THEOSOPHY, Vol. 55, No. 12, October, 1967
(Pages 365-372; Size: 24K)
THE WISDOM RELIGION(5)
OCCULTISM OR MAGIC: II
[Part 12 of a 12-part series]
OUR Society believes in no miracle, diabolical or human, nor in anything which eludes the grasp of either philosophical and logical induction, or the syllogistic method of deduction. But if the corrupted and comparatively modern term of "Magic" is understood to mean the higher study and knowledge of Nature and deep research into her hidden powers -- those Occult and mysterious laws which constitute the ultimate essence of every element -- whether with the ancients we recognize but four or five, or with the moderns over sixty; or, again, if by Magic is meant that ancient study within the sanctuaries, known as the "worship of the Light," or divine and spiritual wisdom -- as distinct from the worship of darkness or ignorance -- which led the initiated High-priests of antiquity among the Aryans, Chaldæans, Medes and Egyptians to be called Maha, Magi or Maginsi, and by the Zoroastrians Meghistam (from the root Meh'ah, great, learned, wise) -- then, we Theosophists "plead guilty."
We do study that "Science of sciences," extolled by the Eclectics and Platonists of the Alexandrian Schools, and practised by the Theurgists and the Mystics of every age. If Magic gradually fell into disrepute, it was not because of its intrinsic worthlessness, but through misconception and ignorance of its primitive meaning, and especially the cunning policy of Christian theologians, who feared lest many of the phenomena produced by and through natural (though Occult) law should give the direct lie to, and thus cheapen, "Divine biblical miracle," and so forced the people to attribute every manifestation that they could not comprehend or explain to the direct agency of a personal devil.
Plato, and even the sceptical Lucian, both recognized the high wisdom and profound learning of the Magi; and Cicero, speaking of those who inhabited Persia in his times, calls them "sapientium et doctorum genus majorum." And if so, we must evidently believe that these Magi or "magicians" were not such as London sees at a shilling a seat -- nor yet certain fraudulent spiritual mediums. The Science of such Theurgists and Philosophers as Pythagoras, Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus, Bruno, Paracelsus, and a host of other great men, has now fallen into disrepute. But had our Brother Theosophist, Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the telephone and the phonograph, lived in the days of Galileo, he would have surely expiated on the rack or at the stake his sin of having found the means to fix on a soft surface of metal, and preserve for long years, the sounds of the human voice, for his talent would have been pronounced the gift of hell. And yet, such an abuse of brute power to suppress truth would not have changed a scientific discovery into a foolish and disreputable superstition.
"Magic" is brought into every line of the sacred books of the Aryans. Magic is indispensable for the comprehension of either of the six great schools of Âryan philosophy. And it is precisely to understand them, and thus enable ourselves to bring to light the hidden summum bonum of that mother of all Eastern Philosophies known as the Vedas, and the later Brâhmanical literature, that we study it.
The conditions of occult study are so peculiar that nothing is more difficult than to give one's "authorities" for any statement connected with it, but none the less is it really just as far from being "up in a balloon" as any study can be. It has been explained repeatedly that the continuity of occult knowledge amongst initiated adepts is the attribute about it which commends their explanations -- absolutely to the acceptance of those who come to understand what initiation means, and what kind of people adepts are. From Swedenborg onwards there have been many seers who profess to gather their knowledge of other worlds from actual observation, but such persons are isolated, and subject to the delusions of isolation. Any intelligent man will have an intuitive perception of this, expressing itself in a reluctance on his part to surrender himself entirely to the assurances of any such clairvoyants. But in the case of regularly initiated seers it must be remembered that we are dealing with a long -- an extraordinarily long -- series of persons who, warned of the confusing circumstances into which they pass when their spiritual perceptions are trained to range beyond material limits, are so enabled to penetrate to the actual realities of things, and who constitute a vast organized body of seers, who check each other's conclusions, test each other's discoveries and formulate their visions into a science of spirit as precise and entirely trustworthy as, in their humble way, are the conclusions, as far as they go, of any branch of physical science. Such initiates are in the position, as regards spiritual knowledge, that the regularly taught professor of a great university is in, as regards literary knowledge, and anyone can appreciate the superior claims of instruction which might be received from him, as compared with the crude and imperfect instruction which might be offered by the merely self-taught man. The initiate's speculations, in fact, are not spun at all; they are laid out before him by the accumulated wisdom of ages, and he has merely followed, verified and assimilated them.
But, it may be argued, if our statement about the teachings of this absolutely trustworthy occult science claims to be something more than assertion and hypothesis, it is an assertion, and, for the world at large, an hypothesis, that any such continuously-taught body of initiates is anywhere in existence. Now, in reference to this objection, there are two observations to be made. Firstly, that there is a large mass of writings to be consulted on the subject, and if you will only read the literature of occultism it will be very strange if you still doubt that the continuity of initiation has been preserved. Secondly, we may point out that you may put the question about the existence of initiates altogether aside, and yet find in the philosophy of occultism, as expounded by those who do labour under the impression that they have received their teaching from competent instructors, such inherent claims to intellectual adoption, that it will be strange if you do not begin to respect it as an hypothesis.
Is it asked why we do not spread out the whole scroll of this much-vaunted philosophy at once, and so exhibit clearly its all-sufficing coherence? That question at least will hardly be asked by thoughtful men who realize what an all-sufficient philosophy of the universe must be. As well might Columbus have been expected to bring back America in his ships to Spain. "Good friends, America will not come," he might have said, "but it is there across the waters and if you voyage as I have done, and the waves do not smother you, mayhap you will find it too."
The exercise of magical power is the exercise of powers natural, but superior to the ordinary functions of Nature. A miracle is not a violation of the laws of Nature, except for ignorant people. Magic is but a science, a profound knowledge of the Occult forces in Nature, and of the laws governing the visible or the invisible world. Spiritualism in the hands of an Adept becomes Magic, for he is learned in the art of blending together the laws of the universe, without breaking any of them and thereby violating Nature. In the hands of an experienced medium, Spiritualism becomes unconscious sorcery; for, by allowing himself to become the helpless tool of a variety of spirits, of whom he knows nothing, save what the latter permit him to know, he opens, unknown to himself, a door of communication between the two worlds, through which emerge the blind forces of Nature lurking in the astral light, as well as good and bad spirits.
A powerful mesmerizer, profoundly learned in his science, such as Baron Dupotet, and Regazzoni Pietro d'Amicis of Bologna, are magicians, for they have become the Adepts, the initiated ones, into the great mystery of our Mother Nature. Such men as the above-mentioned -- and such were Mesmer and Cagliostro -- control the spirits instead of allowing their subjects or themselves to be controlled by them; and Spiritualism is safe in their hands.
But to return to Magic. Such men as Albertus Magnus, Raymond Lulli, Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, Robert Fludd, Eugenius Philalethes, Kunrath, Roger Bacon and others of similar character, in our sceptical century, are generally taken for visionaries; but so, too, are modern Spiritualists and mediums -- nay worse, for charlatans and poltroons; but never were the Hermetic philosophers taken by anyone for fools and idiots, as, unfortunately for ourselves and the cause, every unbeliever takes all of us believers in Spiritualism to be. Those Hermetics and philosophers may be disbelieved and doubted now, as everything else is doubted, but very few doubted their knowledge and power during their lifetime, for they could always prove what they claimed, having command over those forces which now command helpless mediums. They had their science and demonstrated philosophy to help them to throw down ridiculous negations, while we sentimental Spiritualists, rocking ourselves to sleep with our "Sweet Bye-and-Bye," are now unable to recognize a spurious phenomenon from a genuine one, and are daily deceived by vile charlatans. Even though doubted then, as Spiritualism is in our day, still these philosophers were held in awe and reverence, even by those who did not implicitly believe in their Occult potency, for they were giants of intellect.
To doubt Magic is to reject History itself, as well as the testimony of ocular witnesses thereof, during a period embracing over 4,000 years. Beginning with Homer, Moses, Hermes, Herodotus, Cicero, Plutarch, Pythagoras, Apollonius of Tyana, Simon the Magician, Plato, Pausanias, Iamblichus, and following this endless string of great men -- historians and philosophers, who all of them either believed in Magic or were magicians themselves -- and ending with our modern authors, such as W. Howitt, Ennemoser, G. des Mousseaux, Marquis de Mirville and the late Eliphas Lévi, who was a magician himself -- among all of these great names and authors, we find but the solitary Mr. Colby, editor of The Banner of Light, who ignores that there ever was such a science as Magic. He innocently believes the whole of the sacred army of Bible prophets, commencing with Father Abraham, including Christ, to be merely mediums; in the eyes of Mr. Colby they were all of them acting under control! Fancy Christ, Moses, or an Apollonius of Tyana, controlled by an Indian guide! The venerable editor ignores, perhaps, that spiritual mediums were better known in those days to the ancients, than they are now to us, and he seems to be equally unaware of the fact that the inspired sibyls, pythonesses, and other mediums were entirely guided by their high priest and those who were initiated into the esoteric theurgy and mysteries of the temples. Theurgy was Magic; as in modern times, the sibyls and pythonesses were mediums; but their high priests were magicians. All the secrets of their theology, which included Magic, or the art of invoking ministering spirits, were in their hands. They possessed the science of discerning spirits; a science which Mr. Colby does not possess at all -- to his great regret, no doubt. By this power they controlled the spirits at will, allowing but the good ones to absorb their mediums. Such is the explanation of Magic -- the real, existing, White or Sacred Magic, which ought to be in the hands of science now, and would be, if science had profited by the lessons which Spiritualism has inductively taught for these last twenty-seven years.
That is the reason why no trash was allowed to be given by unprogressed spirits in the days of old. The oracles of the sibyls and inspired priestesses could never have affirmed Athens to be a town in India, or jumped Mount Ararat from its native place down to Egypt.
There is a White and a Black Magic, and no one who has ever travelled in the East can doubt it, if he has taken the trouble to investigate .... Magic exists, and has existed, ever since prehistoric ages. Beginning in history with the Samothracian Mysteries, it followed its course uninterruptedly, and ended for a time with the expiring theurgic rites and ceremonies of Christianized Greece; then reäppeared for a time again with the Neo-Platonic, Alexandrian school, and, passing by initiation to sundry solitary students and philosophers, safely crossed the mediæval ages, and notwithstanding the furious persecutions of the Church, resumed its fame in the hands of such Adepts as Paracelsus and several others, and finally died out in Europe with the Count St. Germain and Cagliostro, to seek refuge from frozen-hearted scepticism in its native country of the East.
The Bible, from Genesis to Revelations, is but a series of historical records of the great struggle between white and black Magic, between the Adepts of the right path, the Prophets, and those of the left, the Levites, the clergy of the brutal masses. Even the students of Occultism, though some of them have more archaic MSS. and direct teaching to rely upon, find it difficult to draw a line of demarcation between the Sodales of the Right Path and those of the Left. The great schism that arose between the sons of the Fourth Race, as soon as the first Temples and Halls of Initiation had been erected under the guidance of "the Sons of God," is allegorized in the Sons of Jacob. That there were two schools of Magic, and that the orthodox Levites did not belong to the holy one, is shown in the words pronounced by the dying Jacob. And here it may be well to quote a few sentences from Isis Unveiled.
The dying Jacob thus describes his sons: "Dan," he says, "shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backwards (i.e., he will teach candidates black magic) .... I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord!" Of Simeon and Levi the patriarch remarks that they "...are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly." (Gen. 49:5-6.) Now in the original, the words "their secret" really are "their SOD."(1) And Sod was the name for the great mysteries of Baal, Adonis and Bacchus, who were all sun-gods and had serpents for symbols. The Kabalists explain the allegory of the fiery serpents by saying that this was the name given to the tribe of Levi, to all the Levites, in short, and that Moses was the chief of the Sodales.(2) It is to the mysteries that the original meaning of the "Dragon-Slayers" has to be traced, and the question is fully treated of hereafter.
Meanwhile it follows that, if Moses was the chief of the Mysteries, he was the Hierophant thereof, and further, if, at the same time, we find the prophets thundering against the "abominations" of the people of Israel, that there were two schools. "Fiery serpents" was, then, simply the epithet given to the Levites of the priestly caste, after they had departed from the good law, the traditional teachings of Moses: and to all those who followed Black Magic. Isaiah, when referring to the "rebellious children" who will have to carry their riches into the land whence come "the viper and fiery flying serpent" (xxx. 6), or Chaldea and Egypt, whose Initiates had already greatly degenerated in his day (700 B.C.), meant the sorcerers of those lands.(3) But these must be carefully distinguished from the "Fiery Dragons of Wisdom" and the "Sons of the Fire Mist."
It so happens that we are in the Fourth Round, at the middle point of which the perfect equilibrium between Spirit and Matter had to take place. It was during the highest point of civilization and knowledge, as also of human intellectuality, of the fourth, Atlantean Race that, owing to the final crisis of physiologico-spiritual adjustment of the races, humanity branched off into its two diametrically opposite paths: the RIGHT- and the LEFT-hand paths of knowledge or of Vidya. "Thus were the germs of the White and the Black Magic sown in those days. The seeds lay latent for some time, to sprout only during the early period of the Fifth (our Race)."
The mysteries of Heaven and Earth, revealed to the Third Race by their celestial teachers in the days of their purity, became a great focus of light, the rays from which became necessarily weakened as they were diffused and shed upon an uncongenial, because too material soil. With the masses they degenerated into Sorcery, taking later on the shape of exoteric religions, of idolatry full of superstitions, and man-, or hero-worship. Alone a handful of primitive men -- in whom the spark of divine Wisdom burnt bright, and only strengthened in its intensity as it got dimmer and dimmer with every age in those who turned it to bad purposes -- remained the elect custodians of the Mysteries revealed to mankind by the divine Teachers. There were those among them, who remained in their Kumâric condition from the beginning; and tradition whispers, what the secret teachings affirm, namely, that these Elect were the germ of a Hierarchy which never died since that period:The inner man of the first * * * only changes his body from time to time; he is ever the same, knowing neither rest nor Nirvana, spurning Devachan and remaining constantly on Earth for the salvation of mankind. .... Out of the seven virgin-men (Kumâra) four sacrificed themselves for the sins of the world and the instruction of the ignorant, to remain till the end of the present Manvantara. Though unseen, they are ever present. When people say of one of them, "He is dead"; behold, he is alive and under another form. These are the Head, the Heart, the Soul, and the Seed of undying knowledge (Gnyana). Thou shalt never speak, O Lanoo, of these great ones (Maha ...) before a multitude, mentioning them by their names. The wise alone will understand....(4) (Catechism of the inner Schools.)
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
The more closely one studies pre-Christian Theology, the more strongly one is impressed with the deeply, and daringly, spiritual character of its speculations, and the more doubtful it appears that such teaching can depend upon the unaided processes of human thought, or can have been evolved from such germs as we find among the supposedly "primitive" peoples, such as for example, the Australian tribes. Are they really primitive? Or are we dealing, not with the primary elements of religion, but with the disjecta membra of a vanished civilization? Certain it is that so far as historical evidence goes our earliest records point to the recognition of a spiritual, not of a material, origin of the human race. ... [They are] surviving fragments of a worship from which the higher significance has vanished.
--JESSIE L. WESTON
[Reminder: "THE WISDOM RELIGION" series has now ended.]
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
PAGAN ROOTS: In the Beginning
[Part 1 of a 36-part series]
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FIVE (5) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(5) NOTE.--This is the final installment of a series begun in November, 1966, The sources are A Modern Panarion and The Secret Doctrine. [Note: I placed the link to the first article in "The Christian Scheme" 36-part series at the end of this article.--Compiler]
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(1) Dunlap, in his introduction to Sod, the Mysteries of Adonis, explains the word "Sod" as arcanum, religious mystery, on the authority of Schindler's Penteglott. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him," says Psalm 25:14. This is a mistranslation of the Christians, for it ought to read "Sod Ihoh (the mysteries of Ihoh) are for those who fear him" (Dunlap, Mysteries of Adonis, xi). "Al (El) is terrible in the great Sod of the Kadeshim (the priests, the holy, the Initiated), Psalm 89:7" (ibid). The Kadeshim were very far from holy. (Vide Part II, The Holy of Holies.)
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(2) "The members of the priest-Colleges were called Sodales," says Freund's Latin Lexicon (iv. 448). "Sodalities were constituted in the Idæan Mysteries of the MIGHTY MOTHER," writes Cicero in de Senectute. (The Mysteries of Adonis.)
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(3) The priests of Baal who jumped over the fires. But this was a Hebrew term and a local one. "Seraph" -- "fiery or flaming venom,"
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(4) In the Kabala the pronunciation of the four-lettered Ineffable name is "a most secret arcanum" -- "a secret of secrets."
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