Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Éliphas Lévi

(1810-1875)

[ pages in process ]

Éliphas Lévi in 1872
-->

Synthetic Recapitulation:

Magic and Magism

Esta página en español: .. magia-y-magismo.htm


The footnotes for this Chapter are so voluminous that they are aggregated in a separate page: magic-and-magism-footnotes.htm


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]

[To MM footnote 99:1]

[To MM footnote 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.

[To MM footnote 100:1]

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]

[To MM footnote 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]

[To MM footnote 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]

[To MM footnote 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!

[To MM footnote 106:2]

Honey changes to gall [107:1] 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.

[To MM footnote 107:1]

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]

[To MM footnote 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]

[To MM footnote 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. [110:1] Paracelsus thought that real Larvæ  [111:1] 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.

[To MM footnote 110:1]

[To MM footnote 111:1]

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]

[To MM footnote 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 elements  [112:1] 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.

[To MM footnote 112:1]

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 [a] and Fénelon [b] were both Christians and Catholics, and yet the God of Fénelon 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.

[a. Grand Inquisitor. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomás_de_Torquemada ]

[b. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/François_Fénelon ]

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.

Œdipus 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 respectably [117:1] 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.

[To MM footnote 117:1]

[To MM footnote 117:2]

[To MM footnote 117:3]

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. [118:1]

[To MM footnote 118:1]

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.

[To MM footnote 120:1]

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]

[To MM footnote 120:2]

[To MM footnote 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! [c]

[c. Bogus Latin from Molière, The Doctor in Spite of Himself (Le Médecin Malgré Lui).]

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]

[To MM footnote 121:1 – Very long footnote, with a table.]

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.

Mr Punch killing the Devil

Religion is a force which escapes from the impious and against which they break themselves. Punch will never succeed in killing the Devil, [c] 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?

[c. Mr Punch first appeared in puppet shows in Britain in the 17th century. He was an unstoppable force of chaos, hanging the Devil himself in this 1842 cartoon by William Newman in the first compilation of the humorous weekly Punch.]

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 fateful [127:1] and balances, necessarily, action by reaction.

[To MM footnote 127:1]

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]

[To MM footnote 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]

[To MM footnote 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]

[To MM footnote 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.

[To MM footnote 133:1]

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]

[To MM footnote 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.

( End of chapter Magic and Magism )

Note: The footnotes for this Chapter are so voluminous that they are aggregated in a separate page: magic-and-magism-footnotes.htm

top of page

 
-->