doctrine, that is to say, the doctrine that Christ was a mere man and not the second person of the Trinity. Learning that an indictment was being prepared against him by the local Inquisition, Bruno laid aside his monastic frock and fled Naples for the city-states of northern Italy, including Venice and Padua. At Padua, he encountered fellow Dominicans who encouraged him to wear the Dominican habit once again.
From there, Bruno wandered across the Alps into France and eventually ended up in John Calvin’s (1509–1564) Protestant Geneva in 1579, where he adopted secular dress in order to move freely within the city. However, Bruno, never one to hold his tongue or pen, soon ran afoul of the Calvinist authorities, and fled Geneva for France once again, finally taking his doctorate at Toulouse, and attempting yet again, unsuccessfully, to return to the Church. When strife broke out in Toulouse, Bruno made his way to Paris, where his feats of memory brought him to the attention of King Henry III. It was here that Bruno published his first work on the art of memory, De Umbris Idearum, “The Shadows of Ideas” (1582). As we will discover in the next section, Bruno’s art of memory is deeply tied to his views on magic and the cosmological Metaphor for which he gave his life.
In the year 1583 Bruno journeyed to England as a guest and under the protection of the French ambassador Michel de Castelnau, and it is here that Bruno entered into the first public controversies with the authorities that would eventually bring about his trial and execution. He did so by delivering a series of controversial lectures at the University of Oxford, in which he defended Nicholas Copernicus’ then-controversial theory that the Earth revolved around the sun, with George Abbot, later the Archbishop of Canterbury, taking the opposing view. It was during this period in England that Bruno wrote many of his most famous, and as we shall see, scandalous works, among them Lo Spaccio della Bestia Trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast), a work that Karen De León-Jones has described as being part of a trilogy on “the ethics of mutation,”3 and On Cause, Principle, and Unity, two works we shall examine in more detail in the next section. It is even speculated that while Bruno was staying in London under the French ambassador’s protection, he was also spying on Catholics for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s famous Secretary of State and spymaster.
Bruno returned to France in 1585, but found a reception less warm than before, since his relentless attacks on the cosmology and physics of Aristotle—the reigning cosmology and physics of the Roman Catholic Church—plus his open endorsement of the Copernican theory had earned him the ire of Catholic authorities. Thus, by 1586 he had departed for Germany, where he was able to land a teaching position at the University of Wittenberg. Here he remained for two years, until once again, changing academic climates forced him to flee to Prague, and then to flee yet again after being excommunicated by the Lutherans there for his controversial views. It was, however, during this period that he composed and published several works in Latin (among them On Magic) which, as we shall discover in the next section, were guaranteed to upset both Catholic and Protestant orthodoxy, on account of the very tight blending of magical philosophy with the broader Hermetic cosmology he had come to adopt as his personal religion. Bruno promoted this new Hermetic religion because he believed it could unify the growing religious divisions within Europe.
1. The Return to Venice, and a Mystery
By 1591 Bruno had landed in Frankfurt, and his life took the turn that would eventually lead him to the stake, for it was here that he received the invitation from the Venetian nobleman Giovanni Mocenigo to come to Venice and instruct him on the secrets of his art of memory. Mocenigo had acquired a copy of Bruno’s De Minimo and was so impressed with its references to the art of memory that he wrote to Bruno asking him to come to Venice, where he would pay him to tutor him in the art.4
It’s here that we begin to sense the discomforting possibilities of a mystery and of a conspiracy. Arthur D. Imerti, whose superb translation of The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast we shall rely on in this section, puts it this way:
It is difficult to understand why the philosopher decided to return to Italy, whence he was a fugitive from both the Neapolitan and Roman Inquisitions. Perhaps the author of (The Expulsion) believed that his heretical philosophical and religious ideas might meet, if not with acceptance, at least with toleration in the Republic of Venice … 5
But the mystery only deepens when one considers the views on wealth and property Bruno himself stated in the second dialogue of The Expulsion. There, Bruno advocates that “tyrants be deposed” and “republics be favored,” certainly no threat to the Serenissima Republica of Venice. But then, without so much as a pause for breath, Bruno urges that “the indolent, the avaricious, and the owners of property be scorned and held in contempt.”6
Imerti observes that these words “might be construed as socialistic”7 and such a direct assault on property and wealth could hardly be palatable to the views of the Venetian republic, founded as it was on an empire of merchant banking and mercenary military force. One is dealing with the possibility, therefore, that Bruno was simply tricked into returning to Venice. (And there are other possibilities, as will be seen in section two.)
This possibility grows when one considers Mocenigo’s actions toward Bruno. Initially, he showered Bruno with “numerous acts of kindness” to the extent that Bruno was apparently taken in by Mocenigo, eventually divulging “many of his heretical ontological and epistemological views,”8 the very cosmological views that were the basis both of his art of memory and its corresponding philosophy of magic. The Venetian nobleman, however, quickly became disenchanted with the progress of his studies with the Nolan, and “accused Bruno of not teaching him all he knew about the arts of memory, invention, and geometry, threatening repeatedly to denounce him to the Holy Office if he did not teach him what he had promised.”9 The Venetian disclosed Bruno’s views to his father confessor, who urged him to denounce the Nolan to the Venetian Inquisition. More on this in a moment.
2. Disturbing Testimony and a Deepening Mystery: Bruno’s Secret Society, the Giordanisti
When Bruno, blissfully unaware of the nobleman’s intentions, told Mocenigo of his own intentions to return to Frankfurt, the latter acted. Tricking Bruno and locking him in an attic, on May 22, 1592, Mocenigo betrayed him to the Venetian civil authorities, who in turn handed him over to the Venetian Inquisition.10 According to the English scholar Frances A. Yates, Mocenigo told the Venetian Inquisition that Bruno’s views were clearly directed at the whole power structure of the Inquisition itself:
The procedure which the Church uses to-day is not that which the Apostles used: for they converted the people with preaching and the example of a good life, but now whoever does not wish to be a Catholic must endure punishment and pain, for force is used and not love; the world cannot go on like this, for there is nothing but ignorance and no religion which is good; the Catholic religion pleases him more than any other, but this too has need of great reform; it is not good as it is now, but soon the world will see a general reform of itself, for it is impossible that such corruptions should endure … 11
What did Bruno mean by this?
During his stay in Frankfurt, he had disclosed to the Venetian Giovanni Battista Ciotto—through whom Mocenigo had originally arranged for Bruno’s journey to Venice—that “he knew more than the Apostles” and that “if he had a mind to it, he could bring about that all the world should be one religion,”12 a religion, as we shall see, neither Protestant nor Catholic, nor even Christian, but “hermetic.”
How did Bruno think he could possibly have achieved such a feat?
Again, a hint is provided by Mocenigo in his testimony to the Venetian Inquisition:
I have not heard him (Bruno) say that he wanted to institute a new sect of Giordanisti in Germany, but he has affirmed that when he had finished certain of his studies he would be known as a great man …13
Clearly, the Inquisition had some cause for concern, for the “Giordanisti” were revealed to be a new secret society Bruno intended to found:
In Mocenigo’s delation to the Inquisition against Bruno, he reports him as having said that he had intended to found a new sect under the name of philosophy. Other informers made the same insinuation, adding that Bruno had said that the sect was called the “Giordanisti” and appealed particularly to the Lutherans in Germany.14
Putting this together with Bruno’s travels throughout Italy, France, England, Switzerland, and Germany reveals the concerns not only of the Anglican and Protestant authorities that Bruno encountered, but also of the Catholics, for it is possible that Bruno was planting the seeds of his secret society and “hermetic revolution” during all his travels.
Frances A. Yates poses the problem this way:
It has occurred to me to wonder whether these rumored “Giordanisti” could have any connection with the unsolved mystery of the origins of the Rosicrucians who are first heard of in Germany in the early seventeenth century, in Lutheran circles.15
As Yates herself understood, the answer to this question lay in Bruno’s art of memory, the very art whose secrets Mocenigo had lured the Nolan to Venice to learn!16 Bruno “may be the real source of a Hermetic and mystical movement which used, not the real architecture of ‘operative’ masonry, but the imaginary or ‘speculative’ architecture of the art of memory as the vehicle of its teachings.”17 Noting that early Rosicrucian documents speak of “mysterious rotae or wheels, and of a sacred ‘vault’ the walls, ceiling and floor of which was divided into compartments each with their several figures and sentences,”18 these are, as we shall discover in the next section, the exact mnemonic devices used by Bruno to construct both his magic and his art of memory, and indeed, his hermetic cosmology. Bruno’s denunciation to the Inquisition, plus his own statements regarding his founding of a secret society to spread “philosophy,” i.e., hermetic teaching, would account for why his “secret,” which was “the combination of the Hermetic beliefs with the techniques of the art of memory,”19 went underground in the increasing religious intolerance of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
3. The Roman Inquisition and Bruno’s Execution
But before we turn to the substance of Bruno’s doctrine, and why it posed such a threat to the financial powerhouse of Venice and the religious powerhouse of the Vatican, we must deal with the final grisly details of his trial before the Roman Inquisition, for as we shall see, there are further clues to be found there. By the end of his trial before the Venetian Inquisition, Bruno had recanted “all of the heresies of which he was accused and threw himself on the mercy of the judges.”20 But he still had to be handed over to the Roman Inquisition and to its own trial.
While the documents concerning Bruno’s Venetian and Roman trials are somewhat lacking (due to reasons we shall explore in the appendix to this book), one Gaspar Scioppus was a witness to Bruno’s execution. Scioppus details an interesting list of the points for which Bruno was condemned and executed by the Roman Inquisition:
… that there are innumerable worlds; that magic is a good and licit thing; that the Holy Spirit is the anima mundi;21 that Moses did his miracles by magic in which he was more proficient than the Egyptians; that Christ was a Magus.22
Yates notes, however, that the evidence remaining for the reasons for Bruno’s condemnation and execution are threadbare.23 We do know that the famous Jesuit Inquisitor, Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, the same Bellarmine who examined Galileo, drew up a list of eight formal charges Bruno was required to recant, which, of course, the Nolan refused to do.24 It does appear, however, that Bruno’s condemnation was for specific conflicts with Catholic doctrine—including the deity of Christ—and that his Hermetic philosophy and support of the Copernican heliocentric theory were also at the root of it.25
Indeed, in his letters to the Venetian Inquisition—and we must assume these became part of the testimony against Bruno in Rome—Mocenigo drew up an astonishing list of complaints against the Nolan. According to the nobleman,
Bruno maintained that the Catholic faith is “full of blasphemy against the majesty of God”; “that there is no distinction of persons in God,”
(A difficult proposition to believe, as we shall discover in the next section and more fully in chapter two.)
… “that the world is eternal”; “that there are infinite worlds”; “that all the operations of the world are guided by fate”;
(A proposition having some credence, given Bruno’s heavy reliance upon astrological imagery and his belief in a multitude of inhabited worlds.)
… and that “souls created through the operation of nature pass from one animal to another.” In other accusations Mocenigo charged that Bruno affirmed that “Christ was a rogue” and … that “the miracles of Christ and His disciples were ‘apparent’”; and that He and His disciples were “magicians.”
[Mocenigo’s letters to the Inquisition] further reveal that Bruno severely criticized monastic institutions, branding all monks as “asses,” and Catholic doctrines as “asinine”; that he considered a blasphemy the Catholic teaching that bread is transmuted into flesh; that he disapproved of the sacrifice of the Mass, stating that “there is no punishment of sins”; that he denied the possibility of the Virgin Birth … 26
and so on. In this list, we see Bruno following out the logical implications of his hermetic and magical system with a degree of rigor and personal abandon not shared by most other Renaissance Hermeticists.
A list of eight charges were drawn up against Bruno, extracted from his publications,27 and Bruno refused to recant or retract them, though he did throw himself on the mercy of Pope Clement VIII. The pope proved to be anything but clement, handing Bruno to the secular authorities on January 20, 1600 for “extreme measures.”28
On February 8, 1600, the Roman Holy Office, i.e. the Inquisition, after reviewing the findings of the Roman trial, decided that Bruno was “‘pertinaciously’ persevering in his ‘errors,’”29 and even mentioned that while in England Bruno had been “considered an ‘atheist’”30 for his publication ofThe Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. On February 16, 1600, after being given eight days to recant, Bruno was led to the Campo di Fiori to be burnt alive. “Before being given to the flames, he was shown the image of Christ, from which he disdainfully turned his gaze,”31 the torch was set, and after a few agonizing moments, the Nolan was no more.
So what was it, precisely, about this man’s philosophy that posed such a threat to financial Venice, Oxford Anglican dons, Geneva Calvinists, German Lutherans, and the Vatican? What was it that allowed him to be accused of promoting a new religion in the guise of a secret society, one which he hoped would sweep Europe both of Protestantism and Catholicism, one in which he himself defended theism, but which also earned him in England the title of atheist? How does one reconcile all of this?
To answer these questions, we must examine his doctrine much more closely, and in doing so, an astonishing set of implications—both very ancient in their Hermetic roots, and very modern in their physics corollaries—will emerge.
B. BRUNO’S DOCTRINE AND THE ANCIENT METAPHOR
1. The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast
Bruno’s The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast was published in London in the year 1584, and it was “the only work of Bruno’s to be singled out by the Roman Inquisition at the summation of his trial.”32 For indeed, it was “owing to its daring ethical and epistemological speculations, its philosophy of nature, of religion, and of history,” that the work was “the embodiment of all that is most heretical in the philosopher’s thinking.”’33 We get some measure both of the man and the work’s “irksome” heretical contents with Bruno’s reference to the crucifixion of Christ as “a cabalistic tragedy.”34 The Expulsion is thus, in a certain sense, Bruno’s declaration of war against Christianity itself.35
But the Nolan does not stop there.
For example, in the “Explanatory Epistle” of the work, Bruno boldly declares that man is “a citizen and servant of the world,”36 a political view that would reemerge almost two centuries later with the credo of Adam Weishaupt and the Bavarian Illuminati, and therefore hardly a view to endear him to the political authorities of his own age. Indeed, if Frances A. Yates is correct in assuming that there is some connection between Bruno’s secret society, the Giordanisti, and the emergence of the Rosicrucian Fraternity in Germany, there may be even deeper connections between Bruno, his secret society, and the Illuminati of the eighteenth century than scholarship has hitherto assumed.
The connection with the doctrines of the Illuminati is made even more cogent when one considers Bruno’s conception of revealed, or “positive,” religion, as Imerti explains:
Bruno’s concept of the Deity as pure rational principle, and as both cause and effect, made all positive religions, with their emphasis on the anthropomorphic attributes of God, repugnant to him … his sly references to monks, monasteries, and relics hint at his disapproval of some of the basic tenets of Catholicism. His ironic allusions to the New Testament, and particularly his satire of Christ, whose life on earth he allegorizes in Orion, and whose “trinitarian” nature, in Chiron the Centaur, are an implied refutation not only of Catholicism but of Christianity itself.37
Compare this summary of Bruno’s doctrine to the summary of Weishaupt’s doctrine given in the late eighteenth century by the French priest Abbé Augustin Barruel:
The Religion of Christ is represented as a medley of the reveries of Pythagoras, of Plato, and of Judaism. It is in vain for the Israelites to believe in the unity of God, in the coming of a Messiah … he will declare in his corrected Code, that the Religion of the Jews was but a modification of the reveries of the Egyptians, of Zoroaster, or of the Babylonians. To correct his adepts, he teaches them to cast aside the Creation as a chimera unknown to antiquity, and to reduce all Religion to two Systems—The one, that of matter co-eternal with God, a part of God, proceeding from God, cast forth and separated from God, in order to become the world—The other, matter co-eternal with God, without being God, but worked by God, for the formation of the universe.38
Clearly, Weishaupt’s Illuminism, as Barruel recounts it, is suffused with Hermetic views that are, in the final analysis, almost identical with Bruno’s, making it possible that Bruno was successful in establishing his “Giordanistas” in Germany, and that they may have had some deep connection to the subsequent emergence of Rosicrucianism and Illuminism in that land.
As we shall discover momentarily, however, Imerti’s statement that Bruno rejected anthropomorphism is not entirely correct, for in Bruno’s hands, such anthropomorphism becomes the signal of a profound underlying metaphor of physics, mind, memory, and the operations of magic.Nonetheless, it remains true that Bruno’s hermeticism was the repudiation of all revealed religions.39
The reason for this repudiation may not be entirely clear until one recalls that Bruno, like many Hermeticists of the High Renaissance, viewed the origin of all positive or revealed religion as being from Egypt. As Imerti explains:
In his interpretation of the Old Testament Bruno’s views clash with both Christian and Jewish teachings. He regards its stories as fables, or metaphorical representations of history, passed on from the Egyptians to the Babylonians and then to the Hebrews. He adduces as evidence of his premise the “metaphor of the raven,” which, he declares, was “first found and developed in Egypt and then taken by the Hebrews, through whom this knowledge was transmitted from Babylonia, in the form of a story … ”
Bruno is struck by the variations of the Osiris myth in the ancient Mediterranean civilizations, to which he makes a brief allusion. However, he specifically points out analogies between such Greek myths as that of Apollo and the Raven and the biblical Noah and the Raven, between Deucalion and Noah, and between Cerus and Jonah and the Whale.
The source of the myths shared by the Greeks with the Hebrews, he insists, is not Hebrew but Egyptian. Egypt, indeed, is for Bruno the source of all the myths and fables of the Mediterranean world, all being poetical representations of events dating back to the dawn of Western civilization.40
As we shall see, this “Egyptian monogenesis” also included a doctrine of a primordial trinity, such that Bruno came to the conclusion that its ultimate origins were not in revelation, but in reason. Hence, unlike most Hermeticists of the High Renaissance who were busily trying to reconcileelements of Hermetic doctrine with Christianity, Bruno was busily proclaiming their divorce, and with it, repudiating the need for special revelation and authority structures—Protestant or Catholic. To put it succinctly, Bruno believed that once the Hermetic cosmological doctrine was stripped of its religious overlay, religion (in the standard sense) was no longer necessary. We will expand on Bruno’s exposition of this metaphor later in this chapter and in the next chapter, but for now, our concentration must remain fixed on The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast.
One implication of this sort of Hermetic interpretation of the Egyptian Monogenesis is that all of nature becomes a manifestation of Deity, thus leaving nature as “the teacher of all rational beings.”41 As a result, the political—and therefore, the financial—vision that Bruno embodies in The Expulsion is:
a society in which the natural religion of the Egyptians, in its purest sense, and the speculative intellect of the Greeks would coincide in a sociopolitical structure patterned after that of the Roman Republic. The source of the state, which Bruno conceives of as “an ethical substance,” is God, “the absolute reality, or reality which is the principle of all realities.” The state envisaged by the philosopher would be one containing a unity of law and religion, rather than a separation of “the divine from law and civil life.”42
While this is true as far as it goes, it misses the point of what Bruno is advocating when he talks about “law” in one important respect: in the ancient Roman Republic, law was an external compulsion backed by the force of the state. With Bruno, law is an interior illumination within individuals, and statute law is its organic outgrowth.
Bruno, in other words, is advocating the very revolutionary principle of the sovereignty of the individual person, and this, as we shall see in subsequent chapters, posed a definite threat not only to the religious and political authorities of his day, but to the financial powers—like Venice—as well. The result of this view—and here as elsewhere Bruno traces out all its logical implications without hesitation—is that all the gods, including Jove or Yahweh, should be made to serve man. After all, the gods were but the creations of the ultimate Principle, or nature, and thus were the creations of man himself. It is, says Bruno, “by the grace of the gods” that it is permitted to man to be “at liberty to make them serve us, to take and accommodate them at our convenience and pleasure.”43
Once again placing the origin of these doctrines in Egypt and its magical science, and not in a special revelation, Bruno calls the Jews “the excrement of Egypt.” He holds that Moses’ knowledge was not the result of revelation, but of his learning in the ancient magical science, or scientific magic, of Egypt.44
Such propositions were, of course, heretical, whether one was a Protestant or a Catholic, and had Bruno ever managed to journey to Orthodox Christian Europe, would have been viewed as heretical there as well. But the catalogue we have reviewed above would be incomplete if we did not also mention Bruno’s other great heresy—at least as far as Catholic Europe at the time was concerned. Namely, his view that the Earth was merely one of innumerable planets, that there were a multitude of inhabited worlds, that the universe was teaming with life, and that the Earth did indeed revolve around the Sun.45 This view, as we shall see in chapter two, is a product of his Hermeticism, for Hermeticism held that the cosmos is literally teeming with life. His scientific and philosophical influence, and particularly his reliance upon a kind of “mathematical magic and philosophy” is even thought to have profoundly influenced Gottfried Leibniz, the inventor (along with Isaac Newton), of integral and differential calculus.46
With this background in hand, we are now in a position to examine Bruno’s doctrine in detail, concentrating on his works The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, On Cause, Principle, and Unity, and On Magic.
a. The Contradictory Moral Nature of Yahweh
Bruno begins The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast with a lengthy “Explanatory Epistle,” in which he has the following things to say about Jove, the common name in his time for the God of the Old Testament, Yahweh. Jove, or Yahweh, he explains,
is introduced, as is vulgarly described, as a god who possessed virtues and kindness, and possessed human and sometimes brutal and bestial dissoluteness, frivolity, and frailty, as it is imagined that he possessed when it is reputed that he changed himself into those various subjects or forms in order to indicate the mutation of the various affects that Jove, the soul, and man incur, finding themselves in this fluctuating matter.47
In other words, Yahweh’s two-faced moral character, now benevolent, now violent and murderous, is a result of his participation in the mutable, fluctuating world of matter. Because of this, Bruno goes on to note, Yahweh really “represents each one of us,”48 or to put it differently, the supreme God of the Old Testament is really man, or at least, a representation of man. Given Bruno’s hermetic background and familiarity with all manner of hermetic and alchemical texts, what he is in effect saying is that all the gods are manifestations of ever-transmuting matter, and that Yahweh is, in the final analysis, a manifestation of the Philosophers’ Stone. Bruno is, in short, a kind of proto-transhumanist.
This has a social consequence, namely, the standard and endless Yahwist divisions of the social space.49 In a lengthy diatribe against the Calvinist Protestants, Bruno traces out the morally contradictory character of Yahweh in a review of how this is reflected in Calvinist doctrine and practice:
And in conclusion, let her see whether, while they utter greetings of peace, they do not carry, wherever they enter, the Knife of Division and the Fire of Dispersion, taking away the son from his father, neighbor from neighbor, the inhabitant from his country, and causing other divorces, horrendous and against every nature and law. Let her see whether, while they call themselves ministers of one who resurrects the dead and heals the infirm, it is they who, worse than all the others whom the earth feeds, cripple the healthy and kill the living, not so much with fire and with the sword as with their pernicious tongues. Let her see what sort of peace and harmony they propose to the wretched peoples, and whether they perhaps want and eagerly desire that all the world agree with and consent to their malicious and most presumptuous ignorance, and approve their wicked conscience, while they want neither to agree with, nor consent to, any law, justice, and doctrine; and let her see whether in all the rest of the world and of the centuries there appear so much discord and dissonance as is evidenced among them.
So among ten thousand such pedants there is not one who has not compiled his own catechism, and who if he has not published it, at least is about to publish that one which approves of no other institution but his own, finding in all the others something to condemn, reprove, and doubt; besides, the majority of them are found in disagreement among themselves, rescinding today what they wrote the day before.
Let her see what success these have, and what customs they inspire and provoke in others in that which appertains to acts of justice and compassion and the conservation and increase of public wealth … let her see whether they are the appropriators of the goods of others or, rather, the bestowers of their own goods; and, finally, let her see whether those who side with them increase and stabilize public wealth, as their opponents and predecessors used to do, or, rather, together with these, dissipate, dismember, and devour it; and whether, while they belittle good works, they extinguish in people all enthusiasm for the construction of new works and the preservation of the old.50
Note Bruno’s indirect attack on Calvinism’s approval of interest-bearing debt and its relationship to “the public wealth,” in itself an attack that would be of great concern to the merchant bankers of Venice and northern Italy. It is but one aspect of the schisms in the social space induced by the alliance between Yahwism and such financial practices, producing, as Imerti observes, “an insecure individual, convinced that only wealth and power can give him a sense of security.”51 For Bruno, championing the individual as a direct manifestation of Deity, a just social order could not come about without converting these desires into temperance and reason, without the expulsion of vices, represented by the “triumphant beast,” Jove.52
Bruno does not stop merely with attributing mutability to Yahweh, nor with attacks on the growing schisms of the social space it produced in its Protestant forms, but even puts the mutable character of Yahweh into a speech that Yahweh himself delivers to the council of gods, a speech in which Yahweh points out his own moral schizophrenia. “Justice,” says Yahweh,
by which Fate governs the rulers of the world, has completely deprived us of that authority and power which we so badly employed, our ignominies being revealed and laid bare before the eyes of mortals, and made manifest to them; and it causes heaven itself, with such clear evidence, as the stars are clear and evident, to render us testimony of our misdeeds. For there are clearly seen the fruits, the relics, the reports, the rumors, the writings, the histories of our adulteries, incests, fornications, wraths, disdains, rapines, and other iniquities and crimes; and to reward ourselves for our transgressions, we have committed more transgressions, elevating to heaven the triumphs of vice and the seats of wickedness, leaving virtues and Justice banished, and neglected in hell.53
Yahweh, in other words, had “for a long time led a life of dissoluteness, devoting himself almost exclusively to amours and to warlike enterprises … ”54 Determined to repent for such behavior, he summons the council of the gods on the Feast of the Gigantomachy55—or War of the Giants and Titans in Greek mythology, a point by which Bruno subtly stresses the idea that Yahweh’s behavior is no less a moral reflection of human passions and contradictions than that of the myths of the gods of the Greeks.
As such, Bruno speaks in the first part of the second dialogue of The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast of the love “of the Divinity which is above all Joves and all heavens,”56 indicating that it is Yahweh himself who is the “triumphant beast” to be expelled from society, along with the vices he represents, which are to be expelled within man himself.
To sum up, thus far Bruno has accomplished the following:
1)Critiqued the Yahwist moral contradiction;
2)Exposed it as the basis for (endless) divisions of the social space (in its Protestant and Calvinist form);
3)Noted that, since such mutable behavior is evident, that Yahweh cannot logically represent the divine order of “mutable permanence”;
4)Noted that the real origin of various doctrines comes from Egypt, and that therefore,
5)No positive or special revelation is needed, since nature reveals itself to one and all immediately; and thus,
6)Challenged the religious authority of elites based on that revelation, while
7)Championing the idea of man as a “citizen of the world,” thus challenging political elites; and finally,
8)Subtly challenged the Calvinist doctrine of debt-interest in the hands of a private monopoly by distinguishing it from “the public wealth,” which is, in the final analysis, a not-so-subtle attack on the very idea of private monopoly central banking, that is, upon the banking practices of the northern Italian city-states, Florence and Venice, themselves.
It is little wonder, then, that both Venice and the Vatican determined to end the life of this man, and it is interesting to note that, like the eightfold summary of the implications of Bruno’s doctrine above, the final charges brought against him by the Roman Inquisition also numbered eight heresies.
b. Yahweh Not the First Cause: Man as the Medium and Philosophers’ Stone
But the Nolan was just getting started.
In his “Explanatory Epistle” at the beginning of The Expulsion, Bruno comments at length on why Yahweh cannot be the First Cause, that is to say the true god, by drawing an astonishingly alchemical conclusion:
We here, then, have a Jove, not taken as too legitimate and good a vicar or lieutenant of the first principle and universal cause, but well taken as something variable, subject to the Fate of Mutation; he, however, knowing that together in one infinite entity and substance there are infinite and innumerable particular natures (of which he is one individual), which, since they in substance, essence, and nature are one, likewise, by reason of the number through which they pass, incur innumerable vicissitudes and a kind of motion and mutation. Each one of these natures then, and particularly Jove’s, finds itself as such an individual, with such a composition, with such accidents and circumstances, having been placed in number, because of differences which arise from contraries, all of which are reduced to one original and first contrary, which is the first principle of all the others, the proximate efficients of every change and vicissitude. Because of this, just as he, from one who at first was not Jove, afterward was made Jove, so he, from one who at present is Jove, finally will be other than Jove.
He knows that of the eternal corporeal substance (which is not producible ex nihilo, nor reducible ad nihilum, but rarefiable, condensable, formable, arrangeable, and “fashionable”) the composition is dissolved, the complexion is changed, the figure is modified, the being is altered, the fortune is varied, only the elements remaining what they are in substance, that same principle persevering which was always the one material principle, which is the true substance of things, eternal, ingenerable, and incorruptible.57
The alchemical conclusion of the second paragraph in the above quotation is important, for it is clear that Bruno envisions a kind of perpetually transmuting “something” that underlies all existence, and ascribes to it the incorruptibility and indestructibility that alchemists ascribed to the Philosophers’ Stone.58 So a closer look at this unexpected alchemical turn is in order.
This eternal, yet information-creating, transmuting substance or substrate is viewed by Bruno as inhabiting the entire universe, in a fashion analogous to the soul inhabiting the body. “In short,” says Arthur D. Imerti, summarizing Bruno’s views, “it is, according to the philosopher, the ‘substance which is truly man.’”59 Man, in other words, is that eternal, transmutative substance, is the Philosophers’ Stone, a view which anticipates by almost three hundred and fifty years the debates within modern physics over the Anthropic Cosmological Principle. In this, Bruno is faithfully reflecting the Hermetic doctrine of man as a microcosm or “small universe,” and of the universe as a makanthropos, or “great man.” 60
But in order to make these parallels with modern scientific views even more compelling, we must now turn our attention to the Nolan’s On Cause, Principle, and Unity, and his treatise On Magic.
2. Cause, Principle, and Unity, and On Magic
a. The Substrate and Magic
Like The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, Bruno’s On Cause, Principle, and Unity was written and published in England in 1584, and thus may function as a kind of philosophical commentary on the more popularly-written Expulsion. In it Bruno outlines “his vision of an infinite universe in which he sought to re-unify terrestrial physics with celestial physics on the basis of a principle of universal becoming.”61 This principle of universal becoming—or to put it into more modern physics terms, perpetual creation of information—is of course the same philosophical cosmology that underwrote alchemy with its emphasis on the Philosophers’ Stone as a transmutative information-creating medium. In Bruno’s hands, however, it also functions, as we have seen in our examination ofThe Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, as the basis for his assault on all revealed, positive religion, i.e., on Judaism and Christianity (and by implication, Islam).
As we saw previously, by equating the physical medium with mankind himself, or rather by understanding it as a kind of “great man” or makanthropos, the entire system of theology, and what Bruno understood by the term “God” is completely reoriented. With it the meaning of human life, and how we approach God, is also wholly transformed,62 a transformation that is in itself alchemical. Bruno’s claims for his magical and hermetic philosophy-religion are thus quite sweeping.
He claims that this new vision will reconcile us with the divine law which governs nature, and free us from the fear of imaginary divinities, cruel and unfathomable, who look down from heavenly heights, controlling the sublunary world in a mysterious way. Human beings believe that they are enclosed in an inferior world subject to generation and corruption, but this is a simple illusion.63
Because this world of becoming is viewed by Bruno as an illusion, one is tempted to see in him a Western manifestation of a Vedic outlook, mediated by the Hermetic, Neoplatonic, and magical tradition in which he, like so many other Italian Renaissance Hermeticists, was formed.
For Bruno, there is but one ultimate ground of being, but this is first differentiated into Pure Act, or God, and pure potency,64 or eternal matter. We may symbolize this ultimate ground of being, this void which is an absolute No-thing, by the empty hyper-set Ø. By envisioning this No-thing as having undergone some process of differentiation of circumscription—a process we shall symbolize with the paragraph symbol, ¶, to represent the “writing around” or circumscription —we may symbolize what Bruno is getting at by calling God “pure Act” and matter “pure Potency” (leaving for chapter two a fuller exposition of this “topological metaphor of the medium”):
But in our previous expositions of this topological metaphor of the physical medium, we have noted that the two “differentiated nothings” that result from this process, Ø1 and Ø2, share a common surface, denoted by the partial derivative symbol ∂, thusly:
So what is the common surface between the two “differentiated nothings,” or God as Pure Act and matter as pure potency, in Bruno’s view?
It was precisely through these two eternal principles, pure Act and pure Potency, that it appeared to Bruno “that man, endowed with a rational soul and a spirit to mediate between the soul and his elementary body, could link himself to that privileged cosmic point on the boundary between the sensible and intelligible which would allow him to grasp the archetypal forms, the actual generating models of every sensible reality … ”65 In other words, man himself was the boundary condition, the common surface, between the two principles.
It is this fact that forms the basis for why Bruno believed that man could tap into and direct the operations of nature via a kind of natural magic, by impressing those operations within the human psyche itself via his art of memory. In fact, Bruno is very direct in his statement on this account inCause, Principle, and Unity, for he states unequivocally that “we can … grasp the substratum and principle of natural things,” i.e., that eternal No-thing, “in diverse ways.”66 And he is equally explicit about the methods that constitute those “diverse ways,” for they include “natural and magical methods, and more ineffectively according to rational and mathematical methods.”67 Indeed, as we shall see, Bruno even envisions a kind of “mathematical magic,” similar in nature to the kind of simple topological exposition we have given above of his thought.
The attentive reader will have noted that by distinguishing the initial Nothing or Ø into differentiated No-things of Pure Act and Pure Potency—Ø1 and Ø2 respectively—that Bruno has in fact implied that the initial No-thing, prior to its differentiation, contains those contraries. If he or she noted this, the reader is correct, for in that initial No-thing, all contraries coinhere: “There height is depth, the abyss an inaccessible light, gloom is clarity, great is small, the confused is distinct, discord is amity, the divisible is indivisible, the atom is immensity—and all inversely.”68 And of course, this No-thing is also a “great man,” and thus a kind of “masculine androgyny,” combining the masculine and feminine.69 Even being and non-being is not, for Bruno, a real distinction, for both coincide in that original undifferentiated No-thing, and thus, the distinction between them is only notional.70 Similarly, since this No-thing—in all its derivative forms—belongs to the nature of the physical medium itself, none of the specific information content of any individual form derived from it is ever lost: “Form,” says Bruno, “cannot be annihilated.”71 And again, it is the soul, the boundary condition or common surface between all manner of differentiated No-things, that is the Differentiator, as Bruno notes in a passage citing Empedocles.72
b. The Medium, The Metaphor, and the Magician
Indeed, it is this “boundary condition” of the soul that is the basis for the Nolan’s philosophy of magic. Anticipating the views of the modern biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, again by hundreds of years, Bruno states that “the soul has an immediate and sudden presence with the most distant things, which are not joined to it by any motion … but rather are directly present in a certain sense.”73 To put it in modern physics terms, for Bruno, the soul, the mind, is a non-local phenomenon.74 In order to understand what chain of reasoning led him to this conclusion, we need to reprise the logic of his argument thus far in a step-by-step fashion:
1)There is an underlying physical medium or substrate, in which all contraries coincide, that is an absolute unitary No-thing or Ø;
2)Thus, this No-thing has no location, since space, time, and place are all effects of its subsequent differentiations, as specific forms or information content of other forms;
3)Possessing all contraries, this No-thing is thus both impersonal and personal, masculine and feminine, and matter, and mind. We shall have more to say about this point in the next chapter.
It is this third point, a No-thing that is also present in some degree in Everything, that allows for the practice of magic, for the magician is nothing but “a wise man who has the power to act.”75 But this “power to act” is understood by Bruno to exist in three distinct kinds of magic, “the divine, the physical, and the mathematical.”76 But what does he mean by “mathematical magic”?
A hint has already been provided by the topological notations of the metaphor, and indeed, for Bruno, such mathematical magic is expression of all the “derivative and differentiated No-things,” and is a kind of “reverse engineering” of the process of derivations from the initial No-thing, or Ø:
… (Magicians) take it as axiomatic that, in all the panorama before our eyes, God acts on the gods; the gods act on the celestial or astral bodies, which are divine bodies; these act on the spirits who reside in and control the stars, one of which is the earth; the spirits act on the elements, the elements on the compounds, the compounds on the senses; the senses on the soul, and the soul on the whole animal. This is the descending scale.77
Note that “God” here designates the primordial substrate or No-thing, while “gods” would include, as Bruno made clear in the Expulsion, those higher mutable forms, including Yahweh, derived from it. Thus, the magician ascends back up this “descending scale” and operates on its highest levels, in order to affect the lower ones. Putting it into the terms of the mathematical magic or metaphor, Bruno is suggesting that subsequent derivatives from the initial No-thing can be described with the formal explicitness of mathematics. Thus “mathematical magic” resembles what we would call ceremonial magic, but with a difference. “Here,” says Bruno,
the mathematical type of magic is not defined by the usually mentioned fields of mathematics, i.e., geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, optics, music, etc., but rather by its likeness and relationship to these disciplines. It is similar to geometry in that it uses figures and symbols, to music in its chants, to arithmetic in its numbers and manipulations, to astronomy in its concerns for times and motions, and to optics in making observations. In general, it is similar to mathematics as a whole either because it mediates between divine and natural actions, or because it shares or lacks something of both.78
Had Bruno lived in a later time, he would have recognized that what he was calling for was a higher order mathematical language, the language of topology.
However, as we have seen, the Nolan also believed that the physical medium was both matter and mind, and this forms the crucial bridge to what he means by mathematical magic, and to his ars memoriae or Art of Memory, for “Whoever is aware of this indissoluble continuity of the soul and its necessary connection to a body will possess an important principle both to control natural things and to understand them better.”79 In other words, the higher steps of derivatives, those closest to the initial “No-thing,” are present within the mind, within the individual soul, and can be used toorder the mind, the psyche, via archetypal forms, and these in turn can be employed to order the cosmos.
And with that, we arrive at last at:
c. Bruno’s Art of Memory
When the Venetian Inquisition, duly suspicious of Bruno and his Art of Memory, questioned him about that subject, the Nolan gave a somewhat evasive response:
I gained such a name that the King Henri III summoned me one day and asked me whether the memory which I had and which I taught was a natural memory or obtained by magic art; I proved to him that it was not obtained by magic art but by science. After that I printed a book on memory entitled De umbris idearum which I dedicated to His Majesty, whereupon he made me an endowed reader.80
Bruno, of course, was not being entirely truthful, since in his world view, as is by now evident, there is little distinction between science and magic.
Indeed, Frances A. Yates is quick to point out that the Venetian Inquisitors
… had only to look into the De umbris idearum to recognize at once … that it contained allusions to the magical statues of the Asclepius and a list of one hundred and fifty magic images of the stars. Clearly there was magic in Bruno’s art of memory … 81
It should therefore come as no surprise that the Venetian nobleman Mocenigo’s denunciation of Bruno to the Inquisition came after “he had learned the full ‘secrets’ of his art of memory.”82 It is thus Bruno’s art of memory that stands “at the very centre of the life and death of Bruno,”83 for it is his art of memory that combines his magical practice, his philosophy, and his program for a Hermetic religious revolution. One might go so far as to say that Bruno’s Art of Memory is his religious revolution, that it is his “mathematical magic.”
This system is embodied in a complex construction of magical memory wheels, i.e., circular charts, nested one within the other, full of zodiacal, astrological, and magical symbolisms. By rotating these charts, various combinations of symbols, and hence of magical psychic functions, would be created, which Bruno believed potentially encompassed all the major operations or processes within the universe:
Did he intend that there would be formed in the memory using these ever-changing combinations of astral images some kind of alchemy of the imagination, a philosopher’s stone in the psyche through which every possible arrangement and combination of objects in the lower world—plants, animals, stones—would be perceived and remembered? And that, in the forming and reforming of the inventor’s images in accordance with the forming and reforming of the astral images on the central wheel, the whole history of man would be remembered from above, as it were, all his discoveries, thoughts, philosophies, productions?
Such a memory would be the memory of a divine man, of a Magus with divine powers through his imagination harnessed in the workings of the cosmic powers. And such an attempt would rest on the Hermetic assumption that man’s (mind) is divine, related in its origin to the star-governors of the world, able both to reflect and to control the universe.84
The inmost of these embedded, nested wheels of Bruno’s memory system represented the Hermetic divine powers: the celestial motions of the stars, the constellations, and planets. The next wheels, moving outward, represented the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal worlds respectively, an exact duplication of the order of descent in the ancient metaphor, for the highest world is the mineral, the next highest, the vegetable, and the lowest, the animal. Note that this order—mineral to vegetable to animal—is roughly that of modern scientific cosmology, which begins with the creation of the elements, then the emergence of simple life, then plants, and finally animals, thus lending some credence to the idea that the ancient Hermetic cosmology might similarly be a legacy of a very high science from High Antiquity. Consequently, Bruno’s memory wheels are meant to represent “all arts and sciences” and, as the wheels are rotated, to represent all possible combinations of those worlds. Again, had Bruno lived three hundred years later, this system of rotation within rotation within rotation, creating ever varied forms, would have been known as dynamic torsion. Memory is thus a Platonic recollection of the world of forms, of Plato’s “mathematicals”85 and is thus itself yet another alchemical Philosophers’ Stone.
The key to this vast astral memory machine is the inmost wheel, representing the motions of the heavens. Bruno is here reflecting his reliance upon Hermeticism, which betrays its Egyptian origins in its, and his, belief that “man is in his origin divine, and organically related to the star-governors of the world.”86 But there is more to this than meets the eye, for in Bruno’s memory wheels,
… the images of the stars are intermediaries between the ideas in the super-celestial world and the sub-celestial elemental world. By arranging or manipulating or using the star-images one is manipulating forms which are a stage nearer to reality than the objects in the inferior world, all of which depend on the stellar influences. One can act on the inferior world, change the stellar influences on it, if one knows how to arrange and manipulate the star-images. In fact the star-images are the ‘shadows of ideas,’ shadows of reality which are nearer to reality than the physical shadows in the lower world.87
The stars, in other words, like man himself, are the boundary conditions, the common surfaces, between two worlds, and as such, there is an intimate relationship between them and man, such that man, by manipulating their forms or images in the psyche, can manipulate their influences in the real world. Again, Bruno is maintaining that there is a direct relationship between the mind and the physical medium.
It is important to pause here, and reflect why this one fact alone would have been perceived as such a threat to the financial and banking powers of Venice, for as I pointed out in the previous book in this series, Babylon’s Banksters: The Alchemy of Deep Physics, High Finance, and Ancient Religion, the connection between astrology, religion, and private banking is an ancient one, and to some extent, the astrological influence over finance is a well-known “secret.”88 Bruno, by exposing the whole alchemical metaphor and alchemical magic of the system and making it public, thus constituted an implicit threat against the private money power of Venice and the other Italian city-states and their banking dynasties, and to their possible hidden knowledge of financial cycles being coupled to celestial ones. We shall see in greater detail in the next chapter why this is so.
But we are able to make some approximation of why Bruno’s magical and hermetic revolution was a threat not only to the religious powers of the day, but also to the financial ones, when we realize that his art of memory was nothing but a magical, alchemical operation on the psyche of man himself,89 for by reproducing “the divine organization in memory” it is possible to access “the powers of the cosmos, which are in man himself.”90 In other words, the fecundity of the metaphor, creating ever more differentiations, is not only a cosmological one, but as we shall discover in the next chapter, a psychic and financial one. It is a process of the production of a surplus of information, without debt. Such a “Platonic” view of the endless productivity of the medium could not help but be challenged by Venice, locked as it was into a closed Aristotelian physics and “financial” system, about which we shall have much more to say in a subsequent chapter.
“Here was a man,” says Frances Yates, “who would stop at nothing, who would use every magical procedure however dangerous and forbidden, to achieve that organisation of the psyche from above, through contact with the cosmic powers.”91 Those methods of organization, and the very cosmic powers themselves, were the mathematical, topological forms of the constant creation of information via endless “derivatives” and common surfaces from the primordial No-Thing. The astral wheel of Bruno’s memory wheels was thus a kind of astral-magical memory machine, and “the master mind who had the sky and all its movements and influences magically imprinted on memory through magic images was indeed in possession of a ‘secret’ worth knowing!”92 Indeed, if—as I outlined inBabylon’s Banksters—the knowledge of financial activity was coordinated to planetary positions, and if, as I averred there, it is a rather carefully guarded secret, then Bruno, on that basis alone, constituted a threat to the powers-that-were in his day.
Indeed, in his book On Seals, Bruno described the very first seal on his wheel as “the Field.”93 This “field,” as Yates notes, “is the memory, or the phantasy, the ample folds of which are to be worked upon by the art of places and images.”94 Once again, the memory, like the physical medium, is a “field of potential information,” to employ yet another modern physics metaphor that Bruno seems to have anticipated, and one, moreover, with its own Vedic overtones.95
In Bruno’s hands, this vast system of memory, magic, and philosophical reflection on the meaning and implications of the topological metaphor was transformed into an extraordinary program of a kind of Hermetic ecumenism, by which he hoped to resolve and supplant the divided Christianity of Europe with a new religion based on the reasonable implications of that metaphor. “By using magical or talismanic images as memory-images, the Magus” aspired to a kind of “universal knowledge, and also powers, obtaining through the magical organisation of the imagination a magically powerful personality, tuned in, as it were, to the powers of the cosmos.”96 Like the revisionist Egyptologist Schwaller de Lubicz centuries later, Bruno even recognized that the hieroglyphs of Egypt were deliberately chosen as analogical, archetypal images of operations or functions in the intelligible world of the psyche, and thus, as magical memory talismans.97
If all this sounds rather fanciful, from one perspective, it is. But Bruno’s basic philosophy is based upon the notion that the individual mind and soul is not a localized phenomenon within the body, and his memory images and the way he used them are anticipations of something very modern, and with a proven—though little understood—track record: remote viewing. Indeed, within the technique of remote viewing, the viewer first clears his mind, then focuses attention on the “target,” drawing an initial “squiggle,” an image or ideogram, which encapsulates all the information that is subsequently to be opened and elaborated upon by the viewer through controlled mental processes. This “squiggle” or ideogram is thus a kind of psychic “zip file.”98 And like Bruno centuries before, the scientists and participants in these remote viewing programs came to the conclusion that the mind, and its memory, were indeed non-local affairs, and that any individual could indeed access the vast sea of “information in the field” that constitutes the substrate to mind and the medium. It constituted—and please note the financial metaphor—a vast treasury of information that could be drawn upon by anyone, anytime, anywhere, provided one knew the proper “magical” techniques. Mind and memory were thus, for Bruno, a kind of metaphysical treasury of intellectual money, a medium of the exchange of information, accessible to all. As we shall see in the next chapter, this too constituted a threat to the papacy, with its doctrine of the Treasury of Merit.
It was small wonder then that Bruno, having demoted Yahweh to one of many mutable gods, should have caused the ire of the Vatican. And we have provided hints, in this chapter, of why he should have been so anxiously sought by a Venetian nobleman, who, having learned the Nolan’s secrets of magical memory, should also have turned him over to the Inquisition. But why would Bruno have been denounced as an atheist in England, and received as the warmest theist in Germany? How does one explain this apparent contradictory assessment of the man and his memory magic? And why would it take a combination of Vatican bishops and Venetian banksters to bring him down?
To answer this, we must go into fuller detail, exploring in the next chapter the relationship of that topological metaphor of the medium to money and politics, and in the subsequent chapters, the rise of merchant banking in the Italian city-states.
1Giordano Bruno, “Explanatory Epistle” in The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, trans. from the Italian by Arthur D. Imerti (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), p. 75.
2“Giordano Bruno,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno. For a less publicly available treatment of Bruno’s life and travels, see Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, pp. 3–20, 47–65.
3Karen de León-Jones, foreword to The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast by Bruno, p. vii. The other books of this trilogy are The Cabala of the Pegasean Horse and The Heroic Furors (p. vii).
4Arthur D. Imerti, “The Making of a Heretic,” in The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast by Bruno, p. 16.
6Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 145.
7Imerti, “The Making of a Heretic,” p. 39.
8Ibid., p. 16.
9Ibid., p. 17.
11Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, (London: Routledge, 1964), p. 340.
13Ibid., p. 5, citing the Sommario of the Venetian Inquisition, pp. 57–58.
14Ibid., p. 312.
15Ibid., pp. 312–313. See also Yates, Selected Works of Frances Yates, Volume III, The Art of Memory (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 303.
16Yates, The Art of Memory, p. 304.
19Ibid., p. 305.
20Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, p. 349.
21Anima mundi or , i.e., the “World Soul” of the Neoplatonists.
22Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, p. 354.
23For a consideration of the peculiarities and implications surrounding the evidence of Bruno’s Trial, see the Appendix, “The Missing Documents of Bruno’s Trial: Napoleon Bonaparte, Pope Piux IX (Giovanni Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti), and the Implications.”
24For Yates’ complete recounting of the Roman trial, see Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, pp. 349–356.
25Ibid., p. 355.
26Arthur D. Imerti, “The Heretic and His Trial,” in Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 48.
27Ibid., p. 63.
30Ibid., pp. 63–64.
31Ibid., p. 64.
32Arthur D. Imerti, “Lo Spaccio, Its Fortunes, Literary Aspects, Allegory, and Summary,” in Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 21.
34Ibid., p. 146.
35See Imerti’s remarks in “The Making of a Heretic,” p. 9.
36Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 72.
37Imerti, “The Heretical Premises of Lo Spaccio,” in Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 41.
38Abbé Augustin Barruel, Code of the Illuminati (Hong Kong: Forgotten Books, 2008), p. 135.
39Imerti, “The Heretical Premises of Lo Spaccio,” in Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 32.
40Ibid., pp. 42–43.
41Imerti, “The Heretical Premises of Lo Spaccio,” in Griodano Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 45.
42Ibid., p. 46.
43Bruno, “Explanatory Epistle,” in The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 72.
44Imerti, “The Heretical Premises of Lo Spaccio,” in Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 42.
45Imerti, “The Making of a Heretic,” in The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 19, and Imerti, “The Heretic and His Trial,” p. 51.
46de León-Jones, “Foreword,” The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. xii.
47Bruno, “Explanatory Epistle,” The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 78.
48Ibid., p. 79.
49See Joseph P. Farrell, and Scott D. de Hart, Yahweh the Two-Faced God: Theology, Terrorism, and Topology (Las Vegas: Periprometheus Press, 2012), pp. 23–36.
50Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (Second Dialogue, First Part), pp. 150–151.
51Imerti, “Lo Spaccio: Fortunes, Literary Aspects,” Gordano Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 25.
52Ibid., pp. 25–26.
53Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (First Dialogue, Second Part), pp. 106–107.
54Imerti, “Lo Spaccio: Fortunes, Literary Aspects,” The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 26.
55Ibid., p. 27.
56Bruno, op. cit., p. 143.
57Bruno, “Explanatory Epistle,” The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 75, italicized emphasis added.
58See Farrell, The Philosophers’ Stone: Alchemy and the Secret Research for Exotic Matter (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2009), pp. 63–79.
59Imerti, “The Heretical Premises of Lo Spaccio,” The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, p. 34.
60See Farrell and de Hart, Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas for the Transformation of Man (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2012), chapter 1.
61Alfonso Ingegno, introduction to Cause, Principle, and Unity and Essays on Magic, by Giordano Bruno, ed. Richard J. Blackwell and Robert de Lucca (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. vii.
62Ibid., p. x.
64See Bruno, “Cause, Principle, and Unity,” in ibid., p. 65.
65Ingegno, introduction to Cause, Principle, and Unity and Essays on Magic, p. xii.
66Bruno, “Cause, Principle, and Unity,” p. 7.
67Ibid., p. 8.
68Ibid., pp. 11, 21.
69Ibid., p. 32. For the reason why this androgyny is considered to be a kind of “masculine androgyny,” see Farrell and de Hart, Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas for the Transformation of Man, ch. 8.
70Bruno, Cause, Principle, and Unity, p. 75.
71Ibid., p. 45.
72Ibid., p. 38.
73Bruno, “On Magic,” in Cause, Principle, and Unity and Essays on Magic, p. 113.
74While the complexity of Dr. Sheldrake’s thought on biology and the underlying “morphogenetic field” is far too complex to review here, it may be said that Dr. Sheldrake views the individual material brain as a kind of transmitter and receiver of a specific mind which is non-local in nature, i.e., not imprisoned inside the brain, but outside it. Dr. Sheldrake argues for this position on the basis of the fact that various animal species, unconnected to each other via time or location, seem to somehow learn from each other over vast distances and time. For example, if a species of monkeys isolated on an island learns a particular thing, the same species isolated on another island seems somehow to learn from the first group, even though there has been no actual physical contact between the members of the two groups.
75Bruno, “On Magic,” in Cause, Principle, and Unity and Essays on Magic, p. 107.
78Ibid., p. 108.
79Ibid., p. 116.
80Documenti della vita di G.B., ed. V. Spampanato, Florence, 1933, pp. 84–85, cited in Yates, The Art of Memory, Selected Works of Frances Yates, Volume III (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 200.
81Yates, The Art of Memory, Selected Works of Frances Yates, Volume III (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 200. The “living statues” of the Asclepius were statutes that were brought to life by magic.
82Ibid., p. 201.
84Ibid., p. 224.
85For a fuller hermetic and esoteric discussion of this point, see my Giza Death Star Deployed (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press, 2003), pp. 88–92.
86Yates, The Art of Memory, p. 217.
87Ibid., p. 216, italicized emphasis added, boldface emphasis in the original.
88Joseph P. Farrell, Babylon’s Banksters: The Alchemy of Deep Physics, High Finance, and Ancient Religion (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2010), pp. 77–104, 159–185, 220–225.
89Yates, The Art of Memory, pp. 251–252.
90Ibid., p. 254.
91Ibid., p. 212.
92Yates, The Art of Memory, p. 215.
93For further reflections on the physics nature of this ancient metaphor of the Field, see Farrell and de Hart, Transhumanism, chapters 1 and 2.
94Ibid., p. 248.
95See ibid., ch. 2.
96Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, p. 192. See also p. 198.
97Ibid., p. 263.
98See, for example, Paul H. Smith, Reading the Enemy’s Mind: Inside Star Gate, America’s Psychic Espionage Program (Tor Books, 2005), pp. 181–182, 193–219.