Thomas Vaughan (17 April 1621 − 27 February 1666) was a Welsh philosopher and alchemist, who wrote in English. He is now remembered for his work in the field of natural magic.
A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.
Alchemy was an ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscientific tradition practised throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, originating in Greco-Roman Egypt in the first few centuries.
Natural magic in the context of Renaissance magic is that part of the occult which deals with natural forces directly, as opposed to ceremonial magic, in particular goety and theurgy, which deals with the summoning of spirits. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa so uses the term in his 1526 de vanitate. Natural magic so defined thus includes astrology, alchemy, and disciplines that we would today consider fields of natural science, such as astronomy and chemistry or botany.
A Royalist clergyman from Brecon, Wales, Thomas was the twin brother of the poet Henry Vaughan,both being born at Newton, in the parish of St. Briget's, in 1621. He entered Jesus College, Oxford, in 1638, and remained there for a decade during the English Civil War.
Cavalier was first used by Roundheads as a term of abuse for the wealthier Royalist supporters of King Charles I and his son Charles II of England during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration. It was later adopted by the Royalists themselves. Although it referred originally to political and social attitudes and behaviour, of which clothing was a very small part, it has subsequently become strongly identified with the fashionable clothing of the court at the time. Prince Rupert, commander of much of Charles I's cavalry, is often considered to be an archetypal Cavalier.
Brecon, archaically known as Brecknock, is a market town and community in Powys, mid-Wales. In 1841, it had a population of 5,701. The population in 2001 was 7,901, increasing to 8,250 at the 2011 census. Historically it was the county town of Brecknockshire (Breconshire); although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of the County of Powys, it remains an important local centre. Brecon is the third-largest town in Powys, after Newtown and Ystradgynlais. It lies north of the Brecon Beacons mountain range, but is just within the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.
Vaughan took part in the Battle of Rowton Heath in 1645.He became rector of the parish of Llansantffraed (St Bridget) Wales and took up medical studies, motivated by the lack of doctors in Wales. But in 1650, Vaughan was evicted from the parish because of his Royalist sympathies.
The Battle of Rowton Heath, also known as the Battle of Rowton Moor, occurred on 24 September 1645 during the English Civil War. Fought by the Parliamentarians, commanded by Sydnam Poyntz, and the Royalists under the personal command of King Charles I, it was a significant defeat for the Royalists, with heavy losses and Charles prevented from relieving the Siege of Chester.
Llansantffraed (Llansantffraed-juxta-Usk) is a parish in the community of Talybont-on-Usk in Powys, Wales near Brecon. The benefice of Llansantffraed with Llanrhystud and Llanddeiniol falls within the diocese of St David's in the Church in Wales.
Vaughan later became involved with a plan of Robert Child to form a chemical club, with a laboratory and library, the main aim being to translate and collect chemical works. He married his wife Rebecca in 1651 and spent the next period of his life in London. His wife died in 1658.
Robert Child (1613–1654) was an English physician, agriculturalist and alchemist. A recent view is that his approach to agriculture belongs to the early ideas on political economy.
Vaughan died at the house of Samuel Kem, at Albury, Oxfordshire.
Albury is a village in the civil parish of Tiddington-with-Albury, about 5 miles (8 km) west of Thame in Oxfordshire.
Although he did not practice medicine, Vaughan sought to apply his chemical skills to preparing medicines in the manner recommended by Paracelsus. He corresponded with Samuel Hartlib, who by 1650 was paying attention to Vaughan as author,and established a reputation with his book Anthroposophia Theomagica , a magico-mystical work. Vaughan was the author of tracts published under the pseudonym Eugenius Philalethes, as is now generally agreed.
Paracelsus, born Theophrastus von Hohenheim, was a Swiss physician, alchemist, and astrologer of the German Renaissance.
Samuel Hartlib or Hartlieb was a polymath of German origin who settled, married and died in England. He was an active promoter and expert writer in many fields, interested in science, medicine, agriculture, politics, and education. He was a contemporary of Robert Boyle, whom he knew well, and a neighbour of Samuel Pepys in Axe Yard, London, in the early 1660s. He studied briefly at the University of Cambridge upon arriving in England.
Vaughan was unusual amongst alchemists of the timein that he worked closely with his wife Rebecca Vaughan. He was a self-described member of the "Society of Unknown Philosophers", and was responsible for translating into English in 1652 the Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis, an anonymous Rosicrucian manifesto first published in 1614 in Kassel.
Allen G. Debus has written that a simple explanation of Vaughan's natural philosophy, in its mature form, is as the De occulta of Cornelius Agrippa, in an exposition coming via the views of Michael Sendivogius.As a writer in the school of Sendivogius, Vaughan follows Jacques de Nuisement and Andreas Orthelius. He placed himself in the tradition of the Rosicrucian reformers of education, and of Johannes Trithemius, his teacher Libanius Gallus, and Pelagius of Majorca, teacher of Libanius (of whom the last two are not known to have been real people apart from what Trithemius relates of them).
According to some writers of catalogues of hermetic and alchemical treatises (such as John Ferguson, Denis Ian Duveen, Vinci Verginelli et al.), Thomas Vaughan could be the anonymous author of the treatise Reconditorium ac Reclusorium Opulentiae Sapientiaeque Numinis Mundi Magni, cui deditur in titulum CHYMICA VANNUS... Amstelodami... Anno 1666, i. e. a mysterious masterpiece of the hermetic tradition..
Vaughan quarrelled in print with Henry More.Their pamphlet war petered out, but More returned to the subject of alchemists in Enthusiasmus Triumphatus (1656). Another critic of Vaughan was John Gaule.
Vaughan fell out with an alchemical collaborator, Edward Bolnest, over money matters and alleged broken promises, and the matter came to litigation after Bolnest had threatened violence.Vaughan was accused as part of this affair of spending "most of his time in the study of Naturall Philosophy and Chimicall Phisick". He is reported as having confessed that he had "long sought and long missed... the philosopher's stone."
Rosicrucianism is a spiritual and cultural movement which arose in Europe in the early 17th century after the publication of several texts which purported to announce the existence of a hitherto unknown esoteric order to the world and made seeking its knowledge attractive to many. The mysterious doctrine of the order is "built on esoteric truths of the ancient past", which "concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe, and the spiritual realm." The manifestos do not elaborate extensively on the matter, but clearly combine references to Kabbalah, Hermeticism, alchemy, and mystical Christianity.
Arthur Edward Waite was an American-born British poet and scholarly mystic who wrote extensively on occult and esoteric matters, and was the co-creator of the Rider-Waite tarot deck. As his biographer R. A. Gilbert described him, "Waite's name has survived because he was the first to attempt a systematic study of the history of western occultism—viewed as a spiritual tradition rather than as aspects of proto-science or as the pathology of religion."
Henry Vaughan was a Welsh metaphysical poet, author, translator and physician, who wrote in English. He is chiefly known for the religious poetry contained in Silex Scintillans, published in 1650, with a second part published in 1655. In 1646 his poems, with the Tenth Satyre of Juvenal Englished, were published, followed by a second volume in 1647. Meanwhile, he had been "converted" by reading the religious poet George Herbert and gave up "idle verse". The prose Mount of Olives: or, Solitary Devotions (1652) show the depth of his religious convictions and the authenticity of his poetic genius. Two more volumes of secular verse followed, ostensibly without his sanction, but it is his religious verse that has become acclaimed. He also translated short moral and religious works and two medical works in prose. At some time in the 1650s he began to practise medicine and continued to do so through his life.
The philosopher's stone, more properly philosophers' stone or stone of the philosophers is a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals such as mercury into gold or silver. It is also called the elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and for achieving immortality; for many centuries, it was the most sought goal in alchemy. The philosophers' stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss. Efforts to discover the philosophers' stone were known as the Magnum Opus.
Robert Fludd, also known as Robertus de Fluctibus, was a prominent English Paracelsian physician with both scientific and occult interests. He is remembered as an astrologer, mathematician, cosmologist, Qabalist and Rosicrucian apologist.
Hermeticism, also called Hermetism, is a religious, philosophical, and esoteric tradition based primarily upon writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. These writings have greatly influenced the Western esoteric tradition and were considered to be of great importance during both the Renaissance and the Reformation. The tradition traces its origin to a prisca theologia, a doctrine that affirms the existence of a single, true theology that is present in all religions and that was given by God to man in antiquity.
English physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton produced many works that would now be classified as occult studies. These works explored chronology, alchemy, and Biblical interpretation. Newton's scientific work may have been of lesser personal importance to him, as he placed emphasis on rediscovering the occult wisdom of the ancients. In this sense, some historians, including economist John Maynard Keynes, believe that any reference to a "Newtonian Worldview" as being purely mechanical in nature is somewhat inaccurate. Historical research on Newton's occult studies in relation to his science have also been used to challenge the disenchantment narrative within critical theory.
The Rose Cross is a symbol largely associated with the semi-mythical Christian Rosenkreuz, Qabbalist and alchemist and founder of the Rosicrucian Order. The Rose Cross is said to be a cross with a red, golden or white rose at its centre and symbolizes the teachings of a western esoteric tradition formed within the Christian tenets, albeit a Christianity not yet conspicuously in evidence:
"What think you, loving people, and how seem you affected, seeing that you now understand and know, that we acknowledge ourselves truly and sincerely to profess Christ, condemn the Pope, addict ourselves to the true Philosophy, lead a Christian life, and daily call, entreat and invite many more unto our Fraternity, unto whom the same Light of God likewise appeareth?"
--Confessio Fraternitatis, the second Rosicrucian Manifesto, printed in 1615
Christian Rosenkreuz is the legendary, possibly allegorical, founder of the Rosicrucian Order. He is presented in three manifestos that were published early in the 17th century. These were:
The Emerald Tablet, also known as the Smaragdine Tablet, or Tabula Smaragdina, is a compact and cryptic piece of the Hermetica reputed to contain the secret of the prima materia and its transmutation. It was highly regarded by European alchemists as the foundation of their art and its Hermetic tradition. The original source of the Emerald Tablet is unknown. Although Hermes Trismegistus is the author named in the text, its first known appearance is in a book written in Arabic between the sixth and eighth centuries. The text was first translated into Latin in the twelfth century. Numerous translations, interpretations and commentaries followed.
Michael Sendivogius was a Polish alchemist, philosopher, and medical doctor. A pioneer of chemistry, he developed ways of purification and creation of various acids, metals and other chemical compounds. He discovered that air is not a single substance and contains a life-giving substance-later called oxygen, 170 years before Scheele's discovery of the element. He correctly identified this 'food of life' with the gas given off by heating nitre (saltpetre). This substance, the 'central nitre', had a central position in Sendivogius' schema of the universe.
Michael Maier was a German physician and counsellor to Rudolf II Habsburg. He was a learned alchemist, epigramist and amateur composer.
Heinrich Khunrath, or Dr. Henricus Khunrath as he was also called, was a German physician, hermetic philosopher, and alchemist. Frances Yates considered him to be a link between the philosophy of John Dee and Rosicrucianism.
Adam McLean is a Scottish writer on alchemical texts and symbolism. In 1978 he founded the Hermetic Journal which he published until 1992 during which time he also started publishing the Magnum Opus Hermetic Sourceworks, a series of 55 editions of key source texts of the hermetic tradition. From 2004 he began collecting tarot cards in order to document tarot art and built up a collection of 2500 items.. In 2016 he set up the Surrealism Website in order to document surrealist painters. This currently shows the work of 100 surrealist artists.. He also created a series of 20 video lectures on many facets of surrealist paintings.. In 2017 he set up an art gallery The Studio and Gallery in Kilbirnie in North Ayrshire in order to promote the work of emergent and lesser-known artists.
Hermetic Qabalah is a Western esoteric tradition involving mysticism and the occult. It is the underlying philosophy and framework for magical societies such as the Golden Dawn, Thelemic orders, mystical-religious societies such as the Builders of the Adytum and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, and is a precursor to the Neopagan, Wiccan and New Age movements. The Hermetic Qabalah is the basis for Qliphothic Qabala as studied by left hand path orders, such as the Typhonian Order.
John Webster (1610–1682), also known as Johannes Hyphastes, was an English cleric, physician and chemist with occult interests, a proponent of astrology and a sceptic about witchcraft. He is known for controversial works.
Serge Hutin (1927–1997) was a French author of books on esoterica and the occult. He was born in France.