THE DENIALS AND THE MISTAKES OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
[Lucifer, Vol. X, No. 58, June, 1893, pp. 273-283]
[The text of this article may also be found in the First Draft of The Secret Doctrine which H.P.B. sent to Adyar in 1886. The First Draft version has a few additional paragraphs in it, which we have incorporated into the present article in their proper places. Similar material was published in the Volume entitled: “The Secret Doctrine, Volume III ” (1897), wherein it occupies Section 2 & 3, pp. 30-43. It is therefore evident that Lucifer was the original place of publication for this text.—Compiler.]
At or near the beginning of the present century all the books called Hermetic were loudly proclaimed and set down as simply a collection of tales, of fraudulent pretences and most absurd claims, being, in the opinion of the average man of science, unworthy of serious attention. They “never existed before the Christian era,” it was said; “they were all written with the triple object of speculation, deceit and pious fraud”; they were all, the best of them, silly apocrypha. In this respect, the nineteenth century proved a most worthy progeny of the eighteenth. For in the age of Voltaire, as well as in this, everything that did not emanate direct from the Royal Academy was false, superstitious and foolish, and belief in the wisdom of the Ancients was laughed to scorn, perhaps more even than it is now. The very thought of accepting as authentic the works and vagaries of a false Hermes, a false Orpheus, a false Zoroaster, of false Oracles, false Sibyls, and a thrice false Mesmer and his absurd “fluids,” was tabooed all along the line. Thus all that had
its genesis outside the learned and dogmatic precincts of Oxford and Cambridge, or the Academy of France, was denounced in those days as “unscientific” and “ridiculously absurd.” This tendency has survived to the present day.
We think we see the sidereal phantom of the old philosopher and mystic, Henry More, once of Cambridge University, moving about in the astral mist, over the old moss-covered roofs of the ancient town from which he wrote his famous letter to Glanvill about “witches.” The soul seems restless and indignant, as on that day May 5th, 1678, when the Doctor complained so bitterly to the author of Sadducismus Triumphatus of Scot, Adie and Webster. “Our new inspired Saints,” the soul is heard to mutter, “sworn advocates of the witches who thus madly and boldly, against all sense and reason, against all antiquity, against all interpreters, and against the inspired Scripture itself, will have no Samuel in this scene, but a cunning confederate knave; whether the inspired Scripture, or these in-blown buffoons, puffed up with nothing but ignorance, vanity, and stupid infidelity, are to be believed, let anyone judge.”*
Rest in peace, O restless soul. Lately things are somewhat changed; and since that for ever memorable day when the Academical Committee (Franklin included) investigated Mesmer’s phenomena and proclaimed them a clever knavery, every hour brings in some fresh evidence in favour of Mesmerism and phenomena in general. But in the first decades of our century the men of science were blind as bats—as many are still even now—and Hermetic literature was denied, notwithstanding the evidence of the most erudite men of all the ages.
* [Glanvill, Sadducismus triumphatus, p. 48. Also quoted in Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 206. In H.P.B.’s copy of Ennemoser’s History of Magic, now in the Adyar Archives, from which she quotes further on in this article, there is a reference to Henry More (Vol. I, p. 8). Underlining twice the words “Henry More,” H.P.B. wrote in pencil the words: “God Bless him!” Consult Col. Olcott’s Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, pp. 237-39, for the role played by Henry More in the production of Isis Unveiled.]
One feels dwarfed and humbled in reading what the great modern “Destroyer” of every religious belief, past, present and future—M. Renan—has to say of poor humanity and its powers of discernment. “Mankind,” he believes, “has but a very narrow mind; and the number of men capable of seizing acutely (finement) the true analogy of things is quite imperceptible” (Études Religieuses). Upon comparing, however, this statement with another opinion expressed by the same author, namely, that “the mind of the true critic should yield, hands and feet bound, to facts, to be dragged by them wherever they may lead him” (Études Historiques),* one feels relieved. When, moreover, these two philosophical statements are strengthened by that third enunciation of the famous Academician, who declares that “tout parti pris a priori doit etre banni de la science,” there remains little to fear. Unfortunately M. Renan is the first to break the golden rule.
The evidence of Herodotus, called, sarcastically no doubt, “the father of history,” since in every question upon which modern thought disagrees with him his testimony goes for nought; the sober and earnest assurances in the philosophical narratives of Plato and Thucydides, Polybius and Plutarch, and even certain statements of Aristotle himself; all these are invariably laid aside whenever they are involved with what modern criticism is pleased to regard as a myth. It is some time since Strauss proclaimed that “the presence of a supernatural element or miracle in a narrative is an infallible sign of the presence in it of a myth,” and such is the criterion adopted tacitly by every modern critic. But what is a myth—ìØèïò—to begin with? Are we not told distinctly by the ancient classics that mythus is equivalent to the word tradition? Was not its Latin equivalent the term fabula, a fable, a synonym with the Romans of that which was told, as having happened in prehistoric time, and not necessarily an invention? Yet with such autocrats of
* Mémoire read at the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, 1859. [In text form this appeared as Études D’Histoire Religieuse, Paris, Michel Levy Frères, many editions.]
criticism and despotic rulers as M. Renan in France, and most of the English and German Orientalists, there may be no end of surprises in store for us in the century to come—historical, geographical, ethnological and philological surprises—travesties in philosophy having become so common of late that we can be startled by nothing in that direction. We have already been told by one learned speculator that Homer was “simply a mythical personification of the Épopée,”* by another that Hippocrates, son of Esculapius, “could only be a chimera,” that the Asclepiadae—their seven hundred years of duration notwithstanding—“might after all prove simply a fiction”; that the city of Troy—Dr. Schliemann notwithstanding—“existed only on the maps,” etc., etc. Why should we not be invited after this to regard every hitherto historical character in days of old as a myth? Were not Alexander the Great needed by philology as a sledge-hammer to break the heads of Brâhmanical chronological pretensions, he would have become long ago simply a symbol for annexation, or a genius of Conquest, as de Mirville neatly put it.
Blank denial is the only means left, the most secure refuge and asylum, to shelter for some little time to come the last of the sceptics. When one denies unconditionally it becomes unnecessary to go to the trouble of arguing, and, what is worse, of having to yield occasionally a point or two before the irrefutable arguments and facts of one’s opponent. Creuzer, greatest of the symbologists of his time, the most learned among the masses of erudite German mythologists, must have envied the placid self-confidence of certain sceptics, when he found himself forced in a moment of desperate perplexity to admit, “decidedly and first of all we are compelled to return to the theories of trolls and genii, as they were understood by the ancients, a doctrine without which
* L. F. Alfred Maury, Histoire des religions de la Grèce antique, etc., Vol. I, p. 248; see also the speculations of Holzmann in Zeitschrift Für Vergleichende Sprachforschung, ann. 1852, p. 487 et seq.
it is absolutely impossible to explain to oneself anything with regard to the mysteries.*
Occultism, all over the globe, is intimately connected with Chaldean Wisdom, and its records show the forefathers of the Âryan Brâhmans in the sacred offices of the Chaldees—an Adept caste (different from the Babylonian Chaldeans and Caldees)—at the head of the arts and sciences, of astronomers and seers, confabulating with the “stars,” and “receiving instructions from the brilliant sons of Ilu” (the concealed deity). Their sanctity of life and great learning—the latter passing to posterity—made the name for long ages a synonym of Science. Yes; they were indeed mediators between the people and the appointed messengers of heaven, whose bodies shine in the starry heavens, and they were the interpreters of their wills. But is this Astrolatry or Sabaeanism? Have they worshipped the stars we see, or is it the modern (following in this the mediaeval) Roman Catholics, who, guilty of the same worship to the letter, and having borrowed it from the later Chaldees, the Lebanon Nabatheans and the baptized Sabians (not from the learned Astronomers and Initiates of the days of old), would now veil it by anathematizing the source whence it came? Theology and Churchianism would fain trouble the clear spring that fed them from the first, to prevent posterity from looking into it and thus seeing their reflection. The Occultists, however, believe the time has come to give everyone his due. As to our other opponents—the modern sceptic and the epicurean, the cynic and the Sadducee—they may find our answer to their denials in our earlier writings (see Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 535). We say now what we said then, in reply to the many unjust aspersions thrown on the ancient doctrines: “The thought of the present-day commentator and critic as to the ancient learning, is limited to and runs around the exotericism of the temples; his insight is either unwilling or unable to penetrate into the solemn adyta of old, where the hierophant instructed the neophyte to regard the public worship in its true light. No ancient
* Creuzer’s Symbolik, III, 456.
sage would have taught that man is the king of creation, and that the starry heaven and our mother earth were created for his sake.”
When we find such works as Rivers of Life and Phallicism* appearing in our day in print, under the auspices of Materialism, it is easy to see that the day for concealment and travesty has passed away. Science in philology, symbolism, and comparative religions has progressed too far to deny any longer, and the Church is too wise and cautious not to be now making the best of the situation. Meanwhile, the “rhombs of Hecate” and the “wheels of Lucifer,”† daily exhumed on the site of Babylon, can no longer be used as a clear evidence of Satan-worship, since the same symbols are shown in the ritual of the Latin Church. The latter is too learned to be ignorant of the fact that even the later Chaldees, who had gradually fallen into dualism, reducing all things to two primal principles, had no more worshipped Satan or idols than have the Zoroastrians, who are now accused of the same, but that their religion was as highly philosophical as any; their dual and exoteric Theosophy became the heirloom of the Jews, who, in their turn, were forced to share it with the Christians. Parsîs are charged to this day with heliolatry, and yet in the Chaldean Oracles, under the “Magical and Philosophical Precepts” of Zoroaster, the following is found:
Direct not thy mind to the vast measures of the earth;
For the plant of truth is not upon ground.
Nor measure the measures of the sun, collecting rules,
For he is carried by the eternal will of the father, not for your sake.
Dismiss the impetuous course of the moon; for she runs always by the work of necessity.
The progression of the stars was not generated for your sake.
* [Rivers of Life, or Sources and Streams of the Faith of Man in all Lands, etc., by Maj.-General James George R. Forlong. London, 1883. 2 vols.; and Phallicism, by Hargrave Jennings. London: George Redway, 1884.—Compiler.]
† E. de Mirville, Des Esprits, Vol. III, p. 267 et seq.
There is a vast difference between the true worship taught to those who showed themselves worthy, and the state religions. The Magians are accused of all kinds of superstition, but the Chaldean Oracle proceeds:
The wide aerial flight of birds is not true,
Nor the dissections of the entrails of victims; they are all mere toys,
The basis of mercenary fraud: flee from these
If you would open the sacred paradise of piety
Where virtue, wisdom, and equity, are assembled.*
Surely it is not those who warn people against “mercenary fraud” who can be accused of it; as said elsewhere: “If they accomplished acts which seem miraculous, who can with fairness presume to deny that it was done merely because they possessed a knowledge of natural philosophy and psychological science to a degree unknown to our schools?”† The above-quoted stanzas form a rather strange teaching to come from those who are universally believed to have worshipped the sun, and moon, and the starry host, as Gods. The sublime profundity of the Magian precepts being beyond the reach of modern materialistic thought, the Chaldean philosophers are accused, together with the ignorant masses, of Sabaeanism and sun-worship, cults which were simply those of the uneducated masses.
Things of late have changed, true enough; the field of investigation has widened; old religions are a little better understood; and, since that memorable day when the Committee of the French Academy, headed by Benjamin Franklin, investigated Mesmer’s phenomena but to proclaim them charlatanry and clever knavery, both “heathen philosophy” and mesmerism have acquired certain rights and privileges,
* [Marked Psellus, 4, and numbered cxliv in Corey’s Ancient Fragments, p. 269, in 2nd ed., London, 1832. Cf. Psellus in the App. to Gallaeus, Sibyllina oracula, pp. 93-94, Amsterdam, 1689; and J. A. Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca (Hamburg, 1705-28), lib. V. cap. ii, § xl; also J. Opsopäus, Oracula Sibyllina, Paris, 1607.—Compiler.]
† Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 535-36.
and are now viewed from quite a different standpoint. Is full justice rendered them withal, and are they appreciated any better? We are afraid not. Human nature is the same now, as when Pope said of the force of prejudice that:
The diff’rence is as great between
The optics seeing as the objects seen.
All manners take a tincture from our own,
Or some discolour’d thro’ our passions shown;
Or fancy’s beam enlarges, multiplies,
Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes.*
Thus, in the first decades of our century, Hermetic Philosophy was regarded by both Churchmen and men of science from two quite opposite points of view. The former called it sinful and devilish, the latter denied point-blank its authenticity, notwithstanding the evidence brought forward by the most erudite men of every age, including our own. The learned Father Kircher, for one, was not even noticed; and his assertion, that all the fragments known under the titles of works by Mercury Trismegistus, Berosus, Pherecydes of Syros, etc., were rolls escaped from the fire that devoured one hundred thousand volumes of the great Alexandrian Library, was simply laughed at. Nevertheless, the educated classes of Europe knew then, as they do now, that the famous Alexandrian Library—“the marvel of the ages”—was founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus; and that most of its MSS. were carefully copied from hieratic texts and the oldest parchments, Chaldean, Phoenician, Persian, etc., these transliterations and copies amounting in their turn to another hundred thousand, as Josephus and Strabo assert.
Moreover, there is the additional evidence of Clemens Alexandrinus, that ought to be credited to some extent,†
* [Moral Essays, i, .31-36.]
† The forty-two Sacred Books of the Egyptians mentioned by Clement of Alexandria [Stromateis, VI, iv] as having existed in his time, were but a portion of the Books of Hermes. Iamblichus [De mysteriis, viii, 1], on the authority of the Egyptian priest Abammon, attributes 20,000 of
and he testifies to the existence of thirty thousand additional volumes of the Books of Thoth, placed in the library of the tomb of Osymandyas, over the entrance of which were inscribed the words, “A Cure for the Soul.”
Since then, as everyone knows, entire texts out of the “apocryphal” works of the “false” Poimandres, and the no less “false” Asclepiades, were found by Champollion inscribed within the most ancient monuments of Egypt. After having devoted their whole lives to the study of the records of the old Egyptian wisdom, both Champollion-Figeac and Champollion Junior publicly declared, notwithstanding
such books to Hermes, and Manetho 36,525. 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 Egypt’s place, etc., I, 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 archæologists doubts 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 [Lives, “Proemium,” Book I, ch. i, § 2] carries back the records of the priests, he is evidently more embarrassed with his mention of their 373 eclipses (local and total or nearly so) of the sun, and 832 of the moon, and remarks that “if they were actual observations, they must have extended over 10,000 years” (Bunsen, op. cit., I, 14). “We learn, however,” he adds, “from one of their own chronological works . . . . that the genuine Egyptian traditions concerning the mythological period, treated of myriads of years” (ibid., p. 15).
many biassed judgments, hazarded by certain hasty and unwise critics, that the Books of Hermes:
. . . . truly contain a mass of Egyptian traditions which are constantly corroborated by the most authentic records and monuments of Egypt of the hoariest antiquity.*
None will question the merit of Champollion as an Egyptologist, and if he declares that everything demonstrates the accuracy of the writings of the mysterious Hermes Trismegistus, that their antiquity runs back into the night of time, and that they are corroborated in their minutest details, then indeed criticism ought to be fully satisfied. “These expressions,” says Champollion, “are only the faithful echo and expression of the most ancient verities.”
Since this was written by him, some of the apocryphal verses by the mythical Orpheus have also been found copied word for word in certain inscriptions of the Fourth Dynasty in hieroglyphics, addressed to various deities.
Finally Creuzer discovered and pointed out the numerous passages borrowed from Orphic hymns by Hesiod and Homer; and Christians appealed, in their turn, to the testimony of Aeschylus, as showing “prescience in at least one of the Sibyls of old,” says de Mirville.†
Thus gradually the ancient claims came to be vindicated, and modern criticism had to submit to evidence. Many are now the writers who confess that such kind of literature as the Hermetic works of Egypt can never be dated too far back into the prehistoric ages. It was also found that the texts of many of those ancient works—Enoch included—deemed and so loudly proclaimed apocryphal just at the beginning of this century, are now discovered and recognized in the most secret and sacred sanctuaries of Chaldea, India, Phoenicia, Egypt and Central Asia.
But even such proofs have failed to convince Materialism. The reason for it is very simple and self-evident. Those
* Champollion-Figeac, Égypte ancienne, p. 139 (Paris, Didot Frères, ed. of 1847).
† Pneumatologie, Des Esprits on “Prometheus,” 1863. Vol. II, p. 373.
texts, studied and held in universal veneration at one time, copied and transcribed by every philosopher, and found in every temple; often mastered, whole lives of incessant mental labour having been devoted to them, by the greatest sages living, by statesmen and classic writers, kings and renowned Adepts—what were they? Treatises on Magic and Occultism, pure and simple; the now tabooed and derided Theosophy and Occult Sciences, laughed to scorn by modern Materialism. Were the people so simple and credulous in the days of Plato and Pythagoras? Were the millions of Babylonia and Egypt, of India and Greece, during the periods of learning and civilization that preceded the year One of our era (giving birth but to the intellectual darkness of the fanaticism of the Middle Ages), so simple and credulous that so many, otherwise great, men should have devoted their lives to an illusion, a mere hallucination? It would seem so, had we to be content with the word and conclusions of our modern philosophers.
Egypt gathered the students of all countries before Alexandria was founded.
. . . how comes it [asks Ennemoser] 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 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 tribunes of the people determined that . . . the books themselves be burnt, which was done before the people . . . *
Cassianus 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
* J. Ennemoser, The History of Magic, Vol. II, Bohn Lib., London, George Bell & Sons, 1854, pp. 9-11.
from Jared, the fourth generation from Seth, the son of Adam.*
Herodotus tells us that the mysteries were brought by Orpheus from India. Orpheus is called the inventor of letters and writing and placed anterior to both Homer and Hesiod. Nevertheless, till very lately, Orphic literature and that of the Argonauts were attributed to a contemporary of Pisistratus, Solon and Pythagoras, one named Onomacritus, who is credited with having compiled them in their actual form towards the middle of the VIth century B.C., or 800 years after the days of Orpheus. The latest researches, however, lead the Orientalists to believe that this compilation was simply a very late re-edition of the Orphic Hymns, whether ideographic or pictographic. In their original texts these Hymns are now shown much older than the VIth century B.C. In Pausanias’ Description of Greece [or Itinerary], IX, xxx, 12, we are told that in his days there was a sacerdotal family,† which like the Brahmins with regard to the Vedas and the Epic poems, had committed to memory those Orphic hymns and that the latter were usually transmitted in that way from one generation to another. As to the poem of the Argonauts, Vivien de Saint-Martin thinks that it really can be traced as far back as the days of Orpheus.‡
Vivien de Saint-Martin is very impartial and fair and no doubt as learned; but there are some who go still further back than that. It is not the writer’s province to argue upon the dates of the many poems cited above, but only, by showing their indubitably antediluvian—rather, prehistoric—origin, claim the same for the Occult Sciences. And how these are, aware of the difference shown to Asiatic heathen chronologists, a Christian philosopher of the early ages may be asked to express our intimate thought as to the date of—say—MAGIC. “If ”—argues Clemens
* Joannes Cassianus. Collationes Patrum, Pt. 1, Coll. viii, ch. 21.
† [The Lycomidae.]
‡ Vivien de Saint-Martin, Découvertes géologiques, Vol. I, p. 313. Cf. de Mirville, Pneumatologie, Des Esprits, Vol. III, p. 205 fn.
Alexandrinus, the ex-pupil of the Neo-Platonist—“if there is a science, there must necessarily be a professor of it.” And he goes on saying that Cleanthes had Zeno to teach him, Theophrastus—Aristotle, Metrodorus—Epicurus, Plato—Socrates, etc.; and then when he arrived down to Pythagoras, Pherecydes and Thales, he had still to search and enquire who was their master of masters. The same for the Egyptians, the Indians, the Babylonians, and the Magi themselves. He would not cease questioning, to learn who it was they all had for their Masters. And when he (Clemens) would have forcibly brought down the enquiry to the very cradle of mankind, to the birth of the first man, he should reiterate once more his questioning and ask him—Adam—no doubt. “Who was his professor? Surely it would prove no man this once . . . . and when we have reached the Angels, we shall have to ask even of them who was their Master and doctor of science.”*
The aim of the good Father’s long argument is of course to discover two distinct Masters, one the preceptor of Biblical Patriarchs, the other, the teacher of the Gentiles. But the Secret Doctrine need go to no such trouble. Her professors know well who were the first instructors of mankind in Occult Sciences.
The two Masters traced out by Clemens are of course God and his undying enemy and opponent the Devil, the subject of his enquiry relating to the dual aspect of Hermetic Science, as cause and effect. Admitting the moral beauty and virtues preached in every occult book he was acquainted with, Clemens wants to know the cause of the apparent contradiction between doctrine and practice, good and bad magic, and comes to the conclusion, it seems, that magic has two origins—divine and diabolical. He perceives its bifurcation into two channels—hence his deduction and inference. We perceive it too, without necessarily dating such a bifurcation—the “Right” and “Left Path” we call it—to its very beginning. Otherwise, judging also by the effects of his (Clemens’) own religion, and the walk in life
* Stromateis, Bk. VI, ch. vii.
of its professors since the death of his Master, the Occultists would have a right to come to just the same conclusion, and say that, while Christ, the Master of all true Christians, was in every way godly, the Master of those who resorted to the horrors of the Inquisition, to the burning and torture of heretic witches and Occultists by Calvin and pupils, etc., must have been evidently the DEVIL—if the Occultists were silly enough to believe in one. Clemens’ testimony, however, is valuable as it shows (1) the enormous number of works on Occult Sciences during his epoch; and (2) the extraordinary powers acquired owing to these Sciences by certain men.
He devotes the whole of his sixth volume of the Stromateis* to this research of the first two “Masters” of the true and the false philosophies respectively, both preserved in the sanctuaries of Egypt. And thereupon he apostrophizes the Greeks, asking why they should not believe in the miracles of Moses when their own philosophers claim the same privileges. “It is Aeacus,” he says, “obtaining through his powers a marvellous rain; it is Aristaeus who causes the winds to blow, Empedocles quieting the gale, and forcing it to cease,”† etc., etc.
The books of Mercurius Trismegistus attracted his attention the most. Their extreme wisdom, he remarks, ought always to be in everyone’s mouth—semper esse in ore.‡ He is loud in his praise of Hystaspes (or Gushtasp), and of the Sibylline Books and even of astrology.
There have been use and abuse of Magic in all ages, as there are use and abuse of Mesmerism and Hypnotism in our own. The ancient world had its Apolloniuses and its Pherecydeses, and intellectual people could discriminate between them, as they can now. While not one classic or
* [In Writings of Clement of Alexandria, Trs. by Rev. Wm. Wilson, Vol. XII of the Ante-Nicene Christian Library, Edinburgh: T. T. Clark, 1869. See Book VI, Ch. iii.]
† Therefore Empedocles is called —“the dominator of the wind.”—Diogenes Laertius, Lives, Bk. VIII, ch. ii, 60.
‡ Stromateis, Bk. VI, ch. IV.
pagan writer has ever found one word of blame for Apollonius of Tyana, for instance, it is not so with regard to Pherecydes. Hesychius of Miletus, Philo of Byblos and Eustathius charge him unstintingly with having built his philosophy and science on demoniacal traditions. Cicero declares that Pherecydes is potius divinus quam physicus, “rather a soothsayer than a physicist”;* and Diogenes Laertius gives a vast number of stories relating to his predictions. One day Pherecydes of Syros prophesies the shipwreck of a vessel hundreds of miles away from him; another time he predicts the capture of the Lacedaemonians by the Acadians; finally, he foresees his own wretched end.†
Such imputations as these prove very little, except, perhaps, the presence of clairvoyance and prevision in every age. Had it not been for the evidence brought forward by his own co-religionists, that Pherecydes abused his powers, there would have been no proof at all against him, either of sorcery or of any other malpractice. Such evidence as is given by Christian writers is of no value. Baronius, for instance, and de Mirville find an unanswerable proof of demonology in the belief of a philosopher in the co-eternity of matter and spirit. Says de Mirville:
Pherecydes . . . . . postulating in principle the primordiality of Zeus or Aether, and then admitting on the same plane another principle, co-eternal and co-working with the first one, which he calls the fifth element or ogenos. For some time people have wondered just exactly what he meant by that term; however, in the last analysis, the following translation seems correct: “something that constrains, retains,” in one word, hades or hell.‡
The first statement is “known to every school-boy” without de Mirville going to the trouble of explaining it; as to the deduction, every Occultist will deny it point-blank, and only smile at the folly. But now we come to the conclusion.
The résumé of the views of the Latin Church—as given by various authors of the same type as the Marquis—is that
*De divinatione, Bk. 1, 50, 112.
† Diogenes Laertius, Lives, Bk. 1, ch. xi, 116.
‡ Pneumatologie, Des Esprits, Vol. III, p. 209.
the Hermetic Books—their wisdom notwithstanding, and this wisdom is fully admitted in Rome—are “the heirloom left by Cain, the accursed, to mankind.” It is “absolutely proven,” says the modern memorialist of “Satan in History,” “that immediately after the Flood, Ham and his descendants had propagated anew the ancient teachings of the accursed Cainites and of the submerged race.”* This proves at any rate that Magic, or Sorcery as he calls it, is an Antediluvian Art, and thus one point is gained. For, as he says, “the evidence of Berosus is there,† and he shows Ham to be identical with the first Zoroaster (!), the famous founder of Bactria (!!), and the first author of all the Magic Arts of Babylonia. Zoroaster, on the same authority, is the Chemesenua or Ham (Cham),‡ the infamous,§ who left the faithful and loyal Noachians, the blessed, and he is the object of the adoration of the Egyptians, who after receiving from him their country’s name (whence chemistry!), built in his honour a town called Chemmis, or the “city of fire.”|| Ham adored fire, and it is said, whence
* Op. cit., p. 208.
† Antiquities, Bk. III.
‡ The English-speaking people who spell the name of Noah’s disrespectful son “Ham,” have to be reminded that the right spelling is Kham or Cham.
§ Black Magic, or Sorcery, is the evil result obtained in any shape or way through the practice of Occult Arts; hence it has to be judged only by its effects. The name of Ham or Cain, when pronounced, has never killed anyone; whereas, if we are to believe that same Clemens Alexandrinus, who traces the professor of every Occultist, outside Christianity, to the Devil, the name of Jehovah (pronounced yevo and in a peculiar way) had the effect of killing any man at a distance. The mysterious Shem-ha-mephorash were not always used for holy purposes by the Kabalists, especially on the Sabbath, or Saturday, sacred to Saturn or the evil Śani.
|| Chemmis, the prehistoric city, may or may not have been built by Noah’s son, but it was not his name that was given to the town, but that of the very mystery-goddess Khaemnu or Chaemnis (Greek form), the deity that was created by the ardent fancy of the neophyte, who was thus tantalized during his “twelve labours” of probation before his final
the name Cham-main, given to the pyramids; which, in their turn, having become vulgarized, passed on their name to our modern “chimney” (cheminée ) .*
The zealous defender of Satan anthropomorphized is wrong, we believe. Egypt was the cradle of chemistry and its birthplace—this is pretty well known by this time. Kenrick and others show the root of the word to be chemi or chem, which is not Cham or Ham, but Khem, the Egyptian Phallic God of the Mysteries.
But this is not all. De Mirville is bent upon finding a Satanic origin even for the now innocent Tarot.
As to the means for the propagation of this bad Magie, tradition points it out to us in certain Runic characters traced on metallic plates (lames), which escaped destruction in the deluge.† This might have been regarded as legendary, but what is not so is the daily discovery of certain plates covered with special characters with the quite undecipherable characters of an undefinable antiquity, to which the Hamites of every country attribute marvellous and terrible powers.‡
initiation. Her male counterpart is Khem; Chemmis or Khemmis (today Akhmim) was the chief seat of the god Khem. The Greeks, identifying Khem with Pan, called the city Panopolis.
* Des Esprits, Vol. III, p. 210. This looks more like pious vengeance than philology. The picture, however, is incomplete, as the author ought to have added to the “chimney” a witch flying out of it on a broomstick.
† How could they escape from the deluge—unless God so willed it? [H.P.B.]
‡ There is a curious work in Russia, written in the Slavonian Sacerdotal language, by the famous Archbishop Peter Mogila (the Tomb). It is a book of Exorcisms (and, at the same time, Evocations) against the dark powers that trouble the monks and nuns in preference to all. Some who had the good fortune to get it—for its sale is strictly forbidden and kept secret—tried to read it aloud for the purposes of exorcising these powers. Some became lunatics; others died at the sight of what took place. A lady got it by paying two thousand rubles for an incomplete copy. She used it once, and then threw it into the fire the same day, thereafter becoming deadly pale whenever the book was mentioned.
[The quoted passage is from de Mirville’s Pneumatologie, Des Esprits, Vol. III, p. 210.]
We may leave the pious Marquis to his own orthodox beliefs, as he, at any rate, seems quite sincere in his views; nevertheless, his able arguments will have to be sapped at their foundation, for it must be shown on mathematical grounds who, or rather what, Cain and Ham really were. De Mirville is only the faithful son of his Church, interested in keeping Cain in his anthropomorphic character and present place in Holy Writ. The student of Occultism, on the other hand, is solely interested in the truth. But the age has to follow the natural course of its evolution. As I said in Isis Unveiled:
We are at the bottom of a cycle and evidently in a transitory state. Plato divides the intellectual progress of the universe during every cycle into fertile and barren periods. In the sublunary regions, the spheres of the various elements remain eternally in perfect harmony with the divine nature, he says; “but their parts,” owing to a too close proximity to earth, and their commingling with the earthly (which is matter, and therefore the realm of evil), “are sometimes according, and sometimes contrary to (divine) nature.” When those circulations—which Éliphas Lévi calls “currents of the astral light”—in the universal ether which contains in itself every element, take place in harmony with the divine spirit, our earth and everything pertaining to it enjoys a fertile period. The occult powers of plants, animals, and minerals magically sympathize with the “superior natures,” and the divine soul of man is in perfect intelligence with the “inferior” ones. But during the barren periods, the latter lose their magic sympathy, and the spiritual sight of the majority of mankind is so blinded as to lose every notion of the superior powers of its own divine spirit. We are in a barren period: the eighteenth century, during which the malignant fever of skepticism broke out so irrepressibly, has entailed unbelief as an hereditary disease upon the nineteenth. The divine intellect is veiled in man; his animal brain alone philosophizes.*
* Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 247.
[In Vol. X of Lucifer, in the issues of July and August, 1892 pp. 361-73 and 449-59, the Editors published a rather lengthy essay from the pen of H.P.B. entitled “Old Philosophers and Modern Critics.” They appended an Editorial note stating that “the following article was written by H.P. Blavatsky at the beginning of 1891. She incorporated in it, as students will see, much matter from Isis Unveiled, but the large additions and corrections give it an independent value.”
This Editorial comment is not consistent with actual facts. The essay, upon careful analysis, proves to be almost entirely a compilation of passages from Isis Unveiled, with the addition of merely a few brief sentences here and there which connect various passages together. No “large additions and corrections” have been found in this text.
A few brief passages are identical with H.P.B.’s essay on “Elementals,” and this fact, as well as the nature and character of the entire material, gives considerable validity to the supposition that this compilation from Isis was put together by H.P.B. at the time when she was rewriting Isis Unveiled, and when the essay on the “Elementals” was also compiled.
For reasons stated above, the essay under consideration is not printed at this point in our Series, but all such passages in it as appear to be new material—not lifted from Isis—are made to follow similar material in H.P.B.’s essay on the “Elementals,” namely, in March, 1884 (Vol. VI of the present Series) wherein can be found comprehensive data with regard to this subject.—Compiler.]