POST-CHRISTIAN ADEPTS AND THEIR DOCTRINES
What does the world at large know of Peter and Simon, for example? Profane history has no record of these two, while that which the so-called sacred literature tells us of them is scattered about, contained in a few sentences in the Acts. As to the Apocrypha, their very name forbids critics to trust to them for information. The Occultists, however, claim that, one-sided and prejudiced as they may be, the apocryphal Gospels contain far more historically true events and facts than does the New Testament, the Acts included. The former are crude tradition, the latter [the official Gospels] are an elaborately made up legend. The sacredness of the New Testament is a question of private belief and of blind faith, and while one is bound to respect the private opinion of one’s neighbor, no one is forced to share it.
Who was Simon Magus, and what is known of him? One learns in the Acts simply that on account of his remarkable magical Arts he was called “the Great Power of God.” Philip is said to have baptised this Samaritan; and subsequently he is accused of having offered money to Peter and John to teach him the power of working true “miracles,” false ones, it is asserted, being of the Devil.* This is all, if we omit the words of abuse freely used against him for working “miracles” of the latter kind. Origen mentions him as having visited Rome during the reign of Nero,† and Mosheim places him among the open
* Acts, viii, 9,10.
† Adversum Celsum. [See lib. v, p. 272, ed. of Spencer].
enemies of Christianity;* but Occult tradition accuses him of nothing worse than refusing to recognize “Simeon” as a Vice-regent of God, whether that “Simeon” was Peter or anyone else being still left an open question with the critic.
That which Irenaeus† and Epiphanius‡ say of Simon Magus––namely, that he represented himself as the incarnated trinity; that in Samaria he was the Father, in Judaea the Son, and had given himself out to the Gentiles as the Holy Spirit––is simply backbiting. Times and events change; human nature remains the same and unaltered under every sky and in every age. The charge is the result and product of the traditional and now classical odium theologicum. No Occultists––all of whom have experienced personally, more or less, the effects of theological rancor––will ever believe such things merely on the word of an Irenaeus, if, indeed, he ever wrote the words himself. Further on it is narrated of Simon that he took about with him a woman whom he introduced as Helen of Troy, who had passed through a hundred reincarnations, and who, still earlier, in the beginning of aeôns, was Sophia, Divine Wisdom, an emanation of his own (Simon’s) Eternal Mind, when he (Simon) was the “father”; and finally, that by her he had “begotten the Archangels and Angels, by whom this world was created,” etc.
Now we all know to what a degree of transformation and luxuriant growth any bare statement can be subjected and forced, after passing through only half a dozen hands. Moreover, all these claims may be explained and even shown to be true at bottom. Simon Magus was a Kabalist and a Mystic, who, like so many other reformers, endeavoured to found a new Religion based on the fundamental teachings of the Secret Doctrine, yet without divulging more than necessary of its mysteries. Why then should not Simon, a Mystic, deeply imbued with the fact of serial incarnations (we may leave out the number “one hundred,” as a very probable exaggeration of his disciples), speak of any one whom he knew psychically as
* Institutes of Eccles. History, I, 140 by J. L. von Mosheim (1726); Vol. I, pt. II, pp. 86-87 ff in the Eng. tr. by J. Murdock & H. Soame, London, 1863, 3 vols.]
† Contra Haereses, I, xxiii, 1-4.
‡ Panarion, lib. I, t. II, Haer. xxi, §1.
an incarnation of some heroine of that name, and in the way he did––if he ever did so? Do we not find in our own century some ladies and gentlemen, not charlatans but intellectual persons highly honored in society, whose inner conviction assures them that they were––one Queen Cleopatra, another one Alexander the Great, a third Joan of Arc, and who or what not? This is a matter of inner conviction, and is based on more or less familiarity with Occultism and belief in the modern theory of reincarnation. The latter differs from the one genuine doctrine of old, as will be shown, but there is no rule without its exception.
As to the Magus being “one with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost,” this again is quite reasonable, if we admit that a Mystic and Seer has a right to use allegorical language; and in this case, moreover, it is quite justified by the doctrine of Universal Unity taught in Esoteric Philosophy. Every Occultist will say the same, on (to him) scientific and logical grounds, in full accordance with the doctrine he professes. Not a Vedantin but says the same thing daily: he is, of course Brahman, and he is Parabrahman, once that he rejects the individuality of his personal spirit, and recognizes the Divine Ray which dwells in his Higher Self as only a reflection of the Universal Spirit. This is the echo in all times and ages of the primitive doctrine of Emanations. The first Emanation from the Unknown is the “Father,” the second the “Son,” and all and everything proceeds from the One, or that Divine Spirit which is unknowable. Hence, the assertion that by her (Sophia, or Minerva, the Divine Wisdom) he (Simon), when yet in the bosom of the Father, himself the Father (or the first collective Emanation), begot the Archangels––the “Son”––who were the creators of this world.
The Roman Catholics themselves, driven to the wall by the irrefutable arguments of their opponents––the learned Philologists and Symbologists who pick to shreds Church dogmas and their authorities, and point out the plurality of the Elohim in the Bible––admit today that the first “creation” of God, the Tsaba, or Archangels, must have participated in the creation of the universe. Might not we suppose:
Although “God alone created the heaven and the earth” . . . that
however unconnected they (the Angels) may have been with the primordial ex nihilo creation, they may have received a mission to achieve, to continue, and to sustain it?*
exclaims de Mirville, in answer to Renan, Lacour, Maury and the tutti quanti of the French Institute. With certain alterations it is precisely this which is claimed by the Secret Doctrine. In truth there is not a single doctrine preached by the many Reformers of the first and the subsequent centuries of our era, that did not base its initial teachings on this universal cosmogony. Consult Mosheim† and see what he has to say of the many “heresies” he describes. Cerinthus, the Jew,
Taught that the Creator of this world . . . the Sovereign God of the Jewish people, was a Being . . . who derived his birth from the Supreme God;
that this Being, moreover,
Fell by degrees from his native virtue and primitive dignity.
Basilides, Carpocrates and Valentinus, the Egyptian Gnostics of the second century, held the same ideas with a few variations. Basilides preached seven Aeôns (Hosts or Archangels), who issued from the substance of the Supreme. Two of them, Power and Wisdom, begot the heavenly hierarchy of the first class and dignity; this emanated a second; the latter a third, and so on; each subsequent evolution being of a nature less exalted than the precedent, and each creating for itself a Heaven as a dwelling, the nature of each of these respective Heavens decreasing in splendor and purity as it approached nearer to the earth. Thus the number of these Dwellings amounted to 365; and over all presided the Supreme Unknown called Abraxas, a name which in the Greek method of numeration yields the number 365, which in its mystic and numerical meaning contains the number 355, or the man value.‡ This was a Gnostic Mystery
* Des Esprits, Vol. II, p. 337.
† Op. Cit., [p. 110 fn. above; p. 91 in 1863 Eng. tr.]
‡ Ten is the perfect number of the Supreme God among the “manifested” deities, for number 1 is the symbol of the Universal Unit, or male principle in Nature, and number 0 the feminine symbol, Chaos, the Deep, the two forming thus the symbol of Androgyne nature as well as the full
based upon that of primitive Evolution, which ended with “man.”
Saturninus o f Antioch promulgated the same doctrine slightly modified. He taught two eternal principles, Good and Evil, which are simply Spirit and Matter. The seven Angels who preside over the seven Planets are the Builders of our Universe––a purely Eastern doctrine, as Saturninus was an Asiatic Gnostic. These Angels are the natural Guardians of the seven Regions of our Planetary System, one of the most powerful among these seven creating Angels of the third order being “Saturn,” the presiding genius of the Planet, and the God of the Hebrew people: namely, Jehovah, who was venerated among the Jews, and to whom they dedicated the seventh day or Sabbath, Saturday––“Saturn’s day” among the Scandinavians and also among the Hindus.
Marcion, who also held the doctrine of the two opposed principles of Good and Evil, asserted that there was a third Deity between the two––one of a “mixed nature”––the God of the Jews, the Creator (with his Host) of the lower, or our, World. Though ever at war with the Evil Principle, this intermediate Being was nevertheless also opposed to the Good Principle, whose place and title he coveted.
Thus Simon was only the son of his time, a religious Reformer like so many others, and an Adept among the Kabalists. The Church, to which a belief in his actual existence and great powers is a necessity––in order the better to set off the “miracle” performed by Peter and his triumph over Simon––extols unstintingly his wonderful magic feats. On the other hand, Scepticism, represented by scholars and learned critics, tries to make away with him altogether. Thus, after denying the very existence of Simon, they have finally thought fit to merge his individuality entirely in that of Paul. The anonymous author
value of the solar year, which was also the value of Jehovah and Enoch. Ten, with Pythagoras, was the symbol of the Universe; also of Enos, the Son of Seth, or the “Son of Man” who stands as the symbol of the solar year of 365 days, and whose years are therefore given as 365 also. In the Egyptian Symbology Abraxas was the Sun, the “Lord of the Heavens.”
The circle is the symbol of the one Unmanifesting Principle, the plane of whose figure is infinitude eternally, and this is crossed by a diameter only during Manvantaras.
of Supernatural Religion [Vol. II, P. 34 ff., 1874 ed.] assiduously endeavoured to prove that by Simon Magus we must understand the Apostle Paul, whose Epistles were secretly as well as openly calumniated and opposed by Peter, and charged with containing “dysnoëtic learning.” Indeed this seems more than probable when we think of the two Apostles and contrast their characters.
The Apostle of the Gentiles was brave, outspoken, sincere, and very learned; the Apostle of Circumcision, cowardly, cautious, insincere, and very ignorant. That Paul had been, partially at least, if not completely, initiated into the theurgic mysteries, admits of little doubt. His language, the phraseology so peculiar to the Greek philosophers, certain expressions used but by the Initiates, are so many sure ear-marks to that supposition. Our suspicion has been strengthened by an able article entitled “Paul and Plato,” by Dr. A. Wilder, in which the author puts forward one remarkable and, for us, very precious observation. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, he shows Paul abounding with “expressions suggested by the initiations of Sabazius and Eleusis, and the lectures of the [Greek] philosophers. He [Paul] designates himself as idiôtes––a person unskillful in the Word, but not in the gnsis or philosophical learning. ‘We speak wisdom among the perfect or initiated,’ he writes, ‘not the wisdom of this world, nor of the Archns of this world, but divine wisdom in a mystery, secret––which none of the Archôns of this world knew.’”*
What else can the Apostle mean by those unequivocal words, but that he himself, as belonging to the mystae (initiated), spoke of things shown and explained only in the Mysteries? The “divine wisdom in a mystery which none of the Archôns of this world knew, “ has evidently some direct reference to the Basileus of the Eleusinian Initiation who did know. The Basileus belonged to the staff of the great Hierophant, and was an Archôn of Athens; and as such was one of the chief mystae, belonging to the interior Mysteries, to which a very select and small number obtained an entrance.† The magistrates supervising the Eleusinia were called Archôns.‡
We will deal, however, first with Simon the Magician.
* I, Cor. ii, 6-8.
† Cf. Thos. Taylor, The Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 14 (4th ed., New York, 1891).
‡ Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, pp. 89-90.