An hallucination is an illusion produced by an irregular movement of the astral light.
It is, as we said previously, the admixture of the phenomena of sleep with those of waking.
Our plastic medium breathes in and out the astral light or vital soul of the earth, as our body breathes in and out the terrestrial atmosphere. Now, just as in certain places the air is impure and not fit for breathing, in the same way, certain unusual circumstances may make the astral light unwholesome, and not assimilable.
The air of some places may be too bracing for some people, and suit others perfectly; it is exactly the same with the magnetic light.
The plastic medium is like a metallic statue always in a state of fusion. If the mould is defective, it becomes deformed; if the mould breaks, it runs out.
The mould of the plastic medium is balanced and polarized vital force. Our body, by means of the nervous system, attracts and retains this fugitive form of light; but local fatigue, or partial over-excitement of the apparatus, may occasion fluidic deformities.
These deformities partially falsify the mirror of the imagination, and thus occasion habitual hallucinations to the static type of visionary.
The plastic medium, made in the image and likeness of our body, of which it figures every organ in light, has a sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste which are proper to itself; it may, when it is over-excited, communicate them by vibrations to the nervous apparatus in such a manner that the hallucination is complete. The imagination seems then to triumph over Nature itself, and produces truly strange phenomena. The material body, deluged with fluid, seems to participate in the fluidic qualities, it escapes from the operation of the laws of gravity, becomes momentarily invulnerable, and even invisible, in a circle of persons suffering from collective hallucination. The convulsionaries of St. Medard, as one knows, had their flesh torn off with red-hot pincers, had themselves felled like oxen, and ground like corn, and crucified, without suffering any pain; they were levitated, walked about head downwards, and ate bent pins and digested them.
We think we ought to recapitulate here the remarks which we published in the Estafette on the prodigies produced by the American medium Home, and on several phenomena of the same kind.
We have never personally witnessed Mr. Home's miracles, but our information comes from the best sources; we gathered it in a house where the American medium had been received with kindness when he was in misfortune, and with indulgence when he reached the point of thinking that his illness was a piece of good luck; in the house of a lady born in Poland, but thrice French by the nobility of her heart, the indescribable charm of her spirit, and the European celebrity of her name.
The publication of this information in the Estafette attracted to us at that time, without our particularly knowing why, the insults of a Mr. de Pène, since then become known to fame through his unfortunate duel. We thought at the time of La Fontaine's fable about the fool who threw stones at the sage. Mr. de Pène spoke of us as an unfrocked priest, and a bad Catholic. We at least showed ourself a good Christian in pitying and forgiving him, and as it is impossible to be an unfrocked priest without ever having been a priest, we let fall to the ground an insult which did not reach us.
Mr. Home, a week ago, was once more about to quit Paris, that Paris where even the angels and the demons, if they appeared in any shape, would not pass very long for marvellous beings, and would find nothing better to do than to return at top-speed to heaven or to hell, to escape the forgetfulness and the neglect of human kind.
Mr. Home, his air sad and disillusioned, was then bidding farewell to a noble lady whose kindly welcome had been one of the first happiness which he had tasted in France. Mme. de B… treated him very kindly that day, as always, and asked him to stay to dinner; the man of mystery was about to accept, when, some one having just said that they were waiting for a qabalist, well known in the world of occult science by the publication of a book entitled Dogme et rituel de la haute magie, Mr. Home suddenly changed countenance, and said, stammering, and with a visible embarrassment, that he could not remain, and that the approach of this Professor of Magic caused him an incomparable terror. Everything one could say to reassure him proved useless. "I do not presume to judge the man," said he; "I do not assert that he is good or evil, I know nothing about it; but his atmosphere hurts me; near him I should feel myself, as it were, without force, even without life." After which explanation. Mr. Home hastened to salute and withdraw.
This terror of miracle-mongers in the presence of the veritable initiates of science, is not a new fact in the annals of occultism. You may read in Philostratus the history of the Lamia who trembles on hearing the approach of Apollonius of Tyana. Our admirable story-teller Alexander Dumas dramatized this magical anecdote in the magnificent epitome of all legends which forms the prologue to his great epic novel, "The Wandering Jew."
The scene takes place at Corinth; it is an old-time wedding with its beautiful children crowned with flowers, bearing the nuptial torches, and singing gracious epithalamia flowered with voluptuous images like the poems of Catullus. The bride is as beautiful in her chaste draperies as the ancient Polyhumnia; she is amorous and deliciously provoking in her modesty, like a Venus of Correggio, or a Grace of Canova. The bridegroom is Clinias, a disciple of the famous Apollonius of Tyana. The master had promised to come to his disciple's wedding, but he does not arrive, and the fair bride breathes easier, for she fears Apollonius. However, the day is not over. The hour has arrived when the newly married are to be conducted to the nuptial couch. Meroe trembles, pales, looks obstinately towards the door, stretches out her hand with alarm and says in a strangled voice: "Here he is! It is he!" It was in fact Apollonius. Here is the magus; here is the master; the hour of enchantments has passed; jugglery falls before true science. One seeks the lovely bride, the white Meroe, and one sees no more than an old woman, the sorceress Canidia, the devourer of little children. Clinias is disabused; he thanks his master, he is saved.
The vulgar are always deceived about magic, and confuse adepts with enchanters. True magic, that is to say, the traditional science of the magi, is the mortal enemy of enchantment; it prevents, or makes to cease, sham miracles, hostile to the light, that fascinate a small number of prejudiced or credulous witnesses. The apparent disorder in the laws of Nature is a lie: it is not then a miracle. The true miracle, the true prodigy always flaming in the eyes of all, is the ever constant harmony of effect and cause; these are the splendours of eternal order!
We could not say whether Cagliostro would have performed miracles in the presence of Swedenborg; but he would certainly have dreaded the presence of Paracelsus and of Henry Khunrath, if these great men had been his contemporaries.
Far be it from us, however, to denounce Mr. Home as a low-class sorcerer, that is to say, as a charlatan. The celebrated American medium is sweet and natural as a child. He is a poor and over-sensitive being, without cunning and without defence; he is the plaything of a terrible force of whose nature he is ignorant, and the first of his dupes is certainly himself.
The study of the strange phenomena which are produced in the neighbourhood of this young man is of the greatest importance. One must seriously reconsider the too easy denials of the eighteenth century, and open out before science and reason broader horizons than those of a bourgeois criticism, which denies everything which it does not yet know how to explain to itself. Facts are inexorable, and genuine good faith should never fear to examine them.
The explanation of these facts, which all traditions obstinately affirm, and which are reproduced before our eyes with tiresome publicity, this explanation, ancient as the facts themselves, rigorous as mathematics, but drawn for the first time from the shadows in which the hierophants of all ages have hidden it, would be a great scientific event if it could obtain sufficient light and publicity. This event we are perhaps about to prepare, for one would not permit us the audacious hope of accomplishing it.
Here, in the first place, are the facts, in all their singularity. We have verified them, and we have established them with a rigorous exactitude, abstaining in the first place from all explanation and all commentary.
Mr. Home is subject to trances which put him, according to his own account, in direct communication with the soul of his mother, and, through her, with the entire world of spirits. He describes, like the sleep-wakers of Cahagnet, persons whom he has never seen, and who are recognized by those who evoke them; he will tell you even their names, and will reply, on their behalf, to questions which can be understood only by the soul evoked and yourselves.
When he is in a room, inexplicable noises make themselves heard. Violent blows resound upon the furniture, and in the walls; sometimes doors and windows open by themselves, as if they were blown open by a storm; one even hears the wind and the rain, though when one goes out of doors, the sky is cloudless, and one does not feel the lightest breath of wind.
The furniture is overturned and displace, without anybody touching it.
Pencils write of their own accord. Their writing is that of Mr. Home, and they make the same mistakes as he does.
Those present feel themselves touched and seized by invisible hands. These contacts, which seem to select ladies, lack a serious side, and sometimes even propriety. We think that we shall be sufficiently understood.
Visible and tangible hands come out, or seem to come out, of tables; but in this case, the tables must be covered. The invisible agent needs certain apparatus, just as do the cleverest successors of Robert Houdin.
These hands show themselves above all in darkness; they are warm and phosphorescent, or cold and black. They write stupidities, or touch the piano; and when they have touched the piano, it is necessary to send for the tuner, their contact being always fatal to the exactitude of the instrument.
One of the most considerable personages in England, Sir Bulwer Lytton, has seen and touched those hands; we have read his written and signed attestation. He declares even that he has seized them, and drawn them towards himself with all his strength, in order to withdraw from their incognito the arm to which they should naturally be attached. But the invisible object has proved stronger than the English novelist, and the hands have escaped him.
A Russian nobleman who was the protector of Mr. Home, and whose character and good faith could not possibly be doubted, Count A. B——, has also seen and seized with vigor the mysterious hands. "They are," says he, "perfect shapes of human hands, warm and living, one feels no bones. Pressed by an unavoidable constraint, those hands did not struggle to escape, but grew smaller, and in some way melted, so that the Count ended by no longer holding anything.
Other persons who have seen them, and touched them, say that the fingers are puffed out and stiff, and compare them to gloves of india-rubber, swollen with a warm and phosphorescent air. Sometimes, instead of hands, it is feet which produce themselves, but never naked. The spirit, which probably lacks footwear, respects (at least in this particular) the delicacy of ladies, and never shows his feet but under a drapery or a cloth.
The production of these feet very much tires and frightens Mr. Home. He then endeavours to approach some healthy person, and seizes him like a drowning man; the person so seized by the medium feels himself, on a sudden, in a singular state of exhaustion and debility.
A Polish gentleman, who was present at one of the séances of Mr. Home, had placed on the ground between his feet a pencil on a paper, and had asked for a sign of the presence of the spirit. For some instants nothing stirred, but suddenly, the pencil was thrown to the other end of the room. The gentleman stooped, took the paper, and saw there three qabalistic signs which nobody understood. Mr. Home (alone) appeared, on seeing them, to be very much upset, and even frightened; but he refused to explain himself as to the nature and significance of these characters. The investigators accordingly kept them, and took them to that Professor of High Magic whose approach had been so much dreaded by the medium. We have seen them, and here is a minute description of them.
They were traced forcibly, and the pencil had almost cut the paper.
They had been dashed on to the paper without order or alignment.
The first was the symbol which the Egyptian initiates usually placed in the hand of Typhon. A tau with upright double lines opened in the form of a compass; an ankh (or crux ansata) having at the top a circular ring; below the ring, a double horizontal line; beneath the double horizontal line, two oblique lines, like a V upside down.
The second character represented a Grand Hierophant's cross, with the three hierarchical cross-bars. This symbol, which dates from the remotest antiquity, is still the attribute of our sovereign pontiffs, and forms the upper extremity of their pastoral staff. But the sign traced by the pencil had this particularity, that the upper branch, the head of the cross, was double, and formed again the terrible Typhonian V, the sign of antagonism and separation, the symbol of hate and eternal combat.
The third character was that which Freemasons call the Philosophical Cross, a cross with four equal arms, with a point in each of its angles. But, instead of four points, there were only two, placed in the two right-hand corners, once more a sign of struggle, separation and denial.
The Professor, whom one will allow us to distinguish from the narrator, and to name in the third person in order not to weary our readers in having the air of speaking of ourself — the Professor, then, Master Eliphas Levi, gave the persons assembled in Mme. de B——'s drawing-room the scientific explanation of the three signatures, and this is what he said:
"These three signs belong to the series of sacred and primitive hieroglyphs, known only to initiates of the first order. The first is the signature of Typhon. It expresses the blasphemy of the evil spirit by establishing dualism in the creative principle. For the crux ansata of Osiris is a lingam upside down, and represents the paternal and active force of God (the vertical line extending from the circle) fertilizing passive nature (the horizontal line). To double the vertical line is to affirm that nature has two fathers; it is to put adultery in the place of the divine motherhood, it is to affirm, instead of the principle of intelligence, blind fatality, which has for result the eternal conflict of appearances in nothingness; it is, then, the most ancient, the most authentic, and the most terrible of all the stigmata of hell. It signifies the atheistic god; it is the signature of Satan.
"This first signature is hieratical, and bears reference to the occult characters of the divine world.
"The second pertains to philosophical hieroglyphs, it represents the graduated extent of idea, and the progressive extension of form.
"It is a triple tau upside down; it is human thought affirming the absolute in the three worlds, and that absolute ends here by a fork, that is to say, by the sign of doubt and antagonism. So that, if the first character means: 'There is no God,' the rigorous signification of this one is: 'Hierarchical truth does not exist.'
"The third or philosophical cross has been in all initiations the symbol of Nature, and its four elementary forms. The four points represent the four indicible an incommunicable letters of the occult tetragram, that eternal formula of the Great Arcanum, G.'. A.'.
"The two points on the right represent force, as those on the left symbolize love, and the four letters should be read from right to left, beginning by the right-hand upper corner, and going thence to the left-hand lower corner, and so for the others, making the cross of St. Andrew.
"The suppression of the two left-hand points expresses the negation of the cross, the negation of mercy and of love.
"The affirmation of the absolute reign of force, and its eternal antagonism, from above to beneath, and from beneath to above.
"The glorification of tyranny and of revolt.
"The hieroglyphic sign of the unclean rite, with which, rightly or wrongly, the Templars were reproached; it is the sign of disorder and of eternal despair."
Such, then, are the first revelations of the hidden science of the magi with regard to these phenomena of supernatural manifestations. Now let it be permitted to us to compare with these strange signatures other contemporary apparitions of phenomenal writings, for it is really a brief which science ought to study before taking it to the tribunal of public opinion. One must then despise no research, overlook no clue.
In the neighbourhood of Caen, at Tilly-sur-Seulles, a series of inexplicable facts occurred some years ago, under the influence of a medium, or ecstatic, named Eugene Vintras.
Certain ridiculous circumstances and a prosecution for swindling soon caused this thaumaturgist to fall into oblivion, and even into contempt; he had, moreover, been attacked with violence in pamphlets whose authors had at one time been admirers of his doctrine, for the medium Vintras took it upon himself to dogmatize. One thing, however, is remarkable in the invectives of which he is the object: his adversaries, though straining every effort in order to scourge him, recognize the truth of his miracles, and content themselves with attributing them to the devil.
What, then, are these so authentic miracles of Vintras? On this subject we are better informed than anybody, as will soon appear. Affidavits signed by honourable witnesses, persons who are artists, doctors, priests, all men above reproach, have been communicated to us; we have questioned eye-witnesses, and, better than that, we have seen with our own eyes. The facts deserve to be described in detail.
There is in Paris a writer named Mr. Madrolle, who is, to say the least of it, a bit eccentric. He is an old man of good family. He wrote at first on behalf of Catholicism in the most exalted way, received most flattering encouragements from ecclesiastical authority, and even letters from the Holy See. Then he saw Vintras; and, led away by the prestige of his miracles, became a determined sectarian, and an irreconcilable enemy of the hierarchy and of the clergy.
At the period when Eliphas Levi was publishing his Dogme et rituel de la haute magie,
he received a pamphlet from Mr. Madrolle which astonished him. In it, the author vigorously sustained the most unheard of paradoxes in the disordered style of the ecstatics. For him, life sufficed for the expiation of the greatest crimes, since it was the consequence of a sentence of death. The most wicked men, being the most unhappy of all, seemed to him to offer the sublimest of expiations to God. He broke all bounds in his attack on all repression and all damnation. "A religion which damns," he cried, "is a damned religion!" He further preached the most absolute licence under the pretext of charity, and so far forgot himself as to say, that the most imperfect and the most apparently reprehensible act of love was worth more than the best of prayers.
It was the Marquis de Sade turned preacher!
Further, he denied the existence of the devil with an enthusiasm often full of eloquence.
"Can you conceive," said he, "a devil tolerated and authorized by God? Can you conceive, further, a God who made the devil, and who allowed him to ravage creatures already so weak, and so prompt to deceive themselves! A god of the devil, in short, abetted, protected, and scarcely surpassed in his revenges, by a devil of a god!" The rest of the pamphlet was of the same vigour. The Professor of Magic was almost frightened, and inquired the address of Mr. Madrolle. It was not without some trouble that he obtained an interview with this singular pamphleteer, and here is, more or less, their conversation:
ELIPHAS LEVI. "Sir, I have received a pamphlet from you. I am come to thank you for your gift, and, at the same time, to testify to my astonishment and disappointment."
MR. MADROLLE. "Your disappointment, sir! Pray explain yourself, I do not understand you."
"It is a lively regret to me, sir, to see you make mistakes which I have myself at one time made. But I had then, at least, the excuse of inexperience and youth. Your pamphlet lacks conviction, because it lacks discrimination. Your intention was doubtless to protest against errors in belief, and abuses in morality: and behold, it is the belief and the morality themselves that you attack! The exaltation which overflows in your pamphlet may indeed do you the greatest harm, and some of your best friends must have experienced anxiety with regard to the state of your health. …"
"Oh, no doubt; they have said, and say still, that I am mad. But it is nothing new that believers must undergo the folly of the cross. I am exalted, sir, because you yourself would be so in my place, because it is impossible to remain calm in the presence of prodigies. …"
"Oh, oh, you speak of prodigies, that interests me. Come, between ourselves, and in all good faith, of what prodigies are you speaking?"
"Eh, what prodigies should they be but those of the great prophet Elias, returned to earth under the name of Pierre Michel?"
"I understand; you mean Eugene Vintras. I have heard his prophecies spoken of. But does he really perform miracles?"
[Here Mr. Madrolle jumps in his chair, raises his eyes and his hands to heaven, and finally smiles with a condescension which seems to sound the depths of pity.]
"Does he do miracles, sir?
"The truest miracles that have ever been done on earth since the time of Jesus Christ! … What! Thousands of hosts appear on altars where there were none; wine appears in empty chalices, and it is not an illusion, it is wine, a delicious wine ….celestial music is heard, perfumes of the world beyond fill the room, and then blood …. real human blood (doctors have examined it!), real blood, I tell you, sweats and sometimes flows from the hosts, imprinting mysterious characters on the altars! I am talking to you of what I have seen, of what I have heard, of what I have touched, of what I have tasted! And you want me to remain cold at the bidding of an ecclesiastical authority which finds it more convenient to deny everything than to examine the least thing!…"
"By permission, sir; it is in religious matters, above all, that authority can never by wrong. … In religion, good is hierarchy, and evil is anarchy; to what would the influence of the priesthood be reduced, in effect, if you set up the principle that one must rather believe the testimony of one's senses than the decision of the Church? Is not the Church more visible than all your miracles? Those who see miracles and who do not see the Church are much more to be pitied than the blind, for there remains to them not even the resource of allowing themselves to be led. …"
"Sir, I know all that as well as you do. But God cannot be divided against Himself. He cannot allow good faith to be deceived, and the Church itself could hardly decide that I am blind when I have eyes. … Here, see what John Huss says in his letter, the forty-third letter, towards the end:
"'A doctor of theology said to me: "In everything I should submit myself to the Council; everything would then be good and lawful for me." He added: "If the Council said that you had only one eye, although you have two, it would be still necessary to admit that the Council was not wrong." "Were the whole world," I replied, "to affirm such a thing, so long as I had the use of my reason, I should not be able to agree without wounding my conscience."' I will say to you, like John Huss, 'Before there were a Church and its councils there were truth and reason.'"
"Pardon me if I interrupt, my dear sir; you were a Catholic at one time, you are no longer so; consciences are free. I shall merely submit to you that the institution of the hierarchical infallibility in matters of dogma is reasonable in quite another sense, and far more incontestably true than all the miracles of the world. Besides, what sacrifices ought one not to make in order to preserve peace! Believe me, John Huss would have been a greater man if he had sacrificed one of his eyes to universal concord, rather than deluge Europe with blood! O sir! let the Church decide when she will that I have but one eye; I only ask her one favour, it is to tell me in which eye I am blind, in order that I may close it and look with the other with an irreproachable orthodoxy!"
"I admit that I am not orthodox in your fashion."
"I perceive that clearly. But let us come to the miracles! You have then seen, touched, felt, tasted them; but, come, putting exaltation on one side, please give me a thoroughly detailed and circumstantial account of the affair, and, above all, evident proof of miracle. Am I indiscreet in asking you that?"
"Not the least in the world; but which shall I choose? There are so many!"
"Let me think," added Mr. Madrolle, after a moment's reflection and with a slight trembling in the voice, "the prophet is in London, and we are here. Eh! well, if you only make a mental request to the prophet to send you immediately the communion, and if in a place designated by you, in your own house, in a cloth, or in a book, you found a host on your return, what would you say?"
"I should declare the fact inexplicable by ordinary critical rules."
"Oh, well, sir," cried Mr. Madrolle, triumphantly, "there is a thing that often happens to me; whenever I wish, that is to say, whenever I am prepared and hope humbly to be worthy of it! Yes, sir, I find the host when I ask for it; I find it real and palpable, but often ornamented with little hearts, little miraculous hearts, which one might think had been painted by Raphael."
Eliphas Levi, who felt ill at ease in discussing facts with which there was mingled a sort of profanation of the most holy things, then took his leave of the one-time Catholic writer, and went out meditating on the strange influence of this Vintras, who had so overthrown that old belief, and turned the old savant's head.
Some days afterwards, the qabalist Eliphas was awakened very early in the morning by an unknown visitor. It was a man with white hair, entirely clothed in black; his physiognomy that of an extremely devout priest; his whole air, in short, was entirely worthy of respect.
This ecclesiastic was furnished with a letter of recommendation conceived in these terms:
"This is to introduce to you an old savant, who wants to gabble Hebrew sorcery with you. Receive him like myself — I mean as I myself received him — by getting rid of him in the best way you can.
"Entirely yours, in the sacrosanct Qabalah,
"Reverend sir," said Eliphas, smiling, after having read the letter. "I am entirely at your service, and can refuse nothing to the friend who writes to me. You have then seen my excellent disciple Desbarrolles?"
"Yes, sir, and I have found in him a very amiable and very learned man. I think both you and him worthy of the truth which has been lately revealed by astonishing miracles, and the positive revelations of the Archangel St. Michael."
"Sir, you do us honour. Has then the good Desbarrolles astonished you by his science?"
"Oh, certainly he possesses in a very remarkable degree the secrets of cheiromancy; by merely inspecting my hand, he told me nearly the whole history of my life."
"He is quite capable of that. But did he enter into the smallest details?"
"Sufficiently, sir, to convince me of his extraordinary power."
"Did he tell you that you were once the vicar of Mont-Louis, in the diocese of Tours? That you are the most zealous disciple of the ecstatic Eugene Vintras? And that your name is Charvoz?"
It was a veritable thunderbolt; at each of these three phrases the old priest jumped in his chair. When he heard his name, he turned pale, and rose as if a spring had been released.
"You are then really a magician?" he cried; "Charvoz is certainly my name, but it is not that which I bear; I call myself La Paraz."
"I know it; La Paraz is the name of your mother. You have left a sufficiently enviable position, that of a country vicar, and your charming vicarage, in order to share the troubled existence of a sectary."
"Say of a great prophet!"
"Sir, I believe perfectly in your good faith. But you will permit me to examine a little the mission and the character of your prophet."
"Yes, sir; examination, full light, the microscope of science, that is all we ask. Come to London, sir, and you will see! The miracles are permanently established there."
"Would you be so kind, sir, as to give me, first of all, some exact and conscientious details with regard to the miracles?"
"Oh, as many as you like!"
And immediately the old priest began to recount things which the whole world would have found impossible, but which did not even turn a eye-lash of the Professor of Transcendental Magic.
Here is one of his stories:
One day Vintras, in an access of enthusiasm, was preaching before his heterodox altar; twenty-five persons were present. An empty chalice was upon the altar, a chalice well known to the Abbe Charvoz; he brought it himself from his church of Mont-Louis, and he was perfectly certain that the sacred vase had neither secret ducts nor double bottom.
"'In order to prove to you,' said Vintras, 'that it is God Himself who inspires me, He acquaints me that this chalice will fill itself with drops of His blood, under the appearance of wine, and you will all be able to taste the fruit of the vines of the future, the wine which we shall drink with the Saviour in the Kingdom of His Father…'
"Overcome with astonishment and fear," continued the Abbe Charvoz, "I go up to the altar, I take the chalice, I look at the bottom of it: it was entirely empty. I overturned it in the sight of everyone, then I returned to kneel at the foot of the altar, holding the chalice between my two hands… Suddenly there was a slight noise; the noise of a drop of water, falling into the chalice from the ceiling, was distinctly heard, and a drop of wine appeared at the bottom of the vase.
"Every eye was fixed on me. Then they looked at the ceiling, for our simple chapel was held in a poor room; in the ceiling was neither hole nor fissure; nothing was seen to fall, and yet the noise of the fall of the drops multiplied, it became more rapid, and more frequent, .. and the wine climbed from the bottom of the chalice towards the brim.
"When the chalice was full, I bore it slowly around so that all might see it; then the prophet dipped his lips into it, and all, one after the other, tasted the miraculous wine. It is in vain to search memory for any delicious taste which would gave an idea of it… And what shall I tell you," added the Abbe Charvoz, "of those miracles of blood which astonish us every day? Thousands of wounded and bleeding hosts are found upon our altars. The sacred stigmata appear to all who wish to see them. The hosts, at first white, slowly become marked with characters and hearts in blood. … Must one believe that God abandons the holiest objects to the false miracles of the devil? Should not one rather adore, and believe that the hour of the supreme and final revelation has arrived?"
Abbe Charvoz, as he thus spoke, had in his voice that sort of nervous trembling that Eliphas Levi had already noticed in the case of Mr. Madrolle. The magician shook his head pensively; then, suddenly:
"Sir," said he to the Abbe; "you have upon you one or two of these miraculous hosts. Be good enough to show them to me."
"You have some, I know it; why should you deny it?"
"I do not deny it," said Abbe Charvoz; "but you will permit me not to expose to the investigations of incredulity objects of the most sincere and devout belief."
"Reverend sir," said Eliphas gravely; "incredulity is the mistrust of an ignorance almost sure to deceive itself. Science is not incredulous. I believe, to begin with, in you own conviction, since you have accepted a life of privation and even of reproach, in order to stick to this unhappy belief. Show me then your miraculous hosts, and believe entirely in my respect for the objects of a sincere worship."
"Oh, well!" said the Abbe Charvoz, after another slight hesitation; "I will show them to you."
Then he unbuttoned the top of his black waistcoat and drew forth a little reliquary of silver, before which he fell on his knees, with tears in his eyes, and prayers on his lips; Eliphas fell on his knees beside him, and the Abbe opened the reliquary.
There were in the reliquary three hosts, one whole, the two others almost like paste, and as it were kneaded with blood.
The whole host bore in its centre a heart in relief on both sides; a clot of blood moulded in the form of a heart, which seemed to have been formed in the host itself in an inexplicable manner. The blood could not have been applied from without, for the imbibed colouring matter had left the particles adhering to the exterior surface quite white. The appearance of the phenomenon was the same on both sides. The Master of Magic was seized with an involuntary trembling.
This emotion did not escape the old vicar, who having once again done adoration and closed his reliquary, drew from his pocket an album, and gave it without a word to Eliphas. … There were copies of all the bleeding characters which had been observed upon hosts since the beginning of the ecstasies and miracles of Vintras.
There were hearts of every kind, and many different sorts of emblems. But three especially excited the curiosity of Eliphas to the highest point.
"Reverend sir," said he to Charvoz, "do you know these three signs?"
"No," replied the Abbe ingenuously; "but the prophet assures us that they are of the highest importance, and that their hidden signification shall soon be made known, that is to say, at the end of the Age."
"Oh, well, sir," solemnly replied the Professor of Magic; "even before the end of the Age, I will explain them to you; these three qabalistic signs are the signature of the devil!"
"It is impossible!" cried the old priest.
"It is the case," replied Eliphas, with determination.
Now, the signs were these:
1 Degree. — The star of the micrososm, or the magic pentagram. It is the five-pointed star of occult masonry, the star with which Agrippa drew the human figure, the head in the upper point, the four limbs in the four others. The flaming star, which, when turned upside down, is the hierolgyphic sign of the goat of Black Magic, whose head may then be drawn in the star, the two horns at the top, the ears to the right and left, the beard at the bottom. It is the sign of antagonism and fatality. It is the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns. It is a sign execrated by initiates of a superior rank, even at the Sabbath.
2 Degree. — The two hermetic serpents. But the heads and tails, instead of coming together in two similar semicircles, were turned outwards, and there was no intermediate line representing the caduceus. Above the head of the serpents, one saw the fatal V, the Typhonian fork, the character of hell. To the right and left, the sacred numbers III and VII were relegated to the horizontal line which represents passive and secondary things. The meaning of the character was then this:
God is the strife of fatal forces, which always create through destruction.
The things of religion are passive and transitory.
Boldness makes use of them, war profits by them, and it is by them that discord is perpetuated.
3 Degree. — Finally, the qabalistic monogram of Jehovah, the JOD and the HE, but upside down. This is, according to the doctors of occult science, the most frightful of all blasphemies, and signifies, however one may read it, "Fatality alone exists: God and the Spirit are not. Matter is all, and spirit is only a fiction of this matter demented. Form is more than idea, woman more than man, pleasure more than thought, vice more than virtue, the mob more than its chiefs, the children more than their fathers, folly more than reason!"
There is what was written in characters of blood upon the pretended miraculous hosts of Vintras!
We affirm upon our honour that the facts cited above are such as we have stated, and that we ourselves saw and explained the characters according to magical science and the true keys of the Qabalah.
The disciple of Vintras also communicated to us the description and design of the pontifical vestments given, said he, by Jesus Christ Himself to the pretended prophet, during one of his ecstatic trances. Vintras had these vestments made, and clothes himself with them in order to perform his miracles. They are red in colour. He wears upon his forehead a cross in the form of a lingam; and his pastoral staff is surmounted by a hand, all of whose fingers are closed, except the thumb and the little finger.
Now, all that is diabolical in the highest degree. And is it not a really wonderful thing, this intuition of the signs of a lost science? For it is transcendental magic which, basing the universe upon the two columns of Hermes and of Solomon, has divided the metaphysical world into two intellectual zones, one white and luminous, enclosing positive ideas, the other black and obscure, containing negative ideas, and which has given to the synthesis of the first, the name of God, and to that of the other, the name of the devil or of Satan.
The sign of the lingam borne upon the forehead is in India the distinguishing mark of the worshippers of Shiva the destroyer; for that sign being that of the great magical arcanum, which refers to the mystery of universal generation, to bear it on the forehead is to make profession of dogmatic shamelessness. "Now," say the Orientals, "the day when there is no longer modesty in the world, the world, given over to debauch which is sterile, will end at once for lack of mothers. Modesty is the acceptance of maternity."
The hand with the three large fingers closed expresses the negation of the ternary, and the affirmation of the natural forces alone.
The ancient hierophants, as our learned and witty friend Desbarolles is about to explain in an admirable book which is at present in the press, had given a complete résumé of magical science in the human hand. The forefinger, for them, represented Jupiter; the middle finger, Saturn; the ring-finger, Apollo or the Sun. Among the Egyptians, the middle finger was Ops, the forefinger Osiris, and the little finger Horus; the thumb represented the generative force,and the little finger, cunning. A hand, showing only the thumb and the little finger, is equivalent, in the sacred hieroglyphic language, to the exclusive affirmation of passion and diplomacy. It is the perverted and material translation of that great word of St. Augustine: "Love, and do what you will!" Compare now this sign with the doctrine of Mr. Madrolle: The most imperfect and the most apparently guilty act of love is worth more than the best of prayers. And you will ask yourself what is that force which, independently of the will, and of the greater or less knowledge of man (for Vintras is a man of no education), formulates its dogmas with signs buried in the rubbish of the ancient world, re-discovers the mysteries of Thebes and of Eleusis, and writes for us the most learned reveries of India with the occult alphabets of Hermes?
What is that force? I will tell you. But I have still plenty of other miracles to tell; and this article is like a judicial investigation. We must, before anything else, complete it.
However, we may be permitted, before proceeding to other accounts to transcribe here a page from a German illuminé, of the work of Ludwig Tieck:
"If, for example, as an ancient tradition informs us, some of the angels whom God had created fell all too soon, and if these, as they also say, were precisely the most brilliant of the angels, one may very well understand by this 'fall' that they sought a new road, a new form of activity, other occupations, and another life than those orthodox or more passive spirits who remained in the realm assigned to them, and made no use of liberty, the appanage of all of them. Their 'fall' was that weight of form which we now-a-days call reality, and which is a protest on the part of individual existence against its reabsorption into the abysses of universal spirit. It is thus that death preserves and reproduces life, it is thus that life is betrothed to death. … Do you understand now what Lucifer is? Is it not the very genius of ancient Prometheus, that force which sets in motion the world, life, even movement, and which regulates the course of successive forms? This force, by its resistance, equilibrated the creative principle. It is thus that the Elohim gave birth to the earth. When, subsequently, men were placed upon the earth by the Lord, as intermediate spirits, in their enthusiasm, which led them to search Nature in its depths, they gave themselves over to the influence of that proud and powerful genius, and when they were softly ravished away over the precipice of death to find life, there it was that they began to exist in a real and natural manner, as is fit for all creatures."
This page needs no commentary, and explains sufficiently the tendencies of what one calls spiritualism, or spiritism.
It is already a long time since this doctrine, or, rather, this antidoctrine, began to work upon the world, to plunge it into universal anarchy. But the law of equilibrium will save us, and already the great movement of reaction has begun.
We continue the recital of the phenomena.
One day a workman paid a visit to Eliphas Levi. He was a tall man of some fifty years old, of frank appearance, and speaking in a very reasonable manner. Questioned as to the motive of his visit, he replied: "You ought to know it well enough; I am come to beg and pray you to return to me what I have lost."
We must say, to be frank, that Eliphas knew nothing of this visitor, nor of what he might have lost. He accordingly replied: "You think me much more of a sorcerer than I am; I do not know who you are, nor what you seek; consequently, if you think that I can be useful to you in any way, you must explain yourself and make your request more precise."
"Oh, well, since you are determined not to understand me, you will at least recognize this," said the stranger, taking from his pocket a little, much-used black book.
It was the grimoire of Pope Honorius.
One word upon this little book so much decried.
The grimoire of Honorius is composed of an apocryphal constitution of Honorius II, for the evocation and control of spirits; then of some superstitious receipts … it was the manual of the bad priests who practised Black Magic during the darkest periods of the middle ages. You will find there bloody rites, mingled with profanations of the Mass and of the consecrated elements, formulae of bewitchment and malevolent spells, and practices which stupidity alone could credit or knavery counsel. In fact, it is a book complete of its kind; it is consequently become very rare, and the bibliophile pushes it to very high prices in the public sales.
"My dear sir," said the workman, sighing, "since I was ten years old, I have not missed once performing the orison. This book never leaves me, and I comply rigorously with all the prescribed ceremonies. Why, then, have those who used to visit me abandoned me? Eli, Eli, lama ——"
"Stop," said Eliphas, "do not parody the most formidable words that agony ever uttered in this world! Who are the beings who visited you by virtue of this horrible book? Do you know them? Have you promised them anything? Have you signed a pact?"
"No," interrupted the owner of the grimoire; "I do not know them, and I have entered into no agreement with them. I only know that among them the chiefs are good, the intermediate rank partly good and partly evil; the inferiors bad, but blindly, and without its being possible for them to do better. He whom I evoked, and who has often appeared to me, belongs to the most elevated hierarchy; for he was good-looking, well dressed, and always gave me favourable answers. But I have lost a page of my grimoire, the first, the most important, that which bore the autograph of the spirit; and, since then, he no longer appears when I call him.
"I am a lost man. I am naked as Job, I have no longer either force or courage. O Master, I conjure you, you who need only say one word, make one sign, and the spirits will obey, take pity upon me, and restore to me what I have lost!"
"Give me your grimoire!" said Eliphas. "What name used you to give to the spirit who appeared to you?"
"And in what language was his signature?"
"I do not know, but I suppose it was in Hebrew."
"There," said the Professor of Transcendental Magic, after having traced two words in the Hebrew language in the beginning and at the end of the book. "Here are two words which the spirits of darkness will never counterfeit. Go in peace, sleep well, and no longer evoke spirits."
A week later, he returned to seek the Man of Science.
"You have restored to me hope and life," said he; "my strength is partially returned, I am able with the signatures that you gave me to relieve sufferers, and cast out devils, but him, I cannot see him again, and, until I have seen him, I shall be sad to the day of my death. Formerly, he was always near me, he sometimes touched me, and he used to wake me up in the night to tell me all that I needed to know. Master, I beg of you, let me see him again!"
"Do you know who Adonai is?"
"No, but I want to see him again."
"He is very nearly of my own height."
"The prophets say of him that the hem of his vestment, from the East to the West, sweeps the stars of the morning."
"He had a very clean surcoat, and very white linen."
"The Holy Scripture says that one cannot see him and live."
"He had a kind and jovial face."
"But how did you proceed in order to obtain these apparitions?"
"Why, I did everything that it tells you to do in the grimoire."
"What! Even the bloody sacrifice?"
"Unhappy man! But who, then, was the victim?"
At this question, the workman had a slight trembling; he paled, and his glance became troubled.
"Master, you know better than I what it is," said he humbly in a low voice. "Oh, it cost me a great deal to do it; above all, the first time, with a single blow of the magic knife to cut the throat of that innocent creature! One night I had just accomplished the funereal rites, I was seated in the circle on the interior threshold of my door, and the victim had just been consumed in a great fire of alder and cypress wood. … All of a sudden, quite close to me …. I dreamt or rather I felt it pass … I heard in my ear a heartrending wail … one would have said that it wept; and since that moment, I think that I am hearing it always."
Eliphas had risen; he looked fixedly upon his interlocutor. Had he before him a dangerous madman, capable of renewing the atrocities of the seigneur of Retz? And yet the face of the man was gentle and honest. No, it was not possible.
"But then this victim. .. tell me clearly what it was. You suppose that I know already. Perhaps I do know, but I have reasons for wishing you to tell me."
"It was, according to the magic ritual, a young goat of a year old, virgin, and without defect."
"Doubtless. Understand that it was neither a child's toy, nor a stuffed animal."
"Good," thought he; "this man is not a sorcerer worthy of the stake. He does not know that the abominable authors of the grimoire, when they spoke of the 'virgin he-goat,' meant a little child."
"Well," said he to his consultant; "give me some details about your visions. What you tell me interests me in the highest degree."
The sorcerer — for one must call him so — the sorcerer then told him of a series of strange facts, of which two families had been witness, and these facts were precisely identical with the phenomena of Mr. Home: hands coming out of walls, movements of furniture, phosphorescent apparitions. One day, the rash apprentice-magician had dared to call up Astaroth, and had seen the apparition of a gigantic monster having the body of a hog, and the head borrowed from the skeleton of a colossal ox. But he told all that with an accent of truth, a certainty of having seen, which excluded every kind of doubt as to the good faith and the entire conviction of the narrator. Eliphas, who is an epicure in magic, was delighted with this find. In the nineteenth century, a real sorcerer of the middle ages, a remarkably innocent and convinced sorcerer, a sorcerer who had seen Satan under the name of Adonai, Satan dressed like a respectable citizen, and Astaroth in his true diabolical form! What a supreme find for a museum! What a treasure for an archaeologist!
"My friend," said he to his new disciple, "I am going to help you to find what you say you have lost. Take my book, observe the prescriptions of the ritual, and come again to see me in a week."
A week later he returned, but this time the workman declared that he had invented a life-saving machine of the greatest importance for the navy. The machine is perfectly put together; it only lacks one thing — it will not work: there is a hidden defect in the machinery. What was that defect? The evil spirit alone could tell him. It is then absolutely necessary to evoke him! …
"Take care you do not!" said Eliphas. "You had much better say for nine days this qabalistic evocation." He gave him a leaf covered with manuscript. "Begin this evening, and return to-morrow to tell me what you have seen, for to night you will have a manifestation."
The next day, our good man did not miss the appointment.
"I woke up suddenly," said he, "upon one o'clock in the morning. In front of my bed I saw a bright light, and in this light a shadowy arm which passed and repassed before me, as if to magnetize me. Then I went to sleep again, and some instants afterwards, waking anew, I saw again the same light, but it had changed its place. It had passed from left to right, and upon a luminous background I distinguished the silhouette of a man who was looking at me with arms crossed."
"What was this man like?"
"Just about your height and breadth."
"It is well. Go, and continue to do what I told you."
The nine days rolled by; at the end of that time, a new visit; but this time he was absolutely radiant and excited. As soon as he caught sight of Eliphas:
"Thanks, Master!" he cried. "The machine works! People whom I did not know have come to place at my disposal the funds which were necessary to carry out my enterprise; I have found again peace in sleep; and all that thanks to your power!"
"Say, rather, thanks to your faith and your docility. And now, farewell: I must work. .. Well, why do you assume this suppliant air, and what more do you want of me?"
"Oh, if you only would ——"
"Well, what now? Have you not obtained all that you asked for, and even more than you asked for, for you did not mention money to me?"
"Yes, doubtless," said the other sighing; "but I do want to see him again!"
"Incorrigible!" said Eliphas.
Some days afterwards, the Professor of Transcendental Magic was awakened, about two o'clock in the morning, by an acute pain in the head. For some moments he feared a cerebral congestion. He therefore rose, relit his lamp, opened his window, walked to and fro in his study, and then, calmed by the fresh air of the morning, he lay down again, and slept deeply. He had a nightmare: he saw, terribly real, the giant with the fleshless ox's head of which the workman had spoken to him. The monster pursued him, and struggled with him. When he woke up, it was already day, and somebody was knocking at his door. Eliphas rose, threw on a dressing- gown, and opened; it was the workman.
"Master," said he, entering hastily, and with an alarmed air; "how are you?"
"Very well," replied Eliphas.
"But last night, at two o'clock in the morning, did you not run a great danger?"
Eliphas did not grasp the allusion; he already no longer remembered the indisposition of the night.
"A danger?" said he. "No; none that I know of."
"Have you not been assaulted by a monster phantom, who sought to strangle you? Did it not hurt you?"
"Yes," said he, "certainly, I had the beginning of a sort of apoplectic attack, and a horrible dream. But how do you know that?"
"At the same time, an invisible hand struck me roughly on the shoulder, and awoke me suddenly. I dreamt then that I saw you fighting with Astaroth. I jumped up, and a voice said in my ear: 'Arise and go to the help of thy Master; he is in danger.' I got up in a great hurry. But where must I run? What danger threatened you? Was it at your own house, or elsewhere? The voice said nothing about that. I decided to wait for sunrise; and immediately day dawned, I ran, and here I am."
"Thanks, friend," said the magus, holding out his hand; "Astaroth is a stupid joker; all that happened last night was a little blood to the head. Now, I am perfectly well. Be assured, then, and return to your work."
Strange as may be the facts which we have just related, there remains for us to unveil a tragic drama much more extraordinary still.
It refers to the deed of blood which at the beginning of this year plunged Paris and all Christendom into mourning and stupefaction; a deed in which no one suspected that Black Magic had any part.
During the winter, at the beginning of last year, a bookseller informed the author of the Dogme et rituel de la haute magie that an ecclesiastic was looking for his address, testifying the greatest desire to see him. Eliphas Levi did not feel himself immediately prepossessed with confidence towards the stranger, to the point of exposing himself without precaution to his visits; he indicated the house of a friend, where he was to be in the company of his faithful disciple, Desbarrolles. At the hour and date appointed they went, in fact, to the house of Mme. A——, and found that the ecclesiastic had been waiting for them for some moments.
He was a young and slim man; he had an arched and pointed nose, with dull blue eyes. His bony and projecting forehead was rather broad than high, his head was dolichocephalic, his hair flat and short, parted on one side, of a greyish blond with just a tinge of chestnut of a rather curious and disagreeable shade. His mouth was sensual and quarrelsome; his manners were affable, his voice soft, and his speech sometimes a little embarrassed. Questioned by Eliphas Levi concerning the object of his visit, he replied that he was on the look-out for the grimoire of Honorius, and that he had come to learn from the Professor of Occult Science how to obtain that little black book, now-a-days almost impossible to find.
"I would gladly give a hundred francs for a copy of that grimoire," said he.
"The work in itself is valueless," said Eliphas. "It is a pretended constitution of Honorius II, which you will find perhaps quoted by some erudite collector of apocryphal constitutions; you can find it in the library."
"I will do so, for I pass almost all my time in Paris in the public libraries."
"You are not occupied in the ministry in Paris?"
"No, not now; I was for some little while employed in the parish of St. Germain-Auxerrois."
"And you now spend your time, I understand, in curious researches in occult science."
"Not precisely, but I am seeking the realization of a thought. … I have something to do."
"I do not suppose that this something can be an operation of Black Magic. You know as well as I do, reverend sir, that the Church has always condemned, and still condemns, severely, everything which relates to these forbidden practices."
A pale smile, imprinted with a sort of sarcastic irony, was all the answer that the Abbe gave, and the conversation fell to the ground.
However, the cheiromancer Desbarrolles was attentively looking at the hand of the priest; he perceived it, a quite natural explanation followed, the Abbe offered graciously and of his own accord his hand to the experimenter. Desbarrolles knit his brows, and appeared embarrassed. The hand was damp and cold, the fingers smooth and spatulated; the mount of Venus, or the part of the palm of the hand which corresponds to the thumb, was of a noteworthy development, the line of life was short and broken, there were crosses in the centre of the hand, and stars upon the mount of the moon.
"Reverend sir," said Desbarrolles, "if you had not a very solid religious education you would easily become a dangerous sectary, for you are led on the one hand toward the most exalted mysticism, and on the other to the most concentrated obstinacy combined with the greatest secretiveness that can possibly be. You want much, but you imagine more, and as you confide your imaginations to nobody, they might attain proportions which would make them veritable enemies for yourself. Your habits are contemplative an rather easygoing, but it is a somnolence whose awakenings are perhaps to be dreaded. You are carried away by a passion which your state of life —— But pardon, reverend sir, I fear that I am over-stepping the boundaries of discretion."
"Say everything, sir; I am willing to hear all, I wish to now everything."
"Oh, well! If, as I do not doubt to be the case, you turn to the profit of charity all the restless activities with which the passions of your heart furnish you, you must often be blessed for your good works."
The Abbe once more smiled that dubious and fatal smile which gave so singular an expression to his pallid countenance. He rose and took his leave without having given his name, and without any one having thought to ask him for it.
Eliphas and Desbarrolles reconducted him as far as the staircase, in token of respect for his dignity as a priest.
Near the staircase he turned and said slowly:
"Before long, you will hear something. … You will hear me spoken of," he added, emphasizing each word. Then he saluted with head and hand, turned without adding a single word, and descended the staircase.
The two friends returned to Mme. A——'s room.
"There is a singular personage," said Eliphas; "I think I have seen Pierrot of the Funambules playing the part of a traitor. What he said to us on his departure seemed to me very much like a threat."
"You frightened him," said Mme. A——. "Before your arrival, he was beginning to open his whole mind, but you spoke to him of conscience and of the laws of the Church, and he no longer dared to tell you what he wished."
"Bah! What did he wish then?"
"Perhaps he thought I had him in my pocket?"
"No, but he knows that you give lessons in the Qabalah, and in magic, and so he hoped that you would help him in his enterprise. He told my daughter and myself that in his vicarage in the country, he had already made one night an evocation of the devil by the help of a popular grimoire. 'Then' said he, 'a whirlwind seemed to shake the vicarage; the rafts groaned, the wainscoting cracked, the doors shook, the windows opened with a crash, and whistlings were heard in every corner of the house.' He then expected that formidable vision to follow, but he saw nothing; no monster presented itself; in a word, the devil would not appear. That is why he is looking for the grimoire of Honorius, for he hopes to find in it stronger conjurations, and more efficacious rites."
"Really! But the man is then a monster, or a madman!"
"I think he is just simply in love," said Desbarrolles. "He is gnawed by some absurd passion, and hopes for absolutely nothing unless he can get the devil to interfere."
"But how then — what does he mean when he says that we shall hear him spoken of?"
"Who knows? Perhaps he thinks to carry off the Queen of England, or the Sultana Valide."
The conversation dropped, and a whole year passed without Mme. A——. or Desbarrolles, or Eliphas hearing the unknown young priest spoken of.
In the course of the night between the 1st and 2nd of January, 1857, Eliphas Levi was awakened suddenly by the emotions of a bizarre and dismal dream. It seemed to him that he was in a dilapidated room of gothic architecture, rather like the abandoned chapel of an old castle. A door hidden by a black drapery opened on to this room; behind the drapery one guessed the hidden light of tapers, and it seemed to Eliphas that, driven by a curiosity full of terror, he was approaching the black drapery. … Then the drapery was parted, and a hand was stretched forth and seized the arm of Eliphas. He saw no one, but he heard a low voice which said in his ear:
"Come and see your father, who is about to die."
The magus awoke, his heart palpitating, and his forehead bathed in sweat.
"What can this dream mean?" thought he. "It is long since my father died; why am I told that he is going to die, and why has this warning upset me?"
The following night, the same dream recurred with the same circumstances; once more Eliphas awoke, hearing a voice in his ear repeat:
"Come and see your father, who is about to die."
This repeated nightmare made a painful impression upon Eliphas: he had accepted, for the 3rd January, an invitation to dinner in pleasant company, but he wrote and excused himself, feeling himself little inclined for the gaiety of a banquet of artists. He remained, then, in his study; the weather was cloudy; at midday he received a visit from one of his magical pupils, Viscount M——. When he left, the rain was falling in such abundance that Eliphas offered his umbrella to the Viscount, who refused it. There followed a contest of politeness, of which the result was that Eliphas went out to see the Viscount home. While they were in the street, the rain stopped, the Viscount found a carriage, and Eliphas, instead of returning to his house, mechanically crossed the Luxembourg, went out by the gate which opens on the Rue d'Enfer, and found himself opposite the Pantheon.
A double row of booths, improvised for the Festival of St. Genevieve, indicated to pilgrims the road to St. Etienne-du-Mont. Eliphas, whose heart was sad, and consequently disposed to prayer, followed that way and entered the church. It might have been at that time about four o'clock in the afternoon.
The church was full of the faithful, and the office was performed with great concentration, and extraordinary solemnity. The banners of the parishes of the city, and of the suburbs, bore witness to the public veneration for the virgin who saved Paris from famine and invasion. At the bottom of the church, the tomb of St. Genevieve shone gloriously with light. They were chanting the litanies, and the procession was coming out of the choir.
After the cross, accompanied by its acolytes, and followed by the choirboys, came the banner of St. Genevieve; then, walking in double file, came the lady devotees of St. Genevieve, clothed in black, with a white veil on the head, a blue ribbon around the neck, with the medal of the legend, a taper in the hand, surmounted by the little gothic lantern that tradition gives to the images of the saint. For, in the old books, St Genevieve is always represented with a medal on her neck, that which St. Germain d'Auxerre gave her, and holding a taper, which the devil tries to extinguish, but which is protected from the breath of the unclean spirit by a miraculous little tabernacle.
After the lady devotees came the clergy; then finally appeared the venerable Archbishop of Paris, mitred with a white mitre, wearing a cope which was supported on each side by his two vicars; the prelate, leaning on his cross, walked slowly, and blessed to right and left the crowd which knelt about his path. Eliphas saw the Archbishop for the first time, and noticed the features of his countenance. They expressed kindliness and gentleness; but one might observe the expression of a great fatigue, and even of a nervous suffering painfully dissimulated.
The procession descended to the foot of the church, traversing the nave, went up again by the aisle at the left of the door, and came to the station of the tomb of St. Genevieve; then it returned by the right-hand aisle, chanting the litanies as it went. A group of the faithful followed the procession, and walked immediately behind the Archbishop.
Eliphas mingled in this group, in order more easily to get through the crowd which was about to reform, so that he might regain the door of the church. He was lost in reverie, softened by this pious solemnity.
The head of the procession had already returned to the choir, the Archbishop was arriving at the railing of the nave: there the passage was too narrow for three people to walk in file; the Archbishop was in front, and the two grand-vicars behind him, always holding the edges of his cope, which was thus thrown off, and drawn backwards, in such a manner that the prelate presented his breast uncovered, and protected only the by crossed embroideries of his stole.
Then those who were behind the Archbishop saw him tremble, and we heard an interruption in a loud and clear voice; but without shouting, or clamour. What had been said? It seemed that it was: "Down with the goddesses!" But I thought I had not heard aright, so out of place and void of sense it seemed. However, the exclamation was repeated twice or thrice; then some one cried: "Save the Archbishop!" Other voices replied: "To arms!" The crowd, overturning the chairs and the barriers, scattered, and rushed towards the doors shrieking. Amidst the wails of the children, and the screams of the women, Eliphas, carried away by the crowd, found himself somehow or other out of the church; but the last look that he was able to cast upon it was smitten with a terrible and ineffaceable picture!
In the midst of a circle made large by the affright of all those who surrounded him, the prelate was standing alone, leaning always on his cross, and held up by the stiffness of his cope, which the grand-vicars had let go, and which accordingly hung down to the ground.
The head of the Archbishop was a little thrown back, his eyes and his free hand raised to heaven. His attitude was that which Eugene Delacroix has given to the Bishop of Liege in the picture of his assassination by the bandits of the Wild Boar of the Ardennes;
there was in his gesture the whole epic or martyrdom; it was an acceptance and an offering; a prayer for his people, and a pardon for his murderer.
The day was falling, and the church was beginning to grow dark. The Archbishop, his arms raised to heaven, lighted by a last ray which penetrated the casements of the nave, stood out upon a dark background, where one could scarcely distinguish a pedestal without a statue, on which were written these two words of the Passion of Christ: ECCE HOMO! and farther in the background, an apocalyptic painting representing the four plagues ready to let themselves loose upon the world, and the whirlwinds of hell, following the dusty traces of the pale horse of death.
Before the Archbishop, a lifted arm, sketched in shadow like an infernal silhouette, held and brandished a knife. Policemen, sword in hand, were running up.
And while all this tumult was going on at the bottom of the church, the singing of the litanies continued in the choir, as the harmony of the orbs of heaven goes on for ever, careless of our revolutions and of our anguish.
Eliphas Levi had been swept out of the church by the crowd. He had come out by the right-hand door. Almost at the same moment the left-hand door was flung violently open, and a furious group of men rushed out of the church.
This group was whirling around a man whom fifty arms seemed to hold, whom a hundred shaken fists sought to strike.
This man later complained of having been roughly handled by the police, but, as far as one could see in such an uproar, the police were rather protecting him against the exasperation of the mob.
Women were running after him, shrieking: "Kill him!"
"But what has he done?" cried other voices.
"The wretch! He has struck the Archbishop with his fist!" said the women.
Then others came out of the church, and contradictory accounts were flying to and fro.
"The archbishop was frightened, and has fainted," said some.
"He is dead!" replied others.
"Did you see the knife?" added a third comer. "It is as long as a sabre, and the blood was steaming on the blade."
"The poor Archbishop has lost one of his slippers," remarked an old woman, joining her hands.
"It is nothing! It is nothing!" cried a woman who rented chairs. "You can come back to the church: Monseigneur is not hurt; they have just said so from the pulpit."
The crowd then made a movement to return to the church.
"Go! Go!" said at that very moment the grave and anguished voice of a priest. "The office cannot be continued; we are going to close the church: it is profaned."
"How is the Archbishop?" said a man.
"Sir," replied the priest, "the Archbishop is dying; perhaps even at this very moment he is dead!"
The crowd dispersed in consternation to spread the mournful news over Paris.
A bizarre incident happened to Eliphas, and made a kind of diversion for his deep sorrow at what had just passed.
At the moment of the uproar, an aged woman of the most respectable appearance had taken his arm, and claimed his protection.
He made it a duty to reply to this appeal, and when he had got out of the crowd with this lady: "How happy I am," said she, "to have met a man who weeps for this great crime, for which, at this moment, so many wretches rejoice!"
"What are you saying, madam? How is it possible that there should exist beings so depraved as to rejoice at so great a misfortune?"
"Silence!" said the old lady; "perhaps we are overheard. … Yes," she added, lowering her voice; "there are people who are exceedingly pleased at what has happened. And look there, just now, there was a man of sinister mien, who said to the anxious crowd, when they asked him what had happened, 'Oh, it is nothing! It is a spider which has fallen.'"
"No, madam, you must have misunderstood. The crowd would not have suffered so abominable a remark, and the man would have been immediately arrested."
"Would to God that all the world thought as you do!" said the lady.
Then she added: "I recommend myself to your prayers, for I see clearly that you are a man of God."
"Perhaps every one does not think so," replied Eliphas.
"And what does the world matter to us?" replied the lady with vivacity; "the world lies and calumniates, and is impious! It speaks evil of you, perhaps. I am not surprised at it, and if you knew what it says of me, you would easily understand why I despise its opinion!"
"The world speaks evil of you, madam?"
"Yes, in truth, and the greatest evil that can be said."
"It accuses me of sacrilege."
"You frighten me. Of what sacrilege, if you please?"
"Of an unworthy comedy that I am supposed to have played in order to deceive two children, on the mountain of the Salette."
"I am Mademoiselle de la Merliere."
"I have heard speak of your trial, mademoiselle, and of the scandal which it caused, but it seems to me that your age and your position ought to have sheltered you from such an accusation."
"Come and see me, sir, and I will present you to my lawyer, M. Favre, who is a man of talent whom I wish to gain to God."
Thus talking, the two companions had arrived at the Rue du Vieux Colombier. The Lady thanked her improvised cavalier, and renewed her invitation to come to see her.
"I will try to do so," said Eliphas; "but if I come shall I ask the porter for Mille. de la Merliere?"
"Do not do so," said she; "I am not know under that name; ask for Mme. Dutruck."
"Dutruck, certainly, madam; I present my humble compliments."
The trial of the assassin began, and Eliphas, reading in the newspapers that the man was a priest, that he had belonged to the clergy of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, that he had been a country vicar, and that he seemed exalted to the point of madness, recalled the pale priest who, a year earlier, had been looking for the grimoire of Honorius. But the description which the public sheets gave of the criminal disagreed with the recollection of the Professor of Magic. In fact, the majority of the papers said that he had black hair. … "It is not he, then," thought Eliphas. "However, I still keep in my ear and in my memory the word which would now be explained for me by this great crime: 'You will soon learn something. Before a little, you will hear speak of me.'"
The trial took place with all the frightful vicissitudes with which every one is familiar, and the accused was condemned to death.
The next day, Eliphas read in a legal newspaper the account of this unheard-of scene in the annals of justice, but a cloud passed over his eyes when he came to the description of the accused: "He is blond."
"It must be he," said the Professor of Magic.
Some days afterwards, a person who had been able to sketch the convict during the trial, showed it to Eliphas.
"Let me copy this drawing," said he, all trembling with fear.
He made the copy, and took it to his friend Desbarrolles, of whom he asked, without other explanation:
"Yes," said Desbarrolles energetically. "Wait a moment: yes, it is the mysterious priest whom we saw at Mme. A——'s, and who wanted to make magical evocations."
"Oh, well, my friend, you confirm me in my sad conviction. The man we saw, we shall never see again; the hand which you examined has become a bloody hand. We have heard speak of him, as he told us we should; that pale priest, do you know what was his name?"
"Oh, my God!" said Desbarolles, changing colour, "I am afraid to know it!"
"Well, you know it: it was the wretch Louis Verger!"
Some weeks after what we have just recorded, Eliphas Levi was talking with a bookseller whose specialty was to make a collection of old books concerning the occult sciences. They were talking of the grimoire of Honorius.
"Now-a-days, it is impossible to find it," said the merchant. "The last that I had in my hands I sold to a priest for a hundred francs."
"A young priest? And do you remember what he looked like?"
"Oh, perfectly, but you ought to know him well yourself, for he told me he had seen you, and it is I who sent him to you."
No more doubt, then; the unhappy priest had found the fatal grimoire, he had done the evocation, and prepared himself for the murder by a series of sacrileges. For this is in what the infernal evocations consist, according to the grimoire of Honorius:
"Choose a black cock, and give him the name of the spirit of darkness which one wishes to evoke.
"Kill the cock, and keep its heart, its tongue, and the first feather of its left wing.
"Dry the tongue and the heart, and reduce them to powder.
"Eat no meat and drink no wine, that day.
"On Tuesday, at dawn, say a mass of the angels.
"Trace upon the altar itself, with the feather of the cock dipped in the consecrated wine, certain diabolical signatures (those of Mr. Home's pencil, and the bloody hosts of Vintras).
"On Wednesday, prepare a taper of yellow wax; rise at midnight, and alone, in the church, begin the office of the dead.
"Mingle with this office infernal evocations.
"Finish the office by the light of a single taper, extinguish it immediately, and remain without light in the church thus profaned until sunrise.
"On Thursday, mingle with the consecrated water the powder of the tongue and heart of the black cock, and let the whole be swallowed by a male lamb of nine days old. …"
The hand refuses to write the rest. It is a mixture of brutalizing practices and revolting crimes, so constituted as to kill for evermore judgment and conscience.
But in order to communicate with the phantom of absolute evil, to realize that phantom to the point of seeing and touching it, is it not necessary to be without conscience and without judgment?
There is doubtless the secret of this incredible perversity, of this murderous fury, of this unwholesome hate against all order, all ministry, all hierarchy, of this fury, above all, against the dogma which sanctifies peace, obedience, gentleness, purity, under so touching an emblem as that of a mother.
This wretch thought himself sure not to die. The Emperor, thought he, would be obliged to pardon him; an honourable exile awaited him; his crime would give him an enormous celebrity; his reveries would be bought for their weight in gold by the booksellers. He would become immensely rich, attract the notice of a great lady, and marry beyond the seas. It is by such promises that the phantom of the devil, long ago, lured Gilles de Laval, Seigneur of Retz, and made him wade from crime to crime. A man capable of evoking the devil, according to the rites of the grimoire of Honorius, has gone so far upon the road of evil that he is disposed to all kinds of hallucinations, and all lies. So, Verger slept in blood, to dream of I know not what abominable pantheon; and he awoke upon the scaffold.
But the aberrations of perversity do not constitute an insanity; the execution of this wretch proved it.
One knows what desperate resistance he made to his executioners. "It is treason," said he; "I cannot die so! Only one hour, an hour to write to the Emperor! The Emperor is bound to save me."
Who, then, was betraying him?
Who, then, had promised him life?
Who, then, had assured him beforehand of a clemency which was impossible, because it would revolt the conscience of the public?
Ask all that of the grimoire of Honorius!
Two incidents in this tragic story bear upon the phenomena produced by Mr. Home: the noise of the storm heard by the wicked priest in his early evocations, and the difficulty which he found in expressing his real thought in the presence of Eliphas Levi.
One may also comment upon the apparition of the sinister man taking pleasure in the public grief, and uttering an indeed infernal word in the midst of the consternation of the crowd, an apparition only noticed by the ecstatic of La Salette, the too celebrated Mlle. de La Merliere, who has the air after all of a worthy individual, but very excitable, and perhaps capable of acting and speaking without knowing it herself, under the influence of a sort of ascetic sleep-waking.
This word "sleep-waking" brings us back to Mr. Home, and our anecdotes have not made us forget what the title of this work promised to our readers.
We ought, then, to tell them what Mr. Home is.
Mr. Home is an invalid suffering from a contagious sleep-waking.
It remains to us to give an explanation and a demonstration.
That explanation and demonstration, in order to be complete, demand a work sufficient to fill a book.
That book has been written, and we shall publish it shortly.
The Reason of Miracles, or the Devil at the Tribunal of Science.
Because we have demonstrated by facts what Mr. de Mirville had, before us, incompletely set forth.
We say "incompletely"; because the devil is, for Mr. de Mirville, a fantastic personage, while for us, it is the misuse of a natural force.
A medium once said: "Hell is not a place, it is a state."
We shall be able to add: "The devil is not a person or a force; it is a vice, and in consequence, a weakness."
Let us return for a moment to the study of phenomena!
Mediums are, in general, of poor health and narrow limitations.
They can accomplish nothing extraordinary in the presence of calm and educated persons.
One must be accustomed to them before seeing or feeling anything.
The phenomena are not identical for all present. For example, where one will see a hand, another will perceive nothing but a whitish smoke.
Persons impressed by the magnetism of Mr. Home feel a sort of indisposition; it seems to them that the room turns round, and the temperature seems to them to grow rapidly lower.
The miracles are more successful in the presence of a few people chosen by the medium himself.
In a meeting of several persons, it may be that all will see the miracles — with the exception of one, who will see absolutely nothing.
Among the persons who do see, all do not see the same thing.
One evening, at Mme. de V——'s, the medium made appear a child which that lady had lost. Mme. de B—— alone saw the child; Count de M—— saw a little whitish vapour, in the shape of a pyramid; the others saw nothing.
Everybody knows that certain substances, hashish, for example, intoxicate without taking away the use of reason, and cause to be seen with an astonishing vividness things which do not exist.
A great part of the phenomena of Mr. Home belong to a natural influence similar to that of hashish.
This is the reason why the medium refuses to operate except before a small number of persons chosen by himself.
The rest of these phenomena should be attributed to magnetic power.
To see anything at Mr. Home's séances is not a reassuring index of the health of him who sees.
And even if his health should be in other ways excellent, the vision indicates a transitory perturbation of the nervous apparatus in its relation to imagination and light.
If this perturbation were frequently repeated, he would become seriously ill.
Who knows how many collapses, attacks of tetanus, insanities, violent deaths, the mania of table-turning has already produced?
These phenomena become particularly terrible when perversity takes possession of them.
It is then that one can really affirm the intervention and the presence of the spirit of evil.
Perversity or fatality, these pretended miracles obey one of these two powers.
As to qabalistic writings and mysterious signatures, we shall say that they reproduce themselves by the magnetic intuition of the mirages of thought in the universal vital fluid.
These instinctive reflections may be produced if the magic Word has nothing arbitrary in it, and if the signs of the occult sanctuary are the natural expressions of absolute ideas.
It is this which we shall demonstrate in our book.
But, in order not to send back our readers from the unknown to the future, we shall detach beforehand two chapters of that unpublished work, one upon the qabalistic Word, the other upon the secrets of the Qabalah, and we shall draw conclusions which will compete in a manner satisfactory to all the explanation which we have promised in the matter of Mr. Home.
There exists a power which generates forms; this power is light.
Light creates forms in accordance with the laws of eternal mathematics, by the universal equilibrium of light and shadow.
The primitive signs of thought trace themselves by themselves in the light, which is the material instrument of thought.
God is the soul of light. The universal and infinite light is for us, as it were, the body of god.
The Qabalah, or transcendental magic, is the science of light.
Light corresponds to life.
The kingdom of shadows is death.
All the dogmas of true religion are written in the Qabalah in characters of light upon a page of shadow.
The page of shadows consists of blind beliefs.
Light is the great plastic medium.
The alliance of the soul and the body is a marriage of light and shadow.
Light is the instrument of the Word, it is the white writing of God upon the great book of night.
Light is the source of thought, and it is in it that one must seek for the origin of all religious dogma. But there is only one true dogma, as there is only one pure light; shadow alone is infinitely varied.
Light, shadow, and their harmony, which is the vision of beings, form the principle analogous to the great dogmas of Trinity, of Incarnation, and of Redemption.
Such is also the mystery of the cross.
It will be easy for us to prove this by an appeal to religious monuments, by the signs of the primitive Word, by those books which contain the secrets of the Qabalah, and finally by the reasoned explanation of all the mysteries by the means of the keys of qabalistic magic.
In all symbolisms, in fact, we find ideas of antagonism and of harmony producing a trinitarian notion in the conception of divinity, following which the mythological personification of the four cardinal points of heaven completes the sacred septenary, the base of all dogmas and of all rites. In order to convince oneself of it, it is sufficient to read again and meditate upon the learned work of Dupuis, who would be a great qabalist if he had seen a harmony of truths where his negative preoccupations only permitted him to see a concert of errors.
It is not here our business to repeat his work, which everybody knows; but it is important to prove that the religious reform brought about by Moses was altogether qabalistic, that Christianity, in instituting a new dogma, has simply come nearer to the primitive sources of the teachings of Moses, and that the Gospel is no more than a transparent veil thrown upon the universal and natural mysteries of oriental initiation.
A distinguished but little known man of learning, Mr. P. Lacour, in his book on the Elohim or Mosaic God, has thrown a great light on that question, and has rediscovered in the symbols of Egypt all the allegorical figures of Genesis. More recently, another courageous student of vast erudition, Mr. Vincent (de l'Yonne), has published a treatise upon idolatry among both the ancients and the moderns, in which he raises the veil of universal mythology.
We invite conscientious students to read these various works, and we confine ourselves to the special study of the Qabalah among the Hebrews.
The Logos, or the word, being according to the initiates of that science the complete revelation, the principles of the holy Qabalah ought to be found reunited in the signs themselves of which the primitive alphabet is composed.
Now, this is what we find in all Hebrew grammars.
There is a fundamental and universal letter which generates all the others. It is the IOD.
There are two other mother letters, opposed and analogous among themselves;,the ALEPH א
and the MEM מ
, according to others the SCHIN ש
There are seven double letters, the BETH ב
, the GIMEL ג
, the DALETH ד
, the KAPH כ
, the PE פ
, the RESH ר
, and the TAU ת
Finally, there are twelve simple letters; in all twenty-two. The unity is represented, in a relative manner, by the ALEPH; the ternary is figured either by IOD, MEM, SCHIN, or by ALEPH, MEM, SCHIN.
The septenary, by BETH, GIMEL, DALETH, KAPH, PE, RESH, TAU.
The duodenary, by the other letters.
The duodenary is the ternary multiplied by four; and it reenters thus into the symbolism of the septenary.
Each letter represents a number: each assemblage of letters, a series of numbers.
The numbers represent absolute philosophical ideas.
The letters are shorthand hieroglyphs.
Let us see now the hieroglyphic and philosophical significations of each of the twenty-two letters (vide Bellarmin, Reuchlin, Saint-Jerome, Kabala Denudata, Sepher Yetzirah, Technica curiosa of Father Schott, Picus de Mirandola, and other authors, especially those of the collection of Pistorius).
The IOD. — The absolute principle, the productive being.
The MEM. — Spirit, or the Jakin of Solomon.
The SCHIN. — Matter, or the column called Boaz.
BETH. Reflection, thought, the moon, the Angel Gabriel, Prince of mysteries.
GIMEL. Love, will, Venus, the Angel Anael, Prince of life and death.
DALETH. Force, power, Jupiter, Sachiel, Melech, King of kings.
KAPH. Violence, strife, work, Mars, Samael Zebaoth, Prince of Phalanges.
PE. Eloquence, intelligence, Mercury, Raphael, Prince of sciences.
RESH. Destruction and regeneration, Time, Saturn, Cassiel, King of tombs and of solitude.
TAU. Truth, light, the Sun, Michael, King of the Elohim.
The simple letters are divided into four triplicities, having for titles the four letters of the divine tetragam Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh.
In the divine tetragram, the IOD, as we have just said, symbolizes the productive and active principle. — The HE ה
represents the passive productive principle, the CTEIS. — The VAU symbolizes the union of the two, or the lingam, and the final HE is the image of the second reproductive principle; that is to say, of the passive reproduction in the world of effects and forms.
The twelve simple letters, ק צ ע ס נ ל ט ח ז ו ה
, divided into threes, reproduce the notion of the primitive triangle, with the interpretation, and under the influence, of each of the letters of the tetragram.
One sees that the philosophy and the religious dogma of the Qabalah are there indicated in a complete but veiled manner.
Let us now investigate the allegories of Genesis.
"In the beginning (IOD the unity of being,) Elohim, the equilibrated forces (Jakin and Boaz), created the heaven (spirit) and the earth (matter), or in other words, good and evil, affirmation and negation." Thus begins the Mosaic account of creation.
Then, when it comes to giving a place to man, and a sanctuary to his alliance with divinity, Moses speaks of a garden, in the midst of which a single fountain branched into four rivers (the IOD and the TETRAGRAM), and then of two trees, one of life, and the other of death, planted near the river. There are placed the man and the woman, the active and the passive; the woman sympathizes with death, and draws Adam with her in her fall. They are then driven out from the sanctuary of truth, and a kerub (a bull-headed sphinx, vide the hieroglyphs of Assyria, of India and of Egypt) is placed at the gate of the garden of truth in order to prevent the profane from destroying the tree of life. Here we have mysterious dogma, with all its allegories and its terrors, replacing the simplicity of truth. The idol has replaced God, and fallen humanity will not delay to give itself up to the worship of the golden calf.
The mystery of the necessary and successive reactions of the two principles on each other is indicated subsequently by the allegory of Cain and Abel. Force avenges itself by oppression for the seduction of weakness; martyred weakness expiates and intercedes for force when it is condemned for its crime to branding remorse. Thus is revealed the equilibrium of the moral world; here is the basis of all the prophecies, and the fulcrum of all intelligent political thought. To abandon a force to its own excesses is to condemn it to suicide.
Dupuis failed to understand the universal religious dogma of the Qabalah, because he had not the science of the beautiful hypothesis, partly demonstrated and realized more from day to day by the discoveries of science: I refer to universal analogy.
Deprived of this key of transcendental dogma, he could see no more of the gods than the sun, the seven planets, and the twelve signs of the zodiac; but he did not see in the sun the image of the Logos of Plato, in the seven planets the seven notes of the celestial gamut, and in the zodiac the quadrature of the ternary circle of all initiations.
The Emperor Julian, that adept of the spirit who was never understood, that initiate whose paganism was less idolatrous than the faith of certain Christians, the Emperor Julian, we say, understood better than Dupuis and Volney the symbolic worship of the sun. In his hymn to the king, Helios, he recognizes that the star of day is but the reflection and the material shadow of that sun of truth which illumines the world of intelligence, and which is itself only a light borrowed from the Absolute.
It is a remarkable thing that Julian has ideas of the Supreme God, that the Christians thought they alone adored, much greater and more correct than those of some of the fathers of the Church, who were his contemporaries, and his adversaries.
This is how he expresses himself in his defence of Hellenism:
"It is not sufficient to write in a book that God spake, and things were made. It is necessary to examine whether the things that one attributes to God are not contrary to the very laws of Being. For, if it is so, God could not have made them, for He could not contradict Nature without denying Himself. … God being eternal, it is of the nature of necessity that His orders should be immutable as He."
So spake that apostate, that man of impiety! Yet, later, a Christian doctor, become the oracle of the theological schools, taking his inspiration perhaps from these splendid words of the misbeliever, found himself obliged to bridle superstition by writing that beautiful and brave maxim which easily resumes the thought of the great Emperor:
"A thing is not just because God wills it; but God wills it because it is just."
The idea of a perfect and immutable order in nature, the notion of an ascending hierarchy and of a descending influence in all beings, had furnished to the ancient hierophants the first classification of the whole of natural history. Minerals, vegetables, animals were studied analogically; and they attributed their origin and their properties to the passive or to the active principle, to the darkness or to the light. The sign of their election or of their reprobation, traced in their natural form, became the hieroglyphic character of a vice or a virtue; then, by dint of taking the sign for the thing, and expressing the thing by the sign, they ended by confounding them. Such is the origin of that fabulous natural history, in which lions allow themselves to be defeated by cocks, where dolphins die of sorrow for the ingratitude of men, in which mandrakes speak, and the stars sing. This enchanted world is indeed the poetic domain of magic; but it has no other reality than the meaning of the hieroglyphs which gave it birth. For the sage who understands the analogies of the transcendental Qabalah, and the exact relation of ideas with signs, this fabulous country of the fairies is a country still fertile in discoveries; for those truths which are too beautiful, or too simple to please men, without any veil, have all been hidden in these ingenious shadows.
Yes, the cock can intimidate the lion, and make himself master of him, because vigilance often supplants force, and succeeds in taming wrath. The other fables of the sham natural history of the ancients are explained in the same manner, and in this allegorical use of analogies, one can already understand the possible abuses and predict the errors to which the Qabalah was obliged to give birth.
The law of analogies, in fact, has been for qabalists of a secondary rank the object of a blind and fanatical faith. It is to this belief that one must attribute all the superstitions with which the adepts of occult science have been reproached. This is how they reasoned:
The sign expresses the thing.
The thing is the virtue of the sign.
There is an analogical correspondence between the sign and the thing signified.
The more perfect is the sign, the more entire is the correspondence.
To say a word is to evoke a thought and make it present. To name God is to manifest God.
The word acts upon souls, and souls react upon bodies; consequently one can frighten, console, cause to fall ill, cure, even kill, and raise from the dead by means of words.
To utter a name is to create or evoke a being.
In the name is contained the verbal or spiritual doctrine of the being itself.
When the soul evokes a thought, the sign of that thought is written automatically in the light.
To invoke is to adjure, that is to say, to swear by a name; it is to perform an act of faith in that name, and to communicate in the virtue which it represents.
Words in themselves are, then, good or evil, poisonous or wholesome.
The most dangerous words are vain and lightly uttered words, because they are the voluntary abortions of thought.
A useless word is a crime against the spirit of intelligence; it is an intellectual infanticide.
Things are for every one what he makes of them by naming them. The word of every one is an impression or an habitual prayer.
To speak well is to live well.
A fine style is an aureole of holiness.
From these principles, some true, others hypothetical, and from the more or less exaggerated consequences that they draw from them, there resulted for superstitious qabalists and absolute confidence in enchantments, evocations, conjurations and mysterious prayers. Now, as faith has always accomplished miracles, apparitions, oracles, mysterious cures, sudden and strange maladies, have never been lacking to it.
It is thus that a simple and sublime philosophy has become the secret science of Black Magic. It is from this point of view above all that the Qabalah is still able to excite the curiosity of the majority in our so distrustful and so credulous century. However, as we have just explained, that is not the true science.
Men rarely seek the truth from its own sake; they have always a secret motive in their efforts, some passion to satisfy, or some greed to assuage. Among the secrets of the Qabalah there is one above all which has always tormented seekers; it is the secret of the transmutation of metals, and of the conversion of all earthly substances into gold.
Alchemy borrowed all these signs from the Qabalah, and it is upon the law of analogies resulting from the harmony of contraries that it based its operations. An immense physical secret was, moreover, hidden under the qabalistic parables of the ancients. This secret we have arrived at deciphering, and we shall submit its letter to the investigations of the gold- makers. Here it is:
1°. The four imponderable fluids are nothing but the diverse manifestations of one same universal agent, which is light.
2°. Light is the fire which serves for the Great Work under the form of electricity.
3°. The human will directs the vital light by means of the nervous system. In our days this is called Magnetism.
4°. The secret agent of the Great Work, the Azoth of the sages, the living and life-giving gold of the philosophers, the universal metallic productive agent, is magnetized electricity
The alliance of these two words still does not tell us much, and yet, perhaps, they contain a force sufficient to overturn the world. We say "perhaps" on philosophical grounds, for, personally, we have no doubt whatever of the high importance of this great hermetic arcanum.
We have just said that alchemy is the daughter of the Qabalah; to convince oneself of the truth of this it is sufficient to look at the symbols of Flamel, of Basil Valentine, the pages of the Jew Abraham, and the more or less apocryphal oracles of the Emerald Table of Hermes. Everywhere one finds the traces of that decade of Pythagoras, which is so magnificently applied in the Sepher Yetzirah to the complete and absolute notion of divine things, that decade composed of unity and a triple ternary which the Rabbis have called the Berashith, and the Mercavah, the luminous tree of the Sephiroth, and the key of the Shemhamphorash.
We have spoken at some length in our book entitled Dogme et rituel de la haute magie of a hieroglyphic monument (preserved up to our own time under a futile pretext) which alone explains all the mysterious writings of high initiation. This monument is that Tarot of the Bohemians which gave rise to our games of cards. It is composed of twenty-two allegorical letters, and of four series of ten hieroglyphs each, referring to the four letters of the name of Jehovah. The diverse combinations of those signs, and the numbers which correspond to them, form so many qabalistic oracles, so that the whole science is contained in this mysterious book. This perfectly simple philosophical machine astonishes by the depth of its results.
The Abbe Trithemius, one of our greatest masters in magic, composed a very ingenious work, which he calls Polygraphy, upon the qabalistic alphabet. It is a combined series of progressive alphabets where each letter represents a word, the words correspond to each other, and complete themselves from one alphabet to another; and there is no doubt that Trithemius was acquainted with the Tarot, and made use of it to set his learned combinations in logical order.
Jerome Cardan was acquainted with the symbolical alphabet of the initiates, as one may recognize by the number and disposition of the chapters of his work on Subtlety. This work, in fact, is composed of twenty-two chapters, and the subject of each chapter is analogous to the number and to the allegory of the corresponding card of the Tarot. We have made the same observation on a book of St. Martin entitled A Natural Picture of the Relations which exist between God, Man and the Universe. The tradition of this secret has, then, never been interrupted from the first ages of the Qabalah to our own times.
The table-turners, and those who make the spirits speak with alphabetical charts, are, then, a good many centuries behind the times; they do not know that there exists an oracular instrument whose words are always clear and always accurate, by means of which one can communicate with the seven genii of the planets, and make to speak at will the seventy-two wheels of Assiah, of Yetzirah, and of Briah. For that purpose it is sufficient to understand the system of universal analogies, such as Swedenborg has set it forth in the hieroglyphic key of the arcana; then to mix the cards together, and draw from them by chance, always grouping them by the numbers corresponding to the ideas on which one desires enlightenment; then, reading the oracles as qabalistic writings ought to be read, that is to say, beginning in the middle and going from right to left for odd numbers, beginning on the right for even numbers, and interpreting successively the number for the letter which corresponds to it, the grouping of the letters by the addition of their numbers, and all the successive oracles by their numerical order, and their hieroglyphic relations.
This operation of the qabalistic sages, originally intended to discover the rigorous development of absolute ideas, degenerated into superstition when it fell into the hands of the ignorant priests and the nomadic ancestors of the Bohemians who possessed the Tarot in the Middle Ages; they did not know how to employ it properly, and used it solely for fortune-telling.
The game of chess, attributed to Palamedes, has no other origin than the Tarot, and one finds there the same combinations and the same symbols: the king, the queen, the knight, the soldier, the fool, the tower, and houses representing numbers. In old times, chess-players sought upon their chess-board the solution of philosophical and religious problems, and argued silently with each other in manoeuvring the hieroglyphic characters across the numbers. Our vulgar game of goose, revived from the old Grecian game, and also attributed to Palamedes, is nothing but a chess-board with motionless figures and numbers movable by means of dice. It is a Tarot disposed in the form of a wheel, for the use of aspirants to initiation. Now, the word Tarot, in which one finds "rota" and "tora," itself expresses, as William Postel has demonstrated, this primitive disposition in the form of a wheel.
The hieroglyphs of the game of goose are simpler than those of the Tarot, but one finds the same symbols in it: the juggler, the king, the queen, the tower, the devil or Typhon, death, and so on. The dice-indicated chances of the game represent those of life, and conceal a highly philosophical sense sufficiently profound to make sages meditate, and simple enough to be understood by children.
The allegorical personage Palamedes, is, however, identical with Enoch, Hermes, and Cadmus, to whom various mythologies have attributed the invention of letters. But, in the conception of Homer, Palamedes, the man who exposed the fraud of Ulysses and fell a victim to his revenge, represents the initiator or the man of genius whose eternal destiny is to be killed by those whom he initiates. The disciple does not become the living realization of the thoughts of the Master until he had drunk his blood and eaten his flesh, to use the energetic and allegorical expression of the initiator, so ill understood by Christians.
The conception of the primitive alphabet was, as one may easily see, the idea of a universal language which should enclose in its combinations, and even in its signs themselves, the recapitulation and the evolutionary law of all sciences, divine and human. In our own opinion, nothing finer or greater has ever been dreamt by the genius of man; and we are convinced that the discovery of this secret of the ancient world has fully repaid us for so many years of sterile research and thankless toil in the crypts of lost sciences and the cemeteries of the past.
One of the first results of this discovery should be to give a new direction to the study of the hieroglyphic writings as yet so imperfectly deciphered by the rivals and successors of M. Champollion.
The system of writing of the disciples of Hermes being analogical and synthetical, like all the signs of the Qabalah, would it not be useful, in order to read the pages engraved upon the stones of the ancient temples, to replace these stones in their place, and to count the numbers of their letters, comparing them with the numbers of other stones?
The obelisk of Luxor, for example, was it not one of the two columns at the entrance of a temple? Was it at the right-hand or the left-hand pillar? If at the right, these signs refer to the active principle; if at the left, it is by the passive principle that one must interpret its characters. But there should be an exact correspondence of one obelisk with the other, and each sign should receive its complete sense from the analogy of contraries. M. Champollion found Coptic in the hieroglyphics, another savant would perhaps find more easily, and more fortunately, Hebrew; but what would one say if it were neither Hebrew nor Coptic? If it were, for example, the universal primitive language? Now, this language, which was that of the transcendental Qabalah, did certainly exist; more, it still exists at the base of Hebrew itself, and of all the oriental languages which derive from it; this language is that of the sanctuary, and the columns at the entrance of the temples ordinarily contained all its symbols. The intuition of the ecstatics comes nearer to the truth with regard to these primitive signs that even the science of the learned, because, as we have said, the universal vital fluid, the astral light, being the mediating principle between the ideas and the forms, is obedient to the extraordinary leaps of the soul which seeks the unknown, and furnishes it naturally with the signs already found, but forgotten, of the great revelations of occultism. Thus are formed the pretended signatures of spirits, thus were produced the mysterious writings of Gablidone, who appeared to Dr. Lavater, the phantoms of Schroepfer, of St. Michel-Vintras, and the spirits of Mr. Home.
If electricity can move a light, or even a heavy body, without one touching it, is it impossible to give by magnetism a direction to electricity, and to produce, thus naturally, signs and writings? One can do it, doubtless; because one does it.
Thus, then, to those who ask us, "What is the most important agent of miracles?" we shall reply —
"It is the first matter of the Great Work.
"It is MAGNETIZED ELECTRICITY."
Everything has been created by light.
It is in light that form is preserved.
It is by light that form reproduces itself.
The vibrations of light are the principle of universal movement.
By light, the suns are attached to each other, and they interlace their rays like chains of electricity.
Men and things are magnetized by light like the suns, and, by means of electro-magnetic chains whose tension is caused by sympathies and affinities, are able to communicate with each other from one end of the world to the other, to caress or strike, wound or heal, in a manner doubtless natural, but invisible, and of the nature of prodigy.
There is the secret of magic.
Magic, that science which comes to us from the magi!
Magic, the first of sciences!
Magic, the holiest science, because it establishes in the sublimest manner the great religious truths!
Magic, the most calumniated of all, because the vulgar obstinately confound magic with the superstitious sorcery whose abominable practices we have denounced!
It is only by magic that one can reply to the enigmatical questions of the Sphinx of Thebes, and find the solution of those problems of religious history which are sealed in the sometimes scandalous obscurities which are to be found in the stories of the Bible.
The sacred historians themselves recognize the existence and the power of the magic which boldly rivalled that of Moses.
The Bible tells us that Jannes and Jambres, Pharaoh's magicians, at first performed the same miracles as Moses, and that they declared those which they could not imitate impossible to human science. It is in fact more flattering to the self-love of a charlatan to deem that a miracle has taken place, than to declare himself conquered by the science or skill of a fellow-magician — above all, when he is a political enemy or a religious adversary.
When does the possible in magical miracles begin and end? Here is a serious and important question. What is certain is the existence of the facts which one habitually describes as miracles. Magnetizers and sleep-wakers do them every day; Sister Rose Tamisier did them; the "illuminated" Vintras does them still; more than fifteen thousand witnesses recently attested those of the American mediums; ten thousand peasants of Berry and Sologne would attest, if need were, those of the god Cheneau (a retired button-merchant who believes himself inspired by God). Are all these people hallucinated or knaves? Hallucinated, yes, perhaps, but the very fact that their hallucination is identical, whether separately or collectively, is it not a sufficiently great miracle on the part of him who produces it, always, at will, and at a stated time and place?
To do miracles, and to persuade the multitude that one does them, are very nearly the same thing, above all in a century as frivolous and scoffing as ours. Now, the world is full of wonder-makers, and science is often reduced to denying their works or refusing to see them, in order not to be reduced to examining them, or assigning a cause to them.
In the last century all Europe resounded with the miracles of Cagliostro. Who is ignorant of what powers were attributed to his 'wine of Egypt,' and to his 'elixir'? What can we add to the stories that they tell of his other- world suppers, where he made appear in flesh and blood the illustrious personages of the past? Cagliostro was, however, far from being an initiate of the first order, since the Great White Brotherhood abandoned him
to the Roman Inquisition, before whom he made, if one can believe the documents to his trial, so ridiculous and so odious an explanation of the Masonic trigram, L.'. P.'. D.'.
But miracles are not the exclusive privilege of the first order of initiates; they are often performed by beings without education or virtue. Natural laws find an opportunity in an organism whose exceptional qualifications are not clear to us, and they perform their work with their invariable precision and calm. The most refined gourmets appreciate truffles, and employ them for their purposes, but it is hogs that dig them up: it is analogically the same for plenty of things less material and less gastronomical: instincts have groping presentiments, but it is really only science which discovers.
The actual progress of human knowledge has diminished by a great deal the chances of prodigies, but there still remains a great number, since both the power of the imagination and the nature and power of magnetism are not yet known. The observation of universal analogies, moreover, has been neglected, and for that reason divination is no longer believed in.
A qabalistic sage may, then, still astonish the crowd and even bewilder the educated:
1° — By divining hidden things; 2° — by prediction many things to come; 3° — by dominating the will of others so as to prevent them doing what they will, and forcing them to do what they do not will; 4° — by exciting apparitions and dreams; 5° — by curing a large number of illnesses; 6° — by restoring life to subjects who display all the symptoms of death; 7° — lastly, by demonstrating (if need be, by examples) the reality of the philosophical stone, and the transmutation of metals, according to the secrets of Abraham the Jew, of Flamel, and of Raymond Lully.
All these prodigies are accomplished by means of a single agent which the Hebrew calls OD, as did the Chevalier de Reichenback, which we, with the School of Pasqualis Martinez, call astral light, which Mr. de Mirville calls the devil, and which the ancient alchemists called Azoth. It is the vital element which manifests itself by the phenomena of heat, light, electricity and magnetism, which magnetizes all terrestrial globes, and all living beings.
In this agent even are manifested the proofs of the qabalistic doctrine with regard to equilibrium and motion, by double polarity; when one pole attracts the other repels, one produces heat, the other cold, one gives a blue or greenish light, the other a yellow or reddish light.
This agent, by its different methods of magnetization, attracts us to each other, or estranges us from each other, subordinates one to the wishes of the other by causing him to enter his centre of attraction, re-establishes or disturbs the equilibrium in animal economy by its transmutations and its alternate currents, receives and transmits the imprints of the force of imagination which is in men the image and the semblance of the creative word, and thus produces presentiments and determines dreams. The science of miracles is then the knowledge of this marvellous force, and the art of doing miracles is simply the art of magnetizing or illuminating beings, according to the invariable laws of magnetism or astral light.
We prefer the word "light" to the word "magnetism," because it is more traditional in occultism, and expresses in a more complete and perfect manner the nature of the secret agent. There is, in truth, the liquid and drinkable gold of the masters in alchemy; the word "OR" (the French word for "gold") comes from the Hebrew "AOUR" which signifies "light." "What do you wish?" they asked the candidate in every initiation: "To see the light," should be their answer. The name of illuminati which one ordinarily gives to adepts, has then been generally very badly interpreted by giving to it a mystical sense, as if it signified men whose intelligence believes itself to be lighted by a miraculous day. 'Illuminati' means simply, knowers and possessors of the light, either by the knowledge of the great magical agent, or by the rational and ontological notion of the absolute.
The universal agent is a force tractable and subordinate to intelligence. Abandoned to itself, it, like Moloch, devours rapidly all that to which it gives birth, and changes the superabundance of life into immense destruction. It is, then, the infernal serpent of the ancient myths, the Typhon of the Egyptians, and the Moloch of Phoenicia; but if Wisdom, mother of the Elohim, puts her foot upon his head, she outwears all the flames which he belches forth, and pours with full hands upon the earth a vivifying light. Thus also it is said in the Zohar that at the beginning of our earthly period, when the elements disputed among themselves the surface of the earth, that fire, like an immense serpent, had enveloped everything in its coils, and was about to consume all beings, when divine clemency, raising around it the waves of the sea like a vestment of clouds, put her foot upon the head of the serpent and made him re-enter the abyss. Who does not see in this allegory the first idea, and the most reasonable explanation, of one of the images dearest to Catholic symbolism, the triumph of the Mother of God?
The qabalists say that the occult name of the devil, his true name, is that of Jehovah written backwards. This, for the initiate, is a complete revelation of the mysteries of the tetragram. In fact, the order of the letters of that great name indicates the predominance of the idea over form, of the active over the passive, of cause over effect. By reversion that order one obtains the contrary. Jehovah is he who tames Nature as it were a superb horse and makes it go where he will; Chavajoh (the demon) is the horse without a bridle who, like those of the Egyptians of the song of Moses, falls upon its rider, and hurls him beneath it, into the abyss.
The devil, then, exists really enough for the qabalists; but it is neither a person nor a distinguished power of even the forces of Nature. The devil is dispersion, or the slumber of the intelligence. It is madness and falsehood.
Thus are explained the nightmares of the Middle Ages; thus, too, are explained the bizarre symbols of some initiates, those of the Templars, for example, who are much less to be blamed for having worshipped Baphomet, than for allowing its image to be perceived by the profane. Baphomet, pantheistic figure of the universal agent, is nothing else than the bearded devil of the alchemists. One knows that the members of the highest grades in the old hermetic masonry attributed to a bearded demon the accomplishment of the Great Work. At this word, the vulgar hastened to cross themselves, and to hide their eyes, but the initiates of the cult of Hermes-Pantheos understood the allegory, and were very careful not to explain it to the profane.
Mr. de Mirville, in a book to-day almost forgotten, though it made some noise a few months ago, gives himself a great deal of trouble to compile an account of various sorceries, of the kind which fill the compilations of people like Delancre, Delrio, and Bodin. He might have found better than that in history. And without speaking of the easily attested miracles of the Jansenists of Port Royal, and of the Deacon Paris, what is more marvellous than the great monomania of martyrdom which has made children, and even women, during three hundred years, go to execution as if to a feast? What more magnificent than that enthusiastic faith accorded during so many centuries to the most incomprehensible, and, humanly speaking, to the most revolting mysteries? On this occasion, you will say, the miracles came from God, and one even employs them as a proof of the truth of religion. But, what? heretics, too, let themselves be killed for dogmas, this time quite frankly and really absurd. They then sacrificed both their reason and their life to their belief? Oh, for heretics, it is evident that the devil was responsible. Poor folk, who took the devil for God, and God for the devil! Why have they not been undeceived by making them recognize the true God by the charity, the knowledge, the justice, and above all, by the mercy of his ministers?
The necromancers who cause the devil to appear after a fatiguing and almost impossible series of the most revolting evocations, are only children by the side of that St. Anthony of the legend who drew them from hell by thousands, and dragged them everywhere after him, like Orpheus, who attracted to him oaks, rocks and the most savage animals.
Callot alone, initiated by the wandering Bohemians during his infancy into the mysteries of black sorcery, was able to understand and reproduce the evocations of the first hermit. And do you think that in retracing those frightful dreams of maceration and fasting, the makers of legends have invented? No; they have remained far below the truth. The cloisters, in fact, have always been peopled with nameless spectres, and their walls have palpitated with shadows and infernal larvae. St. Catherine of Siena on one occasion passed a week in the midst of an obscene orgy which would have discouraged the lust of Pietro di Aretino; St. Theresa felt herself carried away living into hell, and there suffered, between walls which ever closed upon her, tortures which only hysterical women will be able to understand. … All that, one will say, happened in the imagination of the sufferers. But where, then, would you expect facts of a supernatural order to take place? What is certain is that all these visionaries have seen and touched, that they have had the most vivid feeling of a formidable reality. We speak of it from our own experience, and there are visions of our own first youth, passed in retreat and asceticism, whose memory makes us shudder even now.
God and the devil are the ideals of absolute good and evil. But man never conceives absolute evil, save as a false idea of good. Good only can be absolute; and evil is only relative to our ignorance, and to our errors. Every man, in order to be a God, first makes himself a devil; but as the law of solidarity is universal, the hierarchy exists in hell as it does in heaven. A wicked man will always find one more wicked than himself to do him harm; and when the evil is at its climax, it must cease, for it could only continue by the annihilation of being, which is impossible. Then the man-devils, at the end of their resources, fall once more under the empire of the god-men, and are saved by those whom one at first thought their victims; but the man who strives to live a life of evil deeds, does homage to good by all the intelligence and energy that he develops in himself. For this reason the great initiator said in his figurative language: "I would that thou wert cold or hot; but because thou art lukewarm, I will spew thee out of my mouth."
The Great Master, in one of his parables, condemns only the idle man who buried his treasure from fear of losing it in the risky operations of that bank which we call life. To think nothing, to love nothing, to wish for nothing, to do nothing — that is the real sin. Nature only recognizes and rewards workers.
The human will develops itself and increases itself by its own activity. In order to will truly, one must act. Action always dominates inertia and drags it at its chariot wheels. This is the secret of the influence of the alleged wicked over the alleged good. How many poltroons and cowards think themselves virtuous because they are afraid to be otherwise! How many respectable women cast an envious eye upon prostitutes! It is not very long ago since convicts were in fashion. Why? Do you think that public opinion can ever give homage to vice? No, but it can do justice to activity and bravery, and it is right that cowardly knaves should esteem bold brigands.
Boldness united to intelligence is the mother of all successes in this world. To undertake, one must know; to accomplish, one must will; to will really, one must dare; and in order to gather in peace the fruits of one's audacity, one must keep silent.
TO KNOW, TO DARE, TO WILL, TO KEEP SILENT, are, as we have said elsewhere, the four qabalistic words which correspond to the four letters of the tetragram and to the four hieroglyphic forms of the Sphinx. To know, is the human head; to dare, the claws of the lion; to will, the mighty flanks of the bull; to keep silent, the mystical wings of the eagle. He only maintains his position above other men who does not prostitute the secrets of his intelligence to their commentary and their laughter.
All men who are really strong are magnetizers, and the universal agent obeys their will. It is thus that they work marvels. They make themselves believed, they make themselves followed, and when they say, "This is thus," Nature changes (in a sense) to the eyes of the vulgar, and becomes what the great man wished. "This is my flesh and this is my blood," said a Man who had made himself God by his virtues; and eighteen centuries, in the presence of a piece of bread and a little wine, have seen, touched, tasted and adored flesh and blood made divine by martyrdom! Say now, that the human will accomplishes no miracles!
Do not let us here speak of Voltaire! Voltaire was not a wonder-worker, he was the witty and eloquent interpreter of those on whom the miracle no longer acted. Everything in his work is negative; everything was affirmative, on the contrary, in that of the "Galilean," as an illustrious and too unfortunate Emperor called Him.
And yet Julian in his time attempted more than Voltaire could accomplish; he wished to oppose miracles to miracles, the austerity of power to that of revolt, virtues to virtues, wonders to wonders; the Christians never had a more dangerous enemy, and they recognized the fact, for Julian was assassinated; and the Golden Legend still bears witness that a holy martyr, awakened in his tomb by the clamour of the Church, resumed his arms, and struck the Apostate in the darkness, in the midst of his army and of his victories. Sorry martyrs, who rise from the dead to become hangmen! Too credulous Emperor, who believed in his gods, and in the virtues of the past!
When the kings of France were hedged around with the adoration of their people, when they were regarded as the Lord's anointed, and the eldest sons of the Church, they cured scrofula. A man who is the fashion can always do miracles when he wishes. Cagliostro may have been only a charlatan, but as soon as opinion had made of him "the divine Cagliostro," he was expected to work miracles; and they happened.
When Cephas Barjona was nothing but a Jew proscribed by Nero, retailing to the wives of slaves a specific for eternal life, Cephas Barjona, for all educated people of Rome, was only a charlatan; but public opinion made an apostle of the Spiritualistic empiric; and the successors of Peter, were they Alexander VI, or even John XXII, are infallible for every man who is properly brought up, who does not wish to put himself uselessly outside the pale of society. So goes the world.
Charlatanism, when it is successful, is then, in magic as in everything else, a great instrument of power. To fascinate the mob cleverly, is not that already to dominate it? The poor devils of sorcerers who in the Middle Ages stupidly got themselves burnt alive had not, it is easy to see, a great empire on others. Joan of Arc was a magician at the head of her armies, and at Rouen the poor girl was not even a witch. She only knew how to pray, and how to fight, and the prestige which surrounded her ceased as soon as she was in chains. Does history tell us that the King of France demanded her release? That the French nobility, the people, the army protested against her condemnation? The Pope, whose eldest son was the King of France, did he excommunicate the executioners of the Maid of Orleans? No, nothing of all that! Joan of Arc was a sorceress for every one as soon as she ceased to be a magician, and it was certainly not the English alone who burned her. When one exercises an apparently superhuman power, one must exercise it always, or resign oneself to perish. The world always avenges itself in a cowardly way for having believed too much, admired too much, and above all, obeyed too much.
We only understand magic power in its application to great matters. If a true practical magician does not make himself master of the world, it is that he disdains it. To what, then, would he degrade his sovereign power? "I will give thee all the kingdoms of the world, if thou wilt fall at my feet and worship me," the Satan of the parable said to Jesus. "Get thee behind me, Satan," replied the Saviour; "for it is written, Thou shalt adore God alone." … "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI!" was what this sublime and divine adorer of God cried later. If he had replied to Satan, "I will not adore thee, and it is thou who wilt fall at my feet, for I bid thee in the name of intelligence and eternal reason," he would not have consigned his holy and noble life to the most frightful of all tortures. The Satan of the mountain was indeed cruelly avenged!
The ancients called practical magic the sacerdotal and royal art, and one remembers that the magi were the masters of primitive civilization, because they were the masters of all the science of their time.
To know is to be able when one dares to will.
The first science of the practical qabalist, or the magus, is the knowledge of men. Phrenology, psychology, chiromancy, the observation of tastes and of movement, of the sound of the voice and of either sympathetic or antipathetic impressions, are branches of this art, and the ancients were not ignorant of them. Gall and Spurzheim in our days have rediscovered phrenology. Lavater, following Porta, Cardan, Taisnier, Jean Belot and some others have divined anew rather than rediscovered the science of psychology; chiromancy is still occult, and one scarcely finds traces of it in the quite recent and very interesting work of d'Arpentigny. In order to have sufficient notions of it, one must remount to the qabalistic sources themselves from which the learned Cornelius Agrippa drew water. It is, then, convenient to say a few words on the subject while waiting for the work of our friend Desbarrolles.
The hand is the instrument of action in man: it is, like the face, a sort of synthesis of the nervous system, and should also have features and physiognomy. The character of the individual is traced there by undeniable signs. Thus, among hands, some are laborious, some are idle, some square and heavy, others insinuating and light. Hard and dry hands are made for strife and toil, soft and damp hands ask only for pleasure. Pointed fingers are inquisitive and mystical, square fingers mathematical, spatulated fingers obstinate and ambitious.
The thumb, pollex, the finger of force and power, corresponds in the qabalistic symbolism to the first letter of the name of Jehovah. This finger is then a synthesis of the hand: if it is strong, the man is morally strong; if it is weak, the man is weak. It has three phalanges, of which the first is hidden in the palm of the hand, as the imaginary axis of the world traverses the thickness of the earth. This first phalanx corresponds to the physical life, the second to the intelligence, the third to the will. Greasy and thick palms denote sensual tastes and great force of physical life; a thumb which is long, especially in its last phalanx, reveals a strong will, which may go as far as despotism; short thumbs, on the contrary, show characters gentle and easily controlled.
The habitual folds of the hand determine its lines. These lines are, then, the traces of habits, and the patient observer will know how to recognize them and how to judge them. The man whose hand folds badly is clumsy or unhappy. The hand has three principal functions: to grasp, to hold, and to handle. The subtlest hands seize and handle best; hard and strong hands hold longer. Even the lightest wrinkles bear witness to the habitual sensations of the organ. Each finger has, besides, a special function from which it takes its name. We have already spoken of the thumb; the index is the finger which points out, it is that of the word and of prophecy; the medius dominates the whole hand, it is that of destiny; the ring-finger is that of alliances and of honours: chiromancers have consecrated it to the sun; the little finger is insinuating and talkative, at least, so say simple folk and nursemaids, whose little finger tells them so much. The hand has seven protuberances which the qabalists, following natural analogies, have attributed to the seven planets: that of the thumb, to Venus; that of the index to Jupiter; that of the medius, to Saturn; that of the ring-finger to the Sun; that of the little finger, to Mercury; the two others to Mars and to the Moon. According to their form and their predominance, they judged the inclinations, the aptitudes, and consequently the probable destinies of the individuals who submitted themselves to their judgment.
There is no vice which does not leave its trace, no virtue which has not its sign. Thus, for the trained eyes of the observer, no hypocrisy is possible. One will understand that such a science is already a power indeed sacerdotal and royal.
The prediction of the principal events of life is already possible by means of the numerous analogical probabilities of this observation: but there exists a faculty called that of presentiments or sensitivism. Events exist often in their causes before realizing themselves in action; sensitives see in advance the effects in the causes. Previous to all great events, there have been most astonishing predictions. In the reign of Louis Philippe we heard sleep-walkers and ecstatics announce the return of the Empire, and specify the date of its coming. The Republic of 1848 was clearly announced in the prophecy of Orval, which dated at least from 1830 and which we strongly suspect to be, like those works attributed to the brothers Olivarius, the posthumous work of Mlle. Lenormand. This is a matter of little importance in this thesis.
That magnetic light which causes the future to appear, also causes things at present existing, but hidden, to be guessed; as it is the universal life, it is also the agent of human sensibility, transmitting to some the sickness or the health of others, according to the fatal influence of contracts, or the laws of the will. It is that which explains the power of benedictions and of bewitchments so clearly recognized by the great adepts, and above all by the wonderful Paracelsus. An acute and judicious critic, Mr. Ch. Fauvety, in an article published by the Revue philosophique et religieuse, appreciates in a remarkable manner the advanced works of Paracelsus, of Pomponacius, of Goglienus, or Crollis, and of Robert Fludd on magnetism. But what our learned friend and collaborator studies only as a philosophical curiosity, Paracelsus and his followers practised without being very anxious that the world should understand it; for it was for them one of those traditional secrets with regard to which silence is necessary, and which it is sufficient to indicate to those who know, leaving always a veil upon the truth for the ignorant.
Now here is what Paracelsus reserved for initiates alone, and what we have understood through deciphering the qabalistic characters, and the allegories of which he makes use in his work:
The human soul is material; the divine mens is offered to it to immortalize it and to make it live spiritually and individually, but its natural substance is fluidic and collective.
There are, then, in man, two lives: the individual or reasonable life, and the common or instinctive life. It is by this latter that one can live in the bodies of others, since the universal soul, of which each nervous organism has a separate consciousness, is the same for all.
We live in a common and universal life in the embryonic state, in ecstasy, and in sleep. In sleep, in fact, reason does not act, and logic, when it mingles in our dreams, only does so by chance, in accordance with the accidents of purely physical reminiscences.
In dreams, we have the consciousness of the universal life; we mingle ourselves with water, fire, air, and earth; we fly like birds; we climb like squirrels; we crawl like serpents; we are intoxicated with astral light; we plunge into the common reservoir, as happens in a more complete manner in death; but then (and it is thus that Paracelsus explains the mysteries of the other life) the wicked, that is to say, those who have allowed themselves to be dominated by the instinct of the brute to the prejudice of human reason, are drowned in the ocean of the common life with all the anguish of eternal death; the others swim upon it, and enjoy for ever the riches of that fluid gold which they have succeeded in dominating.
This identity of all physical life permits the stronger souls to possess themselves of the existence of the others, and to make auxiliaries of them; it explains sympathetic currents either near or distant, and gives the whole secret of occult medicine, because the principle of this medicine is the grand hypothesis of universal analogies, and, attributing all the phenomena of physical life to the universal agent, teaches that one must act upon the astral body in order to react upon the material visible body; it teaches also that the essence of the astral light is a double movement of attraction and repulsion; just as human bodies attract and repel one another, they can also absorb themselves, extend one into another, and make exchanges; the ideas or imaginations of one can influence the form of the other, and subsequently react upon the exterior body.
Thus are produced the so strange phenomena of maternal impressions, thus the neighbourhood of invalids gives bad dreams, and thus the soul breathes in something unwholesome when in the company of fools and knaves.
One may remark that in boarding-schools the children tend to assimilate in physiognomy; each place of education has, so to speak, a family air which is peculiar to it. In orphan schools conducted by nuns all the girls resemble each other, and all take on that obedient and effaced physiognomy which characterizes ascetic education. Men become handsome in the school of enthusiasm, of the arts, and of glory; they become ugly in prison, and of sad countenance in seminaries and in convents.
Here it will be understood we leave Paracelsus, in order that we may investigate the consequences and applications of his ideas, which are simply those of the ancient magi, and to study the elements of that physical Qabalah which we call magic.
According to the qabalistic principles formulated by the school of Paracelsus, death is nothing but a slumber, ever growing deeper and more definite, a slumber which it would not be impossible to stop in its early stages by exercising a powerful action of will on the astral body as it breaks loose, and by recalling it to life through some powerful interest or some dominating affection. Jesus expressed the same thought when he said to the daughter of Jairus: "The maiden is not dead, but sleepeth"; and of Lazarus: "Our friend is fallen asleep, and I go to wake him." To express this resurrectionist system in such a manner as not to offend common sense, by which we mean generally-held opinions, let us say that death, when there is no destruction or essential alteration of the physical organs, is always preceded by a lethargy of varying duration. (The resurrection of Lazarus, if we could admit it as a scientific fact, would prove that this state may last for four days.
Let us now come to the secret of the Great Work, which we have given only in Hebrew, without vowel points, in the Rituel de la haute magie.
Here is the complete text in Latin, as one finds in on page 144 of the Sepher Yetzirah, commented by the alchemist Abraham (Amsterdam, 1642):
Vocatur intelligentia perpetua; et quare vocatur ita? Eo quod ducit motum solis et lunae juxta constitutionem eorum; utrumque in orbe sibi conveniente.
Rabbi Abraham F∴D∴ dicit:
Semita trigesima prima vocatur intelligentia perpetua: et illa ducit solem et lunam et reliquas stellas et figuras, unum quodque in orbe suo, et impertit omnibus creatis juxta dispositionem ad signa et figuras.
Here is the French translation of the Hebrew text which we have transcribed in our ritual:
"The thirty-first path is called the perpetual intelligence; and it governs the sun and the moon, and the other stars and figures, each in its respective orb. And it distributes what is needful to all created things, according to their disposition to the signs and figures."
This text, one sees, is still perfectly obscure for whoever is not acquainted with the characteristic value of each of the thirty-two paths. The thirty-two paths are the ten numbers and the twenty-two hieroglyphic letters of the Qabalah. The thirty-first refers to ש
, which represents the magic lamp, or the light between the horns of Baphomet. It is the qabalistic sign of the OD, or astral light, with its two poles, and its balanced centre. One knows that in the language of the alchemist the sun signifies gold, the moon silver, and that the other stars or planets refer to the other metals. One should now be able to understand the thought of the Jew Abraham.
The secret fire of the masters of alchemy was, then, electricity; and there is the better half of their grand arcanum; but they knew how to equilibrate its force by a magnetic influence which they concentrated in their athanor. This is what results from the obscure dogmas of Basil Valentine, of Bernard Trevisan, and of Henry Khunrath, who, all of them, pretended to have worked the transmutation, like Raymond Lully, like Arnaud de Villeneuve, and like NIcholas Flamel.
The universal light, when it magnetizes the worlds, is called astral light; when it forms the metals, one calls it azoth, or philosophical mercury; when it gives life to animals, it should be called animal magnetism.
The brute is subject to the fatalities of this light; man is able to direct it.
It is the intelligence which, by adapting the sign to the thought, creates forms and images.
The universal light is like the divine imagination, and this world, which changes ceaselessly, yet ever remaining the same with regard to the laws of its configuration, is the vast dream of God.
Man formulates the light by his imagination; he attracts to himself the light in sufficient quantities to give suitable forms to his thoughts and even to his dreams; if this light overcomes him, if he drowns his understanding in the forms which he evokes, he is mad. But the fluidic atmosphere of madmen is often a poison for tottering reason and for exalted imaginations.
The forms which the over-excited imagination produces in order to lead astray the understanding, are as real as photographic images. One could not see what does not exist. The phantoms of dreams, and even the dreams of the waking, are then real images which exist in the light.
There exist, besides these, contagious hallucinations. But we here affirm something more than ordinary hallucinations.
If the images attracted by diseased brains are in some sense real, can they not throw them without themselves, as real as they relieve them?
These images projected by the complete nervous organism of the medium, can they not affect the compete organism of those who, voluntarily or not, are in nervous sympathy with the medium?
The things accomplished by Mr. Home prove that all this is possible.
Now, let us reply to those who think that they see in these phenomena manifestations of the other world and facts of necromancy.
We shall borrow our answer from the sacred book of the qabalists, and in this our doctrine is that of the rabbis who compiled the Zohar.
The spirit clothes itself to descend, and strips itself to rise.
Why are created spirits clothed with bodies?
It is that they must be limited in order to have a possible existence. Stripped of all body, and become consequently without limit, created spirits would lose themselves in the infinite, and from lack of the power to concentrate themselves somewhere, they would be dead and impotent everywhere, lost as they would be in the immensity of God.
All created spirits have, then, bodies, some subtler, some grosser, according to the surroundings in which they are called to live.
The soul of a dead man would, then, not be able to live in the atmosphere of the living, any more than we can live in earth or in water.
For an airy, or rather an ethereal, spirit, it would be necessary to have an artificial body similar to the apparatus of our divers, in order that it might come to us.
All that we can see of the dead are the reflections which they have left in the atmospheric light, light whose imprints we evoke by the sympathy of our memories.
The souls of the dead are above our atmosphere. Our respirable air becomes earth for them. This is what the Saviour declares in His Gospel, when He makes the soul of a saint say:
"Now the great abyss is established between us, and those who are above can no longer descend to those who are below."
The hands which Mr. Home causes to appear are, then, composed of air coloured by the reflection which his sick imagination attracts and projects.
One touches them as one sees them; half illusion, half magnetic and nervous force.
These, it seems to us, are very precise and very clear explanations.
Let us reason a little with those who support the theory of apparitions from another world:
Either those hands are real bodies, or they are illusions.
If they are bodies, they are, then, not spirits.
If they are illusions produced by mirages, either in us, or outside ourselves, you admit my argument.
It is that all those who suffer from luminous congestion or contagious somnambulism, perish by a violent or, at least, a sudden death.
It is for this reason that one used to attribute to the devil the power of strangling sorcerers.
The excellent and worthy Lavater habitually evoked the alleged spirit of Gablidone.
A lemonade-seller of Leipzig, Schroepfer, evoked the animated images of the dead. He blew out his brains with a pistol.
One knows what was the unhappy end of Cagliostro.
A misfortune greater than death itself is the only thing that can save the life of these imprudent experimenters.
They may become idiots or madmen, and then they do not die, if one watches over them with care to prevent them from committing suicide.
Magnetic maladies are the road to madness; they are always born from the hypertrophy or atrophy of the nervous system.
They resemble hysteria, which is one of their varieties, and are often produced either by excesses of celibacy, or those or exactly the opposite kind.
One knows how closely connected with the brain are the organs charged by Nature with the accomplishment of her noblest work: those whose object is the reproduction of being.
One does not violate with impunity the sanctuary of Nature.
Without risking his own life, no one lifts the veil of the great Isis.
Nature is chaste, and it is to chastity that she gives the key of life.
To give oneself up to impure loves is to plight one's troth to death.
Liberty, which is the life of the soul, is only preserved in the order of Nature. Every voluntary disorder wounds it, prolonged excess murders it.
Then, instead of being guided and preserved by reason, one is abandoned to the fatalities of the ebb and flow of magnetic light.
The magnetic light devours ceaselessly, because it is always creating, and because, in order to produce continually, one must absorb eternally.
Thence come homicidal manias and temptations to commit suicide.
Thence comes that spirit of perversity which Edgar Poe has described in so impressive and accurate a manner, and which Mr. de Mirville would be right to call the devil.
The devil is the giddiness of the intelligence stupefied by the irresolution of the heart.
It is a monomania of nothingness, the lure of the abyss; independently of what it may be according to the decisions of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman faith, which we have not the temerity to touch.
As to the reproduction of signs and characters by that universal fluid, which we call astral light, to deny its possibility would be to take little account of the most ordinary phenomena of Nature.
The mirage in the steppes of Russia, the palace of Morgan le Fay, the figures printed naturally in the heart of stones which Gaffael calls gamahes, the monstrous deformities of certain children caused by impressions of the nightmares of their mothers, all these phenomena and many others prove that the light is full of reflections and images which it projects and reproduces according to the evocations of the imagination, of memory, or of desire. Hallucination is not always an objectless reverie: as soon as every one sees a thing it is certainly visible; but if this thing is absurd one must rigorously conclude that everybody is deceived or hallucinated by a real appearance.
To say (for example) that in the magnetic parties of Mr. Home real and living hands come out of the tables, true hands which some see, others touch, and by which still others feel themselves touched without seeing them, to say that these really corporeal hands are hands of spirits, is to speak like children or madmen; it implies a contradiction in terms. But to deem that such or such apparitions, such or such sensations, are produced, is simply to be sincere, and to mock the mockery of the normal man, even when these normal men are as witty as this or that editor of this or that comic journal.
These phenomena of the light which produce apparitions always appear at epochs when humanity is in labour. They are phantoms of the delirium of the world-fever; it is the hysteria of a bored society. Virgil tells us in fine verse that in the time of Caesar Rome was full of spectres; in the time of Vespasian the gates of the Temple of Jerusalem opened of themselves, and a voice was heard crying, "The gods depart." Now, when the gods depart, the devils return. Religious feeling transforms itself into superstition when faith is lost; for souls need to believe, because they thirst for hope. How can faith be lost? How can science doubt the infinite harmony? Because the sanctuary of the absolute is always closed for the majority. But the kingdom of truth, which is that of God, suffers violence, and the violent must take it by force. There exists a dogma, there exists a key, there exists a sublime tradition; and this dogma, this key, this tradition is transcendental magic. There only are found the absolute of knowledge and the eternal bases of law, guardian against all madness, all superstition and all error, the Eden of the intelligence, the ease of the heart, and the peace of the soul. We do not say this in the hope of convincing the scoffer, but only to guide the seeker. Courage and good hope to him; he will surely find, since we ourselves have found.
The magical dogma is not that of the mediums. The mediums who dogmatize can teach nothing but anarchy, since their inspiration is drawn from a disordered exaltation. They are always predicting disasters; they deny hierarchical authority; they pose, like Vintras, as sovereign pontiffs. The initiate, on the contrary, respects the hierarchy before all, he loves and preserves order, he bows before sincere beliefs, he loves all signs of immortality in faith, and of redemption by charity, which is all discipline and obedience. We have just read a book published under the influence of astral and magnetic intoxication, and we have been struck by the anarchical tendencies with which it is filled under a great appearance of benevolence and religion. At the head of this book one sees the symbol, or, as the magi call it, the signature, of the doctrines which it teaches. Instead of the Christian cross, symbol of harmony, alliance and regularity, one sees the tortuous tendrils of the vine, jutting from its twisted stem, images of hallucination and of intoxication.
The first ideas set forth by this book are the climax of the absurd. The souls of the dead, it says, are everywhere, and nothing any longer hems them in. It is an infinite overcrowded with gods, returning the one into the other. The souls can and do communicate with us by means of tables and hats. And so, no more regulated instruction, no more priesthood, no more Church, delirium set upon the throne of truth, oracles which write for the salvation of the human race the word attributed to Cambronne, great men who leave the serenity of their eternal destinies to make our furniture dance, and to hold with us conversations like those which Beroalde de Verville
makes them hold, in Le Moyen de Parvenir.
All this is a great pity; and yet, in America, all this is spreading like an intellectual plague. Young America raves, she has fever; she is, perhaps, cutting her teeth. But France! France to accept such things! No, it is not possible, and it is not so. But while they refuse the doctrines, serious men should observe the phenomena, remain calm in the midst of the agitations of all the fanaticisms (for incredulity also has its own), and judge after having examined.
To preserve one's reason in the midst of madmen, one's faith in the midst of superstitions, one's dignity in the midst of buffoons, and one's independence among the sheep of Panurge, is of all miracles the rarest, the finest, and the most difficult to accomplish.