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The Pauline Art [of Seven Figures]: A Fifteenth Century Derivative of the Ars Notoria

Updated: Jan 21

The fifteenth-century magical text of Italian origin called the Pauline Art [of Seven Figures] (Ars Paulina) claims its mythical origins come from the New Testament account of Paul of Tarsus who had a divine vision of being taken up into the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). The text contains seven figures dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, the nine angelic orders,and the saints in order to acquire religious literacy of the Holy Scriptures in three months. These seven figures are only given modern reconstructions in my book. The figures themselves are drawn from the following two manuscripts, which are freely accessible online:


1. Vatican, Vatican Apostolic Library, Latin 3180, f. 43v-47r, 15th century.

2. Halle, Universitats- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt, 14.B.36, f. 295r-297v, 16th century.


For the reader’s convenience, I have reproduced them here along with captions which translate the Latin written within the figures. For the complete English translation of the Pauline Art [of Seven Figures] and commentary, see my book.


Caption: The Figure of the Holy Trinity. Left, Vat. Lat. 3180, f. 43v. Right, Halle 14.B.36, f. 295r. The Latin text reads, “The Unbegotten Father and the Son begotten in you (?). Majesty. The Holy Spirit and the Son proceeds from the Father.” Alternatively, the first part might read, "The Father. The unbegotten. The begotten. The Son. / A.H.E.O. lite(?)".


Caption: The Figure of the Holy Father. Left, Vat. Lat. 3180, f. 44r. Right, Halle 14.B.36, f. 296v. The Latin text of Vat. Lat. 3180 reads, "Omnipotence. Eternity. Father. Immensity. (???)." Halle 14.B.36 reads, "The Father. The Son. The Holy Spirit."


Caption: The Figure of the Son. Left, Vat. Lat. 3180, f. 44v. Right, Halle 14.B.36, f. 296r. The Latin text reads, "The thousandth [year] (millesimus). Remedy. Human. The Fall. Kind." Within the diamond, it reads, "Immund. Theology (abbreviated as thia and written out as theologia)." The three additional wheels proceeding from the "Human" wheel references Jesus Christ as the holy Alpha and the Omega.


Caption: The Figure of the Holy Spirit. Left, Vat. Lat. 3180, f. 45r. Right, Halle 14.B.36, f. 296v. The Latin text reads, "The Holy one himself. Love. From the Father. One Essence. The Holy one himself. The Spirit. From the Son." The names of the Twelve Apostles radiate from the One Essence.


Caption: The Figure of the Heavenly Virtues. Left, Vat. Lat. 3180, f. 45v. Right, Halle 14.B.36, f. 297r. The seven classical planets are implied with numbers 1-7. The traditional names of the nine angelic choirs are given. The Halle 14.B.36 manuscript shows the rete of an astrolabe; this is also found in the Vat. Lat. 3180 manuscript, but it is unlabeled, but aligns with the central design containing the seven planets.


Caption: The Figure of the Virgin Mary. Left, Vat. Lat. 3180, f. 46r. Right, Halle 14.B.36, f. 297r. The Vat. Lat. 3180 manuscript's labeled wheel gives the Ave Maria prayer. The surrounding text reads, "The first Son of God. The superior discipline of the Father. The Temple of Divinity. (???) of God." The Halle 14.B.36 manuscript reads the word "grace" and the opening to the Ave Maria prayer.


Caption: The Figure of the Saints. Left, Vat. Lat. 3180, f. 46v. Right, Halle 14.B.36, f. 297v. The Latin text reads, "Begotten. The saints. Of [those] seated [in heaven]. The corpse (mors). Grace (?). Lion. Life. Glory."


[This article is an expansion upon a passage from my Ars Notoria: The Notory Art of Solomon (Inner Traditions, 2023).]


This digital edition by Matthias Castle, Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.

Please do not copy this text to your website, or for any purpose other than private use.


Ars Notoria: The Notory Art of Solomon translated by Matthias Castle, published by Inner Traditions International and Bear & Company, © 2023. All rights reserved. http://www.Innertraditions.com Reprinted with permission of publisher.

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