The Great Secret or Occultism Unveiled

by Éliphas Lévi

Eliphas Levi

Book Two

Chapter IX The Magical Sacrifice

First of all, we shall discuss sacrifice in general.

What is sacrifice? It may be defined as the practical expression of devotion.

It is the substitution of the innocent for the guilty, in the voluntary work of expiation.

It is the generously unfair payment made by the just (who undergoes the punishment) for the dastardly injustice of the rebel (who stole a pleasure in which he had no right).

It is the temperance of the wise man, which acts as a counterweight in the universal life to the orgies of the senseless.

Such is sacrifice in reality, and such are the leading characteristics it must always preserve.

In the ancient world, sacrifice was rarely voluntary. The offender devoted to suffering what he regarded as his by right of conquest or right of property.

Now, black magic is the occult continuation of the proscribed rites of the ancient world. Immolation lies at the bottom of the mysteries of necromancy, and witchcraft with wax figures is equivalent to magical sacrifices where the evil magnetism is substituted for the faggot and the knife. In religion it is faith which saves; in black magic it is faith which kills!

We have already explained that black magic is the religion of death.

To die in another's place is the sublime sacrifice. To kill someone else to avoid death is the sacrifice of impiety. To consent to the murder of the innocent to secure impunity for our own misdeeds would be the final and most unforgivable act of cowardice, if the victim's offering were not voluntary and if this victim had not the right to offer himself as our superior and his own absolute master. This has been considered the indispensable condition for human redemption.

We are speaking here of a belief consecrated by many centuries of adoration and by the faith of millions of men and women; and as we have said that the collective and persistent word creates whatever it affirms, we are entitled to say that so it is.

Now, the sacrifice of the cross is renewed and perpetuated in that of the altar; and there, perhaps, it fills the believer with even greater awe. The divine victim is found there without even human form; he is mute and passive, given up to those who wish to take him, unresisting in the face of those who dare to desecrate him. He is a white and fragile host. He comes at the call of a bad priest and will not protest if the intention is to involve him in the most impure rites. Before Christianity appeared, the Stryges ate the flesh of slaughtered children; now they content themselves with consecrated wafers.

People are blind to the superhuman power of wickedness open to the evil votaries who abuse the sacraments. Nothing is so malignant as a communicant from the gutter press. 'He is full of bad wine', is said of the drunkard who beats his wife when he is tipsy. I once heard a so-called Catholic say that he had the God of evil. It seems that a second transubstantiation takes place in the mouths of certain communicants. God has been placed on their tongues, but it is the Devil whom they swallow.

A Catholic host is a really fearsome thing. It contains the whole of Heaven and Hell, because it is charged with the magnetism of centuries and of multitudes: a good magnetism when it is approached with true faith, a magnetism of concentrated evil when it is put to an unworthy use. Besides, nothing is so sought after and considered so powerful for casting evil spells as hosts consecrated by lawful priests, but diverted from their pious destination by sacrilegious theft.

We are descending here into the depths of the horrors of black magic, and let no-one suppose that in exposing them we wish to encourage these abominable practices.

Gilles de Laval, lord of Retz, had the Black Mass celebrated by an apostate Dominican friar, in a secret chapel at his castle of Machecoul. At the elevation a little child was slaughtered, and the field-marshal communicated with a fragment of the host soaked in the victim's blood.

The author of the grimoire of Honorius says that the person who performs works of black magic must be a priest. According to him, the best ceremonies for evoking the devil are those of Catholic worship and, in fact, on Father Ventura's own confession, the devil is born from the working of this way of worship. In a letter addressed to Mr Gougenot Des Mousseaux and published by the latter at the beginning of one of his principal works, the learned Theatine monk has not scrupled to state that the devil is the fool of the Catholic religion (at least as far as father Ventura understands it). Here are his own words:

Satan, said Voltaire, is Christianity; no Satan, no Christianity. So it follows that Satan's masterpiece is to be a success by getting his existence denied. By demonstrating the existence of Satan we restore one of the fundamental doctrines on which Christianity is based and without which it is only a word. (Letter from Father Ventura to the Chevalier Gougenot Des Mousseaux prefacing his book La Magie au XIXe siècle (Magic up to the nineteenth century).

Thus, after Proudhon had the effrontery to say 'God is evil', a priest who is supposed to be well-informed caps the thought of the atheist by saying: Christianity is Satan. And he says this in all simplicity, under the impression that he is defending the religion which he libels in such an appalling way, misrepresenting it like the simony and material considerations which have plunged some members of the clergy into a black caricature of Christianity, that of Gilles de Laval and of the grimoire of Honorius. Perhaps it was the same father who said to the Pope: 'We must not jeopardize the Kingdom of Heaven for a clod of earth'. In himself, Father Ventura is a decent man, and at times the true Christian in him gets the better of the monk and priest.

If one can concentrate on an agreed point and fasten all one's aspirations for good on a sign, one has enough faith to realize God in this sign. Such is the permanent miracle which takes place every day on the altars of true Christianity.

The same sign, when profaned and consecrated to evil, is capable of realizing evil in the same manner, and if the justified man is able to say, after his communion, Jesus Christ lives in me, or to put it another way: I am myself no longer, I am Jesus Christ, I am one with God; even the unworthy communicant can say with no less certitude and truth: I am no longer I, I am Satan.

To create Satan and to turn into Satan, this is the great arcana of black magic, and this is what the accomplice sorcerers of the lord of Retz thought they were accomplishing for him; and they did accomplish it for him, up to a certain point, by saying the devil's Mass.

Would man ever have been in danger of creating the devil, if he had never had the temerity to want to create God by giving Him a body? Have we not said that a corporeal God must necessarily cast a shadow, and that that shadow is Satan? Yes, these were our words, and we shall never say the contrary. But if the body of God is imaginary, then His shadow could not possibly be real.

The divine body is only an appearance, a veil, a cloud: Jesus knew this by faith. Let us pay homage to the Light and not give reality to the shadow, for the latter is not the object of our faith! It is the will of nature, and will always be her will, that religion shall exist on the earth. Religion germinates, flowers and fructifies in man; it is the fruit of his aspirations and his desires; it has to be governed by sovereign reason. But the aspirations of man towards the infinite, his longings for eternal good and his reason in particular, come from God!

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