Thomas Vaughan (philosopher)

Welsh philosopher
(Redirected from Eugenius Philalethes)

Thomas Vaughan (17 April 1621 − 27 February 1666) was a Welsh clergyman, philosopher, and alchemist, who wrote in English. He is now remembered for his work in the field of natural magic. He also published under the pseudonym Eugenius Philalethes.

Look on this life as the Progress of an Essence Royale.



Anthroposophia Theomagica (1650)


(A discourse of the nature of man and his state after death)
(full text); (alternative text)

  • Audi Ignis Vocem.
  • The Author to the reader:
  • Look on this life as the Progress of an Essence Royale. The Soul but quits her court to see the country. Heaven hath in it a scene of earth; and had she had bin contented with ideas, she had not travelled beyond the map.
  • Ignorance gave this release the name of death, but properly it is the soul's birth and a charter that makes for her liberty.
  • She hath several ways to break up house, but her best is without a disease. This is her mystical walk, an exit only to return.
  • It is an age of intellectual slaveries; If they meet any thing extraordinary, they prune it with distinctions, or daub it with false glosses, til it looks like the traditions of Aristotle. His followers are so confident of his principles they seek not to understand what others speak, but to make others speak what they understand.
  • Now if I should question any sect (for there is no Communion in Christendom) whither these later intimations drive? They can but return me to the first rudiments, or produce some empty pretense of Spirit.
  • Friar Bacon walked in Oxford between two steeples, but he that would have discovered his thoughts, by his steps, had been more his fool than his fellow.
  • The peripateticks when they define the soul or some inferior principle describe it only by outward circumstances, which every child can do, but they state nothing essentially.
  • They dwell altogether in the face, their endeavors are meer titillations, & their acquaintance with Nature is not at the heart.
  • Notwithstanding I acknowledge the schoolmen ingenious: they conceive their principles irregular, and prescribe rules for method, though they want matter.
  • Their philosophy is like a church, that is all discipline, and no doctrine
  • Besides, their Aristotle is a poet in text, his principles are but fancies, and they stand more on our concessions, then his bottom.
  • Hence it is that his followers, notwithstanding the assistance of so many ages, can fetch nothing out of him but notions: And these indeed they use, as he sayeth Lycophron did his epithets, (Non ut Condimentis, sed ut Cibis) not as spices but as food. Their compositions are a meer tympany of terms.
  • It is better then a fight in Quixote, to observe what duels and digladiations they have about him, One will make him speak sense another non-sense and a third both, Aquinas palps him gently, Scotus makes him winch and he is taught like an ape to shew several tricks. If we look on his adversaries the least amongst them hath foyld him, but Telesius knocked him in the head, and Campanella hath quite discomposed him.
  • Aristotle thrives by scuffles and the world cries him up, when truth cries him down.
  • The peripatetics look on God as they do on carpenters, who build with stone and timber, without any infusion of life. But the world which is God's building is full of spirit, quick and living.
  • The earth which is the visible, natural basis of it represents the gross, carnal parts. The element of water answers to the blood, for in it the pulse of the Great World beats: this most men call the flux and reflux, but they know not the true cause of it. The air is the outward refreshing spirit, where this vast creature breathes though invisibly, yet not altogether insensibly.
  • They are things beyond reasoning sensible, practical truths, not mere vagaries and rambles of the brain.
  • I would not have thee look on my endeavors as a design of captivity. I intend not the conquest but the exercise of thy reason, not that, thou should swear allegiance to my dictates but compare my conclusions with Nature and examine their correspondence.
  • Be pleased to consider, that obstinacy enslaves the Soul, and clips the wings which God gave Her for flight, and discovery.
  • If thou wilt not quit thy Aristotle, let not any prejudice hinder thy further search.
  • Great is their number who perhaps had attained to perfection, had they not already thought themselves perfect.
  • This is my advice but how welcome to thee I know not.
  • If thou wilt kick and fling, I shall say with the cardinal: Etiam asinus meus recaldtrat (My ass also kicks up his heels) for I value no man's Censure.
  • It is an age wherein truth is near a miscarriage, and it is enough for me that I have appeared thus far for it, in a day of necessity.
  • When I found out this truth, that man in his original was a branch planted in God and that there was a continual influx from the stock to the Sion, I was much troubled at his corruptions, and wondered his fruits were not correspondent to his root. But when I was told he had tasted of an other tree, my admiration was quickly off, it being my chief care to reduce him to his first simplicity, and separate his mixtures of good & evil. But his fall had so bruised him in his best part, that his soul had no knowledge left to study him a cure. His punishment presently followed his trespass: "all things were hidden and oblivion, the mother of ignorance, entered in." (Veleta funt omnia, intravitq oblivio mater ignorantie) P. 1
Assay nothing without science, but confine your selves to those bounds, which Nature hath prescribed you.
  • I have now done reader, but how much to my own prejudice, I cannot tell, I am confident this shall not pass without notice... To Conclude: If l have err'd in any thing (and yet I followed the Rules of Creation) I expose it not to the Mercy of Man, but of God who as he is most able so is he most willing to forgive us in the Day of our Accounts
  • I have two admonitions more to the ingenuous, and well-disposed reader. First that he would not slight my endeavors because of my years, which are but few. It is the custom of most men to measure knowledge by the beard, but look thou rather on the Soul, an essence of that Nature, que ad perfectionem suam curricula temporis non defiderat. Secondly, that he would not conclude any thing rashly concerning the subject of this art, for it is a principle not easily apprehended. p. 69
  • Assay nothing without science, but confine your selves to those bounds, which Nature hath prescribed you. p. 70 (last sentence of the book)

Anima Magica Abscondita (1650)


(A Discourse of the Universall Spirit of Nature, With his strange, abstruse, miraculous Ascent and descent) By Eugenius Philalethes
(full text)

  • Now God defend: what will become of me? I have neither consulted the stars nor their urinals, the Almanacks. A fine fellow to neglect the prophets who are read in England every day. They shall pardon me for this oversight. There is a mystery in their profession they have not so much as heard of... a new heaven fancied on the old earth. Here the twelve apostles have surprised the zodiac and all the saints are ranged on their North and South sides. It were a pretty vanity to preach when St Paul is ascendant, and would not a papist smile to have his pope elected under St Peter? Reader, if I studied these things I would think myself worse employed than the Roman Chaucer was in his Troilus (To the reader)
  • I come out as if there were no hours in the days, nor planets in the hours; Neither do I care for any thing, but that interlude of Perendenga in Michael Cervantes: Let the old Man my Master live, and Christ be with us thus all. Thou wilt wonder now where this drives, Conde de lemos, nor a cardinal to pray for.
  • I pray for the dead, this is, I wish him a fair remembrance, whose labours have deserved it.
  • It happened in exposing my former discourse to censure, (a custom hath strangled many truths in the cradle) that a learned man suggested to me some bad opinion he had of my author, Henricus Cornelius Agrippa. I ever understood it was not one but many in whose sentiment that miracle suffered.
  • It is the fortune of deep writers to miscarry because of obscurity... inferior wits, when they reflect on higher intellects, leave a mist in their beams. Had he lived in ignorance, as most do, he might have passed hence like the last year's clouds, without any more remembrance. But as I believe the truth a main branch of that end to which I was born, so I hold it my duty to vindicate him from whom I have received it.
  • This is the way I would have thee walk in if thou dost intend to be a solid Christian philosopher. Thou must --- as Agrippa saith --- "live to God and the angels," reject all things which are "contrary to Heaven": otherwise thou canst have no communion with superiors. Lastly, "be single, not solitary." Avoid the multitude --- as well of passions as persons. p.55
Stand not long in the sun nor long in the shade.
  • I would have thee know that every day is a year contracted, that every year is a day extended. Anticipate the year in the day and lose not a day in the year. Make use of indeterminate agents till thou canst find a determinate one. The many may wish well but one only loves. Circumferences spread but centres contract: so superiors dissolve and inferiors coagulate. Stand not long in the sun nor long in the shade. Where extremes meet, there look for complexions.
  • Learn from thy errors to be infallible, from thy misfortunes to be constant. There is nothing stronger than perseverance, for it ends in miracles.
  • Thus, Reader, have I published that knowledge which God gave me "to the fruit of a good conscience." I have not bushelled my light nor buried my talent in the ground. I will now withdraw and leave the stage to the next actor some Peripatetic perhaps, whose sic probo shall serve me for a comedy. I have seen scolds laughed at but never admired: so he that multiplies discourses makes a serious cause ridiculous.
  • Bless'd souls, whose care it was this first to know
    And thus the mansions of the light attain:
    How credible to hold that minds like these
    Transcend both human littleness and vice.
    If Thou, O Jehovah, my God, wilt enlighten me, darkness shall be made light. p.56

The Magical Writings Of Thomas Vaughan (Eygenius Philalethes) by A. E Waite, (1888)


(A verbatim reprint of his first four treatises: Anthrosophia Theomagica, Anima Magica Abscondita, Magia Adamica, and The True Ccelum Terras with...) (full text)

  • The long confusion of Eugenius Philalethes — otherwise Thomas Vaughan — with the anonymous cosmopolite adept, Eirenaeus Philalethes, who is said to have accomplished the Magnum Opus at the age of twenty-two, and to have subsequently wandered over a large portion of the habitable globe, performing astounding transmutations under various names and disguises, has cast so much doubt upon the history and identity of the Welsh initiate, that it will be best to present the reader with certain verbatim citations from the chief authority concerning him, which is the Athena of Anthony k Wood. Preface
  • To the end we might live well, and exercise our charities which was wanting in neither of us, to our power: I employed my self all her life time in the Acquisition of some naturall secrets, to which I had been disposed from my youth up: and what I now write, and know of them practically, I attained to in her Dayes, not before in very truth, nor after: but during the time wee lived together at the Pinner of Wakefield, and though I brought them not to perfection in those deare Dayes, yet were the Gates opened to mee then, and what I have done since, is but the effect of those principles. I found them not by my owne witt, or labour, but by God's blessing, and the Incouragement I received from a most loving, obedient wife, whom I beseech God to reward in Heaven, for all the Happiness and Content shee afforded mee. I shall lay them down here in their order, protesting earnestly, and with a good Conscience, that they are the very truth, and here I leave them for his use and Benefit, to whom God in his providence shall direct them. xii Biographical Preface
I will not advise you to pleasures, to build houses, and plant vineyards, to enlarge your private possessions, or to multiplie your gold and silver.
  • I had in my hand a very long cane, and at last wee came to a churchyard, and it was the Brightest Day-light, that ever I beheld: when wee were about the middle of the churchyard, I struck upon the ground with my cane at the full length, and it gave a most shrill reverberating eccho. I turned back to look upon my wife, and shee appeared to mee in green silk downe to the ground, and much taller, and slenderer then shee was in her life-time, but in her face there was so much glorie, and beautie, that noe Angell in Heaven can have more. xiv
  • It was the question of Solomon, and it argued the supremacie of his wisedom, “What was best for man to do all the... dayes of his vanitie under the sun?” If I wish my selfe so wise as to know this great affaire of life, it is because you are fit to manage it. I will not advise you to pleasures, to build houses, and plant vineyards, to enlarge your private possessions, or to multiplie your gold and silver. These are old errors, like Vitriol to the Stone, so many false receipts which Solomon hath tried before you, “And behold all was vanitie, Eccie. u. and vexation of spirit.”
  • I have some times seen actions as various as they were great, and my own sullen fate hath forced me to severall courses of life, but I finde not one hitherto which ends not in surfeits or satietie. Let us fansie a man as fortunate as this world can make him; what doth he do but move from bed to board, and provide for the circumstances of those two scenes? To day hee eates and drinkes, then sleeps, that hee may doe the like to morrow.
  • Surely, So sir, this is not the Philosophers’ Stone, neither will I undertake to define it, but give me leave to speak to you in the language of Zoroaster: “Seek thou the channel of the Soule.”

Works of Thomas Vaughan: Eugenius Philalethes, by Arthur Edward Waite, (1919)


(full text)

  • The Holy Spirit, moving upon the chaos — which action some divines compare to the incubation of a hen upon her eggs, did together with his heat communicate other manifold influences to the matter.
  • As we know the sun doth not only dispense heat but some other secret influx, so did God also in the creation, and from Him the sun and all the stars received what they have, for God Himself is a supernatural sun or fire, according to that oracle of Zoroaster: "That Architect Who built up the cosmos by His unaided power was Himself another orb of fire." (Factor qui per se operans fabrefecit mundum, Qucedam ignis moles erat altera.)
  • He did therefore hatch the matter and bring out the secret essences, as a chick is brought out of the shell, whence that other position of the same Zoroaster: "By one single fire is generated all that is." Neither did He only generate them but He also preserves them now, with perpetual efflux of heat and spirit.
  • That I should profess magic in this discourse and justify the professors of it withal is impiety with many but religion, with me. It is a conscience that I have learned from authors greater than myself and scriptures greater than both.
  • Magic is nothing but the wisdom of the Creator revealed and planted in the creature. It is a name — as Agrippa saith — "not distasteful to the very Gospel itself."
  • Magicians were the first attendants our Saviour met withal in this world, and the only philosophers who acknowledged Him in the flesh before that He Himself discovered it. I find God conversant with them, as He was formerly with the patriarchs. He directs them in their travels with a star, as He did the Israelites with a pillar of fire. He informs them of future dangers in their dreams (129)
  • To reconcile this science and the Masters of it to the world is an attempt more plausible than possible, the prejudice being so great that neither reason nor authority can balance it.
  • I have, Reader — and, I suppose, it is not unknown to thee — within these few years, in several little treatises, delivered my judgment of philosophy. I say, of philosophy, for alchemy — in the common acceptation, and as it is a torture of metals — I did never believe: much less did I study it.
  • As I ever disclaimed alchemy in the vulgar sense, so I thought fit to let the alchemists know it, lest — in the perusal of my writings — they should fix a construction to some passages which cannot suit with the judgment of their author.
  • Hence thou mayst see what my conceptions were, when I began to write; and now I must tell thee, they are still the same, nor hath my long experience weakened them at all, but invincibly confirmed them.
  • It was well that I quitted it at last and walked again into that clear light which I had foolishly forsaken.

Quotes about Vaughan

  • The Rosicrucians strove to combine together the most various branches of Occultism, and they soon became renowned for the extreme purity of their lives and their extraordinary powers, as well as for their thorough knowledge... Later... they gave birth to the more modem Theosophists, at whose head was Paracelsus, and to the Alchemists, one of the most celebrated of whom was Thomas Vaughan (seventeenth century), who wrote the most practical things on Occultism under the name of Eugenius Philalethes. I know and can prove that Vaughan was, most positively, "made before he became." p. 43
  • Pythagoras and Plato and Boehme and Paracelsus and Thomas Vaughan were men who bore their lamps amidst their fellowmen in life under a hail of nonunderstanding and abuse. Anyone could approach them, but only a few were able to discern the superearthly radiance behind the earthly face. It is possible to name great Servitors of East and West, North and South. It is possible to peruse their biographies; yet everywhere we feel that the superearthly radiance appears rarely in the course of centuries. One should learn from reality. (175)
    • Morya, Brotherhood (1937)
  • But thou, admired Eugenius, whose great arts
    Shine above envy and the common arts
    ... Shake off the eclipse, this dark, intruding veil
    Which would force night upon us and entail
    The same gross ignorance — in whose shades he
    Hath lost himself — on our posterity.
    Down, all you stale impostures, castles rear'd
    In th' air and guarded by thy reverend beard, Brat of Nichomachus.
    I will no more Bow to thy hoary handful nor adore
    Thy tyrant text; but by this dawning light,
    Which streams upon me through thy three-piled night,
    Pass to the East of truth, till I may see
    Man's first fair state, when sage simplicity,
    The dove and serpent, innocent and wise,
    Dwelt in his breast and he in Paradise.
    There from the Tree of Knowledge his best boughs
    I'll pluck a garland for Eugenius' brows,
    Which to succeeding times fame shall bequeathe,
    With this most just applause — Great Vaughan's wreath.
    • Works of Thomas Vaughan: Eugenius Philalethes, by Arthur Edward Waite, (Prefixed to 1919 edition of Vaughan's The Second Wash or, The moore scour'd once more: being a charitable cure for the distractions of Alazonomastix by Eugenius Philalethes; (several formats), (1651)
  • He is said to have been buried on March 1 in the church of Albury village by the care and charge of the said Sir Robert Murray... But the letter of Henry Vaughan to John Aubrey says only that his brother died "upon an employment for His Majesty."
    • Arthur Edward Waite, The Works of Thomas Vaughan: Eugenius Philalethes, (1919) Biographical preface, p. xii
  • It seems to follow that we know as much and as little about the passing of Thomas Vaughan as might be expected from his literary importance and repute at that period... His little books could have appealed to a few only, though it may be granted that occult philosophy was a minor fashion of the time. He was satirised by Samuel Butler in his Character of an Hermetic Philosopher and as some say also in Hudibras itself. Among his contemporaries therefore he was not at least unknown... The satire remained in MS. for something like a century. It is certain that Butler intended to depict Vaughan and was acquainted with some of his writings. The Hermetic Philosopher in question "adored" Cornelius Agrippa, magnified the Brethren of the Rosy Cross, was at war with the schoolmen, recommended Sendivogius and the Enchiridion of Jean d'Espagnet to all of which Vaughan answers.
    • Arthur Edward Waite, The Works of Thomas Vaughan: Eugenius Philalethes, (1919) Biographical preface, p. xiii
  • At the beginning of his literary life Thomas Vaughan was influenced deeply by the works of Cornelius Agrippa and especially by The Three Books of Occult Philosophy. He drew much from this source, as any annotations are designed to shew; but the matter of Agrippa suffers a certain transmutation in the alembic of his own mind. The allusion in the text above is to the well-known mystical state of figurative death which is the threshold of union.
    • Arthur Edward Waite, The Works of Thomas Vaughan: Eugenius Philalethes, (1919) Anthroposophia Theomagica(1650) footnote p. 5