THEOSOPHY, Vol. 5, No. 10, August, 1917
(Pages 442-447; Size: 19K)
(Number 6 of a 10-part series)
STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED
MAGIC AND MAGICAL POWERSThe accompanying article is made up of textual extracts from Isis Unveiled, topically and sequentially arranged. The page references from which the statements are taken, are given at the conclusion of the article. --EDITORS.IS it too much to suppose that man should be developing new sensibilities and a closer relation with nature? The logic of evolution must teach as much, if carried to its legitimate conclusions. If, somewhere in the line of ascent from vegetable or ascidian to the noblest man a soul was evolved, gifted with intellectual qualities, it cannot be unreasonable to infer and believe that a faculty of perception is also growing in man, enabling him to descry facts and truths even beyond our ordinary ken. We believe in no Magic which transcends the scope and capacity of the human mind, nor in "miracle," whether divine or diabolical, if such imply a transgression of the laws of nature instituted from all eternity. Nevertheless, we accept the saying of the gifted author of Festus, that the human heart has not yet fully uttered itself, and that we have never attained or even understood the extent of its powers.
Among the many phenomenal outgrowths of our century, the strange creed of the so-called Spiritualists has arisen amid the tottering ruins of self-styled revealed religions and materialistic philosophies; and yet it alone offers a possible last refuge of compromise between the two. Because the champions of Spiritualism have in their fanaticism magnified its qualities and remained blind to its imperfections, that gives no excuse to doubt its reality. A forgery is impossible where we have no model to forge after. The fanaticism of Spiritualists is itself a proof of the genuineness and possibility of their phenomena. They give us facts that we may investigate, not assertions that we must believe without proof. That phenomena are actually witnessed, mysterious in their nature -- generally and perhaps wrongfully termed spiritual -- it is now idle to deny. Allowing a large discount for clever fraud, what remains is quite serious enough to demand the careful scrutiny of science.
True, the great majority of "spiritual" communications are calculated to disgust investigators of even moderate intelligence. Even when genuine they are trivial, commonplace, and often vulgar. During the past twenty years we have received through various mediums messages purporting to be from Shakespeare, Byron, Franklin, Peter the Great, Napoleon and Josephine. The general impression made upon us was that the French conqueror and his consort seemed to have forgotten how to spell words correctly; Shakespeare and Byron had become chronic inebriates; and Voltaire had turned an imbecile. The huckstering about of pompous names attached to idiotic communications has given the scientific stomach such an indigestion that it cannot assimilate even the great truth which lies on the telegraphic plateaux of this ocean of psychological phenomena. They judge by its surface covered with froth and scum. But they might with equal propriety deny that there is any clear water in the depths of the sea when an oily scum was floating on the surface.
It is easier by far to deny the reality of such manifestations than to find for them a proper place among the classes of natural phenomena accepted by exact science. And how can they, since all such phenomena pertain to psychology, and the latter, with its occult and mysterious powers, is a terra incognita for modern science. Thus, powerless to explain that which proceeds directly from the nature of the human soul itself -- the existence of which most of them deny -- unwilling at the same time to confess their ignorance, scientists retaliate very unjustly on those who believe in the evidence of their senses without any pretense to science. The recognized laws of physical science account for but a few of the more objective of the so-called spiritual phenomena. While proving the reality of certain visible effects of an unknown force, they have not thus far enabled scientists to control at will even this portion of the phenomena. The truth is that the professors have not yet discovered the necessary conditions of their occurrence. They must go as deeply into the study of the triple nature of man -- physiological, psychological, and divine -- as did their predecessors, the magicians, theurgists, and thaumaturgists of old. Until the present moment, even those who have investigated the phenomena as thoroughly and impartially as Mr. Crookes, have set aside the cause as something not to be discovered now, if ever. They have troubled themselves no more about that than about the first cause of the cosmic phenomena of the correlation of forces, whose endless effects they are at such pains to observe and classify. It is in the denial of the boundless and endless Entity, possessor of that invisible Will which we for lack of a better term call GOD, that lies the powerlessness of every materialistic science to explain the occult phenomena. It is in the rejection a priori of everything which might force them to cross the boundary of exact science and step into the domain of psychological, or, if we prefer, metaphysical physiology, that we find the secret cause of their discomfiture by the manifestations, and their absurd theories to account for them.
The ancient philosophy affirmed that it is in consequence of the manifestation of that Will -- termed by Plato the Divine Idea -- that everything visible and invisible sprung into existence. As that Intelligent Idea, which, by directing its sole will-power toward a centre of localized forces called objective forms into being, so can man, the microcosm of the great Macrocosm, do the same in proportion with the development of his will-power. As God creates, so man can create. Given a certain intensity of will, and the shapes created by the mind become subjective. Hallucinations, they are called, although to their creator they are as real as any visible object to any one else. Given a more intense and intelligent concentration of this will, and the form becomes concrete, visible, objective; the man has learned the secret of secrets; he is a MAGICIAN. The materialist should not object to this logic, for he regards thought as matter. Conceding it to be so, the cunning mechanism contrived by the inventor; the fairy scenes in the poet's brain; the gorgeous painting limned by the artist's fancy; the peerless statue chiseled in ether by the sculptor; the palaces and castles built in the air by the architect -- all these, though invisible and subjective, must exist, for they are matter, shaped and moulded. Who shall say, then, that there are not some men of such imperial will as to be able to drag these air-drawn fancies into view, enveloped in the hard casing of gross substance to make them tangible?
The whole question of phenomena rests on the correct comprehension of old philosophies. Whither, then, should we turn, in our perplexity, but to the ancient sages, since, on the pretext of superstition, we are refused an explanation by the modern? We may find our profit in comparing this boasted modern science, this improved modern theology, with the "Secret doctrines" of the ancient universal religion. No other claim is advanced for a hearing of the opinions contained in the present work than that they are based upon many years' study of both ancient magic and its modern form, Spiritualism. We hold fast to the wisdom of the ages, in preference to any new theories that may have been hatched from the occurrences of our later days, respecting the laws of intermundane intercourse and the occult powers of man. What we have said of mediums and the tendency of their mediumship is not based upon conjecture, but upon actual experience and observation. There is scarcely one phase of mediumship that we have not seen exemplified during the past twenty-five years, in various countries. India, Thibet, Borneo, Siam, Egypt, Asia Minor, America (North and South), and other parts of the world, have each displayed to us its peculiar phase of mediumistic phenomena and magical power. Our varied experience has taught us two important truths, viz.: that for the exercise of the latter personal purity and the exercise of a trained and indomitable will-power are indispensable; and that spiritualists can never assure themselves of the genuineness of mediumistic manifestations, unless they occur in the light and under such reasonable test conditions as would make an attempted fraud instantly noticed. "The reader may inquire wherein consists the difference between a medium and a magician? The medium is one through whose astral spirit other spirits can manifest, making their presence known by various kinds of phenomena. Whatever these consist in, the medium is only a passive agent in their hands. He can neither command their presence, nor will their absence; can never compel the performance of any special act, nor direct its nature. The magician, on the contrary, can summon and dismiss spirits at will; can perform many feats of occult power through his own spirit; can compel the presence and assistance of spirits of lower grades of being than himself, and effect transformations in the realm of nature upon animate and inanimate bodies." Physical phenomena are the result of the manipulation of forces through the physical system of the medium, by the unseen intelligences, of whatever class. In a word, physical mediumship depends on a peculiar organization of the physical system; spiritual mediumship, which is accompanied by a display of subjective, intellectual phenomena, depends upon a like peculiar organization of the spiritual nature of the medium. Apart from natural "mediumship," there has existed, from the beginning of time, a mysterious science, discussed by many, but known only to a few. The use of it is a longing toward our only true and real home -- the after-life, and a desire to cling more closely to our parent spirit, abuse of it is sorcery, witchcraft, black magic. Between the two is placed natural "mediumship;" a soul clothed with imperfect matter, a ready agent for either the one or the other, and utterly dependent on its surroundings of life, constitutional heredity -- physical as well as mental -- and on the nature of the "spirits" it attracts around itself. A blessing or a curse, as fate will have it, unless the medium is purified of earthly dross. The reason why in every age so little has been generally known of the mysteries of initiation, is twofold. The first lies in the terrible penalty following the least indiscretion. The second, is the superhuman difficulties and even dangers. There was no real danger to him whose mind had become thoroughly spiritualized. He who fully recognized the power of his immortal spirit, and never doubted for one moment its omnipotent protection, had naught to fear. He who was not wholly confident of his moral fitness to accept the burden of these tremendous secrets was doomed.
A thorough familiarity with the occult faculties of everything existing in nature, visible as well as invisible; their mutual relations, attractions, and repulsions; the cause of these, traced to the spiritual principle which pervades and animates all things; the ability to furnish the best conditions for this principle to manifest itself, in other words a profound and exhaustive knowledge of natural law -- this was and is the basis of magic. The trinity of nature is the lock of magic, the trinity of man the key that fits it. When psychology and physiology become worthy of the name of sciences, Europeans will be convinced of the weird and formidable potency existing in the human will and imagination, whether exercised consciously or otherwise. And yet, how easy to realize such power in spirit, if we only think of that grand truism in nature that every most insignificant atom in it is moved by spirit, which is one in its essence, for the least particle of it represents the whole; and that matter is but the concrete copy of the abstract idea, after all. From whatever aspect we view and question matter, the world-old philosophy that it was vivified and fructified by the eternal idea, or imagination, is unavoidable. If we reject this doctrine, the theory of a cosmos evolving gradually out of its chaotic disorder becomes an absurdity.
Magnetism is the alphabet of magic. It is idle for any one to attempt to understand either the theory or the practice of the latter until the fundamental principle of magnetic attractions and repulsions throughout nature is recognized. Nothing can be easier accounted for than the highest possibilities of magic. By the radiant light of the universal magnetic ocean, whose electric waves bind the cosmos together, and in their ceaseless motion penetrate every atom and molecule of the boundless creation, the disciples of mesmerism -- howbeit insufficient their various experiments -- intuitionally perceive the alpha and omega of the great mystery. Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature's forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice. The corner-stone of MAGIC is an intimate practical knowledge of magnetism and electricity, their qualities, correlations, and potencies. Arcane knowledge misapplied, is sorcery; beneficently used, true magic or WISDOM. To sum up all in a few words, MAGIC is spiritual WISDOM; nature, the material ally, pupil and servant of the magician. One common vital principle pervades all things, and this is controllable by the perfected human will. The adept can stimulate the movements of the natural forces in plants and animals in a preternatural degree. Such experiments are not obstructions of nature, but quickenings; the conditions of intenser vital action are given. The adept can control the sensations and alter the conditions of the physical and astral bodies of other persons not adepts; he can also govern and employ, as he chooses, the spirits of the elements. He cannot control the immortal spirit of any human being, living or dead, for all such spirits are alike sparks of the Divine Essence, and not subject to any foreign domination.
It will naturally be asked, to what practical issue this book tends. Do we wish to affirm that the occult sciences ought to be studied and practiced throughout the world? Would we replace modern spiritualism with the ancient magic? Neither; the substitution could not be made, nor the study universally prosecuted, without incurring the risk of enormous public dangers. A sorcerer is a public enemy, and mesmerism may most readily be turned into the worst of sorceries. We would have neither scientists, theologians nor spiritualists turn practical magicians, but all to realize true science, profound religion, and genuine phenomena before this modern era. We would that all who have a voice in the education of the masses should first know and then teach that the safest guides to human happiness and enlightenment are those writings which have descended to us from the remotest antiquity; and that nobler spiritual aspirations and a higher average morality prevail in the countries where the people take their precepts as the rule of their lives. We would have all to realize that magical, i.e., spiritual powers exist in every man, and those few to practice them who feel called to teach, and are ready to pay the price of discipline and self-conquest which their development exacts.NOTE.--The volume and page references to Isis Unveiled, from which the foregoing article is compiled, are, in the order of the excerpts, as follows: I, v; I, x-xi; I, 40; I, 41; I, 45-6; I, 49; I, 61; I, 62; I, xi; I, 42; I, 218; I, 320; I, 367; II, 118-19; I, 244; II, 635; I, 384; I, 396; II, 610; I, 282; II, 588-9; II, 590; II, 634.
STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED
ADEPTSHIP AND MEDIUMSHIP
(Part 7 of a 10-part series)
Back to the
"STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED"
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".