FOOTNOTES TO “GLEANINGS FROM ÉLIPHAS LÉVI”*
[The Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. 2, November, 1882, pp. 36-38]
Brilliant and epigrammatic a writer, and profound an Occultist, as was the Abbé Constant (better known by his nom-de-plume of Éliphas Lévi), the great bulk of his writings would, we fear, do little either to interest or instruct our readers. Still there are passages in his writings so pregnant with a higher meaning that it seems to us that it might be well to reproduce, from time to time, in The Theosophist, translations of some of these. To Indian readers at any rate, they will open an entirely new vista.
See Plato’s Critias, on the History of Atlantis, as given by the priests of Sais to his great ancestor Solon, the Athenian lawgiver.
Atlantis, the submerged continent, and the land of the “Knowledge of Good and Evil” (especially the latter) par excellence, and inhabited by the fourth race of men (we are the fifth) who are credited in the Popol-Vuh (the book of the Guatemalans) with sight unlimited and “who knew all things at once.” Éliphas Lévi refers to the secret tradition, among Occultists, about the great struggle that
* [In The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 156, it is said that the translation of certain excerpts from Éliphas Lévi’s Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, to which these footnotes were appended, was made by A. O. Hume.—Compiler.]
took place, in those far away prehistoric days of Atlantis, between the “Sons of God”—the initiated Adepts of Sambhala (once a fair island in the inland Sea of the Tibetan plateau, now as fair a land, an oasis surrounded by barren deserts and salt lakes)—and the Atlanteans, the wicked magicians of Thevetat. (See Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 589-94). It is a well-established belief among the Eastern, and especially the Mongolian and Tibetan, Occultists that toward the end of every race, when mankind reaches its apex of knowledge in that cycle, dividing into two distinct classes, it branches off—one as the “Sons of Light” and the other as the “Sons of Darkness,” or initiated Adepts and natural-born magicians or—mediums. Toward the very close of the race, as their mixed progeny furnishes the first pioneers of a new and a higher race, there comes the last and supreme struggle during which the “Sons of Darkness” are usually exterminated by some great cataclysm of nature—by either fire or water. Atlantis was submerged, hence the inference that that portion of the mankind of the fifth race which will be composed of “natural-born magicians” will be exterminated at the future great cataclysm by—fire.
What was in reality that much maligned and still more dreaded goat [the Hermaphrodite goat of Mendes], that Baphomet regarded even now by the Roman Catholics as Satan, the Grand Master of the “Witches Sabbath,” the central figure of their nocturnal orgies? Why, simply Pan or Nature.
By “the dogma of elementary forces” Éliphas Lévi means “spirit” and “matter,” allegorized by Zoroaster, for the common herd, into Ormazd and Ahriman, the prototype of the Christian “God” and “Devil”; and epitomized and summed up by the philosophy of Occult Science in the “Human Triad” (Body, Soul, Spirit—the two poles and the
“middle nature” of man), the perfect microcosm of the ONE Universal Macrocosm or Universe. In the Khordah-Avesta the Zoroastrian dualism is contradicted: “Who art thou, O fair being?” inquires the disembodied soul of one who stands at the gates of its Paradise. “I am, O Soul, thy good and pure actions . . . thy law, thy angel, and thy God.”
[“The Azot of the sages.”] The Seventh State of matter—Life. The Fire and Light of the “Astral Virgin” may be studied by the Hindus in the Fire and Light of Akaśa.
. . . “to avoid seeing what God is”—i.e., seeing that God is but man and vice versa—when he is not the “lining” of God—the Devil. We know of many who prefer voluntary and lifelong blindness to plain, sober truth and fact.
Cupid, the god, is the seventh principle or the Brahm of the Vedantin, and Psyche is its vehicle, the sixth or spiritual soul. As soon as she feels herself distinct from her “consort”—and sees him—she loses him. Study the “Heresy of Individuality”—and you will understand.
In the Christian legend, the “Redeemer” is the “Initiator” who offers his life in sacrifice for the privilege of teaching his disciples some great truths. He, who unriddles the Christian sphinx, “becomes the Master of the Absolute” for the simple reason that the greatest mystery of all the ancient initiations—past, present, and future—is made plain and divulged to him. Those who accept the allegory literally, will remain blind all their life and those, who divulge it to the ignorant masses, deserve punishment for their want
of discretion in seeking to “feed pigs with pearls.” The Theosophist—read but by the intelligent who, when they understand it, prove that they deserve as much of the secret knowledge as can be given them—is permitted to throw out a hint. Let him, who would fathom the mystery of the allegory of both Sphinx and Cross, study the modes of initiation of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, ancient Jews, Hindus, etc. And then he will find what the word “Atonement”—far older than Christianity—meant, as also “the Baptism of Blood.” At the last moment of the Supreme Initiation, when the Initiator had divulged the last mysterious word, either the Hierophant or the “newly born,” the worthier of the two, had to die, since two Adepts of equal power must not live, and he, who is perfect, has no room on earth. Éliphas Lévi hints at the mystery in his volumes without explaining it. Yet he speaks of Moses who dies mysteriously, disappears from the top of Mount Pisgah after he had “laid his hands” upon the initiated Aaron; of Jesus who dies for the disciple “whom he loved,” John the author of the Apocalypse, and of John the Baptist—the last of the real Nazars of the Old Testament (see Isis, Vol. II, p. 132), who, in the incomplete, contradictory, and tortured Gospel accounts, is made to die later through Herodias’ whim, and, in the secret Kabalistic documents of the Nabathaeans, to offer himself as an expiatory victim after “baptizing” (i.e., initiating) his chosen successor in the mystic Jordan. In these documents, after the initiation Aba, the Father, becomes the Son, and the Son succeeds the Father and becomes Father and Son at the same time, inspired by Sophia Achamoth (secret wisdom) transformed later on into the Holy Ghost. But this successor of John the Baptist was not Jesus, the Nazarenes say. But of this anon. To this day, the initiation beyond the Himalayas is followed by temporary death (from three to six months) of the disciple, often that of the Initiator; but the Buddhists do not spill blood, for they have a horror of it, knowing that blood attracts “evil powers.” At the initiation of the Chhinnamasta Tantrikas (from chhinna “severed” and masta “head”’—the Goddess Chhinnamasta being represented with
a decapitated head), the Tantrik Shastras say that, as soon as the Adept has reached the highest degree of perfection, he has to initiate his successor and—die, offering his blood as an atonement for the sins of his brothers. He must “cut off his own head with the right hand, holding it in the left.” Three streams of blood gush out from the headless trunk. One of these is directed into the mouth of the decapitated head (“. . . my blood is drink indeed”—the injunction in John that so shocked the disciples); the other is directed toward the earth as an offering of the pure, sinless blood to mother Earth; and the third gushes toward heaven as a witness for the sacrifice of “self-immolation.” Now, this has a profound Occult significance which is known only to the initiated; nothing like the truth is explained by the Christian dogma, and imperfectly as they have defined it, the quasi-inspired “Authors of the Perfect Way” reveal the truth far nearer than any of the Christian commentators.