Hereunto we have exposed the magical dogma in its more arid and abstract phases; now enchantments begin; now we can proclaim wonders and reveal the most secret things.
The pentagram signifies the domination of the mind over the elements, and by this sign are enchained the demons of the air, the spirits of fire, the phantoms of the water, and ghosts of earth. Equipped with this sign, and suitably disposed, you may behold the infinite through the medium of that faculty which is like the soul’s eye, and you will be ministered unto by legions of angels and hosts of fiends.
And now, in the first place, let us establish certain principles.
There is no invisible world; there are, however, many degrees of perfection in organs. The body is the coarse and, as it were, the perishable cortex of the soul.
The soul can perceive of itself, and independently of the mediation of the physical organs, by means of its sensibility and its diaphane,1 the things, both spiritual and corporal, which are existent in the universe. Spiritual and corporal are simply terms which express the degrees of tenuity or density in substance.
What is called the imagination within us is only the soul’s inherent faculty of assimilating the images and reflections contained in the living light, which is the great magnetic agent. These images and reflections are revelations when science intervenes to reveal us their body or light. The man of genius differs from the dreamer and the fool in this only, that his creations are analogous to truth, while those of the fool and the dreamer are lost reflections and bewrayed images. Hence, for the wise man, to imagine is to see, as, for the magician, to speak is to create. Therefore, by means of the imagination, demons and spirits can be beheld really and in truth; but the imagination of the adept is diaphanous, whilst that of the crowd is opaque; the light of truth traverses the one as ordinary light passes through a transparent casement, and is refracted by the other as when the ordinary light falls upon a vitreous block full of scoria and foreign matter. That which most contributes to the errors of the vulgar is the reflection of depraved imaginations one in the other. But the seer, by a positive science, knows that what he imagines is true, and the event invariably confirms his vision. We shall state in the Ritual after2 what manner this lucidity can be acquired.
It is by means of this light that static visionaries place themselves in communication with all worlds, as so frequently occurred to Swedenborg, who, notwithstanding, was imperfectly lucid, seeing that he did not distinguish reflections from rays, and often intermingled chimerical fancies with his most admirable dreams. We say dreams, because dream is the consequence of a natural and periodical ecstasy, which we term sleep; to be in ecstasy is to sleep; magnetic somnambulism is a production and direction of sleep. The errors which occur therein are occasioned by reflections from the diaphane of waking persons, and, above all, of the magnetiser. Dream is vision produced by the refraction of a ray of truth. The chimerical fantasy is hallucination occasioned by a reflection. The temptation of St. Anthony, with its nightmares and its monsters, represents the confusion of reflections with direct rays. So long as the soul struggles it is reasonable; when it yields to this specie, of invading intoxication it becomes mad.
To disentangle the direct ray, and separate it from the reflection—such is the work of the initiate. Here let us state distinctly that this work is through all times accomplished in the world by some of the flower of mankind, that there is hence a permanent revelation by intuition, and that there is no insuperable barrier which separates souls, because there are no sudden interruptions, and no abrupt walls in nature by which minds can be divided from one another. All is transition and blending, and, assuming the perfectibility, if not infinite, at least indefinite, of human faculties, it will be seen that every person .can attain to see all, and therefore to know all. There is no void in nature; all is peopled. There is no true death in nature; all is alive. “Seest thou that star?” asked Napoleon of Cardinal Fesch. “No, Sire.” “I see it,” said the Emperor, and he most certainly did.
When great men are accused of having been superstitious, it is because they beheld what remains unseen by the crowd. Men of genius differ from simple seers by their faculty of sensibly communicating to other men what they themselves perceive, and of making themselves believed by the force of enthusiasm and sympathy. Such persons are the medium of the Divine Word.
Let us now state the manner in which visions operate.
All forms correspond to ideas, and there is no idea which has not its proper and peculiar form. The primordial light, which is the vehicle of all ideas, is the mother of all forms, and transmits them from emanation to emanation, merely diminished or modified according to the density of the media. Secondary forms are reflections which return to the font of the emanated light. The forms of objects, being a modification of light, remain in the light where the reflection consigns them. Hence the astral light, or terrestrial fluid, which we call the great magnetic agent, is saturated with all kinds of images or reflections.
Now, our soul can evoke these, and refer them to its diaphane, as the kabbalists term it. Such images are always present to us, and are only effaced by the more powerful impressions of reality during waking hours, or by preoccupation of the mind, which makes our imagination inattentive to the fluidic panorama of the astral light. When we sleep, this spectacle presents itself spontaneously before us, and in this way dreams are produced—dreams vague and incoherent if some governing will do not remain active during the sleep, giving, even unconsciously to our intelligence, a direction to the dream, which then transforms into vision.
Animal magnetism is nothing else but an artificial sleep produced by the voluntary or enforced union of two wills, one of which is awake while the other slumbers—that is, one of which directs the other in the choice of reflections for the transformation of dreams into visions, and the attainment of truth by means of images.
Thus, somnambulists do not actually travel to the place where they are sent by the magnetiser; they evoke its images in the astral light, and can behold nothing which does not exist in that light. The astral light has a direct action on the nerves, which are its conductors in the animal economy, transmitting it to the brain, whence also, in the state of somnambulism, it is possible to see by means of the nerves, without being dependent on radiant light, the astral fluid being a latent light, in the same way that physics recognise the existence of a latent caloric.
Magnetism between two persons is certainly a wonderful discovery, but the magnetising of a person by himself, accomplishing his own lucidity and directing himself at will, is the perfection of magical art.
The secret of this great work does not rest for discovery; it has been known and practised by a great number of initiates, above all by the celebrated Apollonius of Tyana, who has left a theory concerning it, as we shall see in the Ritual.2
The secret of magnetic lucidity, and the direction of the phenomena of magnetism depend on two things—the agreement of minds and the complete union of wills, in a direction which is possible and determined by science. This is for the operation of magnetism between two or more persons. Solitary magnetism requires preparations of which we have spoken in our initial chapter, when enumerating and establishing in all their difficulty the essential qualities of a veritable adept. In the following chapters we shall further elucidate this important and fundamental point.
The empire of the will over the astral light, which is the physical soul of the four elements, is represented in magic by the pentagram, which we have set at the head of this chapter.
The elementary spirits are subservient to this sign when employed with understanding, and, by placing it in the circle or on the table of evocations, they can be rendered tractable, which is magically called to imprison them.
Let us briefly explain this marvel. All created beings communicate with one another by signs, and all adhere to a certain number of truths expressed by determinate forms. The perfection of forms increases in proportion to the detachment of spirits, and those that are not overweighted by the chains of matter, recognise by intuition out of hand whether a sign is the expression of a real power or of a precipitate will. The intelligence of the wise man therefore gives value to his pantacle, as science gives weight to his will, and spirits comprehend this power immediately. Thus, by means of the pentagram, spirits can be forced to appear in vision, whether in the waking or sleeping state, by themselves leading before our diaphane their reflection, which exists in the astral light, if they have lived, or a reflection analogous to their spiritual logos if they have not lived on earth.
This explains all visions, and accounts for the dead invariably appearing to seers, either such as they were upon earth, or such as they are in the grave, never as they subsist in a condition which escapes the perceptions of our actual organism.
Pregnant women are influenced more than others by the astral light, which concurs in the formation of the child, and perpetually offers them reminiscences of the forms which abound therein. This explains how it is that women of the highest virtue deceive the malignity of observers by equivocal resemblances. On the fruit of their marriage they impress frequently an image which has struck them in dream, and it is thus that the same physiognomies are perpetuated from generation to generation.
The Kabbalistic usage of the pentagram can therefore determine the appearance of unborn children, and an initiated woman might endow her son with the characteristics of Nero or Achilles as much as with those of Louis XIV. or Napoleon. We shall indicate the method in our Ritual.
The pentagram is called in Kabbalah the sign of the microcosm, that sign so exalted by Goethe in the beautiful monologue of Faust: “Ah, how do all my senses leap at this sight! I feel the young and sacred pleasure of life bubbling in my nerves and veins. Was it a God who traced this sign which stills the vertigo of my soul, fills my poor heart with joy, and, in a mysterious rapture, unveils the forces of nature around me. Am I myself a God! All is so clear to me; I behold in these simple lines the revelation of active nature to my soul. I realise for the first time the truth of the wise man’s words: The world of spirits is not closed! Thy sense is obtuse, thy heart is dead! Arise! Bathe, adept of science, thy breast, still enveloped by an earthly veil, in the splendours of the dawning day!” (Faust, Part i. sc. 1).
On the 24th of July in the year 1854, the author of this book, Eliphas Levi, made experiments of evocation with the pentagram, after due preparation by all the ceremonies which are indicated in the thirteenth chapter of the Ritual.2
The success of this experiment, details of which, as regards its principles, will be found in the corresponding chapter of this our doctrinal part, establishes a new pathological fact, which men of true science will admit without difficulty. The repeated experience, in all three times, gave results truly extraordinary, but positive and unmixed with hallucination. We invite sceptics to make a conscientious and intelligent attempt before shrugging their shoulders and smiling.
The figure of the pentagram, perfected in accordance with science, and used by the author in his experiment, is that which is found at the head of this chapter, and it is
more perfect than any in the keys of Solomon, or in the magical calendars of Tycho Brahe and Duchentau. We must, however, remark that the use of the pentagram is most dangerous for operators who are not in possession of its complete and perfect understanding. The direction of the points of the star is in no sense arbitrary, and may change the entire character of the operation, as we shall explain in the Ritual.
Paracelsus, that innovator in magic, who surpassed all other initiates in his unaided practical success, affirms that every magical figure and every kabbalistic sign of the pantacles which compel spirits, may be reduced to two, which are the synthesis of all the others; these are the sign of the Macrocosm or the seal of Solomon, the form of which we have already given, and now reproduce here, and that of the Microcosm, more potent even than the first—that is to say, the pentagram, of which he provides a most minute description in his occult philosophy.
If it be asked how a sign can exercise so much power over spirits, we inquire in return why the whole Christian world bows down before the sign of the cross? The sign is nothing by itself, and has no force apart from the doctrine of which it is the summary and the logos.
Now, a sign which sums, by their expression, all the occult forces of nature, a sign which has ever exhibited to elementary spirits and others a power greater than their own, naturally fills them with respect and fear, and enforces their obedience by the empire of science and of will over ignorance and weakness.
By the pentagram also is measured the exact proportions of the great and unique athanor necessary to the confection of the philosophical stone and the accomplishment of the great work. The most perfect alembic in which the quintessence can be elaborated is conformable to this figure, and the quintessence itself is represented by the sign of the pentagram.