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 his
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Crollius, Oswaldus
353
The 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 flowers,
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.
Sources
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.