The Great Secret or Occultism Unveiled

by Éliphas Lévi

Eliphas Levi

Book Three

Chapter XIVDark Intelligence

Those whom initiates are entitled to call profane, the vile multitude, that is to say the feeble serious matter of an apple) in a fit of anger, has been obliged to suffer unending death to ransom them eternally and securely. If you mention the Qabalah to them they invariably visualize it as a coded grimoire which is used to summon the Devil and to rule the fantasy world of sylphs, gnomes, salamanders and undines. If the conversation turns to magic, they think of it in terms of Circe's wand and enchanted cup which changes men into swine. They easily confuse Zoroaster with Muhammad and, as for Hermes Trismegistus, they think that that is some strange name used to mystify the ignorant, just as the word ‘Bogy-man' is used to intimidate children. Ignorance, like faith, has its orthodoxy; and if one happens to know things which are unknown to the so-called learned, one is a heretic in their eyes. Because there are no new truths, the wise men of this world support their authority on tottering error. Besides, it is well known that accepted error props up almost every standpoint. ‘How dare you answer the High Priest like that!' shouts an officer as he strikes Jesus who has spoken with respectful firmness. ‘Are you trying to say, you nobody, that when the authorities accuse you they expose their own ignorance? Are you telling us that you know something unknown to the powers-that-be? So the High Priest is wrong is he, and you know he is wrong? He is talking nonsense and you are talking sense?' Napoleon I detested ideologies because he himself was the world's leading ideologist. He wanted to carry all before him without resistance, but was unable to offer any resistance when the striking power he had deployed for so long was suddenly turned against him. Since the dawn of history, we see that it is always the lie which has ruled the earth, while truth has asserted its rule from time to time in violent disasters and plagues. Cruel and inflexible Truth! Is it surprising that men do not like you? Time and again you destroy the illusions of kings and commoners and if, on occasions, you have your devoted servants, you abandon them and turn them over to the cross, the stake and the scaffold! Blessed are those who die for you, but wiser are those who serve you with sufficient adroitness to avoid a useless martyrdom. There is no doubt that Rabelais was a greater philosopher than Socrates, since by hiding behind the mask of Aristophanes he managed to escape the attentions of the breed of Anitus and Melitus (who are always with us). Galileo, whose name in itself would make the Holy Inquisition a laughing-stock for all time, had sense enough not to brave the torture chamber and the dungeon. Contemporary documents show him as a prisoner in a palace drinking with the inquisitors and signing inter pocula (between drinks) his ironic deed of abjuration, far from saying with a stamp of his foot and a clenched fist, 'Eppur si muove' ('It does move, all the same'). It is said that he added, 'Yes, I affirm on your word that the earth is immobile, and if you like I will add that the heavens are made of glass, and if it pleased God that your foreheads were the same they would let in the light'. Rabelais would have turned and said, 'Let's drink on that!' Would it not be the most ridiculous form of suicide to die in order to prove to fools that two and two make four? A theorem which has been demonstrated cannot be denied, and the abjuration of a mathematical truth is nothing more than a farce and a grimace, the absurdity of which will attach itself to those who can seriously exact it in the name of an alleged infallible authority. If Galileo had gone to the stake for protesting against the Church, he would have been a heresiarch. By abjuring as a Catholic what he had demonstrated as a scientist, he killed the Catholicism of the Middle Ages. One day someone handed the author of this book an article from the Syllabus saying, 'Take a look, here is the formal condemnation of your doctrines. If you are a Catholic, admit the charge and burn your books; if, on the other hand, you are going to ersist in your teachings, don't let's hear any more about your catholicity. The article from the Syllabus is number seven in Section Two and the doctrines it condemns are these: 'The prophecy and miracles made known and recorded in Scripture are poetic fictions and the mysteries of the Christian faith are an epitome of philosophic investigations; contained in the books of the two Testaments are mystical inventions and Jesus Himself is a myth.' What was the astonishment of the person who was trying to confound me when I said that these were no doctrines of mine. I said to him, 'Here is what I teach or, rather what is recognized by the Church, by science and by myself.' 'The narratives of the prophecies and miracles in the Bible have a poetic form which is peculiar to the oriental genius. The mysteries of the Christian faith have been confirmed and explained, as to their expression, by philosophic investigations. The Old and New Testaments contain parables and Jesus Himself has been the subject of many parables and legends.' I fearlessly submit these propositions to the Pope and to the future Council, and am quite certain in advance that they will not condemn them. What the Church does not want, and rightly so, is to be deliberately contradicted. Her infallibility is needed to maintain peace in the Christian world, so she must preserve her infallibility at all costs. If she were to say that two and two make three, I should take care not to say she was mistaken. I should endeavour to find how and in what manner two and two could make three, and you may be sure I would be successful. For example: two apples and two halves of an apple make three apples. When the Church seems to utter an absurdity, it is merely an enigma propounded to test the faith of the faithful. Needless to say, it will be a grand and moving spectacle, this next General Council, when the queen of the Old World, wrapped in her tattered purple, declares that she is more sovereign than ever at the moment she falls from her throne, and proclaims her extended tights and new pretensions in the face of imminent spoliation. The bishops will be as heroic as those sailors of the Vengeur who, on a ship ready to founder, were full of defiance instead of surrendering and fired their last broadside as they nailed their flag to the remaining stump of the mainmast. Besides, they know that a compromise would utterly ruin them and that the altar flames would go out as soon as they ceased to be in darkness. When the temple veil is rent the gods depart, to return when new dogmatic embroidery makes a new veil lightproof. Night is for ever backing away from the advance of day, but only to take possession of regions on the other side of the globe which the sun has abandoned. There is need of darkness, there is need of impenetrable mysteries to baffle that dark intelligence which believes in the absurd and combines the despotism of a limited reasoning power with the immeasurable audacity of faith. Daylight circumscribes our horizons and gives us a sight of the limits of the world; it is night, more than anything else, boundless night with its immense haze of stars, which gives rise to our sense of the infinite. Church proclaimed at Nicaea a unity of substance analogous to the unity of God. When an attempt was made to represent Jesus Christ as a hybrid personage composed theological puzzle. The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin is not a question of embryology and the table of logarithms has nothing to do with the There is a white god and a black god in the Qabalah of Rabbi Simeon Ben Jochai.

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