The majority of the library is written in Latin or Hebrew, making study there difficult at best. Ferran soon finds that the most informative books are to be found in Giovanni's private study in the entry level of his tower. When asked, Giovanni allows you access on the condition that Ferran would respect the privacy of the upper levels of the tower, as those are Giovanni's private quarters.
The ground floor of the tower is lavishly decorated with sculptures, paintings and rugs. The artworks distinctly lacks any Christian subjects or imagery; instead focusing on history and mythology. Statues in the likeness of Icarus and Prometheus watch over Ferran as he studies; their legends feeling particularly relevant.
In the coming days Gasparo finds the Catalan encroaching on his study space and sharing many of the same books. Judging by the frequent and rudimentary questions Ferran has to ask Gasparo about references to the Occult, he is obviously new to this kind of study. His knowledge of astronomy and star charts does prove significant however.
During your studies the two of you find a compilation of Kabbalistic and Hermetic literature translated into Arabic by the scholar Flavius Mithridates. Often his works are erratic, meandering and too esoteric for Ferran to understand. However, in his translation of Bibliotheca Cabalistica, there are several intriguing passages attributed directly to Hermes Trismegistus; a man who lived over a thousand years ago:
The Seven Principles of the Universe:
1. Principle of Mentalism: “All is Mind”
2. Principle of Correspondence: “As is above, so is below. As is below, so is above.”
3. Principle of Vibration: “Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.”
4. Principle of Polarity: “Everything is dual; everything has an opposite, and opposites are identical in nature but different in degree.”
5. Principle of Rhythm: “Everything flows, out and in; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left- rhythm compensates.”
6. Principle of Cause and Effect: “Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause.”
7. Principle of Gender: “Everything has its masculine and feminine principles.”
In an Italian translation of the mythologies of the near East are found these extracts:“If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like.
Leap clear of all that is corporeal, and make yourself grown to a like expanse with that greatness which is beyond all measure; rise above all time and become eternal; then you will apprehend God. Think that for you too nothing is impossible; deem that you too are immortal, and that you are able to grasp all things in your thought, to know every craft and science; find your home in the haunts of every living creature; make yourself higher than all heights and lower than all depths; bring together in yourself all opposites of quality, heat and cold, dryness and fluidity; think that you are everywhere at once, on land, at sea, in heaven; think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave; grasp in your thought all of this at once, all times and places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God.
But if you shut up your soul in your body, and abase yourself, and say “I know nothing, I can do nothing; I am afraid of earth and sea, I cannot mount to heaven; I know not what I was, nor what I shall be,” then what have you to do with God?”
You also find a particularly badly translated anonymous piece that refers to Ala as a category of demon, rather than an individual and includes an anecdote:Macedonian and Serbian demonology tell us of Ala. A Demon of bad weather that destroys and loots crops from the fields, sends hail storms to destroy orchards and vineyards, and uproots trees. Ala has the ability to cause crops not to ripen and removes the fertility from the land. Her favorite prey is children and she will use the elements to kill them if at all possible. In addition to her wanton destruction of food stock, the very presence of Ala is enough to cause a decline in a person’s mental and physical health. After a person is weakened in such a way, Ala will possess their body.
Descriptions of the demon vary greatly and various sources claim that Ala looks like a wind, a female dragon, a large-mouthed human – or a snakelike monster, an invisible being, a large creature of indistinguishable form, a large winged creature with a sword-like tail, a large creature with a horse head and a snake body, a raven, and a three headed snake. Perhaps the confusion over her natural appearance can be explained by a demon’s ability to shape-shift; they are well known to assume the form of animals and humans.
Extremely gluttonous, even for a demon, Ala seeks to devour the moon and the sun. To prevent being attacked by Ala, one must approach her with respect and trust. If one should win the favor of Ala, the demon will look after him, making him wealthy and seeing to his personal protection, even going as far as to save his life if necessary.
Men believed to possess properties of an ala were called aloviti men, and they were given several explanations. An ala may have sneaked into them; these were recognized by their voracity, because the ala, in order to satisfy their excessive hunger, drove them to eat incessantly. They may also have survived an ala blowing on them – an ala’s breath is usually ***PASSAGE ILLEGIBLE***
A human going into an ala’s house, which is frequently deep in a forest, but may also be in the clouds, in a lake, spring, cave, gigantic tree, or other hidden remote place, or on an inhospitable mountain, can have varied consequences. If he approaches the ala with an appeal, and does not mention the differences between her and humans, he will be rewarded. Otherwise, he will be cruelly punished. According to one story, a stepdaughter, driven away from home by her stepmother, comes to an ala’s house; addresses her with the word mother; picks lice from the ala’s hair full of worms; and feeds the ala’s “livestock” of ravens, wolves, badgers, and other wild animals; behaving and talking as if these things are quite normal to her, and is rewarded by the ala with a chest filled with gold. When the stepmother’s daughter comes to the ala’s house, she does the opposite, asking questions about all the strange things she sees, the ala punishes her and her mother by sending them a chest of snakes, which blind them.