FROM ELIPHAS LEVI’S WORKS.
We have alluded, heretofore, to a substance diffused throughout Infinity: this unique substance is at once Heaven and Earth, that is to say, according to its degrees of polarization, subtile or fixed.
It is this substance that Hermes Trismegistus denominates the great Telesma; when it produces brilliancy, it is called Light; it is this substance that God created, first of all, when He said, "Let there be Light."
It is at once matter and motion, a fluid and a perpetual vibration; and the force that is inherent in it, and sets it in motion, is called Magnetism.
In Infinity, this unique substance is Ether or Etherial Light; in the stars, which it magnetizes, it becomes the Astral Light; in organic beings, magnetic or fluidic light; and in man, the astral body or the plastic medium.
The wills of all intelligent beings act directly upon this light, and through it, on all Nature, which is thus subjected to the modifications of intelligence.
This light is the universal mirror of all thought and all form; it preserves the images of all that has been, the reflections of worlds that have passed away, and, by analogy, the prophecies of worlds that are yet to come. This light, which is called in Hebrew "Aour," is the liquid and living Gold of the Hermetic philosophy; the positive principle is its sulphur, the negative its Mercury; and these principles, when equilibrated, form its Salt. All matter, therefore, is impelled to motion by reason of its double magnetism, and tends, inevitably, to equilibrium; the regularity and variety in this motion, result from different combinations of this equilibrium.
A fluid is matter in active motion, and constantly agitated by reason of the variation of its equilibrium; a "solid," is the same matter in less active motion; or in apparent repose, because it is more or less solidly equilibrated.
There is no solid that cannot be immediately reduced to powder, dissipated in smoke, and rendered invisible, if the equilibrium of its molecules should suddenly be entirely destroyed; and there is no fluid that cannot be instantly rendered harder than the diamond, if its constituent molecules could be immediately equilibrated.
To direct these two magnetisms, therefore, is to destroy or create, to produce forms or to annihilate them — in a word, to exercise the omnipotence of nature.
Our plastic medium is a magnet that attracts or repels the Astral Light, by the compulsion of the will: it is a luminous body, that reproduces, with the greatest fidelity, the forms that correspond to ideas: it is the mirror of the imagination.
This plastic body is nourished by the Astral Light, precisely as the organic body is nourished by the products of the earth. During sleep, it absorbs the Astral Light, by immersion; and in waking hours, by a kind of respiration, more or less slow.
In natural somnambulism, the plastic medium is surcharged with nutriment, which it does not perfectly assimilate: the will, although fettered by the torpor of sleep, strives to repel the medium; and a reaction, which is to some extent mechanical, ensues, whereby the light of the medium is equilibrated, by means of the movement of the body; this explains why it is dangerous to awaken somnambulists suddenly — for the surcharged medium might, in such cases instantly withdraw to the universal reservoir, and entirely abandon the organs which, at that time, are separated from the soul, thus causing death. Hallucinations and visions, result from wounds inflicted on the plastic medium, causing local paralysis; sometimes it ceases to radiate, and substitutes images of its own, for the realities existing in the light, sometimes it radiates too powerfully, and condenses itself in some undesirable or fortuitous locality just as the blood settles in excrescences of the flesh: then the chimeras of the brain take form, and we appear to ourselves glorious or deformed, according to the ideal of our hopes or fears.
Hallucinations, being dreams of our waking hours, always presuppose a state analogous to somnambulism, and somnambulism may be regarded as sleep borrowing its phenomena from waking states; hallucination is the waking state, still swayed, in part, by the astral intoxication of sleep. Our fluidic bodies attract and repel one another, according to laws analogous to those of electricity; thus are produced instinctive sympathies and antipathies, which equilibrate each other: for this reason, hallucinations are often contagious; a circle of illusion is formed, and a whole multitude is easily carried away; this is the history of strange apparitions and popular prodigies; thus are explained the performances of the Mediums in America, and the folly of tableturning. Lunatics and idiots are more susceptible to magnetism than persons of sound mind — and the reason is apparent; it requires very little to completely turn the head of a man who has been drinking heavily, and disease is much more easily contracted, when all the organs are predisposed to submit to its impressions, and already manifest its symptoms. Fluidic maladies have their fatal crises; every abnormal tension of the nervous apparatus, leads to a contrary tension, in accordance with the inexorable law of equilibrium; exaggerated love changes to aversion, and all exalted hatred approximates closely to love. The reaction comes with the violence and the suddenness of the thunderbolt. Ignorance is dismayed or indignant — science accepts the inevitable in silence.
The vibrations of the voice modify the movement of the Astral Light, and are powerful factors of magnetism. Baron du Potet says, in his recent book on "Magic," that it is possible to kill by means of magnetism, just as it is by electricity; this revelation has nothing surprising for those who
understand the analogies of Nature; it is certain that, by unduly dilating, or suddenly contracting, the plastic medium of a person, it can be separated from his body; cases have been known where one was thus killed, by being thrown into a paroxysm of anger, or overwhelming fear. Our plastic
medium inhales and exhales the Astral Light, or the vital breath of the earth, just as our body breathes the terrestrial atmosphere; and as, in some localities, the air is impure, and unfit to be breathed, so certain phenomenal circumstances may render the Astral Light unwholesome and incapable of being assimilated; and as the air in some places is too stimulating for certain organizations, but exactly suited to others, so it is with the Astral Light.
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