The Great Secret or Occultism Unveiled

by Éliphas Lévi

Eliphas Levi

Book Three

Chapter XVIIThe Magnetism of Good

It is said and repeated every day that good people are miserable in this world while the wicked prosper and are happy. This is a stupid and abominable lie.

This falsehood stems from the common mistake which confuses wealth with felicity; as if one could reasonably say that Tiberius, Caligula, Nero and Vitellius were happy. They were rich though, and even more than that they were the masters of the world; yet their hearts had no rest, their nights were sleepless and their conscience was scourged by the furies.

Does a pig become a man when we serve it truffles in a trough of gold?

Happiness is within ourselves not in our porringers, and Malfilâtre dying of hunger would have deserved his fate if he had wished he were a fattened hog.

Who is the happier out of Socrates and Trimalcion (that character in Petronius who is the caricature of Claudius)? Trimalcion would have died of indigestion if he had not been poisoned.

Good people sometimes suffer poverty and even misery, I do not deny this, but often it is their very poverty which preserves their integrity. Wealth might corrupt and destroy them. We must not imagine that the really good people are those who belong to the great mass of fools of only moderate courage and weak wills. Fools who obey the law out of fear or spinelessness, devotees who fear the Devil and poor devils who fear God. People like that are dumb cattle who are able to profit neither by gold and riches nor by want; but can one ever seriously pity the wise, the truly wise? Even when the wise man is ill-treated it is by those who envy him. At this point several of my readers will say, with an air of disappointment, 'You promised us magic and you have given us morals. Enough of philosophy, tell us now about occult forces.' Very well! Those of you who have read my books will know what the two serpents of the Caduceus signify. They are the two opposing currents of the universal magnetism. The serpent of creative and preserving light and the serpent of eternal fire which devours in order to regenerate.

The good are magnetized, vivified and preserved by the imperishable light, the wicked are burnt in the eternal fire.

There is a magnetic and sympathetic communion between children and the light; they all bathe in the same source of life; they are all happy in their common blessings.

Positive magnetism is a force which gathers things together, whereas negative magnetism is a dispersive force.

Light attracts life and fire carries destruction with it.

White magnetism is sympathy and black magnetism is aversion.

Good people love one another and wicked people hate one another because they know all about each other.

The magnetism of those who are good attracts to them all that is good for them and when it does not attract riches it is because wealth would not be good for them.

The heroes of ancient philosophy and of primitive Christianity, you will recall, embraced holy poverty as a strict guardian of their work and temperance.

But anyway, are men of good-will ever poor? Have they not an endless supply of magnificent things to give away? To be rich is to give; to give is to amass, and one's eternal inheritance is altogether composed of what one bestows on others.

There is really and truly an atmosphere of good, just as there is an atmosphere of evil. In the one a man breathes in eternal life, in the other eternal death.

The symbolic circle in the shape of the good serpent biting its tail, the pleroma of the Gnostics, the nimbus of the saints in the Golden Legend, is the magnetism of good.

Every saintly head emits rays of light and the rays interlace to form chains of armour.

The rays of grace are linked with rays of glory; the certainties of Heaven fecundate the good desires of Earth. The just who are dead have not left us, they live in us and by us, they inspire us with their thoughts and rejoice in ours. We live in Heaven with them and they fight on earth with us side by side; for we will solemnly repeat what we have said before, the symbolic Heaven, the Heaven which the various religions promise to the righteous is not an estate, but rather a state of souls. Heaven is eternal, generous harmony, and Hell, irremediable Hell, is the inevitable conflict of dastardly instincts.

Muhammad, following oriental style, presented his disciples with an allegory which has been taken for an absurd story, pretty much as Voltaire took the parables in the Bible.

There is, said he, a tree called Tuba so vast and outbranching that a horse starting at a gallop from the foot of the tree would have to go on galloping for a hundred years before emerging from its shade. The trunk of this tree is made of gold and its branches bear leaves which are talismans, cut from marvellous stones, which shower on the true believers all that their heart can desire. They have only to be touched to yield delicious food or splendid garments. This tree is invisible to the ungodly but it extends one of its branches into the house of every just man and each branch has the properties of the whole tree.

That allegorical tree is the magnetism of good. It is what the Christians call grace. It is what the symbolism of Genesis refers to as the tree of life. Muhammad had divined the secrets of the Science and spoke as an initiate when recounting the beauties and wonders of the tree of gold, the gigantic tree Tuba.

'It is not good for man to be alone' said the eternal Wisdom, and this statement is the expression of a law. Man is never alone, either in good or in evil. His existence and feelings are individual and collective at one and the same time.

Everything which men of genius discover or attract from the light shines out for the whole of humanity. Every worthy thing done by the righteous profits all the just and, at the same time, affords grace for repentance to the wicked. The heart of humanity has strings in all hearts.

Everything that is true is beautiful. The only vanity under the sun is error and falsehood. Even pain and death are beautiful, because they are the work which purifies and the transfiguration which delivers. The fleeting forms are true because they are manifestations of the power and beauty of the eternal. Love is true. Woman is holy and her conception is immaculate. True knowledge never deceives; reasonable faith is not an illusion. A cheerful, sympathetic laugh is an act of faith, hope and charity. To go in dread of God is to fail to recognize Him; it is only error which should be dreaded. A man may do anything he wants to do when all he wants to do is justice. He may even, if he so wishes, rush into wrongdoing but he will be dashed to pieces if he does. God reveals Himself to man, in man and by man. His true worship is Charity. Dogmas and rites alter and succeed one another; charity does not change and its power is eternal.

There is only one sole and veritable power on earth as there is in Heaven: it is that of goodness. The righteous are the only masters of the world. The world is in upheaval when they suffer. It is transformed when they die. The oppression of justice is the compression of a force far more terrible than that of high explosives. It is not the masses who raise revolutions, but the kings. The just person is inviolable, woe to him who would touch him! The Caesars have fallen to cinders, burnt by the blood of the martyrs. Whatever a righteous man wishes is approved by God. Whatever a righteous man writes, God signs, and it is an everlasting testament.

The great clue to the riddle of the sphinx is God in man and in nature. Those who separate man from God separate him from nature, because nature is full of God and recoils in horror from atheism. Those who separate man from nature are like sons who would honour their father by cutting off his head. God is the head of nature, so to speak, she would not exist without Him, He would not manifest Himself without her.

God is our Father, but nature is our mother. 'Honour thy father and thy mother,' says the Ten Commandments, 'that thy days may be long in the land.' Emmanuel, God is with you: this is the sacred word of the initiates who go only by the name of Brothers of the Rosy Cross (Rosicrucians). It is in this sense that Jesus Christ could call Himself the Son of God, and God Himself, without blasphemy. It is in this sense that He wants us only to make one with Him as He only makes one with His Father, so that regenerated humanity will realize in this world the great arcanum of the man-God.

Let us love God in one another, for God will never show Himself to us except in one another. Everything lovable about us comes from God in us. God is all there is to be loved, and it is only God whom one loves when one knows how to love truly.

God is light. He does not love darkness. Therefore, if we long to feel God within us, we must let the light into our souls. The tree of Knowledge is not a tree of death except for Satan and his apostles. To the superstitious it is the Manchineel tree*, but to us it is the tree of life.

Then we shall no longer say, like stupid slaves, 'This is good because we have been ordered to do it and have been promised a reward and that is bad because we have been told not to do it on pain of chastisement', but we shall say, 'Let us do this because we know that it is good and refrain from doing that because we know that it is evil.'

And thus will be realized the promise of the symbolic serpent:

'You will be as gods, knowing good and evil.'


* The Manchineel tree is a tropical American tree with a poisonous and caustic milky sap.

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