Crollius, Oswaldus (1580-1609)

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Crollius, Oswaldus (1580-1609)

A disciple of the school of Paracelsus and author of Basilica Chymica (1612), the third part of which is the Book of Signatures. The preface contains a sketch of hermetic philosophy. The writer sought to demonstrate that God and Nature have "signed" all their works, that every product of a given natural force is as the sum of that force printed in indelible characters, so that he who is initiated in the occult writings can read as in an open book the sympathies and antipathies of things, the properties of substances, and all other secrets of creation. In hisThe History of Magic (1860), occultist Éliphas Lévi, summarizes the doctrine of signatures:

"The characters of different writings were borrowed primitively from these natural signatures existing in stars and flow-ers, in mountains and the smallest pebble. King Solomon alone is credited with having accomplished the dual labor; but the books of Solomon are lost. The enterprise of Crollius was not a reconstitution of these, but an attempt to discover the fundamental principles obtaining in the universal language of the creative world.

"It was recognized in these principles that the original hieroglyphics, based on the prime elements of geometry, corresponded to the constitutive and essential laws of forms, determined by alternating or combined movements, which, in their turn, were determined by equilibrator attractions. Simples were distinguished from composites by their external figures; and by the correspondence between figures and numbers it became possible to make a mathematical classification of all substances revealed by the lines of their surfaces. At the root of these endeavors, which are reminiscences of Aldonic science, there is a whole world of discoveries awaiting the sciences. Paracelsus had defined them, Crollius indicates them, another who shall follow will realize and provide the demonstration concerning them. What seemed the folly of yesterday will be the genius of tomorrow, and progress will hail the sublime seekers who first looked into his lost and recovered world, this Atlantis of human knowledge."

The doctrine of signatures has been a persistent one in folk medicine, where the shapes of plants have been considered symbolic of their medicinal virtues.


Lévi, Éliphas. The History of Magic. 1860. Reprint, New York: Samuel Weiser, 1969.

Pettigrew, T. J. Superstitions Connected with Medicine or Surgery. N.p., 1844.

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Crollius, Oswaldus (1580-1609)

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