"Think not my magic wonders wrought by aid
Of Stygian angels summoned up from Hell;
Scorned and accursed by those who have essay'd
Her gloomy Divs and Afrites to compel.
But by perception of the secret powers
Of mineral springs, in nature's inmost cell,
Of herbs in curtain of her greenest bowers,
And of the moving stars o'er mountain tops and towers." — Tasso, Canto XIV., xliii.
"Who dares think one thing and another tell
My heart detests him as the gates of Hell!" — Pope.
"If man ceases to exist when he disappears in the grave, you must be compelled to affirm that he is the only creature in existence whom nature or providence has condescended to deceive and cheat by capacities for which there are no available objects." — Bulwer-Lytton: Strange Story.
The preface of Richard A. Proctor's latest work on astronomy, entitled Our Place among Infinities, contains the following extraordinary words: "It was their ignorance of the earth's place among infinities, which led the ancients to regard the heavenly bodies as ruling favorably or adversely the fates of men and nations, and to dedicate the days in sets of seven to the seven planets of their astrological system."
Mr. Proctor makes two distinct assertions in this sentence: 1. That the ancients were ignorant of the earth's place among infinities; and 2. That they regarded the heavenly bodies as ruling, favorably or adversely, the fates of men and nations.* We are very confident that there is at least good reason to suspect that the ancients were familiar with the movements, emplacement, and mutual relations of the heavenly bodies. The testimony of Plutarch, Professor Draper, and Jowett, are sufficiently explicit. But we would ask Mr. Proctor how it happens, if the ancient astronomers were so ignorant of the law of the birth and death of worlds that, in the fragmentary bits which the hand of time has spared us of ancient lore there should be — albeit couched in obscure language — so much information which the most recent discoveries of science have verified? Beginning with the tenth page of the work under notice, Mr. Proc-
tor sketches for us the theory of the formation of our earth, and the successive changes through which it passed until it became habitable for man. In vivid colors he depicts the gradual accretion of cosmic matter into gaseous spheres surrounded with "a liquid non-permanent shell"; the condensation of both; the ultimate solidification of the external crust; the slow cooling of the mass; the chemical results following the action of intense heat upon the primitive earthy matter; the formation of soils and their distribution; the change in the constitution of the atmosphere; the appearance of vegetation and animal life; and, finally, the advent of man.
Now, let us turn to the oldest written records left us by the Chaldeans, the Hermetic Book of Numbers,* and see what we shall find in the allegorical language of Hermes, Kadmus, or Thuti, the thrice great Trismegistus. "In the beginning of time the great invisible one had his holy hands full of celestial matter which he scattered throughout the infinity; and lo, behold! it became balls of fire and balls of clay; and they scattered like the moving metal† into many smaller balls, and began their ceaseless turning; and some of them which were balls of fire became balls of clay; and the balls of clay became balls of fire; and the balls of fire were waiting their time to become balls of clay; and the others envied them and bided their time to become balls of pure divine fire."
Could any one ask a clearer definition of the cosmic changes which Mr. Proctor so elegantly expounds?
Here we have the distribution of matter throughout space; then its concentration into the spherical form; the separation of smaller spheres from the greater ones; axial rotation; the gradual change of orbs from the incandescent to the earthy consistence; and, finally, the total loss of heat which marks their entrance into the stage of planetary death. The change of the balls of clay into balls of fire would be understood by materialists to indicate some such phenomenon as the sudden ignition of the star in Cassiopeia, A.D. 1572, and the one in Serpentarius, in 1604, which was noted by Kepler. But, do the Chaldeans evince in this expression a profounder philosophy than of our day? Does this change into balls of "pure divine fire" signify a continuous planetary existence,
correspondent with the spirit-life of man, beyond the awful mystery of death? If worlds have, as the astronomers tell us, their periods of embryo, infancy, adolescence, maturity, decadence, and death, may they not, like man, have their continued existence in a sublimated, ethereal, or spiritual form? The magians so affirm. They tell us that the fecund mother Earth is subject to the same laws as every one of her children. At her appointed time she brings forth all created things; in the fulness of her days she is gathered to the tomb of worlds. Her gross, material body slowly parts with its atoms under the inexorable law which demands their new arrangement in other combinations. Her own perfected vivifying spirit obeys the eternal attraction which draws it toward that central spiritual sun from which it was originally evolved, and which we vaguely know under the name of God.
"And the heaven was visible in seven circles, and the planets appeared with all their signs, in star-form, and the stars were divided and numbered with the rulers that were in them, and their revolving course was bounded with the air, and borne with a circular course, through the agency of the divine spirit."*
We challenge any one to indicate a single passage in the works of Hermes which proves him guilty of that crowning absurdity of the Church of Rome which assumed, upon the geocentric theory of astronomy, that the heavenly bodies were made for our use and pleasure, and that it was worth while for the only son of God to descend upon this cosmic mote and die in expiation for our sins! Mr. Proctor tells us of a liquid non-permanent shell of uncongealed matter enclosing a "viscous plastic ocean," within which "there is another interior solid globe rotating." We, on our part, turn to the Magia Adamica of Eugenius Philalethes, published in 1650, and at page 12, we find him quoting from Trismegistus in the following terms: "Hermes affirmeth that in the Beginning the earth was a quackmire or quivering kind of jelly, it being nothing else but water congealed by the incubation and heat of the divine spirit; cum adhuc (sayeth he) Terra tremula esset, Lucente sole compacta est."
In the same work Philalethes, speaking in his quaint, symbolical way, says, "The earth is invisible . . . on my soul it is so, and which is more, the eye of man never saw the earth, nor can it be seen without art. To make this element invisible, is the greatest secret in magic . . . as for this faeculent, gross body upon which we walk, it is a compost, and no earth but it hath earth in it, . . . in a word all the elements are visible but one, namely the earth, and when thou hast attained to so much per-
fection as to know why God hath placed the earth in abscondito,* thou hast an excellent figure whereby to know God Himself, and how He is visible, how invisible."†
Ages before our savants of the nineteenth century came into existence, a wise man of the Orient thus expressed himself, in addressing the invisible Deity: "For thy Almighty Hand, that made the world of formless matter."‡
There is much more contained in this language than we are willing to explain, but we will say that the secret is worth the seeking; perhaps in this formless matter, the pre-Adamite earth, is contained a "potency" with which Messrs. Tyndall and Huxley would be glad to acquaint themselves.
But to descend from universals to particulars, from the ancient theory of planetary evolution to the evolution of plant and animal life, as opposed to the theory of special creation, what does Mr. Proctor call the following language of Hermes but an anticipation of the modern theory of evolution of species? "When God had filled his powerful hands with those things which are in nature, and in that which compasseth nature, then shutting them close again, he said: 'Receive from me, O holy earth! that art ordained to be the mother of all, lest thou shouldst want anything'; when presently opening such hands as it becomes a God to have, he poured down all that was necessary to the constitution of things." Here we have primeval matter imbued with "the promise and potency of every future form of life," and the earth declared to be the predestined mother of everything that should thenceforth spring from her bosom.
More definite is the language of Marcus Antoninus in his discourse to himself. "The nature of the universe delights not in anything so much as to alter all things, and present them under another form. This is her conceit to play one game and begin another. Matter is placed before her like a piece of wax and she shapes it to all forms and figures. Now she makes a bird, then out of the bird a beast — now a flower, then a frog, and she is pleased with her own magical performances as men are with their own fancies."*
Before any of our modern teachers thought of evolution, the ancients taught us, through Hermes, that nothing can be abrupt in nature; that she never proceeds by jumps and starts, that everything in her works is slow harmony, and that there is nothing sudden — not even violent death.
The slow development from preexisting forms was a doctrine with the Rosicrucian Illuminati. The Tres Matres showed Hermes the mysterious progress of their work, before they condescended to reveal themselves to mediaeval alchemists. Now, in the Hermetic dialect, these three mothers are the symbol of light, heat, and electricity, or magnetism, the two latter being as convertible as the whole of the forces or agents which have a place assigned them in the modern "Force-correlation." Synesius mentions books of stone which he found in the temple of Memphis, on which was engraved the following sentence: "One nature delights in another, one nature overcomes another, one nature overrules another, and the whole of them are one."
The inherent restlessness of matter is embodied in the saying of Hermes: "Action is the life of Phta"; and Orpheus calls nature [[polumechanos meter]]], "the mother that makes many things," or the ingenious, the contriving, the inventive mother.
Mr. Proctor says: "All that that is upon and within the earth, all vegetable forms and all animal forms, our bodies, our brains, are formed of materials which have been drawn in from those depths of space surrounding us on all sides." The Hermetists and the later Rosicrucians held that all things visible and invisible were produced by the contention of light with darkness, and that every particle of matter contains within itself a spark of the divine essence — or light, spirit — which, through its tendency to free itself from its entanglement and return to the central source, produced motion in the particles, and from motion forms were born. Says Hargrave Jennings, quoting Robertus di Fluctibus: "Thus all minerals in this spark of life have the rudimentary possibility of plants and growing organisms; thus all plants have rudimentary sensations which might (in the ages) enable them to perfect and transmute into locomotive new creatures, lesser or higher in their grade, or nobler or meaner in their functions; thus all plants, and all vegetation might pass off (by side roads) into more distinguished highways as it were, of independent, completer advance, allowing their original spark of light to expand and thrill with higher and more vivid force, and to urge forward with more abounding, informed purpose, all wrought by planetary influence directed by the unseen spirits (or workers) of the great original architect."*
Light — the first mentioned in Genesis, is termed by the kabalists, Sephira, or the Divine Intelligence, the mother of all the Sephiroth, while the Concealed Wisdom is the father. Light is the first begotten, and the first emanation of the Supreme, and Light is Life, says the evangelist. Both are electricity — the life-principle, the anima mundi, pervading the universe, the electric vivifier of all things. Light is the great Protean magician, and under the Divine Will of the architect, its multifarious, omnipotent waves gave birth to every form as well as to every living being. From its swelling, electric bosom, springs matter and spirit. Within its beams lie the beginnings of all physical and chemical action, and of all cosmic and spiritual phenomena; it vitalizes and disorganizes; it gives life and produces death, and from its primordial point gradually emerged into existence the myriads of worlds, visible and invisible celestial bodies. It was at the ray of this First mother, one in three, that God, according to Plato, "lighted a fire, which we now call the sun,"† and, which is not the cause of either light or heat, but merely the focus, or, as we might say, the lens, by which the rays of the primordial light become materialized, are concentrated upon our solar system, and produce all the correlations of forces.
So much for the first of Mr. Proctor's two propositions; now for the second.
The work which we have been noticing, comprises a series of twelve essays, of which the last is entitled Thoughts on Astrology. The author treats the subject with so much more consideration than is the custom of men of his class, that it is evident he has given it thoughtful attention. In fact, he goes so far as to say that, "If we consider the matter aright, we must concede . . . that of all the errors into which men have fallen in their desire to penetrate into futurity, astrology is the most respectable, we may even say the most reasonable."*
He admits that "The heavenly bodies do rule the fates of men and nations in the most unmistakable manner, seeing that without the controlling and beneficent influences of the chief among those orbs — the sun — every living creature on the earth must perish."† He admits, also, the influence of the moon, and sees nothing strange in the ancients reasoning by analogy, that if two among these heavenly bodies were thus potent in terrestrial influences, it was " . . . natural that the other moving bodies known to the ancients, should be thought to possess also their special powers."‡ Indeed, the professor sees nothing unreasonable in their supposition that the influences exerted by the slower moving planets "might be even more potent that those of the sun himself." Mr. Proctor thinks that the system of astrology "was formed gradually and perhaps tentatively." Some influences may have been inferred from observed events, the fate of this or that king or chief, guiding astrologers in assigning particular influences to such planetary aspects as were presented at the time of his nativity. Others may have been invented, and afterward have found general acceptance, because confirmed by some curious coincidences.
A witty joke may sound very prettily, even in a learned treatise, and the word "coincidence" may be applied to anything we are unwilling to accept. But a sophism is not a truism; still less is it a mathematical demonstration, which alone ought to serve as a beacon — to astronomers, at least. Astrology is a science as infallible as astronomy itself, with the condition, however, that its interpreters must be equally infallible; and it is this condition, sine qua non, so very difficult of realization, that has always proved a stumbling-block to both. Astrology is to exact astronomy what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter, and enter into the domain of transcendent spirit. It is the old struggle between the Platonic and Aristotelean schools, and it is not in our century of Sadducean
skepticism that the former will prevail over the latter. Mr. Proctor, in his professional capacity, is like the uncharitable person of the Sermon on the Mount, who is ever ready to attract public attention to the mote in his despised neighbor's eye, and overlook the beam in his own. Were we to record the failures and ridiculous blunders of astronomers, we are afraid they would outnumber by far those of the astrologers. Present events fully vindicate Nostradamus, who has been so much ridiculed by our skeptics. In an old book of prophecies, published in the fifteenth century (an edition of 1453), we read the following, among other astrological predictions:*
"In twice two hundred years, the Bear
The Crescent will assail;
But if the Cock and Bull unite,
The Bear will not prevail.
In twice ten years again —
Let Islam know and fear —
The Cross shall stand, the Crescent wane,
Dissolve, and disappear."
In just twice two hundred years from the date of that prophecy, we had the Crimean war, during which the alliance of the Gallic Cock and English Bull interfered with the political designs of the Russian Bear. In 1856 the war was ended, and Turkey, or the Crescent, closely escaped destruction. In the present year (1876) the most unexpected events of a political character have just taken place, and twice ten years have elapsed since peace was proclaimed. Everything seems to bid fair for a fulfilment of the old prophecy; the future will tell whether the Moslem Crescent, which seems, indeed, to be waning, will irrevocably "wane, dissolve, and disappear," as the outcome of the present troubles.
In explaining away the heterodox facts which he appears to have encountered in his pursuit of knowledge, Mr. Proctor is obliged more than once in his work, to fall back upon these "curious coincidences." One of the most curious of these is stated by him in a foot-note (page 301) as follows: "I do not here dwell on the curious coincidence — if, indeed, Chaldean astrologers had not discovered the ring of Saturn — that they showed the god corresponding within a ring and triple. . . . Very moderate optical knowledge — such, indeed, as we may fairly infer from the
presence of optical instruments among Assyrian remains — might have led to the discovery of Saturnal rings and Jupiter's moons. . . . Bel, the Assyrian Jupiter," he adds, "was represented sometimes with four star-tipped wings. But it is possible that these are mere coincidences."
In short, Mr. Proctor's theory of coincidence becomes finally more suggestive of miracle than the facts themselves. For coincidences our friends the skeptics appear to have an unappeasable appetite. We have brought sufficient testimony in the preceding chapter to show that the ancients must have used as good optical instruments as we have now. Were the instruments in possession of Nebuchadnezzar of such moderate power, and the knowledge of his astronomers so very contemptible, when, according to Rawlinson's reading of the tiles, the Birs-Nimrud, or temple of Borsippa, had seven stages, symbolical of the concentric circles of the seven spheres, each built of tiles and metals to correspond with the color of the ruling planet of the sphere typified? Is it a coincidence again, that they should have appropriated to each planet the color which our latest telescopic discoveries show to be the real one?* Or is it again a coincidence, that Plato should have indicated in the Timaeus his knowledge of the indestructibility of matter, of conservation of energy, and correlation of forces? "The latest word of modern philosophy," says Jowett, "is continuity and development, but to Plato this is the beginning and foundation of science."†
The radical element of the oldest religions was essentially sabaistic; and we maintain that their myths and allegories — if once correctly and thoroughly interpreted, will dovetail with the most exact astronomical notions of our day. We will say more; there is hardly a scientific law — whether pertaining to physical astronomy or physical geography — that could not be easily pointed out in the ingenious combinations of their fables. They allegorized the most important as well as the most trifling causes of the celestial motions; the nature of every phenomenon was personified; and in the mythical biographies of the Olympic gods and goddesses, one well acquainted with the latest principles of physics and chemistry can find their causes, inter-agencies, and mutual relations embodied in the deportment and course of action of the fickle deities. The atmospheric electricity in its neutral and latent states is embodied usually in demi-gods and goddesses, whose scene of action is more limited to earth and who, in their occasional flights to the higher deific regions, display their electric tempers always in strict proportion with the increase of distance from the earth's surface: the weapons of Hercules and Thor were
never more mortal than when the gods soared into the clouds. We must bear in mind that before the time when the Olympian Jupiter was anthropomorphized by the genius of Pheidias into the Omnipotent God, the Maximus, the God of gods, and thus abandoned to the adoration of the multitudes, in the earliest and abstruse science of symbology he embodied in his person and attributes the whole of the cosmic forces. The Myth was less metaphysical and complicated, but more truly eloquent as an expression of natural philosophy. Zeus, the male element of the creation with Chthonia — Vesta (the earth), and Metis (the water) the first of the Oceanides (the feminine principles) — was viewed according to Porphyry and Proclus as the zoon-ek-zoon, the chief of living beings. In the Orphic theology, the oldest of all, metaphysically speaking, he represented both the potentia and actus, the unrevealed cause and the Demiurge, or the active creator as an emanation from the invisible potency. In the latter demiurgic capacity, in conjunction with his consorts, we find in him all the mightiest agents of cosmic evolution — chemical affinity, atmospheric electricity, attraction, and repulsion.
It is in following his representations in this physical qualification that we discover how well acquainted were the ancients with all the doctrines of physical science in their modern development. Later, in the Pythagorean speculations, Zeus became the metaphysical trinity; the monad evolving from its invisible self the active cause, effect, and intelligent will, the whole forming the Tetractis. Still later we find the earlier Neoplatonists leaving the primal monad aside, on the ground of its utter incomprehensibleness to human intellect, speculating merely on the demiurgic triad of this deity as visible and intelligible in its effects; and thus the metaphysical continuation by Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus, and other philosophers of this view of Zeus the father, Zeus Poseidon, or dunamis, the son and power, and the spirit or nous. This triad was also accepted as a whole by the Irenaeic school of the second century; the more substantial difference between the doctrines of the Neo-platonists and the Christians being merely the forcible amalgamation by the latter of the incomprehensible monad with its actualized creative trinity.
In his astronomical aspect Zeus-Dionysus has his origin in the zodiac, the ancient solar year. In Libya he assumed the form of a ram, and is identical with the Egyptian Amun, who begat Osiris, the taurian god. Osiris is also a personified emanation of the Father-Sun, and himself the Sun in Taurus. The Parent-Sun being the Sun in Aries. As the latter, Jupiter, is in the guise of a ram, and as Jupiter-Dionysus or Jupiter-Osiris, he is the bull. This animal is, as it is well known, the symbol of the creative power; moreover the Kabala explains, through the medium of one of
its chief expounders, Simon-Ben-Iochai,* the origin of this strange worship of the bulls and cows. It is neither Darwin nor Huxley — the founders of the doctrine of evolution and its necessary complement, the transformation of species — that can find anything against the rationality of this symbol, except, perhaps, a natural feeling of uneasiness upon finding that they were preceded by the ancients even in this particular modern discovery. Elsewhere, we will give the doctrine of the kabalists as taught by Simon-Ben-Iochai.
It may be easily proved that from time immemorial Saturn or Kronos, whose ring, most positively, was discovered by the Chaldean astrologers, and whose symbolism is no "coincidence," was considered the father of Zeus, before the latter became himself the father of all the gods, and was the highest deity. He was the Bel or Baal of the Chaldeans, and originally imported among them by the Akkadians. Rawlinson insists that the latter came from Armenia; but if so, how can we account for the fact that Bel is but a Babylonian personification of the Hindu Siva, or Bala, the fire-god, the omnipotent creative, and at the same time, destroying Deity, in many senses higher than Brahma himself?
"Zeus," says an Orphic hymn, "is the first and the last, the head, and the extremities; from him have proceeded all things. He is a man and an immortal nymph (male and female element); the soul of all things; and the principal motor in fire; he is the sun and the moon; the fountain of the ocean; the demiurgus of the universe; one power, one God; the mighty creator and governor of the cosmos. Everything, fire, water, earth, ether, night, the heavens, Metis, the primeval architecturess (the Sophia of the Gnostics, and the Sephira of the Kabalists), the beautiful Eros, Cupid, all is included within the vast dimensions of his glorious body!"†
This short hymn of laudation contains within itself the groundwork of every mythopoeic conception. The imagination of the ancients proved as boundless as the visible manifestations of the Deity itself which afforded them the themes for their allegories. Still the latter, exuberant as they seem, never departed from the two principal ideas which may be ever found running parallel in their sacred imagery; a strict adherence to the physical as well as moral or spiritual aspect of natural law. Their metaphysical researches never clashed with scientific truths, and their religions may be truly termed the psycho-physiological creeds of the priests and scientists, who built them on the traditions of the infant-world, such as the unsophisticated minds of the primitive races received them, and on their own experimental knowledge, hoary with all the wisdom of the intervening ages.
As the sun, what better image could be found for Jupiter emitting his golden rays than to personify this emanation in Diana, the all-illuminating virgin Artemis, whose oldest name was Diktynna, literally the emitted ray, from the word dikein. The moon is non-luminous, and it shines only by the reflected light of the sun; hence, the imagery of his daughter, the goddess of the moon, and herself, Luna, Astarte, or Diana. As the Cretan Diktynna, she wears a wreath made of the magic plant diktamnon, or dictamnus, the evergreen shrub whose contact is said, at the same time, to develop somnambulism and cure finally of it; and, as Eilithyia and Juno Pronuba, she is the goddess who presides over births; she is an AEsculapian deity, and the use of the dictamnus-wreath, in association with the moon, shows once more the profound observation of the ancients. This plant is known in botany as possessing strongly sedative properties; it grows on Mount Dicte, a Cretan mountain, in great abundance; on the other hand, the moon, according to the best authorities on animal magnetism, acts upon the juices and ganglionic system, or nerve-cells, the seat from whence proceed all the nerve-fibres which play such a prominent part in mesmerization. During childbirth the Cretan women were covered with this plant, and its roots were administered as best calculated to soothe acute pain, and allay the irritability so dangerous at this period. They were placed, moreover, within the precincts of the temple sacred to the goddess, and, if possible, under the direct rays of the resplendent daughter of Jupiter — the bright and warm Eastern moon.
The Hindu Brahmans and Buddhists have complicated theories on the influence of the sun and moon (the male and female elements), as containing the negative and positive principles, the opposites of the magnetic polarity. "The influence of the moon on women is well known," write all the old authors on magnetism; and Ennemoser, as well as Du Potet, confirm the theories of the Hindu seers in every particular.
The marked respect paid by the Buddhists to the sapphire-stone — which was also sacred to Luna, in every other country — may be found based on something more scientifically exact than a mere groundless superstition. They ascribed to it a sacred magical power, which every student of psychological mesmerism will readily understand, for its polished and deep-blue surface produces extraordinary somnambulic phenomena. The varied influence of the prismatic colors on the growth of vegetation, and especially that of the "blue ray," has been recognized but recently. The Academicians quarrelled over the unequal heating power of the prismatic rays until a series of experimental demonstrations by General Pleasonton, proved that under the blue ray, the most electric of all, animal and vegetable growth was increased to a magical
proportion. Thus Amoretti's investigations of the electric polarity of precious stones show that the diamond, the garnet, the amethyst, are - E., while the sapphire is + E.* Thus, we are enabled to show that the latest experiments of science only corroborate that which was known to the Hindu sages before any of the modern academies were founded. An old Hindu legend says that Brahma-Prajapati, having fallen in love with his own daughter, Ushas (Heaven, sometimes the Dawn also), assumed the form of a buck (ris'ya) and Ushas that of a female deer (rohit) and thus committed the first sin.† Upon seeing such a desecration, the gods felt so terrified, that uniting their most fearful-looking bodies — each god possessing as many bodies as he desires — they produced Bhutavan (the spirit of evil), who was created by them on purpose to destroy the incarnation of the first sin committed by the Brahma himself. Upon seeing this, Brahma-Hiranyagarbha‡ repented bitterly and began repeating the Mantras, or prayers of purification, and, in his grief, dropped on earth a tear, the hottest that ever fell from an eye; and from it was formed the first sapphire.
This half-sacred, half-popular legend shows that the Hindus knew which was the most electric of all the prismatic colors; moreover, the particular influence of the sapphire-stone was as well defined as that of all the other minerals. Orpheus teaches how it is possible to affect a whole audience by means of a lodestone; Pythagoras pays a particular attention to the color and nature of precious stones; while Apollonius of Tyana imparts to his disciples the secret virtues of each, and changes his jewelled rings daily, using a particular stone for every day of the month and according to the laws of judicial astrology. The Buddhists assert that the sapphire produces peace of mind, equanimity, and chases all evil thoughts by establishing a healthy circulation in man. So does an electric battery, with its well-directed fluid, say our electricians. "The sapphire," say the Buddhists, "will open barred doors and dwellings (for the spirit of man); it produces a desire for prayer, and brings with it more peace than any other gem; but he who would wear it must lead a pure and holy life."§
Diana-Luna is the daughter of Zeus by Proserpina, who represents the Earth in her active labor, and, according to Hesiod, as Diana Eily-
thia-Lucina she is Juno's daughter. But Juno, devoured by Kronos or Saturn, and restored back to life by the Oceanid Metis, is also known as the Earth. Saturn, as the evolution of Time, swallows the earth in one of the ante-historical cataclysms, and it is only when Metis (the waters) by retreating in her many beds, frees the continent, that Juno is said to be restored to her first shape. The idea is expressed in the 9th and 10th verses of the first chapter of Genesis. In the frequent matrimonial quarrels between Juno and Jupiter, Diana is always represented as turning her back on her mother and smiling upon her father, though she chides him for his numerous frolics. The Thessalian magicians are said to have been obliged, during such eclipses, to draw her attention to the earth by the power of their spells and incantations, and the Babylonian astrologers and magi never desisted in their spells until they brought about a reconciliation between the irritated couple, after which Juno "radiantly smiled on the bright goddess" Diana, who, encircling her brow with her crescent, returned to her hunting-place in the mountains.
It seems to us that the fable illustrates the different phases of the moon. We, the inhabitants of the earth, never see but one-half of our bright satellite, who thus turns her back to her mother Juno. The sun, the moon, and the earth are constantly changing positions with relation to each other. With the new moon there is constantly a change of weather; and sometimes the wind and storms may well suggest a quarrel between the sun and earth, especially when the former is concealed by grumbling thunder-clouds. Furthermore, the new moon, when her dark side is turned toward us, is invisible; and it is only after a reconciliation between the sun and the earth, that a bright crescent becomes visible on the side nearest to the sun, though this time Luna is not illuminated by sunlight directly received, but by sunlight reflected from the earth to the moon, and by her reflected back to us. Hence, the Chaldean astrologers and the magicians of Thessaly, who probably watched and determined as accurately as a Babinet the course of the celestial bodies, were said by their enchantments to force the moon to descend on earth, i.e., to show her crescent, which she could do but after receiving the "radiant smile" from her mother-earth, who put it on after the conjugal reconciliation. Diana-Luna, having adorned her head with her crescent, returns back to hunt in her mountains.
As to calling in question the intrinsic knowledge of the ancients on the ground of their "superstitious deductions from natural phenomena," it is as appropriate as it would be if, five hundred years hence, our descendants should regard the pupils of Professor Balfour Stewart as ancient ignoramuses, and himself a shallow philosopher. If modern science, in the person of this gentleman, can condescend to make experi-
ments to determine whether the appearance of the spots on the sun's surface is in any way connected with the potato disease, and finds it is; and that, moreover, "the earth is very seriously affected by what takes place in the sun,"* why should the ancient astrologers be held up as either fools or arrant knaves? There is the same relation between natural and judicial or judiciary astrology, as between physiology and psychology, the physical and the moral. If in later centuries these sciences were degraded into charlatanry by some money-making impostors, is it just to extend the accusation to those mighty men of old who, by their persevering studies and holy lives, bestowed an immortal name upon Chaldea and Babylonia? Surely those who are now found to have made correct astronomical observations ranging back to "within 100 years from the flood," from the top observatory of the "cloud-encompassed Bel," as Prof. Draper has it, can hardly be considered impostors. If their mode of impressing upon the popular minds the great astronomical truths differed from the "system of education" of our present century and appears ridiculous to some, the question still remains unanswered: which of the two systems was the best? With them science went hand in hand with religion, and the idea of God was inseparable from that of his works. And while in the present century there is not one person out of ten thousand who knows, if he ever knew the fact at all, that the planet Uranus is next to Saturn, and revolves about the sun in eighty-four years; and that Saturn is next to Jupiter, and takes twenty-nine and a half years to make one complete revolution in its orbit; while Jupiter performs his revolution in twelve years; the uneducated masses of Babylon and Greece, having impressed on their minds that Uranus was the father of Saturn, and Saturn that of Jupiter, considering them furthermore deities as well as all their satellites and attendants, we may perhaps infer from it, that while Europeans only discovered Uranus in 1781, a curious coincidence is to be noticed in the above myths.
We have but to open the most common book on astrology, and compare the descriptions embraced in the Fable of the Twelve Houses with the most modern discoveries of science as to the nature of the planets and the elements in each star, to see that without any spectroscope the ancients were perfectly well acquainted with the same. Unless the fact is again regarded as "a coincidence," we can learn, to a certain extent, of the degree of the solar heat, light, and nature of the planets by simply studying their symbolic representations in the Olympic gods, and the twelve signs of the zodiac, to each of which in astrology is attributed a particular quality. If the goddesses of our own planet vary in no partic-
ular from other gods and goddesses, but all have a like physical nature, does not this imply that the sentinels who watched from the top of Bel's tower, by day as well as by night, holding communion with the euhemerized deities, had remarked, before ourselves, the physical unity of the universe and the fact that the planets above are made of precisely the same chemical elements as our own? The sun in Aries, Jupiter, is shown in astrology as a masculine, diurnal, cardinal, equinoctial, easterly sign, hot and dry, and answers perfectly to the character attributed to the fickle "Father of the gods." When angry Zeus-Akrios snatches from his fiery belt the thunderbolts which he hurls forth from heaven, he rends the clouds and descends as Jupiter Pluvius in torrents of rain. He is the greatest and highest of gods, and his movements are as rapid as lightning itself. The planet Jupiter is known to revolve on its axis so rapidly that the point of its equator turns at the rate of 450 miles a minute. An immense excess of centrifugal force at the equator is believed to have caused the planet to become extremely flattened at the poles; and in Crete the personified god Jupiter was represented without ears. The planet Jupiter's disk is crossed by dark belts; varying in breadth, they appear to be connected with its rotation on its axis, and are produced by disturbances in its atmosphere. The face of Father Zeus, says Hesiod, became spotted with rage when he beheld the Titans ready to rebel.
In Mr. Proctor's book, astronomers seem especially doomed by Providence to encounter all kinds of curious "coincidences," for he gives us many cases out of the "multitude," and even of the "thousands of facts [sic]." To this list we may add the army of Egyptologists and archaeologists who of late have been the chosen pets of the capricious Dame Chance, who, moreover, generally selects "well-to-do Arabs" and other Eastern gentlemen, to play the part of benevolent genii to Oriental scholars in difficulties. Professor Ebers is one of the latest favored ones. It is a well-known fact, that whenever Champollion needed important links, he fell in with them in the most various and unexpected ways.
Voltaire, the greatest of "infidels" of the eighteenth century, used to say, that if there were no God, people would have to invent one. Volney, another "materialist," nowhere throughout his numerous writings denies the existence of God. On the contrary, he plainly asserts several times that the universe is the work of the "All-wise," and is convinced that there is a Supreme Agent, a universal and identical Artificer, designated by the name of God.* Voltaire becomes, toward the end of his life, Pythagorical, and concludes by saying: "I have consumed forty
years of my pilgrimage . . . seeking the philosopher's stone called truth. I have consulted all the adepts of antiquity, Epicurus and Augustine, Plato and Malebranche, and I still remain in ignorance. . . . All that I have been able to obtain by comparing and combining the system of Plato, of the tutor of Alexander, Pythagoras, and the Oriental, is this: Chance is a word void of sense. The world is arranged according to mathematical laws."*
It is pertinent for us to suggest that Mr. Proctor's stumbling-block is that which trips the feet of all materialistic scientists, whose views he but repeats; he confounds the physical and spiritual operations of nature. His very theory of the probable inductive reasoning of the ancients as to the subtile influences of the more remote planets, by comparison with the familiar and potent effects of the sun and moon upon our earth, shows the drift of his mind. Because science affirms that the sun imparts physical heat and light to us, and the moon affects the tides, he thinks that the ancients must have regarded the other heavenly bodies as exerting the same kind of influence upon us physically, and indirectly upon our fortunes.† And here we must permit ourselves a digression.
How the ancients regarded the heavenly bodies is very hard to determine, for one unacquainted with the esoteric explanation of their doctrines. While philology and comparative theology have begun the arduous work of analysis, they have as yet arrived at meagre results. The allegorical form of speech has often led our commentators so far astray, that they have confounded causes with effects, and vice versa. In the baffling phenomenon of force-correlation, even our greatest scientists would find it very hard to explain which of these forces is the cause, and which the effect, since each may be both by turns, and convertible. Thus, if we should inquire of the physicists, "Is it light which generates heat, or the latter which produces light?" we would in all probability be answered that it is certainly light which creates heat. Very well; but how? did the great Artificer first produce light, or did He first construct the sun, which is said to be the sole dispenser of light, and, consequently, heat? These questions may appear at first glance indicative of ignorance; but, perhaps, if we ponder them deeply, they will assume another appearance. In Genesis, the "Lord" first creates light, and three days and three nights are alleged to pass away before He creates the sun, the moon, and the stars. This gross blunder against exact science has created much merriment among materialists. And they certainly would be warranted in laughing, if their doctrine that our light and heat are
derived from the sun were unassailable. Until recently, nothing has happened to upset this theory, which, for lack of a better one, according to the expression of a preacher, "reigns sovereign in the Empire of Hypothesis." The ancient sun-worshippers regarded the Great Spirit as a nature-god, identical with nature, and the sun as the deity, "in whom the Lord of life dwells." Gama is the sun, according to the Hindu theology, and "The sun is the source of the souls and of all life."* Agni, the "Divine Fire," the deity of the Hindu, is the sun,† for the fire and sun are the same. Ormazd is light, the Sun-God, or the Life-giver. In the Hindu philosophy, "The souls issue from the soul of the world, and return to it as sparks to the fire."‡ But, in another place, it is said that "The Sun is the soul of all things; all has proceeded out of it, and will return to it,"§ which shows that the sun is meant allegorically here, and refers to the central, invisible sun, GOD, whose first manifestation was Sephira, the emanation of En-Soph — Light, in short.
"And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it," says Ezekiel (i., 4, 22, etc.), ". . . and the likeness of a throne . . . and as the appearance of a man above upon it . . . and I saw as it were the appearance of fire and it had brightness round about it." And Daniel speaks of the "ancient of days," the kabalistic En-Soph, whose throne was "the fiery flame, his wheels burning fire. . . . A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him."|| Like the Pagan Saturn, who had his castle of flame in the seventh heaven, the Jewish Jehovah had his "castle of fire over the seventh heavens."¶
If the limited space of the present work would permit we might easily show that none of the ancients, the sun-worshippers included, regarded our visible sun otherwise than as an emblem of their metaphysical invisible central sun-god. Moreover, they did not believe what our modern science teaches us, namely, that light and heat proceed from our sun, and that it is this planet which imparts all life to our visible nature. "His radiance is undecaying," says the Rig-Veda, "the intensely-shining, all-pervading, unceasing, undecaying rays of Agni desist not, neither night nor day." This evidently related to the spiritual, central sun, whose rays are all-pervading and unceasing, the eternal and boundless life-giver. He the Point; the centre (which is everywhere) of the circle (which is nowhere), the ethereal, spiritual fire, the soul and spirit of the all-pervading, mysterious ether; the despair and puzzle of the materialist, who will some day find that that which causes the numberless cos-
* Weber: "Ind. Stud.," i. 290.
† Wilson: "Rig-Veda Sanhita," ii. 143.
‡ "Duncker," vol. ii., p. 162.
§ "Wultke," ii. 262.
|| Daniel vii. 9, 10.
¶ Book of Enoch, xiv. 7, ff.
mic forces to manifest themselves in eternal correlation is but a divine electricity, or rather galvanism, and that the sun is but one of the myriad magnets disseminated through space — a reflector — as General Pleasonton has it. That the sun has no more heat in it than the moon or the space-crowding host of sparkling stars. That there is no gravitation in the Newtonian sense,* but only magnetic attraction and repulsion; and that it is by their magnetism that the planets of the solar system have their motions regulated in their respective orbits by the still more powerful magnetism of the sun, not by their weight or gravitation. This and much more they may learn; but, until then we must be content with being merely laughed at, instead of being burned alive for impiety, or shut up in an insane asylum.
The laws of Manu are the doctrines of Plato, Philo, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, and of the Kabala. The esoterism of every religion may be solved by the latter. The kabalistic doctrine of the allegorical Father and Son, or [[Pater]] and [[Logos]] is identical with the groundwork of Buddhism. Moses could not reveal to the multitude the sublime secrets of religious speculation, nor the cosmogony of the universe; the whole resting upon the Hindu Illusion, a clever mask veiling the Sanctum Sanctorum, and which has misled so many theological commentators.†
The kabalistic heresies receive an unexpected support in the heterodox theories of General Pleasonton. According to his opinions (which he supports on far more unimpeachable facts than orthodox scientists theirs) the space between the sun and the earth must be filled with a material medium, which, so far as we can judge from his description, answers to our kabalistic astral light. The passage of light through this must produce enormous friction. Friction generates electricity, and it is this electricity and its correlative magnetism which forms those tremendous forces of nature that produce in, on, and about our planet the various changes which we everywhere encounter. He proves that terrestrial heat cannot be directly derived from the sun, for heat ascends. The force by which heat is effected is a repellent one, he says, and as it is associated with positive electricity, it is attracted to the upper atmosphere by its negative electricity, always associated with cold, which is opposed to positive electricity. He strengthens his position by showing that the earth, which when covered with snow cannot be affected by the sun's rays, is warmest where the snow is deepest. This he explains upon the theory that the radiation of heat from the interior of the earth, positively electrified, meeting at the surface of the earth with the snow in contact with it, negatively electrified, produces the heat.
Thus he shows that it is not at all to the sun that we are indebted for light and heat; that light is a creation sui generis, which sprung into existence at the instant when the Deity willed, and uttered the fiat: "Let there be light"; and that it is this independent material agent which produces heat by friction, on account of its enormous and incessant velocity. In short, it is the first kabalistic emanation to which General Pleasonton introduces us, that Sephira or divine Intelligence (the female principle), which, in unity with En-Soph, or divine wisdom (male principle) produced every thing visible and invisible. He laughs at the current theory of the incandescence of the sun and its gaseous substance. The reflection from the photosphere of the sun, he says, passing through planetary and stellar spaces, must have thus created a vast amount of electricity and magnetism. Electricity, by the union of its opposite polarities, evolves heat and imparts magnetism to all substances capable of receiving it. The sun, planets, stars, and nebulae are all magnets, etc.
If this courageous gentleman should prove his case, future generations will have but little disposition to laugh at Paracelsus and his sidereal or astral light, and at his doctrine of the magnetic influence exercised by
the stars and planets upon every living creature, plant, or mineral of our globe. Moreover, if the Pleasonton hypothesis is established, the transcendent glory of Professor Tyndall will be rather obscured. According to public opinion, the General makes a terrible onslaught on the learned physicist, for attributing to the sun calorific effects experienced by him in an Alpine ramble, that were simply due to his own vital electricity.*
The prevalence of such revolutionary ideas in science, embolden us to ask the representatives of science whether they can explain why the tides follow the moon in her circling motion? The fact is, they cannot demonstrate even so familiar a phenomenon as this, one that has no mystery for even the neophytes in alchemy and magic. We would also like to learn whether they are equally incapable of telling us why the moon's rays are so poisonous, even fatal, to some organisms; why in some parts of Africa and India a person sleeping in the moonlight is often made insane; why the crises of certain diseases correspond with lunar changes; why somnambulists are more affected at her full; and why gardeners, farmers, and woodmen cling so tenaciously to the idea that vegetation is affected by lunar influences? Several of the mimosae alternately open and close their petals as the full moon emerges from or is obscured by clouds. And the Hindus of Travancore have a popular but extremely suggestive proverb which says: "Soft words are better than harsh; the sea is attracted by the cool moon and not by the hot sun." Perhaps the one man or the many men who launched this proverb on the world knew more about the cause of such attraction of the waters by the moon than we do. Thus if science cannot explain the cause of this physical influence, what can she know of the moral and occult influences that may be exercised by the celestial bodies on men and their destiny; and why contradict that which it is impossible for her to prove false? If certain aspects of the moon effect tangible results so familiar in the experience of men throughout all time, what violence are we doing to logic in assuming the possibility that a certain combination of sidereal influences may also be more or less potential?
If the reader will recall what is said by the learned authors of the
Unseen Universe, as to the positive effect produced upon the universal ether by so small a cause as the evolution of thought in a single human brain, how reasonable will it not appear that the terrific impulses imparted to this common medium by the sweep of the myriad blazing orbs that are rushing through "the interstellar depths," should affect us and the earth upon which we live, in a powerful degree? If astronomers cannot explain to us the occult law by which the drifting particles of cosmic matter aggregate into worlds, and then take their places in the majestic procession which is ceaselessly moving around some central point of attraction, how can anyone assume to say what mystic influences may or may not be darting through space and affecting the issues of life upon this and other planets? Almost nothing is known of the laws of magnetism and the other imponderable agents; almost nothing of their effects upon our bodies and minds; even that which is known and moreover perfectly demonstrated, is attributed to chance, and curious coincidences. But we do know, by these coincidences,* that "there are periods when certain diseases, propensities, fortunes, and misfortunes of humanity are more rife than at others." There are times of epidemic in moral and physical affairs. In one epoch "the spirit of religious controversy will arouse the most ferocious passions of which human nature is susceptible, provoking mutual persecution, bloodshed, and wars; at another, an epidemic of resistance to constituted authority will spread over half the world (as in the year 1848), rapid and simultaneous as the most virulent bodily disorder."
Again, the collective character of mental phenomena is illustrated by an anomalous psychological condition invading and dominating over thousands upon thousands, depriving them of everything but automatic action, and giving rise to the popular opinion of demoniacal possession, an opinion in some sense justified by the satanic passions, emotions, and acts which accompany the condition. At one period, the aggregate tendency is to retirement and contemplation; hence, the countless votaries of monachism and anchoretism; at another the mania is directed toward action, having for its proposed end some utopian scheme, equally impracticable and useless; hence, the myriads who have forsaken their kindred, their homes, and their country, to seek a land whose stones were gold, or to wage exterminating war for the possession of worthless cities and trackless deserts.†
The author from whom the above is quoted says that "the seeds of vice and crime appear to be sown under the surface of society, and to spring up and bring forth fruit with appalling rapidity and paralyzing succession."
In the presence of these striking phenomena science stands speechless; she does not even attempt to conjecture as to their cause, and naturally, for she has not yet learned to look outside of this ball of dirt upon which we live, and its heavy atmosphere, for the hidden influences which are affecting us day by day, and even minute by minute. But the ancients, whose "ignorance" is assumed by Mr. Proctor, fully realized the fact that the reciprocal relations between the planetary bodies is as perfect as those between the corpuscles of the blood, which float in a common fluid; and that each one is affected by the combined influences of all the rest, as each in its turn affects each of the others. As the planets differ in size, distance, and activity, so differ in intensity their impulses upon the ether or astral light, and the magnetic and other subtile forces radiated by them in certain aspects of the heavens. Music is the combination and modulation of sounds, and sound is the effect produced by the vibration of the ether. Now, if the impulses communicated to the ether by the different planets may be likened to the tones produced by the different notes of a musical instrument, it is not difficult to conceive that the Pythagorean "music of the spheres" is something more than a mere fancy, and that certain planetary aspects may imply disturbances in the ether of our planet, and certain others rest and harmony. Certain kinds of music throw us into frenzy; some exalt the soul to religious aspirations. In fine, there is scarcely a human creation which does not respond to certain vibrations of the atmosphere. It is the same with colors; some excite us, some soothe and please. The nun clothes herself in black to typify the despondency of a faith crushed under the sense of original sin; the bride robes herself in white; red inflames the anger of certain animals. If we and the animals are affected by vibrations acting upon a very minute scale, why may we not be influenced in the mass by vibrations acting upon a grand scale as the effect of combined stellar influences?
"We know," says Dr. Elam, "that certain pathological conditions have a tendency to become epidemic, influenced by causes not yet investigated. . . . We see how strong is the tendency of opinion once promulgated to run into an epidemic form — no opinion, no delusion, is too absurd to assume this collective character. We observe, also, how remarkably the same ideas reproduce themselves and reappear in successive ages; . . . no crime is too horrible to become popular, homicide, infanticide, suicide, poisoning, or any other diabolical human conception.
. . . In epidemics, the cause of the rapid spread at that particular period remains a mystery!"
These few lines contain an undeniable psychological fact, sketched with a masterly pen, and at the same time a half-confession of utter ignorance — "Causes not yet investigated." Why not be honest and add at once, "impossible to investigate with present scientific methods"?
Noticing an epidemic of incendiarism, Dr. Elam quotes from the Annales d'Hygiene Publique the following cases: "A girl about seventeen years of age was arrested on suspicion . . . she confessed that twice she had set fire to dwellings by instinct, by irresistible necessity. . . . A boy about eighteen committed many acts of this nature. He was not moved by any passion, but the bursting-out of the flames excited a profoundly pleasing emotion."
Who but has noticed in the columns of the daily press similar incidents? They meet the eye constantly. In cases of murder, of every description, and of other crimes of a diabolical character, the act is attributed, in nine cases out of ten, by the offenders themselves, to irresistible obsessions. "Something whispered constantly in my ear. . . . Somebody was incessantly pushing and leading me on." Such are the too-frequent confessions of the criminals. Physicians attribute them to hallucinations of disordered brains, and call the homicidal impulse temporary lunacy. But is lunacy itself well understood by any psychologist? Has its cause ever been brought under a hypothesis capable of withstanding the challenge of an uncompromising investigator? Let the controversial works of our contemporary alienists answer for themselves.
Plato acknowledges man to be the toy of the element of necessity, which he enters upon in appearing in this world of matter; he is influenced by external causes, and these causes are daimonia, like that of Socrates. Happy is the man physically pure, for if his external soul (body) is pure, it will strengthen the second one (astral body), or the soul which is termed by him the higher mortal soul, which though liable to err from its own motives, will always side with reason against the animal proclivities of the body. The lusts of man arise in consequence of his perishable material body, so do other diseases; but though he regards crimes as involuntary sometimes, for they result like bodily disease from external causes, Plato clearly makes a wide distinction between these causes. The fatalism which he concedes to humanity, does not preclude the possibility of avoiding them, for though pain, fear, anger, and other feelings are given to men by necessity, "if they conquered these they would live righteously, and if they were conquered by them, unrighteously."* The
dual man, i.e., one from whom the divine immortal spirit has departed, leaving but the animal form and astral body (Plato's higher mortal soul), is left merely to his instincts, for he was conquered by all the evils entailed on matter; hence, he becomes a docile tool in the hands of the invisibles — beings of sublimated matter, hovering in our atmosphere, and ever ready to inspire those who are deservedly deserted by their immortal counsellor, the Divine Spirit, called by Plato "genius."* According to this great philosopher and initiate, one "who lived well during his appointed time would return to the habitation of his star, and there have a blessed and suitable existence. But if he failed in attaining this in the second generation he would pass into a woman — become helpless and weak as a woman;† and should he not cease from evil in that condition, he would be changed into some brute, which resembled him in his evil ways, and would not cease from his toils and transformations until he followed the original principle of sameness and likeness within him, and overcame, by the help of reason, the latter secretions of turbulent and irrational elements (elementary daemons) composed of fire and air, and water and earth, and returned to the form of his first and better nature."‡
But Dr. Elam thinks otherwise. On page 194 of his book, A Physician's Problems, he says that the cause of the rapid spread of certain epidemics of disease which he is noticing "remains a mystery"; but as regards the incendiarism he remarks that "in all this we find nothing mysterious," though the epidemic is strongly developed. Strange contradiction! De Quincey, in his paper, entitled Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts, treats of the epidemic of assassination, between 1588 and 1635, by which seven of the most distinguished characters of
the time lost their lives at the hands of assassins, and neither he, nor any other commentator has been able to explain the mysterious cause of this homicidal mania.
If we press these gentlemen for an explanation, which as pretended philosophers they are bound to give us, we are answered that it is a great deal more scientific to assign for such epidemics "agitation of the mind," " . . . a time of political excitement (1830)" " . . . imitation and impulse," " . . . excitable and idle boys," and "hysterical girls," than to be absurdly seeking for the verification of superstitious traditions in a hypothetical astral light. It seems to us that if, by some providential fatality, hysteria were to disappear entirely from the human system, the medical fraternity would be entirely at a loss for explanations of a large class of phenomena now conveniently classified under the head of "normal symptoms of certain pathological conditions of the nervous centres." Hysteria has been hitherto the sheet-anchor of skeptical pathologists. Does a dirty peasant-girl begin suddenly to speak with fluency different foreign languages hitherto unfamiliar to her, and to write poetry — "hysterics!" Is a medium levitated, in full view of a dozen of witnesses, and carried out of one third-story window and brought back through another — "disturbance of the nervous centres, followed by a collective hysterical delusion."* A Scotch terrier, caught in the room during a manifestation, is hurled by an invisible hand across the room, breaks to pieces, in his salto mortali, a chandelier, under a ceiling eighteen feet high, to fall down killed† -- "canine hallucination!"
"True science has no belief," says Dr. Fenwick, in Bulwer-Lytton's Strange Story; "true science knows but three states of mind: denial, conviction, and the vast interval between the two, which is not belief, but the suspension of judgment." Such, perhaps, was true science in Dr. Fenwick's days. But the true science of our modern times proceeds otherwise; it either denies point-blank, without any preliminary investigation, or sits in the interim, between denial and conviction, and, dictionary in hand, invents new Graeco-Latin appellations for non-existing kinds of hysteria!
How often have powerful clairvoyants and adepts in mesmerism described the epidemics and physical (though to others invisible) manifestations which science attributes to epilepsy, haemato-nervous disorders, and what not, of somatic origin, as their lucid vision saw them in the astral light. They affirm that the "electric waves" were in violent perturbation, and that they discerned a direct relation between this ethereal disturbance and the mental or physical epidemic then raging. But
science has heeded them not, but gone on with her encyclopaedic labor of devising new names for old things.
"History," says Du Potet, the prince of French mesmerists, "keeps but too well the sad records of sorcery. These facts were but too real, and lent themselves but too readily to dreadful malpractices of the art, to monstrous abuse! . . . But how did I come to find out that art? Where did I learn it? In my thoughts? no; it is nature herself which discovered to me the secret. And how? By producing before my own eyes, without waiting for me to search for it, indisputable facts of sorcery and magic. . . . What is, after all, somnambulistic sleep? A result of the potency of magic. And what is it which determines these attractions, these sudden impulses, these raving epidemics, rages, antipathies, crises; — these convulsions which you can make durable? . . . what is it which determines them, if not the very principle we employ, the agent so decidedly well known to the ancients? What you call nervous fluid or magnetism, the men of old called occult power, or the potency of the soul, subjection, MAGIC!"
"Magic is based on the existence of a mixed world placed without, not within us; and with which we can enter in communication by the use of certain arts and practices. . . . An element existing in nature, unknown to most men, gets hold of a person and withers and breaks him down, as the fearful hurricane does a bulrush; it scatters men far away, it strikes them in a thousand places at the same time, without their perceiving the invisible foe, or being able to protect themselves . . . all this is demonstrated; but that this element could choose friends and select favorites, obey their thoughts, answer to the human voice, and understand the meaning of traced signs, that is what people cannot realize, and what their reason rejects, and that is what I saw; and I say it here most emphatically, that for me it is a fact and a truth demonstrated for ever."*
"If I entered into greater details, one could readily understand that there do exist around us, as in ourselves, mysterious beings who have power and shape, who enter and go out at will, notwithstanding the well-closed doors."† Further, the great mesmerizer teaches us that the faculty of directing this fluid is a "physical property, resulting from our organization . . . it passes through all bodies . . . everything can be used as a conductor for magical operations, and it will retain the power of producing effects in its turn." This is the theory common to all hermetic philosophers. Such is the power of the fluid, "that no chemical or physical forces are able to destroy it. . . . There is very little analogy between
the imponderable fluids known to physicists and this animal magnetic fluid."*
If we now refer to mediaeval ages, we find, among others, Cornelius Agrippa telling us precisely the same: "The ever-changing universal force, the 'soul of the world,' can fecundate anything by infusing in it its own celestial properties. Arranged according to the formula taught by science, these objects receive the gift of communicating to us their virtue. It is sufficient to wear them, to feel them immediately operating on the soul as on the body. . . . Human soul possesses, from the fact of its being of the same essence as all creation, a marvellous power. One who possesses the secret is enabled to rise in science and knowledge as high as his imagination will carry him; but he does that only on the condition of becoming closely united to this universal force . . . Truth, even the future, can be then made ever present to the eyes of the soul; and this fact has been many times demonstrated by things coming to pass as they were seen and described beforehand . . . time and space vanish before the eagle eye of the immortal soul . . . her power becomes boundless . . . she can shoot through space and envelop with her presence a man, no matter at what distance; she can plunge and penetrate him through, and make him hear the voice of the person she belongs to, as if that person were in the room."†
If unwilling to seek for proof or receive information from mediaeval, hermetic philosophy, we may go still further back into antiquity, and select, out of the great body of philosophers of the pre-Christian ages, one who can least be accused of superstition and credulity — Cicero. Speaking of those whom he calls gods, and who are either human or atmospheric spirits, "We know," says the old orator, "that of all living beings man is the best formed, and, as the gods belong to this number, they must have a human form. . . . I do not mean to say that the gods have body and blood in them; but I say that they seem as if they had bodies with blood in them. . . . Epicurus, for whom hidden things were as tangible as if he had touched them with his finger, teaches us that gods are not generally visible, but that they are intelligible; that they are not bodies having a certain solidity . . . but that we can recognize them by their passing images; that as there are atoms enough in the infinite space to produce such images, these are produced before us . . . and make us realize what are these happy, immortal beings."‡
"When the initiate," says Levi, in his turn, "has become quite lucide,
he communicates and directs at will the magnetic vibrations in the mass of astral light. . . . Transformed in human light at the moment of the conception, it (the light) becomes the first envelope of the soul; by combination with the subtlest fluids it forms an ethereal body, or the sidereal phantom, which is entirely disengaged only at the moment of death."* To project this ethereal body, at no matter what distance; to render it more objective and tangible by condensing over its fluidic form the waves of the parent essence, is the great secret of the adept-magician.
Theurgical magic is the last expression of occult psychological science. The Academicians reject it as the hallucination of diseased brains, or brand it with the opprobrium of charlatanry. We deny to them most emphatically the right of expressing their opinion on a subject which they have never investigated. They have no more right, in their present state of knowledge, to judge of magic and Spiritualism than a Fiji islander to venture his opinion about the labors of Faraday or Agassiz. About all they can do on any one day is to correct the errors of the preceding day. Nearly three thousand years ago, earlier than the days of Pythagoras, the ancient philosophers claimed that light was ponderable — hence matter, and that light was force. The corpuscular theory, owing to certain Newtonian failures to account for it, was laughed down, and the undulatory theory, which proclaimed light imponderable, accepted. And now the world is startled by Mr.Crookes weighing light with his radiometer! The Pythagoreans held that neither the sun nor the stars were the sources of light and heat, and that the former was but an agent; but the modern schools teach the contrary.
The same may be said respecting the Newtonian law of gravitation. Following strictly the Pythagorean doctrine, Plato held that gravitation was not merely a law of the magnetic attraction of lesser bodies to larger ones, but a magnetic repulsion of similars and attraction of dissimilars. "Things brought together," says he, "contrary to nature, are naturally at war, and repel one another."† This cannot be taken to mean that repulsion occurs of necessity between bodies of dissimilar properties, but simply that when naturally antagonistic bodies are brought together they repel one another. The researches of Bart and Schweigger leave us in little or no doubt that the ancients were well acquainted with the mutual attractions of iron and the lodestone, as well as with the positive and negative properties of electricity, by whatever name they may have called
it. The reciprocal magnetic relations of the planetary orbs, which are all magnets, was with them an accepted fact, and aerolites were not only called by them magnetic stones, but used in the Mysteries for purposes to which we now apply the magnet. When, therefore, Professor A. M. Mayer, of the Stevens Institute of Technology, in 1872, told the Yale Scientific Club that the earth is a great magnet, and that "on any sudden agitation of the sun's surface the magnetism of the earth receives a profound disturbance in its equilibrium, causing fitful tremors in the magnets of our observatories, and producing those grand outbursts of the polar lights, whose lambent flames dance in rhythm to the quivering needle,"* he only restated, in good English, what was taught in good Doric untold centuries before the first Christian philosopher saw the light.
The prodigies accomplished by the priests of theurgical magic are so well authenticated, and the evidence — if human testimony is worth anything at all — is so overwhelming, that, rather than confess that the Pagan theurgists far outrivalled the Christians in miracles, Sir David Brewster piously concedes to the former the greatest proficiency in physics, and everything that pertains to natural philosophy. Science finds herself in a very disagreeable dilemma. She must either confess that the ancient physicists were superior in knowledge to her modern representatives, or that there exists something in nature beyond physical science, and that spirit possesses powers of which our philosophers never dreamed.
"The mistake we make in some science we have specially cultivated," says Bulwer-Lytton, "is often only to be seen by the light of a separate science as especially cultivated by another."†
Nothing can be easier accounted for than the highest possibilities of magic. By the radiant light of the universal magnetic ocean, whose electric waves bind the cosmos together, and in their ceaseless motion penetrate every atom and molecule of the boundless creation, the disciples of mesmerism — howbeit insufficient their various experiments — intuitionally perceive the alpha and omega of the great mystery. Alone, the study of this agent, which is the divine breath, can unlock the secrets of psychology and physiology, of cosmical and spiritual phenomena.
"Magic," says Psellus, "formed the last part of the sacerdotal science. It investigated the nature, power, and quality of everything sublunary; of the elements and their parts, of animals, all various plants and their fruits, of stones and herbs. In short, it explored the essence and power of everything. From hence, therefore, it produced its effects.
And it formed statues (magnetized) which procure health, and made all various figures and things (talismans) which could equally become the instruments of disease as well as of health. Often, too, celestial fire is made to appear through magic, and then statues laugh and lamps are spontaneously enkindled."*
If Galvani's modern discovery can set in motion the limbs of a dead frog, and force a dead man's face to express, by the distortion of its features, the most varied emotions, from joy to diabolical rage, despair, and horror, the Pagan priests, unless the combined evidence of the most trustworthy men of antiquity is not to be relied upon, accomplished the still greater wonders of making their stone and metal statues to sweat and laugh. The celestial, pure fire of the Pagan altar was electricity drawn from the astral light. Statues, therefore, if properly prepared, might, without any accusation of superstition, be allowed to have the property of imparting health and disease by contact, as well as any modern galvanic belt, or overcharged battery.
Scholastic skeptics, as well as ignorant materialists, have greatly amused themselves for the last two centuries over the absurdities attributed to Pythagoras by his biographer, Iamblichus. The Samian philosopher is said to have persuaded a she-bear to give up eating human flesh; to have forced a white eagle to descend to him from the clouds, and to have subdued him by stroking him gently with the hand, and by talking to him. On another occasion, Pythagoras actually persuaded an ox to renounce eating beans, by merely whispering in the animal's ear!† Oh, ignorance and superstition of our forefathers, how ridiculous they appear in the eyes of our enlightened generations! Let us, however, analyze this absurdity. Every day we see unlettered men, proprietors of strolling menageries, taming and completely subduing the most ferocious animals, merely by the power of their irresistible will. Nay, we have at the present moment in Europe several young and physically-weak girls, under twenty years of age, fearlessly doing the same thing. Every one has either witnessed or heard of the seemingly magical power of some mesmerizers and psychologists. They are able to subjugate their patients for any length of time. Regazzoni, the mesmerist who excited such wonder in France and London, has achieved far more extraordinary feats than what is above attributed to Pythagoras. Why, then, accuse the ancient biographers of such men as Pythagoras and Apollonius of Tyana of either wilful misrepresentation or absurd superstition? When we realize that
the majority of those who are so skeptical as to the magical powers possessed by the ancient philosophers, who laugh at the old theogonies and the fallacies of mythology, nevertheless have an implicit faith in the records and inspiration of their Bible, hardly daring to doubt even that monstrous absurdity that Joshua arrested the course of the sun, we may well say Amen to Godfrey Higgins' just rebuke: "When I find," he says, "learned men believing Genesis literally, which the ancients, with all their failings, had too much sense to receive except allegorically, I am tempted to doubt the reality of the improvement of the human mind."*
One of the very few commentators on old Greek and Latin authors, who have given their just dues to the ancients for their mental development, is Thomas Taylor. In his translation of Iamblichus' Life of Pythagoras, we find him remarking as follows: "Since Pythagoras, as Iamblichus informs us, was initiated in all the Mysteries of Byblus and Tyre, in the sacred operations of the Syrians, and in the Mysteries of the Phoenicians, and also that he spent two and twenty years in the adyta of temples in Egypt, associated with the magians in Babylon, and was instructed by them in their venerable knowledge, it is not at all wonderful that he was skilled in magic, or theurgy, and was therefore able to perform things which surpass merely human power, and which appear to be perfectly incredible to the vulgar."†
The universal ether was not, in their eyes, simply a something stretching, tenantless, throughout the expanse of heaven; it was a boundless ocean peopled like our familiar seas with monstrous and minor creatures, and having in its every molecule the germs of life. Like the finny tribes which swarm in our oceans and smaller bodies of water, each kind having its habitat in some spot to which it is curiously adapted, some friendly and some inimical to man, some pleasant and some frightful to behold, some seeking the refuge of quiet nooks and land-locked harbors, and some traversing great areas of water, the various races of the elemental spirits were believed by them to inhabit the different portions of the great ethereal ocean, and to be exactly adapted to their respective conditions. If we will only bear in mind the fact that the rushing of planets through space must create as absolute a disturbance in this plastic and attenuated medium, as the passage of a cannon shot does in the air or that of a steamer in the water, and on a cosmic scale, we can understand that certain planetary aspects, admitting our premises to be true, may produce much more violent agitation and cause much stronger currents to flow in a given direction, than others. With the same premises conceded, we may also see why, by such various aspects of the stars, shoals of
friendly or hostile "elementals" might be poured in upon our atmosphere, or some particular portion of it, and make the fact appreciable by the effects which ensue.
According to the ancient doctrines, the soulless elemental spirits were evolved by the ceaseless motion inherent in the astral light. Light is force, and the latter is produced by the will. As this will proceeds from an intelligence which cannot err, for it has nothing of the material organs of human thought in it, being the superfine pure emanation of the highest divinity itself — (Plato's "Father") it proceeds from the beginning of time, according to immutable laws, to evolve the elementary fabric requisite for subsequent generations of what we term human races. All of the latter, whether belonging to this planet or to some other of the myriads in space, have their earthly bodies evolved in the matrix out of the bodies of a certain class of these elemental beings which have passed away in the invisible worlds. In the ancient philosophy there was no missing link to be supplied by what Tyndall calls an "educated imagination"; no hiatus to be filled with volumes of materialistic speculations made necessary by the absurd attempt to solve an equation with but one set of quantities; our "ignorant" ancestors traced the law of evolution throughout the whole universe. As by gradual progression from the star-cloudlet to the development of the physical body of man, the rule holds good, so from the universal ether to the incarnate human spirit, they traced one uninterrupted series of entities. These evolutions were from the world of spirit into the world of gross matter; and through that back again to the source of all things. The "descent of species" was to them a descent from the spirit, primal source of all, to the "degradation of matter." In this complete chain of unfoldings the elementary, spiritual beings had as distinct a place, midway between the extremes, as Mr. Darwin's missing-link between the ape and man.
No author in the world of literature ever gave a more truthful or more poetical description of these beings than Sir E. Bulwer-Lytton, the author of Zanoni. Now, himself "a thing not of matter" but an "Idea of joy and light," his words sound more like the faithful echo of memory than the exuberant outflow of mere imagination.
"Man is arrogant in proportion of his ignorance," he makes the wise Mejnour say to Glyndon. "For several ages he saw in the countless worlds that sparkle through space like the bubbles of a shoreless ocean, only the petty candles . . . that Providence has been pleased to light for no other purpose but to make the night more agreeable to man. . . . Astronomy has corrected this delusion of human vanity, and man now reluctantly confesses that the stars are worlds, larger and more glorious than his own. . . . Everywhere, then, in this immense design, science
brings new life to light. . . . Reasoning, then, by evident analogy, if not a leaf, if not a drop of water, but is, no less than yonder star, a habitable and breathing world — nay, if even man himself, is a world to other lives, and millions and myriads dwell in the rivers of his blood, and inhabit man's frame, as man inhabits earth — common sense (if our schoolmen had it) would suffice to teach that the circumfluent infinite which you call space — the boundless impalpable which divides earth from the moon and stars — is filled also with its correspondent and appropriate life. Is it not a visible absurdity to suppose that being is crowded upon every leaf, and yet absent from the immensities of space! The law of the great system forbids the waste even of an atom; it knows no spot where something of life does not breathe. . . . Well, then, can you conceive that space, which is the infinite itself, is alone a waste, is alone lifeless, is less useful to the one design of universal being . . . than the peopled leaf, than the swarming globule? The microscope shows you the creatures on the leaf; no mechanical tube is yet invented to discover the nobler and more gifted things that hover in the illimitable air. Yet between these last and man is a mysterious and terrible affinity. . . . But first, to penetrate this barrier, the soul with which you listen must be sharpened by intense enthusiasm, purified from all earthly desires. . . . When thus prepared, science can be brought to aid it; the sight itself may be rendered more subtile, the nerves more acute, the spirit more alive and outward, and the element itself — the air, the space — may be made, by certain secrets of the higher chemistry, more palpable and clear. And this, too, is not magic as the credulous call it; as I have so often said before, magic (a science that violates nature) exists not; it is but the science by which nature can be controlled. Now, in space there are millions of beings, not literally spiritual, for they have all, like the animalcula unseen by the naked eye, certain forms of matter, though matter so delicate, air-drawn, and subtile, that it is, as it were, but a film, a gossamer, that clothes the spirit. . . . Yet, in truth, these races differ most widely . . . some of surpassing wisdom, some of horrible malignity; some hostile as fiends to men, others gentle as messengers between earth and heaven. . . . Amid the dwellers of the threshold is one, too, surpassing in malignity and hatred all her tribe; one whose eyes have paralyzed the bravest, and whose power increases over the spirit precisely in proportion to its fear."*
Such is the insufficient sketch of elemental beings void of divine spirit, given by one whom many with reason believed to know more than he was prepared to admit in the face of an incredulous public.
In the following chapter we will contrive to explain some of the esoteric speculations of the initiates of the sanctuary, as to what man was, is, and may yet be. The doctrines they taught in the Mysteries — the source from which sprang the Old and partially the New Testament, belonged to the most advanced notions of morality, and religious revelations. While the literal meaning was abandoned to the fanaticism of the unreasoning lower classes of society, the higher ones, the majority of which consisted of Initiates, pursued their studies in the solemn silence of the temples, and their worship of the one God of Heaven.
The speculations of Plato, in the Banquet, on the creation of the primordial men, and the essay on Cosmogony in the Timaeus, must be taken allegorically, if we accept them at all. It is this hidden Pythagorean meaning in Timaeus, Cratylus, and Parmenides, and a few other trilogies and dialogues, that the Neo-platonists ventured to expound, as far as the theurgical vow of secrecy would allow them. The Pythagorean doctrine that God is the universal mind diffused through all things, and the dogma of the soul's immortality, are the leading features in these apparently incongruous teachings. His piety and the great veneration Plato felt for the Mysteries, are sufficient warrant that he would not allow his indiscretion to get the better of that deep sense of responsibility which is felt by every adept. "Constantly perfecting himself in perfect Mysteries, a man in them alone becomes truly perfect," says he in the Phaedrus.*
He took no pains to conceal his displeasure that the Mysteries had become less secret than formerly. Instead of profaning them by putting them within the reach of the multitude, he would have guarded them with jealous care against all but the most earnest and worthy of his disciples.† While mentioning the gods, on every page, his monotheism is unquestionable, for the whole thread of his discourse indicates that by the term gods he means a class of beings far lower in the scale than deities, and but one grade higher than men. Even Josephus perceived and acknowledged this fact, despite the natural prejudice of his race. In his famous onslaught upon Apion, this historian says:‡ "Those, however, among the Greeks who philosophized in accordance with truth, were not ignorant of anything . . . nor did they fail to perceive the chilling
superficialities of the mythical allegories, on which account they justly despised them. . . . By which thing Plato, being moved, says it is not necessary to admit any one of the other poets into 'the Commonwealth,' and he dismisses Homer blandly, after having crowned him and pouring unguent upon him, in order that indeed he should not destroy, by his myths, the orthodox belief respecting one God."
Those who can discern the true spirit of Plato's philosophy, will hardly be satisfied with the estimate of the same which Jowett lays before his readers. He tells us that the influence exercised upon posterity by the Timaeus is partly due to a misunderstanding of the doctrine of its author by the Neo-platonists. He would have us believe that the hidden meanings which they found in this Dialogue, are "quite at variance with the spirit of Plato." This is equivalent to the assumption that Jowett understands what this spirit really was; whereas his criticism upon this particular topic rather indicates that he did not penetrate it at all. If, as he tells us, the Christians seem to find in his work their trinity, the word, the church, and the creation of the world, in a Jewish sense, it is because all this is there, and therefore it is but natural that they should have found it. The outward building is the same; but the spirit which animated the dead letter of the philosopher's teaching has fled, and we would seek for it in vain through the arid dogmas of Christian theology. The Sphinx is the same now, as it was four centuries before the Christian era; but the OEdipus is no more. He is slain because he has given to the world that which the world was not ripe enough to receive. He was the embodiment of truth, and he had to die, as every grand truth has to, before, like the Phoenix of old, it revives from its own ashes. Every translator of Plato's works remarked the strange similarity between the philosophy of the esoterists and the Christian doctrines, and each of them has tried to interpret it in accordance with his own religious feelings. So Cory, in his Ancient Fragments, tries to prove that it is but an outward resemblance; and does his best to lower the Pythagorean Monad in the public estimation and exalt upon its ruins the later anthropomorphic deity. Taylor, advocating the former, acts as unceremoniously with the Mosaic God. Zeller boldly laughs at the pretensions of the Fathers of the Church, who, notwithstanding history and its chronology, and whether people will have it or not, insist that Plato and his school have robbed Christianity of its leading features. It is as fortunate for us as it is unfortunate for the Roman Church that such clever sleight-of-hand as that resorted to by Eusebius is rather difficult in our century. It was easier to pervert chronology "for the sake of making synchronisms," in the days of the Bishop of Caesarea, than it is now, and while history exists, no one can help people knowing that Plato lived 600 years before
Irenaeus took it into his head to establish a new doctrine from the ruins of Plato's older Academy.
This doctrine of God being the universal mind diffused through all things, underlies all ancient philosophies. The Buddhistic tenets which can never be better comprehended than when studying the Pythagorean philosophy — its faithful reflection — are derived from this source as well as the Brahmanical religion and early Christianity. The purifying process of transmigrations — the metempsychoses — however grossly anthropomorphized at a later period, must only be regarded as a supplementary doctrine, disfigured by theological sophistry with the object of getting a firmer hold upon believers through a popular superstition. Neither Gautama Buddha nor Pythagoras intended to teach this purely-metaphysical allegory literally. Esoterically, it is explained in the "Mystery" of the Kounboum,* and relates to the purely spiritual peregrinations of the human soul. It is not in the dead letter of Buddhistical sacred literature that scholars may hope to find the true solution of its metaphysical subtilties. The latter weary the power of thought by the inconceivable profundity of its ratiocination; and the student is never farther from truth than when he believes himself nearest its discovery. The mastery of every doctrine of the perplexing Buddhist system can be attained only by proceeding strictly according to the Pythagorean and Platonic method; from universals down to particulars. The key to it lies in the refined and mystical tenets of the spiritual influx of divine life. "Whoever is unacquainted with my law," says Buddha, "and dies in that state, must return to the earth till he becomes a perfect Samanean. To achieve this object, he must destroy within himself the trinity of Maya.† He must extinguish his passions, unite and identify himself with the law (the teaching of the secret doctrine), and comprehend the religion of annihilation."
Here, annihilation refers but to matter, that of the visible as well as of the invisible body; for the astral soul (perisprit) is still matter, however sublimated. The same book says that what Fo (Buddha) meant to say was, that "the primitive substance is eternal and unchangeable. Its highest revelation is the pure, luminous ether, the boundless infinite space, not a void resulting from the absence of forms, but, on the contrary, the foundation of all forms, and anterior to them. But the very presence of forms denotes it to be the creation of Maya, and all her works are as nothing before the uncreated being, spirit, in whose profound and sacred repose all motion must cease forever."
Thus annihilation means, with the Buddhistical philosophy, only a dispersion of matter, in whatever form or semblance of form it may be; for everything that bears a shape was created, and thus must sooner or later perish, i.e., change that shape; therefore, as something temporary, though seeming to be permanent, it is but an illusion, Maya; for, as eternity has neither beginning nor end, the more or less prolonged duration of some particular form passes, as it were, like an instantaneous flash of lightning. Before we have the time to realize that we have seen it, it is gone and passed away for ever; hence, even our astral bodies, pure ether, are but illusions of matter, so long as they retain their terrestrial outline. The latter changes, says the Buddhist, according to the merits or demerits of the person during his lifetime, and this is metempsychosis. When the spiritual entity breaks loose for ever from every particle of matter, then only it enters upon the eternal and unchangeable Nirvana. He exists in spirit, in nothing; as a form, a shape, a semblance, he is completely annihilated, and thus will die no more, for spirit alone is no Maya, but the only reality in an illusionary universe of ever-passing forms.
It is upon this Buddhist doctrine that the Pythagoreans grounded the principal tenets of their philosophy. "Can that spirit, which gives life and motion, and partakes of the nature of light, be reduced to non-entity?" they ask. "Can that sensitive spirit in brutes which exercises memory, one of the rational faculties, die, and become nothing?" And Whitelock Bulstrode, in his able defence of Pythagoras, expounds this doctrine by adding: "If you say, they (the brutes) breathe their spirits into the air, and there vanish, that is all I contend for. The air, indeed, is the proper place to receive them, being, according to Laertius, full of souls; and, according to Epicurus, full of atoms, the principles of all things; for even this place wherein we walk and birds fly has so much of a spiritual nature, that it is invisible, and, therefore, may well be the receiver of forms, since the forms of all bodies are so; we can only see and hear its effects; the air itself is too fine, and above the capacity of the age. What then is the ether in the region above, and what are the influences or forms that descend from thence?" The spirits of creatures, the Pythagoreans hold, who are emanations of the most sublimated portions of ether, emanations, breaths, but not forms. Ether is incorruptible, all philosophers agree in that; and what is incorruptible is so far from being annihilated when it gets rid of the form, that it lays a good claim to immortality. "But what is that which has no body, no form; which is imponderable, invisible and indivisible; that which exists and yet is not?" ask the Buddhists. "It is Nirvana," is the answer. It is nothing, not a region, but rather a state. When once Nirvana is
reached, man is exempt from the effects of the "four truths"; for an effect can only be produced through a certain cause, and every cause is annihilated in this state.
These "four truths" are the foundation of the whole Buddhist doctrine of Nirvana. They are, says the book of Pradjna Paramita,* 1. The existence of pain. 2. The production of pain. 3. The annihilation of pain. 4. The way to the annihilation of pain. What is the source of pain? — Existence. Birth existing, decrepitude and death ensue; for wherever there is a form, there is a cause for pain and suffering. Spirit alone has no form, and therefore cannot be said to exist. Whenever man (the ethereal, inner man) reaches that point when he becomes utterly spiritual, hence, formless, he has reached a state of perfect bliss. Man as an objective being becomes annihilated, but the spiritual entity with its subjective life, will live for ever, for spirit is incorruptible and immortal.
It is by the spirit of the teachings of both Buddha and Pythagoras, that we can so easily recognize the identity of their doctrines. The all-pervading, universal soul, the Anima Mundi, is Nirvana; and Buddha, as a generic name, is the anthropomorphized monad of Pythagoras. When resting in Nirvana, the final bliss, Buddha is the silent monad, dwelling in darkness and silence; he is also the formless Brahm, the sublime but unknowable Deity, which pervades invisibly the whole universe. Whenever it is manifested, desiring to impress itself upon humanity in a shape intelligent to our intellect, whether we call it an avatar, or a King Messiah, or a permutation of Divine Spirit, Logos, Christos, it is all one and the same thing. In each case it is "the Father," who is in the Son, and the Son in "the Father." The immortal spirit overshadows the mortal man. It enters into him, and pervading his whole being, makes of him a god, who descends into his earthly tabernacle. Every man may become a Buddha, says the doctrine. And so throughout the interminable series of ages we find now and then men who more or less succeed in uniting themselves "with God," as the expression goes, with their own spirit, as we ought to translate. The Buddhists call such men Arhat. An Arhat is next to a Buddha, and none is equal to him either in infused science, or miraculous powers. Certain fakirs demonstrate the theory well in practice, as Jacolliot has proved.
Even the so-called fabulous narratives of certain Buddhistical books, when stripped of their allegorical meaning, are found to be the secret doctrines taught by Pythagoras. In the Pali Books called the Jutakas, are given the 550 incarnations or metempsychoses of Buddha. They
narrate how he has appeared in every form of animal life, and animated every sentient being on earth, from infinitesimal insect to the bird, the beast, and finally man, the microcosmic image of God on earth. Must this be taken literally; is it intended as a description of the actual transformations and existence of one and the same individual immortal, divine spirit, which by turns has animated every kind of sentient being? Ought we not rather to understand, with Buddhist metaphysicians, that though the individual human spirits are numberless, collectively they are one, as every drop of water drawn out of the ocean, metaphorically speaking, may have an individual existence and still be one with the rest of the drops going to form that ocean; for each human spirit is a scintilla of the one all-pervading light? That this divine spirit animates the flower, the particle of granite on the mountain side, the lion, the man? Egyptian Hierophants, like the Brahmans, and the Buddhists of the East, and some Greek philosophers, maintained originally that the same spirit that animates the particle of dust, lurking latent in it, animates man, manifesting itself in him in its highest state of activity. The doctrine, also, of a gradual refusion of the human soul into the essence of the primeval parent spirit, was universal at one time. But this doctrine never implied annihilation of the higher spiritual ego — only the dispersion of the external forms of man, after his terrestrial death, as well as during his abode on earth. Who is better fitted to impart to us the mysteries of after-death, so erroneously thought impenetrable, than those men who having, through self-discipline and purity of life and purpose, succeeded in uniting themselves with their "God," were afforded some glimpses, however imperfect, of the great truth.* And these seers tell us strange stories about the variety of forms assumed by disembodied astral souls; forms of which each one is a spiritual though concrete reflection of the abstract state of the mind, and thoughts of the once living man.
To accuse Buddhistical philosophy of rejecting a Supreme Being — God, and the soul's immortality, of atheism, in short, on the ground that according to their doctrines, Nirvana means annihilation, and Svabhavat is not a person, but nothing, is simply absurd. The En (or Ayin) of the Jewish En-Soph, also means nihil or nothing, that which is not (quo ad nos); but no one has ever ventured to twit the Jews with atheism. In both cases the real meaning of the term nothing carries with it the idea that God is not a thing, not a concrete or visible Being to which a name expressive of any object known to us on earth may be applied with propriety.