The world of the Renaissance occult philosophers was ultimately composed of two substances, one spiritual and the other material. For a variety of reasons, including the fact that occult studies were largely directed toward communion with and understanding of God, research on the subject has tended to focus upon the spiritual side of such studies. However, it was understood that all things in the universe, whether corporeal or angelic, existed through a combination of both substances. Matter was therefore as integral to the universe as spiritual forces. Moreover, the majority of the substance within human beings and the corporeal world is material. Therefore, while the goal of occult philosophy was to become more spiritual, the methods employed were frequently very much material. Neither evil nor insignificant, matter played a complex but important role within occult philosophy, specifically those branches influenced by Hermeticism and Neoplatonism, as is evident in the writings of Marsilio Ficino, Cornelius Agrippa, Robert Fludd, and Thomas Vaughan.
Finding God in the World: Approaches of the Renaissance Occult Philosophers to the Nature and Value of Matter started as the award-winning thesis of the author Catherine Noble Beyer. It is a masterpiece combining excellent scholarship with eloquent and engaging insight.
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