Paradoxes of the Highest Science
by Éliphas Lévi
MAGIC AND MAGISM
THE name of magic, after having been so dreaded and so execrated in the Middle Ages, has become in our days almost ridiculous. A man who seriously occupies himself with Magic will hardly pass as a reasonable being unless set down as a physician and a quack. Credulous folks suppose that all magicians are workers of wonders, and being moreover convinced that only the Saints of their Communion have the right to perform miracles, attribute the ideas and phenomena of magic to the influence of the Devil or evil Spirits. For our part we believe that the miracles of the Saints, and those which are attributed to demons, are alike the natural results of causes which are abnormally brought into action. Nature never disturbs herself; her standing miracle is immutable and eternal order.
Moreover Magic must not be confounded with Magism. Magic is an occult force, and Magism is a doctrine which changes this force into a Power . A Magician without Magism is only a Sorcerer. A magist without magic is only one who KNOWS. The author of this work is a magist who does not practise magic;99:1 he is a man of study and not a man of phenomena.99:2 He does not claim to be either a magician or a mage, and he can only shrug his shoulders when he is taken for a sorcerer. He has studied the Kabala and the magical doctrines of the ancient sanctuaries; he feels that he understands them, and he sincerely believes in and admires them; to him they are the noblest and the truest Science that the world possesses, and he deeply regrets that they are so little known. For this it is that he seeks to make them better known, taking only the title of Professor of the Highest Science. The Science of Magism is contained in the books of the Kabala, in the Symbols of Egypt and of India,100:1 in the books of Hermes Trismegistus, in the oracles of Zoroaster, and in the writings of some great men of the Middle Ages, like Dante, Paracelsus, Trithemus, William Postel, Pomponaceus, Robert Fludd, etc.
The works of Magic are divination or prescience, Thaumaturgy or the use of exceptional powers, and Theurgy or rule over visions and spirits.
One may divine or predict, either by observations and the inductions of wisdom, or by the intuitions of ecstasy or sleep, or by calculations of Science, or by the visions of enthusiasm, which is a species of intoxication. Indeed Paracelsus calls it "ebriecatum" or a species of ebriety. The states which are connected with somnambulism, exaltation, hallucination, intoxication whether by alcohol or drugs, in a word with all classes of artificial or accidental insanity in which the phosphorescence of the brain is increased or over-excited, are dangerous and contrary to nature, and it is wrong to attempt to produce them, because they derange the nervous equilibrium, and lead almost infallibly to frenzy, catalepsy and madness.
Divination and prediction by mere sagacity demand a profound knowledge of the laws of Nature, a constant observation of phenomena and their correlation, the discernment of Spirits by the science of signs, the exact nature of analogies, and the calculation, be it integral or differential, of chances and probabilities. It is useful to divine and foresee, but we must not allow ourselves to divine or to mix ourselves up in predictions. A prophet interested in a matter is always a false prophet, because desire deranges sagacity; a prophet disinterested, that is to say a true prophet, always makes himself enemies, because there is always in this world more evil than good to predict; the occult sciences should always be kept hidden; the Initiate who speaks, profanes; and he who knows not how to keep silence, knows nothing.102:1
Noah foresaw the Deluge but took good care not to predict it. He held his tongue and built his ark. Joseph foresaw the seven years of famine and made his arrangements which secured to the king and priests all the wealth of Egypt. Jonah foretold the destruction of Nineveh, and fled in despair because his prediction was not accomplished. The early Christians predicted the burning of Rome, and Nero with some appearance of Justice accused them of having set it on fire. The Sorcerers of Macbeth drove him to regicide, by telling him that he would be a king. Prophecy seems to attract evil and often
provokes crime. The Jews believed that the glory of God was involved in the eternal preservation of their Temple; to predict the destruction of this edifice was blasphemous. Jesus dared to do this, and the Jews, who but the day before had spread their garments beneath his feet and decked his path with branches and palms, cried all with one voice, "Let him be crucified!" But it was not for them that the Saviour had made this prediction, but for the small circle of his apostles and faithful followers; unfortunately it became public and served as a pretext for the judicial murder of the best and most divine of men.103:1
If we can predict exactly and certainly when eclipses are to occur and comets to return, why should we not be able to predict the periods of the greatnesses and decadences of empires? Being given the nature of a germ, do we not know what kind of tree it will produce? Knowing the motor, the impact and the obstacle, can we not determine the duration and extent of the movement? Read the book, entitled Prognosticatio eximii docti Theophrasti Paracelsi, and you will be astounded at the matters that this great man was able to foresee by combining the calculations of Science with the intuitions of a marvellous sagacity!
One may predict with certainty by help of the calculations of science, and with uncertainty by help of a sensitively impressionable nature, or magnetic intuition.
It is the same with miracles; these are astounding phenomena because they are abnormal and are produced in accordance with certain natural laws as yet unknown. When electricity was still a mystery for the multitude, electrical phenomena were miracles. Magnetic phenomena astonish at the present day the adepts of spiritism, because science has not yet officially recognised and determined the forces of human magnetism, which is distinct, according to our view, from animal magnetism. It is not yet known to what extent the imagination and will of man are powers. It is evident that in certain cases nature obeys them: the sick suddenly recover health, inert objects change their position without any apparent motive force, visible and palpable forms are produced; the cause of all this is God for one set, the Devil for the other, and no one reflects that God is too great to condescend to conjuring tricks, and that the Devil, if he exists, as portrayed in legends, would be too intelligent and too proud to consent to be made ridiculous.
All exclusive religions rely on miracles, and each attributes to the Devil the miracles of its opposing Faith. In this latter they are all to a certain extent right. The Devil is ignorance, the demons are false Gods. Now all false Gods perform miracles, the true God works only one, which is that of the eternal Order.
The miracles of the Gospel are the wondrous operations of the Divine Spirit, related in an enigmatical style, as is the custom of the ancients and of Orientals especially. That spirit changes water into wine, that is to say indifference into love; it walks on the waters, and with a word stills tempests; it opens the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf; it makes the dumb to speak, and the paralytic to walk. It resuscitates humanity buried for four days (that is for four thousand years); it shows it in its putrefaction like Lazarus, and ordains that it be released from its bonds and from its shroud. Such are the true miracles of Christ, but if they ask him for prodigies, be replies, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign and there shall no sign be given to it, but that of the prophet Jonas." Here the Master gives us to understand that the miracles of the Bible are also allegories. Jonas issuing alive from the fish that has swallowed him is humanity which regenerates itself. Jesus gave to the Jews as incontestable miracles the holiness of his doctrine and the example of his virtues.
Jesus may certainly have healed the sick; since Vespasian, Apollonius, Gassner, Mesmer, and the Zouave Jacob have also healed the sick; sick people too may have been healed at Lourdes, as at the tomb of the deacon Paris; but such cures are not miracles, they are the natural results of a certain exaltation in Faith. Jesus Christ said so himself. "Can you cure me?" asked a certain sick person; "If thou canst believe," said the Master, "all things are possible to him that believeth."
Faith produces certain apparent miracles, and credulity exaggerates them. When Jesus said that all was possible to Faith, he did not mean by this to say that the impossible could ever become the possible.
The impossible is that which is absolutely contrary to the immutable laws of nature, and to the eternal Reason.106:1
Every man is a magnetic focus, which attracts and radiates. That attraction and that projection are what are called in magic the inspiration and respiration. The good inspire and respire good, the wicked attract and respire evil; the good may heal the body, because they make the souls better, the wicked do harm both to souls and bodies. Often the wicked attract good to corrupt it, and the good attract evil to change it into good. Thus it is that at times the wicked seem to prosper, whilst the good are victims of their own virtues; but they grossly deceive themselves who fancy that Tiberius at Capri was happier than Mary at the foot of the cross of her son. What pleasure nevertheless was wanting to Tiberius, what suffering to Mary? And yet how happy a mother,106:2 how miserable an Emperor!
Honey changes to gall107:1 in the mouths of the wicked and gall into honey in the mouths of the just. The innocent man, sacrificed, is deified by his punishment; the guilty man, triumphant, is branded and burnt by his diadem.
Let us now touch the dangerous and darkness-shrouded coasts of magic, the intercourse with the other world, the contact with the invisibles, Theurgy and the evocation of spirits.
Everything proves to us that there exist other intelligent beings than man. The Hierarchy of spirits must be infinite as that of bodies. The mysterious ladder of Jacob is the Biblical Symbol of this Hierarchy ascending and descending. God rests upon that ladder or rather he sustains it. We may say that that ladder is in him, or rather that it is He, Himself, for it is as a God, and to manifest God, that the Infinite ascends and descends.
At each rundle the Spirit which rises is equal to the one that descends, and can take his hand; but he still must needs follow him who ascends in front of him. This is a law which those who make evocations should seriously meditate.
To ascend eternally is the hope of the blessed; to descend eternally is the threat that weighs upon the reprobated.
Men invoke superior spirits, but they can only evoke inferior spirits.
Superior spirits whom men invoke attract them upwards; inferior spirits whom men evoke draw them downwards.108:1
Invocation is prayer, evocation is sacrilege, except when it is a very dangerous devotion.
But the rash mortals who plunge into evocations have no thoughts of making the spirit whom they call ascend with them; they want to lean on it to rise by, and must necessarily lose their balance in leaning on what is descending.
The spirit which descends is as a load to him who would raise it, and it necessarily drags down him who abandons himself to it! To renounce the reason to follow the inspirations of a phantom, this is to plunge into the abyss of madness.
The great epoch of Theurgy was that of the fall of the ancient Gods. Maximus of Ephesus invoked them before Julian, because men had ceased to invoke them; they had sunk below even the reason of the common people; also to Julian they appeared thin, poor, and decrepit. Julian, fanaticised by the magic of the past, wished to take these infirm immortals on his back, as Æneas saved his father from the conflagration of Troy, and the arrogant philosopher fell under the burthen of his Gods.
We cannot see the Gods without dying. This is one of the most formidable axioms of ancient Theurgy, for the Gods are the immortals; to see them we must Pass out of our Plane into theirs and enter into incorporeal life, and if this be Possible without dying, it is only so in an imaginary or fictitious manner, or by an illusion resembling that of dreams. We must conclude that every apparition which we survive can only be a dream; when a vision of the other world is real, either the seer dies, or rather is already dead when he sees it.109:1 This which we write has assuredly no sense for the learned materialists who do not believe in another life, but these are compelled, in defiance of all evidence, to deny the phenomena of magnetism and spiritism; and cannot, therefore, be sincere-the true savants are those who believe.
The danger lies in believing without knowing; for then one believes in the absurd, that is to say in the impossible. The old French language had a word to express rash belief; it was the verb cuyder, whence is derived our word outrecuidance, which signifies a ridiculous and presumptuous confidence.
Theurgy is a dream pushed to the most terrifying realism in a man who believes himself awake. It is attained by weakening and exciting the brain, by fasts, meditations and watching. Asceticism is the father of nightmares and the creator of demons, the most grotesque and deformed. Paracelsus thought that real Larvæ111:1 might be engendered by the nocturnal illusions of celibates. The ancients believed in the existence of daimones, a race of malicious genii who floated about in the atmosphere. St. Paul seems to admit these when he talks of the powers of the air against whom we have to fight; the Kabalists peopled the four elements, and named their inhabitants Sylphs, Undines, Gnomes and Salamanders. Young, hysterically disposed virgins in the middle ages used to see White Ladies appear near springs; in those days they called such phantoms fairies; nowadays when the same phenomena repeat themselves, people are persuaded that the Virgin has shown herself on earth, and they found churches and organise pilgrimages, which still bring in a great deal of money despite the decline of Faith. We must not insist in matters of Religion on enlightening the multitude too soon.111:2 There are people who could no longer believe in God if they ceased to believe in our Lady of Lourdes. Let us leave the consolation of the dream to those who do not yet know bow to apply the remedy of reason to their ills. Illusions are better than despair; it is better to do good through a misconception than to do evil through the weakness of a rebellious reason and anæmia of the conscience.
Moses, in causing the construction of the Ark of Alliance, made a concession to the idolatry of the Jewish populace, and the golden calves of Samaria were later only counterfeits of the Keroubim of the ark; these Keroubim or Cherubim were two-headed Sphinxes; there were two Cherubim and four heads, one of a child, the other of a bull, the third of a lion and the fourth of an eagle. It was a reminiscence of the Gods of the Egyptians, Horus, Apis, Celurus, and Hermomphta; symbols of the four elements112:1 and signs of the four cardinal points of the heaven they served as emblems of the four cardinal virtues--prudence, temperance, strength and justice. These four hieroglyphic figures have remained in the Christian Symbology and they have been made the insignia of the four evangelists.
The Catholic Church has condemned the breakers of images, and yet well knew that images are but idols; the word idol in Greek signifies nothing else but an image, and the pagans no more believed that a statue of Jupiter was Jupiter, than we believe that an image of the Virgin is the Virgin in person. They believed, as we do, in a possible manifestation of the divinity through such images; they had like ourselves statues that wept, that rolled their eyes, and sang at sunrise; we have, like them, our mythology, and the Golden Legend might form a sequel to the Metamorphoses of Ovid. Nothing destroys itself in the universal Revelation, but everything transforms and continues itself; the manifestation of God produces itself in the human genius by successive approximations and by progressive changes. God is always the ideal of human perfection, which grows in grandeur as man raises himself. God did not speak once, to hold his peace ever after. He speaks, as he creates, always.
Torquemada and Fénélon were both Christians and Catholics, and yet the God of Fénélon resembles in nothing the God of Torquemada. St. Frances of Sales and Father Garassus do not speak of God in at all the same manner, and the Catholicism of Monsignor Dupanloup hardly bears any likeness to that of Louis Venillot.
The Protestants have levelled everything. They have denied all they could not understand, and they hardly understand what they affirm, but Revelation does not retreat; she is not impoverished, but adds always something to the mysterious riches of her dogma; the Rabbis, to throw light on the obscurities of the Bible, redouble the darkness in the Talmud, and the Christian ages have given, as a sequel to and commentaries on the incredible accounts of the Gospels, the impossible Legends of the Lives of the Saints. To those who deny the infallibility of the Church, we reply with the infallibility of the Pope. Always the enigma is made more complicated to prevent fools from guessing it, for all Dogma is a philosophical enigma.
TRINITY, or the three in one, signifies UNITY. INCARNATION, or God made man, that signifies HUMANITY. REDEMPTION, or all lost through one and saved by one, that indicates our mutual interdependence, the SOLIDARITY of the race.
UNITY, HUMANITY, SOLIDARITY, this will be the Trilogy of the future; pacific solution of the Revolutionary problem LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY.
Truly it is Social Unity alone that can guarantee the liberty of nations by creating Universal Right; it is before Humanity alone and not before Nature that men are equal; and it is the mutual interdependence or solidarity which alone proves fraternity. But how many ages must elapse before these Truths, simple as they are, will be understood?
Catholicism is official occultism and rests entirely upon mystery. The secret of the sanctuaries has been profaned, but has not been explained.
dipus thought to kill the Sphinx, and the plague fell upon Thebes. His hostile brothers still fight and slay each other once more. The grand Symbols of the Past are the prophecies of the Future; mysteries and miracles, such must be the Religion for the masses whom it is essential to make feel keenly what they do not understand, so that they may permit themselves to be led. This is the secret of the sanctuary, and the magists of all times have understood it. The weak can only remain united under the surveillance and responsibility of the strong; the strong emancipate themselves. If there had never been shepherds, there would have been no tame sheep; if dogs were free, that is to say wild, they would have to be hunted like wolves: and truly, the vulgar are either wolves or sheep; it is servitude alone that saves them.
The great secret of Freemasonry is nothing else than the science of nature. It has long since been divulged, but people still swear to preserve it eternally, thus rendering homage to the eternal principle of occultism.
The true Initiates are shepherds and conquerors, they raise the sheep and conquer the wolves; this was, in the beginning, the sublime mission of the Church, but in this sheepfold of the Lord, the wolves have become shepherds and the flocks have fled away.
The true Church must be one, and not divided into numerous sects; it must be holy, and not hypocritical or greedy; it must be universal, and not restricted to a privileged circle that repels almost the whole of Humanity. In a word it must attach itself to a common centre, which in the Roman world was Rome,. but which is no more irrevocably Rome than Jerusalem. "The wind bloweth where it listeth," said the Master, and so is every one that is born of the Spirit. " . . . wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
The Catholic Church ought to be the House Mother of universal indulgence. She does not tolerate merely, she absolves; she ought to excommunicate religious hatreds and bless even her children who have strayed. It is through the Catholic faith that all sincere believers, no matter what creed they profess, belong to the soul of the Church, provided they practise natural morality and seek the truth in sincerity of heart. Let only a Pope appear who will loudly proclaim these consolatory truths, and invite all the nations of the earth to an universal jubilee, and a new era will dawn for the Christian Religion.
Glory to God in all that is great, and peace and good will to men on Earth! It was by this cry of universal love that the genius of the Gospels, announced in old days the birth of the Saviour of the world.
The Official Church represents the Occult Church as the castes of society represent the natural Hierarchy; the Priests, the Nobility and the People represent the men of devotion, the men who are superior in intelligence and the men who are inferior.
The true priests of Humanity are the sincere philanthropists; the true kings are the men of genius; the true nobles, the men of intelligence and lofty sentiments; the common mass is the great flock of the voluntarily ignorant and poltroons. A simple soldier faithful to his flag is surely greater than a Marshal of France who betrays his country.
An honest rag-picker is more noble than a vicious prince; eminent men in all departments have risen from the people, and kings and queens have been seen dragging themselves through the mire. Every intelligent and virtuous man may deserve admission to the highest initiation; the profane are only fools or knaves.
The initiate is a man of no party; he desires only unity, mutual indulgence and peace. He has no opinions, for truth is not an opinion; for him all hostilities are errors, and all curses, crimes.
Before the abuses of the Romish Church, protestation is a right and consequently a truth; but Protestantism is a sect, and therefore a falsehood. Catholicity, that is to say Universality, is the character of true religion, it is therefore a truth, but Catholicism is a party and consequently a falsehood. When abuses have ceased, protestation will no longer have any reason to exist, and when Catholicity shall have been established throughout the world, there will he no more Catholicism at Rome.
In the meantime, as one cannot live respectably117:1 without religion, and as it is impossible and absurd to stand alone in religion, since the very word religion signifies a thing that binds men to one another,117:2 each can and ought to follow the usages and rights of the communion in which he was born.117:3 All religions have a respectable side and a defective side. Let us no more break each other's Idols, but let us lead all men gently out of Idolatry. One must learn to endure patiently in Catholic Churches the noise of the ceremonial, and of the halberd of the Swiss, to weary oneself in all gravity and respect in the Protestant temples, to keep serious in the Synagogue and the Mosque despite the muffled heads of the Rabbis and the contortions of the Dervishes. All this must have its time.
One religion passes away, but Religion remains one man dies, but humanity dies not; one woman ceases to love or be lovable, but woman is ever worthy of respect and love; one rose fades all too soon, but the rose is an imperishable flower, and blooms anew in every spring. Let us make use of Religions for the sake of Religion, love men for the sake of humanity, and women for the love of woman; let us seek the rose amidst the roses, and we shall never find deception or despair.
But because we are men, we must not insist on the children being men. We must not beat them because they fall, nor use them harshly because they do not understand things that are above their age. We must not rob them of their Punches and their dolls; they adore them; later they will break them; mamma will give them others, and papa will have nothing to say.
The Sacred Books of all nations in all times have been collections of fables; they are the books and pictures made for the instruction of children.
They are generally collective works resuming all the knowledge and all the highest aspirations of one people and one epoch. They are sacred as monuments should be, and worthy of respect, as is the memory of ancestors. The Divine Spirit has assuredly inspired them, but inspired them to men and not to Gods.
They reveal God, as the tree which grows reveals the seed planted in the earth, or as the rising dough reveals the hidden leaven. This double comparison is borrowed from Jesus Christ Himself.
We have said that the absurdities of Dogma are enigmatic; they are even more systematic. The great Initiates of the Ancient World never explained their symbols except by obscure symbols. God wills to be divined, because divination is divine, as the word itself sufficiently indicates. The riddle of the Sphinx is the trial of all Neophytes, and the three-headed dog watches always at the portals of the crypt of the mysteries. In Religion, to explain is to profane; to make more obscure is to reveal.
Science and Religion are as the day and night. If reason be the sun, faith is the moon.120:1 In the absence of the Sun, the Moon is the sovereign of the heavens. Let us, however, not forget that it is from the Sun that she borrows all her rays, and that true Faith can never be absurd except in seeming.
Science, has not she too her mysteries? Escape if you can out of the labyrinth of the Infinite. Do indivisible molecules really exist? Endeavour to conceive substance without extension.120:2 If on the contrary matter is infinitely divisible, one grain of dust may, in the infinity of time, by the infinite number of its parts, equal the infinity of space.120:3 Absurdities on all sides! Ask Marphurius; he desires to explain that the polychronic evolution of analytical concepts, in the Relative, is equal to the isochronism
of the synthetical concept in the Absolute, and he thence concludes that the synchretism of the Abstract is analogous to the synchretism of the Concrete.--Cabricias arciturane!
The mysteries of faith are borrowed for the most part from the mysteries of science; for instance, is not light one, in three rays of different colours? In its triplicity it is blue, yellow and red, in its unity it is white. This Trinity gives seven shades of colour; here we have the sacred septenary.121:1 Light produces forms, it is incarnate in living beings, it dies to revive, and buys back each morning our hemisphere from the slavery of the night. Dupuis concluded thence that Jesus Christ was the Sun; a fine discovery! It is as though one professed that a sphere of cardboard was positively the Universe.
Religion is a force which escapes from the impious and against which they break themselves. Punch will never succeed in killing the Devil, for the Devil is a caricature of God, and this caricature belongs to those who have made it. It remains in their eyes, it fascinates and pursues them. If all the blind could coalesce to exterminate those who can see, could they even then extinguish the Sun?
The masses are blind and foolish and must be led by the seers and the sages. But when those whose duty it is to lead the blind, become blind, when the keepers of the mad go mad themselves, there result falls and appalling disorders. This is the history of all revolutions.
The use of brute force to repress disorder provokes inevitable and terrible reactions when that force has not the support of justice and Truth: for then it becomes fateful127:1 and balances, necessarily, action by reaction. War authorises reprisals, because in war, according to the cynical saying of a great German diplomatist, it is might that makes right; and indeed despotism, whether of kings or mobs, is war; the authority of the Law and the empire of justice is peace. Social Unity is the end and aim of civilisation and transcendental politics, an end at which, from the time of Nimrod, all great conquerors and profound statesmen have aimed. The Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, all sought to absorb the world. Bacchus, Hercules, Alexander, Caesar, Peter the Great, Napoleon, had no other dream; the Popes thought to realise it under the name of Religion, and it was a grand idea; but Germany nowadays opposes mathematics to the enthusiastic onrush of beliefs, and swells day, by day her exchequer. The Emperor, one of the two pillars of the world, is now again erect, and he is no longer Roman. Rome on one side, and on the other the whole world-the balance is no longer equal; we should necessarily require a cosmopolitan Pope, when we had an universal Emperor.
High magic is at once Religion and Science. This alone harmonises contraries by explaining the laws of equilibrium and of analogies. This alone can make sovereign Pontiffs infallible and Monarchs absolute; the Sacerdotal art is also the Royal art, and Count Joseph de Maistre was not deceived when, despairing of extinguished beliefs and enfeebled powers, he turned his glances, against his will, towards the sanctuaries of Occultism. It is thence that salvation will come, and already it is revealing itself to the most advanced intelligences.
Freemasonry, which has so frightened the Court of Rome, is not so terrible as people think; it has lost its ancient lights, but has preserved its symbols and its rites which belong to Occult Philosophy; it still gives the titles and the ribbons of the Rosy Cross, but the true Rosicrucians are no longer in its Lodges; they are what they have been from the beginning--philosophers and unknown. Paschalis, Martines and St. Martin have successors who do not meet in regular assemblies. Their Lodge is said to be in the great Pyramid of Egypt, an expression, allegorical and mystical, which the innocent and ignorant are at liberty to take literally.
There is one thing more incontestably infallible than the Pope, and that is mathematics. Truths rigorously demonstrated force the mind to suppositions which we may call the necessary hypotheses. These hypotheses, if I may so express myself, are the scientific objects of Faith. But the imagination, exalted by an infinite want to believe and love, draws incessantly from this rational objective paradoxical deductions; to curb licence and mystic fantasies, there must be an authority touching reason on the one side and mysticism on the other; this authority, dogmatically infallible, has no need to, and cannot, he so scientifically. Science and Faith are the two columns of the Temple; they support its portico.
If they were both on the same side, the structure must fall on the other.
It is their separation and parallelism which should eternally maintain equilibrium.130:1
The comprehension of this principle would put a stop to a misconception of too long standing and would bring peace to many souls. In truth between science and faith no real antagonism can subsist. All that has been demonstrated becomes unassailable, and it is impossible to believe in what one knows positively not to be true. Galileo knew that the earth turned, but he knew also that the authority of the Church is unassailable because the Church is necessary. The Church has no authority in matters of science, but can oppose with all her power the dissemination of particular scientific truths which she judges to be at the moment prejudicial to the Faith. People very generally believed in Galileo's time that the popularisation of the system of Copernicus would give the lie to the Bible. Forced later to admit that system, because it was demonstrated it became of course necessary to find means of reconciling the difference; the earth in fact turns, but the Church remains infallible, even when it declares that it is no longer itself, but our Holy Father the Pope, who is infallible.131:1
This is not said ironically; the Pope is infallible because it is necessary that he should be so, and he really is so, for those who believe it, since his infallibility only extends to matters of Faith.
The work of science is to detach Faith from the letter and attach it to the spirit; in proportion as science rises, Faith is exalted.
The eternal Evangel is like the cloud that led the Jews in the wilderness; it has one face of shadow and one face of light; the face of shadow is its mystery, the face of light its reason. The shadow is spread over the letter, the light emanates from the spirit.
There is the Gospel of Faith and the Gospel of Science. Moreover Science renders Faith impregnable; those who doubt do not know.131:2
Ignorant faith only preserves itself by obstinacy, and obstinacy in ignorance is only fanaticism.
Whoso believes without knowing, but without fanaticism, will very soon begin to doubt, and that doubt can only have as its result either knowledge or indifference.
We must learn, or cease to believe. To cease to believe is easier, but for the soul to cease to believe is to cease to love; and to cease to love, is to cease to live.
Fanatics are sick, but still they are living; the indifferent are dead.
Blind beliefs do not improve mankind; they may restrain them through fear or allure them by hope, but fear and desire are not virtues. A dog may restrain his appetite under fear of the whip, but he none the less remains, greedy, he only adds cowardice to greed. So to believe to any good purpose, we must know. It has been said that a little science detaches from God, and that a great deal of science leads us back again to Him; this saying must be explained by stating that a commencement of Science and Philosophy detaches man from the God of the foolish, while the acquisition of much of these brings him to the God of the wise.
The Magist has no need to formulate his faith in God,133:1 he feels in himself that supreme power of the True and the God, which animates, sustains, fortifies and consoles him. What need have we to define the light when one can see it? What avails it to prove life, when one is alive? When St. Paul was converted, say the Acts of the Apostles, he felt as though scales had fallen from his eyes.
The scales which cover the eyes of our souls are the vain conceits of a rash theology and the unhealthy sophisms of a false philosophy. The initiates are the seers and for the thoughtful, to see is to know, to know is to will, to will is to dare; but to dare with success, we must will and know how to be silent.
"Never be zealous," said Talleyrand, and the same diplomatist averred that speech was given us to disguise our thoughts. This political mummery is not to our taste; we do not say disguise; we say reclothe and chastely veil that Virgin that we call thought, for our thought is not a thought of personal interest and falsehood; the Veil of the sanctuary is not like the curtain of comedy; it is rent at times, but it never rises.134:1
The initiate avoids with care all eccentricity; he thinks as do the most enlightened, and speaks as do the mass. If he explores cross roads it is only to reach more surely and quickly the grand route; he knows that true thoughts are like running water. Those of the Past flow in the Present, and roll on towards the Future without our needing to toil backwards to their source to find them; and he allows himself to be tranquilly borne onwards by the current, but he holds ever to mid-stream, never bruising himself against the rocks that line its banks.
Footnotes (page number:note number)
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99:1 His incessant struggles with the "idea" rooted in him by his unhappy Catholico-Romanism, having occupied and wasted all his time.--E. O.
99:2 It is at least questionable whether this be not the best, wisest, and safest position. Admitting that by a devotion to Occult Physics, two supreme gifts are attainable,--one, the preservation of the individual memory right through all the further lives on this and the other planets of our cycle, throughout a complete circuit-in other words the quasi-immortalisation of the personality; and second, the power of controlling and directing our own future after death instead of being drawn into the vortex and being there disposed of while still in a passive state under the laws of affinities; yet it is at any rate questionable whether even these, the highest gifts, which not one per cent of adepts even attain to, really profit a man in the long run. Most certainly to attain them, an utterly self-regarding life is needed in the case of men of our race. A sublime selfishness it may be, but none the less selfishness, is essential to the attainment of these highest gifts. It is at least open to doubt whether an active life of unselfishness and benevolence amongst our fellows is not more conducive to happiness in the long run. In a universe governed by a mathematical justice, we may be content to leave our future in the hands of the Eternal Laws and the immortalisation of a necessarily imperfect personality is a doubtful good. As for all other powers dependent on a manipulation of the Astral Essence, though doubtless susceptible of beneficial exercise on rare occasions, they hardly appear to me aims worthy of the Man-Divine.
note 99:2 continues on p. 100
A certain theoretical knowledge of the Physics of Occultism grows in the mind in its progress in the Metaphysics of the "Highest Science," but in my humble notion it is to a thorough comprehension and grasp of these latter that our best efforts should be directed. We should not waste time, seeking powers or power; we should lift no longing gaze even to the two supreme accomplishments, but we should strive so to purify our natures and permeate ourselves with an active love for the ALL, as to ensure at the recast, the evolution of a higher personality, and so to make the cognisance of the infinite unity, and all that thereby hangs a part of ourselves, as to render it a necessary intuition of the new personality. This is to be "un vrai magiste qui ne pratique point la magie," and to my mind this is, perhaps, the nobler, though, doubtless, the less attractive path.--Trans.
100:1 And above all in the Ancient Sacred Literature of India. But E. Lévi had never studied the Bhagavad-Gita and other like incarnations of the spiritual life in the flesh of the latter, or he would have been a far truer "Magiste".--Trans.
102:1 "Keep silence all who enter here," has from time immemorial been graved above the Portals of Occultism, "Gopaniyum Prayatnena," "to be kept secret with the greatest care" is the refrain of all the ancient Aryan writers on Psychism. But valid as this insistence on secrecy has been in the past, it must not be forgotten that evolution never sleeps, and that the wheel is ever turning. A new and higher race is scintillating on the dim horizon, and what are the highest secrets of one race, and intolerable to its mass, become the intuitions, if not the palpable verities, of the next.--Trans.
103:1 This entire paragraph is sophistical and insincere to a degree. It savours not of "the things which are of God but of the things which are of man"; not of occultism, but of Éliphas Leviism.--Trans.
106:1 Which leaves the question where it was, since even the highest adept can never have such an exhaustive knowledge of those laws or that Reason, as to be able to assert of anything that it is absolutely contrary to them, or hence to predicate impossibility of anything outside, as Arago said, of pure mathematics.--Trans.
106:2 The wretched Isiacs wound their breasts and imitate the grief of "the INFELICISSIMA MATER Isis" (Min. Felip. c 2r). The return of Isis with the body of Osiris is dated December 15th, and the search lasts seven days. (Plutarch).--E. O.
107:1 In this and many other cases it is impossible to reproduce in English that antithesis of sound (mielfiel), which, not unfrequently at some little sacrifice of sense, intensifies, so often, the epigrammatic character of our author's dicta.--Trans.
108:1 Correct.--E. O.
109:1 Here he alludes to the voluntary trance condition or Samadhi induced according to the rules of occult science. Mediumistic trance is a mode of epilepsy--E. O.
So, for that matter, I venture to submit, if words are used in their strict sense, is Samādhi. The real difference consists in the fact that a mediumistic trance is generally the result of an abnormal and quasi-defective organisation, undertaken or fallen into suddenly without the preparations essential to render it innocuous to the health, and without the mental preparations necessary to the retention of the free exercise of the mind and will, and is only partially, often not at all, under control, while Samādhi results from a long and careful series of exercises developing abnormal capacities in a normal organisation, and is preceded by a gradual training that protects the physical frame and habituates the mind and will to free exercise under
note 109:1 continues on p. 110
conditions that would normally cripple or wholly stupefy them, and is wholly under control.
Add that from its nature the former cannot continue many days without producing death, while the latter can continue for months without the slightest injury, unless we reckon as an injury the grave disgust for earthly fleshly life that haunts the adept for a longer or shorter period after revival.
Both are epileptic in character, the one only semi-voluntary, the other wholly voluntary; the one without, and the other with, the preliminary physical training necessary to enable the tissues and the mind to bear, unimpaired, subjection to the abnormal conditions.--Trans.
This, though true, is a quibble. No doubt elementaries and elementals belong to the Kāmaloka, and are, therefore, not strictly speaking apparitions of the other world, but the public thinks and talks of all such comparatively immaterial existences as belonging to the other world, and so here again the plain sense of the passage is at variance with what the writer knew to be true.--Trans.
111:1 This word scarcely as yet in use in English, though thoroughly Gallicised, is from the Latin, Larva, a ghost or spectre.--Trans.
111:2 Sophistry.--E. O.
I quite agree, but if for "Religion" we substitute "Occultism" my friend E. O. apparently considers that the Sophistry disappears.--Trans.
112:1 And of the fourfold nature of man; the three pairs and the outer fleshy case and analogous universal quaternions.--Trans.
117:1 "Convenablentent," the right word, most assuredly: respectably.--E. O.
117:2 Rather it signifies that which binds together the soul,--or if you will the highest couple, the 6th principle, and the spirit, (or 7th principle or monad), and the absolute, of which this is a ray.--Trans.
117:3 In other words we are by silence to consent to and add currency and vitality to what we think a falsehood. There is a vast difference between tolerance for and gentleness with what we believe to be the errors of others, and the ease-loving timidity which shrinks from showing by its own example that it does believe them to be errors. E. Lévi looks forward to a reign of truth, but if men follow his advice, and for the sake of respectability persistently bow to falsehood, how is the usurper to be dethroned, how is the wrong to be conquered, and the right to triumph?--Trans.
120:1 These poetical illustrations are misleading. Science, real science, and religion are one; at most two faces of the Eternal Truth; allotropic forms of the same everlasting verity.--Trans.
120:2 There is no such thing; it is only nothing that has no extension; the extension of what we call immaterial things may be beyond our cognisance, but all things have extension, and extension is the essence of substance, which both is and fills space.--Trans.
120:3 Of course this is all a muddle; indivisible atoms do exist. You may say that the mind can divide them in conception, but if you could put the division into practice, the molecule would return into the unmanifested. Then he confuses matter, which is transitory, concrete and manifested, with substance, its eternal, abstract, unmanifested base.--Trans.
121:1 [Footnote 121:1 extends from p. 121 to p. 127.] The Septenary is sacred. not for one, but for a thousand reasons. Take any seven coins or discs of precisely the same size. Place one in the centre and you will find that the remaining six, when arranged round it as a belt, will exactly occupy the whole circumscribing space, each touching its neighbours and the original central one. Add, with other precisely similar discs, a similar second belt outside the first, a third outside the second, a fourth outside the third, and so on. Increase it, as you may, each belt will only contain six more pieces than the preceding one, with the one central piece as the seventh. The belts will contain 6, 12, 18, 24, 30 pieces and so on, the numbers being terms of an arithmetical progression of which the increment is 6. You may continue enlarging the circumference till it covers the whole Gobi desert, but you will he unable to add more than 6 for each belt to the number of its predecessor. This may seem childish, but we invite all the western mathematicians to explain the why of it, and on this principle the Universe both in its concrete and abstract manifestations is built up.
footnote 121:1 on p. 122
Pythagoras speaks of the Dodekahedron as being the "Divine"--for the first circle of one and six is the central circle, the abstract, the one of nature in abscondito, and the most Occult. It is composed of the ONE, the central point, and of the six, the "number of perfection" of the Kabalists, having this perfection in itself, shared by no other, that by, the assemblage of its half, its third part, and its sixth part (one, two and three) it is made perfect. Therefore it is called "the sign of the world," for in six rounds the group of worlds attains its perfection, and during the seventh enjoys felicity, and neither nature nor beings labour or toil any more, but prepare in their perfection for Nirvana. With the Christian and Jewish Kabalists, it is the six days of creation and their Sabbath.
And seven is called by Pythagoras "the vehicle of Life," etc. Seven in short is the symbol of this Yug, and Time.
The Sabæans worshipped the seven sons of Sabus. The seven "spirits of God" in Revelation mean simply the perfect man; so with its seven stars, lamps, etc.; and the Chaldean "stages" of the seven spheres and the Birs Nimrud with its seven stories, symbolical of the concentric circles of the seven spheres.
You moderns, who laugh at the ignorance of the ancients, who knew but of seven planets, you have never understood what was really meant by this limited number; nor have you given one thought to the fact that men who presented Callisthenes (over 2,000 years ago) with records of celestial observations extending back from their time 1,900 years, could not have been ignorant of the existence of other planets.
footnote 121:1 on p. 123
And what (not who) is SABAOTH, and why should have been regarded as a creator? How many Christians are there who suspect that SABAOTH was the Demiurgic number, seven with the Phnicians, who became later the Israelites? (Read Lydus de Mens. IV, 38, 74, 98, p. 112.) Seek for SABAOTH. ADONAIOS in the "Sibylline Books," Gallacus, 278. The Demiurge is Iao presiding over the seven circles of the seven Ghebers, the seven spirits of fire, astral light, Fohat, the seven Gabborim, or kabiri, the seven wandering stars, and it is those wanderers who under their collective name of Kabar Ziv (or Mighty Life or Light) as a Central Point emanates and allows to cluster round itself the seven Dæmons.
The names of the seven Impostor Daemons in the Codex Nazaraeus.
2. Spiritus (Holy Spirit), Astro (Venus)or Lebbat Amamet.
3. Nebu (Mercury).
4. Sin Luna, called also Shuril and Siro.
5. Kiun (Kivan) Saturn.
6. Bel, Jupiter (life supporter).
7. Nerig, Mars--the son of man who despoils the other sons of man; called also "Excoriatores".
The names of the seven Skandhas or Principles.
7. Spirit, the reflection of the ONE Life.
6. The spiritual soul (Female).
5. The Animal Soul (Manas).
4. The Kama Rupa--the most dangerous and treacherous of the Principles.
3. The Life-soul, Linga sarira.
2. The Vital principle.
1. The Gross body or material form--per se an animal and a very ferocious and wild one.
footnote 121:1 on p. 124
As regards the little problem which E. O. invites Western Mathematicians to explain, it is simple enough. There is no mystery in it; it is a necessary consequence of the hypotheses involved in the premises. First the hypothesis involved in the description, to speak mathematically, of the figure we call a circle, the equality of all radii, and second the hypothesis that we are to use only equal circles. The proof is too long to insert, but it all proceeds from the known geometrical facts that where two circles touch, the line joining their centres passes through the point of contact; that where three circles touch the three lines joning their centres compose an equilateral and equiangular triangle; that the interior angles of a triangle are collectively equal to one-half of the angular extension round a point, and that each angle of an equilateral triangle is equal to one-sixth of this, and that consequently, only six such triangles, exactly this number and no more, can radiate from any point; that though the first belt may look circular, the second and succeeding ones cannot be constructed according to the terms of the problem except as hexagons, when again the properties (also the result of the hypothesis of construction) of the equilateral triangle come into play, and thus it is perfectly easy to demonstrate, that, not as a matter of mystery, but as a result following necessarily on the adopted premises, if there be n belts, then the nth must contain six n discs or circles.
It seems useless to argue with Eastern adepts--from the time of the Gymnosophists, who taught Pythagoras, they have always, verbally at any rate, confounded things and their symbols. There is nothing sacred in the number seven; it is a memoria technica of hidden combinations, etc., which combinations, etc., are or may be held to be sacred, but as for the symbol 7, or the word seven, there is nothing sacred in either, the sanctity, if any, pertains to the mysteries they recall, and in no way to the symbol or word. Had our language called 6+1, pig, or used--as the symbol for this, then pig and--would have been as sacred as seven and 7.
On the other hand to those who ridicule and reject the facts of the occultists on the ground that according to them the universe is built up upon one numerical system, and that everything is in sevens or threes, it may be useful to point out that even in this little world of ours we have instances of the persistent adherence of nature to particular numbers. Thus3and multiples of this rule the inflorescence of all endogens and4and 5 that of all exogens; and thousands of other instances can be given, so that the general rejection of occult views of the universe, on account of a symmetry in them, which is over hastily concluded to be unnatural, and, therefore, artificial and false, is not really warranted, even by our little learning. And as to3and 7, the latter grows necessarily out of the former, since 7 is the greatest possible number of products of three things taken, 1,2or3together.
As for the seven impostors, dæmons, these were also considered, by some, to represent the cycle of necessity, which, according to them, beginning with Mars, ran through Jupiter and Saturn to the earth,
footnote 121:1 on p. 126
and thence through Mercury and Venus to the sun. But though the Tibetan Brotherhood tell us that man does pass hence first to Mercury, they tell us that the Planet on which we lived immediately previous to our advent on this Earth was Mars and their account of the worlds that make up our cycle of necessity is quite different from that above referred to. But though according to this latter Saturn, and not Mars, was the Planet from which we last came, it does not follow that the Planet we call Saturn was really meant, or that the several Planets to which occultism has attached the sings, and names of the Planets known to the Astronomers of old, are really these very Planets. On the contrary, as a rule it may generally be concluded that when occultism says anything, it means something else. Words, like the names of planets, precious stones, minerals, plants, etc., always had two meanings--one, the palpable obvious one, which; if accepted, leads entirely astray, for the uninitiated; and the other, the artificial one, which gives the real fact for the initiated. This is what has, and I maintain rightly so, brought more discredit on occultism than anything else, and which must engender disbelief in or contempt for it, in the world at large, so long as it is persisted in. But the adepts of all schools have always been so tied down, by the vows and spiritual conditions (which it therefore no longer remains in a man's option to subsequently disregard) of the successive initiations, that they can, in many matters, not speak save in this deceptive phraseology, to' those not initiated, and
footnote 121:1 on p. 127
these in their turn, as they progress, become by the immutable laws of the associations to which they belong, similarly tongue-tied and mind-bound; and, as to many things, the only hope for the world at large lies in the gradual development of the higher races on earth, who will, untaught in these schools, work out anew their knowledge for themselves, and untied by laws and conditions, now rapidly becoming an anachronism, give freely of all their store to all men. In this direction the authors of The Perfect Way have made the first important step.
Of course, as to many matters, witness the facts given in the introduction, the adepts can speak more plainly, and are, nowadays, some of them, not so unwilling to speak as they have always hitherto been, but there remain the highest and most important laws of which, I am informed, they neither will nor can speak, save only to those who have been initiated, and are therefore for ever precluded from revealing the truth to any non -initiated.--Trans.
127:1 There is no English equivalent for "fatale," in the sense in which it is here used, and which is not "fatal," but that has become a thing of Fate, operating therefore in a blind, unintelligent, irresponsible manner under blind laws.--Trans.
130:1 Although in a certain sense this is true, it is very misleading. Faith, in the ordinary sense of the word, viz., a belief in that for which there is no evidence, direct or indirect, has no place in true Occultism which is an exact science, and accepts nothing which cannot either be demonstrated or at any rate proved to accord with, or follow, necessarily or with a high degree of probability, from what can be demonstrated. Of course, like all sciences, Occultism has its methods, and a man must understand these before be can understand its demonstrations; just, for instance, as a man must understand the methods of mathematical physics, before he can understand the proof that the poles of the moon describe in space a certain very complicated curve. But this latter is none the less an exactly demonstrated fact, and so too are the teachings of Occultism, although to one ignorant of the methods of this latter science they may seem absolute mysteries and matters of Faith.--Trans.
131:1 And thus proves again that Human Folly is limitless as space itself.--E. O.
131:2 It will be seen that by Faith he means the acceptance of the teachings of Authority (i.e., of those who p. 132 presumably know more of the matter than ourselves) on those subjects or points on which we do not possess or are unable to obtain knowledge--a constantly varying quantity altering from moment to moment with the progress of the world and the individual, and disappearing in the sanctuary of occultism where all mysteries, at any rate of the conditioned universe, are explained.--Trans.
133:1 And the Mage has not even need to believe in one.--E. O.
Quite so, he has no need. Occultism only deals with the conditioned universe, which to all conditioned in it is infinite. Admittedly, in that Universe only Laws, and no God, i.e., no conscious, intelligent will, the source of those laws, can be traced. So the Mage may justifiably say, "I content myself with the manifested and conditioned universe and believe in no God who, whether he exists somewhere abscondite or not, has not seen fit to indicate himself anywhere in manifestation, and cannot therefore, (if such a being exists) want men to believe in Him."
But there are Mages and Mages, and there are some who say, granting all this, we yet know by a higher intuition that the infinite to all conditioned existence is yet not ALL, and that there is a conscious and intelligent will, the origin of those manifested laws which alone we creatures of manifestation can cognise. But this of course is a matter of Faith and pertains not to occultism proper, which is either atheistic or agnostic, but to transcendental occultism.--Trans.
134:1 It never rises, but as race follows race, and circuit succeeds to circuit, it etherialises more and more, destined to vanish wholly before the veil of the cosmic night, that shrouds a higher mystery and an inner sanctuary, is drawn around us.--Trans.