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Johannes Trithemius Main Page

Abbot Johannes Trithemius of Sponheim

De Septum Secundeis:
Trithemius' Astrological History
Trithemius' Steganographia
Book I (Latin)
Trithemius' Steganographia
Book II (Latin)
Trithemius' Steganographia
Book III (Latin)
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Study generates Knowledge; Knowledge prepares Love; Love, Similarity; Similarity, Communion; Communion, Virtue; Virtue, Dignity; Dignity, Power; and Power performs the Miracle.



Johannes Trithemius was born Johann Heidenberg in Trittenheim on the Mosel in what is now the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz on February 1, 1462. His Latin name, Trithemius, derives from Trittenheim, his city' of birth. He broke with his family to pursue a scholarly life and studied at Heidelburg.
Having taken refuge in the Benedictine abbey of Sponheim during a snowstorm he resolved to stay and at the age of 21 became its abbot. As Abbot of Sponheim, Trithemius studied, wrote and amassed a large library.
In 1506 Trithemius left Sponheim and became the Abbot of the Monastery of St. Jacob in Wurzburg. He died in 1516.

Trithemius' Work and Thought

Title page of Trithemius' Polygraphiae
The major works of Trithemius include Steganographia written circa 1499, Polygraphiae, a cryptographic work and De Septum Secundeis, a history of the World based on astrology, both of which were published in 1508.
Steganographia is primarily concerned with the sending of secret messages by angels, though it also touches on cryptography and a system of rapid learning. Trithemius sets forth a hierarchy of angels and spirits ruling over regions of the Earth as well as days and hours. Ultimately these angels are subject to the seven planetary angels, also set forth in De Septum Secundeis.
Trithemius instructs that one who wishes to send a secret message should determine the appropriate angel, write a cover message and conjure the spirit. The cover message is then sent by courier to the receiver who then also conjures the appropriate spirit and receives the secret message from the angel.
Trithemius is an excellent example of the Renaissance fusion of Christianity, Hermetic Philosophy and its attendant sciences of magic, astrology and alchemy and Cabbala. His magical system depends on the sympathy and harmony between the three worlds of the material, celestial and angelic/Ideal.
What is true of all of the Renaissance Magi, with the possible exception of Giordano Bruno, is their adherence to Christianity, albeit of a rather heterodox nature. This insistence on the consonance between magic and Christianity is particularly pronounced in Trithemius, a Benedictine Abbot. Trithemius says, "The word magic is the Persian term for what in Latin is called wisdom, on which account magicians are called wise men, just as were those three wise men who, according to the Gospel, journeyed from the East to adore, in his crib, the infant who was the Son of God in the flesh." Nepiachus, cited in Braun, Trithemius and Magical Theology (SUNY 1999) page 115.
Trithemius' work had considerable influence on later Renaissance writings on magic, particularly on Cornelius Agrippa. In his Three Books of Occult Philosophy Agrippa states that he conferred with Trithemius, "...of divers things concerning chemistry, magic and Cabalie, and of other things, which as yet lie hidden in secret sciences and arts..." Preface, (Tyson ed.) page liii.



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Specializing in Horary Astrology, Electional Astrology Astrological Magic and Astrological Talismans.

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