Albertus Magnus

From Scot we move on to a more illustrious contemporary, Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), Bishop of Ratisbon and intellectual luminary of the Church. Ironically Albertus Magnus took almost 700 years to live down his reputation as a magician and sorcerer, finally being canonized by the Church in 1935. Since then, what is reputed to be his bones have been moved to a crypt chapel in Cologne. Although his memory has been cleared of the charge of sorcery, a number of books on the subject still circulate under his name. However in his genuine works Albertus refers to magic and geomancy (punctis terrae) whilst defending the Magi against any suspicion of unwholesome magic. He shows an intimate grasp of the subject when he states: 'in the science of geomancy the figures traced from the points are of no value unless they can be made to conform with astronomical images.'15

Albertus appears to approve of the art of geomancy, the only qualification being that it was illicit and superstitious to utter prayers over the pen and ink employed in jotting down the lines of points, or to seek to divine only on a favourable day, or when the weather was settled (a frequent and favourite injunction of geomantic books). If these preliminaries were not observed then Albertus conceded that geomancy was no more superstitious than astrology, which on the whole he approved of in his writing.

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