When a man gazes unchastely upon any woman he profanes that woman, said the Great Master. What is willed with persistence is done. Every real will is confirmed by acts; every will confirmed by an act is action. Every action is subject to a judgment, and such judgment is eternal.
These are dogmas and principles from which it follows that the good or evil which we will, to others as to ourselves, according to the capacity of our will and within the sphere of our action, will infallibly take place, if the will be confirmed and the determination fixed by acts. The acts should be analogous to the will. The intent to do harm or to excite love, in order to be efficacious, must be confirmed by deeds of hatred or affection. Whatsoever bears the impression of a human soul belongs to that soul; whatsoever a man has appropriated after any manner becomes his body in the broader acceptation of the term, and anything which is done to the body of a man is felt, mediately or immediately, by his soul.
It is for this reason that every species of hostility towards one’s neighbour is regarded by moral theology as the beginning of homicide. Bewitchment is a homicide, and the more infamous because it eludes self-defence by the victim and punishment by law.
This principle being established, to exonerate our conscience, and for the warning of the weak vessels, let us affirm boldly that bewitchment is possible. Let us even go further and lay down that it is not only possible, but in some sense necessary and fatal. It is continually going on in the social world, unconsciously both to agents and patients.
Involuntary bewitchment is one of the most terrible dangers of human life. Passional sympathy inevitably subjects the hottest desire to the strongest will. Moral maladies are more contagious than physical, and there are some triumphs of infatuation and fashion which are comparable to leprosy or cholera.
We may die of an evil acquaintance as well as of a contagious touch, and the frightful plague which, during recent centuries only, has avenged in Europe the profanation of the mysteries of love, is a revelation of the analogical laws of nature, and at the same time offers only a feeble image of the moral corruptions which follow daily on an equivocal sympathy.
There is a story of a jealous and infamous man who, to avenge himself on a rival, contracted an incurable disorder, and made it the common scourge and anathema of a divided bed. This atrocious history is that of every magician, or rather of every sorcerer who practises bewitchments. He poisons himself in order that he may poison others; he damns himself that he may torture others; he draws in hell with his breath in order that he may expel it by his breath; he wounds himself to death that he may inflict death on others; but possessed of this unhappy courage, it is positive and certain that he will poison and slay by the mere projection of his perverse will.
There are some forms of love which are as deadly as hatred, and the bewitchments of goodwill are the torment of the wicked. The prayers offered to God for the conversion of a man bring misfortune to that man if he will not be converted. As we have already said, it is weariness and danger to strive against the fluidic currents occasioned by the chains of wills in union.
Hence there are two kinds of bewitchment, voluntary and involuntary; physical and moral bewitchment may be also distinguished.
Power attracts power, life attracts life, health attracts health; this is a law of nature. If two children live, above all, if they sleep together, and if one be weak while the other is strong, the strong will absorb the weak, and the latter will waste away. For this reason, it is important that children should always sleep alone.
In conventual seminaries certain pupils absorb the intelligence of the others, and in every given circle of men, an individual speedily appears who avails himself of the wills of the rest. Bewitchment by means of currents is exceedingly common, as we have already observed; morally as well as physically, most of us are carried away by the crowd.
What, however, we have proposed to exhibit more especially in this chapter is the almost absolute power of the human will upon the determination of its acts and the influence of every outward demonstration upon outward things.
Voluntary bewitchments are still frequent in our rural places because natural forces, among ignorant and isolated persons, operate without being diminished by any doubt or any diversion.
A frank, absolute hatred, unleavened by rejected passion or personal cupidity is, under certain given conditions, a death-sentence for its object. I say unmixed with amorous passion or cupidity, because a desire, being an attraction, counterbalances and annuls the power of projection.
For example, a jealous person will never efficaciously bewitch his rival, and a greedy heir will never by the mere fact of his will succeed in shortening the days of a miserly and long-lived uncle. Bewitchments attempted under such conditions reflect upon the operator and help rather than hurt their object, setting him free from a hostile action which destroys itself by excessive exaggeration.
The term envoûtement (bewitchment) so strong in its Gaelic simplicity, admirably expresses what it means, the act of enveloping some one, so to speak, in a formulated will. The instrument of bewitchments is the great magic agent which, under the influence of an evil will, becomes really and positively the demon.
Witchcraft, properly so called, that is, ceremonial operation with intent to bewitch, acts only on the operator, and serves to fix and confirm his will, by formulating it with persistence and labour, the two conditions which make volition efficacious.
The more difficult or horrible the operation, the greater is its power, because it acts more strongly on the imagination and confirms effort in direct ratio of resistance.
This explains the bizarre nature and even atrocious character of the operations in black magic, as practised by the ancients and in the middle ages, the diabolical masses, administration of sacraments to reptiles, effusions of blood, human sacrifices, and other monstrosities, which are the very essence and reality of goëtia or nigromancy. Such are the practices which from all time have brought down upon sorcerers the just repression of the laws.
Black magic is really only a graduated combination of sacrileges and murders designed for the permanent perversion of a human will and for the realisation in a living man of the hideous phantom of the demon. It is, therefore, properly speaking, the religion of the devil, the cultus of darkness, hatred of good carried to the height of paroxysm; it is the incarnation of death, and the persistent creation of hell.
The Kabbalist Bodin, who has been erroneously considered of a feeble and superstitious mind, had no other motive in writing his Demonomania than that of warning people against dangerous incredulity. Initiated by the study of the Kabbalah into the true secrets of magic, he trembled at the danger to which society was exposed by the abandonment of this power to the wickedness of men.
Hence he attempted what at the present time M. Eudes de Mirville is attempting amongst ourselves; he gathered facts without interpreting them, and affirmed in the face of inattentive or pre-occupied science the existence of the occult influences and criminal operations of evil magic.
In his own day Bodin received no more attention than will be given to M. Eudes de Mirville, because it is not enough to indicate phenomena and to prejudge their cause if we would influence earnest men; we must study, explain, and demonstrate such cause, and this is precisely what we are ourselves attempting. Will better success crown our own efforts?
It is possible to die through the love of certain people as by their hate; there are absorbing passions, under the breath of which we feel ourselves depleted like the spouses of vampires. Not only do the wicked torment the good, but unconsciously the good torture the wicked.
The gentleness of Abel was a long and painful bewitchment for the ferocity of Cain. Among evil men, the hatred of good originates in the very instinct of self-preservation; moreover, they deny that what torments them is good, and, for their own peace, are driven to deify and justify evil. In the sight of Cain, Abel was a hypocrite and coward, who abused the pride of humanity by his scandalous submissions to divinity. How much must this first murderer have endured before making such a frightful attack upon his brother? Had Abel understood, he would have been afraid.
Antipathy is the presentiment of a possible bewitchment, either of love or hatred, for we find love frequently succeeding repulsion. The astral light warns us of coming influences by its action on the more or less sensible, more or less active, nervous system.
Instantaneous sympathies, electric loves, are explosions of the astral light, which are as exactly and mathematically demonstrable as the discharge of strong magnetic batteries. Thereby we may see what unexpected dangers threaten an uninitiated person who is perpetually fooling with fire in the neighbourhood of invisible powder-mines.
We are saturated with the astral light, and we project it unceasingly to make room for and to attract fresh supplies. The nervous instruments, which are specially designed either for attraction or projection, are the eyes and hands. The polarity of the hands is resident in the thumb, and hence, according to the magical tradition which still lingers in rural places, whenever anyone is in suspicious company, he should keep the thumb doubled up and hidden in the hand, and while in the main avoiding a fixed glance at any one, still being the first to look at those whom we have reason to fear, so as to escape unexpected fluidic projections and fascinating regards.
There are certain animals which have the power of breaking the currents of astral light by an absorption peculiar to themselves. They are violently antipathetic to us, and possess a certain sorcery of the eye: the toad, the basilisk, and the tard are instances.
These animals, when tamed and carried alive on the person, or kept in occupied rooms, are a guarantee against the hallucinations and trickeries of ASTRAL INTOXICATION, a term we make use of here for the first time, one which explains all the phenomena of unbridled passions, mental exaltations, and folly.
Tame toads and tards, my dear sir, the disciple of Voltaire will say to me; carry them about with you, and write no more. To which I may answer, that I shall seriously think of doing so as soon as ever I feel tempted to laugh at anything I do not understand, and to treat those whose knowledge and wisdom I fail to understand, as fools or as madmen.
Paracelsus, the greatest of the Christian magi, opposed bewitchment by the practices of a contrary bewitchment. He composed sympathetic remedies, and applied them, not to the suffering members, but to representations of those members, formed and consecrated according to magical ceremonial.
His successes were incredible, and never has any physician approached Paracelsus in his marvels of healing. But Paracelsus had discovered magnetism long before Mesmer, and had carried to its final consequences this luminous discovery, or rather this initiation into the magic of the ancients, who better than us understood the great magical agent, and did not regard the astral light, azoth, the universal magnesia of the sages, as an animal and a special fluid emanating only from particular creatures.
In his occult philosophy, Paracelsus opposes ceremonial magic, the terrible power of which he certainly did not ignore, but he sought to decry its practices so as to discredit black magic. He locates the omnipotence of the magus in the interior and occult magnes, and the most skilful magnetisers of our own day could not express themselves better.
At the same time he counselled the employment of magical symbols, talismans above all, in the cure of diseases. In our eighteenth chapter1 we shall have occasion to return to the talismans of Paracelsus, while following Gaffarel upon the great question of occult iconography and numismatics.
Bewitchment may also be cured by substitution, when that is possible, and by the rupture or deflection of the astral current. The rural traditions on all these points are admirable, and undoubtedly of remote antiquity; they are remnants of the instruction of the Druids, who were initiated in the mysteries of Egypt and India by wandering hierophants.
Now, it is well known in vulgar magic that a bewitchment—that is, a will persistently confirmed in ill doing, invariably has its result, and cannot draw back without risk of death. The sorcerer who liberates any one from a charm must have another object for his malevolence, or it is certain that he himself will be smitten, and will perish as the victim of his own spells.
The astral movement being circular, every azotic or magnetic emission which does not encounter its medium returns with force to its point of departure, thus explaining one of the strangest histories in a sacred book, that of the demons sent into the swine, which thereupon cast themselves into the sea.
This act of high initiation was nothing else but the rupture of a magnetic current infected by evil wills. Our name is legion, for we are many, said the instinctive voice of the possessed sufferer. Possessions by the demon are bewitchments, and such cases are innumerable at the present day.
A holy monk who has devoted himself to the service of the insane, Brother Hilarion Tissot, has succeeded, by long experience and incessant practice, in curing a number of patients, by unconsciously using the magnetism of Paracelsus. He attributes most of his cases either to disorder of the will or to the perverse influence of external wills; he regards all crimes as acts of madness, and would treat the wicked as diseased, instead of exasperating and making them incurable, under the pretence of punishing them.
What space of time must still elapse ere poor Brother Hilarion Tissot shall be hailed as a man of genius! And how many serious men, when they read this chapter, will say that Tissot and myself should treat one another according to our common ideas, but should refrain from publishing our theories, if we do not wish to be reckoned as physicians worthy of a hospital for incurables!
It revolves, notwithstanding, said Galileo, stamping his foot upon the earth. Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, said the Saviour of men. It might also be added: Ye shall love justice, and justice shall make you whole men. A vice is a poison, even for the body; true virtue is a pledge of longevity.
The method of ceremonial bewitchments varies with times and persons; all subtle and domineering people find its secrets and its practice within themselves, without even actually calculating about them or reasoning on their sequence.
Herein they follow instinctive inspirations of the great agent, which, as we have already said, accommodates itself marvellously to our vices and our virtues; it may, however, be generally laid down that we are subjected to the wills of others by the analogies of our tendencies, and above all, of our faults.
To pamper the weaknesses of an individuality is to possess ourselves of that individuality and convert it into an instrument in the order of the same errors or depravities.
Now, when two natures whose defects are analogous become subordinated one to another, the result is a sort of substitution of the stronger for the weaker, an actual obsession of one mind by the other.
Very often the weaker may struggle and seek to revolt, but it only falls deeper in servitude. So did Louis XIII. conspire against Richelieu, and subsequently, so to speak, sought his pardon by abandoning his accomplices.
We have all a ruling defect, which is for our soul as the umbilical cord of its sinful birth, and it is by this the enemy can always seize us—for some vanity, for others idleness, for the majority egotism. Let a wicked and crafty mind avail itself of this snare and we are lost; we may not go mad or turn idiots, but we become positively alienated, in all the force of the expression—that is, we are subjected to a foreign impulsion.
In such a state one dreads instinctively everything that might bring us back to reason, and will not even listen to representations that are opposed to our infatuation. Here is one of the most dangerous disorders which can affect the moral nature.
The sole remedy for such a bewitchment is to make use of madness itself in order to cure madness, to provide the sufferer with imaginary satisfactions in the opposite order to that wherein he is now immersed.
Endeavour, for example,
- to cure an ambitious person by making him desire the glories of heaven—mystic remedy;
- cure one who is dissolute by true love—natural remedy;
- obtain honourable successes for a vain person;
- exhibit unselfishness to the avaricious,
- and procure for them legitimate profit by honourable participation in generous enterprises,
Acting in this way upon the moral nature, we may succeed in curing a number of physical maladies, for the moral affects the physical in virtue of the magical axiom:—”That which is above is like that which is below.”
This is why the Master said, when speaking of the paralysed woman: Satan has bound her. A disease invariably originates in a deficiency or an excess, and ever at the root of a physical evil we shall find a moral disorder. This is an unchanging law of nature.
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