1605: The most complete treatise on ghosts and apparitions


Pierre Le Loyer


Discours et Histoires des Spectres,
visions et apparitions des esprits, anges, démons et âmes se montrans visibles aux hommes


" History of Ghosts, Visions, and Apparitions of spirits, angels and demons"

 


M.DCV. (1605) . A PARIS. Nicolas Buon.

4to (24cm / 9.5 inch). 13 ff 1 bl 976 pp 19 ff (index) 1 f errata

Title in red and black. Interior very crisp and clean, wide margins.

Later half calf binding, red morocco label, all edges gilt. Very good.

Provenance : Label of the Dorbon Aine bookshop (c1900). Signature cut at bottom of titlepage.

2nd Edition, the most complete. Beautiful copy of the most extensive study on the history of ghosts and demonology to appear at the time.

The work is divided into eight books dealing with the marvelous visions and prodigies of several centuries and the most celebrated authors, sacred as well as profane, who have dealt with occult subjects. It discusses the cause of apparitions; the nature of good and evil spirits; demons; ecstasy ; the essence, nature, and origin of souls; magicians and sorcerers and the manner of their communication; evil spirits; and imposters.

The first book deals with specters, apparitions, and spirits; the second with the physics of Le Loyer's time, the illusions to which the senses are prone, wonders, and the elixirs and metamorphosis of sorceries and of philters; the third book establishes the degrees, grades, and honors of spirits, gives a résumé of the history of Philinnion and of Polycrites, and recounts diverse adventures with specters and demons; the fourth book gives many examples of spectral appearances, of the speech of persons possessed of demons, of the countries and dwelling-places of these specters and demons, and of marvelous portents; the fifth treats the science of the soul, of its origin, nature, its state after death, and of haunting ghosts; the sixth division is entirely taken up with the apparition of souls, and shows how the happy do not return to earth, but only those whose souls are burning in purgatory; in the seventh book the case of the Witch of Endor and the evocation of the soul of Samuel are dealt with, as is evocation in general and the methods practiced by wizards and sorcerers in this science; and the last book gives some account of exorcism, fumigations, prayers, and other methods of casting out devils, and the usual means employed by exorcists to destroy these. The work, though disputatious, throws considerable light upon the occult science of the times. Although often credulous, Le Loyer was most skeptical about alchemy, of which he wrote: "As to transmutation, I wonder how it can be reasonably defended. Metals can be adulterated but not changed…. Blowing [the bellows], they may exhaust their purses, they multiply all into nothing. Yes, I do not believe, and may the philosophers excuse me if they wish, that the alchemists can change any metal into gold."

 

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