The Great Secret or Occultism Unveiled

by Éliphas Lévi

Eliphas Levi

Book Three

Chapter IIIThe Chaining of the Devil

Pleasure is a foe which is fated to become either our slave or our master. To possess it we must fight it, and before we can enjoy pleasure it has to be conquered.

Pleasure makes a charming slave but a cruel, pitiless and murderous master. It tires, exhausts and kills everyone it owns; after cheating all their desires and betraying all their hopes. Servitude to some pleasure is called a passion. Domination over some pleasure is called a power.

Nature has partnered pleasure with duty; if we divorce it from duty it festers and poisons us. If we devote ourselves to duty, pleasure will no longer be divorced from duty but will follow us and be our reward. Pleasure is inseparable from goodness. The upright man may suffer, it is true, but a tremendous pleasure emerges for him out of his sufferings. Job on his dunghill was visited by God who consoled and relieved him; while Nebuchadnezzar on his throne fell beneath a fatal hand which deprived him of his reason and transformed him into a beast. Jesus gave a shout of triumph as He died on the cross, as if he could feel His imminent resurrection; whereas Tiberius, in the midst of his criminal pleasures on Capri, laid bare the agonies of his soul in a letter to the Senate in which he wrote that he felt he died every day!

Evil only gets a grip on us through our vices and through the fear with which it inspires us. The Devil hunts down those who are frightened of him, and flees from those who resist him boldly. The art of chaining up demons is to do good and fear nothing.

You must not imagine that we are engaged in writing a book of morals. What we are doing is revealing secrets which magical science applies in spiritual healing. Hence it is necessary to say something about possession and exorcisms.

Each one of us can feel a dual life within ourselves. The struggle of the mind against the conscience; of unmanly desire against noble feelings; in a word, of the brute against the intelligent creature; the weakness of will so often betrayed by passion; the reproaches with which we upbraid ourselves; our self-mistrust; the dreams which haunt us in our waking hours: all this seems to demonstrate within us two persons of a different character, one of whom urges us to do good while the other tries to involve us in evil.

Owing to the natural anxieties arising from our double nature, it has been concluded that each of us is attended by two angels at all times, one good and the other evil, one on our right hand and the other on our left. This is purely and simply a piece of symbolism but, as we have said before (and this is an arcanum of the science), the human imagination is powerful enough to clothe the beings whom it affirms verbally in forms which are transiently real. More than one ascetic has engaged in hand-to- hand combat with his familiar demon.

In the visions which we have induced or which arise from a morbid disposition, we appear to ourselves under forms which lend a magnetic projection to our exalted imagination. Sometimes, too, certain people who are ill or deranged are able to project forces which magnetize the objects submitted to their action, so that these objects seem to move about of their own accord.

These productions of images and forces, since they do not belong to the usual order of nature, always emanate from some unhealthy condition which is suddenly able to become contagious by the effects of surprise, of fright or of some evil disposition.

At this stage prodigies multiply and everything seems to be caught up in a whirl of madness. Such phenomena 'are clearly disorders. They are the products of the evil magnetism, and the man in the street would be right, if he agrees with our definition of such beings, to call it the work of a demon.

This is the mode of production of the miracles of the convulsionaries of Saint-Médard, of the shakers of the Cévennes and of many others. Thus are produced the singular features of spiritism; people in an exalted frame of mind or in some way diseased are the focal point of all their circles, at the head of all their currents. Thanks to the action of the current and the pressure of the circles, it is possible for the sick to become incurable and for the over-excited to go mad.

When visionary exaltation and magnetic derangement are produced by an invalid's chronic condition, he is either obsessed or possessed according to the seriousness of the illness.

In this state the subject is attacked by a kind of infectious hypnotism. He dreams with his eyes open, believes in and produces irrational conditions around him, up to a certain point, and fascinates the sight and deceives the senses of impressionable folk in his vicinity. This is how superstition triumphs and the deeds of the Devil become evident. Yes, they are evident, but the Devil is not what we think. Magic could be defined as the science of universal magnetism, but this would be to take the effect for the cause. The cause, as we have said, is the ruling light of the od, the ob and the aour of the Hebrews. However, we must revert to the subject of magnetism, of which the great secrets are still unknown, and reveal its future theorems.

I All beings existing in some form or other, are polarized for the purpose of inspiring and respiring the universal life.

II The magnetic forces in the three kingdoms are composed so as to strike a balance by the power of contraries.

III Electricity is nothing but the special heat which produces the circulation of magnetism.

IV Medicines do not cure disease by the specific action of their substance, but through their magnetic properties.

V Every plant is sympathetic to some animal and antipathetic to a contrary animal. Every animal is sympathetic to one man and antipathetic to another. The presence of an animal can change the character of a disease.

Many an old maid would go mad if she did not have a cat, and will be quite reasonable if she can get her cat to live on good terms with a dog.

VI There is not a plant, insect or stone which does not conceal some magnetic property and which is not capable of serving the human will for good or ill.

VII Man has a natural power of helping his fellow-men, by an act of will, by the spoken word, by his look and by signs. In order to exercise this power it is necessary to know and to believe in it.

VIII Every act of will which does not express itself in a sign is an idle act. Signs may be either direct or indirect. A direct sign is stronger because it is more rational; but an indirect sign is always a sign or action corresponding to an idea, and as such it is capable of realizing the will. However, the indirect sign is only effective when the direct sign is impossible.

IX Every decision to act is a magnetic projection. Every assent to an action serves to attract magnetism.

Every act by consent is a pact. Initially, every pact is a free engagement, afterwards it is bound by fate.

X To act on others without binding oneself, one needs that perfect independence belonging to God alone. Can man become godlike? - Yes, by participation!

XI To exercise great power without being perfectly free is to consign oneself to a great fatality. This is why it is scarcely possible for a sorcerer to repent and why his damnation is so sure.

XII The power of the mage and the sorcerer is one and the same; with this difference, the mage clings to the tree when he cuts off the branch while the sorcerer hangs from the very branch he is trying to cut off.

XIII To make use of exceptional natural forces is to place oneself outside the law. Therefore it is to submit to martyrdom if one is just and, if one is not, to legitimate punishment.

XIV De par le roi défense à Dieu De faire miracle en ce lieu. (God does no wonders here you see, The King forbids them by decree.)

This is an inscription which is paradoxical in form only. The police of any given place belong to the king and are his representatives. God cannot set Himself against His own police. He can throw evil popes and bad kings onto the dung heap, but He cannot disregard the ruling laws. Hence every miracle which is done in defiance of the spiritual and legal authority of the pope or against the temporal and legal authority of the king, does not come from God, but from the Devil.

God in the world means order and authority; it is Satan who stands for disorder and anarchy. Why is it not only permissible but even glorious to resist a tyrant? It is because the tyrant is an anarchist who has usurped power. Do you wish to fight victoriously against evil? Be the personification of what is good. Do you want to conquer anarchy? Be the arm of authority. Do you want to chain up Satan? Be the power of God.

Now, the power of God reveals itself in human beings by two forces: collective faith and incontestable reason.

Therefore, there are two kinds of unfailing exorcisms, those of reason and those of faith. Faith issues its commands to the phantoms of which she is queen because she is their mother, and they depart for a season. Reason breathes on them in the name of science and they disappear for ever.

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