Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Job finds one who answers to his cry of agony. He listens to the WISDOM of Elihu, the hierophant, the perfected teacher, the inspired philosopher. From his stern lips comes the just rebuke for his impiety in charging upon the SUPREME Being the evils of humanity. "God," says Elihu, "is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice; HE will not afflict."
So long as the neophyte was satisfied with his own worldly wisdom and irreverent estimate of the Deity and His purposes; so long as he gave ear to the pernicious sophistries of his advisers, the hierophant kept silent. But, when this anxious mind was ready for counsel and instruction, his voice is heard, and he speaks with the authority of the Spirit of God that "constraineth" him: "Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it. . . . He respecteth not any that are wise at heart."
What better commentary than this upon the fashionable preacher, who "multiplieth words without knowledge!" This magnificent prophetic satire might have been written to prefigure the spirit that prevails in all the denominations of Christians.
Job hearkens to the words of wisdom, and then the "Lord" answers Job "out of the whirlwind" of nature, God's first visible manifestation: "Stand still, O Job, stand still! and consider the wondrous works of God; for by them alone thou canst know God. 'Behold, God is great, and we know him not,' Him who 'maketh small the drops of water; but they pour down rain according to the vapor thereof' ";* not according to the divine whim, but to the once established and immutable laws. Which law "removeth the mountains and they know not; which shaketh the earth; which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars; . . . which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. . . . Lo, He goeth by me, and I see him not; he passeth on also, but I perceive him not!"**
Then, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"*** speaks the voice of God through His mouthpiece — nature. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? . . . Wast thou present when I said to the seas, 'Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?' . . . Knowest thou who hath caused it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man. . . . Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands
* xxxvi. 24-27.
** ix. 5-11.
*** xxxviii. 1, et passim.
of Orion? . . .Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, 'Here we are?' "*
"Then Job answered the Lord." He understood His ways, and his eyes were opened for the first time. The Supreme Wisdom descended upon him; and if the reader remain puzzled before this final PETROMA of initiation, at least Job, or the man "afflicted" in his blindness, then realized the impossibility of catching "Leviathan by putting a hook into his nose." The Leviathan is OCCULT SCIENCE, on which one can lay his hand, but "do no more,"** whose power and "comely proportion" God wishes not to conceal.
"Who can discover the face of his garment, or who can come to him with his double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face, 'of him whose scales are his pride, shut up together as with a closed seal?' Through whose 'neesings a light doth Shine,' and whose eyes are like the lids of the morning." Who "maketh a light to shine after him," for those who have the fearlessness to approach him. And then they, like him, will behold "all high things, for he is king only over all the children of pride."***
Job, now in modest confidence, responded:
"I know that thou canst do everything,
And that no thought of thine can be resisted.
Who is he that maketh a show of arcane wisdom,
Of which he knoweth nothing?
Thus have I uttered what I did not comprehend —
Things far above me, which I did not know.
Hear! I beseech thee, and I will speak;
I will demand of thee, and do thou answer me:
I have heard thee with my ears,
And now I see thee with my eyes,
Wherefore am I loathsome,
And mourn in dust and ashes?"
He recognized his "champion," and was assured that the time for his vindication had come. Immediately the Lord ("the priests and the judges," Deuteronomy xix. 17) saith to his friends: "My wrath is kindled against thee and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath." So "the Lord turned the captivity of Job," and "blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning."
Then in the judgment the deceased invokes four spirits who preside over the Lake of Fire, and is purified by them. He then is conducted to
* Job xxxviii. 35.
** Ibid., xli. 8.
*** Ibid., xli. 34.
his celestial house, and is received by Athar and Isis, and stands before Atum,* the essential God. He is now Turu, the essential man, a pure spirit, and henceforth On-ati, the eye of fire, and an associate of the gods.
This grandiose poem of Job was well understood by the kabalists. While many of the mediaeval Hermetists were profoundly religious men, they were, in their innermost hearts — like kabalists of every age — the deadliest enemies of the clergy. How true the words of Paracelsus when worried by fierce persecution and slander, misunderstood by friends and foes, abused by clergy and laity, he exclaimed:
"O ye of Paris, Padua, Montpellier, Salerno, Vienna, and Leipzig! Ye are not teachers of the truth, but confessors of lies. Your philosophy is a lie. Would you know what MAGIC really is, then seek it in St. John's Revelation. . . . As you cannot yourselves prove your teachings from the Bible and the Revelation, then let your farces have an end. The Bible is the true key and interpreter. John, not less than Moses, Elias, Enoch, David, Solomon, Daniel, Jeremiah, and the rest of the prophets, was a magician, kabalist, and diviner. If now, all, or even any of those I have named, were yet living, I do not doubt that you would make an example of them in your miserable slaughter-house, and would annihilate them there on the spot, and if it were possible, the Creator of all things too!"
That Paracelsus had learned some mysterious and useful things out of Revelation and other Bible books, as well as from the Kabala, was proved by him practically; so much so, that he is called by many the "father of magic and founder of the occult physics of the Kabala and magnetism."**
So firm was the popular belief in the supernatural powers of Paracelsus, that to this day the tradition survives among the simple-minded Alsatians that he is not dead, but "sleepeth in his grave" at Strasburg.*** And they often whisper among themselves that the green sod heaves with every respiration of that weary breast, and that deep groans are heard as the great fire-philosopher awakes to the remembrance of the cruel wrongs he suffered at the hands of his cruel slanderers for the sake of the great truth!
It will be perceived from these extended illustrations that the Satan of the Old Testament, the Diabolos or Devil of the Gospels and Apostolic Epistles, were but the antagonistic principle in matter, necessarily incident to it, and not wicked in the moral sense of the term. The Jews,
* Atum, or At-ma, is the Concealed God, at once Phtha and Amon, Father and Son, Creator and thing created, Thought and Appearance, Father and Mother.
** Molitor, Ennemoser, Henman, Pfaff, etc.
*** Schopheim: "Traditions," p. 32.
coming from the Persian country, brought with them the doctrine of two principles. They could not bring the Avesta, for it was not written. But they — we mean the Asidians and Pharsi — invested Ormazd with the secret name of , and Ahriman with the name of the gods of the land, Satan of the Hittites, and Diabolos, or rather Diobolos, of the Greeks. The early Church, at least the Pauline part of it, the Gnostics and their successors, further refined upon their ideas; and the Catholic Church adopted and adapted them, meanwhile putting their promulgators to the sword.
The Protestant is a reaction from the Roman Catholic Church. It is necessarily not coherent in its parts, but a prodigious host of fragments beating their way round a common centre, attracting and repelling each other. Parts are centripetally impelled towards old Rome, or the system which enabled old Rome to exist; parts still recoil under the centrifugal impulse, and seek to rush into the broad ethereal region beyond Roman, or even Christian influence.
The modern Devil is their principal heritage from the Roman Cybele, "Babylon, the Great Mother of the idolatrous and abominable religions of the earth."
But it may be argued, perhaps, that Hindu theology, both Brahmanical and Buddhistic, is as strongly impregnated with belief in objective devils as Christianity itself. There is a slight difference. This very subtlety of the Hindu mind is a sufficient warrant that the well-educated people, the learned portion, at least, of the Brahman and Buddhist divines, consider the Devil in another light. With them the Devil is a metaphysical abstraction, an allegory of necessary evil; while with Christians the myth has become a historical entity, the fundamental stone on which Christianity, with its dogma of redemption, is built. He is as necessary — as Des Mousseaux has shown — to the Church as the beast of the seventeenth chapter of the Apocalypse was to his rider. The English-speaking Protestants, not finding the Bible explicit enough, have adopted the Diabology of Milton's celebrated poem, Paradise Lost, embellishing it somewhat from Goethe's celebrated drama of Faust. John Milton, first a Puritan and finally a Quietist and Unitarian, never put forth his great production except as a work of fiction, but it thoroughly dovetailed together the different parts of Scripture. The Ilda-Baoth of the Ophites was transformed into an angel of light, and the morning star, and made the Devil in the first act of the Diabolic Drama. Then the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse was brought in for the second act. The great red Dragon was adopted as the same illustrious personage as Lucifer, and the last scene is his fall, like that of Vulcan-Hephaistos, from Heaven into the island of Lemnos; the fugitive hosts and their
leader "coming to hard bottom" in Pandemonium. The third act is the Garden of Eden. Satan holds a council in a hall erected by him for his new empire, and determines to go forth on an exploring expedition in quest of the new world. The next acts relate to the fall of man, his career on earth, the advent of the Logos, or Son of God, and his redemption of mankind, or the elect portion of them, as the case may be.
This drama of Paradise Lost comprises the unformulated belief of English-speaking "evangelical Protestant Christians." Disbelief of its main features is equivalent, in their view, to "denying Christ" and "blaspheming against the Holy Ghost." If John Milton had supposed that his poem, instead of being regarded as a companion of Dante's Divine Comedy, would have been considered as another Apocalypse to supplement the Bible, and complete its demonology, it is more than probable that he would have borne his poverty more resolutely, and withheld it from the press. A later poet, Robert Pollok, taking his cue from this work, wrote another, The Course of Time, which bade fair for a season to take the rank of a later Scripture; but the nineteenth century has fortunately received a different inspiration, and the Scotch poet is falling into oblivion.
We ought, perhaps, to make a brief notice of the European Devil. He is the genius who deals in sorcery, witchcraft, and other mischief. The Fathers taking the idea from the Jewish Pharisees, made devils of the Pagan gods, Mithras, Serapis, and the others. The Roman Catholic Church followed by denouncing the former worship as commerce with the powers of darkness. The malefecii and witches of the middle ages were thus but the votaries of the proscribed worship. Magic in all ancient times had been considered as divine science, wisdom, and the knowledge of God. The healing art in the temples of AEsculapius, and at the shrines of Egypt and the East, had always been magical. Even Darius Hystaspes, who had exterminated the Median Magi, and even driven out the Chaldean theurgists from Babylon into Asia Minor, had also been instructed by the Brahmans of Upper Asia, and, finally, while establishing the worship of Ormazd, was also himself denominated the instituter of magism. All was now changed. Ignorance was enthroned as the mother of devotion. Learning was denounced, and savants prosecuted the sciences in peril of their lives. They were compelled to employ a jargon to conceal their ideas from all but their own adepts, and to accept opprobrium, calumny, and poverty.
The votaries of the ancient worship were persecuted and put to death on charges of witchcraft. The Albigenses, descendants of the Gnostics, and the Waldenses, precursors of the Protestants, were hunted and massacred under like accusations. Martin Luther himself was accused of
companionship with Satan in proper person. The whole Protestant world still lies under the same imputation. There is no distinction in the judgments of the Church between dissent, heresy, and witchcraft. And except where civil authority protects, they are alike capital offences. Religious liberty the Church regards as intolerance.
But the reformers were nursed with the milk of their mother. Luther was as bloodthirsty as the Pope; Calvin more intolerant than Leo or Urban. Thirty years of war depopulated whole districts of Germany, Protestants and Catholics cruel alike. The new faith too opened its batteries against witchcraft. The statute books became crimsoned with bloody legislation in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Great Britain, and the North American Commonwealth. Whosoever was more liberal, more intelligent, more free speaking than his fellows was liable to arrest and death. The fires that were extinguished at Smithfield were kindled anew for magicians; it was safer to rebel against a throne than to pursue abstruse knowledge outside the orthodox dead-line.
In the seventeenth century Satan made a sortie in New England, New Jersey, New York, and several of the Southern colonies of North America, and Cotton Mather gives us the principal chronicles of his manifestation. A few years later he visited the Parsonage of Mora, in Sweden, and Life in Dalecarlia was diversified with the burning alive of young children, and the whipping of others at the church-doors on Sabbath-days. The skepticism of modern times has, however, pretty much driven the belief in witchcraft into Coventry; and the Devil in personal anthropomorphic form, with his Bacchus-foot, and his Pan-like goat's horns, holds place only in the Encyclical Letters, and other effusions of the Roman Catholic Church. Protestant respectability does not allow him to be named at all except with bated breath in a pulpit-enclosure.
Having now set forth the biography of the Devil from his first advent in India and Persia, his progress through Jewish, and both early and later Christian Theology down to the latest phases of his manifestation, we now turn back to review certain of the opinions extant in the earlier Christian centuries.
Avatars or incarnations were common to the old religions. India had them reduced to a system. The Persians expected Sosiosh, and the Jewish writers looked for a deliverer. Tacitus and Suetonius relate that the East was full of expectation of the Great Personage about the time of Octavius. "Thus doctrines obvious to Christians were the highest arcana of Paganism."* The Maneros of Plutarch was a child of Pales-
* W. Williams: "Primitive History"; Dunlap: "Spirit History of Man."
tine;* his mediator Mithras, the Saviour Osiris is the Messiah. In our present "Canonical Scriptures" are to be traced the vestigia of the ancient worships; and in the rites and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church we find the forms of the Buddhistical worship, its ceremonies and hierarchy. The first Gospels, once as canonical as any of the present four, contain pages taken almost entire from Buddhistical narratives, as we are prepared to show. After the evidence furnished by Burnouf, Asoma, Korosi, Beal, Hardy, Schmidt, and translations from the Tripitaka, it is impossible to doubt that the whole Christian scheme emanated from the other. The "Miraculous Conception" miracles and other incidents are found in full in Hardy's Manual of Buddhism. We can readily realize why the Roman Catholic Church is anxious to keep the common people in utter ignorance of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek literature. Philology and comparative Theology are her deadliest enemies. The deliberate falsifications of Irenaeus, Epiphanius, Eusebius and Tertullian had become a necessity.
The Sibylline Books at that period seem to have been regarded with extraordinary favor. One can easily perceive that they were inspired from the same source as those of the Gentile nations.
Here is a leaf from Gallaeus:
"New Light has arisen:
Coming from Heaven, it assumed a mortal form. . . .
— Virgin, receive God in thy pure bosom —
And the Word flew into her womb:
Becoming incarnate in Time, and animated by her body,
It was found in a mortal image, and a Boy was created
By a Virgin. . . . The new God-sent Star was adored by the Magi,
The infant swathed was shown in a manger. . . .
And Bethlehem was called "God-called country of the Word."*
This looks at first-sight like a prophecy of Jesus. But could it not mean as well some other creative God? We have like utterances concerning Bacchus and Mithras.
"I, son of Deus, am come to the land of the Thebans — Bacchus, whom formerly Semele (the Virgin), the daughter of Kadmus (the man from the East) brings forth — being delivered by the lightning-bearing flame; and having taken a mortal form instead of God's, I have arrived."***
The Dionysiacs, written in the fifth century, serve to render this matter very clear, and even to show its close connection with the Christian legend of the birth of Jesus:
* Plutarch: "Isis and Osiris," p. 17.
** "Sibylline Oracles," 760-788.
*** Euripides: "Bacchae."
Kore-Persephoneia* . . . you were wived as the Dragon's spouse,
When Zeus, very coiled, his form and countenance changed,
A Dragon-Bridegroom, coiled in love-inspiring fold . . .
Glided to dark Kore's maiden couch . . .
Thus, by the alliance with the Dragon of AEther,
The womb of Persephone became alive with fruit,
Bearing Zagreus,** the Horned Child."***
Here we have the secret of the Ophite worship, and the origin of the Christian later-revised fable of the immaculate conception. The Gnostics were the earliest Christians with anything like a regular theological system, and it is only too evident that it was Jesus who was made to fit their theology as Christos, and not their theology that was developed out of his sayings and doings. Their ancestors had maintained, before the Christian era, that the Great Serpent — Jupiter, the Dragon of Life, the Father and "Good Divinity," had glided into the couch of Semele, and now, the post-Christian Gnostics, with a very trifling change, applied the same fable to the man Jesus, and asserted that the same "Good Divinity," Saturn (Ilda-Baoth), had, in the shape of the Dragon of Life, glided over the cradle of the infant Mary.**** In their eyes the Serpent was the Logos — Christos, the incarnation of Divine Wisdom, through his Father Ennola and Mother Sophia.
"Now my mother, the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) took me," Jesus is made to say in the Gospel of the Hebrews,***** thus entering upon his part of Christos — the Son of Sophia, the Holy Spirit.******
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the POWER of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called Son of God," says the angel (Luke i. 35).
"God . . . hath at the last of these days spoken to us by a Son,
* We doubt the propriety of rendering [[kore]], virgin. Demeter and Persephoneia were substantially the same divinity, as were Apollo and Esculapius. The scene of this adventure is laid in Krete or Koureteia, where Zeus was chief god. It was, doubtless, Keres or Demeter that is intended. She was also named [[koura]], which is the same as [[kore]]. As she was the goddess of the Mysteries, she was fittest for the place as consort of the Serpent-God and mother of Zagreus.
** Pococke considers Zeus a grand lama, or chief Jaina, and Kore-Persephone, or Kuru-Parasu-pani. Zagreus, is Chakras, the wheel, or circle, the earth, the ruler of the world. He was killed by the Titans, or Teith-ans (Daityas). The Horns or crescent was a badge of Lamaic sovereignty.
*** Nonnus: "Dionysiacs."
**** See Deane's "Serpent Worship," pp. 89, 90.
***** Creuzer: "Symbol.," vol. i., p. 341.
****** The Dragon is the sun, the generative principle — Jupiter-Zeus; and Jupiter is called the "Holy Spirit" by the Egyptians, says Plutarch, "De Iside," xxxvi.
whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the AEons" (Paul: Heb. i.).*
All such expressions are so many Christian quotations from the Nonnus verse " . . . through the AEtherial Draconteum," for Ether is the Holy Ghost or third person of the Trinity — the Hawk-headed Serpent, the Egyptian Kneph, emblem of the Divine Mind** and Plato's universal soul.
"I, Wisdom, came out of the mouth of the Most High, and covered the earth as a cloud."***
Pimander, the Logos, issues from the Infinite Darkness, and covers the earth with clouds which, serpentine-like, spread all over the earth (See Champollion's Egypte). The Logos is the oldest image of God, and he is the active Logos, says Philo.**** The Father is the Latent Thought.
This idea being universal, we find an identical phraseology to express it, among Pagans, Jews, and early Christians. The Chaldeo-Persian Logos is the Only-Begotten of the Father in the Babylonian cosmogony of Eudemus. "Hymn now, ELI, child of Deus," begins a Homeric hymn to the sun.***** Sol-Mithra is an "image of the Father," as the kabalistic Seir-Anpin.
That of all the various nations of antiquity, there never was one which believed in a personal devil more than liberal Christians in the nineteenth century, seems hardly credible, and yet such is the sorrowful fact. Neither the Egyptians, whom Porphyry terms "the most learned nation of the world," ****** nor Greece, its faithful copyist, were ever guilty of such a crowning absurdity. We may add at once that none of them, not even the ancient Jews, believed in hell or an eternal damnation any more than in the Devil, although our Christian churches are so liberal in dealing it out to the heathen. Wherever the word "hell" occurs in the translations of the Hebrew sacred texts, it is unfortunate. The Hebrews were ignorant of such an idea; but yet the gospels contain frequent examples of the same misunderstanding. So, when Jesus is made to say (Matthew xvi. 18) ". . . and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it," in the original text it stands "the gates of death."
* In the original it stands AEons (emanations). In the translation it stands worlds. It was not to be expected that, after anathematizing the doctrine of emanations, the Church would refrain from erasing the original word, which clashed diametrically with her newly-enforced dogma of the Trinity.
** See Dean's "Serpent Worship," p. 145.
*** Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 3.
**** See Dunlap's "Spirit History of Man," the chapter on "the Logos, the Only Begotten and the King."
***** Translated by Buckley.
****** "Select Works on Sacrifice."
Never is the word "hell" — as applied to the state of damnation, either temporary or eternal — used in any passage of the Old Testament, all hellists to the contrary, notwithstanding. "Tophet," or "the Valley of Hinnom" (Isaiah lxvi. 24) bears no such interpretation. The Greek term "Gehenna" has also quite a different meaning, as it has been proved conclusively by more than one competent writer, that "Gehenna" is identical with the Homeric Tartarus.
In fact, we have Peter himself as authority for it. In his second Epistle (ii. 2) the Apostle, in the original text, is made to say of the sinning angels that God "cast them down into Tartarus." This expression too inconveniently recalling the war of Jupiter and the Titans, was altered, and now it reads, in King James's version: "cast them down to hell."
In the Old Testament the expressions "gates of death," and the "chambers of death," simply allude to the "gates of the grave," which are specifically mentioned in the Psalms and Proverbs. Hell and its sovereign are both inventions of Christianity, coeval with its accession to power and resort to tyranny. They were hallucinations born of the nightmares of the SS. Anthonys in the desert. Before our era the ancient sages knew the "Father of Evil," and treated him no better than an ass, the chosen symbol of Typhon, "the Devil."* Sad degeneration of human brains!
As Typhon was the dark shadow of his brother Osiris, so Python is the evil side of Apollo, the bright god of visions, the seer and the soothsayer. He is killed by Python, but kills him in his turn, thus redeeming humanity from sin. It was in memory of this deed that the priestesses of the sun-god enveloped themselves in the snake-skin, typical of the fabulous monster. Under its exhilarating influence — the serpent's skin being considered magnetic — the priestesses fell into magnetic trances, and "receiving their voice from Apollo," they became prophetic and delivered oracles.
Again Apollo and Python are one and morally androgynous. The sun-god ideas are all dual, without exception. The beneficent warmth of the sun calls the germ into existence, but excessive heat kills the plant. While playing on his seven-stringed planetary lyre, Apollo produces harmony; but, as well as other sun-gods, under his dark aspect he becomes the destroyer, Python.
St. John is known to have travelled in Asia, a country governed by Magi and imbued with Zoroastrian ideas, and in those days full of Buddhist
* Typhon is called by Plutarch and Sanchoniathon, "Tuphon, the red-skinned." Plutarch: "Isis and Osiris," xxi.-xxvi.
missionaries. Had he never visited those places and come in contact with Buddhists, it is doubtful whether the Revelation would have been written. Besides his ideas of the dragon, he gives prophetic narratives entirely unknown to the other apostles, and which, relating to the second advent, make of Christ a faithful copy of Vishnu.
Thus Ophios and Ophiomorphos, Apollo and Python, Osiris and Typhon, Christos and the Serpent, are all convertible terms. They are all Logoi, and one is unintelligible without the other, as day could not be known had we no night. All are regenerators and saviours, one in a spiritual, the other in a physical sense. One insures immortality for the Divine Spirit; the other gives it through regeneration of the seed. The Saviour of mankind has to die, because he unveils to humanity the great secret of the immortal ego; the serpent of Genesis is cursed because he said to matter, "Ye shall not die." In the world of Paganism the counterpart of the "serpent" is the second Hermes, the reincarnation of Hermes Trismegistus.
Hermes is the constant companion and instructor of Osiris and Isis. He is the personified wisdom; so is Cain, the son of the "Lord." Both build cities, civilize and instruct mankind in the arts.
It has been repeatedly stated by the Christian missionaries in Ceylon and India that the people are steeped in demonolatry; that they are devil-worshippers, in the full sense of the word. Without any exaggeration we say that they are no more so than the masses of uneducated Christians. But even were they worshippers of (which is more than believers in) the Devil, yet there is a great difference between the teachings of their clergy on the subject of a personal devil and the dogmas of Catholic preachers and many Protestant ministers also. The Christian priests are bound to teach and impress upon the minds of their flock the existence of the Devil, and the opening pages of the present chapter show the reason why. But not only will the Cingalese Oepasampala, who belong to the highest priesthood, not confess to belief in a personal demon but even the Samenaira, the candidates and novices, would laugh at the idea. Everything in the external worship of the Buddhists is allegorical and is never otherwise accepted or taught by the educated pungis (pundits). The accusation that they allow, and tacitly agree to leave the poor people steeped in the most degrading superstitions, is not without foundation; but that they enforce such superstitions, we most vehemently deny. And in this they appear to advantage beside our Christian clergy, who (at least those who have not allowed their fanaticism to interfere with their brains), without believing a word of it, yet preach the existence of the Devil, as the personal enemy of a personal God, and the evil genius of mankind.
St. George's Dragon, which figures so promiscuously in the grandest cathedrals of the Christians, is not a whit handsomer than the King of Snakes, the Buddhist Nammadanam-naraya, the great Dragon. If the planetary Demon Rawho, is believed, in the popular superstition of the Cingalese, to endeavor to destroy the moon by swallowing it; and if in China and Tartary the rabble is allowed, without rebuke, to beat gongs and make fearful noises to drive the monster away from its prey during the eclipses, why should the Catholic clergy find fault, or call this superstition? Do not the country clergy in Southern France do the same, occasionally, at the appearance of comets, eclipses, and other celestial phenomena? In 1456, when Halley's comet made its appearance, "so tremendous was its apparition," writes Draper, "that it was necessary for the Pope himself to interfere. He exorcised and expelled it from the skies. It slunk away into the abysses of space, terror-stricken by the maledictions of Calixtus III., and did not venture back for seventy-five years!"*
We never heard of any Christian clergyman or Pope trying to disabuse ignorant minds of the belief that the Devil had anything to do with eclipses and comets; but we do find a Buddhist chief priest saying to an official who twitted him with this superstition: "Our Cingalese religious books teach that the eclipses of the sun and moon denote an attack of Rahu** (one of the nine planets) not by a devil."***
The origin of the "Dragon" myth so prominent in the Apocalypse and Golden Legend, and of the fable about Simeon Stylites converting the Dragon, is undeniably Buddhistic and even pre-Buddhistic. It was Gautama's pure doctrines which reclaimed to Buddhism the Cashmerians whose primitive worship was the Ophite or Serpent worship. Frankincense and flowers replaced the human sacrifices and belief in personal demons. It became the turn of Christianity to inherit the degrading superstition about devils invested with pestilential and murderous powers. The Mahavansa, oldest of the Ceylonese books, relates the story of King Covercapal (cobra-de-capello), the snake-god, who was converted to Buddhism by a holy Rahat;**** and it is earlier, by all odds, than the Golden Legend which tells the same of Simeon the Stylite and his Dragon.
* "Conflict between Religion and Science," p. 269.
** Rahu and Kehetty are the two fixed stars which form the head and tail of the constellation of the Dragon.
*** E. Upham: "The Mahavansi, etc.," p. 54, for the answer given by the chief-priest of Mulgirs Galle Vihari, named Sue Bandare Metankere Samanere Samavahanse, to a Dutch Governor in 1766.
**** We leave it to the learned archaeologists and philologists to decide how the Naga or Serpent worship could travel from Kashmir to Mexico and become the Nargal worship, which is also a Serpent worship, and a doctrine of lycanthropy.
The Logos triumphs once more over the great Dragon; Michael, the luminous archangel, chief of the AEons, conquers Satan.*
It is a fact worthy of remark, that so long as the initiate kept silent "on what he knew," he was perfectly safe. So was it in days of old, and so it is now. As soon as the Christian God, emanating forth from Silence, manifested himself as the Word or Logos, the latter became the cause of his death. The serpent is the symbol of wisdom and eloquence, but it is likewise the symbol of destruction. "To dare, to know, to will, and be silent," are the cardinal axioms of the kabalist. Like Apollo and other gods, Jesus is killed by his Logos;** he rises again, kills him in his turn, and becomes his master. Can it be that this old symbol has, like the rest of ancient philosophical conceptions, more than one allegorical and never-suspected meaning? The coincidences are too strange to be results of mere chance.
And now that we have shown this identity between Michael and Satan, and the Saviours and Dragons of other people, what can be more clear than that all these philosophical fables originated in India, that universal hot-bed of metaphysical mysticism? "The world," says Ramatsariar, in his comments upon the Vedas, "commenced with a contest between the Spirit of Good and the Spirit of Evil, and so must end. After the destruction of matter evil can no longer exist, it must return to naught."***
In the Apologia, Tertullian falsifies most palpably every doctrine and belief of the Pagans as to the oracles and gods. He calls them, indifferently, demons and devils, accusing the latter of taking possession of even the birds of the air! What Christian would now dare doubt such an authority? Did not the Psalmist exclaim: "All the gods of the nations are idols"; and the Angel of the School, Thomas Aquinas, explains, on his own kabalistic authority, the word idols by devils? "They come to men," he says, "and offer themselves to their adoration by operating certain things which seem miraculous."****
The Fathers were prudent as they were wise in their inventions. To be impartial, after having created a Devil, they set to creating apocryphal saints. We have named several in preceding chapters; but we must not forget Baronius, who having read in a work of Chrysostom about the holy Xenoris, the word meaning a pair, a couple, mistook it for the
* Michael, the chief of the AEons, is also "Gabriel, the messenger of Life," of the Nazarenes, and the Hindu Indra, the chief of the good Spirits, who vanquished Vasouki, the Demon who rebelled against Brahma.
** See the Gnostic amulet called the "Chnuphis-Serpent," in the act of raising its head crowned with the seven vowels, which is the kabalistic symbol for signifying the "gift of speech to man," or Logos.
*** "Tamas, the Vedas."
**** Thomas Aquinas: "Summa," ii., 94 Art.
name of a saint, and proceeded forthwith to create of it a martyr of Antioch, and went on to give a most detailed and authentic biography of the "blessed martyr." Other theologians made of Apollyon — or rather Apolouon — the anti-Christ. Apolouon is Plato's "washer," the god who purifies, who washes off, and releases us from sin, but he was thus transformed into him "whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon" — Devil!
Max Muller says that the serpent in Paradise is a conception which might have sprung up among the Jews, and "seems hardly to invite comparison with the much grander conceptions of the terrible power of Vritra and Ahriman in the Veda and Avesta." With the kabalists the Devil was always a myth — God or good reversed. That modern Magus, Eliphas Levi, calls the Devil l'ivresse astrale. It is a blind force like electricity, he says; and, speaking allegorically, as he always did, Jesus remarked that he "bebeld Satan like lightning fall from Heaven."
The clergy insist that God has sent the Devil to tempt mankind; which would be rather a singular way of showing his boundless love to humanity! If the Supreme One is really guilty of such unfatherly treachery, he is worthy, certainly, of the adoration only of a Church capable of singing the Te Deum over a massacre of St. Bartholomew, and of blessing Mussulman swords drawn to slaughter Greek Christians!
This is at once sound logic and good sound law, for is it not a maxim of jurisprudence: "Qui facit per alium, facit per se"?
The great dissimilarity which exists between the various conceptions of the Devil is really often ludicrous. While bigots will invariably endow him with horns, tail, and every conceivable repulsive feature, even including an offensive human smell,* Milton, Byron, Goethe, Lermontoff,** and a host of French novelists have sung his praise in flowing verse and thrilling prose. Milton's Satan, and even Goethe's Mephistopheles, are certainly far more commanding figures than some of the angels, as represented in the prose of ecstatic bigots. We have
* See des Mousseaux; see various other Demonographers; the different "Trials of Witches," the depositions of the latter exacted by torture, etc. In our humble opinion, the Devil must have contracted this disagreeable smell and his habits of uncleanliness in company with mediaeval monks. Many of these saints boasted of having never washed themselves! "To strip one's self for the sake of vain cleanliness, is to sin in the eyes of God," says Sprenger, in the "Witches' Hammer." Hermits and monks "dreaded all cleansing as so much defilement. There was no bathing for a thousand years!" exclaims Michelet in his "Sorciere." Why such an outcry against Hindu fakirs in such a case? These, if they keep dirty, besmear themselves only after washing, for their religion commands them to wash every morning, and sometimes several times a day.
** Lermontoff, the great Russian poet, author of the "Demon."
but to compare two descriptions. Let us first award the floor to the incomparably sensational des Mousseaux. He gives us a thrilling account of an incubus, in the words of the penitent herself: "Once," she tells us, "during the space of a whole half-hour, she saw distinctly near her an individual with a black, dreadful, horrid body, and whose hands, of an enormous size, exhibited clawed fingers strangely hooked. The senses of sight, feeling, and smell were confirmed by that of hearing!!"*
And yet, for the space of several years, the damsel suffered herself to be led astray by such a hero. How far above this odoriferous gallant is the majestic figure of the Miltonic Satan!
Let the reader then fancy, if he can, this superb chimera, this ideal of the rebellious angel become incarnate Pride, crawling into the skin of the most disgusting of all animals! Notwithstanding that the Christian catechism teaches us that Satan in propria persona tempted our first mother, Eve, in a real paradise, and that in the shape of a serpent, which of all animals was the most insinuating and fascinating! God orders him, as a punishment, to crawl eternally on his belly, and bite the dust. "A sentence," remarks Levi, "which resembles in nothing the traditional flames of hell." The more so, that the real zoological serpent, which was created before Adam and Eve, crawled on his belly, and bit the dust likewise, before there was any original sin.
Apart from this, was not Ophion the Daimon, or Devil, like God called Dominus?** The word God (deity) is derived from the Sanscrit word Deva, and Devil from the Persian daeva, which words are substantially alike. Hercules, son of Jove and Alcmena, one of the highest sun-gods and also Logos manifested, is nevertheless represented under a double nature, as all others.***
The Agathodaemon, the beneficent daemon,**** the same which we find later among the Ophites under the appellation of the Logos, or divine wisdom, was represented by a serpent standing erect on a pole, in the Bacchanalian Mysteries. The hawk-headed serpent is among the oldest of the Egyptian emblems, and represents the divine mind, says Deane.***** Azazel is Moloch and Samael, says Movers,****** and we find Aaron, the brother of the great law-giver Moses, making equal sacrifices to Jehovah and Azazel.
* "Les Hauts Phenomenes de la Magie," p. 379.
** "Movers," p. 109.
*** Hercules is of Hindu origin.
**** The same as the Egyptian Kneph, and the Gnostic Ophis.
***** "Serpent Worship," p. 145.
****** "Movers," p. 397. Azazel and Samael are identical.
"And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord (Ihoh in the original) and one lot for the scape-goat" (Azazel).
In the Old Testament Jehovah exhibits all the attributes of old Saturn,* notwithstanding his metamorphoses from Adoni into Eloi, and God of Gods, Lord of Lords.**
Jesus is tempted on the mountain by the Devil, who promises to him kingdoms and glory if he will only fall down and worship him (Matthew iv. 8, 9). Buddha is tempted by the Demon Wasawarthi Mara, who says to him as he is leaving his father's palace: "Be entreated to stay that you may possess the honors that are within your reach; go not, go not! " And upon the refusal of Gautama to accept his offers, gnashes his teeth with rage, and threatens him with vengeance. Like Christ, Buddha triumphs over the Devil.***
In the Bacchic Mysteries a consecrated cup was handed around after supper, called the cup of the Agathodaemon.**** The Ophite rite of the same description is evidently borrowed from these Mysteries. The communion consisting of bread and wine was used in the worship of nearly every important deity.*****
In connection with the semi-Mithraic sacrament adopted by the Marcosians, another Gnostic sect, utterly kabalistic and theurgic, there is a strange story given by Epiphanius as an illustration of the cleverness of the Devil. In the celebration of their Eucharist, three large vases of the finest and clearest crystal were brought among the congregation and filled with white wine. While the ceremony was going on, in full view of everybody, this wine was instantaneously changed into a blood-red, a purple, and then into an azure-blue color. "Then the magus," says Epiphanius, "hands one of these vases to a woman in the congregation, and asks her to bless it. When it is done, the magus pours out of it into another vase of much greater capacity with the prayer: "May the grace of God, which is above all, inconceivable, inexplicable, fill thy inner man, and augment the knowledge of Him within thee, sowing the grain of mus-
* Saturn is Bel-Moloch and even Hercules and Siva. Both of the latter are Harakala, or gods of the war, of the battle, or the "Lords of Hosts." Jehovah is called "a man of war" in Exodus xv. 3. "The Lord of Hosts is his name" (Isaiah li. 15), and David blesses him for teaching his "hands to war and his fingers to fight" (Psalms cxliv. 1). Saturn is also the Sun, and Movers says that Kronos Saturn was called by the Phoenicians Israel (130). Philo says the same (in Euseb., p. 44).
** "Blessed be Iahoh, Alahim, Alahi, Israel" (Psalm lxii.).
*** Hardy's "Manual of Buddhism," p. 60.
**** Cousin: "Lect. on Mod. Phil.," vol. i., p. 404.
***** Movers, Duncker, Higgins, and others.
tard-seed in good ground.* Whereupon the liquor in the larger vase swells and swells until it runs over the brim."**
In connection with several of the Pagan deities which are made after death, and before their resurrection to descend into Hell, it will be found useful to compare the pre-Christian with the post-Christian narratives. Orpheus made the journey,*** and Christ was the last of these subterranean travellers. In the Credo of the Apostles, which is divided in twelve sentences or articles, each particular article having been inserted by each particular apostle, according to St. Austin**** the sentence "He descended into hell, the third day he rose again from the dead," is assigned to Thomas; perhaps, as an atonement for his unbelief. Be it as it may, the sentence is declared a forgery, and there is no evidence "that this creed was either framed by the apostles, or indeed, that it existed as a creed in their time."*****
It is the most important addition in the Apostle's Creed, and dates since the year of Christ 600.****** It was not known in the days of Eusebius. Bishop Parsons says that it was not in the ancient creeds or rules of faith.******* Irenaeus, Origen, and Tertullian exhibit no knowledge of this sentence.******** It is not mentioned in any of the Councils before the seventh century. Theodoret, Epiphanius, and Socrates are silent about it. It differs from the creed in St. Augustine.********* Ruffinus affirms that in his time it was neither in the Roman nor in the Oriental creeds (Exposit., in Symbol. Apost. § 10). But the problem is solved when we learn that ages ago Hermes spoke thus to Prometheus, chained on the arid rocks of the Caucasian mount:
"To such labors look thou for no termination, UNTIL SOME GOD
* "Haeres," xxxiv; "Gnostics," p. 53.
** Wine was first made sacred in the mysteries of Bacchus. Payne Knight believes — erroneously we think — that wine was taken with the view to produce a false ecstasy through intoxication. It was held sacred, however, and the Christian Eucharist is certainly an imitation of the Pagan rite. Whether Mr. Knight was right or wrong, we regret to say that a Protestant clergyman, the Rev. Joseph Blanchard, of New York, was found drunk in one of the public squares on the night of Sunday, August 5, 1877, and lodged in prison. The published report says: "The prisoner said that he had been to church and taken a little too much of the communion wine!"
*** The initiatory rite typified a descent into the underworld. Bacchus, Herakles, Orpheus, and Asklepius all descended into hell and ascended thence the third day.
**** King's "Hist. Apost. Creed," 8vo, p. 26.
***** Justice Bailey's "Common Prayer," 1813, p. 9.
****** "Apostle's Creed"; "Apocryphal New Testament."
******* "On the Creed," fol. 1676, p. 225.
******** Lib. 1, c. 2; "Lib. de Princ," in "Procoem. Advers. Praxeam," c. ii.
********* "De Fide et Symbol."
SHALL APPEAR AS A SUBSTITUTE IN THY PANGS, AND SHALL BE WILLING TO GO BOTH TO GLOOMY HADES AND TO THE MURKY DEPTHS AROUND TARTARUS!" (AESCHYLUS: Prometheus, 1027, ff.).
This god was Herakles, the "Only-Begotten One," and the Saviour. And it is he who was chosen as a model by the ingenious Fathers. Hercules — called Alexicacos — for he brought round the wicked and converted them to virtue; Soter, or Saviour, also called Neulos Eumelos — the Good Shepherd; Astrochiton, the star-clothed, and the Lord of Fire. "He sought not to subject nations by force but by divine wisdom and persuasion," says Lucian. "Herakles spread cultivation and a mild religion, and destroyed the doctrine of eternal punishment by dragging Kerberus (the Pagan Devil) from the nether world." And, as we see, it was Herakles again who liberated Prometheus (the Adam of the pagans), by putting an end to the torture inflicted on him for his transgressions, by descending to the Hades, and going round the Tartarus. Like Christ he appeared as a substitute for the pangs of humanity, by offering himself in a self-sacrifice on a funereal-burning pile. "His voluntary immolation," says Bart, "betokened the ethereal new birth of men. . . . Through the release of Prometheus, and the erection of altars, we behold in him the mediator between the old and new faiths. . . . He abolished human sacrifice wherever he found it practiced. He descended into the sombre realm of Pluto, as a shade . . . he ascended as a spirit to his father Zeus in Olympus."
So much was antiquity impressed by the Heraklean legend, that even the monotheistic (?) Jews of those days, not to be outdone by their contemporaries, put him to use in their manufacture of original fables. Herakles is accused in his mythobiography of an attempted theft of the Delphian oracle. In Sepher Toldos Jeschu, the Rabbins accuse Jesus of stealing from their Sanctuary the Incommunicable Name!
Therefore it is but natural to find his numerous adventures, worldly and religious, mirrored so faithfully in the Descent into Hell. For extraordinary daring of mendacity, and unblushing plagiarism, the Gospel of Nicodemus, only now proclaimed apocryphal, surpasses anything we have read. Let the reader judge.
At the beginning of chapter xvi., Satan and the "Prince of Hell" are described as peacefully conversing together. All of a sudden, both are startled by "a voice as of thunder" and the rushing of winds, which bids them to lift up their gates for "the King of Glory shall come in." Whereupon the Prince of Hell hearing this "begins quarrelling with Satan for minding his duty so poorly, as not to have taken the necessary precautions against such a visit." The quarrel ends with the prince casting Satan "forth from his hell," ordering, at the same time, his
impious officers "to shut the brass gates of cruelty, make them fast with iron bars, and fight courageously lest we be taken captives."
But "when all the company of the saints . . . (in Hell?) heard this, they spoke with a loud voice of anger to the Prince of Darkness, 'Open thy gates, that the King of Glory may come in,' " thereby proving that, the prince needed spokesmen.
"And the divine (?) prophet David cried out, saying: 'Did not I, when on earth, truly prophesy?' " After this, another prophet, namely holy Isaiah spake in like manner, "Did not I rightly prophesy?" etc. Then the company of the saints and prophets, after boasting for the length of a chapter, and comparing notes of their prophecies, begin a riot, which makes the Prince of Hell remark that, "the dead never durst before behave themselves so insolently towards us" (the devils, xviii. 6); feigning the while to be ignorant who it was claiming admission. He then innocently asks again: "But who is the King of Glory?" Then David tells him that he knows the voice well, and understands its words, "because," he adds, "I spake them by his Spirit." Perceiving finally that the Prince of Hell would not open the "brass doors of iniquity," notwithstanding the king-psalmist's voucher for the visitor, he, David, concludes to treat the enemy "as a Philistine, and begins shouting: 'And now, thou filthy and stinking prince of hell, open thy gates. . . . I tell thee that the King of Glory comes . . . let him enter in.' "
While he was yet quarrelling the "mighty Lord appeared in the form of a man" (?) upon which "impious Death and her cruel officers are seized with fear." Then they tremblingly begin to address Christ with various flatteries and compliments in the shape of questions, each of which is an article of creed. For instance: "And who art thou, so powerful and so great who dost release the captives that were held in chains by original sin?" asks one devil. "Perhaps, thou art that Jesus," submissively says another, "of whom Satan just now spoke, that by the death of the Cross thou wert about to receive the power over death?" etc. Instead of answering, the King of Glory "tramples upon Death, seizes the Prince of Hell, and deprives him of his power."
Then begins a turmoil in Hell which has been graphically described by Homer, Hesiod, and their interpreter Preller, in his account of the Astronomical Hercules Invictus, and his festivals at Tyre, Tarsus, and Sardis. Having been initiated in the Attic Eleusinia, the Pagan god descends into Hades and "when he entered the nether world he spread such terror among the dead that all of them fled!"* The same words
* "Preller": ii., p. 154.
are repeated in Nicodemus. Follows a scene of confusion, horror, and lamenting. Perceiving that the battle is lost, the Prince of Hell turns tail and prudently chooses to side with the strongest. He against whom, according to Jude and Peter, even the Archangel Michael "durst not bring a railing accusation before the Lord," is now shamefully treated by his ex-ally and friend, the "Prince of Hell." Poor Satan is abused and reviled for all his crimes both by devils and saints; while the Prince is openly rewarded for his treachery. Addressing him, the King of Glory says thus: "Beelzebub, the Prince of Hell, Satan the Prince shall now be subject to thy dominion forever, in the room of Adam and his righteous sons, who are mine . . . Come to me, all ye my saints, who were created in my image, who were condemned by the tree of the forbidden fruit, and by the Devil and death. Live now by the wood of my cross; the Devil, the prince of this world is overcome (?) and Death is conquered." Then the Lord takes hold of Adam by his right hand, of David by the left, and "ascends from Hell, followed by all the saints," Enoch and Elias, and by the "holy thief."*
The pious author, perhaps through an oversight, omits to complete the cavalcade, by bringing up the rear with the penitent dragon of Simon Stylites and the converted wolf of St. Francis, wagging their tails and shedding tears of joy!
In the Codex of the Nazarenes it is Tobo who is "the liberator of the soul of Adam," to bear it from Orcus (Hades) to the place of LIFE. Tobo is Tob-Adonijah, one of the twelve disciples (Levites) sent by Jehosaphat to preach to the cities of Judah the Book of the Law (2 Chron. xvii.). In the kabalistic books these were "wise men," Magi. They drew down the rays of the sun to enlighten the sheol (Hades) Orcus, and thus show the way out of the Tenebrae, the darkness of ignorance, to the soul of Adam, which represents collectively all the "souls of mankind." Adam (Athamas) is Tamuz or Adonis, and Adonis is the sun Helios. In the Book of the Dead (vi. 231) Osiris is made to say: "I shine like the sun in the star-house at the feast of the sun." Christ is called the "Sun of Righteousness," "Helios of Justice" (Euseb.: Demons. Ev., v. 29), simply a revamping of the old heathen allegories; nevertheless, to have made it serve for such a use is no less blasphemous on the part of men who pretended to be describing a true episode of the earth-pilgrimage of their God!
"Herakles, who has gone out from the chambers of earth,
Leaving the nether house of Plouton!"**
* Nicodemus: "Apocryphal Gospel," translated from the Gospel published by Grynaeus, "Orthodoxographa," vol. i., tom. ii., p. 643.
** Euripides: "Herakles," 807.
"At THEE the Stygian lakes trembled; Thee the janitor of Orcus
Feared. . . . Thee not even Typhon frightened. . . .
Hail true SON of JOVE, GLORY added to the gods!"*
More than four centuries before the birth of Jesus, Aristophanes had written his immortal parody on the Descent into Hell, by Herakles.** The chorus of the "blessed ones," the initiated, the Elysian Fields, the arrival of Bacchus (who is Iacchos — Iaho — and Sabaoth) with Herakles, their reception with lighted torches, emblems of new life and RESURRECTION from darkness, death unto light, eternal LIFE; nothing that is found in the Gospel of Nicodemus is wanting in this poem:***
"Wake, burning torches . . . for thou comest
Shaking them in thy hand, Iacche,
Phosphoric star of the nightly rite!"****
But the Christians accept these post-mortem adventures of their god, concocted from those of his Pagan predecessors, and derided by Aristophanes four centuries before our era, literally! The absurdities of Nicodemus were read in the churches, as well as those of the Shepherd of Hermas. Irenaeus quotes the latter under the name of Scripture, a divinely-inspired "revelation"; Jerome and Eusebius both insist upon its being publicly read in the churches; and Athanasius observes that the Fathers "appointed it to be read in confirmation of faith and piety." But then comes the reverse of this bright medal, to show once more how stable and trustworthy were the opinions of the strongest pillars of an infallible Church. Jerome, who applauds the book in his catalogue of ecclesiastical writers, in his later comments terms it "apocryphal and foolish"! Tertullian, who could not find praise enough for the Shepherd of Hermas when a Catholic, "began abusing it when a Montanist."*****
Chapter xiii. begins with the narrative given by the two resuscitated ghosts of Charinus and Lenthius, the sons of that Simeon who, in the Gospel according to Luke (ii. 25-32), takes the infant Jesus in his arms and blesses God, saying: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace . . . for mine eyes have seen thy salvation"****** These two ghosts
* "AEneid," viii., 274, ff.
** "Frogs"; see fragments given in "Sod, the Mystery of Adonis."
*** See pages 180-187, 327.
**** Aristophanes: "Frogs."
***** See Preface to "Hermas" in the Apocryphal New Testament.
****** In the "Life of Buddha," of Bkah Hgyur (Thibetan text), we find the original of the episode given in the Gospel according to Luke. An old and holy ascetic, Rishi Asita, comes from afar to see the infant Buddha, instructed as he is of his birth and mission by supernatural visions. Having worshipped the little Gautama, the old saint bursts into
have arisen from their cold tombs on purpose to declare "the mysteries" which they saw after death in hell. They are enabled to do so only at the importunate prayer of Annas and Caiaphas, Nicodemus (the author), Joseph (of Arimathaea), and Gamaliel, who beseech them to reveal to them the great secrets. Annas and Caiaphas, however, who bring the ghosts to the synagogue at Jerusalem, take the precaution to make the two resuscitated men, who had been dead and buried for years, to swear on the Book of the Law "by God Adonai, and the God of Israel," to tell them only the truth. Therefore, after making the sign of the cross on their tongues,* they ask for some paper to write their confessions (xii. 21-25). They state how, when "in the depth of hell, in the blackness of darkness," they suddenly saw "a substantial, purple-colored light illuminating the place." Adam, with the patriarchs and prophets, began thereupon to rejoice, and Isaiah also immediately boasted that he had predicted all that. While this was going on, Simeon, their father, arrived, declaring that "the infant he took in his arms in the temple was now coming to liberate them."
After Simeon had delivered his message to the distinguished company in hell, "there came forth one like a little hermit (?), who proved to be John the Baptist." The idea is suggestive and shows that even the "Precursor" and "the Prophet of the Most High," had not been exempted from drying up in hell to the most diminutive proportions, and that to the extent of affecting his brains and memory. Forgetting that (Matthew xi.) he had manifested the most evident doubts as to the Messiahship of Jesus, the Baptist also claims his right to be recognized as a prophet. "And I, John," he says, "when I saw Jesus coming to me, being moved by the Holy Ghost, I said: 'Behold the Lamb of God,
tears, and upon being questioned upon the cause of his grief, answers: "After becoming Buddha, he will help hundreds of thousands of millions of creatures to pass to the other shore of the ocean of life, and will lead them on forever to immortality. And I — I shall not behold this pearl of Buddhas! Cured of my illness, I shall not be freed by him from human passion! Great King! I am too old — that is why I weep, and why, in my sadness, I heave long sighs!"
It does not prevent the holy man, however, from delivering prophecies about the young Buddha, which, with a very slight difference, are of the same substance as those of Simeon about Jesus. While the latter calls the young Jesus "a light for the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel," the Buddhist prophet promises that the young prince will find himself clothed with the perfect and complete enlightenment or "light" of Buddha, and will turn the wheel of law as no one ever did before him. "Rgya Tcher Rol Pa"; translated from the Thibetan text and revised on the original Sanscrit, Lalitavistara, by P. E. Foncaux. 1847. Vol. ii., pp. 106, 107.
* The sign of the cross — only a few days after the resurrection, and before the cross was ever thought of as a symbol!
who takes away the sins of the world' . . . And I baptized him . . . and I saw the Holy Ghost descending upon him, and saying, 'This is my Beloved Son,' etc." And to think, that his descendants and followers, like the Mandeans of Basra, utterly reject these words!
Then Adam, who acts as though his own veracity might be questioned in this "impious company," calls his son Seth, and desires him to declare to his sons, the patriarchs and prophets, what the Archangel Michael had told him at the gate of Paradise, when he, Adam, sent Seth "to entreat God that he would anoint" his head when Adam was sick (xiv. 2). And Seth tells them that when he was praying at the gates of Paradise, Michael advised him not to entreat God for "the oil of the tree of mercy wherewith to anoint father Adam for his headache; because thou canst not by any means obtain it till the LAST DAY and times, namely till 5,500 years be past."
This little bit of private gossip between Michael and Seth was evidently introduced in the interests of Patristic Chronology; and for the purpose of connecting Messiahship still closer with Jesus, on the authority of a recognized and divinely-inspired Gospel. The Fathers of the early centuries committed an inextricable mistake in destroying fragile images and mortal Pagans, in preference to the monuments of Egyptian antiquity. These have become the more precious to archaeology and modern science since it is found they prove that King Menes and his architects flourished between four and five thousand years before "Father Adam" and the universe, according to the biblical chronology, were created "out of nothing."*
"While all the saints were rejoicing, behold Satan, the prince and captain of death," says to the Prince of Hell: "Prepare to receive Jesus of Nazareth himself, who boasted that he was the Son of God, and yet was a man afraid of death, and said: 'My soul is sorrowful even to death' " (xv. 1, 2).
There is a tradition among the Greek ecclesiastical writers that the "Haeretics" (perhaps Celsus) had sorely twitted the Christians on this delicate point. They held that if Jesus were not a simple mortal, who was often forsaken by the Spirit of Christos, he could not have complained in such expressions as are attributed to him; neither would he have cried out with a loud voice: "My god, My god! why hast thou for-
* Payne Knight shows that "from the time of the first King Menes, under whom all the country below Lake Moeris was a bog (Herod., ii., 4), to that of the Persian invasion, when it was the garden of the world" — between 11,000 and 12,000 years must have elapsed. (See "Ancient Art and Mythology"; cli., R. Payne Knight, p. 108. Edit. by A. Wilder.)
saken me?" This objection is very cleverly answered in the Gospel of Nicodemus, and it is the "Prince of Hell" who settles the difficulty.
He begins by arguing with Satan like a true metaphysician. "Who is that so powerful prince," he sneeringly inquires, "who is he so powerful, and yet a man who is afraid of death? . . . I affirm to thee that when, therefore, he said he was afraid of death, he designed to ensnare thee, and unhappy it will be to thee for everlasting ages!"
It is quite refreshing to see how closely the author of this Gospel sticks to his New Testament text, and especially to the fourth evangelist. How cleverly he prepares the way for seemingly "innocent" questions and answers, corroborating the most dubious passages of the four gospels, passages more questioned and cross-examined in those days of subtile sophistry of the learned Gnostics than they are now; a weighty reason why the Fathers should have been even more anxious to burn the documents of their antagonists than to destroy their heresy. The following is a good instance. The dialogue is still proceeding between Satan and the metaphysical half-converted Prince of the under world.
"Who, then, is that Jesus of Nazareth," naively inquires the prince, "that by his word hath taken away the dead from me, without prayers to God?" (xv. 16).
"Perhaps," replies Satan, with the innocence of a Jesuit, "it is the same who took away from me LAZARUS, after he had been four days dead, and did both stink and was rotten? . . . It is the very same person, Jesus of Nazareth. . . . I adjure thee, by the powers which belong to thee and me, that thou bring him not to me!" exclaims the prince. "For when I heard of the power of his word, I trembled for fear, and all my impious company were disturbed. And we were not able to detain Lazarus, but he gave himself a shake, and with all the signs of malice, he immediately went away from us; and the very earth, in which the dead body of Lazarus was lodged, presently turned him alive." "Yes," thoughtfully adds the Prince of Hell, "I know now that he is Almighty God, who is mighty in his dominion, and mighty in his human nature, who is the Saviour of mankind. Bring not therefore this person hither, for he will set at liberty all those I held in prison under unbelief, and . . . will conduct them to everlasting life" (xv. 20).
Here ends the post-mortem evidence of the two ghosts. Charinus (ghost No. 1) gives what he wrote to Annas, Caiaphas, and Gamaliel, and Lenthius (ghost No. 2) his to Joseph and Nicodemus, having done which, both change into "exceedingly white forms and were seen no more."
To show furthermore that the "ghosts" had been all the time under the strictest "test conditions," as the modern spiritualists would express it, the author of the Gospel adds: "But what they had wrote was found
perfectly to agree, the one not containing one letter more or less than the other."
This news spread in all the synagogues, the Gospel goes on to state, that Pilate went to the temple as advised by Nicodemus, and assembled the Jews together. At this historical interview, Caiaphas and Annas are made to declare that their Scriptures testify "that He (Jesus) is the Son of God and the Lord and King of Israel" (!) and close the confession with the following memorable words:
"And so it appears that Jesus, whom we crucified, is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and true and Almighty God. Amen." (!)
Notwithstanding such a crushing confession for themselves, and the recognition of Jesus as the Almighty God himself, the "Lord God of Israel," neither the high priest, nor his father-in-law, nor any of the elders, nor Pilate, who wrote those accounts, nor any of the Jews of Jerusalem, who were at all prominent, became Christians.
Comments are unnecessary. This Gospel closes with the words: "In the name of the Holy Trinity [of which Nicodemus could know nothing yet] thus ends the Acts of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which the emperor Theodosius the Great found at Jerusalem, in the hall of Pontius Pilate among the public records"; and which history purports to have been written in Hebrew by Nicodemus, "the things being acted in the nineteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, emperor of the Romans, and in the seventeenth year of the government of Herod, the son of Herod, king of Galilee, on the eighth before the calends of April, etc., etc." It is the most barefaced imposture that was perpetrated after the era of pious forgeries opened with the first bishop of Rome, whoever he may have been. The clumsy forger seems to have neither known nor heard that the dogma of the Trinity was not propounded until 325 years later than this pretended date. Neither the Old nor the New Testament contains the word Trinity, nor anything that affords the slightest pretext for this doctrine (see page 177 of this volume, "Christ's descent into Hell"). No explanation can palliate the putting forth of this spurious gospel as a divine revelation, for it was known from the first as a premeditated imposture. If the gospel itself has been declared apocryphal, nevertheless every one of the dogmas contained in it was and is still enforced upon the Christian world. And even the fact that itself is now repudiated, is no merit, for the Church was shamed and forced into it.
And so we are perfectly warranted in repeating the amended Credo of Robert Taylor, which is substantially that of the Christians.
I believe in Zeus, the Father Almighty,
And in his son, Iasios Christ our Lord,
Who was conceived of the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Elektra,
Smitten with a thunderbolt,
Dead and buried,
He descended into Hell,
Rose again and ascended up on high,
And will return to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Nous,
In the Holy circle of Great Gods,
In the Community of Divinities,
In the expiation of sins,
The immortality of the Soul
And the Life Everlasting.
The Israelites have been proved to have worshipped Baal, the Syrian Bacchus, offered incense to the Sabazian or AEsculapian serpent, and performed the Dionysian Mysteries. And how could it be otherwise if Typhon was called Typhon Set,* and Seth, the son of Adam, is identical with Satan or Sat-an; and Seth was worshipped by the Hittites? Less than two centuries B.C., we find the Jews either reverencing or simply worshipping the "golden head of an ass" in their temple; according to Apion, Antiochus Epiphanes carried it off with him. And Zacharias is struck dumb by the apparition of the deity under the shape of an ass in the temple! **
* Seth or Sutech, "Rawlinson's History of Herodotus," book ii., appendix. viii., 23.
** The fact is vouchsafed for by Epiphanius. See Hone: "Apocryphal New Testament"; "The Gospel of the Birth of Mary."
In his able article "Bacchus, the Prophet-God," Professor A. Wilder remarks that "Tacitus was misled into thinking that the Jews worshipped an ass, the symbol of Typhon or Seth, the Hyk-sos God. The Egyptian name of the ass was co, the phonetic of Iao"; and hence, probably, he adds, "a symbol from that mere circumstance." We can hardly agree with this learned archaeologist, for the idea that the Jews reverenced, for some mysterious reason, Typhon under his symbolical representation rests on more proof than one. And for one we find a passage in the "Gospel of Mary," is cited from Epiphanius, which corroborates the fact. It relates to the death of "Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, murdered by Herod," says the Protevangelion. Epiphanius writes that the cause of the death of Zacharias was that upon seeing a vision in the temple he, through surprise, was willing to disclose it, but his mouth was stopped. That which he saw was at the time of his offering incense, and it was a man STANDING IN THE FORM OF AN ASS. When he was gone out, and had a mind to speak thus to the people, Woe unto you, whom do ye worship? he who had appeared unto him in the temple took away the use of his speech. Afterward when he recovered it, and was able to speak, he declared this to the Jews, and they slew him. They (the Gnostics) add in this book, that on this very account the high priest was commanded by the law-giver (Moses) to carry little bells, that whensoever he went into the temple to sacrifice, he whom they worshipped, hearing the noise of the bells, might have time enough to hide himself, and not be caught in that ugly shape and figure" (Epiph.).
El, the Sun-God of the Syrians, the Egyptians, and the Semites, is declared by Pleyte to be no other than Set or Seth, and El is the primeval Saturn — Israel.* Siva is an AEthiopian God, the same as the Chaldean Baal — Bel; thus he is also Saturn. Saturn, El, Seth and Kiyun, or the biblical Chiun of Amos, are all one and the same deity, and may be all regarded in their worst aspect as Typhon the Destroyer. When the religious Pantheon assumed a more definite expression, Typhon was separated from his androgyne — the good deity, and fell into degradation as a brutal unintellectual power.
Such reactions in the religious feelings of a nation were not unfrequent. The Jews had worshipped Baal or Moloch, the Sun-God Hercules,** in their early days — if they had any days at all earlier than the Persians or Maccabees — and then made their prophets denounce them. On the other hand, the characteristics of the Mosaic Jehovah exhibit more of the moral disposition of Siva than of a benevolent, "long-suffering" God. Besides, to be identified with Siva is no small compliment, for the latter is God of wisdom. Wilkinson depicts him as the most intellectual of the Hindu gods. He is three-eyed, and, like Jehovah, terrible in his resistless revenge and wrath. And, although the Destroyer, "yet he is the re-creator of all things in perfect wisdom."*** He is the type of St. Augustine's God who "prepares hell for pryers into his mysteries," and insists on trying human reason as well as common sense by forcing mankind to view with equal reverence his good and evil acts.
Notwithstanding the numerous proofs that the Israelites worshipped a variety of gods, and even offered human sacrifices until a far later period than their Pagan neighbors, they have contrived to blind posterity in regard to truth. They sacrificed human life as late as 169 B.C.,**** and the Bible contains a number of such records. At a time when the Pagans had long abandoned the abominable practice, and had replaced the sacrificial man by the animal,***** Jephthah is represented sacrificing his own daughter to the "Lord" for a burnt-offering.
The denunciations of their own prophets are the best proofs against them. Their worship in high places is the same as that of the "idolaters." Their prophetesses are counterparts of the Pythiae and Bacchantes. Pausanias speaks of women-colleges which superintend the worship of
* "Phallism in Ancient Religions," by Staniland Wake and Westropp, p. 74.
** Hercules is also a god-fighter as well as Jacob-Israel.
*** "Phallism in Ancient Religions," p. 75.
**** Antiochus Epiphanius found in 169 B.C. in the Jewish temple, a man kept there to be sacrificed. Apion: "Joseph. contra Apion," ii., 8.
***** The ox of Dionysus was sacrificed at the Bacchic Mysteries. See "Anthon," p. 365.
Bacchus, and of the sixteen matrons of Elis.* The Bible says that "Deborah, a prophetess . . . judged Israel at that time";** and speaks of Huldah, another prophetess, who "dwelt in Jerusalem, in the college";*** and 2 Samuel mentions "wise women" several times,**** notwithstanding the injunction of Moses not to use either divination or augury. As to the final and conclusive identification of the "Lord God" of Israel with Moloch, we find a very suspicious evidence of the case in the last chapter of Leviticus, concerning things devoted not to be redeemed. . . . A man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast. . . . None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death . . . for it is most holy unto the Lord."*****
The duality, if not the plurality of the gods of Israel may be inferred from the very fact of such bitter denunciations. Their prophets never approved of sacrificial worship. Samuel denied that the Lord had any delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices (1 Samuel, xv. 22). Jeremiah asserted, unequivocally, that the Lord, Yava Sabaoth Elohe Israel, never commanded anything of the sort, but contrariwise (vii. 21-24).
But these prophets who opposed themselves to human sacrifices were all nazars and initiates. These prophets led a party in the nation against the priests, as later the Gnostics contended against the Christian Fathers. Hence, when the monarchy was divided, we find the priests at Jerusalem and the prophets in the country of Israel. Even Ahab and his sons, who introduced the Tyrian worship of Baal-Hercules and the Syrian goddess into Israel, were aided and encouraged by Elijah and Elisha. Few prophets appeared in Judea till Isaiah, after the northern monarchy had been overthrown. Elisha anointed Jehu on purpose that he should destroy the royal families of both countries, and so unite the people into one civil polity. For the Temple of Solomon, desecrated by the priests, no Hebrew prophet or initiate cared a straw. Elijah never went to it, nor Elisha, Jonah, Nahum, Amos, or any other Israelite. While the initiates were holding to the "secret doctrine" of Moses, the people, led by their priests, were steeped in idolatry exactly the same as that of the Pagans. It is the popular views and interpretations of Jehovah that the Christians have adopted.
The question is likely to be asked: "In the view of so much evidence to show that Christian theology is only a pot-pourri of Pagan mythologies, how can it be connected with the religion of Moses?" The early Christians, Paul and his disciples, the Gnostics and their successors generally, regarded Christianity and Judaism as essentially distinct. The
* "Paus.," 5, 16.
** Judges iv. 4.
*** 2 Kings, xxii. 14.
**** xiv. 2; xx. 16, 17.
***** xxvii. 28, 29.
latter, in their view, was an antagonistic system, and from a lower origin. "Ye received the law," said Stephen, "from the ministration of angels," or aeons, and not from the Most High Himself. The Gnostics, as we have seen, taught that Jehovah, the Deity of the Jews, was Ilda-Baoth, the son of the ancient Bohu, or Chaos, the adversary of Divine Wisdom.
The question may be more than easily answered. The law of Moses, and the so-called monotheism of the Jews, can hardly be said to have been more than two or three centuries older than Christianity. The Pentateuch itself, we are able to show, was written and revised upon this "new departure," at a period subsequent to the colonization of Judea under the authority of the kings of Persia. The Christian Fathers, in their eagerness to make their new system dovetail with Judaism, and so avoid Paganism, unconsciously shunned Scylla only to be caught in the whirlpool of Charybdis. Under the monotheistic stucco of Judaism was unearthed the same familiar mythology of Paganism. But we should not regard the Israelites with less favor for having had a Moloch and being like the natives. Nor should we compel the Jews to do penance for their fathers. They had their prophets and their law, and were satisfied with them. How faithfully and nobly they have stood by their ancestral faith under the most diabolical persecutions, the present remains of a once-glorious people bear witness. The Christian world has been in a state of convulsion from the first to the present century; it has been cleft into thousands of sects; but the Jews remain substantially united. Even their differences of opinion do not destroy their unity.
The Christian virtues inculcated by Jesus in the sermon on the mount are nowhere exemplified in the Christian world. The Buddhist ascetics and Indian fakirs seem almost the only ones that inculcate and practice them. Meanwhile the vices which coarse-mouthed slanderers have attributed to Paganism, are current everywhere among Christian Fathers and Christian Churches.
The boasted wide gap between Christianity and Judaism, that is claimed on the authority of Paul, exists but in the imagination of the pious. We are nought but the inheritors of the intolerant Israelites of ancient days; not the Hebrews of the time of Herod and the Roman dominion, who, with all their faults, kept strictly orthodox and monotheistic, but the Jews who, under the name of Jehovah-Nissi, worshipped Bacchus-Osiris, Dio-Nysos, the multiform Jove of Nyssa, the Sinai of Moses. The kabalistic demons — allegories of the profoundest meaning — were adopted as objective entities, and a Satanic hierarchy carefully drawn by the orthodox demonologists.
The Rosicrucian motto, "Igne natura renovatur integra," which the alchemists interpret as nature renovated by fire, or matter by spirit, is
made to be accepted to this day as Iesus Nazarenus rex Iudaeorum. The mocking satire of Pilate is accepted literally, and the Jews made to unwittingly confess thereby the royalty of Christ; whereas, if the inscription is not a forgery of the Constantinian period, it yet is the action of Pilate, against which the Jews were first to violently protest. I. H. S. is interpreted Iesus Hominum Salvator, and In hoc signo, whereas [[IES]] is one of the most ancient names of Bacchus. And more than ever do we begin to find out, by the bright light of comparative theology, that the great object of Jesus, the initiate of the inner sanctuary, was to open the eyes of the fanatical multitude to the difference between the highest Divinity — the mysterious and never-mentioned IAO of the ancient Chaldean and later Neo-platonic initiates — and the Hebrew Yahuh, or Yaho (Jehovah). The modern Rosicrucians, so violently denounced by the Catholics, now find brought against them, as the most important charge, the fact that they accuse Christ of having destroyed the worship of Jehovah. Would to Heaven he could have been allowed the time to do so, for the world would not have found itself still bewildered, after nineteen centuries of mutual massacres, among 300 quarrelling sects, and with a personal Devil reigning over a terrorized Christendom!
True to the exclamation of David, paraphrased in King James' Version as "all the gods of the nations are idols," i.e., devils, Bacchus or the "first-born" or the Orphic theogony, the Monogenes, or "only-begotten" of Father Zeus and Kore, was transformed, with the rest of the ancient myths, into a devil. By such a degradation, the Fathers, whose pious zeal could only be surpassed by their ignorance, have unwittingly furnished evidence against themselves. They have, with their own hands, paved the way for many a future solution, and greatly helped modern students of the science of religions.
It was in the Bacchus-myth that lay concealed for long and dreary centuries both the future vindication of the reviled "gods of the nations," and the last clew to the enigma of Jehovah. The strange duality of Divine and mortal characteristics, so conspicuous in the Sinaitic Deity, begins to yield its mystery before the untiring inquiry of the age. One of the latest contributions we find in a short but highly-important paper in the Evolution, a periodical of New York, the closing paragraph of which throws a flood of light on Bacchus, the Jove of Nysa, who was worshipped by the Israelites as Jehovah of Sinai.
"Such was the Jove of Nysa to his worshippers," concludes the author. "He represented to them alike the world of nature and the world of thought. He was the 'Sun of righteousness, with healing on his wings,' and he not only brought joy to mortals, but opened to them hope beyond mortality of immortal life. Born of a human mother, he raised her from
the world of death to the supernal air, to be revered and worshipped. At once lord of all worlds, he was in them all alike the Saviour.
"Such was Bacchus, the prophet-god. A change of cultus, decreed by the Murderer-Imperial, the Emperor Theodosius, at the instance of Ghostly-Father Ambrosius, of Milan, has changed his title to Father of Lies. His worship, before universal, was denominated Pagan or local, and his rites stigmatized as witchcraft. His orgies received the name of Witches' Sabbath, and his favorite symbolical form with the bovine foot became the modern representative of the Devil with the cloven hoof. The master of the house having been called Beelzebub, they of his household were alike denounced as having commerce with the powers of darkness. Crusades were undertaken; whole peoples massacred. Knowledge and the higher learning were denounced as magic and sorcery. Ignorance became the mother of devotion — such as was then cherished. Galileo languished long years in prison for teaching that the sun was in the centre of the solar universe. Bruno was burned alive at Rome in 1600 for reviving the ancient philosophy; yet, queerly enough, the Liberalia have become a festival of the Church,* Bacchus is a saint in the calendar four times repeated, and at many a shrine he may be seen reposing in the arms of his deified mother. The names are changed; the ideas remain as before."**
And now that we have shown that we must indeed "bid an eternal farewell to all the rebellious angels," we naturally pass to an examination of the God Jesus, who was manufactured out of the man Jesus to redeem us from these very mythical devils, as Father Ventura shows us. This labor will of course necessitate once more a comparative inquiry into the history of Gautama-Buddha, his doctrines and his "miracles," and those of Jesus and the predecessor of both — Christna.
* The festival denominated Liberalia occurred on the seventeenth of March, now St. Patrick's Day. Thus Bacchus was also the patron saint of the Irish.
** Prof. A. Wilder: "Bacchus, the Prophet-God," in the June number (1877) of the "Evolution, a Review of Polities, Religion, Science, Literature, and Art."