The initiate is he who possesses the lamp of Trismegistus, the mantle of Apollonius, and the staff of the patriarchs.
The lamp of Trismegistus is reason illuminated by science; the mantle of Apollonius is full and complete self-possession, which isolates the sage from blind tendencies; and the staff of the patriarchs is the help of the secret and everlasting forces of nature.
The lamp of Trismegistus enlightens present, past, and future, lays bare the conscience of men, and manifests the inmost recesses of the female heart. The lamp burns with a triple flame, the mantle is thrice-folded, and the staff is divided into three parts.
The number nine is that of divine reflections; it expresses the divine idea in all its abstract power, but it also signifies extravagance in belief, and hence superstition and idolatry.
For this reason Hermes has made it the number of initiation, because the initiate reigns over superstition and by superstition, and alone can advance through the darkness, leaning on his staff, enveloped in his mantle, and lighted by his lamp.
Reason has been given to all men, but all do not know how to make use of it; it is a science to be acquired.
Liberty is offered to all, but not all can be free; it is a right that must be earned.
Force is for all, but all do not know how to rest upon it; it is a power that must be seized.
We attain nothing without more than one effort.
The destiny of man is that he should enrich himself with what he gains, and that he should afterwards have, like God, the glory and pleasure of dispensing it.
Magic was called formerly the sacerdotal art and the royal art, because initiation gave empire over souls to the sage, and the adroitness for ruling wills.
Divination is also one of the privileges of the initiate; now, divination is simply the knowledge of effects contained in causes and science applied to the facts of the universal dogma of analogy. Human acts are not alone written in the astral light; their traces are left upon the face, they modify mien and carriage, they change the tone of the voice. Thus every man bears about him the history of his life, which is legible for the initiate.
Now, the future is ever the consequence of the past, and unexpected circumstances do not appreciably alter results reasonably calculated. The destiny of each man can be therefore foretold him. An entire existence can be judged by a single movement; one piece of awkwardness may be the presage of a long chain of misfortunes.
Caesar was assassinated because he was ashamed of being bald; Napoleon ended his days at St. Helena because he admired the poems of Ossian; Louis Philippe abdicated the throne as he did because he carried an umbrella. These are paradoxes for the vulgar, who cannot grasp the occult relations of things, but they are causes for the adept, who understands all and is surprised at nothing.
Initiation is a preservative against the false lights of mysticism; it equips human reason with its relative value and proportional infallibility, connecting it with supreme reason by the chain of analogies.
Hence the initiate knows no doubtful hopes, no absurd fears, because he has no irrational beliefs; he is acquainted with the extent of his power, and he can dare without danger. For him, therefore, to dare is to be able.
Here, then, is a new interpretation of his attributes; his lamp represents learning, the mantle which enwraps him his discretion, and his staff is the emblem of his strength and daring.
He knows, he dares, and is silent.
He knows the secrets of the future, he dares in the present, and he is silent on the past.
He knows the failings of the human heart; he dares make use of them to achieve his work; and he is silent as to his purposes.
He knows the principle of all symbolisms and of all religions; he dares to practise or to abstain from them without hypocrisy and without impiety; and he is silent upon the one dogma of supreme initiation.
He knows the existence and nature of the great magical agent; he dares perform the acts and give utterance to the words which make it subject to human will, and he is silent upon the mysteries of the great arcanum.
So may you find him often melancholy, never dejected or despairing; often poor, never abject or miserable; persecuted often, never disheartened or conquered.
He remembers the bereavement and murder of Orpheus, the exile and lonely death of Moses, the martyrdom of the prophets, the tortures of Apollonius, the cross of the Saviour.
He knows the desolation in which Agrippa died, whose memory is even now slandered; he knows what labours overcame the great Paracelsus, and all that Raymond Lully was condemned to undergo that he might finish by a violent death.
He remembers Swedenborg simulating madness and even losing reason in order to excuse his science; St. Martin and his hidden life; Cagliostro, who perished forsaken in the cells of the Inquisition; Cazotte, who ascended the scaffold.
Inheritor of so many victims, he does not dare the less, but he understands better the necessity for silence.
Let us follow his example; let us learn diligently; when we know, let us have courage, and let us be silent.