The Key of the Mysteries

The Fourth Part

The Great Practical Secrets
or the Realization of Science


The lofty sciences of the Qabalah and of Magic promise man an exceptional, real, effective, efficient power, and one should regard them as false and vain if they do not give it.

Judge the teachers by their works, said the supreme Master. This rule of judgment is infallible.

If you wish me to believe in what you know, show me what you do.

God, in order to exalt man to moral emancipation, hides Himself from him and abandons to him, after a fashion, the government of the world. He leaves Himself to be guessed by the grandeurs and harmonies of nature, so that man may progressively make himself perfect by ever exalting the idea that he makes for himself of its author.

Man knows God only by the names which he gives to that Being of beings, and does not distinguish Him but by the images of Him which he endeavours to trace. He is then in a manner the creator of Him Who has created him. He believes himself the mirror of God, and by indefinitely enlarging his own mirage, he thinks that he may be able to sketch in infinite space the shadow of Him Who is without body, without shadow, and without space.

To Create God, to create one's self, to make one's self independent, immortal and without suffering: there certainly is a programme more daring than the dream of Prometheus. Its expression is bold to the point of impiety, its thought ambitious to the point of madness. Well, this programme is only paradoxical in its form, which lends itself to a false and sacrilegious interpretation. In one sense it is perfectly reasonable, and the science of the adepts promises to realize it, and to accomplish it in perfection.

Man, in effect, creates for himself a God corresponding to his own intelligence and his own goodness; he cannot raise his ideal higher than his moral development permits him to do. The God whom he adores is always an enlargement of his own reflection. To conceive the absolute of goodness and justice is to be one's self exceeding just and good.

The moral qualities of the spirit are riches, and the greatest of all riches. One must acquire them by strife and toil. One may bring this objection, the inequality of aptitudes; some children are born with organisms nearer to perfection. But we ought to believe that such organisms result from a more advanced work of Nature, and the children who are endowed with them have acquired them, if not by their own efforts, at least by the consolidated works of the human beings to whom their existence is bound. It is a secret of Nature, and Nature does nothing by chance; the possession of more developed intellectual faculties, like that of money and land, constitutes an indefeasible right of transmission and inheritance.

Yes, man is called to complete the work of his creator, and every instant employed by him to improve himself or to destroy himself, is decisive for all eternity. It is by the conquest of an intelligence eternally clear and of a will eternally just, that he constitutes himself as living for eternal life, since nothing survives injustice and error but the penalty of their disorder. To understand good is to will it, and on the plane of justice to will is to do. For this reason the Gospel tells us that men will be judged according to their works.

Our works make us so much what we are, that our body itself, as we have said, receives the modification, and sometimes the complete change, of its form from our habits.

A form conquered, or submitted to, becomes a providence, or a fatality, for all one's existence. Those strange figures which the Egyptians gave to the human symbols of divinity represent the fatal forms. Typhon has a crocodile's head. He is condemned to eat ceaselessly in order to fill his hippopotamus belly. Thus he is devoted, by his greed and his ugliness, to eternal destruction.

Man can kill or vivify his faculties by negligence or by abuse. He can create for himself new faculties by the good use of those which he has received from Nature. People often say that the affections will not be commanded, that faith is not possible for all, that one does not re-make one's own character. All these assertions are true only for the idle or the perverse. One can make one's self faithful, pious, loving, devoted, when one wishes sincerely to be so. One can give to one's spirit the calm of justness, as to one's will the almighty power of justice. Once can reign in Heaven by virtue of faith, on earth by virtue of science. The man who knows how to command himself is king of all Nature.

We are going to state forthwith, in this last book, by what means the true initiates have made themselves the masters of life, how they have overcome sorrow and death; how they work upon themselves and others the transformation of Proteus; how they exercise the divining power of Apollonius; how they make the gold of Raymond Lully and of Flamel; how in order to renew their youth they possess the secrets of Postel the Re-arisen, and those alleged to have been in the keeping of Cagliostro. In short, we are going to speak the last word of magic.


Chapter IV

Arcanum Arcanorum

The great arcanum — that is to say, the unutterable and inexplicable secret — is the absolute knowledge of good and of evil.
"When you have eaten the fruit of this tree, you will be as the gods," said the Serpent.

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"If you eat of it, you will die," replied Divine Wisdom.
Thus good and evil bear fruit on one same tree, and from one same root.
Good personified is God.
Evil personified is the Devil.
To know the secret or the formula of God is to be God.
To know the secret or the formula of the Devil is to be the Devil.
To wish to be at the same time God and Devil is to absorb in one's self the most absolute antinomy, the two most strained contrary forces; it is the wish to shut up in one's self an infinite antagonism.
It is to drink a poison which would extinguish the suns and consume the worlds.[1]

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It is to put on the consuming robe of Deianira.
It is to devote one's self to the promptest and most terrible of all deaths.
Woe to him who wishes to know too much! For if excessive and rash knowledge does not kill him it will make him mad.
To eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, is to associate evil with good, and assimilate the one to the other.
It is to cover the radiant countenance of Osiris with the mask of Typhon.
It is to raise the sacred veil of Isis; it is to profane the sanctuary.

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The rash man who dares to look at the sun without protection becomes blind, and from that moment for him the sun is black.
We are forbidden to say more on this subject; we shall conclude our revelation by the figure of three pentacles.
These three stars will explain it sufficiently. They may be compared with that which we have caused to be drawn at the head of our "History of magic." By reuniting the four, one may arrive at the understanding of the Great Arcanum of Arcana.
It now remains for us to complete our work by giving the great key of William Postel.

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This key is that of the Tarot. There are four suits, wands, caps,{sic} swords, coins or pentacles, corresponding to the four cardinal points of Heaven, and the four living creatures or symbolic signs and numbers and letters formed in a circle; then the seven planetary signs, with the indication of their repetition signified by the three colours, to symbolize the natural world, the human world and the divine world, whose hieroglyphic emblems compose the twenty-one trumps of our Tarot.
In the centre of the ring may be perceived the double triangle forming the Star or Seal of Solomon. It is the religious and metaphysical triad analogous to the natural triad of universal generation in the equilibrated substance.
Around the triangle is the cross which divides the circle into four equal parts, and thus the symbols of religion are united to the signs of geometry; faith completes science, and science acknowledge faith.
By the aid of this key one can understand the universal symbolism of the ancient world, and note its striking analogies with our dogmas. One will thus recognize that the divine revelation is permanent in nature and humanity. One will feel that Christianity only brought light and heat into the universal temple by causing to descend therein the spirit of charity, which is the Very Life of God Himself.

[1] An allusion to Shiva, the patron of adepts, who drank the poison generated by the churning of the 'Milk Ocean.' (See Bhagavata Purana Skandha VIII, Chaps. 5 - 12.) Levi therefore means in this passage the exact contrary of what he pretends to mean. Otherwise this "Be good, and you will be happy" chapter would scarcely deserve the title "Arcanum Arcanorum." — O.M.

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