Here is the last interview of the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. I find him to be very honest in his statements, except for the fact that he says he is a happy man; because personally, he doesn’t look too happy to me.
For once, a book which really lives up to its title. Hall self-published this massive tome in 1928, consisting of about 200 legal-sized pages in 8 point type; it is literally his magnum opus. Each of the nearly 50 chapters is so dense with information that it is the equivalent of an entire short book. If you read this book in its entirety you will be in a good position to dive into subjects such as the Qabbala, Alchemy, Tarot, Ceremonial Magic, Neo-Platonic Philosophy, Mystery Religions, and the theory of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry. Although there are some questionable and controversial parts of the book, such as the outdated material on Islam, the portion on the Bacon-Shakespeare hypothesis, and Hall’s conspiracy theory of history as driven by an elite cabal of roving immortals, they are far out-weighed by the comprehensive information here on other subjects.
For many years this book was only available in a large format edition which was hard to obtain and very expensive. However, an affordable paperback version has finally been released.
PRODUCTION NOTES: I worked on this huge project episodically from 2001 to June 2004. This because of the poor OCR quality, which was due to the miniscule type and large blocks of italics; this necessitated retyping many parts of the text manually. To give an idea of how massive this project was, the proof file for this is 2 megabytes, about 8 times the size of a normal 200 page book. The raw graphics files are 63 megabytes, which I’ve processed down to about 11 megabytes. The thumbnails alone are 1 megabyte, which is about my graphics budget for a regular book.
While the book itself is not covered by copyright in the US due to lack of formal renewal, many of the large color illustrations that front each chapter in the paper edition did have registrations and renewals entered for them. So these are omitted from this etext. However, all of the black and white illustrations are included here. Note that many of the graphics had to be quite large because of the amount of detail, so I have thumbnailed every image in the book. In the book all of the illustration captions are in italics; I have reversed this in the etext for legibility.
Secret Teachings concealed within the Rituals, Allegories,
and Mysteries of all Ages
Manly P. Hall
PRINTED FOR MANLY P. HALL
BY H.S. CROCKER COMPANY, INCORPORATED
[1928, no renewal]
Scanned at sacred-texts.com, November, 2001. J. B. Hare, Redactor. This text is in the public domain because it was not renewed at the US Copyright Office in a timely fashion. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact.
Note: all page numbers in the original were given as Roman numerals; these have been converted to Arabic numerals in this e-text.
This Book is dedicated to the Rational Soul of the World
NUMEROUS volumes have been written as commentaries upon the secret systems of philosophy existing in the ancient world, but the ageless truths of life, like many of the earth’s greatest thinkers, have usually been clothed in shabby garments. The present work is an attempt to supply a tome worthy of those seers and sages whose thoughts are the substance of its pages. To bring about this coalescence of Beauty and Truth has proved most costly, but I believe that the result will produce an effect upon the mind of the reader which will more than justify the expenditure.
Work upon the text of this volume was begun the first day of January, 1926, and has continued almost uninterruptedly for over two years. The greater part of the research work, however, was carried on prior to the writing of the manuscript. The collection of reference material was begun in 1921, and three years later the plans for the book took definite form. For the sake of clarity, all footnotes were eliminated, the various quotations and references to other authors being embodied in the text in their logical order. The bibliography is appended primarily to assist those interested in selecting for future study the most authoritative and important items dealing with philosophy and symbolism. To make readily accessible the abstruse information contained in the book, an elaborate topical cross index is included.
I make no claim for either the infallibility or the originality of any statement herein contained. I have studied the fragmentary writings of the ancients sufficiently to realize that dogmatic utterances concerning their tenets are worse than foolhardy. Traditionalism is the curse of modern philosophy, particularly that of the European schools. While many of the statements contained in this treatise may appear at first wildly fantastic, I have sincerely endeavored to refrain from haphazard metaphysical speculation, presenting the material as far as possible in the spirit rather than the letter of the original authors. By assuming responsibility only for the mistakes which may’ appear herein, I hope to escape the accusation of plagiarism which has been directed against nearly every writer on the subject of mystical philosophy.
Having no particular ism of my own to promulgate, I have not attempted to twist the original writings to substantiate preconceived notions, nor have I distorted doctrines in any effort to reconcile the irreconcilable differences present in the various systems of religio-philosophic thought.
The entire theory of the book is diametrically opposed to the modern method of thinking, for it is concerned with subjects openly ridiculed by the sophists of the twentieth century. Its true purpose is to introduce the mind of the reader to a hypothesis of living wholly beyond the pale of materialistic theology, philosophy, or science. The mass of abstruse material between its covers is not susceptible to perfect organization, but so far as possible related topics have been grouped together.
Rich as the English language is in media of expression, it is curiously lacking in terms suitable to the conveyance of abstract philosophical premises. A certain intuitive grasp of the subtler meanings concealed within groups of inadequate words is necessary therefore to an understanding of the ancient Mystery Teachings.
Although the majority of the items in the bibliography are in my own library, I wish to acknowledge gratefully the assistance rendered by the Public Libraries of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the libraries of the Scottish Rite in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the libraries of the University of California in Berkeley and Los Angeles, the Mechanics’ Library in San Francisco, and the Krotona Theosophical Library at Ojai, California. Special recognition for their help is also due to the following persons: Mrs. Max Heindel, Mrs. Alice Palmer Henderson, Mr. Ernest Dawson and staff, Mr. John Howell, Mr. Paul Elder, Mr. Phillip Watson Hackett, and Mr. John R. Ruckstell. Single books were lent by other persons and organizations, to whom thanks are also given.
The matter of translation was the greatest single task in the research work incident to the preparation of this volume. The necessary
German translations, which required nearly three years, were generously undertaken by Mr. Alfred Beri, who declined all remuneration for his labor. The Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish translations were made by Prof. Homer P. Earle. The Hebrew text was edited by Rabbi Jacob M. Alkow. Miscellaneous short translations and checking also were done by various individuals.
THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES WHICH HAVE INFLUENCED MODERN MASONIC SYMBOLISM Ancient systems of education–Celsus concerning the Christians–Knowledge necessary to right living–The Druidic Mysteries of Britain and Gaul–The Rites of Mithras–The Mithraic and Christian Mysteries contrasted.
THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES, PART II The Gnostic Mysteries–Simon Magus and Basilides–Abraxas, the Gnostic concept of Deity–The Mysteries of Serapis–Labyrinth symbolism–The Odinic, or Gothic, Mysteries.
ATLANTIS AND THE GODS OF ANTIQUITY Plato’s Atlantis in the light of modern science-The Myth of the Dying God-The Rite of Tammuz and Ishtar–The Mysteries of Atys and Adonis-The Rites of Sabazius–The Cabiric Mysteries of Samothrace.
THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF THOTH HERMES TRISMEGISTUS Suppositions concerning identity of Hermes–The mutilated Hermetic fragments–The Book of Thoth–Poimandres, the Vision of Hermes–The Mystery of Universal Mind–The Seven Governors of the World.
THE INITIATION OF THE PYRAMID The opening of the Great Pyramid by Caliph at Mamoun–The passageways and chambers of the Great Pyramid–The riddle of the Sphinx–The Pyramid Mysteries–The secret of the Pyramid coffer-The dwelling place of the Hidden God.
THE ZODIAC AND ITS SIGNS Primitive astronomical instruments–The equinoxes and solstices–The astrological ages of the world–The circular zodiac of Tentyra–An interpretation of the zodiacal signs–The horoscope of the world.
THE BEMBINE TABLE OF ISIS Plato’s initiation in the Great Pyramid–The history of the Bembine Table–Platonic theory of ideas–The interplay of the three philosophical zodiacs–The Chaldean philosophy of triads–The Orphic Egg.
THE LIFE AND PHILOSOPHY OF PYTHAGORAS Pythagoras and the School of Crotona–Pythagoric fundamentals–The symmetrical solids–The symbolic aphorisms of Pythagoras–Pythagorean astronomy–Kepler’s theory of the universe.
PYTHAGOREAN MATHEMATICS The theory of numbers–The numerical values of letters–Method of securing the numerical Power of words–An introduction to the Pythagorean theory of numbers–The sieve of Eratosthenes–The meanings of the ten numbers.
THE HIRAMIC LEGEND The building of Solomon’s Temple–The murder of CHiram Abiff–The martyrdom of Jacques de Molay–The spirit fire and the pineal gland–The wanderings of the astronomical CHiram–Cleopatra’s Needle and Masons’ marks.
THE PYTHAGOREAN THEORY OF MUSIC AND COLOR Pythagoras and the diatonic scale–Therapeutic music–The music of the spheres–The use of color in symbolism–The colors of the spectrum and the musical scale–Zodiacal and planetary colors.
FISHES, INSECTS, ANIMALS, REPTILES, AND BIRDS, PART II The dove, the yonic emblem–The self-renewing phœnix–The Great Seal of the United States of America–Bast, the cat goddess of the Ptolemies–Apis, the sacred bull–The monoceros, or unicorn.
HERMETIC PHARMACOLOGY, CHEMISTRY, AND THERAPEUTICS The healing methods of Paracelsus–Palingenesis–Hermetic theories concerning the cause of disease–Medicinal properties of herbs–The use of drugs in the Mysteries–The sect of the Assassins.
THE QABBALAH, THE SECRET DOCTRINE OF ISRAEL The written and unwritten laws–The origin of the Qabbalistic writings–Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai–The great Qabbalistic books–The divisions of the Qabbalistic system–The Sepher Yetzirah.
FUNDAMENTALS OF QABBALISTIC COSMOGONY AIN SOPH and the Cosmic Egg–The Qabbalistic system of worlds–The Qabbalistic interpretation of Ezekiel’s vision–The great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream–The Grand Man of the universe–The fifty gates of life.
THE TREE OF THE SEPHIROTH The thirty-two paths of wisdom–The Greater and the Lesser Face–Kircher’s Sephirothic Tree–The mystery of Daath–The three pillars supporting the Sephirothic Tree–The four letters of the Sacred Name.
QABBALISTIC KEYS TO THE CREATION OF MAN Gematria, Notarikon, and Temurah–The Elohim–The four Adams–Arabian traditions concerning Adam–Adam as the archetype of mankind–The early Christian Church on the subject of marriage.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE TAROT CARDS The origin of playing cards–The rota mundi of the Rosicrucians–The problem of Tarot symbolism–The unnumbered card–The symbolism of the twenty-one major trumps–The suit cards.
THE FRATERNITY OF THE ROSE CROSS The life of Father C.R.C.–Johann Valentin Andreæ–The alchemical teachings of the Rosicrucians–Significance of the Rose Cross–The Rosicrucian Temple–The adepts of the Rose Cross.
ROSICRUCIAN DOCTRINES AND TENETS The Confessio Fraternitatis—The Anatomy of Melancholy–John Heydon on Rosicrucianism–The three mountains of the wise–The philosophical egg–The objects of the Rosicrucian Order.
FIFTEEN ROSICRUCIAN AND QABBALISTIC DIAGRAMS Schamayim, the Ocean of Spirit–The Seven Days of Creation–The symbolic tomb of Christian Rosencreutz–The regions of the elements–The New Jerusalem–The grand secret of Nature.
THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF ALCHEMY, PART II The alchemical prayer–The Emerald Tablet of Hermes–A letter from the Brothers of R.C.–The magical Mountain of the Moon–An alchemical formula–The dew of the sages.
FREEMASONIC SYMBOLISM The pillars raised by the sons of Seth–Enoch and the Royal Arches–The Dionysiac Architects–The Roman Collegia–Solomon, the personification of Universal Wisdom–Freemasonry’s priceless heritage.
THE CROSS AND THE CRUCIFIXION The Aurea Legenda–The lost libraries of Alexandria–The cross in pagan symbolism–The crucifixion, a cosmic allegory–The crucifixion of Quetzalcoatl–The nails of the Passion.
THE MYSTERIES AND THEIR EMISSARIES The Golden Chain of Homer–Hypatia, the Alexandrian Neo-Platonist–The “divine” Cagliostro–The Comte de St.-Germain–The designing of the American flag–The Declaration of Independence.
PHILOSOPHY is the science of estimating values. The superiority of any state or substance over another is determined by philosophy. By assigning a position of primary importance to what remains when all that is secondary has been removed, philosophy thus becomes the true index of priority or emphasis in the realm of speculative thought. The mission of philosophy a priori is to establish the relation of manifested things to their invisible ultimate cause or nature.
“Philosophy,” writes Sir William Hamilton, “has been defined [as]: The science of things divine and human, and of the causes in which they are contained [Cicero]; The science of effects by their causes [Hobbes]; The science of sufficient reasons [Leibnitz]; The science of things possible, inasmuch as they are possible [Wolf]; The science of things evidently deduced from first principles [Descartes]; The science of truths, sensible and abstract [de Condillac]; The application of reason to its legitimate objects [Tennemann]; The science of the relations of all knowledge to the necessary ends of human reason [Kant];The science of the original form of the ego or mental self [Krug]; The science of sciences [Fichte]; The science of the absolute [von Schelling]; The science of the absolute indifference of the ideal and real [von Schelling]–or, The identity of identity and non-identity [Hegel].” (See Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic.)
The six headings under which the disciplines of philosophy are commonly classified are: metaphysics, which deals with such abstract subjects as cosmology, theology, and the nature of being; logic, which deals with the laws governing rational thinking, or, as it has been called, “the doctrine of fallacies”; ethics, which is the science of morality, individual responsibility, and character–concerned chiefly with an effort to determine the nature of good; psychology, which is devoted to investigation and classification of those forms of phenomena referable to a mental origin; epistemology, which is the science concerned primarily with the nature of knowledge itself and the question of whether it may exist in an absolute form; and æsthetics, which is the science of the nature of and the reactions awakened by the beautiful, the harmonious, the elegant, and the noble.
Plato regarded philosophy as the greatest good ever imparted by Divinity to man. In the twentieth century, however, it has become a ponderous and complicated structure of arbitrary and irreconcilable notions–yet each substantiated by almost incontestible logic. The lofty theorems of the old Academy which Iamblichus likened to the nectar and ambrosia of the gods have been so adulterated by opinion–which Heraclitus declared to be a falling sickness of the mind–that the heavenly mead would now be quite unrecognizable to this great Neo-Platonist. Convincing evidence of the increasing superficiality of modern scientific and philosophic thought is its persistent drift towards materialism. When the great astronomer Laplace was asked by Napoleon why he had not mentioned God in his Traité de la Mécanique Céleste, the mathematician naively replied: “Sire, I had no need for that hypothesis!”
In his treatise on Atheism, Sir Francis Bacon tersely summarizes the situation thus: “A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” The Metaphysics of Aristotle opens with these words: “All men naturally desire to know.” To satisfy this common urge the unfolding human intellect has explored the extremities of imaginable space without and the extremities of imaginable self within, seeking to estimate the relationship between the one and the all; the effect and the cause; Nature and the groundwork of Nature; the mind and the source of the mind; the spirit and the substance of the spirit; the illusion and the reality.
An ancient philosopher once said: “He who has not even a knowledge of common things is a brute among men. He who has an accurate knowledge of human concerns alone is a man among brutes. But he who knows all that can be known by intellectual energy, is a God among men.” Man’s status in the natural world is determined, therefore, by the quality of his thinking. He whose mind is enslaved to his bestial instincts is philosophically not superior to the brute-, he whose rational faculties ponder human affairs is a man; and he whose intellect is elevated to the consideration of divine realities is already a demigod, for his being partakes of the luminosity with which his reason has brought him into proximity. In his encomium of “the science of sciences” Cicero is led to exclaim: “O philosophy, life’s guide! O searcher–out of virtue and expeller of vices! What could we and every age of men have been without thee? Thou hast produced cities; thou hast called men scattered about into the social enjoyment of life.”
WHEN confronted with a problem involving the use of the reasoning faculties, individuals of strong intellect keep their poise, and seek to reach a solution by obtaining facts bearing upon the question. Those of immature mentality, on the other hand, when similarly confronted, are overwhelmed. While the former may be qualified to solve the riddle of their own destiny, the latter must be led like a flock of sheep and taught in simple language. They depend almost entirely upon the ministrations of the shepherd. The Apostle Paul said that these little ones must be fed with milk, but that meat is the food of strong men. Thoughtlessness is almost synonymous with childishness, while thoughtfulness is symbolic of maturity.
There are, however, but few mature minds in the world; and thus it was that the philosophic-religious doctrines of the pagans were divided to meet the needs of these two fundamental groups of human intellect–one philosophic, the other incapable of appreciating the deeper mysteries of life. To the discerning few were revealed the esoteric, or spiritual, teachings, while the unqualified many received only the literal, or exoteric, interpretations. In order to make simple the great truths of Nature and the abstract principles of natural law, the vital forces of the universe were personified, becoming the gods and goddesses of the ancient mythologies. While the ignorant multitudes brought their offerings to the altars of Priapus and Pan (deities representing the procreative energies), the wise recognized in these marble statues only symbolic concretions of great abstract truths.
In all cities of the ancient world were temples for public worship and offering. In every community also were philosophers and mystics, deeply versed in Nature’s lore. These individuals were usually banded together, forming seclusive philosophic and religious schools. The more important of these groups were known as the Mysteries. Many of the great minds of antiquity were initiated into these secret fraternities by strange and mysterious rites, some of which were extremely cruel. Alexander Wilder defines the Mysteries as “Sacred dramas performed at stated periods. The most celebrated were those of Isis, Sabazius, Cybele, and Eleusis.” After being admitted, the initiates were instructed in the secret wisdom which had been preserved for ages. Plato, an initiate of one of these sacred orders, was severely criticized because in his writings he revealed to the public many of the secret philosophic principles of the Mysteries.
Every pagan nation had (and has) not only its state religion, but another into which the philosophic elect alone have gained entrance. Many of these ancient cults vanished from the earth without revealing their secrets, but a few have survived the test of ages and their mysterious symbols are still preserved. Much of the ritualism of Freemasonry is based on the trials to which candidates were subjected by the ancient hierophants before the keys of wisdom were entrusted to them.
Few realize the extent to which the ancient secret schools influenced contemporary intellects and, through those minds, posterity. Robert Macoy, 33°, in his General History of Freemasonry, pays a magnificent tribute to the part played by the ancient Mysteries in the rearing of the edifice of human culture. He says, in part: “It appears that all the perfection of civilization, and all the advancement made in philosophy, science, and art among the ancients are due to those institutions which, under the veil of mystery, sought to illustrate the sublimest truths of religion, morality, and virtue, and impress them on the hearts of their disciples.* * * Their chief object was to teach the doctrine of one God, the resurrection of man to eternal life, the dignity of the human soul, and to lead the people to see the shadow of the deity, in the beauty, magnificence, and splendor of the universe.”
With the decline of virtue, which has preceded the destruction of every nation of history, the Mysteries became perverted. Sorcery took the place of the divine magic. Indescribable practices (such as the Bacchanalia) were introduced, and perversion ruled supreme; for no institution can be any better than the members of which it is composed. In despair, the few who were true sought to preserve the secret doctrines from oblivion. In some cases they succeeded, but more often the arcanum was lost and only the empty shell of the Mysteries remained.
THE entire history of Christian and pagan Gnosticism is shrouded in the deepest mystery and obscurity; for, while the Gnostics were undoubtedly prolific writers, little of their literature has survived. They brought down upon themselves the animosity of the early Christian Church, and when this institution reached its position of world power it destroyed all available records of the Gnostic cultus. The name Gnostic means wisdom, or knowledge, and is derived from the Greek Gnosis. The members of the order claimed to be familiar with the secret doctrines of early Christianity. They interpreted the Christian Mysteries according to pagan symbolism. Their secret information and philosophic tenets they concealed from the profane and taught to a small group only of especially initiated persons.
Simon Magus, the magician of New Testament fame, is often supposed to have been the founder of Gnosticism. If this be true, the sect was formed during the century after Christ and is probably the first of the many branches which have sprung from the main trunk of Christianity. Everything with which the enthusiasts of the early Christian Church might not agree they declared to be inspired by the Devil. That Simon Magus had mysterious and supernatural powers is conceded even by his enemies, but they maintained that these powers were lent to him by the infernal spirits and furies which they asserted were his ever present companions. Undoubtedly the most interesting legend concerning Simon is that which tells of his theosophic contests with the Apostle Peter while the two were promulgating their differing doctrines in Rome. According to the story that the Church Fathers have preserved, Simon was to prove his spiritual superiority by ascending to heaven in a chariot of fire. He was actually picked up and carried many feet into the air by invisible powers. When St. Peter saw this, he cried out in a loud voice, ordering the demons (spirits of the air) to release their hold upon the magician. The evil spirits, when so ordered by the great saint, were forced to obey. Simon fell a great distance and was killed, which decisively proved the superiority of the Christian powers. This story is undoubtedly manufactured out of whole cloth, as it is only one out of many accounts concerning his death, few of which agree. As more and more evidence is being amassed to the effect that St, Peter was never in Rome, its last possible vestige of authenticity is rapidly being dissipated.
That Simon was a philosopher there is no doubt, for wherever his exact words are preserved his synthetic and transcending thoughts are beautifully expressed. The principles of Gnosticism are well described in the following verbatim statement by him, supposed to have been preserved by Hippolytus: “To you, therefore, I say what I say, and write what I write. And the writing is this. Of the universal Æons [periods, planes, or cycles of creative and created life in substance and space, celestial creatures] there are two shoots, without beginning or end, springing from one Root, which is the power invisible, inapprehensible silence [Bythos]. Of these shoots one is manifested from above, which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind ordering all things, male, and the other, [is manifested] from below, the Great Thought, female, producing all things. Hence pairing with each other, they unite and manifest the Middle Distance, incomprehensible Air, without beginning or end. In this is the Father Who sustains all things, and nourishes those things which have a beginning and end.” (See Simon Magus, by G. R. S. Mead.) By this we are to understand that manifestation is the result of a positive and a negative principle, one acting upon the other, and it takes place in the middle plane, or point of equilibrium, called the pleroma. This pleroma is a peculiar substance produced out of the blending of the spiritual and material æons. Out of the pleroma was individualized the Demiurgus, the immortal mortal, to whom we are responsible for our physical existence and the suffering we must go through in connection with it. In the Gnostic system, three pairs of opposites, called Syzygies, emanated from the Eternal One. These, with Himself, make the total of seven. The six (three pairs) Æons (living, divine principles) were described by Simon in the Philosophumena in the following manner: The first two were Mind (Nous) and Thought (Epinoia). Then came Voice (Phone) and its opposite, Name (Onoma), and lastly, Reason (Logismos) and Reflection (Enthumesis). From these primordial six, united with the Eternal Flame, came forth the Æons (Angels) who formed the lower worlds through the direction of the Demiurgus. (See the works of H. P. Blavatsky.) How this first Gnosticism of Simon Magus and Menander, his disciple, was amplified, and frequently distorted, by later adherents to the cult must now be considered.
THE most famous of the ancient religious Mysteries were the Eleusinian, whose rites were celebrated every five years in the city of Eleusis to honor Ceres (Demeter, Rhea, or Isis) and her daughter, Persephone. The initiates of the Eleusinian School were famous throughout Greece for the beauty of their philosophic concepts and the high standards of morality which they demonstrated in their daily lives. Because of their excellence, these Mysteries spread to Rome and Britain, and later the initiations were given in both these countries. The Eleusinian Mysteries, named for the community in Attica where the sacred dramas were first presented, are generally believed to have been founded by Eumolpos about fourteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, and through the Platonic system of philosophy their principles have been preserved to modern times.
The rites of Eleusis, with their Mystic interpretations of Nature’s most precious secrets, overshadowed the civilizations of their time and gradually absorbed many smaller schools, incorporating into their own system whatever valuable information these lesser institutions possessed. Heckethorn sees in the Mysteries of Ceres and Bacchus a metamorphosis of the rites of Isis and Osiris, and there is every reason to believe that all so-called secret schools of the ancient world were branches from one philosophic tree which, with its root in heaven and its branches on the earth, is–like the spirit of man–an invisible but ever-present cause of the objectified vehicles that give it expression. The Mysteries were the channels through which this one philosophic light was disseminated, and their initiates, resplendent with intellectual and spiritual understanding, were the perfect fruitage of the divine tree, bearing witness before the material world of the recondite source of all Light and Truth.
The rites of Eleusis were divided into what were called the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries. According to James Gardner, the Lesser Mysteries were celebrated in the spring (probably at the time of the vernal equinox) in the town of Agræ, and the Greater, in the fall (the time of the autumnal equinox) at Eleusis or Athens. It is supposed that the former were given annually and the latter every five years. The rituals of the Eleusinians were highly involved, and to understand them required a deep study of Greek mythology, which they interpreted in its esoteric light with the aid of their secret keys.
The Lesser Mysteries were dedicated to Persephone. In his Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, Thomas Taylor sums up their purpose as follows: “The Lesser Mysteries were designed by the ancient theologists, their founders, to signify occultly the condition of the unpurified soul invested with an earthy body, and enveloped in a material and physical nature.”
The legend used in the Lesser rites is that of the abduction of the goddess Persephone, the daughter of Ceres, by Pluto, the lord of the underworld, or Hades. While Persephone is picking flowers in a beautiful meadow, the earth suddenly opens and the gloomy lord of death, riding in a magnificent chariot, emerges from its somber depths and, grasping her in his arms, carries the screaming and struggling goddess to his subterranean palace, where he forces her to become his queen.
It is doubtful whether many of the initiates themselves understood the mystic meaning of this allegory, for most of them apparently believed that it referred solely to the succession of the seasons. It is difficult to obtain satisfactory information concerning the Mysteries, for the candidates were bound by inviolable oaths never to reveal their inner secrets to the profane. At the beginning of the ceremony of initiation, the candidate stood upon the skins of animals sacrificed for the purpose, and vowed that death should seal his lips before he would divulge the sacred truths which were about to be communicated to him. Through indirect channels, however, some of their secrets have been preserved. The teachings given to the neophytes were substantially as follows:
The soul of man–often called Psyche, and in the Eleusinian Mysteries symbolized by Persephone–is essentially a spiritual thing. Its true home is in the higher worlds, where, free from the bondage of material form and material concepts, it is said to be truly alive and self-expressive. The human, or physical, nature of man, according to this doctrine, is a tomb, a quagmire, a false and impermanent thing, the source of all sorrow and suffering. Plato describes the body as the sepulcher of the soul; and by this he means not only the human form but also the human nature.
ATLANTIS is the subject of a short but important article appearing in the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of The Smithsonian Institution for the year ending June 30th, 1915. The author, M. Pierre Termier, a member of the Academy of Sciences and Director of Service of the Geologic Chart of France, in 1912 delivered a lecture on the Atlantean hypothesis before the Institut Océanographique; it is the translated notes of this remarkable lecture that are published in the Smithsonian report.
“After a long period of disdainful indifference,” writes M. Termier, “observe how in the last few years science is returning to the study of Atlantis. How many naturalists, geologists, zoologists, or botanists are asking one another today whether Plato has not transmitted to us, with slight amplification, a page from the actual history of mankind. No affirmation is yet permissible; but it seems more and more evident that a vast region, continental or made up of great islands, has collapsed west of the Pillars of Hercules, otherwise called the Strait of Gibraltar, and that its collapse occurred in the not far distant past. In any event, the question of Atlantis is placed anew before men of science; and since I do not believe that it can ever be solved without the aid of oceanography, I have thought it natural to discuss it here, in this temple of maritime science, and to call to such a problem, long scorned but now being revived, the attention of oceanographers, as well as the attention of those who, though immersed in the tumult of cities, lend an ear to the distant murmur of the sea.”
In his lecture M. Termier presents geologic, geographic, and zoologic data in substantiation of the Atlantis theory. Figuratively draining the entire bed of the Atlantic Ocean, he considers the inequalities of its basin and cites locations on a line from the Azores to Iceland where dredging has brought lava to the surface from a depth of 3,000 meters. The volcanic nature of the islands now existing in the Atlantic Ocean corroborates Plato’s statement that the Atlantean continent was destroyed by volcanic cataclysms. M. Termier also advances the conclusions of a young French zoologist, M. Louis Germain, who admitted the existence of an Atlantic continent connected with the Iberian Peninsula and with Mauritania and prolonged toward the south so as to include some regions of desert climate. M. Termier concludes his lecture with a graphic picture of the engulfment of that continent.
The description of the Atlantean civilization given by Plato in the Critias may be summarized as follows. In the first ages the gods divided the earth among themselves, proportioning it according to their respective dignities. Each became the peculiar deity of his own allotment and established therein temples to himself, ordained a priestcraft, and instituted a system of sacrifice. To Poseidon was given the sea and the island continent of Atlantis. In the midst of the island was a mountain which was the dwelling place of three earth-born primitive human beings–Evenor; his wife, Leucipe; and their only daughter, Cleito. The maiden was very beautiful, and after the sudden death of her parents she was wooed by Poseidon, who begat by her five pairs of male children. Poseidon apportioned his continent among these ten, and Atlas, the eldest, he made overlord of the other nine. Poseidon further called the country Atlantis and the surrounding sea the Atlantic in honor of Atlas. Before the birth of his ten sons, Poseidon divided the continent and the coastwise sea into concentric zones of land and water, which were as perfect as though turned upon a lathe. Two zones of land and three of water surrounded the central island, which Poseidon caused to be irrigated with two springs of water–one warm and the other cold.
The descendants of Atlas continued as rulers of Atlantis, and with wise government and industry elevated the country to a position of surpassing dignity. The natural resources of Atlantis were apparently limitless. Precious metals were mined, wild animals domesticated, and perfumes distilled from its fragrant flowers. While enjoying the abundance natural to their semitropic location, the Atlanteans employed themselves also in the erection of palaces, temples, and docks. They bridged the zones of sea and later dug a deep canal to connect the outer ocean with the central island, where stood the palaces And temple of Poseidon, which excelled all other structures in magnificence. A network of bridges and canals was created by the Atlanteans to unite the various parts of their kingdom.