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A Table Containing the General Heads of Natural Magick

"Preface To The Reader"

 The Fifteenth Book of Natural Magick

John Baptista Porta

(Giambattista della Porta)


"Of Fishing, Fowling, Hunting, etc."

("Shows to catch living Creatures with your hands, and to destroy them.")

"The Proeme"

Chapter I - "With what meats diverse sorts of animals are allured."

Chapter II - "How living Creatures are drawn on with the baits of Love."

Chapter III - "Also other animals are called together by things they like."

Chapter IV - "What noises will allure Birds."

Chapter V - "Fish are allured by light in the night."

Chapter VI - "That by Looking-Glasses many Creatures are brought together."

Chapter VII - "How Animals are congregated by sweet smells."

Chapter VIII - "How Creatures, made drunk, may be caught with the hand."

Chapter IX - "The peculiar poisons of animals are declared."

Chapter X - "Of the Venoms for Fish."

Chapter XI - "Of other Experiments for hunting."

The Proeme

We shall speak of Fawkning, that most men, and especially great men, delight in.  If you will catch living creatures, they are taken by force, or by craft.  They are taken by craft and killed.  But how that may be done, shall be taught in philosophy, that shows the nature and manners of living creatures.  For it is easiest, when you know their natures and their manners, cunning may find ways to allure and to take them.  First, I shall teach how to allure and take them, by meat, whistle, light, smell, love, and other frauds.  Or else make them Drunk, and take them, or to kill them with venom.  I shall set down examples.

Chapter I

"With what meats diverse sorts of animals are allured."

here is nothing that more allures and draws on animals, then meat, pleasure, and love.  Wherefore from these shall I begin.  They follow meat for necessity, unless they would die from hunger, they must search for that.  But diverse creatures feed on diverse meats, and some of them feed on a particular diet.   And you may guess at the rest thereby by your own reason.

"The Bait for a Sturgeon, or Whale-fish."

Sturgeons or Whales are allured with the lungs of a Bull, roasted, hung upon a line with a Hook and cast into the sea. The Sturgeon presently smells it, and being greedy of it, presently swallows it down, and is caught with the Hook.  Oxen draw him to the shore.  Aelian.

"A Bait for a Sargus ."

The Sargus loves Goats exceedingly, as we shall show, and hunts after the smell of them.   Wherefore the Fisherman wets his paste in Goat blood, and casts it into that part of the sea where they haunt.  And they are drawn thither by the scent of it, as by a charm, and are caught with the Hook.  Moreover, if men fasten to the Hook the Bait that is made of a salted Mousefish, and move this gently in the sea, the Sargus will come to it exceedingly, and gather about the Hook for the love of it, and are easily caught by their greediness after the meat.

"A Bait for Thymalus."

Ticinus, a river in Italy, produces a Fish called Thymalus, that is not taken with the dainty Baits that other Fish are, but only with the gnat, an enemy to man, and she delights in no other Bait.

"The Bait for an Aulopius."

Coracini, Blackfish, whose heads shine like Gold, allure the Aulopii, when they observe some such dainty food, and they come to it rejoicing.

"A Bait for Summer-whitings."

The Bait is made of the purple Fish, for this is bound fast to the line, and this makes them swim to the Bait, because they love it, and when any one of them by greediness lays hold of the Bait, the rest will run after, and catch hold of the Hooks, that for number you shall hardly draw them to you, so many will be hung together by several Hooks.

"Bait for an Eel."

Eel lie in their holes, and the mouths of their holes, being smeared in the ponds with some odoriferous things, they are called forth as other Fish are.  Aristotle.  Yet Pliny says false, that they are not allured, but driven away by the scent of dead Eel .  Opianus wittily says, they are allured with garbage.  Would you know,

"A Bait for Mullets."

Because the Julides are a Bait almost for all Fish, or your Groundlings or little Sea-squils, therefore they are part of all Baits.  Or, take the liver of the Tuny fish, four Drachms, Sea-squils, eight Drachms, Sesame seed, four Drachms, Beans ground, eight Drachms, of raw Dog fish, two Drachms.  Pound all these, and make them up with new Wine distilled into balls, for good Baits.  This is,

"A Bait for all Fish"

Tarentinus teaches us this for all Fish.  Take of the strong Whale, eight Drachms, yellow Butterfly's, Annis seed, Cheese of Goat milk, of each four Drachms.  Of Opoponax, two Drachms, Hog blood, four, as much Galbanum.  Pound them all, and pour on sour Wine.  Make cakes, and dry them in the Sun.

Chapter II

"How living Creatures are drawn on with the baits of Love."

There are two tyrants that rule over brute beasts, meat, and pleasure or love.  Not smell, nor sound, nor fumes, nor do other things allure their minds besides love.  That we may say of wild beasts as well as of man, wanton love can do anything with mortal creatures.  If we will,

"Take Cuttles with the Baits of love,"

To take Cuttles there need neither wheels nor nets.  But you may catch them thus, with Baits of love, to trail the female Cuttle, and the male seeing it never so far off, swims presently after, and fastens close about her.  And while they embrace, the Fishermen cunningly take them up.

"To catch a Pollard or Cupito."

Aelian says, that in the Grecian Gulf, the sharp sighted Cupito is, but I have seen them taken in the Adriatic Sea by the fury of love.  The Fishermen binds the female either to a long fishing pole, or to a long rope.  But she must be fair and fat.  For the male cares not for one that is lean.  So is he drawn to the shore.  Or, he follows the net, and you must observe how to lay hold of him.  For when the female is drawn, the males swim after her, being furiously in love.  The Fisherman casts in his net, and takes them.

"To catch a Scarus or Gilthead."

The Scarus of all Fish is the most lascivious.  His insatiable desire of the female is the cause he is taken.  Cunning Fishermen that know this, lay snares for him thus;  They catch the female, and tie the top of her mouth to a rope, and they draw her alive through the sea in such places as they haunt. The males are mad with lust when they see her, and strive to come at her, and use all such means to do so.  But when they come near the net, the Fisharmen draws in the female, and the males swimming in after her, are caught.  Opianus.

"To catch Elephants."

There is a pit made to catch Elephants, and four females are put in to allure the males.  The males come, and enter into the pit.  But those that lie in wait, pull away the bridge, and so they have the Elephants fast.  Aelian.

"To catch a Nightingale ."

The female Nightingale is shut in a cage, the Fowler Counterfeits their note.  The males come when they hear it, and seeing the female, the males flies about till he fall into the net.

Chapter III

"Also other animals are called together by things they like."

Also, some animals by sympathy, are drawn by the love of some things, or of some other creature, which he that lays snares observing, uses such meats for them, that while they follow what they love, they may fall into snares.  If you would know how,

"To catch a Sargus ,"

It is a mad way to catch them.  The Sargi love Goats immeasurably.   And they are so mad after them, that when so much as the shadow of a Goat, that feeds near the shore, shall appear to them, they presently leap for joy, and swim to it in haste, and they imitate the Goats, though they are not fit to leap.  And thus they delight to come unto them.  They are therefore caught by those things they so much desire.  Whereupon, the Fisherman , putting on a Goat's skin with the horns, lies in wait for them, having the sun behind his back, and paste made wet with the decoction of Goats flesh.  This he casts into the sea where the Sargi use to come.  And they, as if they were charmed, run into it, and are much delighted with the sight of the Goat skin, and feed on the paste.  Thus the Fisherman catches abundance of them.   Aelian.   Opianus does elegantly describe it thus;

"The Sargi does run mad for love of Goats."

And a little after,

"The cunning Fisher hid in a Goats skin,

Makes two Goats horns unto his temples fast;

His bait mix'd with Goats blood, he does within

The Sea let loose.  The Sargus comes in haste:

For of the bait he dearly loves the smell,

And the Goats skin does tole him on as well."

"How to catch Partridge."

Partridge love Deer exceedingly, and are Cozened by their skin.  Thus, if a man put on a Deer skin, and the horns upon his head, and come closely to them, they supposing it is a Deer indeed, will entertain him, and draw near to him, and will not fly away, and embrace him as much as one would do a friend, come from a long journey.  But by this great friendliness, they get nothing but nets and snares.

"Catching of Bustards."

Bustards of all birds are thought to be most in love with Horses.  And it appears, because they cannot endure other living creatures, but when they see a Horse, they will presently fly to him, and great joy, and come near to him.  If a man put on a Horse skin, he may catch as many as he please.  For they will come near for love of the Horse.  So almost are,

"The Polypi or Pourcontrels taken."

The Polypi take delight in the Olive tree.  And they are often found fastened with their claws about the body of it.  Sometimes also, they are found clapping about the Fig tree that grows near the sea, and eating the Figs, says Clearchus.  Wherefore Fishermen, let down an Olive bough into the sea, where Polypi use to be.  In short space, without any labor, they draw up as many Polypi as they will.  Opian handsomely describes it thus:

The Polypus doth love the Olive-tree,

And by the speckled leaves ('tis wonder) he

Is catch'd.----


He is enraged for the Olive-bough,

The wary Fisher doth by this know how

To catch this Fish:  for he doth binde about

A piece of Lead, an Olive-branch throughout:

The Fish lays hold, and will not let it go;

He loves it, and it proves his overthrow.

Chapter IV

"What noises will allure Birds."

Not only love, but noises and music will draw them.  And each creature delights in some special noise.  First,

"The Dolphin loves the Harp."

And with this music is he most delighted, as also with the sound of organs.  Hence Herodotus first, and others from him, report, that Arion was carried to Tenarus on a Dolphin's back.  For when the men of Corinth cast him into the sea, he begged that he might have his Harp with him, and might sing one song as he was thrown in.  But a Dolphin took him, and brought him to Tenarus. Opian.

"A Wolf is charmed by a Minstrel or Flute."

A Minstrel at Pythiocara, when he sang and played very pleasantly, he made the Wolves tame.  Aelian.

"Horses delight in the music of the flute."

The Horses of Lybia are so taken with the noise of the Flute, that they will grow tractable for man's use thereby, and not be obstinate.  Shepherd's make a Shepherd's pipe of Rhododaphne, and by piping on this, they will so delight Horses, that they will run after them.  And when the Shepherds play on, the Horses will stand still, and weep for joy.  Euripides says, that Shepherds provoke mares to take Horse, by playing on a Pipe, and the Horses are so provoked to back the mares.

"Stags and Boars are taken with a Pipe."

It is a common saying among the Tyrtheni, that Boars and Stags are taken most with them by music.  Which so comes to pass.  Nets being pitched, and all things made ready for to ensnare them, a man that can play well on the Flute, goes through dales and hills, and woods, and plays as he goes, near their haunts.  They listen exceedingly after it, and are easily taken by it.  For they are so ravished, that they forget where they are.  And thus by delight they fall into the snare, and are taken.   Aelian.

"The Pastinaca is taken by dancing and music."

When the Fisherman sees the Pastinaca, or Ray, swimming, he leaps ridiculously in his boat, and begins to play on the Pipe.  The Pastinaca is much taken with it, and so comes to the top of the water, and another lays hold of him with his engines.

"Grampels by Music are enticed on land."

Fishermen catch Grampels by music.  Some lie hid, others begin to play with the Pipe.  When the Grampels hear the music, they presently come forth of their holes, as if they had been charmed, and they are so ravished, that they will come out of the waters.  These go back and play on the Pipe, the others run and catch them on dry land.

Chapter V

"Fish are allured by light in the night."

Among the many arts to deceive animals, light is one.  For at night, when some Fish rest, Fishermen carrying light in their boats, draw these Fish to them, and so strike them with a three forked spear, or catch them alive.  Which Opian knew.

Either at noon, or when the Sun does set,

Are Fishes caught, or else in the dark night,

By burning torches taken in the Net;

For whilst they take such pleasure in the Light,

The Fisherman does strike them with his dart,

Or else does catch them then by some such Art.

Many men have been much troubled how to make a fire or light under water, that Fishes seeing it afar off, might swim to it.  I have done it thus.  I made a pillar of Brass or Lead, three or four foot diameter.  It was sharp or pyramidal below, that it might sink the better into the deep, and it was bound about with Iron hoops, that being sunk by its weight, it might be drawn under the water.  I set on the top a pipe that was fifteen or twenty foot long, and one foot broad.  The middle of this pillar had man open windows, five or six, and these were Glass windows, well polished and fitted to them, and the joints were well glued with Pitch, that no water could come in.  I sunk the pillar by its weight in a place fit for it.  But the mouth of the pipe stood at least two foot above water.  Then I let down a lighted candle into the belly of the pillar by the pipe, with a cord, and it was so provided, that what motion so ever it had, it should always stand upright.  The light passed through the windows into the waters, and by reflection made a light that might be seen under water very far.  To this light, abundance of Fish came, and I caught them with nets.

Chapter VI

"That by Looking-Glasses many Creatures are brought together."

If females be wanting Looking-glasses may serve to make reflection of themselves.  So these creatures, deluded by their own picture, are drawn in.  Also Liquor may serve instead of glasses.

"The Cuttle is taken with a glass."

Glasses put into wood are let down by a cord by the Fisherman into the waters, and as they float, they are drawn by degrees.  The Cuttle seeing himself in it, casts himself at his own image, and laying fast hold of the wood with his claws, while he looks upon his own picture as enamored by it, he is circumvented by the net, and taken.

"A Jackdaw is taken with a Looking-glass."

A Jackdaw loves herself.  The Fowler following to take them, invents such ways, for where he sees they flock, there he sets a basin full of Oil.  The curious bird coming thither, sits on the brim of the vessel, looking down to see her own picture, and because she thinks that she sees another Jackdaw, she hastens to flee down, and so falls into the Oil, and the thick Oil sticks to her, and so she is caught without snares or nets.

"How Quails are taken with a Looking-glass."

Clearchus says, that Quail spend their seed not only when they see the female, but when they hear their cry also.  The cause is the impression in their mind, which you shall know when they couple, if you set a Looking-glasse against them, and before that a Gin.  For running foolishly to their picture in the glass, they see they are caught.  Athenaus and Eustathius.

Chapter VII

"How Animals are congregated by sweet smells."

There are many odors, or other hidden qualities, that gather animals together, from the particular nature of things, or of living creatures.  I shall speak of the smelling odors and other aliments that they much desire.  As,

"The Unicorn is allured by scent."

Tretres writes, that the Unicorn so hunts after young Virgins, that he will grow tame with them.  And sometimes he will fall asleep by them, and be taken and bound.  The hunters cloth some young lusty fellow in maids cloths, and strewing sweet odors on him, they set him right against the place where the Unicorn is, that the wind may carry away the smell to the wild beast.  The hunters lie hid in the meantime.  The beast, enticed with the sweet smell, comes to the young man.  He wraps the beast's head in long and large sleeves.  The hunters come running, and cut off his horn.

"To make Weasels come together."

The Gall of a Stellio beaten with water, will make Weasels come together, says Pliny.  Also, the wise Plinianists write, that with the Gall of a Chamaelion cast into water, Weasels will be called together.

  "To make Mice come together."

If you pour thick Lees of Oil into a dish, and set it right in the house, they will stick to it.  Palladius.  But Anatolius says, if you pour Oil Lees into a brazen basin, and set it in the middle of the house, all the Mice at night will meet together.

"To make Fleas