[Spiritual Scientist, Boston, July 15 and 22, 1875, pp. 217-18, 224, 236-7]
Among the numerous sciences pursued by the well-disciplined army of earnest students of the present century, none has had less honors or more scoffing than the oldest of them — the science of sciences, the venerable mother-parent of all our modern pigmies. Anxious, in their petty vanity, to throw the veil of oblivion over their undoubted origin, the self-styled, positive scientists, ever on the alert, present to the courageous scholar who tries to deviate from the beaten highway traced out for him by his dogmatic predecessors, a formidable range of serious obstacles.
As a rule, Occultism is a dangerous, double-edged weapon for one to handle, who is unprepared to devote his whole life to it. The theory of it, unaided by serious practice, will ever remain in the eyes of those prejudiced against such an unpopular cause, an idle, crazy speculation, fit only to charm the ears of ignorant old women. When we cast a look behind us, and see how, for the last thirty years, modern Spiritualism has been dealt with, notwithstanding the occurrence of daily, hourly proofs which speak to all our senses, stare us in the eyes, and utter their voices from "beyond the great gulf," how can we hope that Occultism, or Magic, which stands in relation to Spiritualism as the Infinite to the Finite, as the cause to the effect, or as unity to multifariousness, how can we hope, I say, that it will easily gain ground where Spiritualism is scoffed at? One who rejects a priori, or even doubts, the immortality of man's soul can never believe in its Creator, and blind to what is heterogeneous in his eyes, will remain still more blind to the proceeding of the latter from Homogeneity. In relation to the Cabala, or the compound mystic textbook of all the great secrets of Nature, we do not know of anyone in the present century who could have commanded a sufficient dose of that moral courage which fires the heart of the true adept with the sacred flame of propagandism — to force him into defying public opinion, by displaying familiarity with that sublime work. Ridicule is the deadliest weapon of the age, and while we read in the records of history of thousands of martyrs who joyfully braved flames and faggots in support of their mystic doctrines in the past centuries, we would scarcely be likely to find one individual in the present times, who would be brave enough even to defy ridicule by seriously undertaking to prove the great truths embraced in the traditions of the Past.
As an instance of the above, I will mention the article on Rosicrucianism, signed "Hiraf." This ably-written essay, notwithstanding some fundamental errors, which, though they are such would be hardly noticed except by those who had devoted their lives to the study of Occultism in its various branches of practical teaching, indicates with certainty to the practical reader that, for theoretical knowledge, at least, the author need fear few rivals, still less superiors. His modesty, which I cannot too much appreciate in his case — though he is safe enough behind the mask of his fancy pseudonym — need not give him any apprehensions. There are few critics in this country of Positivism who would willingly risk themselves in an encounter with such a powerful disputant, on his own ground. The weapons he seems to hold in reserve, in the arsenal of his wonderful memory, his learning, and his readiness to give any further information that enquirers may wish for, will undoubtedly scare off every theorist, unless he is perfectly sure of himself, which few are. But book learning — and here I refer only to the subject of Occultism — vast as it may be, will always prove insufficient even to the analytical mind, the most accustomed to extract the quintessence of truth, disseminated throughout thousands of contradictory statements, unless supported by personal experience and practice. Hence, Hiraf can only expect an encounter with some one who may hope to find a chance to refute some of his bold assertions on the plea of having just such a slight practical experience. Still, it must not be understood that these present lines are intended to criticize our too modest essayist. Far from poor, ignorant me be such a presumptuous thought. My desire is simply to help him in his scientific but, as I said before, rather hypothetical researches, by telling a little of the little I picked up in my long travels throughout the length and breadth of the East — that cradle of Occultism — in the hope of correcting certain erroneous notions he seems to be labouring under, and which are calculated to confuse uninitiated sincere enquirers, who might desire to drink at his own source of knowledge.
In the first place, Hiraf doubts whether there are in existence, in England or elsewhere, what we term regular colleges for the neophytes of this Secret Science. I will say from personal knowledge that such places there are in the East — in India, Asia Minor, and other countries. As in the primitive days of Socrates and other sages of antiquity, so now, those who are willing to learn the Great Truth will find the chance if they only "try" to meet someone to lead them to the door of one "who knows when and how." If Hiraf is right about the seventh rule of the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross which says that "the Rose-crux becomes and is not made," he may err as to the exceptions which have ever existed among other Brotherhoods devoted to the pursuit of the same secret knowledge. Then again, when he asserts, as he does, that Rosicrucianism is almost forgotten, we may answer him that we do not wonder at it, and add, by way of parenthesis, that, strictly speaking, the Rosicrucians do not now even exist, the last of that Fraternity having departed in the person of Cagliostro.*
*Knowing but little about Occultism in Europe I may be mistaken; if so, any one who knows to the contrary will oblige me by correcting my error.
Hiraf ought to add to the word Rosicrucianism "that particular sect," at least, for it was but a sect after all, one of many branches of the same tree.
By forgetting to specify that particular denomination, and by including under the name of Rosicrucians all those who, devoting their lives to Occultism, congregated together in Brotherhoods Hiraf commits an error by which he may unwittingly lead people to believe that the Rosicrucians having disappeared, there are no more Cabalists practicing Occultism on the face of the earth. He also becomes thereby guilty of an anachronism,* attributing to the Rosicrucians the building of the Pyramids and other majestic monuments, which indelibly exhibit in their architecture the symbols of the grand religions of the Past. For it is not so. If the main object in view was and still is alike with all the great family of the ancient and modern Cabalists, the dogmas and formulae of certain sects differ greatly. Springing one after the other from the great Oriental mother-root, they scattered broadcast all over the world, and each of them desiring to outrival the other by plunging deeper and deeper into the secrets jealously guarded by Nature, some of them became guilty of the greatest heresies against the primitive Oriental Cabala.
*The same mistake pervades the whole of that able book, The Rosicrucians, by Hargrave Jennings.
While the first followers of the secret sciences, taught to the Chaldaeans by nations whose very name was never breathed in history, remained stationary in their studies having arrived at the maximum, the Omega of the knowledge permitted to man, many of the subsequent sects separated from them, and, in their uncontrollable thirst for more knowledge, trespassed the boundaries of truth, and fell into fictions. In consequence of Pythagoras — so says Iamblichus — having by sheer force of energy and daring penetrated into the mysteries of the Temple of Thebes, and obtained therein his initiation, and afterwards studied the sacred sciences in Egypt for twenty-two years, many foreigners were subsequently admitted to share the knowledge of the wise men of the East, who, as a consequence, had many of their secrets divulged. Later still, unable to preserve them in their purity, these mysteries were so mixed up with fictions and fables of the Grecian mythology that truth was wholly distorted.
As the primitive Christian religion divided, in course of time, into numerous sects, so the science of Occultism gave birth to a variety of doctrines and various brotherhoods. So the Egyptian Ophites became the Christian Gnostics, shooting forth the Basilideans of the second century, and the original Rosicrucians created subsequently the Paracelsists, or Fire-Philosophers, the European Alchemists, and other physical branches of their sect. (See Hargrave Jennings' The Rosicrucians.) To call indifferently every Cabalist a Rosicrucian, is to commit the same error as if we were to call every Christian a Baptist on the ground that the latter are also Christians.
The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross was not founded until the middle of the thirteenth century, and notwithstanding the assertions of the learned Mosheim, it derives its name, neither from the Latin word Ros (dew), nor from a cross, the symbol of Lux. The origin of the Brotherhood can be ascertained by any earnest, genuine student of Occultism, who happens to travel in Asia Minor, if he chooses to fall in with some of the Brotherhood, and if he is willing to devote himself to the head-tiring work of deciphering a Rosicrucian manuscript — the hardest thing in the world, for it is carefully preserved in the archives of the very Lodge which was founded by the first Cabalist of that name, but which now goes by another name. The founder of it, a German Reuter [Knight], by the name of Rosencranz, was a man who, after acquiring a very suspicious reputation through the practice of the Black Art, in his native place, reformed in consequence of a vision. Giving up his evil practices, he made a solemn vow, and went on foot to Palestine, in order to make his amende honorable at the Holy Sepulchre. Once there, the Christian God, the meek, but well-informed Nazarene — trained as he was in the high school of the Essenes, those virtuous descendants of the botanical as well as astrological and magical Chaldaeans — appeared to Rosencranz, a Christian would say, in a vision, but I would suggest, in the shape of a materialized spirit. The purport of this visitation, as well as the subject of their conversation, remained forever a mystery to many of the Brethren; but immediately after that, the ex-sorcerer and Reuter disappeared, and was heard of no more till the mysterious sect of Rosicrucians was added to the family of Cabalists, and their powers aroused popular attention, even among the Eastern populations, indolent, and accustomed as they are to live among wonders. The Rosicrucians strove to combine together the most various branches of Occultism, and they soon became renowned for the extreme purity of their lives and their extraordinary powers, as well as for their thorough knowledge of the secret of the secrets.
As alchemists and conjurers they became proverbial. Later (I need not inform Hiraf precisely when, as we drink at two different sources of knowledge), they gave birth to the more modern Theosophists, at whose head was Paracelsus, and to the Alchemists, one of the most celebrated of whom was Thomas Vaughan (seventeenth century) who wrote the most practical things on Occultism, under the name of Eugenius Philalethes. I know and can prove that Vaughan was, most positively, "made before he became."
The Rosicrucian Cabala is but an epitome of the Jewish and the Oriental ones combined, the latter being the most secret of all. The Oriental Cabala, the practical, full, and only existing copy, is carefully preserved at the headquarters of this Brotherhood in the East, and, I may safely vouch, will never come out of its possession. Its very existence has been doubted by many of the European Rosicrucians. One who wants "to become" has to hunt for his knowledge through thousands of scattered volumes, and pick up facts and lessons, bit by bit. Unless he takes the nearest way and consents "to be made," he will never become a practical Cabalist, and with all his learning will remain at the threshold of the "mysterious gate." The Cabala may be used and its truths imparted on a smaller scale now than it was in antiquity, and the existence of the mysterious Lodge, on account of its secrecy, doubted; but it does exist and has lost none of the primitive secret powers of the ancient Chaldaeans.* The lodges, few in number, are divided into sections and known but to the Adepts; no one would be likely to find them out, unless the sages themselves found the neophyte worthy of initiation. Unlike the European Rosicrucians, who, in order "to become and not be made," have constantly put into practice the words of St. John, who says, "Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force," and who have struggled alone, violently robbing Nature of her secrets, the Oriental Rosicrucians (for such we will call them, being denied the right to pronounce their true name), in the serene beatitude of their divine knowledge, are ever ready to help the earnest student struggling "to become" with practical knowledge, which dissipates, like a heavenly breeze, the blackest clouds of sceptical doubt.
* For those who are able to understand intuitionally what I am about to say, my words will be but the echo of their own thoughts. I draw the attention of such only, to a long series of inexplicable events which have taken place in our present century; to the mysterious influence directing political cataclysms; the doing and undoing of crowned heads; the tumbling down of thrones; the thorough metamorphosis of nearly the whole of the European map, beginning with the French Revolution of '93, predicted in every detail by the Count de St.-Germain, in an autograph MS., now in possession of the descendants of the Russian nobleman to whom he gave it, and coming down to the Franco-Prussian War of the latter days. This mysterious influence called "chance" by the skeptic and Providence by Christians, may have a right to some other name. Of all these degenerated children of Chaldaean Occultism, including the numerous societies of Freemasons, only one of them in the present century is worth mentioning in relation to Occultism, namely, the "Carbonari." Let some one study all he can of that secret society, let him think, combine, deduce. If Raymond Lully, a Rosicrucian, a Cabalist, could so easily supply King Edward I of England with six millions sterling to carry on war with the Turks in that distant epoch, why could not some secret lodge in our day furnish, as well, nearly the same amount of millions to France, to pay their national debt — this same France, which was so wonderfully, quickly defeated, and as wonderfully set on her legs again. Idle talk! — people will say. Very well, but even an hypothesis may be worth the trouble to consider sometimes.
Hiraf is right again when he says that "knowing that their mysteries, if divulged," in the present chaotic state of society, "would produce mere confusion and death," they shut up that knowledge within themselves. Heirs to the early heavenly wisdom of their first forefathers, they keep the keys which unlock the most guarded of Nature's secrets, and impart them only gradually and with the greatest caution. But still they do impart sometimes! Once in such a cercle vicieux, Hiraf sins likewise in a certain comparison he makes between Christ, Buddha, and Khong-foo-tse, or Confucius. A comparison can hardly be made between the two former wise and spiritual Illuminati, and the Chinese philosopher. The higher aspirations and views of the two Christs can have nothing to do with the cold, practical philosophy of the latter; brilliant anomaly as he was among a naturally dull and materialistic people, peaceful and devoted to agriculture from the earliest ages of their history. Confucius can never bear the slightest comparison with the two great Reformers. Whereas the principles and doctrines of Christ and Buddha were calculated to embrace the whole of humanity, Confucius confined his attention solely to his own country; trying to apply his profound wisdom and philosophy to the wants of his countrymen, and little troubling his head about the rest of mankind. Intensely Chinese in patriotism and views, his philosophical doctrines are as much devoid of the purely poetic element, which characterizes the teachings of Christ and Buddha, the two divine types, as the religious tendencies of his people lack in that spiritual exaltation which we find, for instance, in India. Khong-foo-tse has not even the depth of feeling and the slight spiritual striving of his contemporary, Lao-tse. Says the learned Ennemoser: the spirits of Christ and Buddha have left indelible, eternal traces all over the face of the world. The doctrines of Confucius can be mentioned only as the most brilliant proceedings of cold human reasoning." C. F. Haug, in his Allgemeine Geschichte, has depicted the Chinese nation perfectly, in a few words: their "heavy, childish, cold, sensual nature explains the peculiarities of their history." Hence any comparison between the first two reformers and Confucius, in an essay on Rosicrucianism, in which Hiraf treats of the Science of Sciences and invites the thirsty for knowledge to drink at her inexhaustible source, seems inadmissible.
Further, when our learned author asserts so dogmatically that the Rosicrucian learns, though he never uses, the secret of immortality in earthly life, he asserts only what he himself, in his practical inexperience, thinks impossible. The words "never" and "impossible" ought to be erased from the dictionary of humanity, until the time at least when the great Cabala shall all be solved, and so rejected or accepted. The "Count de Saint-Germain" is, until this very time, a living mystery, and the Rosicrucian Thomas Vaughan another one. The countless authorities we have in literature, as well as in oral tradition (which sometimes is the more trustworthy) about this wonderful Count's having been met and recognized in different centuries, is no myth. Anyone who admits one of the practical truths of the Occult Sciences taught by the Cabala, tacitly admits them all. It must be Hamlet's "to be or not to be," and if the Cabala is true, then Saint-Germain need be no myth.
But I am digressing from my object, which is, firstly, to show the slight differences between the two Cabalas — that of the Rosicrucians and the Oriental one; and, secondly, to say that the hope expressed by Hiraf to see the subject better appreciated at some future day than it has been till now, may perhaps become more than a hope. Time will show many things; till then, let us heartily thank Hiraf for this first well-aimed shot at those stubborn scientific runaways, who, once before the Truth, avoid looking her in the face, and dare not even throw a glance behind them, lest they should be forced to see that which would greatly lessen their self-sufficiency. As a practical follower of Eastern Spiritualism, I can confidently wait for the time when, with the timely help of those "who know," American Spiritualism, which even in its present shape has proved such a sore in the side of the materialists, will become a science and a thing of mathematical certitude, instead of being regarded only as the crazy delusion of epileptic monomaniacs.
The first Cabala in which a mortal man ever dared to explain the greatest mysteries of the universe, and show the keys to "those masked doors in the ramparts of Nature through which no mortal can ever pass without rousing dread sentries never seen upon this side of her wall," was compiled by a certain Shimon Ben Yochai, who lived at the time of the second Temple's destruction. Only about thirty years after the death of this renowned Cabalist, his MSS. and written explanations, which had till then remained in his possession as a most precious secret, were used by his son Rabbi Eleazar and other learned men. Making a compilation of the whole, they so produced the famous work called Zohar (God's splendour). This book proved an inexhaustible mine for all the subsequent Cabalists, their source of information and knowledge, and all more recent and genuine Cabalas were more or less carefully copied from the former. Before that, all the mysterious doctrines had come down in an unbroken line of merely oral traditions as far back as man could trace himself on earth. They were scrupulously and jealously guarded by the Wise Men of Chaldaea, India, Persia and Egypt, and passed from one initiate to another, in the same purity of form as when handed down to the first man by the angels, students of God's great Theosophic Seminary. For the first time since the world's creation, the secret doctrines, passing through Moses who was initiated in Egypt, underwent some slight alterations. In consequence of the personal ambition of this great prophet-medium, he succeeded in passing off his familiar spirit, the wrathful "Jehovah," for the spirit of God himself, and so won undeserved laurels and honors. The same influence prompted him to alter some of the principles of the great oral Cabala in order to make them the more secret. These principles were laid out in symbols by him in the first four books of the Pentateuch, but for some mysterious reasons he withheld them from Deuteronomy. Having initiated his seventy Elders in his own way, the latter could give but what they had received themselves, and so was prepared the first opportunity for heresy, and the erroneous interpretations of the symbols. While the Oriental Cabala remained in its pure primitive shape, the Mosaic or Jewish one was full of drawbacks, and the keys to many of the secrets — forbidden by the Mosaic law — purposely misinterpreted. The powers conferred by it on the initiates were formidable still, and of all the most renowned Cabalists, King Solomon and his bigoted parent, David, notwithstanding his penitential psalms, were the most powerful. But still the doctrine remained secret and purely oral, until, as I have said before, the days of the second Temple's destruction. Philologically speaking, the very word Cabala is formed from two Hebrew words, meaning to receive, as in former times the initiate received it orally and directly from his Master, and the very Book of the Zohar was written out on received information, which was handed down as an unvarying stereotyped tradition by the Orientals, and altered through the ambition of Moses, by the Jews.
If the primitive Rosicrucians learned their first lessons of wisdom from Oriental masters, not so with their direct descendants, the fire-philosophers or Paracelsists; for in many things the Cabala of the latter Illuminati proves to be degenerated into a twin sister of the Jewish. Let us compare. Besides admitting the "Shedim," or intermediate spirits of the Jews — the elementary ones, which they divide into four classes, those of the air, of the water, the fire, and of minerals — the Christian Cabalist believes like the Jewish, in Asmodeus, the Ever-accursed One, or our good friend the orthodox Satan. Asmodeus, or Asmodi, is the chief of the elementary goblins. This doctrine alone differs considerably from the Oriental philosophy, which denies that the great Ain-soph (the Endless or Boundless) who made his existence known through the medium of the spiritual substance sent forth from his Infinite Light — the eldest of the ten Intelligences or Emanations — the first Sephira — could ever create an endless, macrocosmal evil. It (Oriental philosophy) teaches us that, though the first three spheres out of seven — taking it for granted that our planet comes in fourth — are inhabited by elementary or future men (this might account for the modern doctrine of Re-incarnation, perhaps) and, though until they become such men they are beings without immortal souls in them and but the "grossest purgations of the celestial fire," still they do not belong to Eternal Evil. Every one of them has the chance in store of having its matter reborn on this "fourth sphere," which is our planet, and so have "the gross purgation" purified by the Immortal Breath of the Aged of the Aged, who endows every human being with a portion of his boundless self. Here, on our planet, commences the first spiritual transition, from the Infinite to the Finite, of the elementary matter which first proceeded from the pure Intelligence, or God, and also the operation of that pure Principle upon this material purgation. Thus begins the immortal man to prepare for Eternity.
In their primitive shape, the elementary spirits, so often mistaken in modern Spiritualism for the undeveloped or unprogressed spirits of our dead, stand in relation to our planet as we stand in relation to the Summer Land. When we use the term "disembodied spirit," we only repeat what the elementary ones most certainly think or say of us human beings, and if they are as yet devoid of immortal souls, they are, nevertheless, gifted with instinct and craft, and we appear as little material to them as the spirits of the fifth sphere appear to us. With our passage into each subsequent sphere, we throw off something of our primitive grossness. Hence, there is eternal progress — physical and spiritual — for every living being. The transcendental knowledge and philosophy of the greatest Oriental Cabalists never penetrated beyond a certain mark, and the Hermetist, or rather Rosicrucian, if we would be precise, never went farther than to solve the majestic, but more limited problems of the Jewish Cabala, which we can divide thus:
1. The nature of the Supreme Being:
2. The origin, creation, and generation of the Universe, the Macrocosmos;
3. The creation, or generation, of outflowing of angels and man;
4. The ultimate destiny of angels, man, and the Universe; or the inflowing;
5. To point out to humanity the real meaning of the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures.
As it is, the real, the complete Cabala of the first ages of humanity is in possession, as I said before, of but a few Oriental philosophers; where they are, who they are, is more than is given me to reveal. Perhaps I do not know it myself, and have only dreamed it. Thousands will say it is all imagination; so be it. Time will show. The only thing I can say is that such a body exists, and that the location of their Brotherhoods will never be revealed to other countries, until the day when Humanity shall awake in a mass from its spiritual lethargy, and open its blind eyes to the dazzling light of Truth. A too premature discovery might blind them, perhaps forever. Until then, the speculative theory of their existence, will be supported by what people erroneously believe to be supernal facts. Notwithstanding the selfish, sinful opposition of science to Spiritualism in general, and that of the scientists in particular, who, forgetting that their first duty is to enlighten Humanity, instead of that, allow millions of people to lose themselves and drift about like so many disabled ships, without pilot or compass, among the sandbanks of superstition; notwithstanding the toy-thunderbolts and harmless anathemas hurled around by the ambitious and crafty clergy, who, above all men, ought to believe in spiritual truths; notwithstanding the apathetic indifference of that class of people who prefer believing in nothing, pretending the while to believe in the teachings of their churches, which they select according to their best notions of respectability and fashion; notwithstanding all these things, Spiritualism will rise above all, and its progress can be as little helped as the dawn of the morning or the rising of the sun. Like the former, will the glorious Truth arise among all these black clouds gathered in the East; like the latter, will its brilliant light pour forth upon awakening humanity its dazzling rays. These rays will dissipate these clouds and the unhealthy mists of a thousand religious sects which disgrace the present century. They will warm up and recall into new life the millions of wretched souls who shiver and are half frozen under the icy hand of killing skepticism. Truth will prevail at last, and Spiritualism, the new world's conqueror, reviving, like the fabulous Phoenix out of the ashes of its first parent, Occultism, will unite for ever in one Immortal Brotherhood all antagonistic races; for this new St. Michael will crush for ever the dragon's head — of Death!
I have but a few words more to say before I close. To admit the possibility of anyone becoming a practical Cabalist (or a Rosicrucian, we will call him, as the names seem to have become synonymous) who simply has the firm determination to "become" one, and hopes to get the secret knowledge through studying the Jewish Cabala, or every other one that may come into existence, without actually being initiated by another, and so being "made" such by someone who "knows," is as foolish as to hope to thread the famous labyrinth without the clue, or to open the secret locks of the ingenious inventors of the mediaeval ages, without having possession of the keys. If the Christian New Testament, the easiest and youngest of all the Cabalas known to us, has presented such immense difficulties to those who would interpret its mysteries and secret meanings (which, were they only once studied with the key of modern Spiritualism, would open as simply as the casket in Aesop's fable), what hope can there be for a modern Occultist, learned only in theoretical knowledge, to ever attain his object? Occultism without practice will ever be like the statue of Pygmalion, and no one can animate it without infusing into it a spark of the sacred Divine Fire. The Jewish Cabala, the only authority of the European Occultist, is all based on the secret meanings of the Hebrew scriptures, which, in their turn, indicate the keys to them, by signs hidden and unintelligible to the uninitiated. They afford no hope for the adepts to solve them practically. The Seventh Rule of the Rosicrucian "who became, but was not made" has its secret meaning, like every other phrase left by the Cabalists to posterity, in writing. The words: "The dead letter killeth," which Hiraf quotes, can be applied in this case with still more justice than to the Christian teachings of the first apostles. A Rosicrucian had to struggle ALONE, and toil long years to find some of the preliminary secrets — the A B C of the great Cabala — only on account of his ordeal, during which were to be tried all his mental and physical energies. After that, if found worthy, the word "Try" was repeated to him for the last time before the final ceremony of the ordeal. When the High Priests of the Temple of Osiris, of Serapis, and others, brought the neophyte before the dreaded Goddess Isis, the word "Try" was pronounced for the last time; and then, if the neophyte could withstand that final mystery, the most dreaded as well as the most trying of all horrors for him who knew not what was in store for him; if he bravely "lifted the veil of Isis," he became an initiate, and had naught to fear more. He had passed the last ordeal, and no longer dreaded to meet face to face the inhabitants from "over the dark river."
The only cause for the horror and dread we feel in the presence of death, lies in its unsolved mystery. A Christian will always fear it, more or less; an initiate of the secret science, or a true Spiritualist, never; for both of the latter have lifted the veil of Isis, and the great problem is solved by both, in theory and in practice.
Many thousand years ago the wise King Solomon declared that "There is nothing new under the Sun," and the words of this very wise man ought to be repeated till the farthest ends of time. There is not a science, nor a modern discovery in any section of it, but was known to the Cabalists thousands of years since. This will appear a bold and ridiculous assertion, I know; and one apparently unconfirmed by any authority. But I will answer that where truth stares one in the face, there can be no other authority than one's senses. The only authority I know of, lies scattered throughout the East. Besides, who would ever dare, in the ever-changing, ever-discovering Europe, or adolescent America, to risk proclaiming himself as an authority? The scientist, who was an authority yesterday, becomes by the mere lucky chance a contemporary discoverer, a worn-out hypothesist. How easily the astronomer of today forgets that all his science is but the picking up of crumbs left by the Chaldaean astrologists. What would not modern physicians, practitioners of their blind and lame science of medicine, give for a part of the knowledge of botany and plants — I won't say of the Chaldaeans — but even of the more modern Essenians. The simple history of the Eastern people, their habits and customs, ought to be a sure guarantee that what they once knew, they cannot have totally forgotten. While Europe has changed twenty times its appearance, and been turned upside down by religious and political revolutions and social cataclysms, Asia has remained stationary. What was, two thousand years ago, exists now with very little variation. Such practical knowledge as was possessed by the ancients could not die out so soon with such a people. The hope of finding remnants even of such wisdom as Ancient Asia possessed, ought to tempt our conceited modern science to explore her territory.
And thus is it that all we know of what we profess and live upon, comes to us from the scorned, despised Occultism of the East. Religion and sciences, laws and customs — all of these, are closely related to Occultism, and are but its result, its direct products, disguised by the hand of time, and palmed upon us under new pseudonyms. If people ask me for the proof, I will answer that it does not enter my province to teach others what they can learn themselves with very little difficulty, provided they give themselves the trouble to read and think over what they read. Besides, the time is near when all the old superstitions and the errors of centuries must be swept away by the hurricane of Truth. As the prophet Mohammed, when he perceived that the mountain would not come to him, went himself towards the mountain, so Modern Spiritualism made its unexpected appearance from the East, before a skeptical world, to terminate in a very near future the oblivion into which the ancient secret wisdom had fallen.
Spiritualism is but a baby now, an unwelcome stranger, whom public opinion, like an unnatural foster mother, tries to crush out of existence. But it is growing, and this same East may one day send some experienced, clever nurses to take care of it. The immediate danger of Salem tragedies has passed away. The Rochester knockings, tiny as they were, awoke some vigilant friends, who, in their turn, aroused thousands and millions of jealous defenders for the true Cause. The most difficult part is done; the door stands ajar; it remains for such minds as Hiraf invites to help earnest truth-seekers to the key which will open for them the gates, and aid them to pass the threshold dividing this world from the next, "without rousing the dread sentries never seen upon this side of her wall." It belongs to the exact knowledge of the Occultist to explain and alter much of what seems "repulsive" in Spiritualism, to some of the too delicate Orthodox souls. The latter may object the more to Spiritualistic phenomena, on the ground that Cabalism is mixed up with it. They will begin to prove that Occultism, if it does exist, is the forbidden "Black Art," the sorcery for which people were burnt, not so long ago. In such a case I will humbly reply, that there is nothing in nature but has two sides to it. Occultism is certainly no exception to the rule, and is composed of White and Black magic. But so is Orthodox religion, likewise. When an Occultist is a real Rosicrucian, he is a thousand times purer and nobler, and more divine, than any of the holiest Orthodox priests; but when one of the latter gives himself up to the turbulent demon of his own vile passions, and so rouses all the fiends, they shout with joy at the sight of such a perversity. In what, pray, is this Orthodox priest better than the blackest of all the sorcerers' dealings with the Elementary "Dweller," or with the "Diakka" of A. J. Davis? Verily, we have White and Black Christianity, as well as White and Black magic.
O, you very Orthodox priests and clergymen of various creeds and denominations, you who are so intolerant towards Spiritualism, this purest of the Children of Ancient Magic, can you tell me why, in such a case, you practice daily yourselves, all the most prominent rites of magic in your churches, and follow the antetypes of the very ceremonies of Occultism? Can you light a taper, or illuminate your altars with circles of wax lights, for instance, and not repeat the rites of magic? What is your altar with the vertical burning candles, but the modern mimicry of the original magic monolith with the Baal fires upon it? Don't you know that by doing so you are following right in the steps of the ancient fire-worshippers, the Persian Heathen Ghebers? And your Pope's sparkling mitre, what is it but the direct descendant of the Mithraic Sacrifice, symbolical covering invented for the heads of the high priests of this very Occultism in Chaldaea? Having passed through numerous transformations it now rests in its last (?) Orthodox shape, upon the venerable head of your successor of St. Peter. Little do the devout worshippers of the Vatican suspect, when they lift up their eyes in mute adoration upon the head of their God on Earth, the Pope, that what they admire, is after all, but the caricatured head-dress, the Amazon-like helmet of Pallas Athene, the heathen goddess Minerva! In fact, there is scarcely a rite or ceremony of the Christian Church that does not descend from Occultism.
But say or think what you will, you cannot help that which was, is, and ever will be, namely, the direct communication between the two worlds. We term this intercourse modern Spiritualism, with the same right and logic as when we say the "New World," in speaking of America.
I will close by startling, perhaps, even Orthodox Spiritualists by reaffirming that all who have ever witnessed our modern materializations of genuine spirit-forms, have, unwittingly, become the initiated neophytes of the Ancient Mystery; for each and all of them have solved the problem of Death, have "lifted the veil of Isis."
Blavatsky Articles Homepage
Theosophical Society Homepage