Title: The Signature of All Things (Signatura Rerum), Shewing the Sign and Signification of the several Forms and Shapes in the Creation; and what the Beginning, Ruin, and Cure of Everything is. It Proceeds Out of Eternity into Time, and again out of Time into Eternity, and comprises all Mysteries.
Author: Jacob Boehme, translator unknown
Publisher: JM Dent & Co, exact date unknown. No later than 1934. First edition thus – no earlier translation in English seems to be available.
Condition: Hardcover, cloth. In good condition. Slight amount of wear, tightly bound. An unadorned book.
If Signatura Rerum by the German mystic Jacob Boehme looks like a book you’d find in the library at a certain school of wizardry, you’re not too far off. Boehme discourses at length here on one of the fundamental laws of Magic: the law of signatures, the concept that every object in the real world has some hidden meaning, and particularly how these signatures interact.
At the core of Boehme’s philosophy is a mystical Christianity. However, his beliefs were far from that of the Lutheran establishment, and he was persecuted his entire life. Boehme’s view of a universe where a creative and destructive principle are in conflict was later repurposed by Hegel as the dialectic. Newton, Nietzsche, the Quaker George Fox, and even Phillip K. Dick have all been cited as being influenced by Boehme.
There are few figures in history more strange and beautiful than that of Jacob Boehme. With a few exceptions the outward events of his life were unremarkable. He was born in 1575 at the village Alt Seidenberg, two miles from Goerlitz in Germany and close to the Bohemian border. His parents were poor, and in childhood he was put to mind their cattle. It was in the solitude of the fields that he first beheld a vision, and assuredly his contemplative spirit must have been well nourished by the continual companionship of nature.
Physically he was not robust (though he never had a sickness), and for this reason his parents, when he was fourteen, apprenticed him to a shoemaker. Of his apprenticeship nothing is recorded, I think, except a story about a mysterious man who came once to the shop when the master was away, and taking Jacob by both hands foretold to him the great work that he should accomplish.
In 1599, when he was four-and-twenty, he became a master shoemaker, and in the same year he married the daughter of a butcher. The girl developed into a capable considerate woman, and they lived together happily until Boehme died. They had four sons and probably two daughters, but his children do not figure prominently in the story of his life. Already he had been visited by a sudden illumination of mind, and in 1600 he experienced the second of those marvellous ecstasies that gave splendour to the whole of his after-life. This, also, was followed by a third and still more brilliant illumination that made clear and complete much that in his previous visions had been obscure and unrelated.