Athanasius Kircher and the Llullistic method (Complete History)

Athanasius Kircher

Athanasius Kircher and the Llullistic method (Complete History)

Key Points

  • Athanasius Kircher was a Germa scholar born in 1602.
  • He is most famous for inventing a new way of deciphering hieroglyphics, which he named The llullistic Method .
  • He had several other inventions, including a projector and a megaphone.
Athanasius Kircher
Athanasius Kircher is word-renowned for the Llullistic method, and is known as the Last Renaissance man.

Who was Athanasius Kircher?

Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit scholar and polymath who published over 40 works, most notably in the fields of sinology, geology, and medicine. He is also known as “the last Renaissance man.” 

Kircher’s work in sinology was particularly notable. He developed a method of deciphering hieroglyphics which he called the “llullistic method,” after the medieval Catalan philosopher Ramon Llull.

Quick Facts

Full Name
Athanasius Kircher
May 2, 1602
November 28, 1680
  • Title Doctor of medicine and theology
Place of Birth
Fulda, Germany
Fields of Expertise
Institution of Wurzburg, Jesuits
Combinatory logic, Llullistic method, Mundus Subterraneus

This method was based on assigning numerical values to letters of the alphabet and then using a set of simple rules to generate words or phrases from those numbers.

Early Life

Athanasius Kircher was born on May 2, 1602, in the village of Geisa in the German principality of Electoral Palatinate and died on November 27, 1680, in Rome, at the age of 78. He was the last born in a family of nine children born to Anna Maria Meyer, a low-income family.

His father, Heinrich Kirchner, was a day laborer. Kircher attended the Jesuit college in nearby Paderborn from 1614 to 1618 and then entered the Jesuits as a novice in Fulda.

As a child, Kircher showed an interest in mechanical devices, and he later claimed that he had built a wooden flytrap at the age of six. He was also fascinated by natural phenomena, such as storms and lightning. In 1618, he entered the Jesuit order.

He became a priest in 1628, at the age of 26. He was stationed in the German city of Cologne. There, he worked with a group of Jesuits who were trying to convert Protestants back to Catholicism.

This was a difficult and dangerous task, as the Protestant Reformation was in full swing during this period. One of Kircher’s most famous converts was Nicolaus Steno, a German theologian, and philosopher.

Kircher taught at a number of Jesuit colleges, including Ingolstadt, Würzburg, and Paderborn. He also served as a preacher and a missionary in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and the Tyrol.

Kircher’s interest in sinology began during his time in Austria, where he became interested in the work of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary to China. During his time as a Jesuit, Kircher was sent on several missionary trips.

In 1631, Kircher traveled to Rome to study at the Collegio Romano, where he met Steno. The two became friends, and Kircher convinced Steno to convert to Catholicism.

What Did Athanasius Kircher Invent? 

The Magic Lantern

The magic lantern is a type of projector used in the 17th and 18th centuries to create optical illusions. Athanasius Kircher invented it in 1646. The magic lantern consists of a light source, such as a candle, and a lens system that focuses the light onto a screen.

The light is then reflected off mirrors and passed through a series of lenses. This creates an image that appears to be floating in the air. The magic lantern was used for educational lectures, as well as for entertainment purposes.

Scientists also used it to study the nature of light.

The Megaphone

The megaphone is a type of loudspeaker that Athanasius Kircher invented in 1654. The megaphone consists of a cone-shaped funnel that amplifies sound waves. It is made of plastic, wood, or metal.

The megaphone is used to amplify the human voice. It is also used to amplify sound from musical instruments. Megaphones are often used at sporting events, political rallies, and concerts.

The Pantometrum

The pantometrum is a measuring instrument that Athanasius Kircher invented in 1669.

It measures the dimensions of objects. It consists of a pair of compasses connected by a rod

The rod is marked with a scale, and the compasses can be set to various lengths. The pantometrum is used by architects, engineers, and surveyors. It is also used by scientists to measure the size of objects in space.

He invented it to solve geometrical problems, but it also had other applications.

Athanasius Kircher: Marriage, Divorce, Children, and Personal Life, Net Worth

Personal Life

Athanasius Kircher was a very private man. But little is known about his children or marital life. It is believed that he had four children with his wife. Kircher’s health began to decline in the 1670s.

Kircher attended the Jesuit college in Fulda from 1618 to 1622. He then studied philosophy and theology at the University of Würzburg. He was ordained as a priest in 1628. Kircher was a polymath, and his interests included astronomy, alchemy, hermeticism, magnetism, music, and optics.

He also had a keen interest in the mysteries of nature. He went back to Rome as his reputation started to fade. Kircher died on November 27, 1680, at the age of 78. He was buried at the old church he helped restore in Rome.


After Athanasius was rejected at Jesuit College, he got injured while ice skating, and the wounds festered, which caused him to nearly die. But according to him, he prayed to the statue of the Virgin Mary in the Jesuit College, and she saved him.

The following day his legs were completely healed. This event caused him to enter the Jesuit order.

Athanasius Kircher: Awards and Achievements

Athanasius Kircher was a very accomplished man. He was a skilled mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and an expert in optics, acoustics, and magnetism. Here are some of his awards and achievements.

Doctor of Medicine

In 1669, Athanasius Kircher was awarded the title of “Doctor of Medicine” by the University of Würzburg. This was because of recognition of his work on the pantometrum.

Doctor of Theology

Later in his career, Athanasius Kircher was awarded the title of “Doctor of Theology” by the University of Ingolstadt, recognizing his work on the nature of the soul.

Burning mirrors, from Kircher.

Athanasius Kircher Published Works and Books

Athanasius Kircher was a very prolific writer. He wrote over 40 books and treatises on a wide variety of topics. Here are some of his books: 

Ars Magna Sciendi, Sive Combinatoria 

In 1669, Athanasius Kircher published his most famous work, Ars Magna Science, Sive Combinatoria. But the third chapter, “De Arte Cabalistica,” is devoted to the Llullistic method.

The Lullistic Method

The book was an exposition of the Llullistic method, a system of logic and reasoning developed by medieval scholar Ramon Llull. The Ars Magna was a significant achievement in the history of ideas and is still studied by scholars today.

The method was also of great interest to Kircher, who was fascinated by its potential for revealing hidden knowledge. Kircher begins the chapter with a brief history of Llull and his work.

He then goes on to describe the basics of the Llullistic method, including the use of combinatorial logic and the concept of the Ars Magna. Finally, Kircher explains how the Llullistic method can be used to unlock hidden knowledge.

He wrote: “This method, indeed, when employed by those who understand it, will be able to unveil all secrets and hidden things, whether in nature or art and will lead to the knowledge of God Himself.”

The Llullistic method was based on combining basic concepts, or “letters,” which could be combined to form new concepts. This process was known as “combinatorial logic.”  Kircher believed that this process could be used to generate all possible knowledge, and he was convinced that the Llullistic method was an esoteric doctrine with great potential.

The Llullistic method fell into obscurity after the death of Llull but was rediscovered by Kircher in the 17th century. Kircher’s work on the Llullistic method was instrumental in its revival, and the Ars Magna remains the most important work on the subject.

With this system, Kircher believed that he could create a map of all human knowledge. Kircher used the Llullistic method, named after the medieval philosopher Ramon Llull, to create a system of knowledge that could be used to explain the world.

The Llullistic method is based on the belief that numbers can represent all things and that all numbers can be reduced to a single number. This number can then be used to represent the thing itself.

For example, the number 3 can represent the Trinity, the number 7 can represent the seven deadly sins, and the number 9 can represent the nine planets.

Kircher used the Llullistic method to create a system of knowledge that could be used to explain the world. He believed that by understanding the numbers that represent the world, he could understand the world itself.

Mundus Subterraneus 

In his final years, Kircher turned his attention to studying volcanoes and the underground world. This interest led him to the publication of his major work, Mundus Subterraneus. The book attempted to map the hidden world beneath the earth’s surface.

Kircher began the book by describing the history of volcanoes and their impact on the earth. He then went on to describe the various types of volcanoes, including those that were active at the time.

Kircher also included a section on the earth’s geology, and he argued that the hidden world was a product of the forces that shaped the earth’s surface. Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus was the first comprehensive study of volcanoes and the underground world.

The book was a significant achievement, and it remains an essential work in the history of science. Kircher’s work on volcanoes and the underground world was instrumental in our understanding of these phenomena.

The book also included a section on the history of earthquakes, which was another area of interest to Kircher. According to Kircher, the underground world was the source of all earthquakes.

Kircher’s Quotes

  • “The highest mountain, the oldest books, the strangest people, there you will find the stone.”
  • “I can recall solving many writings of this kind … I expect I shall try to solve it when the mood and inspiration take me.”
  • “Nothing is more beautiful than to know all.”


Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Athanasius Kircher?

Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit priest, mathematician, and philosopher who was instrumental in reviving the Llullistic method in the 17th century.

Athanasius is also known for his work on volcanoes and the underground world, which led to the publication of his last major work, Mundus Subterraneus.

What was the Llullistic method?

The Llullistic method is a mnemonic technique developed by the medieval philosopher and theologian Ramon Llull (1232-1315). It is based on the use of simple coded images or diagrams (known as ” Ars Magna”) to represent concepts or ideas. This system was designed to help the user to memorize and recall large amounts of information quickly and efficiently.

What did Athanasius Kircher Invent?

Athanasius Kircher is credited with the invention of combinatory logic, which is a system of symbolic logic that uses a set of symbols to represent the relationships between things. He also developed the Llullistic method, a system of knowledge that can be used to explain the world.

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