There is no religion higher than true!
“Ego sum qui sum.”–An axiom of Hermetic Philosophy.
“We commenced research where modern conjecture closes its faithless wings. And with us, those were the common elements of science which the sages of to-day disdain as wild chimeras, or despair of as unfathomable mysteries.”–BULWER’S “ZANONI.”
THERE exists somewhere in this wide world an old Book–so very old that our modern antiquarians might ponder over its pages an indefinite time, and still not quite agree as to the nature of the fabric upon which it is written. It is the only original copy now in existence. The most ancient Hebrew document on occult learning–the Siphra Dzeniouta–was compiled from it, and that at a time when the former was already considered in the light of a literary relic. One of its illustrations represents the Divine Essence emanating from ADAM * like a luminous arc proceeding to form a circle; and then, having attained the highest point of its circumference, the ineffable Glory bends back again, and returns to earth, bringing a higher type of humanity in its vortex. As it approaches nearer and nearer to our planet, the Emanation becomes more and more shadowy, until upon touching the ground it is as black as night.
A conviction, founded upon seventy thousand years of experience, ** as they allege, has been entertained by hermetic philosophers of all periods that matter has in time become, through sin, more gross and dense than it was at man’s first formation; that, at the beginning, the human body was of a half-ethereal nature; and that, before the fall, mankind communed freely with the now unseen universes. But since that time matter has become the formidable barrier between us and the world of spirits. The oldest esoteric traditions also teach that, before the mystic Adam, many races of human beings lived and died out, each giving place in its turn to another. Were these precedent types more perfect? Did any of them belong to the winged race of men mentioned by Plato in Phaedrus? It is the special province of science to solve the problem. The caves of France and the relics of the stone age afford a point at which to begin.
As the cycle proceeded, man’s eyes were more and more opened, until he came to know “good and evil” as well as the Elohim themselves. Having reached its summit, the cycle began to go downward. When the arc attained a certain point which brought it parallel with the fixed line of our terrestrial plane, the man was furnished by nature with “coats of skin,“ and the Lord God “clothed them.”
This same belief in the pre-existence of a far more spiritual race than the one to which we now belong can be traced back to the earliest traditions of nearly every people. In the ancient Quiche manuscript, published by Brasseur de Bourbourg–the Popol Vuh–the first men are mentioned as a race that could reason and speak, whose sight was unlimited, and who knew all things at once. According to Philo Judaeus, the air is filled with an invisible host of spirits, some of whom are free from evil and immortal, and others are pernicious and mortal. “From the sons of EL we are descended, and sons of EL must we become again.” And the unequivocal statement of the anonymous Gnostic who wrote The Gospel according to John, that “as many as received Him,” i.e., who followed practically the esoteric doctrine of Jesus, would “become the sons of God,” points to the same belief. (i., 12.) “Know ye not, ye are gods?“ exclaimed the Master. Plato describes admirably in Phaedrus the state in which man once was, and what he will become again: before, and after the “loss of his wings”; when “he lived among the gods, a god himself in the airy world.” From the remotest periods religious philosophies taught that the whole universe was filled with divine and spiritual beings of divers races. From one of these evolved, in the course of time, ADAM, the primitive man.
The Kalmucks and some tribes of Siberia also describe in their legends earlier creations than our present race. These beings, they say, were possessed of almost boundless knowledge, and in their audacity even threatened rebellion against the Great Chief Spirit. To punish their presumption and humble them, he imprisoned them in bodies, and so shut in their senses. From these they can escape but through long repentance, self-purification, and development. Their Shamans, they think, occasionally enjoy the divine powers originally possessed by all human beings.
The Astor Library of New York has recently been enriched by a facsimile of an Egyptian Medical Treatise, written in the sixteenth century B.C. (or, more precisely, 1552 B.C.), which, according to the commonly received chronology, is the time when Moses was just twenty-one years of age. The original is written upon the inner bark of Cyperus papyrus, and has been pronounced by Professor Schenk, of Leipsig, not only genuine, but also the most perfect ever seen. It consists of a single sheet of yellow-brown papyrus of finest quality, three-tenths of a metre wide, more than twenty metres long, and forming one roll divided into one hundred and ten pages, all carefully numbered. It was purchased in Egypt, in 1872-3, by the archaeologist Ebers, of “a well-to-do Arab from Luxor.” The New York Tribune, commenting upon the circumstance, says: The papyrus “bears internal evidence of being one of the six Hermetic Books on Medicine, named by Clement of Alexandria.”
The editor further says: “At the time of Iamblichus, A.D. 363, the priests of Egypt showed forty-two books which they attributed to Hermes (Thuti). Of these, according to that author, thirty-six contained the history of all human knowledge; the last six treated of anatomy, of pathology, of affections of the eye, instruments of surgery, and of medicines. * The Papyrus Ebers is indisputably one of these ancient Hermetic works.”
If so clear a ray of light has been thrown upon ancient Egyptian science, by the accidental (?) encounter of the German archaeologist with one “well-to-do Arab” from Luxor, how can we know what sunshine may be let in upon the dark crypts of history by an equally accidental meeting between some other prosperous Egyptian and another enterprising student of antiquity!
The discoveries of modern science do not disagree with the oldest traditions which claim an incredible antiquity for our race. Within the last few years geology, which previously had only conceded that man could be traced as far back as the tertiary period, has found unanswerable proofs that human existence antedates the last glaciation of Europe–over 250,000 years! A hard nut, this, for Patristic Theology to crack; but an accepted fact with the ancient philosophers.
Moreover, fossil implements have been exhumed together with human remains, which show that man hunted in those remote times, and knew how to build a fire. But the forward step has not yet been taken in this search for the origin of the race; science comes to a dead stop, and waits for future proofs. Unfortunately, anthropology and psychology possess no Cuvier; neither geologists nor archaeologists are able to construct, from the fragmentary bits hitherto discovered, the perfect skeleton of the triple man–physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Because the fossil implements of man are found to become more rough and uncouth as geology penetrates deeper into the bowels of the earth, it seems a proof to science that the closer we come to the origin of man, the more savage and brute-like he must be. Strange logic! Does the finding of the remains in the cave of Devon prove that there were no contemporary races then who were highly civilized? When the present population of the earth have disappeared, and some archaeologist belonging to the “coming race” of the distant future shall excavate the domestic implements of one of our Indian or Andaman Island tribes, will he be justified in concluding that mankind in the nineteenth century was “just emerging from the Stone Age”?
It has lately been the fashion to speak of “the untenable conceptions of an uncultivated past.” As though it were possible to hide behind an epigram the intellectual quarries out of which the reputations of so many modern philosophers have been carved! Just as Tyndall is ever ready to disparage ancient philosophers–for a dressing-up of whose ideas more than one distinguished scientist has derived honor and credit–so the geologists seem more and more inclined to take for granted that all of the archaic races were contemporaneously in a state of dense barbarism. But not all of our best authorities agree in this opinion. Some of the most eminent maintain exactly the reverse. Max Muller, for instance, says: “Many things are still unintelligible to us, and the hieroglyphic language of antiquity records but half of the mind’s unconscious intentions. Yet more and more the image of man, in whatever clime we meet him, rises before us, noble and pure from the very beginning; even his errors we learn to understand, even his dreams we begin to interpret. As far as we can trace back the footsteps of man, even on the lowest strata of history, we see the divine gift of a sound and sober intellect belonging to him from the very first, and the idea of a humanity emerging slowly from the depths of an animal brutality can never be maintained again.” *
As it is claimed to be unphilosophical to inquire into first causes, scientists now occupy themselves with considering their physical effects. The field of scientific investigation is therefore bounded by physical nature. When once its limits are reached, enquiry must stop, and their work be recommenced. With all due respect to our learned men, they are like the squirrel upon its revolving wheel, for they are doomed to turn their “matter” over and over again. Science is a mighty potency, and it is not for us pigmies to question her. But the “scientists“ are not themselves science embodied any more than the men of our planet are the planet itself. We have neither the right to demand, nor power to compel our “modern-day philosopher” to accept without challenge a geographical description of the dark side of the moon. But, if in some lunar cataclysm one of her inhabitants should be hurled thence into the attraction of our atmosphere, and land, safe and sound, at Dr. Carpenter’s door, he would be indictable as recreant to professional duty if he should fail to set the physical problem at rest.
For a man of science to refuse an opportunity to investigate any new phenomenon, whether it comes to him in the shape of a man from the moon, or a ghost from the Eddy homestead, is alike reprehensible.
Whether arrived at by the method of Aristotle, or that of Plato, we need not stop to inquire; but it is a fact that both the inner and outer natures of man are claimed to have been thoroughly understood by the ancient andrologists. Notwithstanding the superficial hypotheses of geologists, we are beginning to have almost daily proofs in corroboration of the assertions of those philosophers.
They divided the interminable periods of human existence on this planet into cycles, during each of which mankind gradually reached the culminating point of highest civilization and gradually relapsed into abject barbarism. To what eminence the race in its progress had several times arrived may be feebly surmised by the wonderful monuments of old, still visible, and the descriptions given by Herodotus of other marvels of which no traces now remain. Even in his days the gigantic structures of many pyramids and world-famous temples were but masses of ruins. Scattered by the unrelenting hand of time, they are described by the Father of History as “these venerable witnesses of the long bygone glory of departed ancestors.” He “shrinks from speaking of divine things,” and gives to posterity but an imperfect description from hearsay of some marvellous subterranean chambers of the Labyrinth, where lay–and now lie–concealed, the sacred remains of the King-Initiates.
We can judge, moreover, of the lofty civilization reached in some periods of antiquity by the historical descriptions of the ages of the Ptolemies, yet in that epoch the arts and sciences were considered to be degenerating, and the secret of a number of the former had been already lost. In the recent excavations of Mariette-Bey, at the foot of the Pyramids, statues of wood and other relics have been exhumed, which show that long before the period of the first dynasties the Egyptians had attained to a refinement and perfection which is calculated to excite the wonder of even the most ardent admirers of Grecian art. Bayard Taylor describes these statues in one of his lectures, and tells us that the beauty of the heads, ornamented with eyes of precious stones and copper eyelids, is unsurpassed. Far below the stratum of sand in which lay the remains gathered into the collections of Lepsius, Abbott, and the British Museum, were found buried the tangible proofs of the hermetic doctrine of cycles which has been already explained.
Dr. Schliemann, the enthusiastic Hellenist, has recently found, in his excavations in the Troad, abundant evidences of the same gradual change from barbarism to civilization, and from civilization to barbarism again. Why then should we feel so reluctant to admit the possibility that, if the antediluvians were so much better versed than ourselves in certain sciences as to have been perfectly acquainted with important arts, which we now term lost,they might have equally excelled in psychological knowledge? Such a hypothesis must be considered as reasonable as any other until some countervailing evidence shall be discovered to destroy it.
Every true savant admits that in many respects human knowledge is yet in its infancy. Can it be that our cycle began in ages comparatively recent? These cycles, according to the Chaldean philosophy, do not embrace all mankind at one and the same time. Professor Draper partially corroborates this view by saying that the periods into which geology has “found it convenient to divide the progress of man in civilization are not abrupt epochs which hold good simultaneously for the whole human race”; giving as an instance the “wandering Indians of America,” who “are only at the present moment emerging from the stone age.” Thus more than once scientific men have unwittingly confirmed the testimony of the ancients.
Any Kabalist well acquainted with the Pythagorean system of numerals and geometry can demonstrate that the metaphysical views of Plato were based upon the strictest mathematical principles. “True mathematics,” says the Magicon, “is something with which all higher sciences are connected; common mathematics is but a deceitful phantasmagoria, whose much-praised infallibility only arises from this–that materials, conditions, and references are made its foundation.” Scientists who believe they have adopted the Aristotelian method only because they creep when they do not run from demonstrated particulars to universals, glorify this method of inductive philosophy, and reject that of Plato, which they treat as unsubstantial. Professor Draper laments that such speculative mystics as Ammonius Saccas and Plotinus should have taken the place “of the severe geometers of the old museum.”
* He forgets that geometry, of all sciences the only one which proceeds from universals to particulars, was precisely the method employed by Plato in his philosophy. As long as exact science confines its observations to physical conditions and proceeds Aristotle-like, it certainly cannot fail. But notwithstanding that the world of matter is boundless for us, it still is finite; and thus materialism will turn forever in this vitiated circle, unable to soar higher than the circumference will permit. The cosmological theory of numerals which Pythagoras learned from the Egyptian hierophants, is alone able to reconcile the two units, matter and spirit, and cause each to demonstrate the other mathematically.
The sacred numbers of the universe in their esoteric combination solve the great problem and explain the theory of radiation and the cycle of the emanations. The lower orders before they develop into higher ones must emanate from the higher spiritual ones, and when arrived at the turning-point, be reabsorbed again into the infinite.
Physiology, like everything else in this world of constant evolution, is subject to the cyclic revolution. As it now seems to be hardly emerging from the shadows of the lower arc, so it may be one day proved to have been at the highest point of the circumference of the circle far earlier than the days of Pythagoras.
Mochus, the Sidonian, the physiologist and teacher of the science of anatomy, flourished long before the Sage of Samos; and the latter received the sacred instructions from his disciples and descendants. Pythagoras, the pure philosopher, the deeply-versed in the profounder phenomena of nature, the noble inheritor of the ancient lore, whose great aim was to free the soul from the fetters of sense and force it to realize its powers, must live eternally in human memory.
The impenetrable veil of arcane secrecy was thrown over the sciences taught in the sanctuary. This is the cause of the modern depreciating of the ancient philosophies. Even Plato and Philo Judaeus have been accused by many a commentator of absurd inconsistencies, whereas the design which underlies the maze of metaphysical contradictions so perplexing to the reader of the Timaeus, is but too evident. But has Plato ever been read understandingly by one of the expounders of the classics? This is a question warranted by the criticisms to be found in such authors as Stalbaum, Schleirmacher, Ficinus (Latin translation), Heindorf, Sydenham, Buttmann, Taylor and Burges, to say nothing of lesser authorities. The covert allusions of the Greek philosopher to esoteric things have manifestly baffled these commentators to the last degree. They not only with unblushing coolness suggest as to certain difficult passages that another phraseology was evidently intended, but they audaciously make the changes! The Orphic line:
“Of the song, the order of the sixth race close” —
which can only be interpreted as a reference to the sixth race evolved in the consecutive evolution of the spheres, * Burges says: “. . . was evidently taken from a cosmogony where man was feigned to be created the last.” **—Ought not one who undertakes to edit another’s works at least understand what his author means?
Indeed, the ancient philosophers seem to be generally held, even by the least prejudiced of our modern critics, to have lacked that profundity and thorough knowledge in the exact sciences of which our century is so boastful. It is even questioned whether they understood that basic scientific principle: ex nihilo nihil fit. If they suspected the indestructibility of matter at all,–say these commentators–it was not in consequence of a firmly-established formula but only through an intuitional reasoning and by analogy.
We hold to the contrary opinion. The speculations of these philosophers upon matter were open to public criticism: but their teachings in regard to spiritual things were profoundly esoteric. Being thus sworn to secrecy and religious silence upon abstruse subjects involving the relations of spirit and matter, they rivalled each other in their ingenious methods for concealing their real opinions.
The doctrine of Metempsychosis has been abundantly ridiculed by men of science and rejected by theologians, yet if it had been properly understood in its application to the indestructibility of matter and the immortality of spirit, it would have been perceived that it is a sublime conception. Should we not first regard the subject from the stand-point of the ancients before venturing to disparage its teachers? The solution of the great problem of eternity belongs neither to religious superstition nor to gross materialism. The harmony and mathematical equiformity of the double evolution–spiritual and physical–are elucidated only in the universal numerals of Pythagoras, who built his system entirely upon the so-called “metrical speech” of the Hindu Vedas. It is but lately that one of the most zealous Sanskrit scholars, Martin Haug, undertook the translation of the Aitareya Brahmana of the Rig-Veda. It had been till that time entirely unknown; these explanations indicate beyond dispute the identity of the Pythagorean and Brahmanical systems. In both, the esoteric significance is derived from the number: in the former, from the mystic relation of every number to everything intelligible to the human mind; in the latter, from the number of syllables of which each verse in the Mantras consists. Plato, the ardent disciple of Pythagoras, realized it so fully as to maintain that the Dodecahedron was the geometrical figure employed by the Demiurgus in constructing the universe. Some of these figures had a peculiarly solemn significance. For instance four, of which the Dodecahedron is the trine, was held sacred by the Pythagoreans. It is the perfect square, and neither of the bounding lines exceeds the other in length, by a single point. It is the emblem of moral justice and divine equity geometrically expressed. All the powers and great symphonies of physical and spiritual nature lie inscribed within the perfect square; and the ineffable name of Him, which name otherwise, would remain unutterable, was replaced by this sacred number 4 the most binding and solemn oath with the ancient mystics–the Tetractys.
If the Pythagorean metempsychosis should be thoroughly explained and compared with the modern theory of evolution, it would be found to supply every “missing link” in the chain of the latter. But who of our scientists would consent to lose his precious time over the vagaries of the ancients. Notwithstanding proofs to the contrary, they not only deny that the nations of the archaic periods, but even the ancient philosophers had any positive knowledge of the Heliocentric system. The “Venerable Bedes,” the Augustines and Lactantii appear to have smothered, with their dogmatic ignorance, all faith in the more ancient theologists of the pre-Christian centuries. But now philology and a closer acquaintance with Sanskrit literature have partially enabled us to vindicate them from these unmerited imputations. In the Vedas, for instance, we find positive proof that so long ago as 2000 B.C., the Hindu sages and scholars must have been acquainted with the rotundity of our globe and the Heliocentric system. Hence, Pythagoras and Plato knew well this astronomical truth; for Pythagoras obtained his knowledge in India, or from men who had been there, and Plato faithfully echoed his teachings. We will quote two passages from the Aitareya Brahmana:
In the “Serpent-Mantra,” * the Brahmana declares as follows: that this Mantra is that one which was seen by the Queen of the Serpents, Sarpa-rajni; because the earth (iyam) is the Queen of the Serpents, as she is the mother and queen of all that moves (sarpat). In the beginning she (the earth) was but one head (round), without hair (bald), i.e., without vegetation. She then perceived this Mantra which confers upon him who knows it, the power of assuming any form which he might desire. She “pronounced the Mantra,“ i.e., sacrificed to the gods; and, in consequence, immediately obtained a motley appearance; she became variegated, and able to produce any form she might like, changing one form into another. This Mantra begins with the words: “Ayam gauh pris’nir akramit“ (x., 189).
The description of the earth in the shape of a round and bald head, which was soft at first, and became hard only from being breathed upon by the god Vayu, the lord of the air, forcibly suggests the idea that the authors of the sacred Vedic books knew the earth to be round or spherical; moreover, that it had been a gelatinous mass at first, which gradually cooled off under the influence of the air and time. So much for their knowledge about our globe’s sphericity; and now we will present the testimony upon which we base our assertion, that the Hindus were perfectly acquainted with the Heliocentric system, at least 2000 years B.C.
In the same treatise the Hotar, (priest), is taught how the Shastras should be repeated, and how the phenomena of sunrise and sunset are to be explained. It says: “The Agnishtoma is that one (that god) who burns. The sunnever sets nor rises. When people think the sun is setting, it is not so; they are mistaken. For after having arrived at the end of the day, it produces two opposite effects, making night to what is below, and day to what is on the other side. When they (the people) believe it rises in the morning, the sun only does thus: having reached the end of the night, it makes itself produce two opposite effects, making day to what is below, and night to what is on the other side. In fact the sun never sets; nor does it set for him who has such a knowledge. . . .” **
This sentence is so conclusive, that even the translator of the Rig-Veda, Dr. Haug, was forced to remark it. He says this passage contains “the denial of the existence of sunrise and sunset,” and that the author supposes the sun “to remain always in its high position.” *** In one of the earliest Nivids, Rishi Kutsa, a Hindu sage of the remotest antiquity, explains the allegory of the first laws given to the celestial bodies. For doing “what she ought not to do,” Anahit (Anaitis or Nana, the Persian Venus), representing the earth in the legend, is sentenced to turn round the sun. The Sattras, or sacrificial sessions
* prove undoubtedly that so early as in the eighteenth or twentieth century B.C., the Hindus had made considerable progress in astronomical science. The Sattras lasted one year, and were “nothing but an imitation of the sun’s yearly course. They were divided, says Haug, into two distinct parts, each consisting of six months of thirty days each; in the midst of both was the Vishuvan (equator or central day), cutting the whole Sattras into two halves, etc.” ** This scholar, although he ascribes the composition of the bulk of the Brahmanas to the period 1400-1200 B.C., is of opinion that the oldest of the hymns may be placed at the very commencement of Vedic literature, between the years 2400-2000, B.C. He finds no reason for considering the Vedas less ancient than the sacred books of the Chinese. As the Shu-King or Book of History, and the sacrificial songs of the Shi-King, or Book of Odes, have been proved to have an antiquity as early as 2200, B.C., our philologists may yet be compelled before long to acknowledge, that in astronomical knowledge, the antediluvian Hindus were their masters.
At all events, there are facts which prove that certain astronomical calculations were as correct with the Chaldeans in the days of Julius Caesar as they are now. When the calendar was reformed by the Conqueror, the civil year was found to correspond so little with the seasons, that summer had merged into the autumn months, and the autumn months into full winter. It was Sosigenes, the Chaldean astronomer, who restored order into the confusion, by putting back the 25th of March ninety days, thus making it correspond with the vernal equinox; and it was Sosigenes, again, who fixed the lengths of the months as they now remain.
In America, it was found by the Montezuman army, that the calendar of the Aztecs gave an equal number of days and weeks to each month. The extreme accuracy of their astronomical calculations was so great, that no error has been discovered in their reckoning by subsequent verifications; while the Europeans, who landed in Mexico in 1519, were, by the Julian calendar, nearly eleven days in advance of the exact time.
It is to the priceless and accurate translations of the Vedic Books, and to the personal researches of Dr. Haug, that we are indebted for the corroboration of the claims of the hermetic philosophers. That the period of Zarathustra Spitama (Zoroaster) was of untold antiquity, can be easily proved. The Brahmanas, to which Haug ascribes four thousand years, describe the religious contest between the ancient Hindus, who lived in the pre-Vedic period, and the Iranians. The battles between the Devas and the Asuras–the former representing the Hindus and the latter the Iranians–are described at length in the sacred books. As the Iranian prophet was the first to raise himself against what he called the “idolatry” of the Brahmans, and to designate them as the Devas (devils), how far back must then have been this religious crisis?
“This contest,” answers Dr. Haug, “must have appeared to the authors of the Brahmanas as old as the feats of King Arthur appear to English writers of the nineteenth century.”
There was not a philosopher of any notoriety who did not hold to this doctrine of metempsychosis, as taught by the Brahmans, Buddhists, and later by the Pythagoreans, in its esoteric sense, whether he expressed it more or less intelligibly. Origen and Clemens Alexandrinus, Synesius and Chalcidius, all believed in it; and the Gnostics, who are unhesitatingly proclaimed by history as a body of the most refined, learned, and enlightened men, *were all believers in metempsychosis. Socrates entertained opinions identical with those of Pythagoras; and both, as the penalty of their divine philosophy, were put to a violent death. The rabble has been the same in all ages. Materialism has been, and will ever be blind to spiritual truths. These philosophers held, with the Hindus, that God had infused into matter a portion of his own Divine Spirit, which animates and moves every particle. They taught that men have two souls, of separate and quite different natures: the one perishable–the Astral Soul, or the inner, fluidic body–the other incorruptible and immortal–the Augoeides, or portion of the Divine Spirit; that the mortal or Astral Soul perishes at each gradual change at the threshold of every new sphere, becoming with every transmigration more purified. The astral man, intangible and invisible as he might be to our mortal, earthly senses, is still constituted of matter, though sublimated. Aristotle, notwithstanding that for political reasons of his own he maintained a prudent silence as to certain esoteric matters, expressed very clearly his opinion on the subject. It was his belief that human souls are emanations of God, that are finally re-absorbed into Divinity. Zeno, the founder of the Stoics, taught that there are “two eternal qualities throughout nature: the one active, or male; the other passive, or female: that the former is pure, subtile ether, or Divine Spirit; the other entirely inert in itself till united with the active principle. That the Divine Spirit acting upon matter produced fire, water, earth, and air; and that it is the sole efficient principle by which all nature is moved. The Stoics, like the Hindu sages, believed in the final absorption. St. Justin believed in the emanation of these souls from Divinity, and Tatian, the Assyrian, his disciple, declared that “man was as immortal as God himself.”
That profoundly significant verse of the Genesis, “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, I gave a living soul, . . . .” should arrest the attention of every Hebrew scholar capable of reading the Scripture in its original, instead of following the erroneous translation, in which the phrase reads, “wherein there is life.” **
From the first to the last chapters, the translators of the Jewish Sacred Books misconstrued this meaning. They have even changed the spelling of the name of God, as Sir W. Drummond proves. Thus El, if written correctly, would read Al, for it stands in the original אל–Al, and, according to Higgins, this word means the god Mithra, the Sun, the preserver and savior. Sir W. Drummond shows that Beth-El means the House of the Sun in its literal translation, and not of God. “El, in the composition of these Canaanite names, does not signify Deus, but Sol.” *** Thus Theology has disfigured ancient Theosophy, and Science ancient Philosophy. ****
For lack of comprehension of this great philosophical principle, the methods of modern science, however exact, must end in nullity. In no one branch can it demonstrate the origin and ultimate of things. Instead of tracing the effect from its primal source, its progress is the reverse. Its higher types, as it teaches, are all evolved from antecedent lower ones. It starts from the bottom of the cycle, led on step by step in the great labyrinth of nature by a thread of matter. As soon as this breaks and the clue is lost, it recoils in affright from the Incomprehensible, and confesses itself powerless. Not so did Plato and his disciples. With him the lower types were but the concrete images of the higher abstract ones. The soul, which is immortal, has an arithmetical, as the body has a geometrical, beginning. This beginning, as the reflection of the great universal ARCHÆUS, is self-moving, and from the centre diffuses itself over the whole body of the microcosm.
It was the sad perception of this truth that made Tyndall confess how powerless is science, even over the world of matter. “The first marshalling of the atoms, on which all subsequent action depends, baffles a keener power than that of the microscope.” “Through pure excess of complexity, and long before observation can have any voice in the matter, the most highly trained intellect, the most refined and disciplined imagination, retires in bewilderment from the contemplation of the problem. We are struck dumb by an astonishment which no microscope can relieve, doubting not only the power of our instrument, but even whether we ourselves possess the intellectual elements which will ever enable us to grapple with the ultimate structural energies of nature.”
The fundamental geometrical figure of the Kabala–that figure which tradition and the esoteric doctrines tell us was given by the Deity itself to Moses on Mount Sinai *–contains in its grandiose, because simple combination, the key to the universal problem. This figure contains in itself all the others. For those who are able to master it, there is no need to exercise imagination. No earthly microscope can be compared with the keenness of the spiritual perception.
And even for those who are unacquainted with the GREAT SCIENCE, the description given by a well-trained child-psychometer of the genesis of a grain, a fragment of crystal, or any other object–is worth all the telescopes and microscopes of “exact science.”
There may be more truth in the adventurous pangenesis of Darwin–whom Tyndall calls a “soaring speculator”–than in the cautious, line-bound hypothesis of the latter; who, in common with other thinkers of his class, surrounds his imagination “by the firm frontiers of reason.” The theory of a microscopic germ which contains in itself “a world of minor germs,” soars in one sense at least into the infinite. It oversteps the world of matter, and begins unconsciously busying itself in the world of spirit.
If we accept Darwin’s theory of the development of species, we find that his starting-point is placed in front of an open door. We are at liberty with him, to either remain within, or cross the threshold, beyond which lies the limitless and the incomprehensible, or rather the Unutterable. If our mortal language is inadequate to express what our spirit dimly foresees in the great “Beyond“—while on this earth–it must realize it at some point in the timeless Eternity.
Not so with Professor Huxley’s theory of the “Physical Basis of Life.” Regardless of the formidable majority of “nays” from his German brother-scientists, he creates a universal protoplasm and appoints its cells to become henceforth the sacred founts of the principle of all life. By making the latter identical in living man, “dead mutton,” a nettle-sting, and a lobster; by shutting in, in the molecular cell of the protoplasm, the life-principle, and by shutting out from it the divine influx which comes with subsequent evolution, he closes every door against any possible escape. Like an able tactician he converts his “laws and facts“ into sentries whom he causes to mount guard over every issue. The standard under which he rallies them is inscribed with the word “necessity”; but hardly is it unfurled when he mocks the legend and calls it “an empty shadow of my own imagination.” *
The fundamental doctrines of spiritualism, he says, “lie outside the limits of philosophical inquiry.” We will be bold enough to contradict this assertion, and say that they lie a great deal more within such inquiry than Mr. Huxley’s protoplasm. Insomuch that they present evident and palpable facts of the existence of spirit, and the protoplasmic cells, once dead, present none whatever of being the originators or the bases of life, as this one of the few “foremost thinkers of the day” wants us to believe. **
The ancient Kabalist rested upon no hypothesis till he could lay its basis upon the firm rock of recorded experiment.
But the too great dependence upon physical facts led to a growth of materialism and a decadence of spirituality and faith. At the time of Aristotle, this was the prevailing tendency of thought. And though the Delphic commandment was not as yet completely eliminated from Grecian thought; and some philosophers still held that “in order to know what man is, we ought to know what man was“–still materialism had already begun to gnaw at the root of faith. The Mysteries themselves had degenerated in a very great degree into mere priestly speculations and religious fraud. Few were the true adepts and initiates, the heirs and descendants of those who had been dispersed by the conquering swords of various invaders of Old Egypt.
The time predicted by the great Hermes in his dialogue with &Ælig;sculapius had indeed come; the time when impious foreigners would accuse Egypt of adoring monsters, and naught but the letters engraved in stone upon her monuments would survive–enigmas incredible to posterity. Their sacred scribes and hierophants were wanderers upon the face of the earth. Obliged from fear of a profanation of the sacred mysteries to seek refuge among the Hermetic fraternities–known later as the Essenes–their esoteric knowledge was buried deeper than ever. The triumphant brand of Aristotle’s pupil swept away from his path of conquest every vestige of a once pure religion, and Aristotle himself, the type and child of his epoch, though instructed in the secret science of the Egyptians, knew but little of this crowning result of millenniums of esoteric studies.
As well as those who lived in the days of the Psammetics, our present-day philosophers “lift the Veil of Isis”–for Isis is but the symbol of nature. But, they see only her physical forms. The soul within escapes their view; and the Divine Mother has no answer for them. There are anatomists, who, uncovering to sight no indwelling spirit under the layers of muscles, the network of nerves, or the cineritious matter, which they lift with the point of the scalpel, assert that man has no soul. Such are as purblind in sophistry as the student, who, confining his research to the cold letter of the Kabala, dares say it has no vivifying spirit. To see the true man who once inhabited the subject which lies before him, on the dissecting table, the surgeon must use other eyes than those of his body. So, the glorious truth covered up in the hieratic writings of the ancient papyri can be revealed only to him who possesses the faculty of intuition–which, if we call reason the eye of the mind, may be defined as the eye of the soul.
Our modern science acknowledges a Supreme Power, an Invisible Principle, but denies a Supreme Being, or Personal God. * Logically, the difference between the two might be questioned; for in this case the Power and the Being are identical. Human reason can hardly imagine to itself an Intelligent Supreme Power without associating it with the idea of an Intelligent Being. The masses can never be expected to have a clear conception of the omnipotence and omnipresence of a supreme God, without investing with those attributes a gigantic projection of their own personality. But the kabalists have never looked upon the invisible EN-SOPH otherwise than as a Power.
So far our modern positivists have been anticipated by thousands of ages, in their cautious philosophy. What the hermetic adept claims to demonstrate is, that simple common sense precludes the possibility that the universe is the result of mere chance. Such an idea appears to him more absurd than to think that the problems of Euclid were unconsciously formed by a monkey playing with geometrical figures.
Very few Christians understand, if indeed they know anything at all, of the Jewish Theology. The Talmud is the darkest of enigmas even for most Jews, while those Hebrew scholars who do comprehend it do not boast of their knowledge. Their kabalistic books are still less understood by them; for in our days more Christian than Jewish students are engrossed in the elimination of their great truths. How much less is definitely known of the Oriental, or the universal Kabala! Its adepts are few; but these heirs elect of the sages who first discovered “the starry truths which shone on the great Shemaia of the Chaldean lore” * have solved the “absolute” and are now resting from their grand labor. They cannot go beyond that which is given to mortals of this earth to know; and no one, not even these elect, can trespass beyond the line drawn by the finger of the Divinity itself. Travellers have met these adepts on the shores of the sacred Ganges, brushed against them in the silent ruins of Thebes, and in the mysterious deserted chambers of Luxor. Within the halls upon whose blue and golden vaults the weird signs attract attention, but whose secret meaning is never penetrated by the idle gazers, they have been seen but seldom recognized. Historical memoirs have recorded their presence in the brilliantly illuminated salons ofEuropean aristocracy. They have been encountered again on the arid and desolate plains of the Great Sahara, as in the caves of Elephanta. They may be found everywhere, but make themselves known only to those who have devoted their lives to unselfish study, and are not likely to turn back.
Maimonides, the great Jewish theologian and historian, who at one time was almost deified by his countrymen and afterward treated as a heretic, remarks, that the more absurd and void of sense the Talmud seems the more sublime is the secret meaning. This learned man has successfully demonstrated that the Chaldean Magic, the science of Moses and other learned thaumaturgists was wholly based on an extensive knowledge of the various and now forgotten branches of natural science. Thoroughly acquainted with all the resources of the vegetable, animal, and mineral kingdoms, experts in occult chemistry and physics, psychologists as well as physiologists, why wonder that the graduates or adepts instructed in the mysterious sanctuaries of the temples, could perform wonders, which even in our days of enlightenment would appear supernatural?
It is an insult to human nature to brand magic and the occult science with the name of imposture. To believe that for so many thousands of years, one-half of mankind practiced deception and fraud on the other half, is equivalent to saying that the human race was composed only of knaves and incurable idiots. Where is the country in which magic was not practised? At what age was it wholly forgotten?
In the oldest documents now in our possession–the Vedas and the older laws of Manu–we find many magical rites practiced and permitted by the Brahmans. * Thibet, Japan and China teach in the present age that which was taught by the oldest Chaldeans. The clergy of these respective countries, prove moreover what they teach, namely: that the practice of moral and physical purity, and of certain austerities, developes the vital soulpower of self-illumination. Affording to man the control over his own immortal spirit, it gives him truly magical powers over the elementary spirits inferior to himself. In the West we find magic of as high an antiquity as in the East. The Druids of Great Britain practised it in the silent crypts of their deep caves; and Pliny devotes many a chapter to the “wisdom” ** of the leaders of the Celts. The Semothees,–the Druids of the Gauls, expounded the physical as well as the spiritual sciences. They taught the secrets of the universe, the harmonious progress of the heavenly bodies, the formation of the earth, and above all–the immortality of the soul. *** Into their sacred groves–natural academies built by the hand of the Invisible Architect–the initiates assembled at the still hour of midnight to learn about what man once was and what he will be. **** They needed no artificial illumination, nor life-drawing gas, to light up their temples, for the chaste goddess of night beamed her most silvery rays on their oak-crowned heads; and their white-robed sacred bards knew how to converse with the solitary queen of the starry vault. *****
On the dead soil of the long by-gone past stand their sacred oaks, now dried up and stripped of their spiritual meaning by the venomous breath of materialism. But for the student of occult learning, their vegetation is still as verdant and luxuriant, and as full of deep and sacred truths, as at that hour when the arch-druid performed his magical cures, and waving the branch of mistletoe, severed with his golden sickle the green bough from its mother oak-tree. Magic is as old as man. It is as impossible to name the time when it sprang into existence as to indicate on what day the first man himself was born. Whenever a writer has started with the idea of connecting its first foundation in a country with some historical character, further research has proved his views groundless. Odin, the Scandinavian priest and monarch, was thought by many to have originated the practice of magic some seventy years B.C. But it was easily demonstrated that the mysterious rites of the priestesses called Voilers, Valas, were greatly anterior to his age. * Some modern authors were bent on proving that Zoroaster was the founder of magic, because he was the founder of the Magian religion. Ammianus Marcellinus, Arnobius, Pliny, and other ancient historians demonstrated conclusively that he was but a reformer of Magic as practiced by the Chaldeans and Egyptians. **
The greatest teachers of divinity agree that nearly all ancient books were written symbolically and in a language intelligible only to the initiated. The biographical sketch of Apollonius of Tyana affords an example. As every Kabalist knows, it embraces the whole of the Hermetic philosophy, being a counterpart in many respects of the traditions left us of King Solomon. It reads like a fairy story, but, as in the case of the latter, sometimes facts and historical events are presented to the world under the colors of a fiction. The journey to India represents allegorically the trials of a neophyte. His long discourses with the Brahmans, their sage advice, and the dialogues with the Corinthian Menippus would, if interpreted, give the esoteric catechism. His visit to the empire of the wise men, and interview with their king Hiarchas, the oracle of Amphiaraus, explain symbolically many of the secret dogmas of Hermes. They would disclose, if understood, some of the most important secrets of nature. Eliphas Levi points out the great resemblance which exists between King Hiarchas and the fabulous Hiram, of whom Solomon procured the cedars of Lebanon and the gold of Ophir. We would like to know whether modern Masons, even “Grand Lecturers” and the most intelligent craftsmen belonging to important lodges, understand who the Hiram is whose death they combine together to avenge?
Putting aside the purely metaphysical teachings of the Kabala, if one would devote himself but to physical occultism, to the so-called branch of therapeutics, the results might benefit some of our modern sciences; such as chemistry and medicine. Says Professor Draper: “Sometimes, not without surprise, we meet with ideas which we flatter ourselves originated in our own times.“ This remark, uttered in relation to the scientific writings of the Saracens, would apply still better to the more secret Treatisesof the ancients. Modern medicine, while it has gained largely in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and even in therapeutics, has lost immensely by its narrowness of spirit, its rigid materialism, its sectarian dogmatism. One school in its purblindness sternly ignores whatever is developed by other schools; and all unite in ignoring every grand conception of man or nature, developed by Mesmerism, or by American experiments on the brain–every principle which does not conform to a stolid materialism. It would require a convocation of the hostile physicians of the several different schools to bring together what is now known of medical science, and it too often happens that after the best practitioners have vainly exhausted their art upon a patient, a mesmerist or a “healing medium” will effect a cure! The explorers of old medical literature, from the time of Hippocrates to that of Paracelsus and Van Helmont, will find a vast number of well-attested physiological and psychological facts and of measures or medicines for healing the sick which modern physicians superciliously refuse to employ. * Even with respect to surgery, modern practitioners have humbly and publicly confessed the total impossibility of their approximating to anything like the marvellous skill displayed in the art of bandaging by ancient Egyptians. The many hundred yards of ligature enveloping a mummy from its ears down to every separate toe, were studied by the chief surgical operators in Paris, and, notwithstanding that the models were before their eyes, they were unable to accomplish anything like it.
In the Abbott Egyptological collection, in New York City, may be seen numerous evidences of the skill of the ancients in various handicrafts; among others the art of lace-making; and, as it could hardly be expected but that the signs of woman’s vanity should go side by side with those of man’s strength, there are also specimens of artificial hair, and gold ornaments of different kinds. The New York Tribune, reviewing the contents of the Ebers Papyrus, says:–“Verily, there is no new thing under the sun. . . . Chapters 65, 66, 79, and 89 show that hair invigorators, hair dyes, pain-killers, and flea-powders were desiderata 3,400 years ago.”
How few of our recent alleged discoveries are in reality new, and how many belong to the ancients, is again most fairly and eloquently though but in part stated by our eminent philosophical writer, Professor John W. Draper. His Conflict between Religion and Science–a great book with a very bad title–swarms with such facts. At page 13, he cites a few of the achievements of ancient philosophers, which excited the admiration of Greece. In Babylon was a series of Chaldean astronomical observations, ranging back through nineteen hundred and three years, which Callisthenes sent to Aristotle. Ptolemy, the Egyptian king-astronomer possessed a Babylonian record of eclipses going back seven hundred and forty-seven years before our era. As Prof. Draper truly remarks: “Long-continued and close observations were necessary before some of these astronomical results that have reached our times could have been ascertained. Thus, the Babylonians had fixed the length of a tropical year within twenty-five seconds of the truth; their estimate of the sidereal year was barely two minutes in excess. They had detected the precession of the equinoxes. They knew the causes of eclipses, and, by the aid of their cycle, called saros, could predict them. Their estimate of the value of that cycle, which is more than 6,585 days, was within nineteen and a half minutes of the truth.”
“Such facts furnish incontrovertible proof of the patience and skill with which astronomy had been cultivated in Mesopotamia, and that, with very inadequate instrumental means, it had reached no inconsiderable perfection. These old observers had made a catalogue of the stars, had divided the zodiac into twelve signs; they had parted the day into twelve hours, the night into twelve. They had, as Aristotle says, for a long time devoted themselves to observations of star-occultations by the moon. They had correct views of the structure of the solar system, and knew the order of emplacement of the planets. They constructed sundials, clepsydras, astrolabes, gnomons.”
Speaking of the world of eternal truths that lies “within the world of transient delusions and unrealities,” Professor Draper says: “That world is not to be discovered through the vain traditions that have brought down to us the opinion of men who lived in the morning of civilization, nor in the dreams of mystics who thought that they were inspired. It is to be discovered by the investigations of geometry, and by the practical interrogations of nature.”
Precisely. The issue could not be better stated. This eloquent writer tells us a profound truth. He does not, however, tell us the whole truth, because he does not know it. He has not described the nature or extent of the knowledge imparted in the Mysteries. No subsequent people has been so proficient in geometry as the builders of the Pyramids and other Titanic monuments, antediluvian and postdiluvian. On the other hand, none has ever equalled them in the practical interrogation of nature.
An undeniable proof of this is the significance of their countless symbols. Every one of these symbols is an embodied idea,–combining the conception of the Divine Invisible with the earthly and visible. The former is derived from the latter strictly through analogy according to the hermetic formula–“as below, so it is above.” Their symbols show great knowledge of natural sciences and a practical study of cosmical power.
As to practical results to be obtained by “the investigations of geometry,” very fortunately for students who are coming upon the stage of action, we are no longer forced to content ourselves with mere conjectures. In our own times, an American, Mr. George H. Felt, of New York, who, if he continues as he has begun, may one day be recognized as the greatest geometer of the age, has been enabled, by the sole help of the premises established by the ancient Egyptians, to arrive at results which we will give in his own language. “Firstly,” says Mr. Felt, “the fundamental diagram to which all science of elementary geometry, both plane and solid, is referable; to produce arithmetical systems of proportion in a geometrical manner; to identify this figure with all the remains of architecture and sculpture, in all which it had been followed in a marvellously exact manner; to determine that the Egyptians had used it as the basis of all their astronomical calculations, on which their religious symbolism was almost entirely founded; to find its traces among all the remnants of art and architecture of the Greeks; to discover its traces so strongly among the Jewish sacred records, as to prove conclusively that it was founded thereon; to find that the whole system had been discovered by the Egyptians after researches of tens of thousands of years into the laws of nature, and that it might truly be called the science of the Universe.” Further it enabled him “to determine with precision problems in physiology heretofore only surmised; to first develop such a Masonic philosophy as showed it to be conclusively the first science and religion, as it will be the last”; and we may add, lastly, to prove by ocular demonstrations that the Egyptian sculptors and architects obtained the models for the quaint figures which adorn the facades and vestibules of their temples, not in the disordered fantasies of their own brains, but from the “viewless races of the air,” and other kingdoms of nature, whom he, like them, claims to make visible by resort to their own chemical and kabalistical processes.
Schweigger proves that the symbols of all the mythologies have a scientific foundation and substance. * It is only through recent discoveries of the physical electro-magnetical powers of nature that such experts in Mesmerism as Ennemoser, Schweigger and Bart, in Germany, Baron Du Potet and Regazzoni, in France and Italy, were enabled to trace with almost faultless accuracy the true relation which each Theomythos bore to some one of these powers. The Idaeic finger, which had such importance in the magic art of healing, means an iron finger, which is attracted and repulsed in turn by magnetic, natural forces. It produced, in Samothrace, wonders of healing by restoring affected organs to their normal condition.
Bart goes deeper than Schweigger into the significations of the old myths, and studies the subject from both its spiritual and physical aspects. He treats at length of the Phrygian Dactyls, those “magicians and exorcists of sickness,” and of the Cabeirian Theurgists. He says: “While we treat of the close union of the Dactyls and magnetic forces, we are not necessarily confined to the magnetic stone, and our views of nature but take a glance at magnetism in its whole meaning. Then it is clear how the initiated, who called themselves Dactyls, created astonishment in the people through their magic arts, working as they did, miracles of a healing nature. To this united themselves many other things which the priesthood of antiquity was wont to practice; the cultivation of the land and of morals, the advancement of art and science, mysteries, and secret consecrations. All this was done by the priestly Cabeirians, and wherefore not guided and supported by the mysterious spirits of nature?” ** Schweigger is of the same opinion, and demonstrates that the phenomena of ancient Theurgy were produced by magnetic powers “under the guidance of spirits.”
Despite their apparent Polytheism, the ancients–those of the educated class at all events–were entirely monotheistical; and this, too, ages upon ages before the days of Moses. In the Ebers Papyrus this fact is shown conclusively in the following words, translated from the first four lines of Plate I.: “I came from Heliopolis with the great ones from Het-aat, the Lords of Protection, the masters of eternity and salvation. I came from Sais with the Mother-goddesses, who extended to me protection. The Lord of the Universe told me how to free the gods from all murderous diseases.” Eminent men were called gods by the ancients. The deification of mortal men and supposititious gods is no more a proof against their monotheism than the monument-building of modern Christians, who erect statues to their heroes, is proof of their polytheism. Americans of the present century would consider it absurd in their posterity 3,000 years hence to classify them as idolaters for having built statues to their god Washington. So shrouded in mystery was the Hermetic Philosophy that Volney asserted that the ancient peoples worshipped their gross material symbols as divine in themselves; whereas these were only considered as representing esoteric principles. Dupuis, also, after devoting many years of study to the problem, mistook the symbolic circle, and attributed their religion solely to astronomy. Eberhart (Berliner Monatschrift) and many other German writers of the last and present centuries, dispose of magic most unceremoniously, and think it due to the Platonic mythos of the Timaeus. But how, without possessing a knowledge of the mysteries, was it possible for these men or any others not endowed with the finer intuition of a Champollion, to discover the esoteric half of that which was concealed, behind the veil of Isis, from all except the adepts?
The merit of Champollion as an Egyptologist none will question. He declares that everything demonstrates the ancient Egyptians to have been profoundly monotheistical. The accuracy of the writings of the mysterious Hermes Trismegistus, whose antiquity runs back into the night of time, is corroborated by him to their minutest details. Ennemoser also says: “Into Egypt and the East went Herodotus, Thales, Parmenides, Empedocles, Orpheus, and Pythagoras, to instruct themselves in Natural Philosophy and Theology.” There, too, Moses acquired his wisdom, and Jesus passed the earlier years of his life.
Thither gathered the students of all countries before Alexandria was founded. “How comes it,” Ennemoser goes on to say, “that so little has become known of these mysteries? through so many ages and amongst so many different times and people? The answer is that it is owing to the universally strict silence of the initiated. Another cause may be found in the destruction and total loss of all the written memorials of the secret knowledge of the remotest antiquity.” Numa’s books, described by Livy, consisting of treatises upon natural philosophy, were found in his tomb; but they were not allowed to be made known, lest they should reveal the most secret mysteries of the state religion. The senate and the tribune of the people determined that the books themselves should be burned, which was done in public.
Magic was considered a divine science which led to a participation in the attributes of Divinity itself. “It unveils the operations of nature,” says Philo Judaeus, “and leads to the contemplation of celestial powers.” ** In later periods its abuse and degeneration into sorcery made it an object of general abhorrence. We must therefore deal with it only as it was in the remote past, during those ages when every true religion was based on a knowledge of the occult powers of nature. It was not the sacerdotal class in ancient Persia that established magic, as it is commonly thought, but the Magi, who derive their name from it. The Mobeds, priests of the Parsis–the ancient Ghebers–are named, even at the present day, Magoi, in the dialect of the Pehlvi. *** Magic appeared in the world with the earlier races of men. Cassien mentions a treatise, well-known in the fourth and fifth centuries, which was accredited to Ham, the son of Noah, who in his turn was reputed to have received it from Jared, the fourth generation from Seth, the son of Adam. ****
Moses was indebted for his knowledge to the mother of the Egyptian princess, Thermuthis, who saved him from the waters of the Nile. The wife of Pharaoh, ***** Batria, was an initiate herself, and the Jews owe to her the possession of their prophet, “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and mighty in words and deeds.” ****** Justin Martyr, giving as his authority Trogus Pompeius, shows Joseph as having acquired a great knowledge in magical arts with the high priests of Egypt. *******
The ancients knew more concerning certain sciences than our modern savants have yet discovered. Reluctant as many are to confess as much, it has been acknowledged by more than one scientist. “The degree of scientific knowledge existing in an early period of society was much greater than the moderns are willing to admit”; says Dr. A. Todd Thomson, the editor of Occult Sciences, by Salverte; “but,” he adds, “it was confined to the temples, carefully veiled from the eyes of the people and opposed only to the priesthood.” Speaking of the Kabala, the learned Franz von Baader remarks that “not only our salvation and wisdom, but our science itself came to us from the Jews.” But why not complete the sentence and tell the reader from whom the Jews got their wisdom?
Origen, who had belonged to the Alexandrian school of Platonists, declares that Moses, besides the teachings of the covenant, communicated some very important secrets “from the hidden depths of the law” to the seventy elders. These he enjoined them to impart only to persons whom they found worthy.
St. Jerome names the Jews of Tiberias and Lydda as the only teachers of the mystical manner of interpretation. Finally, Ennemoser expresses a strong opinion that “the writings of Dionysius Areopagita have palpably been grounded on the Jewish Kabala.“ When we take in consideration that the Gnostics, or early Christians, were but the followers of the old Essenes under a new name, this fact is nothing to be wondered at. Professor Molitor gives the Kabala its just due. He says:
“The age of inconsequence and shallowness, in theology as well as in sciences, is past, and since that revolutionary rationalism has left nothing behind but its own emptiness, after having destroyed everything positive, it seems now to be the time to direct our attention anew to that mysterious revelation which is the living spring whence our salvation must come . . . the Mysteries of ancient Israel, which contain all secrets of modern Israel, would be particularly calculated to . . . found the fabric of theology upon its deepest theosophical principles, and to gain a firm basis to all ideal sciences. It would open a new path . . . to the obscure labyrinth of the myths, mysteries and constitutions of primitive nations. . . . In these traditions alone are contained the system of the schools of the prophets, which the prophet Samuel did not found, but only restored, whose end was no other than to lead the scholars to wisdom and the highest knowledge, and when they had been found worthy, to induct them into deeper mysteries. Classed with these mysteries was magic, which was of a double nature–divine magic, and evil magic, or the black art. Each of these is again divisible into two kinds, the active and seeing; in the first, man endeavors to place himself en rapport with the world to learn hidden things; in the latter he endeavors to gain power over spirits; in the former, to perform good and beneficial acts; in the latter to do all kinds of diabolical and unnatural deeds.” *
The clergy of the three most prominent Christian bodies, the Greek, Roman Catholic, and Protestant, discountenance every spiritual phenomenon manifesting itself through the so-called “mediums.” A very brief period, indeed, has elapsed since both the two latter ecclesiastical corporations burned, hanged, and otherwise murdered every helpless victim through whose organism spirits–and sometimes blind and as yet unexplained forces of nature–manifested themselves. At the head of these three churches, pre-eminent stands the Church of Rome. Her hands are scarlet with the innocent blood of countless victims shed in the name of the Moloch-like divinity at the head of her creed. She is ready and eager to begin again. But she is bound hand and foot by that nineteenth century spirit of progress and religious freedom which she reviles and blasphemes daily. The Graeco-Russian Church is the most amiable and Christ-like in her primitive, simple, though blind faith. Despite the fact that there has been no practical union between the Greek and Latin Churches, and that the two parted company long centuries ago, the Roman Pontiffs seem to invariably ignore the fact. They have in the most impudent manner possible arrogated to themselves jurisdiction not only over the countries within the Greek communion but also over all Protestants as well. “The Church insists,” says Professor Draper, “that the state has no rights over any thing which it declares to be within its domain, and that Protestantism being a mere rebellion, has no rights at all; that even in Protestant communities the Catholic bishop is the only lawful spiritual pastor.”
* Decrees unheeded, encyclical letters unread, invitations to ecumenical councils unnoticed, excommunications laughed at–all these have seemed to make no difference. Their persistence has only been matched by their effrontery. In 1864, the culmination of absurdity was attained when Pius IX. excommunicated and fulminated publicly his anathemas against the Russian Emperor, as a “schismatic cast out from the bosom of the Holy Mother Church.” ** Neither he nor his ancestors, nor Russia since it was Christianized, a thousand years ago, have ever consented to join the Roman Catholics. Why not claim ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Buddhists of Thibet, or the shadows of the ancient Hyk-Sos?
The mediumistic phenomena have manifested themselves at all times in Russia as well as in other countries. This force ignores religious differences; it laughs at nationalities; and invades unasked any individuality, whether of a crowned head or a poor beggar.
Not even the present Vice-God, Pius IX., himself, could avoid the unwelcome guest. For the last fifty years his Holiness has been known to be subject to very extraordinary fits. Inside the Vatican they are termed Divine visions; outside, physicians call them epileptic fits; and popular rumor attributes them to an obsession by the ghosts of Peruggia, Castelfidardo, and Mentana!
“The lights burn blue: it is now dead midnight,
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh,
Methought the souls of all that I caused to be murdered
Came. . . .” *
The Prince of Hohenlohe, so famous during the first quarter of our century for his healing powers, was himself a great medium. Indeed, these phenomena and powers belong to no particular age or country. They form a portion of the psychological attributes of man–the Microcosmos.
For centuries have the Klikouchy, ** the Yourodevoy, *** and other miserable creatures been afflicted with strange disorders, which the Russian clergy and the populace attribute to possession by the devil. They throng the entrances of the cathedrals, without daring to trust themselves inside, lest their self-willed controlling demons might fling them on the ground. Voroneg, Kiew, Kazan, and all cities which possess the thaumaturgical relics of canonized saints, abound with such unconscious mediums. One can always find numbers of them, congregating in hideous groups, and hanging about the gates and porches. At certain stages of the celebration of the mass by the officiating clergy, such as the appearance of the sacraments, or the beginning of the prayer and chorus, “Ejey Cherouvim,“ these half-maniacs, half-mediums, begin crowing like cocks, barking, bellowing and braying, and, finally, fall down in fearful convulsions. “The unclean one cannot bear the holy prayer,” is the pious explanation. Moved by pity, some charitable souls administer restoratives to the “afflicted ones,” and distribute alms among them. Occasionally, a priest is invited to exorcise, in which event he either performs the ceremony for the sake of love and charity, or the alluring prospect of a twenty-copeck silver bit, according to his Christian impulses. But these miserable creatures–who are mediums, for they prophesy and see visions sometimes, when the fit is genuine ****–are never molested because of their misfortune. Why should the clergy persecute them, or people hate and denounce them as damnable witches or wizards? Common sense and justice surely suggest that if any are to be punished it is certainly not the victims who cannot help themselves, but the demon who is alleged to control their actions. The worst that happens to the patient is, that the priest inundates him or her with holy water, and causes the poor creature to catch cold. This failing in efficacy, the Klikoucha is left to the will of God, and taken care of in love and pity. Superstitious and blind as it is, a faith conducted on such principles certainly deserves some respect, and can never be offensive, either to man or the true God. Not so with that of the Roman Catholics; and hence, it is they, and secondarily, the Protestant clergy–with the exception of some foremost thinkers among them–that we purpose questioning in this work. We want to know upon what grounds they base their right to treat Hindus and Chinese spiritualists and kabalists in the way they do; denouncing them, in company with the infidels–creatures of their own making–as so many convicts sentenced to the inextinguishable fires of hell.
Far from us be the thought of the slightest irreverence–let alone blasphemy–toward the Divine Power which called into being all things, visible and invisible. Of its majesty and boundless perfection we dare not even think. It is enough for us to know that It exists and that It is all wise. Enough that in common with our fellow creatures we possess a spark of Its essence. The supreme power whom we revere is the boundless and endless one–the grand “CENTRAL SPIRITUAL SUN” by whose attributes and the visible effects of whose inaudible WILL we are surrounded–the God of the ancient and the God of modern seers. His nature can be studied only in the worlds called forth by his mighty FIAT. His revelation is traced with his own finger in imperishable figures of universal harmony upon the face of the Cosmos. It is the only INFALLIBLE gospel we recognize.
Speaking of ancient geographers, Plutarch remarks in Theseus, that they “crowd into the edges of their maps parts of the world which they do not know about, adding notes in the margin to the effect that beyond this lies nothing but sandy deserts full of wild beasts and unapproachable bogs.“ Do not our theologians and scientists do the same? While the former people the invisible world with either angels or devils, our philosophers try to persuade their disciples that where there is no matter there is nothing.
How many of our inveterate skeptics belong, notwithstanding their materialism, to Masonic Lodges? The brothers of the Rosie-Cross, mysterious practitioners of the mediaeval ages, still live–but in name only. They may “shed tears at the grave of their respectable Master, Hiram Abiff “; but vainly will they search for the true locality, “where the sprig of myrtle was placed.” The dead letter remains alone, the spirit has fled. They are like the English or German chorus of the Italian opera, who descend in the fourth act of Ernani into the crypt of Charlemagne, singing their conspiracy in a tongue utterly unknown to them. So, our modern knights of the Sacred Arch may descend every night if they choose “through the nine arches into the bowels of the earth,”–they “will never discover the sacred Delta of Enoch.” The “Sir Knights in the South Valley” and those in “the North Valley” may try to assure themselves that “enlightenment dawns upon their minds,” and that as they progress in Masonry “the veil of superstition, despotism, tyranny” and so on, no longer obscures the visions of their minds. But these are all empty words so long as they neglect their mother Magic, and turn their backs upon its twin sister, Spiritualism. Verily, “Sir Knights of the Orient,” you may “leave your stations and sit upon the floor in attitudes of grief, with your heads resting upon your hands,” for you have cause to bewail and mourn your fate. Since Philippe le Bel destroyed the Knights-Templars, not one has appeared to clear up your doubts notwithstanding all claims to the contrary. Truly, you are “wanderers from Jerusalem, seeking the lost treasure of the holy place.” Have you found it? Alas, no! for the holy place is profaned; the pillars of wisdom, strength and beauty are destroyed. Henceforth, “you must wander in darkness,” and “travel in humility,” among the woods and mountains in search of the “lost word.” “Pass on!”–you will never find it so long as you limit your journeys to seven or even seven times seven; because you are “travelling in darkness,” and this darkness can only be dispelled by the light of the blazing torch of truth which alone the right descendants of Ormasd carry. They alone can teach you the true pronunciation of the name revealed to Enoch, Jacob and Moses. “Pass on! Till your R. S. W. shall learn to multiply 333, and strike instead 666–the number of the Apocalyptic Beast, you may just as well observe prudence and act “sub rosa.”
In order to demonstrate that the notions which the ancients entertained about dividing human history into cycles were not utterly devoid of a philosophical basis, we will close this chapter by introducing to the reader one of the oldest traditions of antiquity as to the evolution of our planet.
At the close of each “great year,” called by Aristotle–according to Censorinus–the greatest, and which consists of six sars * our planet is subjected to a thorough physical revolution. The polar and equatorial climates gradually exchange places; the former moving slowly toward the Line, and the tropical zone, with its exuberant vegetation and swarming animal life, replacing the forbidding wastes of the icy poles. This change of climate is necessarily attended by cataclysms, earthquakes, and other cosmical throes.
* As the beds of the ocean are displaced, at the end of every decimillennium and about one neros, a semi-universal deluge like the legendary Noachian flood is brought about. This year was called the Heliacal by the Greeks; but no one outside the sanctuary knew anything certain either as to its duration or particulars. The winter of this year was called the Cataclysm or the Deluge,–the Summer, the Ecpyrosis. The popular traditions taught that at these alternate seasons the world was in turn burned and deluged. This is what we learn at least from the Astronomical Fragments of Censorinus and Seneca. So uncertain were the commentators about the length of this year, that none except Herodotus and Linus, who assigned to it, the former 10,800, and the latter 13,984, came near the truth. ** According to the claims of the Babylonian priests, corroborated by Eupolemus, *** “the city of Babylon, owes its foundation to those who were saved from the catastrophe of the deluge; they were the giants and they built the tower which is noticed in history.” **** These giants who were great astrologers and had received moreover from their fathers, “the sons of God,” every instruction pertaining to secret matters, instructed the priests in their turn, and left in the temples all the records of the periodical cataclysm that they had witnessed themselves. This is how the high priests came by the knowledge of the great years. When we remember, moreover, that Plato in the Timaeus cites the old Egyptian priest rebuking Solon for his ignorance of the fact that there were several such deluges as the great one of Ogyges, we can easily ascertain that this belief in theHeliakos was a doctrine held by the initiated priests the world over.
The Neroses, the Vrihaspati, or the periods called yugas or kalpas, are life-problems to solve. The Satya-yug and Buddhistic cycles of chronology would make a mathematician stand aghast at the array of ciphers. The Maha-kalpa embraces an untold number of periods far back in the antediluvian ages. Their system comprises a kalpa or grand period of 4,320,000,000 years, which they divide into four lesser yugas, running as follows:
1st.–Satya yug–1,728,000 years.
2d.–Tretya yug–1,296,000 years.
3d.–Dvapa yug —- 864,000 years.
4th.–Kali yug —— 432,000 years.
Total ————– 4,320,000 years.
which make one divine age or Maha-yug; seventy-one Maha-yugs make 306,720,000 years, to which is added a sandhi (or the time when day and night border on each other, morning and evening twilight), equal to a Satya-yug, 1,728,000, make a manwantara of 308,448,000 years; fourteen manwantaras make 4,318,272,000 years; to which must be added a sandhi to begin the kalpa, 1,728,000 years, making the kalpa or grand period of 4,320,000,000 of years. As we are now only in the Kali-yug of the twenty-eighth age of the seventh manwantara of 308,448,000 years, we have yet sufficient time before us to wait before we reach even half of the time allotted to the world.
These ciphers are not fanciful, but founded upon actual astronomical calculations, as has been demonstrated by S. Davis. ** Many a scientist, Higgins among others, notwithstanding their researches, has been utterly perplexed as to which of these was the secret cycle. Bunsen has demonstrated that the Egyptian priests, who made the cyclic notations, kept them always in the profoundest mystery. *** Perhaps their difficulty arose from the fact that the calculations of the ancients applied equally to the spiritual progress of humanity as to the physical. It will not be difficult to understand the close correspondence drawn by the ancients between the cycles of nature and of mankind, if we keep in mind their belief in the constant and all-potent influences of the planets upon the fortunes of humanity. Higgins justly believed that the cycle of the Indian system, of 432,000, is the true key of the secret cycle. But his failure in trying to decipher it was made apparent; for as it pertained to the mystery of the creation, this cycle was the most inviolable of all. It was repeated in symbolic figures only in the Chaldean Book of Numbers, the original of which, if now extant, is certainly not to be found in libraries, as it formed one of the most ancient Books of Hermes, the number of which is at present undetermined.
Calculating by the secret period of the Great Neros and the Hindu Kalpas, some kabalists, mathematicians and archeologists who knew naught of the secret computations made the above number of 21,000 years to be 24,000 years, for the length of the great year, as it was to the renewal only of our globe that they thought the last period of 6,000 years applied. Higgins gives as a reason for it, that it was anciently thought that the equinoxes preceded only after the rate of 2,000, not 2,160, years in a sign; for thus it would allow for the length of the great year four times 6,000 or 24,000 years. “Hence,” he says, “might arise their immensely-lengthened cycles; because, it would be the same with this great year as with the common year, till it travelled round an immensely-lengthened circle, when it would come to the old point again.” He therefore accounts for the 24,000 in the following manner: “If the angle which the plane of the ecliptic makes with the plane of the equator had decreased gradually and regularly, as it was till very lately supposed to do, the two planes would have coincided in about ten ages, 6,000 years;in ten ages, 6,000 years more, the sun would have been situated relatively to the Southern Hemisphere as he is now to the Northern; in ten ages, 6,000 years more, the two planes would coincide again; and, in ten ages, 6,000 years more, he would be situated as he is now, after a lapse of about twenty-four or twenty-five thousand years in all. When the sun arrived at the equator, the ten ages or six thousand years would end, and the world would be destroyed by fire; when he arrived at the southern point, it would be destroyed by water. And thus, it would be destroyed at the end of every 6,000 years, or ten neroses.”
This method of calculating by the neroses, without allowing any consideration for the secrecy in which the ancient philosophers, who were exclusively of the sacerdotal order, held their knowledge, gave rise to the greatest errors. It led the Jews, as well as some of the Christian Platonists, to maintain that the world would be destroyed at the end of six thousand years. Gale shows how firmly this belief was rooted in the Jews. It has also led modern scientists to discredit entirely the hypothesis of the ancients. It has given rise to the formation of different religious sects, which, like the Adventists of our century, are always living in the expectation of the approaching destruction of the world.
As our planet revolves once every year around the sun and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros.
The revolution of the physical world, according to the ancient doctrine, is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect–the spiritual evolution of the world proceeding in cycles, like the physical one.
Thus we see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended.
The division of the history of mankind into Golden, Silver, Copper and Iron Ages, is not a fiction. We see the same thing in the literature of peoples. An age of great inspiration and unconscious productiveness is invariably followed by an age of criticism and consciousness. The one affords material for the analyzing and critical intellect of the other.
Thus, all those great characters who tower like giants in the history of mankind, like Buddha-Siddartha, and Jesus, in the realm of spiritual, and Alexander the Macedonian and Napoleon the Great, in the realm of physical conquests, were but reflexed images of human types which had existed ten thousand years before, in the preceding decimillennium, reproduced by the mysterious powers controlling the destinies of our world. There is no prominent character in all the annals of sacred or profane history whose prototype we cannot find in the half-fictitious and half-real traditions of bygone religions and mythologies. As the star, glimmering at an immeasurable distance above our heads, in the boundless immensity of the sky, reflects itself in the smooth waters of a lake, so does the imagery of men of the antediluvian ages reflect itself in the periods we can embrace in an historical retrospect.
“As above, so it is below. That which has been, will return again. As in heaven, so on earth.”
The world is always ungrateful to its great men. Florence has built a statue to Galileo, but hardly even mentions Pythagoras. The former had a ready guide in the treatises of Copernicus, who had been obliged to contend against the universally established Ptolemaic system. But neither Galileo nor modern astronomy discovered the emplacement of the planetary bodies. Thousands of ages before, it was taught by the sages of Middle Asia, and brought thence by Pythagoras, not as a speculation, but as a demonstrated science. “The numerals of Pythagoras,” says Porphyry, “were hieroglyphical symbols, by means whereof he explained all ideas concerning the nature of all things.” *
Verily, then, to antiquity alone have we to look for the origin of all things. How well Hargrave Jennings expresses himself when speaking of Pyramids, and how true are his words when he asks: “Is it at all reasonable to conclude, at a period when knowledge was at the highest, and when the human powers were, in comparison with ours at the present time, prodigious, that all these indomitable, scarcely believable physical effects–that such achievements as those of the Egyptians–were devoted to a mistake? that the myriads of the Nile were fools laboring in the dark, and that all the magic of their great men was forgery, and that we, in despising that which we call their superstition and wasted power, are alone the wise? No! there is much more in these old religions than probably–in the audacity of modern denial, in the confidence of these superficial-science times, and in the derision of these days without faith–is in the least degree supposed. We do not understand the old time. . . . . Thus we see how classic practice and heathen teaching may be made to reconcile–how even the Gentile and the Hebrew, the mytho-logical and the Christian doctrine harmonize in the general faith founded on Magic. That Magic is indeed possible is the moral of this book.
It is possible. Thirty years ago, when the first rappings of Rochester awakened slumbering attention to the reality of an invisible world; when the gentle shower of raps gradually became a torrent which overflowed the whole globe, spiritualists had to contend but against two potencies–theology and science. But the theosophists have, in addition to these, to meet the world at large and the spiritualists first of all.
“There is a personal God, and there is a personal Devil!” thunders the Christian preacher. “Let him be anathema who dares say nay!” “There is no personal God, except the gray matter in our brain,” contemptuously replies the materialist. “And there is no Devil. Let him be considered thrice an idiot who says aye.” Meanwhile the occultists and true philosophers heed neither of the two combatants, but keep perseveringly at their work. None of them believe in the absurd, passionate, and fickle God of superstition, but all of them believe in good and evil. Our human reason, the emanation of our finite mind, is certainly incapable of comprehending a divine intelligence, an endless and infinite entity; and, according to strict logic, that which transcends our understanding and would remain thoroughly incomprehensible to our senses cannot exist for us; hence, it does not exist. So far finite reason agrees with science, and says: “There is no God.” But, on the other hand, our Ego, that which lives and thinks and feels independently of us in our mortal casket, does more than believe. It knows that there exists a God in nature, for the sole and invincible Artificer of all lives in us as we live in Him. No dogmatic faith or exact science is able to uproot that intuitional feeling inherent in man, when he has once fully realized it in himself.
Human nature is like universal nature in its abhorrence of a vacuum. It feels an intuitional yearning for a Supreme Power. Without a God, the cosmos would seem to it but like a soulless corpse. Being forbidden to search for Him where alone His traces would be found, man filled the aching void with the personal God whom his spiritual teachers built up for him from the crumbling ruins of heathen myths and hoary philosophies of old. How otherwise explain the mushroom growth of new sects, some of them absurd beyond degree? Mankind have one innate, irrepressible craving, that must be satisfied in any religion that would supplant the dogmatic, undemonstrated and undemonstrable theology of our Christian ages. This is the yearning after the proofs of immortality. As Sir Thomas Browne has expressed it: . . . . “it is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at a man, to tell him that he is at the end of his nature, or that there is no future state to come, unto which this seems progressive, and otherwise made in vain.” Let any religion offer itself that can supply these proofs in the shape of scientific facts, and the established system will be driven to the alternative of fortifying its dogmas with such facts, or of passing out of the reverence and affection of Christendom. Many a Christian divine has been forced to acknowledge that there is no authentic source whence the assurance of a future state could have been derived by man. How could then such a belief have stood for countless ages, were it not that among all nations, whether civilized or savage, man has been allowed the demonstrative proof? Is not the very existence of such a belief an evidence that thinking philosopher and unreasoning savage have both been compelled to acknowledge the testimony of their senses? That if, in isolated instances, spectral illusion may have resulted from physical causes, on the other hand, in thousands of instances, apparitions of persons have held converse with several individuals at once, who saw and heard them collectively, and could not all have been diseased in mind?
The greatest thinkers of Greece and Rome regarded such matters as demonstrated facts. They distinguished the apparitions by the names of manes, anima and umbra: the manes descending after the decease of the individual into the Underworld; the anima, or pure spirit, ascending to heaven; and the restless umbra (earth-bound spirit), hovering about its tomb, because the attraction of matter and love of its earthly body prevailed in it and prevented its ascension to higher regions.
“Terra legit carnem tumulum circumvolet umbra,
Orcus habet manes, spiritus astra petit,”
says Ovid, speaking of the threefold constituents of souls.
But all such definitions must be subjected to the careful analysis of philosophy. Too many of our thinkers do not consider that the numerous changes in language, the allegorical phraseology and evident secretiveness of old Mystic writers, who were generally under an obligation never to divulge the solemn secrets of the sanctuary, might have sadly misled translators and commentators. The phrases of the mediaeval alchemist they read literally; and even the veiled symbolology of Plato is commonly misunderstood by the modern scholar. One day they may learn to know better, and so become aware that the method of extreme necessarianism was practiced in ancient as well as in modern philosophy; that from the first ages of man, the fundamental truths of all that we are permitted to know on earth was in the safe keeping of the adepts of the sanctuary;that the difference in creeds and religious practice was only external; and that those guardians of the primitive divine revelation, who had solved every problem that is within the grasp of human intellect, were bound together by a universal freemasonry of science and philosophy, which formed one unbroken chain around the globe. It is for philology and psychology to find the end of the thread. That done, it will then be ascertained that, by relaxing one single loop of the old religious systems, the chain of mystery may be disentangled.
The neglect and withholding of these proofs have driven such eminent minds as Hare and Wallace, and other men of power, into the fold of modern spiritualism. At the same time it has forced others, congenitally devoid of spiritual intuitions, into a gross materialism that figures under various names.
But we see no utility in prosecuting the subject further. For, though in the opinion of most of our contemporaries, there has been but one day of learning, in whose twilight stood the older philosophers, and whose noontide brightness is all our own; and though the testimony of scores of ancient and mediaeval thinkers has proved valueless to modern experimenters, as though the world dated from A.D. 1, and all knowledge were of recent growth, we will not lose hope or courage. The moment is more opportune than ever for the review of old philosophies. Archaeologists, philologists, astronomers, chemists and physicists are getting nearer and nearer to the point where they will be forced to consider them. Physical science has already reached its limits of exploration; dogmatic theology sees the springs of its inspiration dry. Unless we mistake the signs, the day is approaching when the world will receive the proofs that only ancient religions were in harmony with nature, and ancient science embraced all that can be known. Secrets long kept may be revealed; books long forgotten and arts long time lost may be brought out to light again; papyri and parchments of inestimable importance will turn up in the hands of men who pretend to have unrolled them from mummies, or stumbled upon them in buried crypts; tablets and pillars, whose sculptured revelations will stagger theologians and confound scientists, may yet be excavated and interpreted. Who knows the possibilities of the future? An era of disenchantment and rebuilding will soon begin–nay, has already begun. The cycle has almost run its course; a new one is about to begin, and the future pages of history may contain full evidence, and convey full proof that
“If ancestry can be in aught believed,
Descending spirits have conversed with man,
And told him secrets of the world unknown.”
1:* The name is used in the sense of the Greek word ανθροπος.
1:** The traditions of the Oriental Kabalists claim their science to be older than that. Modern scientists may doubt and reject the assertion. They cannot prove it false.
3:* Clement of Alexandria asserted that in his day the Egyptian priests possessed forty-two Canonical Books.
4:* “Chips from a German Work-shop,” vol. ii., p. 7. “Comparative Mythology.”
7:* “Conflict between Religion and Science,” ch. i.
8:* In another place, we explain with some minuteness the Hermetic philosophy of the evolution of the spheres and their several races.
8:** J. Burges: “The Works of Plato,” p. 207, note.
10:* From the Sanskrit text of the Aitareya Brahmanam. Rig-Veda, v., ch. ii., verse 23.
10:** Aitareya Brahmanam, book iii., c. v., 44.
10:*** Ait. Brahm., vol. ii., p. 242.
11:* Ait. Brahm., book iv.
11:** Septenary Institutions; “Stone him to Death,” p. 20.
12:* See Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”
13:* See Turner; also G. Higgins’s “Anacalypsis.”
13:** Genesis, i, 30.
13:*** Sir William Drummond: “Œdipus Judicus,” p. 250.
13:**** The absolute necessity for the perpetration of such pious frauds by the early fathers and later theologians becomes apparent, if we consider that if they had allowed the word Al to remain as in the original, it would have become but too evident–except for the initiated–that the Jehovah of Moses and the sun were identical. The multitudes, which ignore that the ancient hierophant considered our visible sun but as an emblem of the central, invisible, and spiritual Sun, would have accused Moses–as many of our modern commentators have already done–of worshipping the planetary bodies; in short, of actual Zabaism.
14:* Exodus, xxv., 40.
15:* “The Physical Basis of Life.” A Lecture by T. H. Huxley.
15:** Huxley: “Physical Basis of Life.”
16:* Prof. J. W. Draper: “Conflict Between Religion and Science.”
17:* Bulwer’s “Zanoni.”
18:* See the Code published by Sir William Jones, chap. ix., p. 11.
18:** Pliny: “Hist. Nat.,” xxx. I: Ib., xvi., 14; xxv., 9, etc.
18:*** Pomponius ascribes to them the knowledge of the highest sciences.
18:**** Caesar, iii., 14.
18:***** Pliny, xxx.
19:* Munter, on the most ancient religion of the North before the time of Odin. Memoires de la Societe des Antiquaires de France. Tome ii., p. 230.
19:** Ammianus Marcellinus, xxvi., 6.
20:* In some respects our modern philosophers, who think they make new discoveries can be compared to “the very clever, learned, and civil gentleman” whom Hippocrates having met at Samos one day, describes very good-naturedly. “He informed me,” the Father of Medicine proceeds to say, “that he had lately discovered an herb never before known in Europe or Asia, and that no disease, however malignant or chronic, could resist its marvellous properties. Wishing to be civil in turn, I permitted myself to be persuaded to accompany him to the conservatory in which he had transplanted the wonderful specific. What I found was one of the commonest plants in Greece, namely, garlic–the plant which above all others has least pretensions to healing virtues.” Hippocrates: “De optima praedicandi ratione item judicii operum magni.” I.
23:* Schweigger: “Introduction to Mythology through Natural History.”
23:** Ennemoser: “History of Magic,” i, 3.
25:* “Hist. of Magic,” vol. i, p. 3.
25:** Philo Jud.: “De Specialibus Legibus.”
25:*** Zend-Avesta, vol. ii., p. 506.
25:**** Cassian: “Conference,” i., 21.
25:***** “De Vita et Morte Mosis,” p. 199.
25:****** Acts of the Apostles, vii., 22.
25:******* Justin, xxxvi., 2.
26:* Molitor: “Philosophy of History and Traditions,” Howitt’s Translation, p. 285.
27:* “Conflict between Religion and Science,” p. 329.
27:** See “Gazette du Midi,” and “Le Monde,” of 3 May, 1864.
28:* Shakespere: “Richard III.”
28:** Literally, the screaming or the howling ones.
28:*** The half-demented, the idiots.
28:**** But such is not always the case, for some among these beggars make a regular and profitable trade of it.
30:* Webster declares very erroneously that the Chaldeans called saros, the cycle of eclipses, a period of about 6,586 years, “the time of revolution of the moon’s node.” Berosus, himself a Chaldean astrologer, at the Temple of Belus, at Babylon, gives the duration of the sar, or sarus, 3,600 years; a neros 600; and a sossus 60. (See, Berosus from Abydenus, “Of the Chaldaean Kings and the Deluge.” See also Eusebius, and Cory’s MS.Ex. Cod. reg. gall. gr. No. 2360, fol. 154.)
31:* Before scientists reject such a theory–traditional as it is–it would be in order for them to demonstrate why, at the end of the tertiary period, the Northern Hemisphere had undergone such a reduction of temperature as to utterly change the torrid zone to a Siberian climate? Let us bear in mind that the heliocentric system came to us from upper India; and that the germs of all great astronomical truths were brought thence by Pythagoras. So long as we lack a mathematically correct demonstration, one hypothesis is as good as another.
31:** Censorinus: “De Natal Die.” Seneca: “Nat. Quaest.,” iii., 29.
31:*** Euseb.: “Praep. Evan.” Of the Tower of Babel and Abraham.
31:**** This is in flat contradiction of the Bible narrative, which tells us that the deluge was sent for the special destruction of these giants. The Babylon priests had no object to invent lies.
32:* Coleman, who makes this calculation, allowed a serious error to escape the proofreader; the length of the manwantara is given at 368,448,000, which is just sixty million years too much.
32:** S. Davis: “Essay in the Asiatic Researches”; and Higgins’s “Anacalypsis”; also see Coleman’s “Mythology of the Hindus.” Preface, p. xiii.
32:*** Bunsen: “Egypte,” vol. i.
33:* The forty-two Sacred Books of the Egyptians mentioned by Clement of Alexandria as having existed in his time, were but a portion of the Books of Hermes. Iamblichus, on the authority of the Egyptian priest Abammon, attributes 1200 of such books to Hermes, and Manetho 36,000. But the testimony of Iamblichus as a neo-Platonist and theurgist is of course rejected by modern critics. Manetho, who is held by Bunsen in the highest consideration as a “purely historical personage” . . . with whom “none of the later native historians can be compared . . . .” (See “Egypte,” i, p. 97), suddenly becomes a Pseudo-Manetho, as soon as the ideas propounded by him clash with the scientific prejudices against magic and the occult knowledge claimed by the ancient priests. However, none of the archeologists doubt for a moment the almost incredible antiquity of the Hermetic books. Champollion shows the greatest regard for their authenticity and great truthfulness, corroborated as it is by many of the oldest monuments. And Bunsen brings irrefutable proofs of their age. From his researches, for instance, we learn that there was a line of sixty-one kings before the days of Moses, who preceded the Mosaic period by a clearly-traceable civilization of several thousand years. Thus we are warranted in believing that the works of Hermes Trismegistus were extant many ages before the birth of the Jewish law-giver. “Styli and inkstands were found on monuments of the fourth Dynasty, the oldest in the world,” says Bunsen. If the eminent Egyptologist rejects the period of 48,863 years before Alexander, to which Diogenes Laertius carries back the records of the priests, he is evidently more embarrassed with the ten thousand of astronomical observations, and remarks that “if they were actual observations, they must have extended over 10,000 years” (p. 14). “We learn, however,” he adds, “from one of their own old chronological works . . . that the genuine Egyptian traditions concerning the mythological period, treated of myriads of years.” (“Egypte,” i, p. 15).
34:* Higgins: “Anacalypsis.”
35:* “De Vite Pythag.”
36:* “The Rosicrucians,” etc., by Hargrave Jennings.