The Great Secret or Occultism Unveiled

by Éliphas Lévi

Eliphas Levi

Book Two

Chapter IV The Double Chain

The movement of the serpents around the caduceus indicates the formation of a chain.

This chain exists in two forms: the straight form and the circular form. Starting from the same centre it intersects innumerable circumferences by innumerable radii. The straight chain is the chain of transmission. The circular chain is the chain of participation, of diffusion, of communion, of religion. In this manner is formed that wheel, made up of several wheels turning one within another, which flashes on us from the vision of Ezekiel. The chain of transmission introduces solidarity between successive generations.

The central point is white on one side and black on the other.

The black serpent is fastened to the black side, and the white serpent is fastened to the white side. The central point represents original free will, and on its black side begins the original sin.

The current of fate starts from the black side, whereas choice of movement is attached to the white side. The central point may be allegorically represented by the moon, and the two forces by two women, one of them white and the other black.

The black woman is fallen Eve, she is the passive form, the infernal Hecate who bears the lunar crescent on her forehead. The white woman is Maia or Maria who treads under foot both the crescent moon and the head of the black serpent.

It is impossible to express the matter more clearly, because we have rested our hand on the cradle of all the dogmas. They have reverted to infancy before our very eyes, and we are wary lest we should harm them.

The doctrine of original sin, in whatever fashion it may be interpreted, assumes the pre-existence of our souls, if not in their own special life, at least in the universal life.

Now, if one can sin without knowing it in the universal life, one must needs be saved in the same way; but this is a great mystery.

The straight chain, the spoke of the wheel, the chain of transmission, produces solidarity between the generations, ensuring that the fathers are punished in their children so that, by the sufferings of the children the fathers stand a chance of being saved.

The Scriptures tell us that Christ descended into Hell and, having broken the iron locks and the doors of brass, ascended into Heaven leading captivity captive.

And the Universal Life cried out: Hosanna! For He has removed the sting of Death!

What is meant by all this? Dare one explain it? Will you be able to guess or understand it?

The ancient hierophants of Greece had another way of representing the two forces illustrated by the two serpents; this was as two children struggling with one another while holding a globe between their feet and knees.

The two children are Eros and Anteros, Cupid and Hermes, foolish love and wise love; and their everlasting fight keeps the world in equilibrium.

If one does not agree that we may have had some personal existence before our birth on earth, original sin will have to be seen as a voluntary depravity of human magnetism in our first parents, who would have broken the equilibrium of the chain by allowing a deadly predominance to the black serpent, that is to say, the astral current of the dead life; and we are suffering the consequences like children who are born with rickets owning to their parents' vices; feeling the penalty of misdoings which they did not commit themselves.

The extreme sufferings of Jesus and the martyrs, the excessive penances of the saints, were intended as a counterpoise to this lack of equilibrium; so irreparable, it must be added, that the world will one day be burnt up. Grace would be typified by the dove and the lamb; the astral current of life charged with the merits of the Redeemer or the saints.

The Devil or Tempter would be the astral current of death; the black serpent stained with all the crimes of men, scaled with their evil thoughts, loaded with the poison of their sinful desires; in other words THE MAGNETISM OF EVIL.

Now then, between good and evil an unending conflict is waged. They are irreconcilable for ever. So evil is always damned, always condemned to the torments which go with disorder, and yet, from our childhood it never ceases to entice us and to attract us to its side. Everything which mystical poetry teaches us about king Satan is perfectly explained in terms of this appalling magnetism which is so much the more terrible as it is more fatal; yet need not be feared so much by virtue, which it cannot overtake and which, by God's grace will surely resist it.

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