The Great Secret or Occultism Unveiled

by Éliphas Lévi

Eliphas Levi

Book Three

Chapter XThe Magnetism of Evil


A single Spirit fills infinity. It is that of God, whom nothing limits or divides, who is everywhere entire and nowhere confined. Created spirits can only live without sheaths which are suited to their environment, which are vehicles for their action while restricting it, and prevent them from being absorbed into the infinite. If a drop of fresh water is thrown into the sea, it will lose itself there unless it is protected in an impermeable envelope. Hence unclothed, formless spirits do not exist. The forms they have are relative to the environment in which they exist and, in our atmosphere, for instance, no other spirits can exist than men with the bodies in which we see them and those of animals whose destiny and nature is still unknown to us. Do the stars have souls? Has the earth, on which we dwell, its own consciousness and intentions? These things are unknown to us. but we cannot prove that those who have chosen to believe them are wrong. Certain exceptional phenomena have been explained as spontaneous manifestations of the soul of the earth; and as a sort of antagonism has often been observed in these manifestations, it has been inferred that the earth’s soul is multiple. It has been said to reveal itself in four elemental forces which may be epitomized as two and are brought to a state of equilibrium by three. This is one of the solutions of the great Riddle of the Sphinx. According to the ancient hierophants, matter is only the substratum of created spirits. God, they thought. did not create it directly, but certain powers. the Elohim, emanated from God and made the heavens and the earth. Their doctrine interpreted the first clause of Genesis like this: Bereschith, the head or the first principle, Bara created, Elohim, the powers, V eth ha aretz ... who are or who made (implied) the heaven and the earth. We confess that to us this translation looks more logical than that which would give the nominative plural Elohim to the verb Bara used in the singular. These Elohim or powers would be the superior souls of the worlds whose forms would be the substance which is specific to their elemental properties. In order to create a world, so it has been postulated. God linked together four guardian spirits who — while contending — produced chaos first, and then, having to repose after the struggle, composed the harmony of the elements. Thus the earth imprisoned the fire and swelled up to escape the inrush of water. The air escaped from the caves and enveloped the earth and the water, but the fire is always fighting and eroding the earth, the water invades the earth in its turn and rises to the sky in clouds; the air is provoked, and to drive away the clouds it forms Currents and tempests. The great law of balance, which is the will of God, prevents the Contests from destroying the worlds before the time appointed for their transfigurations. Like the Elohim, the worlds are linked by magnetic chains which their revolt strives to break. Suns rival suns and the planets exert against planets, in opposing the chains of attraction, an equal energy of repulsion, in order to protect themselves from absorption and to preserve their individual existences. These colossal forces have sometimes taken a shape and have appeared in the guise of giants: these are the egregors of the book of Enoch; terrible beings to whom we resemble the infusoria or microscopic insects which breed between our teeth and on our epidermis. The egregors crush us without pity because they are unaware of our existence; they are too big to see us and too limited to guess that we are there. This explains the planetary convulsions which engulf whole populations. We know too well that God does not stop some stupid and cruel child from tearing the wings and legs from an innocent fly, and that Providence does not intervene in favour of the ant-hill which is destroyed and kicked to pieces by a passerby. Because a mite’s organs defy human analysis, man thinks that he is entitled to suppose that his own existence is much more precious in the eternal scheme of nature than is that of the mite! Alas! Camoëns had probably more genius than the egregor Adamastor; but the giant Adamastor, crowned with clouds, girded with waves anJ cloaked in the hurricanes, would he have any conception of the poetry of Camoëns? We look on the oyster as an appetizing morsel; we think it has no self-consciousness and therefore that it does not suffer. So, without the slightest remorse, we eat it alive. We toss the crayfish and the lobster into boiling water because, when cooked like this, their, flesh is firmer and tastier. By what terrible law are the weak abandoned to the strong and the small to the big. without the ogre having any inkling of the tortures he is inflicting on the poor wretch he devours? Can we be sure then that anyone will come to our defence against beings who are stronger and greedier than we are? The stars act and react on one another; their equilibrium is produced by links of love and thrusts of hate. Sometimes the resistance of a star collapses and it is dragged into some sun which assimilates it; sometimes a star feels its force of attraction die within it and it is hurled from its orbit by the spin of the universe. Amorous stars approach each other and engender new stars. Infinite space is one vast city of stars; they consult together and communicate with telegrams of light. Some stars are sisters. Others are rivals. Necessity constrains the stars to follow their courses, but they can exercise their liberty in varying their emanations. When the earth feels disagreeable. it fills men full of fury and unleashes plagues upon its surface; it projects a poisonous magnetism at the planets it does not like, and they retaliate by sending it war. Venus sheds upon it the venom of immorality; Jupiter provokes kings; Mercury sends the serpents of his caduceus against mankind; the Moon turns men into lunatics and Saturn drives them to despair. These fits of love and anger in the stars are the basis of all astrology, nowadays, perhaps. too much despised. Did not Bunsen’s spectrum analysis recently prove that each star has its magnetism determined by a special and particular metallic base, and that there are scales of attraction in the sky like the gamut of colours? Thus there can exist, and indeed do exist, magnetic influences between the planetary globes and these may obey the will of these planets. if they are endowed with intelligence or governed by those genii which were termed the celestial watchers, or egregors, by the ancients. We observe astonishing contradictions when contemplating nature. Everywhere there are the evidences of an infinite intelligence, but we have also to recognize the action of completely blind forces. Plagues are but disorders which can be attributed to no principle of eternal order. Epidemics, floods and famines are not the decrees of God, and to attribute them to the Devil, that is to say to an angel of perdition permitted by God to work evil, is to conceive a hypocritical God who, in order to do evil, hides behind a responsible, depraved agent. So where do disorders really come from? From the errors of second causes. But if these second causes are capable of error, they must be intelligent and autonomous, and here we have the full doctrine of egregors. According to this doctrine, the stars take no interest in the parasites which swarm over their epidermis but arc wholly absorbed in their loves and hates. Our sun, whose spots signal its cooling, is being drawn slowly but inexorably towards the constellation Hercules. One day it will lack both light and heat, for the stars age and must die as we do. Then it will no longer have the strength to repel the planets, which will rush in and dash themselves to pieces on it, and that will be the end of our universe. But a new universe will arise from the wreckage of the old. A new creation will emerge from chaos, and we, reborn in a new species will be able to fight to better advantage against the stupid grandeur of the egregors, and so it will go on until the Adam Kadmon has been restored. That spirit of spirits, that form of forms, that collective giant who sums up the whole of creation. That Adam who, according to the Qabalists, hides the sun behind his heel, conceals the stars in the tufts of his beard and, when he wants to walk, steps on the East with one foot and on the West with the other. The egregors are the Anakim of the Bible or, rather, according to the book of Enoch, they are the patriarchs. They are the fabled Titans and are found in all religious traditions. These are they who, in their battles, hurl meteorites through space, ride bareback on the comets, and fire salvoes of shooting stars and fire-balls. The air becomes unhealthy, the water corrupt. the earth quakes and volcanoes blaze with fury when these beings are angry or ill. At times, people coming home late in the valleys of the South of France are terrified to see the colossal form of a man, sitting quite still on the mountain plateau and bathing his feet in some lonely lake; they move on, crossing themselves at the same time, and think they have had a vision of Satan when they have only met the pensive shade of some solitary egregor. These egregors. if their existence must be admitted, are the agents by whom God models, the living wheels in the creative machinery, as multiform as Proteus but always confined to their elemental substance. They would know the secrets of which immensity us but would be ignorant of some of the things we know. The evocations of the ancient magic are addressed to them and the barbarous names given to them by Persian or Chaldean are still preserved in the old grimoires. The Arabs, who are the poetic guardians of the primitive traditions of the East, still believe in these gigantic genies. Some arc black and some arc white. The black genies are malevolent and are called Afreets. Mohammed has kept these genies; as well as angels so great that the bear a1 their wings sends the worlds sailing through space. We admit that we do not care for this infinite multitude of intermediary beings which hides God from us and seems to render Him useless. If the chain of spirits continually enlarges its links as it reaches back towards God, we see no reason why it should ever stop, for it will always go on into infinity without ever being able to touch Him. We should have millions of gods to overcome or to bow before without ever being able to arrive at liberty and peace. This is why we reject the mythology of the egregors finally and absolutely. Here we draw a deep breath and wipe our brow, like a man who wakes up after an unpleasant dream. We look up at the heavens, full of stars but empty of phantoms, and with inexpressible relief in our heart repeat aloud the first words of the Nicene Creed: Credo in unum Deum. (I believe in one God.) Hurtling down with the egregors and the afreets, Satan blazes out for an instant in the sky and disappears like a lightning flash. Videbam Satanam sicut fulgura (or fulgar) de coelo cadentem. (I saw Satan fall as lightning from Heaven). The giants of the Bible were swallowed up by the flood. The mythological Titans were crushed beneath the mountains they had piled up. Jupiter is only a planet and all the gigantic phantasmagoria of the ancient world is nothing more than the colossal peal of laughter named Gargantua in Rabelais. God Himself no longer wishes us to represent Him in terms of a monstrous pantheon. He is the Father of proportion and harmony and rejects enormities. His favourite hieroglyphs are the white and gentle figures of the lamb and the dove and He presents Himself to us in the form of a baby in its mother’s arms. How adorable is Catholic symbolism, and how many abominable priests have misconstrued it. Can you imagine the dove of the Spirit of Love hovering in the smoke of frying at the autos-de-fé and the Virgin Mother watching the Jews burn? Do you see the wretched young men who fall under the gunshot of the Zouaves of the Child Jesus and the rifles ranged around the treasure acquired by indulgences? But who can fathom the secrets of Providence! Perhaps this misuse of military might will absolve the dissidents and the pastor’s sin will become the innocence of the world! Besides, is not the Pope a saintly priest and does not he go about his task with complete sincerity of heart? So, who is to blame? — We must blame the spirit of contradiction and error, the spirit of untruth which has been a murderer from the beginning; we must blame the Tempter, the Devil, the Magnetism of Evil. The magnetism of evil is the fatal current of perverse habits, it is the hybrid synthesis of all the voracious instincts and wiles which man has copied from the most maleficent animals, and it is really in this philosophical sense that the Middle Ages personified demons. The typical demon has goat’s or a bull’s horns, the eyes of an owl, a nose like a vulture’s beak, the claws of a Harpy and the belly of a hippopotamus. What a figure for even a fallen angel, and how far removed from the superb king of Hell dreamed up by the genius of Milton! However, Milton’s Satan represents nothing more than the revolutionary spirit of the English under Cromwell, and the true Devil is always that of the cathedrals and the legends. He is as crafty as a monkey, insinuating as a snake, as shrewd as a fox, as ready to spring as a young cat, and as dastardly as the wolf or the jackal. He is as grovelling and as full of flattery as a valet, as ungrateful as a king. as vindictive as a bad priest and as conscienceless and perfidious as a wanton. He is a Proteus who adopts all forms save those of the lamb and the dove, say the old grimoires. Now he is the knavish little page who carries the train of some grand lady; now he is an ermined theologian or a knight in armour. The evil counsellor slips in everywhere, he even conceals himself in the centre of the rose. At times, under the priest’s cassock or bishop’s cope, he trails his poor hidden tail down the church aisle; he clings to the nun’s knotted cord and squeezes between the pages of the breviaries. He howls in the empty purse of the poor and through the keyholes of rich men’s coffers he stealthily summons the thieves. His essential and ineffaceable character is one of perpetual absurdity, for morally he is a sot and is always engaged in some piece of stupidity or other. It is a waste of time to use trickery and to scheme and calculate; those who do wrong show their lack of sense. According to the sorcerers, he invariably asks for something; he will accept a rag, a worn-out shoe or a piece of straw. No-one can fail to understand this allegory. If you concede the least thing to evil is it not the same as making a pact with it? If you summon it. even out of idle curiosity, are you not selling your soul to it? Legendary demonology is full of philosophy and reason. Pride, avarice and envy are not personages in themselves, but they are often personified in men, and those who end up by seeing the devil are looking at their own nastiness. The Devil has never been good-looking; he is not a fallen angel, he has been damned from birth, and God will never pardon him since, as far as God is concerned he does not exist. He exists as our wrongdoing. he is vice, he is disease, he is fear, he is insanity and falsehood, he is the fever in the hospital of Limbo where sick souls languish. He has never entered the serene celestial regions. and so could not have fallen from them. Get thee behind me, therefore, thou impious dualism of the Manichees; get thee behind me, thou competitor of God, always powerful though struck down by the thunderbolt, and contending with Him for the world! Get thee behind me, thou valet who hast seduced thy master’s children, who hast forced God Himself to endure death to redeem the men who have been enslaved by the rebel angel, to whom, even so, He has abandoned the majority of those whom He wanted to win back by this inconceivable sacrifice! Down with this last, this most monstrous of the egregors! Glory and everlasting triumph to God alone! Nevertheless, eternal honour to the sublime doctrine of the Redemption; our respects to all the traditions of the Universal Church; long live the ancient symbolism! But may God preserve us from materialistic interpretations and from taking metaphysical entities for real persons and allegories for histories! Children love to believe in ogres and fairies and the masses need illusions; I know it, and agree with the nurses and priests on that matter. But I am writing a book of occult philosophy which is not intended for either children or the feeble-minded. For some people the world would look empty if it were not inhabited by chimeras. The depths of heavenly space would trouble them if they were not populated with little green men and demons. These big babies put me in mind of the man in La Fontaine’s fable who thought he saw a mastodon on the moon while all the time he was looking at a mouse trapped between the lenses of his telescope. Each one of us has inside him his tempter or devil who is engendered by his temperament or temper. For some he is a strutting turkey-cock; for others he is an ape grinding his teeth. It is the brutish side of our humanity, it is the dark backdrop of our soul, it is the ferocity of our animal instincts exaggerated by the egotism of false and narrow-minded thinking, in a word it is the love of error found in spirits who despise the truth from cowardice or indifference. The demon-possessed are so many that they make up what Jesus Christ called ‘the world’, which is why He said to His apostles: ‘The world will kill you’. The Devil kills all who oppose him, and for anyone to consecrate his life to the triumph of truth and justice is to sacrifice his life. In the city of the wicked it is vice who reigns and the profit from vice which governs. The just is condemned in advance, there is no need for a trial; but eternal life belongs to the brave who know how to suffer and to die. Jesus, who went about doing good, knew that He was on the pathway to death and said to His friends: ‘We are going to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man must be handed over to execution. I am sacrificing my life; nobody is taking it from me; I am laying it down in order to take it again. If anyone wants to take me as his example let him shoulder his cross and follow me. You all see me now, but soon you will see me no longer.’ ‘Does He want to kill Himself?’; asked the Jews, on hearing Him speak like this. But to allow oneself to be killed by others is not the same as killing oneself. The heroes of Thermopylae were well aware that they were going to die there to the last man, and their glorious fight was certainly no suicide. Self-sacrifice is never suicide; and Curtius, if he is more than a legend, was no suicide. Regulus. returning to Carthage, was surely not committing suicide? Did Socrates commit suicide when he refused to escape from prison after being sentenced to death? Cato, who disembowelled himself rather than submit to that megalomaniac. Caesar, is a shining example of a republican. The wounded soldier who, when fallen on the field of battle with no weapon left to him but his bayonet, plunged it into his heart saying Come and get it, when ordered to surrender arms, was not a suicide but a hero, faithful to his oath to conquer or die. De Beaurepair, blowing his brains out sooner than sign a shameful surrender, did not commit suicide; he sacrificed himself to honour! If one makes no compacts with evil, one need not fear it; and when one does not fear evil, one ought not to be afraid of death, since it is evil which gives it its terrible empire. A black and frightful death, fraught with dread anguish. is the Devil’s daughter. Both shall be destroyed; but, as they are liars, they profess to be eternal. A little earlier, we said that the Devil is absurd and, in our History of Magic, we declared that he only makes us laugh; yet, to tell the truth, we do not laugh at an ugly absurdity and, when one loves that which is good, it is impossible to treat evil as a joke. The astral fluidic vehicle, which is represented by a serpent in every mythology, is the natural tempter of the Chavah or of the material form; this serpent was as innocent as any other creature before Eve and Adam sinned. The Devil was born of the first disobedience and became the serpent’s head destined to be crushed under the foot of the woman’s seed. The serpent as a symbol of the grand fluidic agent can be a sacred sign when it represents the magnetism of good, as did the serpent of brass egregors became incarnate to seduce earthly women and were the begetters of giants. The true egregors, that is to say the Watchers of

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