The Key of the Mysteries

Part III

The Mysteries of Nature


Chapter II

The Power of the Word

It is the word which creates forms; and forms in their turn react upon the word, in order to modify it and complete it.
Every word of truth is a beginning of an act of justice.
One asks if man may sometimes be necessarily driven to evil. Yes, when his judgment is false, and consequently his word unjust.
But one is responsible for a false judgment as for a bad action.
What falsifies the judgment is selfishness and its unjust vanities.
The unjust word, unable to realize itself by creation, realizes itself by destruction. It must either slay or be slain.
If it were able to remain without action, it would be the greatest of all disorders, an abiding blasphemy against truth.
Such is that idle word of which Christ has said that one will give account at the Day of Judgment. A jesting word, a comicality which recreates and causes laughter, is not an idle word.
The beauty of the word is a splendour of truth. A true word in always beautiful, a beautiful word is always true.
For this reason works of art are always holy when they are beautiful.
What does it matter to me that Anacreon should sing of Bathyllus, if in his verse I hear the notes of that divine harmony which is the eternal hymn of beauty? Poetry is pure as the Sun: it spreads its veil of light over the errors of humanity. Woe to him who would lift the veil in order to perceive things ugly!
The Council of Trent decided that it was permissible for wise and prudent persons to read the books of the ancients, even those which were obscene, on account of the beauty of the form. A statue of Nero or of Heliogabalus made like a masterpiece of Phidias, would it not be an absolutely beautiful and absolutely good work? — and would not he deserve the execration of the whole world who would propose to break it because it was the representation of a monster?
Scandalous statues are those which are badly sculptured, and the Venus of Milo would be desecrated if one placed her beside some of the Virgins which they dare to exhibit in certain churches.
One realizes evil in books of morality ill-written far more than in the poetry of Catullus or the ingenious Allegories of Apuleius.
There are no bad books, except those which are badly conceived and badly executed.
Every word of beauty is a word of truth. It is a light crystallized in speech.
But in order that the most brilliant light may be produced and made visible, a shadow is necessary; and the creative word, that it may become efficacious, needs contradictions. It must submit to the ordeal of negation, of sarcasm, and then to that more cruel yet, of indifference and forgetfulness. The Master said: "If a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
Affirmation and negation must, then, marry each other, and from their union will be born the practical truth, the real and progressive word. It is necessity which should constrain the workmen to choose for the corner-stone that which they had at first despised and rejected. Let contradiction, then, never discourage men of initiative! Earth is necessary for the ploughshare, and the earth resists because it is in labour. It defends itself like all virgins; it conceives and brings forth slowly like all mothers. You, then, who wish to sow a new plant in the field of intelligence, understand and respect the modesties and reluctances of limited experience and slow-moving reason.
When a new word comes into the world, it needs swaddling clothes and bandages; genius brought it forth, but it is for experience to nourish it. Do not fear that it will die of neglect! Oblivion is for it a favourable time of rest, and contradictions help it to grow. When a sun bursts forth in space it creates worlds or attracts them to itself. A single spark of fixed light promises a universe to space.
All magic is in a word, and that word pronounced qabalistically is stronger than all the powers of Heaven, Earth and Hell. With the name of Jod hé vau hé, one commands Nature: kingdoms are conquered in the name of Adonai, and the occult forces which compose the empire of Hermes are one and all obedient to him who knows how to pronounce duly the incommunicable name of Agla.
In order to pronounce duly the great words of the Qabalah, one must pronounce them with a complete intelligence, with a will that nothing checks, an activity that nothing daunts. In magic, to have said is to have done; the word begins with letters, it ends with acts. One does not really will a thing unless one wills it with all one's heart, to the point of breaking for it one's dearest affections; and with all one's forces, to the point of risking one's health, one's fortune, and one's life.
It is by absolute devotion that faith proves itself and constitutes itself. But the man armed with such a faith will be able to move mountains.
The most fatal enemy of our souls is idleness. Inertia intoxicates us and sends us to sleep; but the sleep of inertia is corruption and death. The faculties of the human soul are like the waves of the ocean. To keep them sweet, they need the salt and bitterness of tears: they need the whirlwinds of Heaven: they need to be shaken by the storm.
When, instead of marching upon the path of progress, we wish to have ourselves carried, we are sleeping in the arms of death. It is to us that it is spoken, as to the paralytic man in the Gospel, "Take up thy bed and walk!" It is for us to carry death away, to plunge it into life.
Consider the magnificent and terrible metaphor of St. John; Hell is a sleeping fire. It is a life without activity and without progress; it is sulphur in stagnation: stagnum ignis et sulphuris.
The sleeping life is like the idle word, and it is of that that men will have to give an account in the Day of Judgment.
Intelligence speaks, and matter stirs. It will not rest until it has taken the form given to it by the word. Behold the Christian word, how for these nineteen centuries it has put the world to work! What battles of giants! How many errors set forth and rebutted! How much deceived and irritated Christianity lies at the bottom of Protestantism, from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth! Human egotism, in despair at its defeats, has whipped up all its stupidities in turn. They have re-clothed the Saviour of the world with every rag and with every mocking purple. After Jesus the Inquisitor they have invented the sans-culotte Jesus! Measure if you can all the tears and all the blood that have flowed; calculate audaciously all that will yet be shed before the arrival of the Messianic reign of the Man-God who shall submit at once all passions to powers and all powers to justice. Thy kingdom come! For nigh on nineteen hundred years, over the whole surface of the earth, this has been the cry of seven hundred million throats, and the Israelites yet await the Messiah! He said that he would come, and come he will. He came to die, and he has promised to return to live.

Heaven is the Harmony of Generous Sentiments.

Hell is the Conflict of Cowardly Instincts.

The lyre of Orpheus civilized savage Greece, and the lyre of Amphion built Thebes the Mysterious, because harmony is truth. The whole of Nature is harmony. But the Gospel is not a lyre: it is the book of the eternal principles which should and will regulate all the lyres and all the living harmonies of the universe.
While the world does not understand these three words: Truth, Reason, Justice, and these: Duty, Hierarchy, Society, the revolutionary motto, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," will be nothing but a threefold lie.
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