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The Nuctemeron of Apollonius of Tyana

Excerpted from “Transcendental Magic” by Eliphas Levi

The Greek text was first published after an ancient manuscript by Gilbert Gautrinus, in De Vita et Moyris, Lib. 111, p. 206, and was reproduced subsequently by Laurentius Moshemius in his Sacred and Historico-Critical Observations, Amsterdam, 1721. It is now translated und interpreted for the first time by Eliphas Levi.

Nuctemeron signifies the “day of the night” or “the night illumined by day.” It is analogous to the “Light Issuing from Darkness,” which is the title of a well-known Hermetic work. It may be translated also “The Light of Occultism.” This monument of transcendent Assyrian Magic is sufficiently curious to make it superfluous to enlarge on its importance. We have not merely evoked Apollonius, we have possibly resuscitated him.

The Nuctemeron

The First Hour

In unity, the demons chant the praises of God: they lose their malice and fury.

The Second Hour

By the Duad, the Zodiacal fish chant the praises of God; the fiery serpents entwine about the caduceus and the thunder becomes harmonious.

The Third Hour

The serpents of the Hermetic caduceus entwine three times; Cerberus opens his triple jaw, and fire chants the praises of God with the three tongues of the lightning.

The Fourth Hour

At the fourth hour the soul revisits the tombs; the magical lamps are lighted at the four corners of the circle: it is the time of enchantments and illusions.

The Fifth Hour

The voice of the great waters celebrates the God of the heavenly spheres.

The Sixth Hour

The spirit abides immovable; it beholds the infernal monsters swarm down upon it, and does not fear.

The Seventh Hour

A fire, which imparts life to all animated beings, is directed by the will of pure men. The initiate stretches forth his hand, and pains are assuaged.

The Eighth Hour

The stars utter speech to one another; the soul of the suns corresponds with the exhalation of the flowers; chains of harmony create unison between all natural things.

The Ninth Hour

Initiations, the number which must not be divulged.

The Tenth Hour

The key of the astronomical cycle of the circular movement of human life.

The Eleventh Hour

The wings of the genii move with a mysterious and deep murmur; they fly from sphere to sphere, and bear the messages of God from world to world.

The Twelfth Hour

The works of the light eternal are fulfilled by fire.


These twelve symbolical hours, analogous to the signs of the magical Zodiac and to the allegorical labors of Heracles, represent the succession in works of initiation. It is necessary, therefore:

(1) To overcome evil passions, and, according to the expression of the wise Hierophant, compel the demons themselves to praise God.

(2) To study the balanced forces of Nature and learn how harmony results from the analogy of contraries; to know also the Great Magical Agent and the twofold polarization of the universal light.

(3) To be initiated in the triadic principle of all Theogonies and all religious symbols.

(4) To overcome all phantoms of imagination and triumph over all illusions.

(5) To understand after what manner universal harmony is produced in the center of the four elementary forces.

(6) To become inaccessible to fear.

(7) To practice the direction of the magnetic light.

(8) To foresee effects by the calculus of the balance of causes.

(9) To understand the hierarchy of instruction, to respect the mysteries of dogma and to keep silence in presence of the profane.

(10) To make a profound study of astronomy.

(11) To become initiated by analogy into the laws of universal life and intelligence.

(12) To effect great works of Nature by direction of the light.

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