Hear again the words of an adept, who had profoundly studied the mysteries of science, and wrote, as the Ancient Oracles spoke, in enigmas; but who knew that the theory of mechanical forces and of the materiality of the most potent agents of Divinity, explains nothing, and ought to satisfy no one!
Through the veil of all the hieratic and mystic allegories of the ancient dogmas, under the seal of all the sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the worn stones of the ancient temples, and on the blackened face of the sphinx of Assyria or Egypt, in the monstrous or marvelous pictures which the sacred pages of the Vedas translate for the believers of India, in the strange emblems of our old books of alchemy, in the ceremonies of reception practiced by all the mysterious Societies, we find the traces of a doctrine, everywhere the same, and everywhere carefully concealed. The occult philosophy seems to have been the nurse or the godmother of all religions, the secret lever of all the intellectual forces, the key of all divine obscurities, and the absolute Queen of Society, in the ages when it was exclusively reserved for the education of the Priests and Kings.
It had reigned in Persia with the Magi, who perished one day, as the masters of the world had perished, for having abused their power. It had endowed India with the most marvelous traditions, and an incredible luxury of poetry, grace, and terror in its emblems: it had civilized Greece by the sounds of the lyre of Orpheus: it hid the principles of all the sciences, and of the whole progression of the human spirit, in the audacious calculations of Pythagoras: fable teemed with its miracles; and history, when it undertook to judge of this unknown power, confounded itself with fable: it shook or enfeebled empires by its oracles; made tyrants turn pale on their thrones, and ruled over all minds by means of curiosity or fear. To this science, said the crowd, nothing is impossible; it commands the elements, knows the language of the planets, and controls the movements of the stars; the moon, at its voice, falls, reeking with blood, from Heaven; the dead rise upright on their graves, and shape into fatal words the wind that breathes through their skulls. Controller of Love or Hate, this science can at pleasure confer on human hearts Paradise or Hell: it disposes at will of all forms, and distributes beauty or deformity as it pleases: it changes in turn, with the rod of Circe, men into brutes and animals into men: it even disposes of Life or of Death, and can bestow on its adepts riches by the transmutation of metals, and immortality by its quintessence and elixir, compounded of gold and light.
This is what magic had been, from Zoroaster to Manes, from Orpheus to Apollonius Thyaneus; when positive Christianity, triumphing over the splendid dreams and gigantic aspirations of the school of Alexandria, publicly crushed this philosophy with its anathemas, and compelled it to become more occult and more mysterious than ever.
At the bottom of magic, nevertheless, was science, as at the bottom of Christianity there was love; and in the Evangelic Symbols we see the incarnate WORD adored in its infancy by three magi whom a star guides (the ternary and the sign of the microcosm), and receiving from them gold frankincense, and myrrh; another mysterious ternary, under the emblem whereof are allegorically contained the highest secrets of the Kabala.
Christianity should not have hated magic; but human ignorance always fears the unknown. Science was obliged to conceal itself, to avoid the impassioned aggressions of a blind love. It enveloped itself in new hieroglyphs, concealed its efforts, disguised its hopes. Then was created the jargon of alchemy, a continual deception for the vulgar herd, greedy of gold, and a living language for the true disciples of Hermes alone.
Resorting to Masonry, the alchemists there invented Degrees, and partly unveiled their doctrine to their Initiates; not by the language of their receptions, but by oral instruction afterward; for their rituals, to one who has not the key, are but incomprehensible and absurd jargon.
Among the sacred books of the Christians are two works which the infallible church does not pretend to understand, and never attempts to explain,–the prophecy of Ezekiel and the Apocalypse; two cabalistic clavicules, reserved, no doubt, in Heaven, for the exposition of the Magian kings; closed with Seven seals for all faithful believers; and perfectly clear to the unbeliever initiated in the occult sciences.
For Christians, and in their opinion, the scientific and magical clavicules of Solomon are lost. Nevertheless, it is certain that, in the domain of intelligence governed by the WORD, nothing that is written is lost. Only those things which men cease to understand no longer exist for them, at least as WORD; then they enter into the domain of enigmas and mystery.
The mysterious founder of the Christian Church was saluted in His cradle by the three Magi, that is to say by the hieratic ambassadors from the three parts of the known world, and from the three analogical worlds of the occult philosophy.
In the school of Alexandria, Magic and Christianity almost take each other by the hand under the auspices of Ammonius Saccos and Plato. The dogma of Hermes is found almost entire in the writings attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite. Synesius traces the plan of a treatise on dreams, which was subsequently to be commented on by Cardan, and composes hymns which might serve for the liturgy of the Church of Swedenborg, if a church of illuminati could have a liturgy.
To this epoch of ardent abstractions and impassioned logomachies belongs the philosophical reign of Julian, an illuminatus and Initiate of the first order, who believed in the unity of God and the universal Dogma of the Trinity, and regretted the loss of nothing of the old world but its magnificent symbols and too graceful images. He was no Pagan, but a Gnostic, infected with the allegories of Grecian polytheism, and whose misfortune it was to find the name of Jesus Christ less sonorous than that of Orpheus.
We may be sure that so soon as Religion and Philosophy become distinct departments, the mental activity of the age is in advance of its Faith; and that, though habit may sustain the latter for a time, its vitality is gone.
The dunces who led primitive Christianity astray, by substituting faith for science, reverie for experience, the fantastic for the reality; and the inquisitors who for so many ages waged against Magism a war of extermination, have succeeded in shrouding in darkness the ancient discoveries of the human mind; so that we now grope in the dark to find again the key of the phenomena of nature. But all natural phenomena depend on a single and immutable law, represented by the philosophal stone and its symbolic form, which is that of a cube. This law, expressed in the Kabala by the number 4, furnished the Hebrews with all the mysteries of their divine Tetragram.
Everything is contained in that word of four letters. It is the Azot of the Alchemists, the Thot of the Bohemians, the Taro of the Kabalists. It supplies to the Adept the last word of the human Sciences, and the Key of the Divine Power: but he alone understands how to avail himself of it who comprehends the necessity of never revealing it. If Œdipus, in place of slaying the Sphynx, had conquered it, and driven it into Thebes harnessed to his chariot, he would have been King, without incest, calamities, or exile. If Psyche, by submission and caresses, had persuaded Love to reveal himself, she would never have lost him. Love is one of the mythological images of the grand secret and the grand agent, because it expresses at once an action and a passion, a void and a plenitude, an arrow and a wound. The Initiates ought to understand this, and, lest the profane should overhear, Masonry never says too much.
When Science had been overcome in Alexandria by the fanaticism of the murderers of Hypatia, it became Christian, or, rather, it concealed itself under Christian disguises, with Ammonius, Synosius, and the author of the books of Dionysius the Areopagite. Then it was necessary to win the pardon of miracles by the appearances of superstition, and of science by a language unintelligible. Hieroglyphic writing was revived, and pantacles and characters were invented, that summed up a whole doctrine in a sign, a whole series of tendencies and revelations in a word. What was the object of the aspirants to knowledge? They sought for the secret of the great work, or the Philosophal Stone, or the perpetual motion, or the squaring of the circle, or the universal medicine; formulas which often saved them from persecution and general ill-will, by exposing them to the charge of folly; and each of which expressed one of the forces of the grand magical secret. This lasted until the time of the Roman de la Rose, which also expresses the mysterious and magical meaning of the poem of Dante, borrowed from the High Kabalah, that immense and concealed source of the universal philosophy.
It is not strange that man knows but little of the powers of the human will, and imperfectly appreciates them; since he knows nothing as to the nature of the will and its mode of operation.That his own will can move his arm, or compel another to obey him; that his thoughts, symbolically expressed by the signs of writing, can influence and lead other men, are mysteries as incomprehensible to him, as that the will of Deity could effect the creation of a Universe.
The powers of the will are as yet chiefly indefinite and unknown. Whether a multitude of well-established phenomena are to be ascribed to the power of the will alone, or to magnetism or some other natural agent, is a point as yet unsettled; but it is agreed by all that a concentrated effort of the will is in every case necessary to success.
That the phenomena are real is not to be doubted, unless credit is no longer to be given to human testimony; and if they are real, there is no reason for doubting the exercise heretofore, by many adepts, of the powers that were then termed magical. Nothing is better vouched for than the extraordinary performances of the Brahmins. No religion is supported by stronger testimony; nor has any one ever even attempted to explain what may well be termed their miracles.
How far, in this life, the mind and soul can act without and in-dependently of the body, no one as yet knows. That the will can act at all without bodily contact, and the phenomena of dreams, are mysteries that confound the wisest and most learned, whose explanations are but a Babel of words.
Man as yet knows little of the forces of nature. Surrounded, controlled, and governed by them, while he vainly thinks himself independent, not only of his race, but the universal nature and her infinite manifold forces, he is the slave of these forces, unless he becomes their master. He can neither ignore their existence nor be simply their neighbor.
There is in nature one most potent force, by means whereof a single man, who could possess himself of it, and should know how to direct it, could revolutionize and change the face of the world.
This force was known to the ancients. It is a universal agent, whose Supreme law is equilibrium; and whereby, if science can but learn how to control it, it will be possible to change the order of the Seasons, to produce in night the phenomena of day, to send a thought in an instant round the world, to heal or slay at a distance, to give our words universal success, and make them reverberate everywhere.
This agent, partially revealed by the blind guesses of the disciples of Mesmer, is precisely what the Adepts of the middle ages called the elementary matter of the great work. The Gnostics held that it composed the igneous body of the Holy Spirit; and it was adored in the secret rites of the Sabbat or the Temple, under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the hermaphroditic goat of Mendes.
There is a Life-Principle of the world, a universal agent, wherein are two natures and a double current, of love and wrath. This ambient fluid penetrates everything. It is a ray detached from the glory of the Sun, and fixed by the weight of the atmosphere and the central attraction. It is the body of the Holy Spirit, the universal Agent, the Serpent devouring his own tail. With this electro-magnetic ether, this vital and luminous caloric, the ancients and the alchemists were familiar. Of this agent, that phase of modern ignorance termed physical science talks incoherently, knowing naught of it save its effects; and theology might apply to it all its pretended definitions of spirit. Quiescent, it is appreciable by no human sense; disturbed or in movement, none can explain its mode of action; and to term it a “fluid,” and speak of its “currents,” is but to veil a profound ignorance under a cloud of words.
Force attracts force, life attracts life, health attracts health. It is a law of nature. If two children live together, and still more if they sleep together, and one is feeble and the other strong, the strong will absorb the feeble, and the latter will perish.
In schools, some pupils absorb the intellect of the others, and in every circle of men some one individual is soon found, who possesses himself of the wills of the others.
Enthralments by currents is very common; and one is carried away by the crowd, in morals as in physics. The human will has an almost absolute power in determining one’s acts; and every external demonstration of a will has an influence on external things.
Tissot ascribed most maladies to disorders of the will, or the perverse influences of the wills of others. We become subject to the wills of others by the analogies of our inclinations, and still more by those of our defects. To caress the weaknesses of an individual, is to possess ourself of him, and make of him an instrument in the order of the same errors or depravations. But when two natures, analogical in defects, are subordinated one to the other, there is effected a kind of substitution of the stronger instead of the weaker, and a genuine imprisonment of one mind by the other. Often the weaker struggles, and would fain revolt; and then falls lower than ever in servitude.
We each have some dominant defect, by which the enemy can grasp us. In some it is vanity, in others indolence, in most egotism. Let a cunning and evil spirit possess himself of this, and you are lost. Then you become, not foolish, nor an idiot, but positively a lunatic, the slave of an impulse from without. You have an instinctive horror for everything that could restore you to reason, and will not even listen to representations that contravene your insanity.
Morals and Dogma – Knight of the Sun