MODERN KABALISTS IN SCIENCE AND OCCULT ASTRONOMY
There is a physical, an astral, and a super-astral Universe in the three chief divisions of the Kabalah; as there are terrestrial, superterrestrial, and spiritual Beings. The “Seven Planetary Spirits” may be ridiculed by Scientists to their hearts’ content, yet the need of intelligent ruling and guiding Forces is so much felt to this day that scientific men and specialists, who will not hear of Occultism or of ancient systems, find themselves obliged to generate in their inner consciousness some kind of semi-mystical system. Metcalfe’s “sunforce” theory, and that of Zaliwsky, a learned Pole, which made Electricity the Universal Force and placed its storehouse in the Sun,* were revivals of the Kabalistic teachings. Zaliwsky tried to prove that Electricity, producing “the most powerful, attractive, calorific, and luminous effects,” was present in the physical constitution of the Sun and explained its peculiarities. This is very near the Occult teaching. It is only by admitting the gaseous nature of the Sun-reflector, and the powerful Magnetism and Electricity of the solar attraction and repulsion, that one can explain (a) the evident absence of any waste of power and luminosity in the Sun—inexplicable by the ordinary laws of combustion; and (b) the behaviour of the planets, so often contradicting every accepted rule of weight and gravity. And Zaliwsky makes this “solar electricity” “differ from anything known on earth.”
Father Secchi may be suspected of having sought to introduce
Forces of quite a new order and quite foreign to gravitation, which he had discovered in Space.†
in order to reconcile Astronomy with theological Astronomy. But Nagy, a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, was no cleric, and yet he develops a theory on the necessity of intelligent Forces whose complacency “would lend itself to all
* Zaliwsky, La gravitation par l’électricité, p. 7, in de Mirville, Des Esprits, IV, 156.
† De Mirville, op. cit., p. 157.
the whims of the comets.” He suspects that:
Notwithstanding all the actual researches on the rapidity of light—that dazzling product of an unknown force . . . which we see too frequently to understand—that light is motionless in reality.*
C.E. Love, the well-known railway builder and engineer in France, tired of blind forces, made all the (then) “imponderable agents”—now called “forces”—subordinates of Electricity, and declares the latter to be an
Intelligence—albeit molecular in nature and material.†
In the author’s opinion these Forces are atomistic agents, endowed with intelligence, spontaneous will, and motion, and he thus, like the Kabalists, makes the causal Forces substantial, while the Forces that act on this plane are only the effects of the former, as with him matter is eternal, and the Gods also;‡ so is the Soul likewise, though it has inherent in itself a still higher Soul [Spirit], pre-existent, endowed with memory, and superior to Electric Force; the latter is subservient to the higher Souls, those superior Souls forcing it to act according to the eternal laws. The concept is rather hazy, but is evidently on the Occult lines. Moreover, the system proposed is entirely pantheistic, and is worked out in a purely scientific volume. Monotheists and Roman Catholics fall foul of it, of course; but one who believes in the Planetary Spirits and who endows Nature with living Intelligences, must always expect this.
In this connection, however, it is curious that after the moderns have so laughed at the ignorance of the ancients,
Who, knowing only of seven planets [yet having an ogdoad which did not include the earth!], invented therefore seven Spirits to fit in with the number,
Babinet should have vindicated the “superstition” unconsciously
* Mémoire sur le système solaire, p. 7, in de Mirville, op. cit., IV, 157.
† Éssai sur l’identité des agents producteurs du son, de la lumière, etc., p. 15, in de Mirville, ibid.
‡ De Mirville, op. cit., IV, 158.
to himself. In the Revue des Deux Mondes [May, 1855] this eminent French Astronomer writes:
The ogdoad of the Ancients included the earth [which is an error] i.e., eight or seven according to whether or not the earth was comprised in the number.
De Mirville assures his readers that:
M. Babinet was telling us but a few days ago that we had in reality only eight big planets, including the earth, and thirty-five small ones between Mars and Jupiter. . . . Herschel offering to call all those beyond the seven primary planets asteroids!*
There is a problem to be solved in this connection. How do Astronomers know that Neptune is a planet, or even that it is a body belonging to our system? Being found on the very confines of our Planetary World, so-called, the latter was arbitrarily expanded to receive it; but what really mathematical and infallible proof have Astronomers that it is (a) a planet, and (b) one of our planets? None at all! It is at such an immeasurable distance from us, the
Apparent diameter of the sun being to Neptune but one-fortieth of the sun’s apparent diameter to us,
and it is so dim and hazy when seen through the best telescope that it looks like an astronomical romance to call it one of our planets. Neptune’s heat and light are reduced to 1/900 part of the heat and light received by the earth. His motion and that of his satellites have always looked suspicious. They do not agree—in appearance, at least—with those of the other planets. His system is retrograde, etc. But even the latter abnormal fact resulted only in the creation of new hypotheses by our Astronomers, who forthwith suggested a probable overturn of Neptune, his collision with another body, etc. Was Adams’ and Leverrier’s discovery so welcomed because Neptune was as necessary as was Ether to throw a new glory upon astronomical prevision, upon the certitude of modern scientific data, and principally upon the power of mathematical analysis? It would so appear.
* In de Mirville, op. cit., IV, 139. [Mr. W. Herschel is being quoted from Revue des Deux Mondes, May 1855 issue.]
A new planet that widens our planetary domain by more than four hundred million leagues is worthy of annexation. Yet, as in the case of terrestrial annexation, scientific authority may be proved “right” only because it has “might.” Neptune’s motion happens to be dimly perceived: Eureka! it is a planet! A mere motion, however, proves very little. It is now an ascertained fact in Astronomy that there are no absolutely fixed stars in Nature,* even though such stars should continue to exist in astronomical parlance, while they have passed from the scientific imagination. Occultism, however, has a strange theory of its own with regard to Neptune.
Occultism says that if several hypotheses resting on mere assumption—which have been accepted only because they have been taught by eminent men of learning—are taken away from the Science of Modern Astronomy, to which they serve as props, then even the presumably universal law of gravitation will be found to be contrary to the most ordinary truths of mechanics. And really one can hardly blame Christians—foremost of all the Roman Catholics—however scientific some of these may themselves be, for refusing to quarrel with their Church for the sake of scientific beliefs. Nor can we even blame them for accepting in the secresy of their hearts—as some of them do—the theological “Virtues” and “Archôns” of Darkness, instead of all the blind forces offered them by Science.
Never can there be intervention of any sort in the marshalling and the regular precession of the celestial bodies! The law of gravitation is the law of laws; who ever witnessed a stone rising in the air against gravitation? The permanence of the universal law is shown in the behaviour of the
* If, as Sir W. Herschel thought, the so-called fixed stars have resulted from, and owe their origin to nebular combustion, they cannot be fixed any more than is our sun, which was believed to be motionless and is now found to rotate around its axis every twenty-five days. As the fixed star nearest to the sun, however, is eight-thousand times farther away from him than is Neptune, the illusions furnished by the telescopes must be also eight-thousand times as great. We will therefore leave the question at rest, repeating only what A. Maury said in his work (La Terre et l’Homme, published in 1858): “It is utterly impossible, so far, to decide anything concerning Neptune’s constitution, analogy alone authorizing us to ascribe to him a rotary motion like that of other planets.” (in de Mirville, op. cit., IV, 140.)
sidereal worlds and globes eternally faithful to their primitive orbits; never wandering beyond their respective paths. Nor is there any intervention needed, as it could only be disastrous. Whether the first sidereal incipient rotation took place owing to an intercosmic chance, or to the spontaneous development of latent primordial forces; or again, whether that impulse was given once for all by God or Gods—it does not make the slightest difference. At this stage of cosmic evolution no intervention, superior or inferior, is admissible. Were any to take place, the universal clock-work would stop, and Kosmos would fall into pieces.
Such are stray sentences, pearls of wisdom, fallen from time to time from scientific lips, and now chosen at random to illustrate a query. We lift our diminished heads and look heavenward. Such seems to be the fact: worlds, suns, and stars, the shining myriads of the heavenly hosts, remind the Poet of an infinite, shoreless ocean, whereon move swiftly numberless squadrons of ships, millions upon millions of cruisers, large and small, crossing each other, whirling and gyrating in every direction; and Science teaches us, that though they be without rudder or compass or any beacon to guide them, they are nevertheless secure from collision—almost secure, at any rate, save in chance accidents—as the whole celestial machine is built upon and guided by an immutable, albeit blind, law, and by constant and accelerating force or forces. “Built upon” by whom? “By self-evolution,” is the answer. Moreover, as dynamics teach that
A body in motion tends to continue in the same state of relative rest or motion unless acted upon by some external force,
this force has to be regarded as self-generated—even if not eternal, since this would amount to the recognition of perpetual motion—and so well self-calculated and self-adjusted as to last from the beginning to the end of Kosmos. But “self-generation” has still to generate from something, generation ex nihilo being as contrary to reason as it is to Science. Thus we are placed once more between the horns of a dilemma: are we to believe in perpetual motion or in self-generation ex nihilo? And if in neither, who or what is that something, which first produced that force or those forces?
There are such things in mechanics as superior levers, which give the impulse and act upon secondary or inferior levers. The former, however, need an impulse and occasional renovation,
otherwise they would themselves very soon stop and fall back into their original status. What is the external force which puts and retains them in motion? Another dilemma!
As to the law of cosmical non-intervention, it could be justified only in one case, namely, if the celestial mechanism were perfect; but it is not. The so-called unalterable motions of celestial bodies alter and change incessantly; they are very often disturbed, and the wheels of even the sidereal locomotive itself occasionally jump off their invisible rails, as may be easily proved. Otherwise why should Laplace speak of the probable occurrence at some future time of an out-and-out reform in the arrangement of the planets;* or Lagrange maintain the gradual narrowing of the orbits; or our modern Astronomers, again, declare that the fuel in the sun is slowly disappearing? If the laws and forces which govern the behaviour of the celestial bodies are immutable, such modifications and wearing-out of substance or fuel, of force and fluids, would be impossible; yet they are not denied. Therefore one has to suppose that such modifications will have to rely upon the laws of forces, which will have to self-regenerate themselves once more on such occasions, thus producing an astral antinomy, and a kind of physical palinomy, since, as Laplace says, one would then see fluids disobeying themselves and reacting in a way contrary to all their attributes and properties.†
Newton felt very uncomfortable about the moon. Her behaviour in progressively narrowing the circumference of her orbit around the earth made him nervous, lest it should end one day in our satellite falling upon the earth. The world, he confessed, needed repairing, and that very often.‡ In this he was corroborated by Herschel. He speaks of real and quite considerable deviations, besides those which are only apparent,
* [See P.S. de Laplace’s Exposition du système du monde, Paris (1796) p. 206; 282-83. For English edition consult Vol. I, pp. 249-51 of The System of the World translated by J. Pond, 2 vols., London, R. Phillips, 1809.]
† [Op. Cit., p. 351-52.]
‡ Quoted by Sir John Herschel in On the Study of Natural Philosophy, p. 165; de Mirville, op. cit., IV, 155.
but gets some consolation from his conviction that somebody or something will probably see to things.
We may be answered that the personal beliefs of some pious Astronomers, however great they may be as scientific characters, are no proofs of the actual existence and presence in space of intelligent supramundane Beings, of either Gods or Angels. It is the behaviour of the stars and planets themselves that has to be analysed and inferences must be drawn therefrom. Renan asserts that nothing that we know of the sidereal bodies warrants the idea of the presence of any Intelligence, whether internal or external to them.
Let us see, says Reynaud, if this is a fact, or only one more empty scientific assumption.
The orbits traversed by the planets are far from being immutable. They are, on the contrary, subject to perpetual mutation in position, as in form. Elongations, contractions, and orbital widenings, oscillations from right to left, slackening and quickening of speed . . . . and all this on a plane which seems to vacillate.*
As is very pertinently observed by des Mousseux:
Here is a path having little of the mathematical and mechanical precision claimed for it; for we know of no clock which, having gone slow for several minutes should catch up the right time of itself and without the turn of a key.
So much for blind law and force. As for the physical impossibility—a miracle indeed in the sight of Science—of a stone raised in the air against the law of gravitation, this is what Babinet—the deadliest enemy and opponent of the phenomena of levitation—(cited by Arago) says:
Everyone knows the theory of bolides [meteors] and aerolites. . . . In Connecticut an immense aerolite was seen [a mass of eighteen hundred feet in diameter], bombarding a whole American zone and returning to the spot [in mid-air] from which it had started.†
Thus we find in both of the cases above cited—that of self-correcting planets and of meteors of gigantic size flying back
* Terre et ciel, p. 28, in de Mirville, ibid.
†OEuvres d’Arago, vol. i., p. 219; quoted by de Mirville, III 462.
into the air—a “blind force” regulating and resisting the natural tendencies of “blind matter,” and even occasionally repairing its mistakes and correcting its failures. This is far more miraculous and even “extravagant,” one would say, than any “Angel-guided” Element.
Bold is he who laughs at the idea of von Haller, who declares that:
The stars are perhaps an abode of glorious Spirits; as here Vice reigns, there is Virtue Master.*
* “Die Sterne sind vielleicht ein Sitz verklarter Geister; Wie hier das Laster herrscht, ist dort die Tugend Meister.” [From Albrecht von Haller’s poem “Über den Ursprung des Übels,” on p. 148 in the 1768 ed. of Versuch Schweizerischer Gedichte in Göttingen, Germany by Verlag Abram Vandenhoeks sel. Witwe, Universitätsbuchhandlung.]