Another Look at Ficino, Demons and Music

Image result for renaissance musicians paintings

Dear Reader,

While I have written on facets of this topic before, I just came across two more interesting quotes from Marsilio Ficino regarding music.  Ficino had suggested in his De Vita that a demon could actually carry music into the ear. He also proposed that the musician could “make” demons with his music.

While the later idea is ridiculous, it nonetheless opens that idea that demons can be summoned via music and could enter into a person via the ear or perhaps by affecting the thamus or spirit.

This idea is especially pertinent to the notion of Orpheus as a mage-musician as well as the contemporary celebrity as a musician-mage able to mold and shape the audience through induced possession.

As a side note, the idea of an “alien” organism entering the ear is a common theme in science fiction present in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan and Alien: Covenant.

Orpheus as Shaman, Mage, Artist, and Scientist

DSC00355 - Orfeo (epoca romana) - Foto G. Dall'Orto.jpg

One of the dominant ideas of Renaissance Neoplatonism and contemporary occultism is the belief that that prior to Plato there was a tradition of magi that included Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Zororaster in which a theological tradition was passed down called the prisca theologia.

While one might readily dismiss this idea as ridiculous fantasizing, several professional scholars have written on the idea that these mystery teachings do, in fact, crop up in Aristotle.

The father of this tradition was allegedly Orpheus whose myth has a number of shamanistic and magic elements in it, including the following:

  1. A marriage that was never consummated with Eurydice, his wife.
  2. A serpent that stings Eurydice (a memory of the serpent in the Garden of Eden)?
  3. A descent to the underworld and power via music over the demons in the underworld.
  4. The failure to bring his wife from the underworld.
  5. The power to enchant nature and animals and plants to do his bidding via ritual music.
  6. The creation of pederasty and sodomy (as possibly a cultic ritual) after failing to retrieve his wife.
  7. His own death and dismemberment and prophesied future resurrection by women who desired him (human sacrifice?)

All of these elements would later serve as the basis of later Western magic up until the present day.

Interestingly, in French cave paintings, this “Orpheus” shaman shows up as a shape changer (possibly a constellation) associated with animals and phallic activity as well as music (I could not find the cave painting of the musical shaman).

Image result for shaman in lascaux cave

Image result for shaman in lascaux cave