Sunday, March 27, 2011

Agrippa on Female Pre-Eminence

Since Names are signs of things, and that all matter presents itself to us clothed in words, the Learned have advised us in all Discourses, First, To consider diligently the Notations or appellations of those things whereof we intend to Treat, which if we reduce to practice in our present Subject, we may observe, that Woman was made at first so much more excellent than Man, by how much she had given her a Name more worthy than he; the word Adam, signifying but Earth, whereas Eve, is interpreted Life; (end of page 3) whence it seems, Woman is no less to be preferred before Man, than Life itself before sordid and contemptible Earth.
However if we shall not be allowed the privilege of contriving for the Honor of the Female Sex, such advantageous Etymologies, yet let us at least affirm from the mysterious Learning of the Cabalists, that the Woman's Name in the original Language, has a much nearer Affinity with the ineffable Tetragrammation, or sacred Name of the Divine Essence, than the Man's which bears no Resemblance there to either in (end of page 6) Characters, Figure, or Number.
But to proceed; as in order and place, so also in matter of her Creation, Woman far exceeds Man. Things receive their value from the matter they are made of, and the excellent skill of their maker: Pots of common Clay must not contend with China-Dishes, nor Pewter Utensils vie dignity with those of Silver. One Line drawn by Appelles his exquisite Pencil, is more to be esteemed, than whole Portraitures performed by the slubbering hands of vulgar Artists. Woman was not composed of any inanimate or vile dirt, but of a more refined and purified substance, enlivened and actuated by a Rational Soul, whose operations speak it a Beam, or bright Ray of Divinity. Man was taken out of the Earth, which of its own nature, with the co-operation of Celestial Influxes, is wont to bring forth living Creatures: but Woman, above all Influence of the Heavens, or aptitude of Nature, without any assisting virtue, or co-operating power, was formed miraculously by God himself, out of that Rib taken from dormant Adam's side (end of page 13) whereby Man became maimed and imperfect; and thence ever since, as a Needle that has suffered the Magnetic Touch, stands always trembling 'til it looks full on its beloved North; so He can never rest, will by taking a Woman, and Incorporating her with himself, he retrieves that loss, and render himself again entire and perfect. The rare Art exercised in rearing this Female-Fabric, is not obscurely intimated by the Divine Historian, in his Original Language, where God is said to make Man, but to have built Woman; that implying but common work, this, much curiosity, and contrivance: insomuch Man seems little more than the production of Nature; Woman, the more immediate handiwork of the God of Nature.

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