According to French Esoteric Freemason Eliphas Levi, Magic has “confounded… ordinary people” since its beginning. Yet this misunderstanding has more to do with a misrepresentation of Magic than an understanding of the “exact and absolute science of Nature and her laws.” You see, “Magic is the science of the ancient Magi;” and it was the “Christian religion” that “silenced” this belief and replaced it with a “Savior of the world.” Nevertheless, the similarity between Magism’s traditions and that of the origins of the newly formed faith of Christianity are unmistakable. The former and newly formed religion was “elevated by tradition to the rank of kings, because Magical initiation” constituted “a true royalty; because also the great art of the Magi” was characterized “by all adepts” of the “Royal Art, as the Holy Kingdom—Sanctum Regnum.” Furthermore, the “star which conducted the pilgrims is the same Burning Star which is met with in all initiations (Eliphas Levi, History of Magic, 1860, p. 1).
Yet, similarities abound; like the “Alchemists” held the “sign of the quintessence,” or the “Magicians” held the Great Arcanum,” and the “Kabalists” used the “sacred pentagram.” Giving the new religion another name does not change its origins,
Magic, therefore, combines in a single science that which is most certain in philosophy, which is eternal and infallible in religion. It reconciles perfectly and incontestably those two terms, so opposed on the first view—faith and reason, science and belief, authority and liberty. It furnishes the human mind with an instrument of philosophical and religious certitude as exact as mathematics, and even accounting for the infallibility of mathematics themselves (p. 2).
Magic is a “transcendental science;” it was “the science of Abraham and Orpheus, of Confucius and Zoroaster, and it was Magical doctrines which were graven on tables of stone by Enoch and by Trismegistus.” In fact, “Moses purified and re-veiled” it; and held it sacred among the “priests.” The “mysteries of Eleusis and of Thebes preserved… its symbols, but in a debased form;” and sadly “the mystic key was lost amidst the apparatus of an ever-increasing superstition.” Just like Jerusalem, the murdering of “its prophets” and the prostitution of its ideals through “false Assyrian and Babylonian gods” ended in the loss of the “Sacred Word.” The new Savior was even declared to a Magi by the “holy star of initiation” and eventuality witnessed a “new network of legends and symbols,” which further concealed its doctrines “from the profane,” thereby “preserving for the elect that truth which is the same forever” (p. 3).
The profaning of Magic eventually took its toll; it was misused and abused. The same pattern was “repeated from age to age; a terrible lesson for those who made secret things unwisely known.” Even the “Gnostics” became one of its victims, eventually being “prohibited by Christians,” which resulted in its “official sanctuary” closing to “high initiation.” This intolerance and “ignorance” had an affect on its “hierarchy of knowledge;” and the result was a “usurping” of knowledge by the state (p. 4).
Levi also wrote about the “conformity with the rules of eternal power that man may unite himself to the creative energy;” that God did not limit the amount of times that man could climb “Jacob’s ladder of light.” No, it is up to man to “extend his domain in virtue of continual ascent.” Man must “obey the royal sceptre,” like that of the “Magi.” Indeed, there is a “Magic in all its glory.” Nevertheless, is there anyone today willing “to give credence to such words? The answer is—those who will study loyally and attain knowledge frankly.” For,
now the time has come when everything should be told, and we propose to tell every thing. It is our intention, in short, to unveil that ever secret science which, as we have indicated, is hidden behind the shadows of ancient mysteries, which the Gnostics betrayed clumsily, or rather disfigured unworthily, which is recognised dimly under the darkness shrouding the pretended crimes of Templars, which is met with once again beneath the now impenetrable enigmas of High-Grade Masonic Rites (p. 8).
Yet still today, for most people, “Magic is the science of the devil;” but we should not fear what is not understood. No, “my fear is for those who fear him.” Levi instead professed to bring “him before the light of science.” Nevertheless, “the devil and science” are in “opposition.” You see, “if the mystic personification of darkness be thus dragged into light, is it not to annihilate the phantom of falsehood in the presence of truth? Is it not to dispel in the day all formless monsters of the night?” No, “superficial persons will think so and will condemn without” any hearing of the truth, like the “Ill-instructed Christians will conclude that we are sapping the fundamental dogma of their ethics.” Still others “will question” the utility of such arguments, so it is “important to enunciate our object clearly and establish our principles solidly,” which will be further discussed (p. 9).
There is a force, an “existence” that constitutes the “great secret of Practical Magic,” just like the use of the “Wand of Thaumaturgy” is a “Key of Black Magic.” The force itself is blind, but can be directed “by energetic and active spirits.” Herein explains the theory of “miracles,” and how both “good and bad alike compel Nature to reveal her hidden forces;” both divinely and diabolically inspired. This is the same force used by the “Pharaoh’s Magicians” and “Moses” while performing their “miracles.” The instruments they used were the same, but “the inspiration” behind the Magic was different. So much so that the Egyptian Magicians thought Moses held “superhuman” powers. Egypt was the “mother of Magical initiations,” it was the land where “all occult science, hierarchic and sacred instruction” formalized. These Magicians knew that “fluidic projection” was possible through the “eyes,” but that it could not “proceed beyond certain bounds” except by will and providence (p. 17 & 18).
This particular Magical phenomenon “occurs when the brain is congested or overcharged by Astral Light,” where “sight is turned inward, instead of outward,” when “night falls on the external and real world, while fantastic brilliance shines on the world of dreams.” Indeed, this occurrence happens when “the physical eyes experience a slight quivering and turn up inside the lids.” Thus, the “soul then perceives by means of images the reflection of its impressions and thoughts.” In other words, form is attracted in the “Astral Light” through “a reflection representing that form,” which is the “essence of the vital light” or “universal imagination, of which each of us appropriates a lesser or greater part according to our grade of sensibility and memory.” This therefore is the “source of all apparitions, all extraordinary visions and all… intuitive phenomena peculiar to madness or ecstasy” (p. 18).
The initiate eventually learns “to understand the use of this force, but never to be obsessed and never overcome” by it. He learns that the “Magic of Light,” and its “secrets are contained” in the “mysteries of magnetism,” and “applied to the whole practical part of antique Transcendental Magic.” Indeed, “magnetism is the wand of miracles; but the question is asked, is it for “initiates only” or should it be made available to everyone, who will more than likely “subvert their passions” for “consuming glory” (p. 19)?
Spirituality involves the use and “benefits of magnetism;” for “God is manifested to all intelligence’s and all hearts.” This is seen in the use of the “primal tradition” of the “Kabalah,” which was preserved by the “priesthood of Israel.” This doctrine “is that of Transcendental Magic,” and is “contained in the Sepher Tetzirah, the Zohar and the Talmud.” Thus,
according to this doctrine, the absolute is Being, and therein is the Word, which expresses the reason of Being and of life. The principle therefore is that Being is being… In the beginning the Word was, which means that it is, has been and shall be; and this is reason which speaks. In the beginning was the Word. The Word is the reason of belief, and therein also is the expression of that faith which gives life to science. The Word, or Logos, is the wellspring of logic. Jesus is the Incarnate Word. The concord of reason with faith, of science with belief, of authority with liberty, has become in these modern days the real enigma of the sphinx (p. 20).
Yet again, during the middle ages the “Law of equilibrium” lead to the “discovery” of a “universal agent which was the Grand Secret of alchemists and Magicians.” This “agent is a light of life by which animated beings are rendered magnetic;” but this “secret science” relied more on “emotions rather than wise teachings” (p. 23).
The Kabalist firmly believed “there is no God but God,” and that “for the initiates of true science,” there is “but one Being, and this is Being.” It was also taught that a “moral life” was necessary for the “Magic of heavenly hope.” To them, there was no doubt that “God is truly present when He is worshiped by recollected souls and feeling hearts;” but that “He is absent, sensibly and terribly, when discussed without light or zeal—that is to say, without understanding or love” (p. 24).
Levi further elaborated that the war by the Catholic Church “against Magic” was brought about by “false Gnostics;” and that the “true science of the Magi” was essentially Catholic. He further stated that it was hidden in its hierarchical principles, and the “true adepts have always” been shewn it, and respected it and were obedient to its principles. Magic also suffered because of its perceived anarchist sects and sorcerers (p. 29).
Notwithstanding, “the History of Magic has been presented as… prejudged;” no one ever “believed that Magic belonged to science.” Yet, “a serious account of this science” is in “its rediscovery,” and “its developments or progress,” which has always remained in our sanctuaries and “Holy Places” to the worthy student of the Craft. So often has history recorded this doctrine dead, thought to be “so long buried under the debris of four civilisations,” “mummified cities,” and “beneath the lava” of so many temple sites. Despite the “universal religion” binding up the truth, “dogmatic Magic” remained the “key of all secrets as yet unfathomed by the philosophy of history, while Practical Magic alone opens the Secret Temple of Nature to that power of human will, which is ever limited, yet ever progressive.” With that said, explaining the “mysteries of religion by means of Magic” is still one of “faith” saved by reason (p. 30).
Though still, “the chief attraction of Magic for the great number of curious persons is that they see therein an exceptional means for the satisfaction of their passions.” Too many still “deny that there is any secret of Hermes corresponding to the transmutation of metals;” even so, there are just as many who “would buy it” and enjoy its wealth if they could. Still, “they are fools” if they “believe that such a secret is sold.” No, the “secret of science” cannot be “acquired” by “earthly wealth.” Then again, such sovereign Magical secrets should not be despised only because of ignorance on the part of the non-believer (p. 31).
The Epicureans, or disciples of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, demanded “the recipes of Magic” so they could “enjoy forever and suffer nothing at all.” In time, the Epicureans had “lost faith in religion,” but turned to Magic based on “experience and by reason.” They learned that “Transcendent Magic” is based on the “laws of Nature,” not man. All the same, there is no hiding from suffering, despite the direct profits from Magic (p. 32).
No matter how “brilliant and amiable people” might be, Magic may still be “absolutely useless.” Regardless, the “Doctrine and Ritual” of the “Great Masters” continued to follow the “rational order of sacred numbers in the plan and division” of the works and reason of Magical understanding; like in the following writings that were laid out in Levi’s book Doctrine and Ritual (of High Magic, 1854),
The first book is dedicated to the Sources of Magic; it is the genesis of that science, and we have provided it with a key in the letter Alephy expressing Kabalistically the original and primal unity. The second book contains historical and social formulae of the magical word in antiquity; its seal is the letter Beth, symbolising the duad as an expression of the word which realises, the special character of the Gnosis and occultism. The third book is concerned with the realisations of antique science in Christian society… We are introduced in the fourth book to the civilising power of Magic among barbarous races, to the natural productions of this science amidst peoples still in their childhood, to the mysteries of Druids and their miracles, to the legends of bards, and it is shewn after what manner these things concurred in the formation of modern societies, thus preparing a brilliant and permanent victory for Christianity… The fifth book is consecrated to the sacerdotal era of the middle ages, and we are present at the dissensions and struggles of science, the formation of secret societies, their unknown achievements, the secret rites of grimoires, the mysteries of the Divine Comedy, the divisions within the sanctuary which must lead later on to a glorious unity… The sixth book exhibits the intervention of Magic in the work of the Revolution… The seventh book is synthetic, containing an exposition of modern workings and discoveries, new theories on light and magnetism, the revelation of the great Rosicrucian secret, the explanation of mysterious alphabets, the science of the word and its magical works, in fine, the summary of the science itself, including an appreciation of what has been accomplished by contemporaneous mystics (p. 33 & 34).
We read in the “Book of Enoch” that angels had “consented to fall from heaven.” Of the “200 who descended on Mount Armon… they took wives, with whom they had intercourse, to whom also they taught Magic, the art of enchantment and the diverse properties of roots and trees.” More specifically, “Amazarac gave instruction in all secrets of sorcerers; Barkaial was the master of those who study the stars; Akibeel manifested signs; and Azaradel taught the motions of the moon” (p. 39 & 40).
The “Angels” whom Enoch Spoke of “were initiates of Magic,” and they had “fought together for the world,” but that they were destroyed in the great deluge. This brought about “universal confusion” and outraged the “harmonies of Nature.” This “profaned the Tree of Knowledge, which drove away the “Tree of Life;” as a result, the “Tree of Knowledge,” when misunderstood, may “actually inflict death when its fruit is eaten” (p. 40 & 41).
Along this line of thinking, we also see Levi writing about Cain debasing “Magic in India,” where he “put witchcraft into the hands of the reckless;” that there exists a “distinction between good and evil Magic, between the Sanctuary of the Sons of Seth and the profanation of science by the descendants of Cain.” Therefore, Transcendental knowledge” is in fact “reserved for those who are masters of their passions,” and the virginity of Nature “does not deliver the keys of her nuptial chamber to adulterers” (p. 44).
In his chapter “Magic of the Magi,” Levi wrote that in all probability “Zoroaster is a symbolical name, like that of Thoth or Hermes.” That he existed “6000 years before the birth of Plato,” and others say at “the siege of Troy,” some 500 years apart. Interestingly, both “Eudoxus and Aristotle” realized that “his personality was Magical.” His “legend reads like a prophecy concerning that of Christ, and hence it must be assumed that he had also his AntiChrist, in accordance with the Magical law of universal equilibrium.” Of note, “the two Zoroasters of Levi represent two principles of religious philosophy” (p. 53).
History is clear though, as has been mentioned previously, the “Zoroaster in question was the father of that materialised Magic which led to the massacre of the Magi and brought their true doctrine at first into proscription and then oblivion.” The Church, being the “spirit of truth,” was “compelled to condemn—under the names of Magic, Manicheanism, Illuminism and Masonry—all that was in kinship, remote or approximate, with the primitive profanation of the mysteries.” The most significant example being the “Knights Templar” (p. 54).
The Magi “were the possessors” of the “secrets” and “mastery over the occult powers of Nature.” There is no doubt that the “Magi were not only familiar with electricity, but were able to generate and direct it in ways that are now unknown.” This included the “art of producing and controlling lightening,” which is a “sacerdotal secret.” As such, “all Assyrian symbols connect with this science of fire,” the “great secret of the Magi” (p. 55).
Like the enchanter who slayed the lion to control the serpent, the Magi held this “Hermetic Magic.” In essence, the serpent signifies the “electric and magnetic currents of the earth,” while the “lion is the celestial fire;” and both “bear witness” to the “mystery of the Great Work” and the “ruling of fire” (p. 56). The “secrets of magnetism” also relate to “Astral Light,” and the producing of “fluidic forms.” Yet, Levi also illustrated a warning about such activity, when he wrote that “dangers of hallucination arising from misdirected Magical works” occur when one’s imagination is hijacked. Thus, this “application is operated by the persistence of will” being “liberated from the senses,” by a “succession of tests.” This is the beginning of one’s “Magical initiation.” Therefore, becoming an “adept,” a “seer or prophet” happens when “communication between light” and one’s will is established (p. 57).
The Assyrians, like the Egyptians, held “gigantic sphinxes,” with the “bodies of lions and the heads of Magi” represented “Astral Light,” which is also the “golden sword of Mithra” and the “arrow of Phoebus” that “pierced the serpent Python.” As well, temples were made to “protect the palaces” the kings did “battle for the religion of the Magi.” The “capitals” of the “Magicians,” like that of Nimrod’s Babylon, held its tradition of “angels,” who were “termed sons of God or princes of heaven” (p. 59).
Du Potet affirmed with certainty that “Magical power extends beyond” the limits of magnetic fluid;” that “Astral Light… can be placed at the disposition of human will;” and Zoroaster said that “those mysterious laws of equilibrium” can “subjugate” the “powers of evil” to that of the “empire of good.” But before attaining such an accomplishment, “we must have purified our bodies by sacred trials, must have conquered the phantoms of hallucination and taken hold bodily of the light.” In other words, “we must have heard the light speak;” and afterwords, we become its “masters and can direct it.” Just the same, “if in the absence of perfect purity” or under the control of “some animal passion, the fire which we kindle will consume ourselves,” or “we shall fall victims to the serpent, and “shall perish” as a result (p. 60).
The power generated “by projections of the Astral Light” certainly aided Daniel when he “was accused” of “false Magic” by being placed in with Lions; “such beasts attack those only who fear them or of whom they are themselves afraid.” Nevertheless, Daniel, a “brave man” with a powerful “magnetic glance,” held such animals at bay. Moreover, the “Magi utilized this power” to control “tigers, leopards and lions” in the Assyrian Kings garden. The ancients held “trials of strength between men and animals, and the adept, clothed in his priestly garb,” had to prove his “actual enchantment” abilities “by a glance of his eye” and the use of his hands (p. 61).
As mentioned previously, “Magic is a science; to abuse is to lose it, and it is also to destroy oneself.” With that said, the “Kings and priests of the Assyrian world were too great to be free from this danger… as a fact, pride did come upon them and they did therefore fall.” Eventually, the “royalty arrogated to itself divine attributes under the names of Baal and of Bel, or Belus,” which also infiltrated the “art and science” of Magic, thereby corrupting it; the “priesthood became secondary to the empire as the result of an attempt to materialize its own power.” The “Magi obeyed,” and the Kings became intoxicated with power and lust; and in time, their once great city and kingdom was destroyed (p. 62). The “Magic, which, in the hands of its degraded adepts, could not safeguard the empire” anymore, and Babylon soon fell. Thus “ended the first empire of Assyria, and the civilization founded of old by the true Zoroaster.” This “also ended Magic, properly so called, and the reign of the Kabalah began” (p. 63).
According to “Kabalistic tradition,” “India was peopled by the descendants of Cain,” and that “Black Magic” had “been perpetuated therein,” by the use of “fratricide” (the killing of one’s brother or sister) and the continued “dominant castes” system of usage, which was intended to impose power over the weak. In India, “it may be said” that “she is the wise mother of all idolatries.” The principles and beliefs of her different sects could have been the “keys of highest wisdom if they did not open more easily the gates leading to degradation and death” (p. 64).
It was the Gnostics who borrowed the “false Kabalism of India.” It was also “Indian Magic” that led the churches to misunderstand the “occult sciences,” which led this “false and dangerous knowledge, so often confounded by the ignorant,” which has “involved all that bears the name of occultism in a general condemnation, to which the author (Eliphas Levi) of these pages himself subscribed sincerely before he had attained the key of the Magical sanctuary” (p. 65).
Nevertheless, history is clear, “Gymnosophists (ancient Indian sect that went naked and practiced meditation) and Zoroastrian initiates drew from the same sources, but it was the false and black Zoroaster who remained master of theology in India.” The “secrets of this degenerate doctrine are pantheism (the belief that reality is identical with divinity) and its legitimate consequence, being absolute materialism masquerading as the absolute negation of matter.” The end of such a belief is “there are neither crimes nor virtues in a world where all is God.” This doctrine remained within “their great Magical ritual,” which furnished the “physical and moral means of consummating the work of their stupefaction and arriving by a graduated method at that raving madness termed by their sorcerers the Divine State.” This “work in question is the progenitor of all grimoires (book of spells) and the most curious among the antiquities of Goetia” (the practice that includes the conjuration of demons) (p. 66).
The “angel of creative fire is the Word of God;” thus, the “Word of the Creator is itself the Creator.” As such, “matter being only a deceptive appearance,” can be controlled by the genii (supernatural creatures), like that of the sun and the stars. Likewise, “animals are demons and man is a pure spirit deceived by the illusions of forms.” These are the beliefs of the “Indian enchanters” of “Magical Ritual” who respect their “doctrinal matters” (p. 68).
To that end, “Black Magic may be defined as the art of inducing artificial mania in ourselves and in others;” but most importantly, and above all things, it is the “science of poisoning.” It is the “sudden congestion or withdrawal of the Astral Light.” It takes place when the “nervous system, having been habituated to all tensions and fatigues,” becomes “a kind of living galvanic pile (electrical battery), capable of condensing and projecting powerfully that light which intoxicates or destroys.” It is the “shadow and reverse side of the great mystery of Transcendent Magic” (p. 71).
Levi claimed that Magic reached its height, or became complete “as an universal science” and “formulated as a perfect doctrine” in Egypt. In fact, nothing surpassed or equaled “those few paragraphs graven on precious stone by Hermes” and expressed on the “Emerald Tablet.” It was during this time a “likeness between Creator and created” became evident. In a word, “Astral Light” was described as a “creative agent,” the “great medium of occult force” (p. 73).
It was Hermes who “set forth in what manner this Light, which is also a force, can be applied as a lever, as an universal dissolvent and as a formative and coagulative agent.” Yet, it was the “Emerald Tablet” that contained “all Magic in a single page;” and despite its fall, the “monuments of Egypt” preserve and still hold proof of “Hermetic traditions” and its doctrines. In truth, the “physical division of Egypt” is “itself a Magical synthesis, and the names of its provinces corresponded to the ciphers of sacred numbers;” “divided into three parts,” Upper Egypt is a “type of the celestial world and the land of ecstasy; Lower Egypt” is the “symbol of earth; while Middle or Central Egypt” is the “land of science and of high initiation.” Furthermore, “each of these parts” are “subdivided into ten provinces, called Nomes,” and is “placed under the particular protection of a god.” Likewise, there are “30 gods” and they are “grouped by threes, giving symbolical expression in this manner to all possible conceptions of the triad within the decad” (a group or set of ten). The “threefold material, philosophical and religious significance of absolute ideas attached primitively to numbers.” This gives us the “triple unity or the first triad, the triple binary formed by the first triad and its reflection, being the Star of Solomon.” The “triple triad” is the “complete idea under each of its three forms,” while the “triple quaternary” (fourth in order or rank) is the “cyclic number of astral revolutions.” As such, the “geography of Egypt” is a “pantacle (a five-pointed star, often held to have magical or mystical significance) or symbolical summary of the entire Magical dogma originating with Zoroaster and rediscovered or formulated more precisely by Hermes” (p. 74 & 75).
Moses told the story of the Israelite’s carrying “away the sacred vessels of the Egyptians when they came out of the land of bondage.” These sacred vessels “were the mysteries of Egyptian knowledge,” which “Moses himself” acquired at the court of the Pharaoh. Of particular interest to this topic is the fact that the Pharaoh’s Magicians, or “grand hierophants of Egypt,” performed the same artful “wonders, which were similar to those of Moses;” “they transformed wands into serpents and serpents again into wands… they changed water into blood,” and “they produced a swarm of frogs in a moment” (p. 79 & 80).
Greece also incorporated Magic, like it did the Zohar, and “how the human prototype rose in heaven and was reflected below in the waters of being.” They attempted to exemplify “this ideal man, this shadow of the pantomorphic (capable of assuming all shapes) god, this virile phantom of perfect form” (p. 82). The “grand secret of Magical works,” the “Golden Fleece,” is the “light in application to the needs of man.” Like “Thebes,” “built to the measures of that harmony,” “like the sky of Magic, it has seven gates, and its legend was destined to become the epic of occultism and the foreshadowed history of human genius” (p. 83).
Most interesting, the “fable of the Golden Fleece connects Hermetic Magic” to that of “Greek initiations;” figuratively, it is apart of the “Great Work,” and the “egg of divine regeneration” (p. 84). Yet, being an important component of “Hermetic Magic,” its “sovereign virtues… will be never understood except by the disciples of Orpheus” (p. 85). The “Orphic initiation” is best summarized as the “act of a divine Magism, which is continuous and eternal;” and the “knowledge of the medical and Magical virtues resident in plants, metals and bodies endowed with varying degrees of life” (p. 88).
Therefore, “Orphic Magic… is dedicated to judicious warnings against the abuses of Goetic (a practice that includes the conjuration of demons) or the Magic of darkness;” which is an “excessive passion” that “produces a factitious force of which… cannot be the master, but that force is obedient to the tyranny of passion.” All “excessive passion is real madness, and the latter in its turn is an intoxication or congestion of Astral Light.” That is “why madness is contagious and why passions in general operate as a veritable witchcraft.” Interestingly, “women are superior to men in sorcery because they are more easily transported by excess of passion” (p. 89). The secrets of “Black Magic” is best exemplified by the legends of two Greek women; “Medea and Circe are the types of Malefic (someone uses that power or force for selfish or evil purposes and/or intends to cause harm with it) Magic among the Greeks. Circe is the vicious female who bewitches and debases her lovers; Medea is the brazen poisoner who dares everything and makes Nature itself the abettor of her crimes” (p. 90).
The Magician, “Pythagoras of Samos. sought a refuge in Italy from the tyranny of Polycrates.” He, being the “great promoter of the philosophy of numbers had visited all the sanctuaries of the world and had even been in Judaea, where he suffered circumcision as the price of his admission into the mysteries of the Kabalah,” which had been “communicated to him.” As a result, “he obtained” an “Egyptian initiation” (p. 92). The “preliminary laws of Magical initiation… constitute the first part of the Great Work, that is to say, the creation of the perfect adept” (p. 95).
As alluded to previously, in the Magic of Kabalists, is given “a name, and all other names are contained therein;” like the ciphers that “produce all numbers and the hieroglyphical forms of its letters give expression to all laws of Nature,” the “Divine Tetragram” of the Kabalists are inscribe “in four chief ways.” 1) “as JHVH, which is spelt, but not pronounced. The consonants are YOD, HE, VAU, HE, and they are rendered as Jehovah by us.” 2) ADNI, meaning Lord and pronounced by us Adonai.” 3) “AHIH, which signifies Being and is pronounced by us EIEIE.” And 4) AGLA, pronounced as it is written and comprising hieroglyphically all mysteries of the Kabalah” (p. 102 & 103).
Thus, the “Kabalistic tradition… comprises all Magic in a single word.” In short, “to know how this word is read and how also it is pronounced, or literally to understand its mysteries and translate the knowledge into action, is to have the key of miracles.” For example, in “pronouncing the word AGLA, it is said that one must turn to the East, which means union of intention and knowledge with oriental tradition.” Also, “according to Kabalah, the perfect word is the word realised by acts, whence comes that expression which recurs frequently in the Bible,” which is to make a word a performing act. As such, “to pronounce the word AGLA Kabalistically is therefore to pass all tests of initiation and accomplish all its works” (p. 104).
Clearly, the “traditions of Magic affirm that he who possesses the Keys of Solomon can communicate with spirits of all grades and can exact obedience on the part of all natural forces.” The Keys, which have been lost and again recovered, are non-other “than the talismans of the seventy-two names, and the mysteries of the thirty two hieroglyphical paths, reproduced by the Tarot.” By the use of “these signs, and by their infinite combinations, which are like those of numbers and letters,” let it be known that “it is possible to arrive at the natural and mathematical revelation of all secrets of Nature,” and “with the whole hierarchy of intelligence” (p. 105).
Now however, we are brought to the point of “one of the most dangerous secrets in the domain of Magic;” that being the “probable hypothesis concerning the existence of those fluidic larva,” known “under the name of elementary spirits.” The reason this “secret is dangerous is because it verges on the great Magical arcanum.” In fact, the “truth is that the evocation of elementary spirits implies power to coagulate fluids by a projection of the Astral Light.” Unfortunately, this power is so misdirected that it “can produce only disorders and misfortunes.” The evidence for this power is clear, “spirit is everywhere,” it “animates matter,” and “it overcomes the force of gravity by perfecting the vehicle which is its form.” Without a doubt, “form develops with instincts,” that is until “intelligence and beauty are attained,” at which the efforts of light are attracted by the “charm of the spirit;” and they become “part of the mystery of progressive and universal generation” (p. 109 & 110).
In the “great Magical work” it is clearly understood that the “cherub is the angel or soul of the earth, represented invariably under the figure of a bull in the Ancient Mysteries.” As such, in “Mithraic symbolism, the master of light,” like that of the burning sword, “is seen vanquishing the bull of earth and plunging into his flank that sword which sets free the life, represented by drops of blood” (p. 117). In addition, the “scattering of men was the first result of the curse pronounced against the profane descendants of Ham;” which made chastity the “guardian of the family,” and is a “distinctive character of hierarchic (successive levels) initiations.” That said, revolt and profanity are unclean acts, like those of sexual promiscuity and infanticide (infant homicide). With all this said, “desecration of the mysteries” like that of “birth and destruction of children were the basis of the religions of ancient Palestine, given over to the horrible rites of Black Magic; the black god of India” (p. 118).
As maintained previously, “it must not be forgotten that transcendental Magic is called the Sacerdotal Art and the Royal Art.” In many ancient civilizations, like “Egypt, Greece and Rome, it shared the grandeur and decadence of the kingdom and the priesthood.” All the same, “every philosophy which is at issue with the cultus (religious practice) and its mysteries is baneful (harmful or destructive) to the great political powers;” for it is understood that “in the eyes of the multitude,” if grandeur is lost, “they cease to be symbols of Divine power.” Apart from men, the spirit world is intertwined to the power of the temple. The science of Magic can be used in “opposition to that of the priests,” who substitute doubt, and “denial for the secrets.” When the excess of an “adventurous imagination, such philosophers were landed quickly in absurdity and laid upon Nature the blame which belonged to their own systems” (p. 119 & 120).
Levi also related the “Bacchantes, who dismembered Orpheus,” who “believed themselves inspired by a god,” and “sacrificed the great hierophant to their deified drunkenness.” In truth, the “orgies of Bacchus were mystical tumults; the apostles of mania” who had “always had recourse to disordered movements, frenetic agitations and horrible convulsions.” From the “characteristics of superstition and fanatic exaltation have been always the same.” You see, “it has been invariably under the pretext of purifying” a “doctrine… of an exaggerated spiritualism that the mystics of all times have materialised” into the “symbols of the cultus (religious practice);” like those who had “profaned the science of the Magi.” Foisting upon the “world as gods… all heretics” are “evokers of spirits and phantoms.” “That is to say, of Black Magic” (p. 126).
Furthermore, “False miracles” are “caused by astral congestions” that have “invariably an anarchic and immoral tendency, because disorder invokes disorder.” To be sure, the gods are familiar with heretics and their “thirst for blood,” which is so often used to “extend their protection.” In point of fact, the “idolaters of Syria and Judea drew oracles from the heads of children torn from the bodies of the poor little victims.” They than “dried these heads and… they fixed them in the hollows of walls,” and “built up a kind of body beneath them composed of Magical plants secured by bands;” followed by lighting a “lamp at the foot of the frightful idols,” then “burnt incense before them and proceeded to their religious consultation.” They adamantly “believed that the heads spoke, and the anguish of the last cries had doubtless distracted their imaginations.” And as already mentioned, “blood attracts larvae,” which are evil spirits (p. 129). Truth be told,
The ancients, in their infernal sacrifices, were accustomed to dig a pit, which they filled with warm and smoking blood; then from all the deep places of the night they beheld feeble and pallid shadows ascending, descending, creeping and swarming about the cavity. With a sword’s point steeped in the same blood, they traced the circle of evocation and kindled fire of laurel, alder and cypress wood, on altars crowned with asphodel and vervain. The night seemed to grow colder and still more dark; the moon was hidden behind clouds; and they heard the feeble rustling of phantoms crowding about the circle, while dogs howled piteously over the country-side.
All must be dared in order to achieve all—such was the axiom of enchantments and their associated horrors. The false Magicians were banded together by crime and believed that they could intimidate others when they had contrived to terrify themselves. The rites of Black Magic have remained revolting like the impious worships it produced; this was the case indifferently in the association of criminals who conspired against the old civilisations and among the barbaric races. There was always the same passion for darkness; there were the same profanations, the same sanguinary processes. Anarchic Magic is the cultus of death. The sorcerer devotes himself to fatality, abjures reason, renounces the hope of immortality, and then sacrifices children. He forswears marriage and is given over to barren debauch. On such conditions he enjoys the plenitude of his mania, is made drunk with iniquity till he believes that evil is omnipotent and, converting his hallucinations into reality, he thinks that his mastery has power to evoke at pleasure all death and Hades (p. 129 & 130).
The “words and signs” of the Barbarians are “unknown, or even unmeaning, are the best in Black Magic.” Hallucinations are “insured more readily by ridiculous practices and imbecile evocations than by rites and formula,” which keeps one’s “intelligence in a waking state.” It has been said that “precaution and mystery, are in analogy, if not absolutely identical, with pretended diabolical signatures found in old editions of the Grand Grimoire.” Levi is quit clear, the “same causes always produce the same effects, and there is nothing that is new beneath the moon of sorcerers, any more than under the sun of sages” (p. 130).
Plato taught the Greeks the Kabalah, which embraced the “whole of Magical doctrine.” His “ambition was to pass from theory to practice and to find the realisation of words in works.” Regardless, the “dangerous experiences of divination taught science how it might dispense with the priesthood,” which followed by the betrayal of the sanctuary, and man’s ability “to make the gods speak.” It was “for this reason that theurgy (white Magic) shared in the anathemas (formal curse) pronounced against Black Magic.” To that end, the great master said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (p. 138).
As well, the “pillars of Seth, Hermes, Solomon, Hercules” were symbolized in the “Magical traditions” of the “universal law of equilibrium, while the science of equilibrium led the initiates to that of universal gravitation about centres of life, heat and light.” Likewise, in the “Egyptian sacred calendars,” it was ‘known that each month was placed under the protection of three decani or Genii” for ten days” (p. 140). Similarly, in the “allegorical description of Hades, the Greek hierophants, concealed the palmary (best) secrets of Magic” (p. 141).
All “true initiates” have recognized the “immense value of toil and suffering;” like that of the “moral lesson of Dante’s Divine Comedy.” It is a “philosophical and Magical monument,” the “perfect moral synthesis,” and the most “audacious demonstration ever attempted of that Great Arcanum or Secret, the revelation of which must subvert heaven and earth” (p. 142 & 143). The “two great laws of Nature,” form and ideas, “were known to the ancient Magi;” this led “them to see the necessity of a public worship, which should be one in its nature, imposed on all, hierarchic and symbolic in character, like all religion, splendid as truth, rich and varied as Nature” (p. 145).
What is worship if the dryness of the heart is “devoid of Magic.” Levi further claimed that “orthodoxy is the absolute character of Transcendental Magic.” In this same way, truth was born into this world when the “start of science” announced itself to the Magi; just like an “initiation is obtained by understanding in respect of the hierarchy, as also by the practice of obedience.” Just like “he who is initiated truly will never turn sectarian” (p. 146). With that said, “it is to be hoped that careful students of our works on Magic will attain the secret for themselves,” and that “they will come in their turn to decode and thus be able to read the book which explains so many mysteries” (p. 147).
It is understood that an initiation is a “necessary consequence of that hierarchic principle which is the basis of realisation in Magic;” for it “follows that the profane, after striving vainly to force the doors of the sanctuary, have been driven to raise altar against altar and to oppose ignorant disclosures of schism (division or disunion) to the reticence (inclined to be silent) of orthodoxy.” Without a doubt, “horrible histories were circulated concerning the Magi; sorcerers and vampires cast upon them the responsibility of their own crimes; they were represented as feasting on infants and drinking human blood.” These attacks were of “presumptuous ignorance against the prudence of science” having “invariably met with success sufficient to perpetuate” its use. Nevertheless, the more monstrous the calumny (the making of false and defamatory statements), the greater the impression that it produces in the minds of fools.” History is very clear on the matter, “those who slandered the Magi committed themselves the enormities of which they accused them and were abandoned to all the excesses of shameless sorcery” (p. 147 & 148).
In Magic and Freemasonry, Part III, 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.