This article is a continuation of Magic and Freemasonry, Part II, which covered French Esoteric Freemason Eliphas Levi’s views on the topic.
In part III, we read that Homer depicted “larvae” as quench thirsty blood suckers, who when consulted by Magic sometimes resulted in the wizard’s contortions (p. 150). Moreover, it followed than that the adepts of cartomancy (fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards) made “use of the great Magical Tarot alphabets” to foretell the future (p. 151). Therefore, the “Magical tradition of all ages attributes a certain supernatural and divine quality” to a virgin state, while the “hatred of innocence and virginity” prompted “Goetic Magic (invoking angels or demons) to sacrifice children, whose blood was regarded… as having a sacred and expiatory (having power to atone) virtue;” as such, “chastity is a flower which is so loosely bound to earth that, when the sun’s caresses draw it upwards, it is detached without effort and takes flight like a bird” (Eliphas Levi, History of Magic, 1860, p. 153).
Many of the religions of Rome had a Magical moral code, which “she owed all her greatness,” and when this marriage “ceased to be sacred in her eyes, her decadence was at hand.” In fact, Bona Dea held “mysteries of impurity,” but, “seeing that as women alone were admitted to these pretended orgies they must have betrayed themselves; but on the assumption that the charge is true, because anything seems possible after the reigns of Nero and Domitian.” This gave birth to the “purer worship of Mary, the Mother of God” (p. 154).
Numa, the second King of Rome, “instituted colleges” for “priests and augurs (a religious official who observed natural signs), living under prescribed rules.” The initiates were given instruction in “Magical laws,” which taught the laws of “magnetic influences and communal life” (p. 155). Interestingly, the “religious calendar of Numa” was “based upon that of the Magi,” which included a sequence of mystery feasts, “recalling throughout the secret doctrine of initiates and perfectly adapting the public enactments of the cultus to the universal laws of Nature” (p. 157).
The “science of Nature which is in such close consanguinity (the fact of being descended from the same ancestor) with religion.” Also, the “secrets of Divinity” are the found within the “forgotten science of Magic, and live on “undivided in hieroglyphical signs, and to some extent, in the living traditions or superstitions which it has left outwardly untouched.” For example,
the observation of numbers and days is a blind reminiscence of primitive Magical dogma. As a day consecrated to Venus, Friday was always considered unlucky, because it signified the mysteries of birth and death. No enterprise was undertaken on Friday by the Jews, but they completed thereon the work which belonged to the week, seeing that it preceded the Sabbath, or day of compulsory rest. The number 13, being that which follows the perfect cycle of 12, also represents death, succeeding the activities of life ; and in the Jewish Symbolum (token or symbol) the article relating to death is numbered thirteen. The partition of the family of Joseph into two tribes brought thirteen guests to the first Passover of Israel in the Promised Land, meaning thirteen tribes to share the harvests of Canaan. One of them was exterminated, being that of Benjamin, youngest of the children of Jacob. Hence comes the tradition that when there are thirteen at table the youngest is destined to die quickly (p. 159).
Importantly, the “Magi abstained from the flesh of certain animals and touched no blood,” which led Moses to raise this practice into a law, on the grounds that “it is unlawful to partake of the soul of animals, which soul is in the blood.” Likewise, “it remains therein after their slaughter, like a phosphorus of coagulated and corrupted Astral Light, which may be the germ of many diseases” (p. 159).
Porphyry said, ‘when the soul of an animal is separated violently from its body, it does not depart, but, like that of human beings which have died in the same way, it remains in the neighbourhood of the body.’ It remains “by sympathy and cannot be driven away.” These “souls have been seen moaning by their bodies. It is the same with the souls of men whose bodies have not been interred.” As such, “it is to these that the operations of Magicians do outrage, by enforcing their obedience, so long as the operators are masters of the dead body in whole or in part.” Many of the ancients are “familiar with these mysteries, with the sympathy of animal souls for the bodies from which they are separated,” and “have rightly forbidden the use of certain meats, so that we may not be infected by alien souls” (p. 160).
Idle terrors are interlinked with a sequence of causes, most notably those who neglect the use of tokens, and the misuse of the grand Magical science of divination. In fact,
this science knows… that those atmospheric influences which cause the dog to howl are fatal for certain sufferers, that the appearance and the wheeling of ravens mean the presence of unburied bodies—which is always of sinister augury; localities of murder and execution are frequented by these fowl. The flight of other birds prognosticates hard winters, while yet others, by their plaintive cries over the sea, give the signal of coming storms. On that which science discerns ignorance remarks and generalises; the first sees useful warnings everywhere; the other distresses and frightens itself at everything (p. 163).
The “ancient sages” knew there is an “all-powerful action of harmony” when “exalting the soul and giving it rule over the senses.” Nevertheless, enchanters and sorceresses tended to “excite and intoxicate” this harmony; like when the Thessaly (Magic) of Rome dragged the moon from the “sky by the barbarous verses which” were “recited and that it fell pale and bleeding to the earth.” The repetitious “recitations” that swept “their Magical wands; their circumambulations about circles, magnetised, excited, and led them by stages to fury, to ecstasy, even to catalepsy (a trance or seizure) itself.” In a “kind of waking state, they fell into dream, saw tombs open, the air overcast by clouds of demons,” and the “moon falling from heaven” (p. 164).
It has been well stated that “Astral Light is the living soul of the earth, a material and fatal soul, controlled in its productions and movements by the eternal laws of equilibrium.” This light “permeates all bodies,” and “can also suspend their weight and make them revolve about a powerfully absorbent centre.” This Phenomena has not been “insufficiently examined,” but is “being reproduced in our own days,” to “prove the truth of this theory.” The “same natural law must be ascribed” as “those Magical whirlpools in the centre of which enchanters located themselves.” This practice “explains the fascination exercised on birds by certain reptiles and on sensitive natures by others which are negative and absorbent.” We also see that “mediums are generally diseased creatures in whom the void opens and who thus attract the light, as abysses draw the water of whirlpools.” This allowed the heaviest bodies to “be lifted like straws” and “carried away by the current.” Thus, “such negative and unbalanced natures, whose fluidic bodies are formless, can project their force of attraction,” portrayed by “fantastic members in the air.” These “mediums are phenomenal beings in whom death struggles visibly against life.” Therefore, “much may be concluded in the case of enchanters, fortune-tellers, those with the evil eye and casters of spells.” In short, “they are vampires, who draw the life which they lack and thus disturb the balance of the light.” When done consciously, “they are criminals who should be punished, and when otherwise they are still exceedingly dangerous subjects, from whom delicate and nervous people should be carefully isolated” (p. 164).
Levi also maintained that Christ was accused of Magic by the Jews (p. 166). In the Christian religion, Magic was simply renamed a miracle, and the ancient tradition of initiation was replaced by “royalty and priesthood” (p. 172). The transformation of “Magic to Christianity” maintained the “science of universal equilibrium and having the truth,” with “reality and reason” being an absolute principle; “for the initiate of this science religion is not in doubt because it exists, and we do not deny what is” (p. 176).
The “Magi adoring the Saviour in the manger” requires a proper interpretation of that beautiful symbol.” Levi interpreted it as “the kings are three —one white, one tawny and one black;” they offered “gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Thus, the “reconciliation of opposites” was “expressed by this double triad,” and it was “precisely that which we have just been seeking to explain.” That being, “Christianity, as expected by the Magi, was in effect the consequence of their secret doctrine.” Thus, “the Magic of Light, that of the true Zoroaster, of Melchisedek and Abraham came to an end with the advent of the Great Falfiller” (Moses/the Lawgiver). Consequently, “in a world of miracles, mere prodigies could be nothing more than a scandal and Magical orthodoxy was transfigured into the orthodoxy of religion;” and “those who dissented could be only Illuminati and sorcerers” they slandered. The name of Magic was to be “interpreted only according to its evil sense,” and it was “under this inhibition that we shall follow hereafter its manifestations through the centuries” (p. 180).
The first heretic to be mentioned by the Church was “Simon the Magician,” whose legends embodied a “multitude of marvels.” It was an integral part of the subject that endeavored to “separate its basis from the cloud of fables” that surrounded the science; “his master in Magic” was “sent by God and was the Messiah foretold by the prophets.” It was “under his tuition” that “Simon not only acquired the illusory arts but also certain natural secrets which belong really to the tradition of the Magi.” He demonstrated the “science of the Astral Fire” and how he attracted “great currents thereof, making himself seem impassible and incombustible.” He also showed his “power to rise and remain in the air.” Feats like these had “been performed frequently, in the absence of science and, so to speak, accidentally, by enthusiasts intoxicated with Astral Light.” Most notably, “Simon magnetised at a distance those who believed in him and appeared to them under various figures,” and “produced images and visible reflections.” Likewise, “objects which are normally inanimate were moved in his vicinity, as furniture is now moved within the atmosphere” (p. 180 & 181).
However, worshipers of “marvels are generally hungry for new emotions,” and they do not “fail to get weary of that which at first had astonished them.” Like that of Simon, who “lost all his prestige.” There is little doubt that “he was conscious” that “abnormal states” cease through the loss of one’s power. He further “believed that he was surpassed by Magicians more learned than himself,” and that the only hope was further study, and discovery or the buying of secrets. Simon was not “an initiate of Transcendental Magic, which would have told him that wisdom and sanctity are needful for those who would direct the secret forces of Nature without being broken.” In fact, “to play with such terrible weapons without understanding them was the act of a fool; and that swift and terrible death awaits those who profane the Sanctuary of Nature.” Yet, “Simon was consumed by an unquenchable thirst, like that of a drunkard; the suspension of his ecstasy was the loss of all his happiness, and made ill by past excesses, he thought to regain health in renewed intoxication.” Nevertheless, as hard as he tried, his prayers and his fasting had no affect, the “wonders did not return” (p. 182).
Magicians, like that of Simon, have been known to pass “out by a window and rising in the air outside;” but whether this was accomplished by means of some aerostatic (a lighter than air craft) apparatus concealed under his long robes or whether he was lifted up” by the “exaltation of the Astral Light, we are unable to say.” Such is the “whole of this history, which belongs to the popular” rumors of the “period, is now relegated, though perhaps wrongly, to the region of apocryphal (doubtful authenticity) legends” (p. 183).
Interestingly, the “Sect of Simon” was established by Menander, one of Simon’s disciples, after his death. The sect did not consider Simon a god, rather a prophet. Legend has it that “when he (Menander) baptized proselytes, a visible fire came down upon the water.” This Magical fire and immersion was said to result in immortality of the soul and body.” These followers of Menander “firmly believed themselves immortal.” In fact, the deaths that “occurred among them by no means disabused the others, for those who died were excommunicated forthwith, on the ground that they had been false brethren.” For these men “death was an actual apostasy and their immortal ranks were filled up by enrolling new proselytes.” Furthermore, “those who understand the extent of human folly will not be surprised to hear that in this present year, being 1858, there exists in America and France” sects that continue in the teachings of Menander. This, of course, displeased the Christian world, which, despite its disapproval, continued to honor the “memory of the Magi-Kings who adored the Saviour in His cradle” (p. 186).
Christianity leads its followers to the “understanding of God as the most absolute and the most purest love, while it defines, not less clearly, the spirit which is opposed to God, the spirit of revolt and hatred.” This, of course, is Satan, “but this spirit is not a personality and is not to be regarded as a kind of black god.” No, “it is a perversity which is common to all extralineal intelligences.” In truth, in the Gospel, Satan said “my name is legion, for we are many.” The “birth of intelligence” can be “compared to the Star of the Morning” even after it has been “shone for an instant.” Yet, “if it fall of its own accord into the void of darkness, we may apply to it that apostrophe which was uttered by Isaiah to the king of Babylon: ‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, Son of the Morning.'” However, “does this mean that the celestial Lucifer, the Morning Star of intelligence, has been changed into a brand of hell? Can the name of Light-bearer be applied justly to the angel of trespass and of darkness? We think not.” As can be seen by those who understand and “have the Magical tradition behind them,” that is hell is “personified by Satan, and symbolized by the old serpent,” and the “central fire which encompasses the earth, consuming all that it produces and devouring its own tail, like the serpent of Kronos” is in two words, Astral Light (p. 187).
In addition, the “royal and almost divine personification of Satan is a blunder which goes back to the false Zoroaster, or otherwise, to the sophisticated doctrine of the later and materialistic Magi of Persia.” Also, “it was they who represented the two poles of the intellectual world as deities, making a divinity out of passive force in contradistinction to that force which is active.” There is a “spirit which would distract us from the knowledge of God.” This knowledge is “assuredly not of our intention to perform what the Church has omitted; we certify on such a subject only as to the secret instruction of initiates in the occult sciences.” For that reason, they have “said that the Great Magical Agent—accurately termed Lucifer because it is the vehicle of light and the receptacle of all forms—is a mediating force diffused throughout creation” (p. 188).
The now “famous criminologist Torreblanca, who had gone to the root of Diabolical Magic,” described “accurately all the phenomena of astral disturbance,” which is especially important when “classifying the works of the demon. Here are some extracts from the 15th chapter of his work on Operative Magic.”
(1) The demon is endeavouring continually to lead us into error. (2) He deludes the senses by disturbing the imagination, though he cannot change its nature. (3) When things abnormal are manifested to the eye of man, an imaginary body assumes shape in the mind and so long as that phantom remains therein, the phenomena continue. (4) The demon destroys equilibrium in the imagination by a disturbance of the vital functions, whether by irregularity in health or actual disease. (5) When some morbid cause has destroyed this equilibrium, and that also of reason, waking dream becomes possible and that which has no existence assumes the semblance of reality. (6) The mental perception of images in this manner makes sight unworthy of trust. (7) Visions are bodied forth, but they are merely thought-forms. (8) The ancients distinguished two orders of disease, one of them being the perception of imaginary forms, which was termed frenzy, and the other corybantism (vivid frightening hallucinations), or the hearing of voices and other sounds which have no existence (p. 190).
There are eternal miracles created by God that have an “unchangeable order” within “His providence in the harmonies of Nature.” Divine miracles are “thus a providential (involving divine foresight or intervention) reaction” to the restoration of a “broken order.” Like when “Jesus cured the possessed.” Therefore, the “spirit of error is a spirit of agitation and subversion;” whereas the “spirit of truth brings tranquillity and peace in its path.” This was the civilizing “influence of Christianity at its dawn.” Yet those “passions which are friends of disturbance did not, without a struggle, leave it in possession of the palm of easy victory.” In fact, the expiration of “polytheism (belief in or worship of more than one god) drew powers from the Magic of the old sanctuaries.” Notwithstanding, the “Annals of Magic” are surrounded by “great personalities” and “allegorical legends” from this period that led and continue to lead all initiates of Magic through the secrets of initiation (p. 193).
As a matter of fact, in the initial chapter of the “third book of Philostratus” there is an “account of Hyphasis,” which is “a wonderful river which rises in a certain plain and is lost in unapproachable regions.” The “river represents Magical knowledge, which is simple in its first principles, but difficult to deduce accurately in respect of final consequences” (p. 194).
There is an interesting tale mentioned by Damis, who stated that “Appollonius met with a woman who was white from feet to breasts, but black in the upper region.” Everyone was alarmed, “but the master gave her his hand, for he knew her. He told them that she was the Indian Venus, whose colours are those of the bull Apis, adored by the Egyptians.” The “harlequin (a mute character) female is Magical science, the white limbs—or created forms—of which reveal the black head, or that supreme cause which is unknown to man at large.” Nevertheless, “Damis knew” that “it was under emblems like these that they gave expression in concealment to the doctrine of Apollonius.” Accordingly, he was talking about the “secret of the Great Work” (p. 195).
Despite his great abilities and “conspicuous virtues, notwithstanding, Apollonius was not a successor in the hierarchic school of the Magi.” He was initiated in India and had become “addicted to the enervating (depriving) practices of the Brahmins” (Hindu caste priesthood). He also “preached rebellion and regicide (the action of killing a king) openly.” In short, “he was a great character in a wrong path;” and “as a counterpoise to the realising efficacity (effectiveness) of Christian doctrine, he called Black Magic to his aid and plunged into darksome evocations” (p. 197 & 198).
Magic has been the precipitant of “universal reprobation” (condemnation or censure); often because of its secret association with “Gnostics and Manicheans.” These, like many others, “were the depositaries of a tradition of errors and truths admixed.” Furthermore, “they transmitted, under the seal of terrific pledges, the Great Arcanum of ancient omnipotence, together with the ever-frustrated hopes of extinct worships and fallen priesthood” (p. 198 & 199).
Many “strange narratives” have been “embodied in the Golden Legend” throughout “Christian antiquity. They are parables rather than histories.” Their traditional existence proves that a species of mythology had been devised to conceal the Kabalistic mysteries of Johannite initiation.” Likewise, the “Golden Legend is a Christian Talmud” was “expressed in allegories and apologues” (moral fables). In fact, “one of the narratives in this Legend, so full of mysteries, characterises the conflict of Magic” and the dawning of Christianity” (p. 200).
The “old Grimoires” had a prayer attributed to the legend of St. Cyprian, who was possibly the “holy Bishop of Carthage;” the “obscure and figurative expressions may have given credit to the idea that prior to his conversion he was addicted to the deadly practices of Black Magic. It may be rendered thus.”
I, Cyprian, servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, have prayed unto God the Father Almighty, saying: Thou art the strong God, my God omnipotent, dwelling in the great light. Thou art holy and worthy of praise, and Thou hast beheld in the old days the malice of Thy servant and the iniquities into which I was plunged by the wiles of the demon. I was ignorant of Thy true name; I passed in the midst of the sheep and they were without a shepherd. The clouds shed no dew on earth; trees bare no fruit and women in labour could not be delivered. I bound and did not loose; I bound the fishes of the sea, and they were captive ; I bound the pathways of the sea, and many evils did I encompass. But now, Lord Jesus Christ, I have known Thy Holy Name, I have loved Thee, I am converted with my whole heart, my whole soul and all my inward being. I have turned from the multitude of my sins, that I may walk in Thy love and follow Thy commandments, which are henceforth my faith and my prayer. Thou art the Word of truth, the sole Word of the Father, and I conjure Thee now to break the chain of clouds and send down on Thy children Thy goodly rain like milk, to set free the rivers and liberate those who swim, as also those which fly. I conjure Thee to break all the chains and remove all the obstacles by the virtue of Thy Holy Name (p. 203).
The Pagans accused the Christians of worshiping an ass, and the “slander in question is not of their own devising; it is referable to the Jews of Samaria, who expressed Kabalistic ideas on the Divinity by means of Egyptian symbols.” The “symbol of a Magical star” is representative of intelligence, and was “venerated under the name of Rempham;” while “science was depicted by the emblem of Anubis.” It being “altered into Nibbas; whilst vulgar faith or credulity appeared in the likeness of Thartac, a god represented holding a book, wearing a mantle and having the head of an ass.” That is why, “in their intercourse with Gentiles and when they heard themselves identified by these with Christians, they protested and begged not to be confounded with the worshippers of an ass’s head” (p. 204).
The “Golden Ass of Apuleius” was the “occult legend of Thartac” (an Egyptian God of vulgar faith); a “Magical epic” satire “against Christianity.” In short, it was “his metamorphosis into an ass. The story of the work is a follows:”
Apuleius was travelling in Thessaly, the country of enchantments. He received hospitality at the house of a man whose wife was a sorceress, and he seduced the servant of his hostess, thinking to obtain in this manner the secrets of her mistress. The maid promised to deliver to her lover a concoction by means of which the sorceress changed herself into a bird, but she made a mistake in the box and Apuleius was transformed into an ass. She could only console him by saying that to regain his proper form it would be sufficient to eat roses, the rose being the flower of initiation. The difficulty at the moment being to find roses in the night, it was decided to wait till the morrow and the servant therefore stabled the ass, but only for it to be taken by robbers and carried off. There was little chance now of coming across roses, which are not intended for asses, and gardeners chased away the animal with sticks. During his long and sad captivity, he heard the history of Psyche related, that marvellous and symbolical legend which was like the soul and poetry of his own experience. Psyche desired to take by surprise the secrets of love, as Apuleius sought those of Magic; she lost love and he the human form. She was an exiled wanderer, living under the wrath of Venus, and he was the slave of thieves (p. 205 & 206).
Most interestingly, the “cainite sect (an evil sect of Gnosticism), which perpetuated the Black Magic of India” was condemned by the Church for the “deduction of ecstasy by physical means and somnambulism (sleep walking) for sanctity,” but could do little to stop it. Yet, during the time of Simon Magus, the Gnostic’s were “great workers of prodigies” (endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities). Unfortunately, there were those who substituted the “impure rites of Black Magic for the established worship,” which “caused blood to appear instead of the Eucharistic wine and substituted cannibal communions for the peaceful and pure supper of the Heavenly lamb.” Mass was performed with “two chalices;” wine was poured into the smaller one, while upon “pronouncing a Magical formula the larger vessel was filled with a liquor like blood, which swelled up seething” (intense anger); creating an uncontrollable mania (p. 209 & 210).
Shortly “after the protean pantheism of the Gnostics came the dualism of Marcos,” who formulated the false religious dogma amongst the “pseudo-Magi of Persia.” They then created the “personification of evil,” a “King of darkness as well as a King of Light,” a “most energetic protest;” Satan, the “most impotent of all outcasts” (p. 212).
Additionally, “Gnosticism, Arianism, Manicheanism came out of the Kabalah misconstrued. The Church was therefore right in forbidding to its faithful the study of a science so dangerous.” The “secret tradition” appeared “to have been preserved by sovereign pontiffs, at least till the papacy of Leo III, to whom is attributed an occult ritual said to have been presented by him to the Emperor Charlemagne.” It contained the “most secret characters of the Keys of Solomon.” This “little work” should have been kept in concealment,” but “came into circulation later on, necessitating its condemnation by the Church,” and as a result passed into the “domain of Black Magic” (p. 213 & 214).
In Magic and Freemasonry, Part IV, we will continue to study Eliphas Levi’s observations about the history of Magic. Until then, thank you for reading!
So Mote It Be!
Blue Lodge Master Mason – Scottish Rite Mason – York Rite Mason – Knight Mason – Allied Mason – York Rite College – Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest – Red Cross of Constantine – Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis.