TRAITÉ ÉLÉMENTAIRE DE SCIENCE OCCULTE
[Lucifer, Vol. I, No. 6, February, 1888, pp. 499-500]
[This is a review-article of a work by Papus (Gérard Analect V. Encausse), Paris, Georges Carré, 1888. While the authorship of this review is not absolutely certain, the authoritative manner in which it is written and the nature of the subject strongly suggest that it is from H.P.B.’s pen.]
This, the latest of the admirable publications now being issued by Monsieur Georges Carré, under the auspices of “L’Isis,” the French branch of the Theosophical Society, deserves a hearty welcome at the hands of all students of Occultism, as it fulfils the promise of its title, which is high praise indeed.
The book is written and constructed on correct Occult principles; it contains seven chapters, three devoted to theory and four to the application and practical illustration of that theory.
After an eloquent introductory chapter, Monsieur Papus proceeds to lead his readers by easy transitions into the mysterious science of numbers. This—the first key to
practical Occultism—is at once the simplest and the most subtle of sciences. Hitherto there has existed no really elementary exposition of its primary, fundamental principles. And, as this science of numbers lies at the base of every one of those applications of occult science which are still to any extent studied, a knowledge of it is almost indispensable.
Astrology, Chiromancy, Cartomancy, in short, all the arts of divination, rest ultimately on numbers and their occult powers, as a foundation.
And yet, though the students of each of these several arts must, perforce, acquire a certain knowledge of numerical science, yet very few of them possess that knowledge in a systematic and co-ordinated form.
Of course Monsieur Papus does not, and cannot, give anything like a complete textbook on the subject, but he does give, in clear language, the fundamental guiding principles of this science. Moreover, he illustrates the methods of numerical working, by numerous and well-chosen examples—an aid which is simply invaluable to the student who is making his first entrance into this field of study. In the third chapter these abstract formulae are given as they relate to man, as an individual, and as a member of that larger whole, called humanity. This completes the purely theoretical portion of the book, and in the fourth chapter we are shown how these general principles work in their application.
Signs and symbols are proved to be the natural expressions of ideas in accordance with fixed laws, and the method is applied by way of illustration to the interpretation of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. The relation between number and form is shown as exhibited in geometrical figures, and Monsieur Papus gives a clue to a subject which has puzzled many—the actual influence in life of names. This chapter is most enthralling, but lack of space forbids any detailed comments, for so much would have to be said.
Chapters five and six are almost equally interesting; full of lucid illustration and valuable hints to the practical student, they form almost a manual in themselves. But
on one point Monsieur Papus is certainly in error, though, since it is on a matter of history, its importance is relatively small. He attaches far too much weight to the Jews and to their national system of occultism—the Kabbala. True, that system is the most familiar in Europe; but it has been so much overlaid by a semi-esoteric veil, and additions and interpolations by Christian Occultists, that its inner grossness is lost sight of; so that students are apt to be led away from the truth, and to form erroneous conceptions as to the value and meaning of many symbols, the importance of which in practical work is very great. What esoteric knowledge the Jews possessed, they derived either from the Egyptians or the Babylonians during the captivity. Hence Monsieur Saint-Ives d’Alveydre, his gigantic erudition notwithstanding, is altogether mistaken in the stress he lays on their knowledge, their place in history and their mission as a nation. This, however, is but a matter of small moment in a book, the practical value of which it would be difficult to over-estimate.