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A Table Containing the General Heads of Natural Magick

"Preface To The Reader"

The Ninth Book
of Natural Magick

 John Baptista Porta

(Giambattista della Porta)


"How to Adorn Women, and Make them Beautiful."



"The Proeme"

Chapter I - "How the hair may be dyed Yellow, or Gold color."

Chapter II - "How to dye the Hair Red."

Chapter III - "How the Hairs are dyed Black"

Chapter IV - "To make Hairs part smooth."

Chapter V - "How Hair May Grow Again."

Chapter VI - "To take away Sores and Worms that spoil the Hair."

Chapter VII - "How to make the Hair curl."

Chapter VIII - "Remedies to make the eyebrows black."

Chapter IX - "How to make the face white."

Chapter X - "How Women shall make their faces very clean to receive the color."

Chapter XI - "How the face may be made very soft."

Chapter XII - "How to make the face clear and shining like silver."

Chapter XIII - "How to dissolve talk for to beautify women."

Chapter XIV - "The preparation of Sublimate."

Chapter XV - "How white-lead is prepared for the face."

Chapter XVI - "The best Soaps for women."

Chapter XVII - "How to make the face Rose-colored."

Chapter XVIII - "To wash away the over-much redness of the Face."

Chapter XIX - "How to make a Sun Burned face white."

Chapter XX - "How spots may be taken from the face."

Chapter XXI - "How we may take off red Pimples."

Chapter XXII - "How Tetters may be taken from the face, or any other part of the Body."

Chapter XXIII - "How Warts may be taken away."

Chapter XXIV - "To take away wrinkles from the Body."

Chapter XXV - "Dentifrices."

Chapter XXVI - "To hinder the breasts from augmenting."

Chapter XXVII - "How the Hand may be made white."

Chapter XXVIII - "How to correct the ill scent of the Arm-pits."

Chapter XXIX - How the Matrix over widened by childbirth, may be made narrower."

Chapter XXX - "Some sports against women."


The Proeme

Since next to the art of Physick, follows the art of adorning ourselves, we shall set down the art of painting, and how to beautify women from head to foot, in many experiments.  Yet, lest any man should think it superfluous, to interpose those things that belong to the ornaments of women, I would have them consider, that I did not write these things for to give occasion to augment luxury, and to make people voluptuous.  But when God, the author of all things, would have the natures of all things to continue, he created male and female that by fruitful procreation, they might never want children.  And to make man in love with his wife, he made her soft, delicate and fair, to entice man to embrace her.  We therefore, that women might be pleasing to their husbands, and that their husbands might not be offended at their deformities, and turn into other women's chambers, have taught women, how, by the art of decking themselves and painting, if they be ashamed of their foul and swart complexions, that may make themselves fair and beautiful.  Something that seemed best to me in the writings of the Ancients, I have tried, and set down here.  But those that are the best, which I and others have of late invented, and were never before in print, I shall set down last.  And first I shall begin with the hair.

Chapter I

"How the hair may be dyed yellow, or gold color."

Ince it is the singular care of women to adorn their hair, and next their faces, First, I will show you how to adorn the hair, and next the countenance.  For women hold the hair to be the greatest ornament of the body, that if that be taken away, all the beauty is gone.  And they think it the more beautiful, the more yellow, shining and radiant it is.  We shall consider what things are fit for that purpose.  What are the most yellow things, and will not hurt the head, as there are many that will.  But we shall choose such things as will do it good.  But before you dye them,

"Preparing of the hair,"

Must be used, to make them fit to receive a Tincture.  Add to the Lees of white Wine as much Honey that they may be soft, and some thin matter.  Smear your hair with this, let it be wet all night.  Then Bruise the roots of Celendine, and of the greater Clivers Madder, of each a like quality.  Mingle them, being Bruised, very well with Oil, wherein Cumin seed,  shavings of Box, and a little Saffron, are mingled, anoint your head, and let it abide so for twenty hours.  Then wash it with Lye made of Cabbage stalks, ashes, and Barley Straw.  But Rye Straw is the best.  For this, as women have often proved, will make the hair a bright yellow.  But you shall make,

"A Lye to dye the hair."

Thus, put Barley Straw into an earthen pot with a great mouth, Feny-Graec. and wild Cumin, mingle between them, Quicklime and Tobacco, made into powder.  Then put them upon the Straw before mentioned, and pour on the powders again, I mean by course, one under, the other over, till the whole vessel be full.  And when they are thrust close, pour on cold water, and let them stand a whole day.  Then open a hole at the bottom, and let the Lye run forth, and with Soap use it for your hair.  I shall teach you,


To five glasses of Fountain water, add Alome-Foeces, one ounce, Soap, three ounces, Barley Straw, one handful.  Let them boil in earthen pots, till two thirds be boiled away.  Then let it settle.  Strain the water with the ashes, adding to every glass of water, pure Honey one ounce.  Set it up for your use.  You shall prepare for your hair,

"An Ointment,"

Thus, burn the Foeces of Wine, heaped up in a pit, as the manner is, so that the fire may go round the pit.  When it is burnt, pound it, and seirce it.  Mingle it well with Oil.  Let the woman anoint her hair with it when she goes to bed, and in the morning, let her wash it off with a Lye, wherein the most bitter Lupines were boiled.  Other women endeavour,

"To make their hair yellow,"

Thus, they put into a common Lye, the Citron Pills, Oranges, Quinces, Barley Straw, dried Lupines,  Feny-Graec, Broom flowers, and Tartar coloured, a good quantity.  And they let them there lie and Steep, to wash their hair with.  Others mingle two parts of Soap, to one part honey, adding Ox-gall one half part.  To which they mingle a twelfth part garden Cumin, and wild Saffron.  And setting them in the sun for six weeks, they stir it daily with a wooden staff.  And this they use.  Also of Vinegar and Gold Litharge, there is made a Decoction very good to dye the hair yellow as Gold.  Some there are, that draw out a strong water with fire, out of Saltpeter, Vitriol, Salt Ammoniac, and Cinnaber, whereas the hairs dyed, will be presently yellow.  But this is often found to burn the hair.  Thos that know how to mingle it, will have good effects of it.  But these are but ordinary, the most famous way is,

"To Make the Hairs Yellow,"

Draw Oil from Honey by the art of Distillation, as we shall show.  First, there will come forth a clear water, then a Saffron colored. Use this to anoint the hair with a Sponge, but let it touch the skin.  For it will dye it Saffron color, and it is not easily washed off.  This is the principal above others, because the Tincture will last many days.  And it will dye gray hairs, which few others will.  Or make a Lye of Oak ashes, put in the quantity of a Bean of Rhubarb, as much as Tobacco, a handful of Barley Straw and Feny-Graec.  Shells of Oranges, the Raspings of Guaiacum, a good deal of wild Saffron and Liquorish.  Put all these in an earthen pot, and boil them, till the water sinks three fingers.  The hairs will wash excellently with this.  Hold them in the sun, then cast Brimstone on the coals, and Fume the hairs, and while it burns, receive the smoke with a little tunnel at the bottom, and cover your head over with a cloth, that the smoke will fly not away.

Chapter II

"How to dye the hair red."

Because there are many men and women that have ruddy complexions, and have the hair of their heads and beards red.  Which, should they make yellow colored, they would not agree with their complexions.  To help those also, I set down these remedies.  The Ancients used the Decoction of the Lote Tree rasp, which we call Melo Fiocco.  And so they made their hair red.  Or else, by burning the Foeces of the old Wine, as I said, they added Oil of Mastick thereto, which they provided thus to the purpose.  The heaped up the ripe berries of the Mastick tree for some some days, till they might wither.  Then they poured on water, and boiled them so long in brazen kettles until they broke.  They put them in bags, and pressed out the Oil with a press.  Which this Ointment, they kept their head anointed all the night, and so made them red.  But how we may,

"Dye the hair red."

I shall teach you.  There is a powder brought to us from Africa, they commonly call it Alchena. If we boil it in a Lye until it becomes colored, and anoint our hair with it, it will dye them red for many days, that is indelible.  But while you handle it, take heed you wet not your nails therewith, for they will be so dyed, you cannot easily make them clean.  So also we dye the tails and manes of white Horses red.  But I can easily do it with Oil of Honey, for when the clear and Saffron colored waters are drawn off, increase the fire, and the Oil will come forth, the red.  This is excellent to make the hairs red, and it will dye white hairs for many days, and when that Tincture is worn off, the hairs will shine of a golden color.  But when we anoint our heads with a Lye, we take a wet sponge with Nippers, that we may not stain our hands or skin of our heads.

"With herbs a woman dye's her hoary head."

Arts Colors better'd Natures, as 'tis said."

Chapter III

"How the hairs are dyed black."

It is worth the while, to show such as are ashamed to seem old, how to dye their Hoary hairs black, as if they might grow young again by it.  And if we provide for young women, we must do as much for aged Matrons, especially, if it fall out that they grow Hoary too soon.  Of old, they made a decoction of Sage leaves, the green husks of Walnuts, Sumac, Myrtle berries, Blackberries, Cypress nuts, Rinds of the roots of the Halm tree, and such-like.  For the Rind the root of Halm tree, boiled till it be soft, and consumed, and then smeared on all night, blacks the hair, first made clean with Fullers Earth.  Learn therefore,

"How gray hairs are dyed black."

Anoint your hair in the sun with Leeches that have lain to corrupt in the blackest Wine sixty days, and they will become very black.  Or else, let a Sextary of Leeches stand in two Sextaries of Vinegar in a leaden vessel to corrupt for sixty days, and as I said, anoint your hair.  Pliny says, it will dye so strongly that unless they hold Oil in their mouths, when they dye the hair, it will make their teeth black also.  But if you would have,

"Long and black hair,"

Take a green Lizard and cutting off the head and tail, boil it in common Oil, and anoint your head with it.  You shall have also,


Yet you may thus dye your hair and beard handsomely, if they be grown gray.  Froth of Silver, burnt Brass, must be mingled with four times the quantity of strong Lye.  And when it bubbles on an easy fire, wash your hair with it, and when they are dry, wash them with hot water.  I used this as the Ancients taught it.  And I made a Lye of Quicklime and Oak ashes, that they commonly call the Capitel.  In that I boiled Litharge of Silver.  Then I tried it on white Wool, for if it be dyed black, as I would have it, then I took it from the fire, or else, I boiled it longer.  If it burnt the wool, I put water into it, or else, dyed with it.  Add Litharge.  Wash your hair or beard with this, and it will dye them with a shining black color, and it will not be discerned.  For the more you wash it, the better it will shine.

Chapter IV

"To make hairs part smooth."

Because sometimes a part is deformed with abundance of hair, or for lack of hair, I shall show how to make a smooth part thick with hair, and a hairy part smooth by Depilatories.

"A common Depilatory,"

Which men use commonly in baths.  It consists of Quicklime, four parts made into powder, Orpiment one part.  Boil them.  Try with a Hen feather, when that is made bare with it, it is boiled.  Take heed you boil it not too much, or that it stay not too long upon your skin, for it will burn.  But if it chance to burn your skin, take Populeum and Oil of Roses or Violets, and anoint the place, and the pain will be gone.  This must be done in a bath, but if you cannot have one, let the woman be covered with cloths very well, and let it be cast on burning stones or tiles, that she may receive the fume of it, and sweat.  After she has sweat, let her wash herself with water, and wipe it off.  Then let her anoint herself all over, for the parts anointed such, will presently be smooth.  And thus may all parts be kept free from hair.  The Ancients used these as Saferna, and as Varro reports and teaches in his book of Husbandry.  If, says he, you would make anyone smooth from hair, cast a pale Frog into water, and boil it to a third part, and with that anoint the body.  By the pale Frog we must understand a Toad.  For a Frog has no such faculty.  A Salamander soaked in Oil, will pull out the hair.  But it will be stronger, if you Steep it long in Oil and Dissolve it.  The filthy matter that is white as Milk, and is Vomited up at the mouth by the Salamander , if it touch any part of the body, all the hair will fall off.  Dioscorides says, that the Sea-Scolopendra boiled in Oil, and smeared on the part, will pluck off the hair by the roots.  But,

"To make Hair grow slowly,"

If you press Oil out of Henbane seed with a press, or do often anoint the places with the juice of it, they will grow again very slowly.  The same is done with the juice of Hemlock.  Or to take off the hairs, men added to Ant eggs, red Orpiment, and Ivy gum, with Vinegar, and they rubbed the place where the hair was taken away.  In former times, they rubbed the down parts of children with the roots of Hyancinthus, and the hair would never grow there.  And therefore it is well known in trimming Medicament sold here and there, that being smeared on with sweet Wine, keeps back the beard, and will not let it break forth.   But if you would,

"That hair should never grow again,"

In which business I have taken great pains, and tried many things that I found to be false.  First, Foment the part with hot water, and pull out the hairs one by one with women's Nippers.  Then Dissolve Saltpeter in water, and anoint the holes where the hair grew.  It will be better done with Oil of Brimstone, or of Vitriol.  And so they will never grow again, or if they do, after one year, they will be very soft.  Do then the same again, and the parts will be bare always.  So I have made women's foreheads longer, and have taken off hair from parts hotter then the rest.


Chapter V

"How hair may grow again."

But for those that would have hair grow where it should, these remedies will do it.  Sometimes women's temples use to be deformed for want of hair.  I shall teach you how,

"Hair falling off before old age, may be held fast."

And if any hair has fallen off, to make it grow again, Torrify Pith upon coals, when it is Torrified, powder it, sift it, and mingle it with water, and anoint the head.  The Ancients made their hair grow again with these remedies.  With the ashes of a land Hedgehog, or of burnt Bees or Flies, or the powder of them dried, also with man's Dung burnt, and anointed on with Honey, to which they added well the ashes of small Nuts, Walnuts, Chestnuts, and other beanlike substances.  For by all these mingled together, or by them single, hair will be made to grow.  But if you will,

"That hair shall grow quickly,"

I know that by often washing the place with that water that first Distils from Honey by the fire, much hair will soon grow, or if you do but moisten the place with wet cloths, and not wipe it, but let it always continue wet.  Also noble matrons may use this,

"To make the hair grow softer."

Augustus was wont to burn his legs with a burning Nut, that the hair might grow softer.  But,

"That hair may grow longer and quickly."

Bruise Marsh-Mallow roots with Hog Grease, and let them boil long in Wine.  Then add Cumin seed well Bruised, Mastick, and Yolks of Eggs, well boiled.  First, mingle them a little, and then boil them.  Strain all through a Linen clout, and let it stand and settle, then take the fat that swims on the top and anoint the head, first wash.  But to make them grow quickly, take Barley bread with Salt, and Bear's Grease.  Burn the Bread, and with such a mixture anoint the place.  Some smear a Glazed pot with the fat of a Horse's neck, and they boil river Eel that is fat, and cut into pieces in it, till it Dissolve into Oil, and they anoint the part with it.

Chapter VI

"To take away sores and worms that spoil the hair."

There is a certain Plague of the hair that befalls them, and breaks, cuts,and takes the hair quite off from the head.  I will add the remedies presently, whereby to take them away.  It is healthful, in these diseases, to apply bitter things to kill these Worms, called Tiners or Syrens.  Take the flowers of Myrtle trees, Broom-clary, boil them in Vinegar , till the Vinegar is consumed, then rub the ends of the hair continually with it.  Also grind bitter Lupines into fine meal, boil them in Vinegar, and then rub the hairs between the hands.  For this will kill these Syrens, and drive them away.  But I used very hot Bread, newly taken forth of the oven, cut in the middle, and putting the hair between them till they grow cold.

Chapter VII

"How to make the hair curl."

Curled hair seems to be no small grace and ornament to the head.  And women that use painting do all they can to curl the hair.  If you will know how,

"To curl the hair,"

Boil Maidenhair with Smallage seed in Wine, adding a good quantity of Oil.  for this will make the hair curled and thick.  Pliny.  Moreover, if you put the root of Daffodils into Wine, and pour this often on the head, being shaved, it will make the hair curl the more, as the same author says.  Or else, Bruise the root of Dwarf Elder, with the Oil, and anoint the head therewith, and Bind the leaves of the same upon the head.  Some say that Camel's Dung will curl the hair.  Or else, pound the ashes of a Ram's horn, with Oil, and with that, anoint the head often, being first shaved.  So also, will the ashes of Chestnuts or Hedgehog do, if you with Honey smear the head with it.

Chapter VIII

"Remedies to make the eyebrows black."

Before we leave of to speak of hair, I shall show how to make the eyebrows black.  Because women are desirous of this as the rest.  The Greeks call them Calliblephara, that is, fair eyebrows.  Wherefore the Ancients used,

"To dye the eyebrows,"

with black earth like Birume or Sea-Cole.  Being burned, it is a very fine black.  And it is added to those remedies that serve to dye the eyebrows and the hair black.  Or else with the Marrow of an Ox bone taken out of the right leg before, and beaten with Soot  is good to die the hair and faulty eyebrows, and the corners of the eyes.  Also, Soot is tempered for this purpose, with the smoke of paper, and Oil of Sesama.  The Soot being wiped off of a new vessel with a Feather.  The Kernels of Dates burned in a new earthen pot, and the ashes washed, serve instead of Spodium.  And they are mingled with eye salves.  And they make Calliblephara adding Spikenard thereunto.  And if they are not well burnt, burn them again.  Also Rose leaves are fit to burn for the same use.  Also, you may amend your eyebrows thus.  Take Labdanum, and beat it with Wine, and mingle Oil of Myrtles with it, and make a very thick Ointment.  Or Infuse in Oil the black leaves of the Myrtle tree, with a double quantity of Galls Bruised, and use that.  I use this.  Galls are fried in Oil, and they are ground with a little Salt-Ammoniac.  And then mingled with Vinegar, wherein the Pills of the Mulberry and Bramble have been boiled.  With these anoint the eyebrows, and let it abide on all night.  Then wash it off with water.  But if you would,

"Change the color of children's eyes."

You shall do it thus.  Anoint the fore part of their heads with the ashes of the shells of Hazelnuts and Oil.  It will make the white eyes of children black, if you do it twice.  There are many experiments to make white and gray eyes black, and to alter the colors.  But I shall let them pass, because those that want them will not to lightly endanger their eyes.  Nor do they answer the expectation, as some have tried them.

Chapter IX

"How to make the Face White."

I  taught formerly in my book of plants, that with white clear silver colored Herbs, Shellfish, and stones, the face might be made white, polished and silver colored.  I shall now set down some examples, by which you may invent many more.  I shall first speak of Simples, then of Compounds.  Simples that are white, make the face white.  The Lilly is a complete white color.  The bulbous tops of it, like Onions boiled in water, or the Distilled water of them, will make the faces of maids white, if they wash them therewith, morning and evening.  Withywind bears a flower like to the Lilly, without any smell.  But within like Saffron.  It is only white, and is as it were the rudiments of nature, when she goes about to frame a Lilly.  The Distilled water from the flowers will wonderfully make the face whole.  Also with the Decoction of Ivory, one may make the face like Ivory.  Melanthium makes the face beautiful.  Dioscorides.  But it shows its excellency when it is thus prepared.  Pound it, and sift out the finest of it, take the juice of Lemon, and let the meal of Gith lie wet in it twentyfour hours.  Take it out, and let it dry.  Then break an Egg with the shell, and mingle it with it.  Then dry it in the shade.  Let her put this into a white