Visualising Signs and Wonders of Nature: The Mergence of Empiricism and Speculation in the Miscellanea of the Early Academia Naturae Curiosorum

Heinz Schott (Bonn)

Heinz Schott’s contribution will focus on some illustrations of the first volumes of the Miscellanea curiosa medico-physica Academiae Naturae Curiosorum, the journal of the Academia naturae curosorum (later named Leopoldina) founded by Philipp Jakob Sachs von Lewenheimb in 1670. A series of illustrations show the impact of the early modern concept of “natural magic” (magia naturalis), very crucial for the contemporary medicine and natural philosophy (respectively science). This can be exemplified by the image of a skull overgrown with wall-rue and moss. It illustrates observation 53 of the second volume of the Miscellanea (1671) sent by the doctor and botanist Martin Bernhard von Bernitz to Sachs von Lewenheimb. The moss of the skull (in German Hirn-Schahle-Moos) was appreciated as a remedy in many ways and was also supposed to have a magic (“magnetic”) effect as an ingredient of the famous “weapon salve” (Waffensalbe) recommended amongst others by J. B. van Helmont.

D. Martini Bernhardi à Bernitz: ‘Ruta Muraria et Mucus Crustaceus in Cranio Humano’. Miscellanea Curiosa, vol.2 (1671)
D. Martini Bernhardi à Bernitz, ‘Ruta Muraria et Mucus Crustaceus in Cranio Humano’. Miscellanea Curiosa, vol.2 (1671).