Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Edens, Serpents, and Dragons.
Whence the idea, and the true meaning of the term “Eden”? Christians will maintain that the Garden of Eden is the holy Paradise, the place desecrated by the sin of Adam and Eve; the Occultist will deny this dead-letter interpretation, and show the reverse. One need not believe and see in the Bible divine revelation in order to say that this ancient book, if read esoterically, is based upon the same universal traditions. What Eden was is partially shown in Isis Unveiled.*
It was said that: “The Garden of Eden as a locality is no myth at all; it belongs to those landmarks of history which occasionally disclose to the student that the Bible is not all mere allegory. Eden, or the Hebrew Gan-Eden, meaning the park or the garden of Eden, is an archaic name of the country watered by the Euphrates and its many branches, from Asia and Armenia to the Erythraean sea.” (A. Wilder says that Gan-duniyas is a name of Babylonia.) In the Chaldean “Book of Numbers,” the location is designated in numerals, and in the cypher Rosicrucian manuscript, left by Count St. Germain, it is fully described. In the Assyrian Tablets it is rendered Gan-duniyas. “Behold,” says the (Elohim) of Genesis, “the man is become as one of us.” The Elohim may be accepted in one sense for gods or powers, and in another for Aleim, or priests — the hierophants initiated into the good and evil of this world; for there was a college of priests called the Aleim, while the head of their caste, or the chief of the hierophants was known as Java-Aleim. Instead of becoming a neophyte, and gradually obtaining his esoteric knowledge through a regular initiation, an Adam, or Man, uses his intuitional faculties and, prompted by the serpent (Woman and matter), tastes of the Tree of Knowledge — the esoteric or Secret Doctrine — unlawfully. The priests of Hercules, or Mel-karth, the “Lord of the Eden,” all wore “coats of skin.” The text says: “And Java-Aleim made for Adam and his wife ‘Chitonuth our.’ ” The first Hebrew word, “chiton,” is the Greek [[Chiton]], Chiton. It became a Slavonic word by adoption from the Bible, and means a coat, an upper garment.
“Though containing the same substratum of esoteric truth as does every early Cosmogony, the Hebrew Scripture wears on its face the marks of a double origin. Its Genesis is purely a reminiscence of the Babylonian captivity. The names of places, men and even objects, can be traced from the original text to the Chaldeans and the Akkadians, the progenitors and Aryan instructors of the former. It is strongly contested that the Akkad tribes of Chaldea, Babylonia and Assyria were in
* Vol. I., pp. 575, et seq.
any way cognate with the Brahmans of Hindostan; but there are more proofs in favour of this opinion than otherwise. The Shemite or Assyrian ought, perchance, to have been called the Turanian, and the Mongolians have been denominated Scyths. But if the Akkadians ever existed, otherwise than in the imagination of some ethnologists and philologists, they certainly would never have been a Turanian tribe, as some Assyriologists have striven to make us believe. They were simply emigrants on their way to Asia Minor from India, the cradle of humanity, and their sacerdotal adepts tarried to civilize and initiate a barbarian people. Halevy proved the fallacy of the Turanian mania in regard to Akkadian people, and other scientists have proved that the Babylonian civilization was neither born nor developed in that country. It was imported from India, and the importers were Brahminical Hindus.”
And now, ten years after this was written, we find ourselves corroborated by Professor Sayce, who says in his first Hibbert lecture that the culture of the Babylonian city Eridu was of foreign importation. It came from India.
“Much of the theology was borrowed by the Semites from the non-Semitic Akkadians or proto-Chaldeans, whom they supplanted, and whose local cults they had neither the will nor the power to uproot. Indeed, throughout a long course of ages the two races, Semites and Akkadians, lived side by side, their notions and worship of the gods blending insensibly together.”
Here, the Akkadians are called “non-Semitic,” as we had insisted they were in “Isis,” which is another corroboration. And we are no less right in always maintaining that the Jewish Biblical history was a compilation of historical facts, arranged from other people’s history in Jewish garb — Genesis excluded, which is esotericism pure and simple. But it is really from the Euxine to Kashmir and beyond, that science has to search for the cradle — or rather one of the chief cradles — of mankind and the sons of Ad-ah; and especially in after times, when the Garden of Ed-en on the Euphrates became the college of the astrologers and magi, the Aleim.
But this “college” and this Eden belong to the Fifth Race, and are simply a faint reminiscence of the Adi-varsha, of the primeval Third Race. What is the etymological meaning of the word Eden? In Greek it is [hedone], signifying voluptuousness. In this aspect it is no better than the Olympus of the Greeks, Indra’s heaven (Swarga) on Mount Meru, and even the paradise full of Houris, promised by Mahomet to the faithful. The Garden of Eden was never the property of the Jews; for China, which can hardly be suspected of having known anything of the Jews 2,000 B.C., has such a primitive garden in Central Asia inhabited by the “Dragons of Wisdom,” the Initiates. And according to Klaproth,
the hieroglyphical chart copied from a Japanese Cyclopaedia in the book of Fo-kone-ky, places its “Garden of Wisdom” on the plateau of Pamir between the highest peaks of the Himalayan ranges; and describing it as the culminating point of Central Asia, shows the four rivers — Oxus, Indus, Ganges, and Silo — flowing from a common source, the “Lake of the Dragons.”
But this is not the Genetic Eden; nor is it the Kabalistical Garden of Eden. For the former — Eden Illa-ah — means in one sense Wisdom, a state like that of Nirvana, a paradise of Bliss; while in another sense it refers to Intellectual man himself, the container of the Eden in which grows the tree of Knowledge of good and evil: man being the Knower thereof.
Renan and Barthelemy St. Hilaire, basing themselves “on the most solid inductions,” think it impossible to doubt any longer, and both place the cradle of humanity “on the region of the Timaus.” Finally, the Asiatic Journal* concludes that: “All the traditions of the human race gathering its primitive families at the region of their birth-place, show them to us grouped around the countries where Jewish tradition places the Garden of Eden; where the Aryans (Zoroastrians) established their Airyana-vaego or the Meru (?). They are hemmed in to the North by the countries which join the lake Aral, and to the South by Baltistan, or Little Tibet. Everything concurs in proving that there was the abode of that primitive humanity to which we have to be traced.”
That “primitive humanity” was in its Fifth Race, when the “four-mouthed Dragon,” the lake, of which very few traces are now left, was the abode of the “Sons of Wisdom,” the first mind-born sons of the Third Race. Yet it was neither the only one nor the primitive cradle of humanity, though it was the copy of the cradle, verily, of the first thinking divine man. It was the Paradesa, the highland of the first Sanskrit-speaking people, the Hedone, the country of delight of the Greeks, but it was not the “bower of voluptuousness” of the Chaldeans, for the latter was only the reminiscence of it; and also because it was not there that the Fall of Man occurred after the “separation.” The Eden of the Jews was copied from the Chaldean copy.
That the Fall of man into generation occurred during the earliest portion of what science calls the Mesozoic times, or the age of the reptiles, is evidenced by the Bible phraseology concerning the serpent, the nature of which is explained in the Zohar. The question is not whether Eve’s incident with the tempting reptile is allegorical or textual, for no one can doubt that it is the former, but to show the antiquity of the symbolism on the very face of it, and that it was not only a Jewish but an universal idea.
* “Journal Asiatique,” seventh year, 1855.
Now we find in the Zohar a very strange assertion, one that is calculated to provoke the reader to merry laughter by its ludicrous absurdity. It tells us that the serpent, which was used by Shamael (the supposed Satan), to seduce Eve, was a kind of flying camel ([[kamelomorphon]]).
A “flying camel” is indeed too much for the most liberal-minded F.R.S. Nevertheless, the Zohar, which can hardly be expected to use the language of a Cuvier, was right in its description:* for we find it called in the old Zoroastrian MSS. Aschmogh, which in the Avesta is represented as having lost after the Fall “its nature and its name,” and is described as a huge serpent with a camel’s neck.
“There are no winged serpents, nor veritable dragons,” asserts Salverte,† “. . . grasshoppers are called by the Greeks winged serpents, and this metaphor may have created several narratives on the existence of winged serpents.”
There are none now; but there is no reason why they should not have existed during the Mesozoic age; and Cuvier, who has reconstructed their skeletons, is a witness to “flying camels.” Already, after finding simple fossils of certain saurians, the great naturalist has written, that, “if anything can justify the Hydra and other monsters, whose figures were so often repeated by mediaeval historians, it is incontestably the Plesiosaurus.”‡
We are unaware if Cuvier had added anything in the way of a further mea culpa. But we may well imagine his confusion, for all his slanders against archaic veracity, when he found himself in the presence of a flying saurian, “the Pterodactyl” (found in Germany), “78 feet long, and carrying vigorous wings attached to its reptilian body.” That fossil is described as a reptile, the little fingers of whose hands are so elongated as to bear a long membranous wing. Here, then, the “flying camel” of the Zohar is vindicated. For surely, between the long neck of the Plesiosaurus and the membranous wing of the Pterodactyl, or still better the Mosasaurus, there is enough scientific probability to build a “flying camel,” or a long-necked dragon. Prof. Cope, of Philadelphia, has shown that the Mosasaurus fossil in the chalk was a winged serpent of this kind. There are characters in its vertebrae, which indicate union with the Ophidia rather than with the Lacertilia.
And now to the main question. It is well known that Antiquity has never claimed palaeontography and palaeontology among its arts and sciences; and it never had its Cuviers. Yet on Babylonian tiles, and especially in old Chinese and Japanese drawings, in the oldest Pagodas
* See Moses Maimonides, “More Nevochim.”
† “Science Occulte,” p. 646.
‡ “Revolution du Globe,” vol. v., p. 464.
and monuments, and in the Imperial library at Pekin, many a traveller has seen and recognised perfect representations of Plesiosauri and Pterodactyls in the multiform Chinese dragons.* Moreover, the prophets speak in the Bible of the flying fiery serpents,† and Job mentions the Leviathan.‡ Now the following questions are put very directly: —
I. How could the ancient nations know anything of the extinct monsters of the carboniferous and Mesozoic times, and even represent and describe them orally and pictorially, unless they had either seen those monsters themselves or possessed descriptions of them in their traditions, which descriptions necessitate living and intelligent eye-witnesses?
II. And if such eye-witnesses are once admitted (unless retrospective clairvoyance is granted), how can humanity and the first palaeolithic men be no earlier than about the middle of the tertiary period? We must bear in mind that most of the men of science will not allow man to have appeared before the Quaternary period, and thus shut him out completely from the Cenozoic times. Here we have extinct species of animals, which disappeared from the face of the Earth millions of years ago, described by, and known to, nations whose civilization, it is said, could hardly have begun a few thousand years ago. How is this? Evidently either the Mesozoic time has to be made to overlap the Quaternary period, or man must be made the contemporary of the Pterodactyl and the Plesiosaurus.
It does not stand to reason, because the Occultists believe in and defend ancient wisdom and science, even though winged saurians are called “flying camels” in the translations of the Zohar, that we believe as readily in all the stories which the middle ages give us of such dragons. Pterodactyls and Plesiosauri ceased to exist with the bulk
* We read in the “Memoire a l’Academie” of the “naive astonishment of Geoffrey St. Hilaire, when M. de Paravey showed to him in some old Chinese works and Babylonian tiles dragons, . . . . saurians and ornithorhynchuses (aquatic animals found only in Australia), etc., extinct animals that he had thought unknown on earth. . . . till his own day.”
† See Isaiah, xxx. 6: “The viper and the flying serpent unto the land of trouble and anguish,” and the fiery serpents conquered by the brazen serpent of Moses.
‡ The fossils reconstructed by science, which we know ought to be sufficient warrant for the possibility of even a Leviathan, let alone Isaiah’s flying serpents, or saraph mehophep, which words are translated in all the Hebrew Dictionaries as “saraph,” enflamed or fiery venom, and “mehophep,” flying. But, although Christian theology has always connected both (Leviathan and saraph mehophep) with the devil, the expressions are metaphorical and have nought to do with the “evil one.” But the word Dracon has become a synonym for the latter. In Bretagne the word Drouk now signifies “devil,” whence, as we are told by Cambry (“Monuments Celtiques,” p. 299), the devil’s tomb in England, Draghedanum sepulcrum. In Languedoc the meteoric fires and will-o’-the-wisps are called Dragg, and in Bretagne Dreag, Wraie (or wraith) the castle of Drogheda in Ireland meaning the devil’s castle.
of the Third Race. When, therefore, we are gravely asked by Roman Catholic writers to credit Christopher Scherer’s and Father Kircher’s cock-and-bull stories of their having seen with their own eyes living fiery and flying dragons, respectively in 1619 and 1669, we may be allowed to regard their assertions as either dreams or fibs.* Nor shall we regard otherwise than as a poetical license that other story told of Petrarch, who, while following one day his Laura in the woods and passing near a cave, is credited with having found a dragon, whom he forthwith stabbed with his dagger and killed, thus preventing the monster from devouring the lady of his heart.† We would willingly believe the story had Petrarch lived in the days of Atlantis, when such antediluvian monsters may still have existed. We deny their existence in our present era. The sea-serpent is one thing, the dragon quite another. The former is denied by the majority because it exists and lives in the very depths of the ocean, is very scarce, and rises to the surface only when compelled, perhaps, by hunger. Thus keeping invisible, it may exist and still be denied. But if there was such a thing as a dragon of the above description, how could it have ever escaped detection? It is a creature contemporary with the earliest Fifth Race, and exists no more.
* The ultramontane writers accept the whole series of draconian stories given by Father Kircher (OEdipus AEgyptiacus, “De Genere Draconum,”) quite seriously. According to that Jesuit, he himself saw a dragon which was killed in 1669 by a Roman peasant, as the director of the Museo Barberini sent it to him, to take the beast’s likeness, which Father Kircher did and had it published in one of his in-folios. After this he received a letter from Christopher Scherer, Prefect of the Canton of Soleure, Switzerland, in which that official certifies to his having seen himself with his own eyes, one fine summer night in 1619, a living dragon. Having remained on his balcony “to contemplate the perfect purity of the firmament,” he writes, “I saw a fiery, shining dragon rise from one of the caves of Mount Pilatus and direct itself rapidly towards Fluelen to the other end of the lake. Enormous in size, his tail was still longer and his neck very extended. His head and jaws were those of a serpent. In flying he emitted on his way numerous sparks (? !) . . . . I thought at first I was seeing a meteor, but soon looking more attentively, I was convinced by his flight and the conformation of his body that I saw a veritable dragon. I am happy to be thus able to enlighten your Reverence on the very real existence of those animals”; in dreams, the writer ought to have added, of long past ages.
† As a convincing proof of the reality of the fact, a Roman Catholic refers the reader to the picture of that incident painted by Simon de Sienne, a friend of the poet, on the portal of the Church Notre Dame du Don at Avignon; notwithstanding the prohibition of the Sovereign Pontiff, who “would not allow this triumph of love to be enthroned in the holy place”; and adds: “Time has injured and rubbed out the work of art, but has not weakened its tradition.” De Mirville’s “Dragon-Devils” of our era seem to have no luck, as they disappear most mysteriously from the museums where they are said to have been. Thus the dragon embalmed by Ulysses Aldobranda and presented to the Musee du Senat, either in Naples or Bologna, “was there still in 1700, but is there no more.” (Vol. 2, p. 427, “Pneumatologie.”)
The reader may inquire why we speak of dragons at all? We answer: firstly, because the knowledge of such animals is a proof of the enormous antiquity of the human race; and secondly, to show the difference between the zoological real meaning of the words “dragon,” “Naga,” and “Serpent,” and the metaphorical one, when used symbolically. The profane reader, who knows nothing of the mystery language, is likely, whenever he finds one of these words mentioned, to accept it literally. Hence, the quid pro quos and unjust accusations. A couple of instances will suffice.
Sed et serpens? aye: but what was the nature of the serpent? Mystics intuitionally see in the serpent of Genesis an animal emblem and a high spiritual essence: a cosmic force superintelligent, a “great fallen light,” a spirit sidereal, aerial and tellurian at the same time, “whose influence circumambulates the globe (qui circumambulat terram), as a Christian fanatic of the dead-letter (de Mirville) has it, and which only manifested itself under the physical emblem, which was the most convenient “with respect to its moral and intellectual coils”: i.e. under the ophidian form.
But what will Christians make of the Brazen Serpent, the “divine healer,” if the serpent is to be regarded as the emblem of cunning and evil? The “Evil One” itself? How can the line of demarcation ever be settled, when it is traced arbitrarily in a sectarian theological spirit. For, if the followers of the Roman Church are taught that Mercury and AEsculapius, or Asclepios, who are, in truth, one, are “devils and sons of devils,” and the wand and serpent of the latter were “the devil’s wand”; how about the “brazen serpent” of Moses? Every scholar knows that both the heathen wand and the Jewish “serpent” are one and the same, namely, the Caduceus of Mercury, son of Apollo-python. It is easy to comprehend why the Jews adopted the ophidian shape for their “seducer.” With them it was purely physiological and phallic; and no amount of casuistical reasoning on the part of the Roman Catholic Church can give it another meaning, once that the mystery language is well studied, and that the Hebrew scrolls are read numerically. The Occultists know that the serpent, the Naga, and the dragon have each a septenary meaning; that the Sun, for instance, was the astronomical and cosmic emblem of the two contrasted lights, and the two serpents of the Gnostics, the good and the evil one; they also know that, when generalised, the conclusions of both science and theology present two most ridiculous extremes. For, when the former tells us that it is sufficient to trace the legends of the serpents to their primal source, the astrological legend, and to meditate seriously on the Sun, conqueror of Python, and the celestial virgin in the Zodiac forcing back the devouring dragon, if we would have the key of all the subsequent religious dogmas; it is easy to perceive that, instead of
generalising, the author simply has his eye on Christian religion and Revelation. We call this one extreme. The other we see in this: when, repeating the famous decision of the Council of Trent, theology seeks to convince the masses that “from the fall of man until the hour of his baptism the devil has full power over him, and possesses him by right (diabolum dominationem et potestatem super homines habere et jure eos possidere).” To this Occult philosophy answers: Prove first the existence of the devil as an entity, and then we may believe in such congenital possession. A very small amount of observation and knowledge of human nature may be sufficient to prove the fallacy of this theological dogma. Had Satan any reality, in the objective or even subjective world (in the ecclesiastical sense), it is the poor devil who would find himself chronically obsessed and even possessed by the wicked — hence by the bulk of mankind. It is humanity itself, and especially the clergy, headed by the haughty, unscrupulous and intolerant Roman Church, which have begotten, given birth to, and reared in love the evil one; but this is a digression.
“The whole world of thought is reproached by the Church with having adored the serpent. The whole of humanity ‘incensed and at the same time stoned it.’ The Zend Avesta speaks of it as the Kings and Vedas do, as the Edda and the Bible. . . . Everywhere the sacred serpent, the naga, and its shrine and its priest; in Rome it is the Vestal who prepares its meal with the same care as she bestows on the sacred fire. In Greece, AEsculapius cannot cure without its assistance, and delegates to it his powers. Every one has heard of the famous Roman embassy sent by the Senate to the god of medicine and its return with the not less famous serpent, which proceeded of its own will and by itself toward its Master’s temple on one of the islands of the Tiber. Not a Bacchante that did not wind it (the serpent) in her hair, not an Augur but questioned it oracularly, not a necromancer whose tomb is free from its presence! The Cainites and the Ophites call it Creator, while recognizing, as Schelling did, that the serpent is ‘evil in substance and its personification.’ ”*
Yes, the author is right, and if one would have a complete idea of the prestige which the serpent enjoys to our own day, one ought to study the matter in India and learn all that is believed about, and still attributed to, the Nagas (Cobras) in that country; one should also visit the Africans of Whydah, the Voodoos of Port-au-Prince and Jamaica, the Nagals of Mexico, and the Pa, or men-serpents of China, &c. But why wonder that the serpent is “adored” and at the same time cursed, since we
* “Sacred Serpents” on p. 432 of de Mirville’s “Memoire.”
know that from the beginning it was a symbol?* In every ancient language the word dragon signified what it now does in Chinese — (lang) i.e., “the being who excels in intelligence” and in Greek [[drakon]], or “he who sees and watches.” And is it to the animal of that name that any of these epithets can apply? Is it not evident, wherever superstition and oblivion of the primitive meaning may have led savages now, that the said qualifications were intended to apply to the human originals, who were symbolized by serpents and dragons? These “originals” — called to this day in China “the Dragons of Wisdom” — were the first disciples of the Dhyanis, who were their instructors; in short, the primitive adepts of the Third Race, and later, of the Fourth and Fifth Races. The name became universal, and no sane man before the Christian era would ever have confounded the man and the symbol.
The symbol of Chnouphis, or the soul of the world, writes Champollion, “is among others that of an enormous serpent standing on human legs; this reptile, the emblem of the good genius, is a veritable Agathodaemon. It is often represented bearded. . . . . That sacred animal, identical with the serpent of the Ophites, is found engraved on numerous Gnostic or Basilidean stones . . . . The serpent has various heads, but is constantly inscribed with the letters [[CHNOUBIS]].”† Agathodaemon was endowed “with the knowledge of good and evil,” i.e., with divine Wisdom, as without the former the latter is impossible.‡ Repeating Iamblichus, Champollion shows him to be “the deity called [[Eichton]] (or the fire of the celestial gods — the great § Thot-
* This is about as just as though — a few millenniums hence — a fanatic of some future new creed, who was bent on glorifying his religion at the expense of ancient Christianity, were to say: “Everywhere the quadruped lamb was adored. The nun placed it, calling it the Agnus, on her bosom; the priest laid it on the altar. It figured in every paschal meal, and was glorified loudly in every temple. And yet the Christians dreaded it and hated it, for they slew and devoured it. . . .” Heathens, at any rate, do not eat their sacred symbols. We know of no serpent, or reptile-eaters except in Christian civilized countries, where they begin with frogs and eels, and must end with real snakes, as they have begun with lamb and ended with horse-flesh.
† “Pantheon,” 3.
‡ The solar Chnouphis, or Agathodaemon, is the Christos of the Gnostics, as every scholar knows. He is intimately connected with the seven sons of Sophia (Wisdom), the seven sons of Aditi (universal Wisdom), her eighth being Marttanda, the Sun, which seven are the seven planetary regents or genii. Therefore Chnouphis was the spiritual Sun of Enlightenment, of Wisdom, hence the patron of all the Egyptian Initiates, as Bel-Merodach (or Bel-Belitanus) became later with the Chaldeans.
§ Hermes, or rather Thot, was a generic name. Abul Teda shows in “Historia Anti-Islamitica” five Hermes, and the names of Hermes, Nebo, Thot were given respectively in various countries to great Initiates. Thus Nebo, the son of Merodach and Zarpanitu (whom Herodotus calls Zeus-Belos), gave his name to all the great prophets, seers and Initiates. They were all “serpents of Wisdom,” as connected with the Sun astronomically, and with Wisdom spiritually.
Hermes), to whom Hermes Trismegistus attributes the invention of magic.”*
The “invention of magic!” A strange term to use, as though the unveiling of the eternal and actual mysteries of nature could be invented! As well attribute, millenniums hence, the invention instead of the discovery of radiant matter to Prof. Crookes. Hermes was not the inventor, or even the discoverer, for, as said in the foot-note, Thot-Hermes is a generic name, as is Enoch (Enoichion, the “inner, spiritual eye”), Nebo, the prophet and seer, etc. It is not the proper name of any one living man, but a generic title of many adepts. Their connection in symbolic allegories with the serpent is due to their enlightenment by the solar and planetary gods during the earliest intellectual Race, the Third. They are all the representative patrons of the Secret Wisdom. Asclepios is the son of the Sun-god Apollo — and he is Mercury; Nebo is the son of Bel-Merodach; Vaivasvata Manu, the great Rishi, is the son of Vivisvat — the Sun or Surya, etc., etc. And while, astronomically, the Nagas along with the Rishis, the Gandharvas, Apsarasas, Gramanis (or Yakshas, minor gods) Yatudhanas and Devas, are the Sun’s attendants throughout the twelve solar months; in theogony, and also in anthropological evolution, they are gods and men — when incarnated in the nether world. Let the reader be reminded, in this connection, of the fact that Apollonius met in Kashmir Buddhist Nagas — which are neither serpents zoologically, nor yet the Nagas ethnologically, but “wise men.”
The Bible, from Genesis to Revelations, is but a series of historical records of the great struggle between white and black Magic, between the Adepts of the right path, the Prophets, and those of the left, the Levites, the clergy of the brutal masses. Even the students of Occultism, though some of them have more archaic MSS. and direct teaching to rely upon, find it difficult to draw a line of demarcation between the Sodales of the Right Path and those of the Left. The great schism that arose between the sons of the Fourth Race, as soon as the first Temples and Halls of Initiation had been erected under the guidance of “the Sons of God,” is allegorized in the Sons of Jacob. That there were two schools of Magic, and that the orthodox Levites did not belong to the holy one, is shown in the words pronounced by the dying Jacob. And here it may be well to quote a few sentences from “Isis Unveiled.”
The dying Jacob thus describes his sons: “Dan,” he says, “shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse-heels, so that his rider shall fall backwards (i.e., he will teach candidates black magic) . . . . I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord!” Of Simeon and Levi the patriarch remarks that they “. . . are brethren; instru-
* “Pantheon,” text 15.
ments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly.”* Now in the original, the words “their secret” really are “their Sod.”† And Sod was the name for the great mysteries of Baal, Adonis and Bacchus, who were all sun-gods and had serpents for symbols. The Kabalists explain the allegory of the fiery serpents by saying that this was the name given to the tribe of Levi, to all the Levites, in short, and that Moses was the chief of the Sodales.‡ It is to the mysteries that the original meaning of the “Dragon-Slayers” has to be traced, and the question is fully treated of hereafter.
Meanwhile it follows that, if Moses was the chief of the Mysteries, he was the Hierophant thereof, and further, if, at the same time, we find the prophets thundering against the “abominations” of the people of Israel, that there were two schools. “Fiery serpents” was, then, simply the epithet given to the Levites of the priestly caste, after they had departed from the good law, the traditional teachings of Moses: and to all those who followed Black Magic. Isaiah, when referring to the “rebellious children” who will have to carry their riches into the land whence come “the viper and fiery flying serpent” (xxx. 6), or Chaldea and Egypt, whose Initiates had already greatly degenerated in his day (700 B.C.), meant the sorcerers of those lands.§ But these must be carefully distinguished from the “Fiery Dragons of Wisdom” and the “Sons of the Fire Mist.”
In the “Great Book of the Mysteries” we are told that: “Seven Lords created Seven men; three Lords (Dhyan Chohans or Pitris) were holy and good, four less heavenly and full of passion. . . . The chhayas (phantoms) of the Fathers were as they.”
This accounts for the differences in human nature, which is divided into seven gradations of good and evil. There were seven tabernacles ready to be inhabited by Monads under seven different Karmic conditions. The Commentaries explain on this basis the easy spread of evil, as soon as the human Forms had become real men. Some ancient
* “Genesis,” ch. xlix.
† Dunlap, in his introduction to “Sod, the Mysteries of Adonis,” explains the word “Sod” as arcanum, religious mystery, on the authority of Schindler’s “Penteglott.” “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him,” says Psalm xxv., 14. This is a mistranslation of the Christians, for it ought to read “Sod Ihoh (the mysteries of Ihoh) are for those who fear him” (Dunlap, “Mysteries of Adonis,” xi). “Al (El) is terrible in the great Sod of the Kadeshim (the priests, the holy, the Initiated), Psalm lxxxix, 7” (ibid.). The Kadeshim were very far from holy. (Vide Part II., “The Holy of Holies.”)
‡ “The members of the priest-Colleges were called Sodales,” says Freund’s “Latin Lexicon” (iv. 448). “Sodalities were constituted in the Idaean Mysteries of the Mighty Mother,” writes Cicero in de Senectute. (“Mysteries of Adonis.”)
§ The priests of Baal who jumped over the fires. But this was a Hebrew term and a local one. “Saraph” — “fiery or flaming venom.”
philosophers ignored the seven in their genetical accounts and gave only four. Thus the Mexican local Genesis has “four good men” described as the four real ancestors of the human race, “who were neither begotten by the gods nor born of woman”; but whose creation was a wonder wrought by the creative Powers, and who were made only after “three attempts at manufacturing men had failed.” The Egyptians had in their theology only “four sons of God,” whereas in Pymander seven are given — thus avoiding any mention of the evil nature of man; though when Seth from a god sank into Set-Typhon, he began to be called “the seventh son.” Whence probably arose the belief that “the seventh son of the seventh son” is always a natural-born magician, though, at first, only a sorcerer was meant. Apap, the serpent symbolizing evil, is slain by Aker, Set’s serpent;* therefore Set-Typhon could not be that evil. In the “Book of the Dead” it is commanded (v. 13) that chapter clxiii. should be read “in the presence of a serpent on two legs,” which means a high Initiate, a Hierophant, for the discus and ram’s horns† that adorn his “serpent’s” head in the hieroglyphics of the title of the said chapter denote this. Over the “serpent” are represented the two mystic eyes of Ammon,‡ the hidden “mystery god.” This passage corroborates our assertion, and shows what the word “serpent” meant in antiquity.
But as to the Nagals and Nargals, whence came the similarity of names between the Indian Nagas and the American Nagals?
“The Nargal was the Chaldean and Assyrian chief of the Magi (Rab-Mag), and the Nagal was the chief sorcerer of the Mexican Indians. Both derive their names from Nergal-Serezer, the Assyrian god, and the Hindu Nagas. Both have the same faculties and the power to have an attendant daemon, with whom they identify themselves completely. The Chaldean and Assyrian Nargal kept his daemon, in the shape of some animal considered sacred, inside the temple; the Indian Nagal keeps his wherever he can — in the neighbouring lake, or wood, or in the house in the shape of some household animal.”§
Such similarity cannot be attributed to coincidence. A new world is discovered, and we find that, for our forefathers of the Fourth Race,
* “Book of the Dead” xxxix.
† The same ram’s horns are found on the heads of Moses which were on some old medals seen by the writer in Palestine, one of which is in her possession. The horns, made to form part of the shining aureole on the statue of Moses in Rome (Michael Angelo), are vertical instead of being bent down to the ears, but the emblem is the same; hence the Brazen Serpent.
‡ But see Harris’s “Magic Papyrus” No. v.; and the ram-headed Ammon manufacturing men on a potter’s wheel.
§ Brasseur de Bourbourg: “Mexique,” pp. 135 and 574.
it was already an old one. That Arjuna, Krishna’s companion and chela, is said to have descended into Patala, the “antipodes,” and therein married Ulupi,* a Naga (or Nagini rather), the daughter of the king of the Nagas, Kauravya.†
And now it may be hoped the full meaning of the serpent emblem is proven. It is neither that of evil, nor, least of all, that of the devil; but is , indeed, the [[SEMES EILAM ABRASAX]] (“the eternal Sun-Abrasax”), the central spiritual sun of all the Kabalists, represented in some diagrams by the circle of Tiphereth.
And here, again, we may quote from our earlier volumes and enter into further explanations.
“From this region of unfathomable depth (Bythos, Aditi, Shekinah, the veil of the unknown) issues forth a circle formed of spirals. This is Tiphereth; which, in the language of symbolism, means a grand cycle, composed of smaller ones. Coiled within, so as to follow the spirals, lies the serpent — emblem of Wisdom and Eternity — the dual Androgyne; the cycle representing Ennoia, or the divine mind (a power which does not create but which must assimilate), and the serpent, the Agathodaemon, the Ophis, the Shadow of the Light (non-eternal, yet the greatest divine light on our plane). Both were the Logoi of the Ophites: or the Unity as Logos manifesting itself as a double principle of Good and Evil.”
Were it light alone, inactive and absolute, the human mind could not appreciate nor even realise it. Shadow is that which enables light to manifest itself, and gives it objective reality. Therefore, shadow is not evil, but is the necessary and indispensable corollary which completes Light or Good: it is its creator on Earth.
According to the views of the Gnostics, these two principles are immutable Light and Shadow, Good and Evil being virtually one and having existed through all eternity, as they will ever continue to exist so long as there are manifested worlds.
This symbol accounts for the adoration by this sect of the Serpent, as the Saviour, coiled either around the sacramental loaf, or a Tau, the phallic emblem. As a Unity, Ennoia and Ophis are the Logos. When separated, one is the Tree of Life (spiritual), the other, the Tree
* Ulupi has an entirely Atlantean ring about it. Like Atlantis, it is neither a Greek nor a Sanskrit name, but reminds one of Mexican names.
† “Mahabharata,” Adiparva, Sloka, 7788, 7789. The “Bhagavata Purana,” ix., xx., 31, as explained by Sridhera, the commentator, makes Ulupi the daughter of the king of Manipura; but the late Pundit Dayanand Saraswati, certainly the greatest Sanskrit and Puranic authority in India on such questions, personally corroborated that Ulupi was daughter of the king of the Nagas at Patala, or America, 5000 years ago, and that the Nagas were Initiates.
of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, we find Ophis urging the first human couple — the material production of Ilda-Baoth, but which owed its spiritual principle to Sophia-Achamoth — to eat of the forbidden fruit, although Ophis represents divine Wisdom.
The serpent, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life, are all symbols transplanted from the soil of India. The Arasa-Maram, the banyan tree, so sacred with the Hindus (since Vishnu during one of his incarnations, reposed under its mighty shade and there taught human philosophy and sciences), is called the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. Under the protecting foliage of this king of the forests, the Gurus teach their pupils their first lessons on immortality and initiate them into the mysteries of life and death. The Java-Aleim of the Sacerdotal College are said, in the Chaldean tradition, to have taught the sons of men to become like one of them. To the present day Foh-tchou,* who lives in his Foh-Maeyu, or temple of Buddha, on the top of the “Kouin-long-sang,”† the great mountain, produces his greatest religious miracles under a tree called in Chinese Sung-Ming-Shu, or the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, for ignorance is death, and knowledge alone gives immortality. This marvellous display takes place every three years, when an immense concourse of Chinese Buddhists assembles in pilgrimage at the holy place.
Now it may become comprehensible why the earliest Initiates and Adepts, or the “Wise Men,” for whom it is claimed that they were initiated into the mysteries of nature by the universal mind, represented by the highest angels, were named the “Serpents of Wisdom” and “Dragons;” as also how the first physiologically complete couples — after being initiated into the mystery of human creation through Ophis, the manifested Logos and the androgyne, by eating of the fruit of knowledge — gradually began to be accused by the material spirit of posterity of having committed Sin, of having disobeyed the “Lord God,” and of having been tempted by the Serpent.
So little have the first Christians (who despoiled the Jews of their Bible) understood the first four chapters of Genesis in their esoteric meaning, that they never perceived that not only was no sin intended in this disobedience, but that actually the “Serpent” was “the Lord God” himself, who, as the Ophis, the Logos, or the bearer of divine creative wisdom, taught mankind to become creators in their turn.‡ They
* Foh-tchou, literally, in Chinese meaning Buddha’s lord, or the teacher of the doctrines of Buddha-Foh.
† This mountain is situated south-west of China, almost between China and Tibet.
‡ Let the reader be reminded that in the Zohar, and also in all the Kabalistic works, it is maintained that “Metatron united to Shekinah” (or Shekinah as the veil (grace) [[Footnote continued on next page]]
never realised that the Cross was an evolution from the “tree and the serpent,” and thus became the salvation of mankind. By this it would become the very first fundamental symbol of Creative cause, applying to geometry, to numbers, to astronomy, to measure and to animal reproduction. According to the Kabala the curse on man came with the formation of woman.* The circle was separated from its diameter line. “From the possession of the double principle in one, that is the Androgyne condition, the separation of the dual principle was made, presenting two opposites, whose destiny it was, for ever after, to seek reunion into the original one condition. The curse was this, viz.: that nature, impelling the search, evaded the desired result by the production of a new being, distinct from that reunion or oneness desired, by which the natural longing to recover a lost state was and is for ever being cheated. It is by this tantalizing process of a continued curse that Nature lives.”† (Vide “Cross and Circle,” Part II.)
The allegory of Adam being driven away from the “Tree of Life” means, esoterically, that the newly separated Race abused and dragged the mystery of Life down into the region of animalism and bestiality. For, as the Zohar shows, that Matronethah (Shekinah, the wife of Metatron symbolically) “is the way to the great Tree of Life, the Mighty Tree,” and Shekinah is divine grace. As explained: This Tree reaches the heavenly vale and is hidden between three mountains (the upper triad of principles, in man). From these three mountains, the Tree ascends above (the adept’s knowledge aspires heavenward) and then redescends below (into the adept’s Ego on Earth). This Tree is revealed in the day time and is hidden during the night, i.e., revealed to an enlightened mind and hidden to Ignorance, which is night. (See Zohar I., 172, a and b.) “The Tree of the Knowledge of the Good and the Evil grows from the roots of the Tree of Life.” (Comm.) But then also: “In the Kabala it is plainly to be found that “the ‘Tree of Life’ was
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] of Ain-Soph), representing the Logos, is that very Tree of Knowledge; while Shamael — the dark aspect of the Logos — occupies only the rind of that tree, and has the knowledge of evil alone. As Lacour, who saw in the scene of the Fall (chap. iii., Genesis) an incident pertaining to Egyptian Initiation, says: — “The Tree of the Divination, or of the Knowledge of Good and Evil . . . . is the science of Tzyphon, the genius of doubt, Tzy to teach, and phon, doubt. Tzyphon is one of the Aleim; we shall see him presently under the name of Nach, the tempter” (Les OEloim, Vol. II., p. 218). He is now known to the symbologists under the name Jehovah.
* This is the view taken and adopted by all the Church Fathers, but it is not the real esoteric teaching. The curse did not begin with the formation of either man or woman, for their separation was a natural sequence of evolution, but for breaking the law (See supra).
† “By which (human) nature lives,” not even the animal — but the misguided, sensual and vicious nature, which men, not nature, created.
the ansated cross in its sexual aspect, and that the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ was the separation and the coming together again to fulfil the fatal condition. To display this in numbers the values of the letters composing the word Otz ( ), tree, are 7 and 9, the seven being the holy feminine number and the nine the number of the phallic or male energy. This ansated cross is the symbol of the Egyptian female-male, Isis-Osiris, the germinal principle in all forms, based on the primal manifestation applicable in all directions and in all senses.”*
This is the Kabalistic view of the Western Occultists, and it differs from the more philosophical Eastern or Aryan views upon this subject.† The separation of the sexes was in the programme of nature and of natural evolution; and the creative faculty in male and female was a gift of Divine wisdom. In the truth of such traditions the whole of antiquity, from the patrician philosopher to the humblest spiritually inclined plebeian, has believed. And as we proceed, we may successfully show that the relative truth of such legends, if not their absolute exactness — vouched for by such giants of intellect as were Solon, Pythagoras, Plato, and others — begins to dawn upon more than one modern scientist. He is perplexed; he stands startled and confused before proofs that are being daily accumulated before him; he feels that there is no way of solving the many historical problems that stare him in the face, unless he begins by accepting ancient traditions. Therefore, in saying that we believe absolutely in ancient records and universal legends, we need hardly plead guilty before the impartial observer, for other and far more learned writers, among those who belong to the modern scientific school, evidently believe in much that the Occultists do: e.g., in “Dragons,” not only symbolically, but also in their actual existence at one time.
“It would have indeed been a bold step for anyone, some thirty years ago, to have thought of treating the public to a collection of stories ordinarily reputed fabulous, and of claiming for them the consideration due to genuine realities, or to have advocated tales, believed to be time-honoured fictions, as actual facts; and those of the nursery as being, in many instances, legends, more or less distorted, descriptive of real beings or events. Nowadays it is a less hazardous proceeding. . . . .”
Thus opens the introduction to a recent (1886) and most interesting work by Mr. Charles Gould, called “Mythical Monsters.” He boldly states his belief in most of these monsters. He submits that: — “Many of the so-called mythical animals, which, throughout long ages and in all nations, have been the fertile subjects of fiction and fable, come
* “The Source of Measures.”
† Vide infra, “The Septenary,” in Part II.
legitimately within the scope of plain matter-of-fact natural history; and that they may be considered, not as the outcome of exuberant fancy, but as creatures which really once existed, and of which, unfortunately, only imperfect and inaccurate descriptions have filtered down to us, probably very much refracted, through the mists of time. . . . Traditions of creatures once co-existing with man, some of which are so weird and terrible as to appear at first sight to be impossible. For me the major part of those creatures are not chimeras but objects of rational study. The dragon, in place of being a creature evolved out of the imagination of an Aryan man by the contemplation of lightning flashing through the caverns which he tenanted, as is held by some mythologists, is an animal which once lived and dragged its ponderous coils and perhaps flew. . . . . To me the specific existence of the Unicorn seems not incredible, and in fact, more probable than that theory which assigns its origin to a lunar myth* . . . For my part I doubt the general derivation of myths from ‘the contemplation of the visible workings of external nature.’ It seems to me easier to suppose that the palsy of time has enfeebled the utterance of these oft-told tales until their original appearance is almost unrecognisable, than that uncultured savages should possess powers of imagination and poetical invention far beyond those enjoyed by the most instructed nations of the present day; less hard to believe that these wonderful stories of gods and demigods, of giants and dwarfs, of dragons and monsters of all descriptions are transformations than to believe them to be inventions.”†
It is shown by the same geologist that man, “successively traced to periods variously estimated from thirty thousand to one million years . . . . . , co-existed with animals which have long since become extinct (p. 20).” These animals, “weird and terrible,” were, to give a few instances — (1) “Of the genus Cidastes, whose huge bones and vertebrae show them to have attained a length of nearly two hundred feet . . . . . .” The remains of such monsters, no less than ten in number, were seen by Professor Marsh in the Mauvaises Terres of Colorado, strewn upon the plains. (2) The Titanosaurus montanus, reaching fifty or sixty feet in length; (3) the Dinosaurians (in the Jurassic beds of the Rocky Mountains), of still more gigantic proportions; (4) the Atlanto-Saurus immanis, a femur of which alone is over six feet in length, and which would be thus over one hundred feet in length! But even yet the line has not been reached, and we hear of the discovery of remains of such titanic proportions as to possess a thigh-bone over twelve feet in length (p. 37). Then we read of the monstrous Sivatherium in the Himalayas, the four-horned stag, as large as an elephant, and exceeding the latter in height; of the gigantic Megatherium: of colossal flying lizards, Pterodactyli, with
* “The Unicorn: a Mythological Investigation,” Robert Brown, jun., F.S.A.
† Pp. 3 and 4, Introduction to “Mythical Monsters.”
crocodile jaws on a duck’s head, etc., etc. All these were co-existent with man, most probably attacked man, as man attacked them; and we are asked to believe that the said man was no larger then than he is now! Is it possible to conceive that, surrounded in Nature with such monstrous creatures, man, unless himself a colossal giant, could have survived, while all his foes have perished? Is it with his stone hatchet that he had the best of a Sivatherium or a gigantic flying saurian? Let us always bear in mind that at least one great man of science, de Quatrefages, sees no good scientific reasons why man should not have been “contemporaneous with the earliest mammalia and go back as far as the Secondary Period.”*
“It appears,” writes the very conservative Professor Jukes, “that the flying dragons of romance had something like a real existence in former ages of the world.”† “Does the written history of man,” the author goes on to ask, “comprising a few thousand years, embrace the whole course of his intelligent existence? Or have we in the long mythical eras, extending over hundreds of thousands of years, and recorded in the chronologies of Chaldea and China, shadowy mementoes of prehistoric man, handed down by tradition, and perhaps transported by a few survivors to existing lands, from others which, like the fabled Atlantis of Plato, may have been submerged, or the scene of some great catastrophe which destroyed them with all their civilization;” (p. 17).
The few remaining giant animals, such as elephants, themselves smaller than their ancestors the Mastodons, and Hippopotami, are the only surviving relics, and tend to disappear more entirely with every day. Even they have already had a few pioneers of their future genus, and have decreased in size in the same proportion as men did. For the remains of a pigmy elephant were found (E. Falconeri) in the cave deposits of Malta; and the same author asserts that they were associated with the remains of pigmy Hippopotami, the former being “only two feet six inches high; or the still-existing Hippopotamus (Choeropsis) Liberiensis, which M. Milne-Edwards figures as little more than two feet in height.”‡
Sceptics may smile and denounce our work as full of nonsense or fairy-tales. But by so doing they only justify the wisdom of the Chinese philosopher Chuang, who said that “the things that men do know can in no way be compared, numerically speaking, to the things that are unknown”;§ and thus they laugh only at their own ignorance.
* “The Human Species,” p.52.
† “Manual of Geology,” p. 301.
‡ “Recherches sur les Mammiferes,” plate 1.
§ Preface to “Wonders by Land and Sea,” (Shan Hai King).