There are, it has been estimated, in England and on the Continent, in all about 140 manuscripts of the “Ecclesiastical History.” Of these, four date from the eighth century: the Moore MS. (Cambridge), so called, because, after being sold by auction in the reign of William III, it came into the possession of Bishop Moore, who bequeathed it to the University of Cambridge; Cotton, Tiberius A, xiv; Cotton, Tiberius C, ii; and the Namur MS. A detailed account of these, as well as of a great number of other manuscripts, will be found in Mr. Plummer’s Introduction to his edition of Bede’s Historical Works. He has been the first to collate the four oldest MSS., besides examining numerous others and collating them in certain passages. He has pointed out that two of the MSS. dating from the eighth century (the century in which Bede died), the Moore MS. and Cotton, Tiberius A, xiv, point to a common original which cannot be far removed from Bede’s autograph. We are thus brought very near to our author, and may have more than in most cases the assurance that we have before us what he actually meant to say.
The earliest editions were printed on the Continent; the “editio princeps” is believed to date from 1475. A number of editions followed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; the first in England was published by Abraham Whelock at Cambridge in 1643-4. Smith’s edition in 1722 marked a new era in the history of the book. It was the first critical edition, the text being based on the Moore MS. collated with three others, of which two were eighth century MSS.; and succeeding editors, Stevenson (1841), Giles (1842), Hussey (1846), the editor in the “Monumenta Historica Britannica” (1848), Moberly (1869), Holder (1882), base their work mainly on Smith’s. Mr. Mayor and Mr. Lumby together edited Books III and IV with excellent notes in 1878. Their text “reproduces exactly the Moore MS.” which they collated with some other Cambridge MSS. (cf. Mayor and Lumby, Excursus II). In 1896 the Rev. C. Plummer published his edition of Bede’s Historical Works, the first critical edition since Smith’s, and “the very first which exhibits in an apparatus criticus the various readings of the MSS. on which the text is based.” For the student of Bede this admirable book is of the highest value, and the labours of all succeeding editors are made comparatively light. Besides the most minute and accurate work on the text, it contains a copious and interesting commentary and the fullest references to the various sources upon which the editor has drawn.
The first translation of the “Ecclesiastical History” is the Anglo-Saxon version, executed either by Alfred himself or under his immediate supervision. Of this version Dr. Hodgkin says: “As this book had become a kind of classic among churchmen, Alfred allowed himself here less liberty than in some of his other translations. Some letters, epitaphs, and similar documents are omitted, and there is an almost complete erasure of the chapters relating to the wearisome Paschal controversy. In other respects the king’s translation seems to be a fairly accurate reproduction of the original work.” Mr. Plummer, however, finds it “very rarely available for the settlement of minute differences of reading.”
The first modern English translation is Thomas Stapleton’s (1565), published at Antwerp. It is a controversial work, intended to point out to Queen Elizabeth “in how many and weighty pointes the pretended refourmers of the Church . . . have departed from the patern of that sounde and Catholike faith planted first among Englishmen by holy S. Augustine, our Apostle, and his vertuous company, described truly and sincerely by Venerable Bede, so called in all Christendom for his passing vertues and rare lerning, the Author of this History.” To save Elizabeth’s time “in espying out the particulars,” the translator has “gathered out of the whole History a number of diversities between the pretended religion of Protestants and the primitive faith of the English Church.” If charm and appropriateness of style were the only qualities to be aimed at in a translation, we might well content ourselves with this rendering, which fills with despair the translator of to-day, debarred by his date from writing Elizabethan English.
WERE it possible, we would keep this work out of the hands of many Christians whom its perusal would not benefit, and for whom it was not written. We allude to those whose faith in their respective churches is pure and sincere, and those whose sinless lives reflect the glorious example of that Prophet of Nazareth, by whose mouth the spirit of truth spake loudly to humanity. Such there have been at all times. History preserves the names of many as heroes, philosophers, philanthropists, martyrs, and holy men and women; but how many more have lived and died, unknown but to their intimate acquaintance, unblessed but by their humble beneficiaries! These have ennobled Christianity, but would have shed the same lustre upon any other faith they might have professed — for they were higher than their creed. The benevolence of Peter Cooper and Elizabeth Thompson, of America, who are not orthodox Christians, is no less Christ-like than that of the Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts, of England, who is one. And yet, in comparison with the millions who have been accounted Christians, such have always formed a small minority. They are to be found at this day, in pulpit and pew, in palace and cottage; but the increasing materialism, worldliness and hypocrisy are fast diminishing their proportionate number. Their charity, and simple, child-like faith in the infallibility of their Bible, their dogmas, and their clergy, bring into full activity all the virtues
that are implanted in our common nature. We have personally known such God-fearing priests and clergymen, and we have always avoided debate with them, lest we might be guilty of the cruelty of hurting their feelings; nor would we rob a single layman of his blind confidence, if it alone made possible for him holy living and serene dying.
An analysis of religious beliefs in general, this volume is in particular directed against theological Christianity, the chief opponent of free thought. It contains not one word against the pure teachings of Jesus, but unsparingly denounces their debasement into pernicious ecclesiastical systems that are ruinous to man’s faith in his immortality and his God, and subversive of all moral restraint.
We cast our gauntlet at the dogmatic theologians who would enslave both history and science; and especially at the Vatican, whose despotic pretensions have become hateful to the greater portion of enlightened Christendom. The clergy apart, none but the logician, the investigator, the dauntless explorer should meddle with books like this. Such delvers after truth have the courage of their opinions.
“Yea, the time cometh, that whomsoever killeth you, will think that he doeth God service.” — Gospel according to John, xvi. 2.
“Let him be ANATHEMA . . . who shall say that human Sciences ought to be pursued in such a spirit of freedom that one may be allowed to hold as true their assertions even when opposed to revealed doctrines.” — Ecumenical Council of 1870.
“GLOUC. — The Church! Where is it?” — King Henry VI., Act i., Sc. 1. IN the United States of America, sixty thousand (60,428) men are paid salaries to teach the Science of God and His relations to His creatures.
These men contract to impart to us the knowledge which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of our Creator; His laws and government; the doctrines we are to believe and the duties we are to practice. Five thousand (5,141) of them, with the prospect of 1273 theological students to help them in time, teach this science according to a formula prescribed by the Bishop of Rome, to five million people. Fifty-five thousand (55,287) local and travelling ministers, representing fifteen different denominations, each contradicting the other upon more or less vital theololical questions, instruct, in their respective doctrines, thirty-three million (33,500,000) other persons. Many of these teach according to the canons of the cis-Atlantic branch of an establishment which acknowledges a daughter of the late Duke of Kent as its spiritual
head. There are many hundred thousand Jews; some thousands of Orientals of all kinds; and a very few who belong to the Greek Church. A man at Salt Lake City, with nineteen wives and more than one hundred children and grandchildren, is the supreme spiritual ruler over ninety thousand people, who believe that he is in frequent intercourse with the gods — for the Mormons are Polytheists as well as Polygamists, and their chief god is represented as living in a planet they call Colob.
The God of the Unitarians is a bachelor; the Deity of the Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, and the other orthodox Protestant sects a spouseless Father with one Son, who is identical with Himself. In the attempt to outvie each other in the erection of their sixty-two thousand and odd churches, prayer-houses, and meeting-halls, in which to teach these conflicting theological doctrines, $354,485,581 have been spent. The value of the Protestant parsonages alone, in which are sheltered the disputants and their families, is roughly calculated to approximate $54,115,297. Sixteen million (16,179,387) dollars, are, moreover, contributed every year for current expenses of the Protestant denominations only. One Presbyterian church in New York cost a round million; a Catholic altar alone, one-fourth as much!
We will not mention the multitude of smaller sects, communities, and extravagantly original little heresies in this country which spring up one year to die out the next, like so many spores of fungi after a rainy day. We will not even stop to consider the alleged millions of Spiritualists; for the majority lack the courage to break away from their respective religious denominations. These are the back-door Nicodemuses.
And now, with Pilate, let us inquire, What is truth? Where is it to be searched for amid this multitude of warring sects? Each claims to be based upon divine revelation, and each to have the keys of the celestial gates. Is either in possession of this rare truth? Or, must we exclaim with the Buddhist philosopher, “There is but one truth on earth, and it is unchangeable: and this is — that there is no truth on it!”
Though we have no disposition whatever to trench upon the ground that has been so exhaustively gleaned by those learned scholars who have shown that every Christian dogma has its origin in a heathen rite, still the facts which they have exhumed, since the enfranchisement of science, will lose nothing by repetition. Besides, we propose to examine these facts from a different and perhaps rather novel point of view: that of the old philosophies as esoterically understood. These we have barely glanced at in our first volume. We will use them as the standard by which to compare Christian dogmas and miracles with the doctrines and phenomena of ancient magic, and the modern “New Dispensation,” as Spiritualism is called by its votaries. Since the materialists deny the phenom-
To be redeemed with masses and a song.” — OLDHAM: Satires upon the Jesuits.
“York. — But you are more inhuman, more inexorable –
O, ten times more — than tigers of Hyrcania.” — King Henry VI., Part Third, Act i.,
“War. — And hark ye, Sirs; because she is a maid
Spare for no faggots, let there be enough;
Place barrels of pitch upon the fatal stake.” — King Henry VI., Part First, Act v., Scene iv.
IN that famous work of Bodin, on sorcery, a frightful story is told about Catherine of Medicis. The author was a learned publicist, who, during twenty years of his life, collected authentic documents from the archives of nearly every important city of France, to make up a complete work on sorcery, magic, and the power of various “demons.” To use an expression of Eliphas Levi, his book offers a most remarkable collection of “bloody and hideous facts; acts of revolting superstition, arrests, and executions of stupid ferocity.” “Burn every body!” the Inquisition seemed to say — God will easily sort out His own! Poor fools, hysterical women, and idiots were roasted alive, without mercy, for the crime of “magic.” But, “at the same time, how many great culprits escaped this unjust and sanguinary justice! This is what Bodin makes us fully appreciate.”
Catherine, the pious Christian — who has so well deserved in the eyes of the Church of Christ for the atrocious and never-to-be-forgotten massacre of St. Bartholomew — the Queen Catherine, kept in her service an apostate Jacobin priest. Well versed in the “black art,” so fully patronized by the Medici family, he had won the gratitude and protection of his pious mistress, by his unparalleled skill in killing people at a distance, by torturing with various incantations their wax simulacra. The process has been described over and over again, and we scarcely need repeat it.
Charles was lying sick of an incurable disease. The queen-mother, had everything to lose in case of his death, resorted to necromancy, consulted the oracle of the “bleeding head.” This infernal operation required the decapitation of a child who must be possessed of great beauty and purity. He had been prepared in secret for his first communion, by the chaplain of the palace, who was apprised of the plot, and at midnight of the appointed day, in the chamber of the sick man, and in presence only of Catherine and a few of her confederates, the “devil’s mass” was celebrated. Let us give the rest of the story as we find it in one of Levi’s works: “At this mass, celebrated before the image of the demon, having under his feet a reversed cross, the sorcerer consecrated two wafers, one black and one white. The white was given to the child, whom they brought clothed as for baptism, and who was murdered upon the very steps of the altar, immediately after his communion. His head, separated from the trunk by a single blow, was placed, all palpitating, upon the great black wafer which covered the bottom of the paten, then placed upon a table where some mysterious lamps were burning. The exorcism then began, and the demon was charged to pronounce an oracle, and reply by the mouth of this head to a secret question that the king dared not speak aloud, and that had been confided to no one. Then a feeble voice, a strange voice, which had nothing of human character about it, made itself audible in this poor little martyr’s head.” The sorcery availed nothing; the king died, and — Catherine remained the faithful daughter of Rome!
How strange, that des Mousseaux, who makes such free use of Bodin’s materials to construct his formidable indictment against Spiritualists and other sorcerers, should have overlooked this interesting episode!
It is a well-attested fact that Pope Sylvester II. was publicly accused by Cardinal Benno with being a sorcerer and an enchanter. The brazen “oracular head” made by his Holiness was of the same kind as the one fabricated by Albertus Magnus. The latter was smashed to pieces by Thomas Aquinas, not because it was the work of or inhabited by a “demon,” but because the spook who was fixed inside, by mesmeric power, talked incessantly, and his verbiage prevented the eloquent saint from working out his mathematical problems. These heads and other talking statues, trophies of the magical skill of monks and bishops, were fac-similes of the “animated” gods of the ancient temples. The accusation against the Pope was proved at the time. It was also demonstrated that he was constantly attended by “demons” or spirits. In the preceding chapter we have mentioned Benedict IX., John XX., and the VIth and VIIth Gregory, who were all known as magicians. The latter Pope, moreover, was the famous Hildebrand, who was said to have
been so expert at “shaking lightning out of his sleeve.” An expression which makes the venerable spiritualistic writer, Mr. Howitt, think that “it was the origin of the celebrated thunder of the Vatican.”
The magical achievements of the Bishop of Ratisbon and those of the “angelic doctor,” Thomas Aquinas, are too well known to need repetition; but we may explain farther how the “illusions” of the former were produced. If the Catholic bishop was so clever in making people believe on a bitter winter night that they were enjoying the delights of a splendid summer day, and cause the icicles hanging from the boughs of the trees in the garden to seem like so many tropical fruits, the Hindu magicians also practice such biological powers unto this very day, and claim the assistance of neither god nor devil. Such “miracles” are all produced by the same human power that is inherent in every man, if he only knew how to develop it.
About the time of the Reformation, the study of alchemy and magic had become so prevalent among the clergy as to produce great scandal. Cardinal Wolsey was openly accused before the court and the privy-council of confederacy with a man named Wood, a sorcerer, who said that “My Lord Cardinale had suche a rynge that whatsomevere he askyd of the Kynges grace that he hadd yt“; adding that “Master Cromwell, when he . . . was servaunt in my lord cardynales housse . . . rede many bokes and specyally the boke of Salamon . . . and studied mettells and what vertues they had after the canon of Salamon.” This case, with several others equally curious, is to be found among the Cromwell papers in the Record Office of the Rolls House.
A priest named William Stapleton was arrested as a conjurer, during the reign of Henry VIII., and an account of his adventures is still preserved in the Rolls House records. The Sicilian priest whom Benvenuto Cellini calls a necromancer, became famous through his successful conjurations, and was never molested. The remarkable adventure of Cellini with him in the Colosseum, where the priest conjured up a whole host of devils, is well known to the reading public. The subsequent meeting of Cellini with his mistress, as predicted and brought about by the conjurer, at the precise time fixed by him, is to be considered, as a matter of course, a “curious coincidence.” In the latter part of the sixteenth century there was hardly a parish to be found in which the priests did not study magic and alchemy. The practice of exorcism to cast out devils “in imitation of Christ,” who by the way never used exorcism at all, led the clergy to devote themselves openly to “sacred” magic in contradistinction to black art, of which latter crime were accused all those who were neither priests nor monks.
The occult knowledge gleaned by the Roman Church from the once fat fields of theurgy she sedulously guarded for her own use, and sent to the stake only those practitioners who “poached” on her lands of the Scientia Scientiarum, and those whose sins could not be concealed by the friar’s frock. The proof of it lies in the records of history. “In the course only of fifteen years, between 1580 to 1595, and only in the single province of Lorraine, the President Remigius burned 900 witches,” says Thomas Wright, in his Sorcery and Magic. It was during these days, prolific in ecclesiastical murder and unrivalled for cruelty and ferocity, that Jean Bodin wrote.
While the orthodox clergy called forth whole legions of “demons” through magical incantations, unmolested by the authorities, provided they held fast to the established dogmas and taught no heresy, on the other hand, acts of unparalleled atrocity were perpetrated on poor, unfortunate fools. Gabriel Malagrida, an old man of eighty, was burnt by these evangelical Jack Ketches in 1761. In the Amsterdam library there is a copy of the report of his famous trial, translated from the Lisbon edition. He was accused of sorcery and illicit intercourse with the Devil, who had “disclosed to him futurity.” (?) The prophecy imparted by the Arch-Enemy to the poor visionary Jesuit is reported in the following terms: “The culprit hath confessed that the demon, under the form of the blessed Virgin, having commanded him to write the life of Antichrist (?), told him that he, Malagrida, was a second John, but more clear than John the Evangelist; that there were to be three Antichrists, and that the last should be born at Milan, of a monk and a nun, in the year 1920; that he would marry Proserpine, one of the infernal furies,” etc.
The prophecy is to be verified forty-three years hence. Even were all the children born of monks and nuns really to become antichrists if allowed to grow up to maturity, the fact would seem far less deplorable than the discoveries made in so many convents when the foundations have been removed for some reason. If the assertion of Luther is to be disbelieved on account of his hatred for popery, then we may name discoveries of the same character made quite recently in Austrian and Russian Poland. Luther speaks of a fish-pond at Rome, situated near a convent of nuns, which, having been cleared out by order of Pope Gregory, disclosed, at the bottom, over six thousand infant skulls; and of a nunnery at Neinburg, in Austria, whose foundations, when searched, disclosed the same relics of celibacy and chastity!
“Ecclesia non novit Sanguinem!” meekly repeated the scarlet-robed cardinals. And to avoid the spilling of blood which horrified them, they instituted the Holy Inquisition. If, as the occultists maintain, and science half confirms, our most trifling acts and thoughts are indelibly impressed
upon the eternal mirror of the astral ether, there must be somewhere, in the boundless realm of the unseen universe, the imprint of a curious picture. It is that of a gorgeous standard waving in the heavenly breeze at the foot of the great “white throne” of the Almighty. On its crimson damask face a cross, symbol of “the Son of God who died for mankind,” with an olive branch on one side, and a sword, stained to the hilt with human gore, on the other. A legend selected from the Psalms emblazoned in golden letters, reading thus: “Exurge, Domine, et judica causam meam.” For such appears the standard of the Inquisition, on a photograph in our possession, from an original procured at the Escurial of Madrid.
Under this Christian standard, in the brief space of fourteen years, Tomas de Torquemada, the confessor of Queen Isabella, burned over ten thousand persons, and sentenced to the torture eighty thousand more. Orobio, the well-known writer, who was detained so long in prison, and who hardly escaped the flames of the Inquisition, immortalized this institution in his works when once at liberty in Holland. He found no better argument against the Holy Church than to embrace the Judaic faith and submit even to circumcision. “In the cathedral of Saragossa,” says a writer on the Inquisition, “is the tomb of a famous inquisitor. Six pillars surround the tomb; to each is chained a Moor, as preparatory to being burned.” On this St. Foix ingenuously observes: “If ever the Jack Ketch of any country should be rich enough to have a splendid tomb, this might serve as an excellent model!” To make it complete, however, the builders of the tomb ought not to have omitted a bas-relief of the famous horse which was burnt for sorcery and witchcraft. Granger tells the story, describing it as having occurred in his time. The poor animal “had been taught to tell the spots upon cards, and the hour of the day by the watch. Horse and owner were both indicted by the sacred office for dealing with the Devil, and both were burned, with a great ceremony of auto-da-fe, at Lisbon, in 1601, as wizards!”
This immortal institution of Christianity did not remain without its Dante to sing its praise. “Macedo, a Portuguese Jesuit,” says the author of Demonologia, “has discovered the origin of the Inquisition, in the terrestrial Paradise, and presumes to allege that God was the first who began the functions of an inquisitor over Cain and the workmen of Babel!”
Nowhere, during the middle ages, were the arts of magic and sorcery more practiced by the clergy than in Spain and Portugal. The Moors were profoundly versed in the occult sciences, and at Toledo, Seville, and Salamanca, were, once upon a time, the great schools of magic. The kabalists of the latter town were skilled in all the abstruse sciences; they
knew the virtues of precious stones and other minerals, and had extracted from alchemy its most profound secrets.
The authentic documents pertaining to the great trial of the Marechale d’Ancre, during the regency of Marie de Medicis, disclose that the unfortunate woman perished through the fault of the priests with whom, like a true Italian, she surrounded herself. She was accused by the people of Paris of sorcery, because it had been asserted that she had used, after the ceremony of exorcism, newly-killed white cocks. Believing herself constantly bewitched, and being in very delicate health, the Marechale had the ceremony of exorcism publicly applied to herself in the Church of the Augustins; as to the birds, she used them as an application to the forehead on account of dreadful pains in the head, and had been advised to do so by Montalto, the Jew physician of the queen, and the Italian priests.
In the sixteenth century, the Cure de Barjota, of the diocese of Callahora, Spain, became the world’s wonder for his magical powers. His most extraordinary feat consisted, it was said, in transporting himself to any distant country, witnessing political and other events, and then returning home to predict them in his own country. He had a familiar demon, who served him faithfully for long years, says the Chronicle, but the cure turned ungrateful and cheated him. Having been apprised by his demon of a conspiracy against the Pope’s life, in consequence of an intrigue of the latter with a fair lady, the cure transported himself to Rome (in his double, of course) and thus saved his Holiness’ life. After which he repented, confessed his sins to the gallant Pope, and got absolution. “On his return he was delivered, as a matter of form, into the custody of the inquisitors of Logrono, but was acquitted and restored to his liberty very soon.”
Friar Pietro, a Dominican monk of the fourteenth century — the magician who presented the famous Dr. Eugenio Torralva, a physician attached to the house of the admiral of Castile, with a demon named Zequiel — won his fame through the subsequent trial of Torralva. The procedure and circumstances attendant upon the extraordinary trial are described in the original papers preserved in the Archives of the Inquisition. The Cardinal of Volterra, and the Cardinal of Santa Cruz, both saw and communicated with Zequiel, who proved, during the whole of Torralva’s life, to be a pure, kind, elemental spirit, doing many beneficent actions, and remaining faithful to the physician to the last hour of his life. Even the Inquisition acquitted Torralva, on that account; and, although an immortality of fame was insured to him by the satire of Cervantes, neither Torralva nor the monk Pietro are fictitious heroes, but historical personages, recorded in ecclesiastical documents of Rome and Cuenca,
in which town the trial of the physician took place, January the 29th, 1530.
The book of Dr. W. G. Soldan, of Stuttgart, has become as famous in Germany, as Bodin’s book on Demonomania in France. It is the most complete German treatise on witchcraft of the sixteenth century. One interested to learn the secret machinery underlying these thousands of legal murders, perpetrated by a clergy who pretended to believe in the Devil, and succeeded in making others believe in him, will find it divulged in the above-mentioned work.The true origin of the daily accusations and death-sentences for sorcery are cleverly traced to personal and political enmities, and, above all, to the hatred of the Catholics toward the Protestants. The crafty work of the Jesuits is seen at every page of the bloody tragedies; and it is in Bamberg and Wurzburg, where these worthy sons of Loyola were most powerful at that time, that the cases of witchcraft were most numerous. On the next page we give a curious list of some victims, many of whom were children between the ages of seven and eight years, and Protestants. “Of the multitudes of persons who perished at the stake in Germany during the first half of the seventeenth century for sorcery, the crime of many was their attachment to the religion of Luther,” says T. Wright, ” . . . and the petty princes were not unwilling to seize upon any pretense to fill their coffers . . . the persons most persecuted being those whose property was a matter of consideration. . . . At Bamberg, as well as at Wurzburg, the bishop was a sovereign prince in his dominions. The Prince-Bishop, John George II., who ruled Bamberg . . . after several unsuccessful attempts to root out Lutheranism, distinguished his reign by a series of sanguinary witch-trials, which disgrace the annals of that city. . . . We may form some notion of the proceedings of his worthy agent, from the statement of the most authentic historians, that between 1625 and 1630, not less than 900 trials took place in the two courts of Bamberg and Zeil; and a pamphlet published at Bamberg by authority, in 1659, states the number of persons whom Bishop John George had caused to be burned for sorcery, to have been 600.”
Regretting that space should prevent our giving one of the most curious lists in the world of burned witches, we will nevertheless make a few extracts from the original record as printed in Hauber’s Bibliotheca
Magica. One glance at this horrible catalogue of murders in Christ’s name, is sufficient to discover that out of 162 persons burned, more than one-half of them are designated as strangers (i.e., Protestants) in this hospitable town; and of the other half we find thirty-four children, the oldest of whom was fourteen, the youngest an infant child of Dr. Schutz. To make the catalogue shorter we will present of each of the twenty-nine burnings, but the most remarkable.
IN THE FIRST BURNING, FOUR PERSONS.
Old Ancker’s widow.
The wife of Liebler.
The wife of Gutbrodt.
The wife of Hocker.
IN THE SECOND BURNING, FOUR PERSONS.
Two strange women (names unknown).
The old wife of Beutler.
IN THE THIRD BURNING, FIVE PERSONS.
Tungersleber, a minstrel.
Four wives of citizens.
IN THE FOURTH BURNING, FIVE PERSONS.
A strange man.
IN THE FIFTH BURNING, NINE PERSONS.
Lutz, an eminent shop-keeper.
The wife of Baunach, a senator.
IN THE SIXTH BURNING, SIX PERSONS.
The fat tailor’s wife.A strange man.
A strange woman.
IN THE SEVENTH BURNING, SEVEN PERSONS.
A strange girl of twelve years old.
A strange man, a strange woman.
A strange bailiff (Schultheiss).Three strange women.
IN THE EIGHTH BURNING, SEVEN PERSONS.
Baunach, a senator, the fattest citizen in Wurzburg.
A strange man.Two strange women.
IN THE NINTH BURNING, FIVE PERSONS.
A strange man.A mother and daughter.
IN THE TENTH BURNING, THREE PERSONS.
Steinacher, a very rich man.
A strange man, a strange woman.
IN THE ELEVENTH BURNING, FOUR PERSONS.
Two women and two men.
IN THE TWELFTH BURNING,
TWO PERSONS.Two strange women.
IN THE THIRTEENTH BURNING, FOUR PERSONS.
A little girl nine or ten years old.
A younger girl, her little sister.
IN THE FOURTEENTH BURNING, TWO PERSONS.
The mother of the two little girls before mentioned.
A girl twenty-four years old.
IN THE FIFTEENTH BURNING, TWO PERSONS.
A boy twelve years of age, in the first school.
IN THE SIXTEENTH BURNING, SIX PERSONS
A boy of ten years of age.
IN THE SEVENTEENTH BURNING, FOUR PERSONS
A boy eleven years old.
A mother and daughter.
IN THE EIGHTEENTH BURNING, SIX PERSONS.
Two boys, twelve years old.
The daughter of Dr. Junge.
A girl of fifteen years of age.
A strange woman.
IN THE NINETEENTH BURNING, SIX PERSONS.
A boy of ten years of age
Another boy, twelve years old.
IN THE TWENTIETH BURNING, SIX PERSONS.
Gobel’s child, the most beautiful girl in Wurzburg.
Two boys, each twelve years old.
Stepper’s little daughter.
IN THE TWENTY-FIRST BURNING, SIX PERSONS.
A boy fourteen years old.
The little son of Senator Stolzenberger.
IN THE TWENTY-SECOND BURNING, SIX PERSONS.
Sturman, a rich cooper.
A strange boy.
IN THE TWENTY-THIRD BURNING, NINE PERSONS.
David Croten’s boy, nine years old.
The two sons of the prince’s cook, one fourteen, the other ten years old.
IN THE TWENTY-FOURTH BURNING, SEVEN PERSONS.
Two boys in the hospital.
A rich cooper.
IN THE TWENTY-FIFTH BURNING, SIX PERSONS.
A strange boy.
IN THE TWENTY-SIXTH BURNING, SEVEN PERSONS.
Weydenbush, a senator.
The little daughter of Valkenberger.
The little son of the town council bailiff.
IN THE TWENTY-SEVENTH BURNING, SEVEN PERSONS.
A strange boy.
A strange woman.
IN THE TWENTY-EIGHTH BURNING, SIX PERSONS.
The infant daughter of Dr. Schutz.
A blind girl.
IN THE TWENTY-NINTH BURNING, SEVEN PERSONS.
The fat noble lady (Edelfrau).
A doctor of divinity.
“Strange” men and women, i.e., Protestants, 28
Citizens, apparently all WEALTHY people, 100
Summary: Boys, girls, and little children, 34
In nineteen months, 162 persons.
“There were,” says Wright, “little girls of from seven to ten years of age among the witches, and seven and twenty of them were convicted and burnt,” at some of the other brande, or burnings. “The numbers brought to trial in these terrible proceedings were so great, and they were treated with so little consideration, that it was usual not even to take the trouble of setting down their names, but they were cited as the accused No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and so on. The Jesuits took their confessions in private.”
What room is there in a theology which exacts such holocausts as these to appease the bloody appetites of its priests for the following gentle words:
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” “Even so it is not the will of your Father . . . that one of these little ones should perish.” “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”
We sincerely hope that the above words have proved no vain threat to these child-burners.
Did this butchery in the name of their Moloch-god prevent these treasure-hunters from resorting to the black art themselves? Not in the least; for in no class were such consulters of “familiar” spirits more numerous than among the clergy during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. True, there were some Catholic priests among the victims, but though these were generally accused of having “been
led into practices too dreadful to be described,” it was not so. In the twenty-nine burnings above catalogued we find the names of twelve vicars, four canons, and two doctors of divinity burnt alive. But we have only to turn to such works as were published at the time to assure ourselves that each popish priest executed was accused of “damnable heresy,” i.e., a tendency to reformation — a crime more heinous far than sorcery.
We refer those who would learn how the Catholic clergy united duty with pleasure in the matter of exorcisms, revenge, and treasure-hunting, to volume II., chapter i., of W. Howitt’s History of the Supernatural. “In the book called Pneumatologia Occulta et Vera, all the forms of adjuration and conjuration were laid down,” says this veteran writer. He then proceeds to give a long description of the favorite modus operandi. The Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie of the late Eliphas Levi, treated with so much abuse and contempt by des Mousseaux, tells nothing of the weird ceremonies and practices but what was practiced legally and with the tacit if not open consent of the Church, by the priests of the middle ages. The exorcist-priest entered a circle at midnight; he was clad in a new surplice, and had a consecrated band hanging from the neck, covered with sacred characters. He wore on the head a tall pointed cap, on the front of which was written in Hebrew the holy word, Tetragrammaton — the ineffable name. It was written with a new pen dipped in the blood of a white dove. What the exorcists most yearned after, was to release miserable spirits which haunt spots where hidden treasures lie. The exorcist sprinkles the circle with the blood of a black lamb and a white pigeon. The priest had to adjure the evil spirits of hell — Acheront, Magoth, Asmodei, Beelzebub, Belial, and all the damned souls, in the mighty names of Jehovah, Adonay, Elohah, and Sabaioth, which latter was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who dwelt in the Urim and Thummim. When the damned souls flung in the face of the exorcist that he was a sinner, and could not get the treasure from them, the priest-sorcerer had to reply that “all his sins were washed out in the blood of Christ, and he bid them depart as cursed ghosts and damned flies.” When the exorcist dislodged them at last, the poor soul was “comforted in the name of the Saviour, and consigned to the care of good angels,” who were less powerful, we must think, than the exorcising Catholic worthies, “and the rescued treasure, of course, was secured for the Church.”
“Certain days,” adds Howitt, “are laid down in the calendar of the
Church as most favorable for the practice of exorcism; and, if the devils are difficult to drive, a fume of sulphur, assafoetida, bear’s gall, and rue is recommended, which, it was presumed, would outstench even devils.”
This is the Church, and this the priesthood, which, in the nineteenth century, pays 5,000 priests to teach the people of the United States the infidelity of science and the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome!
We have already noticed the confession of an eminent prelate that the elimination of Satan from theology would be fatal to the perpetuity of the Church. But this is only partially true. The Prince of Sin would be gone, but sin itself would survive. If the Devil were annihilated, the Articles of Faith and the Bible would remain. In short there would still be a pretended divine revelation, and the necessity for self-assumed inspired interpreters. We must, therefore, consider the authenticity of the Bible itself. We must study its pages, and see if they, indeed, contain the commands of the Deity, or but a compendium of ancient traditions and hoary myths. We must try to interpret them for ourselves — if possible. As to its pretended interpreters, the only possible assimilation we can find for them in the Bible is to compare them with the man described by the wise King Solomon in his Proverbs, with the perpetrator of these “six things . . . yea seven . . . which doth the Lord hate,” and which are an abomination unto Him, to wit: “A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief; a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs vi. 16, 17, 18, 19).
Of which of these accusations are the long line of men who have left the imprint of their feet in the Vatican guiltless?
“When the demons,” says Augustine, “insinuate themselves in the creatures, they begin by conforming themselves to the will of every one. . . . In order to attract men, they begin by seducing them, by simulating obedience. . . . How could one know, had he not been taught by the demons themselves, what they like or what they hate; the name which attracts, or that which forces them into obedience; all this art, in short, of magic, the whole science of the magicians?”
To this impressive dissertation of the “saint,” we will add that no magician has ever denied that he had learned the art from “spirits,” whether, being a medium, they acted independently on him, or he had been initiated into the science of “evocation” by his fathers who knew it before himself. But who was it then that taught the exorcist? The priest
who clothes himself with an authority not only over the magician, but even over all these “spirits,” whom he calls demons and devils as soon as he finds them obeying any one but himself? He must have learned somewhere from some one that power which he pretends to possess. For, “. . . how could one know had he not been taught by the demons themselves . . . the name which attracts, or that which forces them into obedience?” asks Augustine.
Useless to remark that we know the answer beforehand: “Revelation . . . divine gift . . . the Son of God; nay, God Himself, through His direct Spirit, who descended on the apostles as the Pentecostal fire,” and who is now alleged to overshadow every priest who sees fit to exorcise for either glory or a gift. Are we then to believe that the recent scandal of public exorcism, performed about the 14th of October, 1876, by the senior priest of the Church of the Holy Spirit, at Barcelona, Spain, was also done under the direct superintendence of the Holy Ghost?
It will be urged that the “bishop was not cognizant of this freak of the clergy”; but even if he were, how could he have protested against a rite considered since the days of the apostles, one of the most holy prerogatives of the Church of Rome? So late as in 1852, only twenty-five years ago, these rites received a public and solemn sanction from the Vatican, and a new Ritual of Exorcism was published in Rome, Paris, and other Catholic capitals. Des Mousseaux, writing under the immediate patronage of Father Ventura, the General of the Theatines of Rome, even favors us with lengthy extracts from this famous ritual, and explains the reason why it was enforced again. It was in consequence of the revival of Magic under the name of Modern Spiritualism. The bull of Pope Innocent VIII. is exhumed, and translated for the benefit of des Mousseaux’s readers. “We have heard,” exclaims the Sovereign Pontiff, “that a great number of persons of both sexes have feared not to enter into relations with the spirits of hell; and that, by their practice of sorcery . . . they strike with sterility the conjugal bed, destroy the germs of humanity in the bosom of the mother, and throw spells on them, and set a barrier to the multiplication of animals . . . etc., etc.”; then follow curses and anathemas against the practice.
This belief of the Sovereign Pontiffs of an enlightened Christian country is a direct inheritance by the most ignorant multitudes from the southern Hindu rabble — the “heathen.” The diabolical arts of certain kangalins (witches) and jadugar (sorcerers) are firmly believed in by these people. The following are among their most dreaded powers: to inspire love and hatred at will; to send a devil to take possession of a person and torture
him; to expel him; to cause sudden death or an incurable disease; to either strike cattle with or protect them from epidemics; to compose philtres that will either strike with sterility or provoke unbounded passions in men and women, etc., etc. The sight alone of a man said to be such a sorcerer excites in a Hindu profound terror.
And now we will quote in this connection the truthful remark of a writer who passed years in India in the study of the origin of such superstitions: “Vulgar magic in India, like a degenerated infiltration, goes hand-in-hand with the most ennobling beliefs of the sectarians of the Pitris. It was the work of the lowest clergy, and designed to hold the populace in a perpetual state of fear. It is thus that in all ages and under every latitude, side by side with philosophical speculations of the highest character, one always finds the religion of the rabble.” In India it was the work of the lowest clergy; in Rome, that of the highest Pontiffs. But then, have they not as authority their greatest saint, Augustine, who declares that “whoever believes not in the evil spirits, refuses to believe in Holy Writ?”
Therefore, in the second half of the nineteenth century, we find the counsel for the Sacred Congregation of Rites (exorcism of demons included), Father Ventura de Raulica, writing thus, in a letter published by des Mousseaux, in 1865:
“We are in full magic! and under false names; the Spirit of lies and impudicity goes on perpetrating his horrible deprecations. . . . The most grievous feature in this is that among the most serious persons they do not attach the importance to the strange phenomena which they deserve, these manifestations that we witness, and which become with every day more weird, striking, as well as most fatal.
“I cannot sufficiently admire and praise, from this standpoint, the zeal and courage displayed by you in your work. The facts which you have collected are calculated to throw light and conviction into the most skeptical minds; and after reading this remarkable work, written with so much learnedness and consciousness, blindness is no longer possible.
“If anything could surprise us, it would be the indifference with which these phenomena have been treated by false Science, endeavoring as she has, to turn into ridicule so grave a subject; the childish simplicity exhibited by her in the desire to explain the facts by absurd and contradictory hypotheses. . . .
[Signed] “The Father Ventura de Raulica, etc., etc.”
Thus encouraged by the greatest authorities of the Church of Rome, ancient and modern, the Chevalier argues the necessity and the efficacy of exorcism by the priests. He tries to demonstrate — on faith, as usual —
that the power of the spirits of hell is closely related to certain rites, words, and formal signs. “In the diabolical Catholicism,” he says, “as well as in the divine Catholicism, potential grace is bound (liee) to certain signs.” While the power of the Catholic priest proceeds from God, that of the Pagan priest proceeds from the Devil. The Devil, he adds, “is forced to submission” before the holy minister of God — “he dares not LIE.”
We beg the reader to note well the underlined sentence, as we mean to test its truth impartially. We are prepared to adduce proofs, undeniable and undenied even by the Popish Church — forced, as she was, into the confession — proofs of hundreds of cases in relation to the most solemn of her dogmas, wherein the “spirits” lied from beginning to end. How about certain holy relics authenticated by visions of the blessed Virgin, and a host of saints? We have at hand a treatise by a pious Catholic, Jilbert de Nogen, on the relics of saints. With honest despair he acknowledges the “great number of false relics, as well as false legends,” and severely censures the inventors of these lying miracles. “It was on the occasion of one of our Saviour’s teeth,” writes the author of Demonologia, “that de Nogen took up his pen on this subject, by which the monks of St. Medard de Soissons pretended to work miracles; a pretension which he asserted to be as chimerical as that of several persons who believed they possessed the navel, and other parts less comely, of the body of Christ.”
“A monk of St. Antony,” says Stephens,”having been at Jerusalem, saw there several relics, among which was a bit of the finger of the Holy Ghost, as sound and entire as it had ever been; the snout of the seraph that appeared to St. Francis; one of the nails of a cherub; one of the ribs of the Verbum caro factum (the Word made flesh); some rays of the star that appeared to the three kings of the East; a phial of St. Michael’s sweat, that exuded when he was fighting against the Devil, etc. ‘All which things,’ observes the monkish treasurer of relics, ‘I have brought with me home very devoutly.’ ”
And if the foregoing is set aside as the invention of a Protestant enemy, may we not be allowed to refer the reader to the History of England and authentic documents which state the existence of a relic not less extraordinary than the best of the others? Henry III. received from the Grand Master of the Templars a phial containing a small portion of the sacred blood of Christ which he had shed upon the cross. It was attested to be genuine by the seals of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and others. The
procession bearing the sacred phial from St. Paul’s to Westminster Abbey is described by the historian: “Two monks received the phial, and deposited it in the Abbey . . . which made all England shine with glory, dedicating it to God and St. Edward.”
The story of the Prince Radzivil is well known. It was the undeniable deception of the monks and nuns surrounding him and his own confessor which made the Polish nobleman become a Lutheran. He felt at first so indignant at the “heresy” of the Reformation spreading in Lithuania, that he travelled all the way to Rome to pay his homage of sympathy and veneration to the Pope. The latter presented him with a precious box of relics. On his return home, his confessor saw the Virgin, who descended from her glorious abode for the sole purpose of blessing these relics and authenticating them. The superior of the neighboring convent and the mother-abbess of a nunnery both saw the same vision, with a reenforcement of several saints and martyrs; they prophesied and “felt the Holy Ghost” ascending from the box of relics and overshadowing the prince. A demoniac provided for the purpose by the clergy was exorcised in full ceremony, and upon being touched by the box immediately recovered, and rendered thanks on the spot to the Pope and the Holy Ghost. After the ceremony was over the guardian of the treasury in which the relics were kept, threw himself at the feet of the prince, and confessed that on their way back from Rome he had lost the box of relics. Dreading the wrath of his master, he had procured a similar box, “which he had filled with the small bones of dogs and cats”; but seeing how the prince was deceived, he preferred confessing his guilt to such blasphemous tricks. The prince said nothing, but continued for some time testing — not the relics, but his confessor and the vision-seers. Their mock raptures made him discover so thoroughly the gross impositions of the monks and nuns that he joined the Reformed Church.
This is history. Bayle shows that when the Roman Church is no longer able to deny that there have been false relics, she resorts to sophistry, and replies that if false relics have wrought miracles it is “because of the good intentions of the believers, who thus obtained from God a reward of their good faith!” The same Bayle shows, by numerous instances, that whenever it was proved that several bodies of the same saint, or three heads of him, or three arms (as in the case of Augustine) were said to exist in different places, and that they could not well be all authentic, the cool and invariable answer of the Church was that they were all genuine; for “God had multiplied and miraculously reproduced them for the greater glory of His Holy Church!” In other words they would have the faithful believe that the body of a deceased saint may, through divine miracle, acquire the physiological peculiarities of a crawfish!
We fancy that it would be hard to demonstrate to satisfaction that the visions of Catholic saints, are, in any one particular instance, better or more trustworthy than the average visions and prophecies of our modern “mediums.” The visions of Andrew Jackson Davis — however our critics may sneer at them — are by long odds more philosophical and more compatible with modern science than the Augustinian speculations. Whenever the visions of Swedenborg, the greatest among the modern seers, run astray from philosophy and scientific truth, it is when they most run parallel with theology. Nor are these visions any more useless to either science or humanity than those of the great orthodox saints. In the life of St. Bernard it is narrated that as he was once in church, upon a Christmas eve, he prayed that the very hour in which Christ was born might be revealed to him; and when the “true and correct hour came, he saw the divine babe appear in his manger.” What a pity that the divine babe did not embrace so favorable an opportunity to fix the correct day and year of his death, and thereby reconcile the controversies of his putative historians. The Tischendorfs, Lardners, and Colensos, as well as many a Catholic divine, who have vainly squeezed the marrow out of historical records and their own brains, in the useless search, would at least have had something for which to thank the saint.
As it is, we are hopelessly left to infer that most of the beatific and divine visions of the Golden Legend, and those to be found in the more complete biographies of the most important “saints,” as well as most of the visions of our own persecuted seers and seeresses, were produced by ignorant and undeveloped “spirits” passionately fond of personating great historical characters. We are quite ready to agree with the Chevalier des Mousseaux, and other unrelenting persecutors of magic and spiritualism in the name of the Church, that modern spirits are often “lying spirits”; that they are ever on hand to humor the respective hobbies of the persons who communicate with them at “circles”; that they deceive them and, therefore, are not always good “spirits.”
But, having conceded so much, we will now ask of any impartial person: is it possible to believe at the same time that the power given to the exorcist-priest, that supreme and divine power of which he boasts, has been given to him by God for the purpose of deceiving people? That the prayer pronounced by him in the name of Christ, and which, forcing the demon into submission, makes him reveal himself, is calculated at the same time to make the devil confess not the truth, but that only which it is the interest of the church to which the exorcist belongs, should pass for truth? And this is what invariably happens. Compare, for instance, the responses given by the demon to Luther, with those obtained from the devils by St. Dominick. The one argues against the
private mass, and upbraids Luther with placing the Virgin Mary and saints before Christ, and thus dishonoring the Son of God; while the demons exorcised by St. Dominick, upon seeing the Virgin whom the holy father had also evoked to help him, roar out: “Oh! our enemy! oh! our damner! . . . why didst thou descend from heaven to torment us? Why art thou so powerful an intercessor for sinners! Oh! thou most certain and secure way to heaven . . . thou commandest us and we are forced to confess that nobody is damned who only perseveres in thy holy worship, etc., etc.” Luther’s “Saint Satan” assures him that while believing in the transubstantiation of Christ’s body and blood he had been worshipping merely bread and wine; and the devils of all the Catholic saints promise eternal damnation to whomsoever disbelieves or even so much as doubts the dogma!
Before leaving the subject, let us give one or two more instances from the Chronicles of the Lives of the Saints, selected from such narratives as are fully accepted by the Church. We might fill volumes with proofs of undeniable confederacy between the exorcisers and the demons. Their very nature betrays them. Instead of being independent, crafty entities bent on the destruction of men’s souls and spirits, the majority of them are simply the elementals of the kabalists; creatures with no intellect of their own, but faithful mirrors of the WILL which evokes, controls, and guides them. We will not waste our time in drawing the reader’s attention to doubtful or obscure thaumaturgists and exorcisers, but take as our standard one of the greatest saints of Catholicism, and select a bouquet from that same prolific conservatory of pious lies, The Golden Legend, of James de Voragine.
St. Dominick, the founder of the famous order of that name, is one of the mightiest saints on the calendar. His order was the first that received a solemn confirmation from the Pope, and he is well known in history as the associate and counsellor of the infamous Simon de Montfort, the papal general, whom he helped to butcher the unfortunate Albigenses in and near Toulouse. The story goes that this saint and the Church after him, claim that he received from the Virgin, in propria persona, a rosary, whose virtues produced such stupendous miracles that they throw entirely into the shade those of the apostles, and even of Jesus himself. A man, says the biographer, an abandoned sinner, was bold enough to doubt the
virtue of the Dominican rosary; and for this unparalleled blasphemy was punished on the spot by having 15,000 devils take possession of him. Seeing the great suffering of the tortured demoniac, St. Dominick forgot the insult and called the devils to account.
Following is the colloquy between the “blessed exorcist” and the demons:
Question. — How did you take possession of this man, and how many are you?
Answer of the Devils. –We came into him for having spoken disrespectfully of the rosary. We are 15,000.
Question. — Why did so many as 15,000 enter him?
Answer. — Because there are fifteen decades in the rosary which he derided, etc.
Dominick. — Is not all true I have said of the virtues of the rosary?
Devils. — Yes! Yes! (they emit flames through the nostrils of the demoniac). Know all ye Christians that Dominick never said one word concerning the rosary that is not most true; and know ye further, that if you do not believe him, great calamities will befall you.
Dominick. — Who is the man in the world the Devil hates the most?
Devils. — (In chorus.) Thou art the very man (here follow verbose compliments).
Dominick. — Of which state of Christians are there the most damned?
Devils. — In hell we have merchants, pawnbrokers, fraudulent bankers, grocers, Jews, apothecaries, etc., etc.
Dominick. — Are there any priests or monks in hell?
Devils. — There are a great number of priests, but no monks, with the exception of such as have transgressed the rule of their order.
Dominick. — Have you any Dominicans?
Devils. — Alas! alas! we have not one yet, but we expect a great number of them after their devotion is a little cooled.
We do not pretend to give the questions and answers literally, for they occupy twenty-three pages; but the substance is here, as may be seen by any one who cares to read the Golden Legend. The full description of the hideous bellowings of the demons, their enforced glorification of the saint, and so on, is too long for this chapter. Suffice it to say that as we read the numerous questions offered by Dominick and the answers of the demons, we become fully convinced that they corroborate in every detail the unwarranted assertions and support the interests of the Church. The narrative is suggestive. The legend graphically describes the battle of the exorcist with the legion from the bottomless pit. The sulphurous flames which burst forth from the nose, mouth, eyes, and ears, of the demoniac; the sudden appearance of over a hun-
dred angels, clad in golden armor; and, finally, the descent of the blessed Virgin herself, in person, bearing a golden rod, with which she administers a sound thrashing to the demoniac, to force the devils to confess that of herself which we scarcely need repeat. The whole catalogue of theological truths uttered by Dominick’s devils were embodied in so many articles of faith by his Holiness, the present Pope, in 1870, at the last OEcumenical Council.
From the foregoing it is easy to see that the only substantial difference between infidel “mediums” and orthodox saints lies in the relative usefulness of the demons, if demons we must call them. While the Devil faithfully supports the Christian exorcist in his orthodox (?) views, the modern spook generally leaves his medium in the lurch. For, by lying, he acts against his or her interests rather than otherwise, and thereby too often casts foul suspicion on the genuineness of the mediumship. Were modern “spirits” devils, they would evidently display a little more discrimination and cunning than they do. They would act as the demons of the saint which, compelled by the ecclesiastical magician and by the power of “the name . . . which forces them into submission,” lie in accordance with the direct interest of the exorcist and his church. The moral of the parallel we leave to the sagacity of the reader.
“Observe well,” exclaims des Mousseaux, “that there are demons which sometimes will speak the truth.” “The exorcist,” he adds, quoting the Ritual, “must command the demon to tell him whether he is detained in the body of the demoniac through some magic art, or by signs, or any objects which usually serve for this evil practice. In case the exorcised person has swallowed the latter, he must vomit them back; and if they are not in his body, the demon must indicate the proper place where they are to be found; and having found them they must be burned.” Thus some “demons reveal the existence of the bewitchment, tell who is its author, and indicate the means to destroy the malefice. But beware to ever resort, in such a case, to magicians, sorcerers, or mediums. You must call to help you but the minister of your Church!” “The Church believes in magic, as you well see,” he adds, “since she expresses it so formally. And those who disbelieve in magic, can they still hope to share the faith of their own Church? And who can teach them better? To whom did Christ say: ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . . and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world?’ ”
Are we to believe that he said this but to those who wear these black
or scarlet liveries of Rome? Must we then credit the story that this power was given by Christ to Simon Stylites, the saint who sanctified himself by perching on a pillar (stylos) sixty feet high, for thirty-six years of his life, without ever descending from it, in order that, among other miracles stated in the Golden Legend, he might cure a dragon of a sore eye? “Near Simon’s pillar was the dwelling of a dragon, so very venomous that the stench was spread for miles round his cave.” This ophidian-hermit met with an accident; he got a thorn in his eye, and, becoming blind, crept to the saint’s pillar, and pressed his eye against it for three days, without touching any one. Then the blessed saint, from his aerial seat, “three feet in diameter,” ordered earth and water to be placed on the dragon’s eye, out of which suddenly emerged a thorn (or stake), a cubit in length; when the people saw the “miracle” they glorified the Creator. As to the grateful dragon, he arose and, “having adored God for two hours, returned to his cave” — a half-converted ophidian, we must suppose.
And what are we to think of that other narrative, to disbelieve in which is “to risk one’s salvation,” as we were informed by a Pope’s missionary, of the Order of the Franciscans? When St. Francis preached a sermon in the wilderness, the birds assembled from the four cardinal points of the world. They warbled and applauded every sentence; they sang a holy mass in chorus; finally they dispersed to carry the glad tidings all over the universe. A grasshopper, profiting by the absence of the Holy Virgin, who generally kept company with the saint, remained perched on the head of the “blessed one” for a whole week. Attacked by a ferocious wolf, the saint, who had no other weapon but the sign of the cross which he made upon himself, instead of running away from his rabid assailant, began arguing with the beast. Having imparted to him the benefit to be derived from the holy religion, St. Francis never ceased talking until the wolf became as meek as a lamb, and even shed tears of repentance over his past sins. Finally, he “stretched his paws in the hands of the saint, followed him like a dog through all the towns in which he preached, and became half a Christian”! Wonders of zoology! a horse turned sorcerer, a wolf and a dragon turned Christians!
These two anecdotes, chosen at random from among hundreds, if rivalled are not surpassed by the wildest romances of the Pagan thaumaturgists, magicians, and spiritualists! And yet, when Pythagoras is said to have subdued animals, even wild beasts, merely through a power-
ful mesmeric influence, he is pronounced by one-half of the Catholics a bare-faced impostor, and by the rest a sorcerer, who worked magic in confederacy with the Devil. Neither the she-bear, nor the eagle, nor yet the bull that Pythagoras is said to have persuaded to give up eating beans, were alleged to have answered with human voices; while St. Benedict’s “black raven,” whom he called “brother,” argues with him, and croaks his answers like a born casuist. When the saint offers him one-half of a poisoned loaf, the raven grows indignant and reproaches him in Latin as though he had just graduated at the Propaganda!
If it be objected that the Golden Legend is now but half supported by the Church; and that it is known to have been compiled by the writer from a collection of the lives of the saints, for the most part unauthenticated, we can show that, at least in one instance, the biography is no legendary compilation, but the history of one man, by another one who was his contemporary. Jortin and Gibbon demonstrated years ago, that the early fathers used to select narratives, wherewith to ornament the lives of their apocryphal saints, from Ovid, Homer, Livy, and even from the unwritten popular legends of Pagan nations. But such is not the case in the above instances. St. Bernard lived in the twelfth century, and St. Dominick was nearly contemporaneous with the author of the Golden Legend. De Voragine died in 1298, and Dominick, whose exorcisms and life he describes so minutely, instituted his order in the first quarter of the thirteenth century. Moreover, de Voragine was Vicar-General of the Dominicans himself, in the middle of the same century, and therefore described the miracles wrought by his hero and patron but a few years after they were alleged to have happened. He wrote them in the same convent; and while narrating these wonders he had probably fifty persons at hand who had been eye-witnesses to the saint’s mode of living. What must we think, in such a case, of a biographer who seriously describes the following: One day, as the blessed saint was occupied in his study, the Devil began pestering him, in the shape of a flea. He frisked and jumped about the pages of his book until the harassed saint, unwilling as he was to act unkindly, even toward a devil, felt compelled to punish him by fixing the troublesome devil on the very sentence on which he stopped, by clasping the book. At another time the same devil appeared under the shape of a monkey. He grinned so horribly that Dominick, in order to get rid of him, ordered the devil-monkey to take the candle and hold it for him until he had done reading. The poor imp did so, and held it until it was consumed to the very end of the wick; and, notwithstanding his pitiful cries for mercy, the saint compelled him to hold it till his fingers were burned to the bones!
Enough! The approbation with which this book was received by the
Church, and the peculiar sanctity attributed to it, is sufficient to show the estimation in which veracity was held by its patrons. We may add, in conclusion, that the finest quintessence of Boccaccio’s Decameron appears prudery itself by comparison with the filthy realism of the Golden Legend.
We cannot regard with too much astonishment the pretensions of the Catholic Church in seeking to convert Hindus and Buddhists to Christianity. While the “heathen” keeps to the faith of his fathers, he has at least the one redeeming quality — that of not having apostatized for the mere pleasure of exchanging one set of idols for another. There may be for him some novelty in his embracing Protestantism; for in that he gains the advantage, at least, of limiting his religious views to their simplest expression. But when a Buddhist has been enticed into exchanging his Shoe Dagoon for the Slipper of the Vatican, or the eight hairs from the head of Gautama and Buddha’s tooth, which work miracles, for the locks of a Christian saint, and a tooth of Jesus, which work far less clever miracles, he has no cause to boast of his choice. In his address to the Literary Society of Java, Sir T. S. Raffles is said to have narrated the following characteristic anecdote: “On visiting the great temple on the hills of Nagasaki, the English commissioner was received with marked regard and respect by the venerable patriarch of the northern provinces, a man eighty years of age, who entertained him most sumptuously. On showing him round the courts of the temple, one of the English officers present heedlessly exclaimed, in surprise, ‘Jesus Christus!’ The patriarch turning half round, with a placid smile, bowed significantly, with the expression: ‘We know your Jasus Christus! Well, don’t obtrude him upon us in our temples, and we remain friends.’ And so, with a hearty shake of the hands, these two opposites parted.” There is scarcely a report sent by the missionaries from India, Thibet, and China, but laments the diabolical “obscenity” of the heathen rites, their lamentable impudicity; all of which “are so strongly suggestive of devil-worship,” as des Mousseaux tells us. We can scarcely be assured that the morality of the Pagans would be in the least improved were they allowed a free inquiry into the life of say the psalmist-king, the author of those sweet Psalms which are so rapturously repeated by Christians. The difference between David performing a phallic dance before the holy ark — emblem of the female principle — and a Hindu Vishnavite bearing the same emblem on his forehead, favors the former only in the eyes of those who have studied neither the ancient faith nor their own. When a religion which compelled David to cut off and deliver two hundred foreskins of his enemies before he could become the king’s son-in-law (I Sam.
xviii.) is accepted as a standard by Christians, they would do well not to cast into the teeth of heathen the impudicities of their faiths. Remembering the suggestive parable of Jesus, they ought to cast the beam out of their own eye before plucking at the mote in their neighbor’s. The sexual element is as marked in Christianity as in any one of the “heathen religions.” Certainly, nowhere in the Vedas can be found the coarseness and downright immodesty of language, that Hebraists now discover throughout the Mosaic Bible.
It would profit little were we to dwell much upon subjects which have been disposed of in such a masterly way by an anonymous author whose work electrified England and Germany last year; while as regards the particular topic under notice, we cannot do better than recommend the scholarly writings of Dr. Inman. Albeit one-sided, and in many instances unjust to the ancient heathen, Pagan, and Jewish religions, the facts treated in the Ancient and Pagan Christian Symbolism, are unimpeachable. Neither can we agree with some English critics who charge him with an intent to destroy Christianity. If by Christianity is meant the external religious forms of worship, then he certainly seeks to destroy it, for in his eyes, as well as in those of every truly religious man, who has studied ancient exoteric faiths, and their symbology, Christianity is pure heathenism, and Catholicism, with its fetish-worshipping, is far worse and more pernicious than Hinduism in its most idolatrous aspect. But while denouncing the exoteric forms and unmasking the symbols, it is not the religion of Christ that the author attacks, but the artificial system of theology. We will allow him to illustrate the position in his own language, and quote from his preface:
“When vampires were discovered by the acumen of any observer,” he says, “they were, we are told, ignominiously killed, by a stake being driven through the body; but experience showed them to have such tenacity of life that they rose, again and again, notwithstanding renewed impalement, and were not ultimately laid to rest till wholly burned. In like manner, the regenerated heathendom, which dominates over the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, has risen again and again, after being transfixed. Still cherished by the many, it is denounced by the few. Amongst other accusers, I raise my voice against the Paganism which exists so extensively in ecclesiastical Christianity, and will do my utmost to expose the imposture. . . . In a vampire story told in Thalaba, by Southey, the resuscitated being takes the form of a dearly-beloved maiden, and the hero is obliged to kill her with his own hand. He does so; but, whilst he strikes the form of the loved one, he feels sure that he slays
only a demon. In like manner, when I endeavor to destroy the current heathenism, which has assumed the garb of Christianity, I do not attack real religion. Few would accuse a workman of malignancy, who cleanses from filth the surface of a noble statue. There may be some who are too nice to touch a nasty subject, yet even they will rejoice when some one else removes the dirt. Such a scavenger is wanted.”
But is it merely Pagans and heathen that the Catholics persecute, and about whom, like Augustine, they cry to the Deity, “Oh, my God! so do I wish Thy enemies to be slain“? Oh, no! their aspirations are more Mosaic and Cain-like than that. It is against their next of kin in faith, against their schismatic brothers that they are now intriguing within the walls which sheltered the murderous Borgias. The larvae of the infanticidal, parricidal, and fratricidal Popes have proved themselves fit counsellors for the Cains of Castelfidardo and Mentana. It is now the turn of the Slavonian Christians, the Oriental Schismatics — the Philistines of the Greek Church!
His Holiness the Pope, after exhausting, in a metaphor of self-laudation, every point of assimilation between the great biblical prophets and himself, has finally and truly compared himself with the Patriarch Jacob “wrestling against his God.” He now crowns the edifice of Catholic piety by openly sympathizing with the Turks! The vicegerent of God inaugurates his infallibility by encouraging, in a true Christian spirit, the acts of that Moslem David, the modern Bashi-Bazuk; and it seems as if nothing would more please his Holiness than to be presented by the latter with several thousands of the Bulgarian or Servian “foreskins.” True to her policy to be all things to all men to promote her own interests, the Romish Church is, at this writing (1876), benevolently viewing the Bulgarian and Servian atrocities, and, probably, manoeuvring with Turkey against Russia. Better Islam, and the hitherto-hated Crescent over the sepulchre of the Christian god, than the Greek Church established at Constantinople and Jerusalem as the state religion. Like a decrepit and toothless ex-tyrant in exile, the Vatican is eager for any alliance that promises, if not a restoration of its own power, at least the weakening of its rival. The axe its inquisitors once swung, it now toys
with in secret, feeling its edge, and waiting, and hoping against hope. In her time, the Popish Church has lain with strange bedfellows, but never before now sunk to the degradation of giving her moral support to those who for over 1200 years spat in her face, called her adherents “infidel dogs,” repudiated her teachings, and denied godhood to her God!
The press of even Catholic France is fairly aroused at this indignity, and openly accuses the Ultramontane portion of the Catholic Church and the Vatican of siding, during the present Eastern struggle, with the Mahometan against the Christian. “When the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the French Legislature spoke some mild words in favor of the Greek Christians, he was only applauded by the liberal Catholics, and received coldly by the Ultramontane party,” says the French correspondent of a New York paper.
“So pronounced was this, that M. Lemoinne, the well-known editor of the great liberal Catholic journal, the Debats, was moved to say that the Roman Church felt more sympathy for the Moslem than the schismatic, just as they preferred an infidel to the Protestant. ‘There is at bottom,’ says this writer, ‘a great affinity between the Syllabus and the Koran, and between the two heads of the faithful. The two systems are of the same nature, and are united on the common ground of a one and unchangeable theory.’ In Italy, in like manner, the King and Liberal Catholics are in warm sympathy with the unfortunate Christians, while the Pope and Ultramontane faction are believed to be inclining to the Mahometans.”
The civilized world may yet expect the apparition of the materialized Virgin Mary within the walls of the Vatican. The so often-repeated “miracle” of the Immaculate Visitor in the mediaeval ages has recently been enacted at Lourdes, and why not once more, as a coup de grace to all heretics, schismatics, and infidels? The miraculous wax taper is yet seen at Arras, the chief city of Artois; and at every new calamity threatening her beloved Church, the “Blessed Lady” appears personally, and lights it with her own fair hands, in view of a whole “biologized” congregation. This sort of “miracle,” says E. Worsley, wrought by the Roman Catholic Church, “being most certain, and never doubted of by any.” Neither has the private correspondence with which the most “Gracious Lady” honors her friends been doubted. There are two precious missives from her in the archives of the Church. The first purports to be a letter in answer to one addressed to her by Ignatius. She confirms all things learned by her correspondent from “her friend” —
meaning the Apostle John. She bids him hold fast to his vows, and adds as an inducement: “I and John will come together and pay you a visit.”
Nothing was known of this unblushing fraud till the letters were published at Paris, in 1495. By a curious accident it appeared at a time when threatening inquiries began to be made as to the genuineness of the fourth Synoptic. Who could doubt, after such a confirmation from headquarters! But the climax of effrontery was capped in 1534, when another letter was received from the “Mediatrix,” which sounds more like the report of a lobby-agent to a brother-politician. It was written in excellent Latin, and was found in the Cathedral of Messina, together with the image to which it alludes. Its contents run as follows:
“Mary Virgin, Mother of the Redeemer of the world, to the Bishop, Clergy, and the other faithful of Messina, sendeth health and benediction from herself and son:
“Whereas ye have been mindful of establishing the worship of me; now this is to let you know that by so doing ye have found great favor in my sight. I have a long time reflected with pain upon your city, which is exposed to much danger from its contiguity to the fire of Etna, and I have often had words about it with my son, for he was vexed with you because of your guilty neglect of my worship, so that he would not care a pin about my intercession. Now, however, that you have come to your senses, and have happily begun to worship me, he has conferred upon me the right to become your everlasting protectress; but, at the same time, I warn you to mind what you are about, and give me no cause of repenting of my kindness to you. The prayers and festivals instituted in my honor please me tremendously (vehementer), and if you faithfully persevere in these things, and provided you oppose to the utmost of your power, the heretics which now-a-days are spreading through the world, by which both my worship and that of the other saints, male and female, are so endangered, you shall enjoy my perpetual protection.
“In sign of this compact, I send you down from Heaven the image of myself, cast by celestial hands, and if ye hold it in the honor to which it is entitled, it will be an evidence to me of your obedience and your faith. Farewell. Dated in Heaven, whilst sitting near the throne of my son, in the month of December, of the 1534th year from his incarnation.
The reader should understand that this document is no anti-Catholic forgery. The author from whom it is taken, says that the authenticity of the missive “is attested by the Bishop himself, his Vicar-General,
Secretary, and six Canons of the Cathedral Church of Messina, all of whom have signed that attestation with their names, and confirmed it upon oath.
“Both the epistle and image were found upon the high altar, where they had been placed by angels from heaven.”
A Church must have reached the last stages of degradation, when such sacrilegious trickery as this could be resorted to by its clergy, and accepted with or without question by the people.
No! far from the man who feels the workings of an immortal spirit within him, be such a religion! There never was nor ever will be a truly philosophical mind, whether of Pagan, heathen, Jew, or Christian, but has followed the same path of thought. Gautama-Buddha is mirrored in the precepts of Christ; Paul and Philo Judaeus are faithful echoes of Plato; and Ammonius Saccas and Plotinus won their immortal fame by combining the teachings of all these grand masters of true philosophy. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” ought to be the motto of all brothers on earth. Not so is it with the interpreters of the Bible. The seed of the Reformation was sown on the day that the second chapter of The Catholic Epistle of James, jostled the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the same New Testament. One who believes in Paul cannot believe in James, Peter, and John. The Paulists, to remain Christians with their apostle, must withstand Peter “to the face”; and if Peter “was to be blamed” and was wrong, then he was not infallible. How then can his successor (?) boast of his infallibility? Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every house divided against itself must fall. A plurality of masters has proved as fatal in religions as in politics. What Paul preached, was preached by every other mystic philosopher. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage!” exclaims the honest apostle-philosopher; and adds, as if prophetically inspired: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
That the Neo-platonists were not always despised or accused of demonolatry is evidenced in the adoption by the Roman Church of their very rites and theurgy. The identical evocations and incantations of the Pagan and Jewish Kabalist, are now repeated by the Christian exorcist, and the theurgy of Iamblichus was adopted word for word. “Distinct as were the Platonists and Pauline Christians of the earlier centuries,” writes Professor A. Wilder, “many of the more distinguished teachers of the new faith were deeply tinctured with the philosophical leaven. Synesius, the Bishop of Cyrene, was the disciple of Hypatia. St. Anthony reiterated the theurgy of Iamblichus. The Logos, or word of the Gospel
according to John, was a Gnostic personification. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others of the fathers drank deeply from the fountains of philosophy. The ascetic idea which carried away the Church was like that which was practiced by Plotinus . . . all through the middle ages there rose up men who accepted the interior doctrines which were promulgated by the renowned teacher of the Academy.”
To substantiate our accusation that the Latin Church first despoiled the kabalists and theurgists of their magical rites and ceremonies, before hurling anathemas upon their devoted heads, we will now translate for the reader fragments from the forms of exorcism employed by kabalists and Christians. The identity in phraseology, may, perhaps, disclose one of the reasons why the Romish Church has always desired to keep the faithful in ignorance of the meaning of her Latin prayers and ritual. Only those directly interested in the deception have had the opportunity to compare the rituals of the Church and the magicians. The best Latin scholars were, until a comparatively recent date, either churchmen, or dependent upon the Church. Common people could not read Latin, and even if they could, the reading of the books on magic was prohibited, under the penalty of anathema and excommunication. The cunning device of the confessional made it almost impossible to consult, even surreptitiously, what the priests call a grimoire (a devil’s scrawl), or Ritual of Magic. To make assurance doubly sure, the Church began destroying or concealing everything of the kind she could lay her hands upon.
The following are translated from the Kabalistic Ritual, and that generally known as the Roman Ritual. The latter was promulgated in 1851 and 1852, under the sanction of Cardinal Engelbert, Archbishop of Malines, and of the Archbishop of Paris. Speaking of it, the demonologist des Mousseaux says: “It is the ritual of Paul V., revised by the most learned of modern Popes, by the contemporary of Voltaire, Benedict XIV.”
ABALISTIC. (Jewish and Pagan.)
Exorcism of Salt.
The Priest-Magician blesses the Salt, and says: “Creature of Salt, in thee may remain the WISDOM (of God); and may it preserve from all corruption our minds and
[[Continued on next page]]
Exorcism of Salt.
The Priest blesses the Salt and says: “Creature of Salt, I exorcise thee in the name of the living God . . . become the health of the soul and of the body! Every- [[Continued on next page]]
[[Column one: KABALISTIC. (Jewish and Pagan.) — Continued]]
Through Hochmael (God of wisdom), and the power of Ruach Hochmael (Spirit of the Holy Ghost) may the Spirits of matter (bad spirits) before it recede. . . . Amen.”
Exorcism of Water
“Creature of the Water, I exorcise thee . . . by the three names which are Netsah, Hod, and Jerod (kabalistic trinity), in the beginning and in the end, by Alpha and Omega, which are in the Spirit Azoth (Holy Ghost, or the ‘Universal Soul‘), I exorcise and adjure thee. . . . Wandering eagle, may the Lord command thee by the wings of the bull and his flaming sword.” (The cherub placed at the east gate of Eden.)
Exorcism of an Elemental Spirit.
“Serpent, in the name of the Tetragrammaton, the Lord; He commands thee, by the angel and the lion.
“Angel of darkness, obey, and run away with this holy (exorcised) water. Eagle in chains, obey this sign, and retreat before the breath. Moving serpent, crawl at my feet, or be tortured by this sacred fire, and evaporate before this holy incense. Let water return to water (the elemental spirit of water); let the fire burn, and the air circulate; let the earth return to earth by the virtue of the Pentagram, which is the Morning Star, and in the name of the tetragrammaton which is traced in the centre of the Cross of Light. Amen.”
[[Column two: ROMAN CATHOLIC — Continued]]
where where thou art thrown may the unclean spirit be put to flight. . . . Amen.”
Exorcism of Water.
“Creature of the water, in the name of the Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost . . . be exorcised. . . . I adjure thee in the name of the Lamb . . . (the magician says bull or ox — per alas Tauri) of the Lamb that trod upon the basilisk and the aspic, and who crushes under his foot the lion and the dragon.”
Exorcism of the Devil.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
“O Lord, let him who carries along with him the terror, flee, struck in his turn by terror and defeated. O thou, who art the Ancient Serpent . . . tremble before the hand of him who, having triumphed of the tortures of hell (?) devictis gemitibus inferni, recalled the souls to light. . . . The more whilst thou decay, the more terrible will be thy torture . . . by Him who reigns over the living and the dead . . . and who will judge the century by fire, saeculum per ignem, etc. In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
It is unnecessary to try the patience of the reader any longer, although we might multiply examples. It must not be forgotten that we have quoted from the latest revision of the Ritual, that of 1851-2. If we were to go back to the former one we would find a far more striking identity, not merely of phraseology but of ceremonial form. For the purpose of comparison we have not even availed ourselves of the ritual of ceremonial magic of the Christian kabalists of the middle ages, wherein the language modelled upon a belief in the divinity of Christ is, with the exception of a stray expression here and there, identical with the Catholic
Ritual. The latter, however, makes one improvement, for the originality of which the Church should be allowed all credit. Certainly nothing so fantastical could be found in a ritual of magic. “Give place,” apostrophizing the “Demon,” it says, “give place to Jesus Christ . . . thou filthy, stinking, and ferocious beast . . . dost thou rebel? Listen and tremble, Satan; enemy of the faith, enemy of the human race, introducer of death . . . root of all evil, promoter of vice, soul of envy, origin of avarice, cause of discord, prince of homicide, whom God curses; author of incest and sacrilege, inventor of all obscenity, professor of the most detestable actions, and Grand Master of Heretics (!!) (Doctor Haereticorum!) What! . . . dost thou still stand? Dost dare to resist, and thou knowest that Christ, our Lord, is coming? . . . Give place to Jesus Christ, give place to the Holy Ghost, which, by His blessed Apostle Peter, has flung thee down before the public, in the person of Simon the Magician” (te manifeste stravit in Simone mago).
After such a shower of abuse, no devil having the slightest feeling of self-respect could remain in such company; unless, indeed, he should chance to be an Italian Liberal, or King Victor Emmanuel himself both of whom, thanks to Pius IX., have become anathema-proof.
It really seems too bad to strip Rome of all her symbols at once; but justice must be done to the despoiled hierophants. Long before the sign of the Cross was adopted as a Christian symbol, it was employed as a secret sign of recognition among neophytes and adepts. Says Levi: “The sign of the Cross adopted by the Christians does not belong exclusively to them. It is kabalistic, and represents the oppositions and quaternary equilibrium of the elements. We see by the occult verse of the Pater, to which we have called attention in another work, that there were originally two ways of making it, or, at least, two very different formulas to express its meaning — one reserved for priests and initiates; the other given to neophytes and the profane. Thus, for example, the initiate, carrying his hand to his forehead, said: To thee; then he added, belong; and continued, while carrying his hand to the breast — the kingdom; then, to the left shoulder — justice; to the right shoulder — and mercy. Then he joined the two hands, adding: throughout the generating cycles: ‘Tibi sunt Malchut, et Geburah et Chassed per AEonas‘ — a sign of the Cross, absolutely and magnificently kabalistic, which the profanations of Gnosticism made the militant and official Church completely lose.”
How fantastical, therefore, is the assertion of Father Ventura, that, while Augustine was a Manichean, a philosopher, ignorant of and refusing to humble himself before the sublimity of the “grand Christian revelation,” he knew nothing, understood naught of God, man, or universe; “. . . he remained poor, small, obscure, sterile, and wrote nothing, did nothing really grand or useful.” But, hardly had he become a Christian “. . . when his reasoning powers and intellect, enlightened at the luminary of faith, elevated him to the most sublime heights of philosophy and theology.” And his other proposition that Augustine’s genius, as a consequence, “developed itself in all its grandeur and prodigious fecundity . . . his intellect radiated with that immense splendor which, reflecting itself in his immortal writings, has never ceased for one moment during fourteen centuries to illuminate the Church and the world”!
Whatever Augustine was as a Manichean, we leave Father Ventura to discover; but that his accession to Christianity established an everlasting enmity between theology and science is beyond doubt. While forced to confess that “the Gentiles had possibly something divine and true in their doctrines,” he, nevertheless, declared that for their superstition, idolatry, and pride, they had “to be detested, and, unless they improved, to be punished by divine judgment.” This furnishes the clew to the subsequent policy of the Christian Church, even to our day. If the Gentiles did not choose to come into the Church, all that was divine in their philosophy should go for naught, and the divine wrath of God should be visited upon their heads. What effect this produced is succinctly stated by Draper: “No one did more than this Father to bring science and religion into antagonism; it was mainly he who diverted the Bible from its true office — a guide to purity of life — and placed it in the perilous position of being the arbiter of human knowledge, an audacious tyranny over the mind of man. The example once set, there was no want of followers; the works of the Greek philosophers were stigmatized as profane; the transcendently glorious achievements of the Museum of Alexandria were hidden from sight by a cloud of ignorance, mysticism, and unintelligible jargon, out of which there too often flashed the destroying lightnings of ecclesiastical vengeance.”
Augustine and Cyprian admit that Hermes and Hostanes believed in one true god; the first two maintaining, as well as the two Pagans, that he is invisible and incomprehensible, except spiritually. Moreover we invite any man of intelligence — provided he be not a religious fanatic — after reading fragments chosen at random from the works of Hermes
and Augustine on the Deity, to decide which of the two gives a more philosophical definition of the “unseen Father.” We have at least one writer of fame who is of our opinion. Draper calls the Augustinian productions a “rhapsodical conversation” with God; an “incoherent dream.”
Father Ventura depicts the saint as attitudinizing before an astonished world upon “the most sublime heights of philosophy.” But here steps in again the same unprejudiced critic, who passes the following remarks on this colossus of Patristic philosophy. “Was it for this preposterous scheme,” he asks, “this product of ignorance and audacity, that the works of the Greek philosophers were to be given up? It was none too soon that the great critics who appeared at the Reformation, by comparing the works of these writers with one another, brought them to their proper level, and taught us to look upon them all with contempt.”
For such men as Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Apollonius, and even Simon Magus, to be accused of having formed a pact with the Devil, whether the latter personage exist or not, is so absurd as to need but little refutation. If Simon Magus — the most problematical of all in an historical sense — ever existed otherwise than in the overheated fancy of Peter and the other apostles, he was evidently no worse than any of his adversaries. A difference in religious views, however great, is insufficient per se to send one person to heaven and the other to hell. Such uncharitable and peremptory doctrines might have been taught in the middle ages; but it is too late now for even the Church to put forward this traditional scarecrow. Research begins to suggest that which, if ever verified, will bring eternal disgrace on the Church of the Apostle Peter, whose very imposition of herself upon that disciple must be regarded as the most unverified and unverifiable of the assumptions of the Catholic clergy.
The erudite author of Supernatural Religion assiduously endeavors to prove that by Simon Magus we must understand the apostle Paul, whose Epistles were secretly as well as openly calumniated by Peter, and charged with containing “dysnoetic learning.” The Apostle of the Gentiles was brave, outspoken, sincere, and very learned; the Apostle of Circumcision, cowardly, cautious, insincere, and very ignorant. That Paul had been, partially, at least, if not completely, initiated into the theurgic mysteries, admits of little doubt. His language, the phraseology so peculiar to the Greek philosophers, certain expressions used but by the initiates, are so many sure ear-marks to that supposition. Our suspicion has been strengthened by an able article in
odicals, entitled Paul and Plato in which the author puts forward one remarkable and, for us, very precious observation. In his Epistles to the Corinthians he shows Paul abounding with “expressions suggested by the initiations of Sabazius and Eleusis, and the lectures of the (Greek) philosophers. He (Paul) designates himself an idiotes — a person unskilful in the Word, but not in the gnosis or philosophical learning. ‘We speak wisdom among the perfect or initiated,’ he writes; ‘not the wisdom of this world, nor of the archons of this world, but divine wisdom in a mystery, secret — which none of the Archons of this world knew.‘ ” What else can the apostle mean by these unequivocal words, but that he himself, as belonging to the mystae (initiated), spoke of things shown and explained only in the Mysteries? The “divine wisdom in a mystery which none of the archons of this world knew,” has evidently some direct reference to the basileus of the Eleusinian initiation who did know. The basileus belonged to the staff of the great hierophant, and was an archon of Athens; and as such was one of the chief mystae, belonging to the interior Mysteries, to which a very select and small number obtained an entrance.The magistrates supervising the Eleusinians were called archons.
Another proof that Paul belonged to the circle of the “Initiates” lies in the following fact. The apostle had his head shorn at Cenchrea (where Lucius, Apulcius, was initiated) because “he had a vow.” The nazars — or set apart — as we see in the Jewish Scriptures, had to cut their hair which they wore long, and which “no razor touched” at any other time, and sacrifice it on the altar of initiation. And the nazars were a class of Chaldean theurgists. We will show further that Jesus belonged to this class.
Paul declares that: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation.”
This expression, master-builder, used only once in the whole Bible, and by Paul, may be considered as a whole revelation. In the Mysteries, the third part of the sacred rites was called Epopteia, or revelation, reception into the secrets. In substance it means that stage of divine clairvoyance when everything pertaining to this earth disappears, and earthly sight is paralyzed, and the soul is united free and pure with its Spirit, or God. But the real significance of the word is “overseeing,” from [[optomai]] — I see myself. In Sanscrit the word evapto has the same meaning, as
well as to obtain.The word epopteia is a compound one, from [[Epi]] — upon, and [[optomai]]– to look, or an overseer, an inspector — also used for a master-builder. The title of master-mason, in Freemasonry, is derived from this, in the sense used in the Mysteries. Therefore, when Paul entitles himself a “master-builder,” he is using a word pre-eminently kabalistic, theurgic, and masonic, and one which no other apostle uses. He thus declares himself an adept, having the right to initiate others.
If we search in this direction, with those sure guides, the Grecian Mysteries and the Kabala, before us, it will be easy to find the secret reason why Paul was so persecuted and hated by Peter, John, and James. The author of the Revelation was a Jewish kabalist pur sang, with all the hatred inherited by him from his forefathers toward the Mysteries. His jealousy during the life of Jesus extended even to Peter; and it is but after the death of their common master that we see the two apostles — the former of whom wore the Mitre and the Petaloon of the Jewish Rabbis — preach so zealously the rite of circumcision. In the eyes of Peter, Paul, who had humiliated him, and whom he felt so much his superior in “Greek learning” and philosophy, must have naturally appeared as a magician, a man polluted with the “Gnosis,” with the “wisdom” of the Greek Mysteries — hence, perhaps, “Simon the Magician.”
As to Peter, biblical criticism has shown before now that he had probably no more to do with the foundation of the Latin Church at Rome, than to furnish the pretext so readily seized upon by the cunning Irenaeus to benefit this Church with the new name of the apostle — Petra or Kiffa, a name which allowed so readily, by an easy play upon words to connect it with Petroma, the double set of stone tablets used
by the hierophant at the initiations, during the final Mystery. In this, perhaps, lies concealed the whole secret of the claims of the Vatican. As Professor Wilder happily suggests: “In the Oriental countries the designation
, Peter (in Phoenician and Chaldaic, an interpreter) appears to have been the title of this personage (the hierophant). . . . There is in these facts some reminder of the peculiar circumstances of the Mosaic Law . . . and also of the claim of the Pope to be the successor of Peter, the hierophant or interpreter of the Christian religion.”
As such, we must concede to him, to some extent, the right to be such an interpreter. The Latin Church has faithfully preserved in symbols, rites, ceremonies, architecture, and even in the very dress of her clergy, the tradition of the Pagan worship — of the public or exoteric ceremonies, we should add; otherwise her dogmas would embody more sense and contain less blasphemy against the majesty of the Supreme and Invisible God.
An inscription found on the coffin of Queen Mentuhept, of the eleventh dynasty (2250 B.C.), now proved to have been transcribed from the seventeenth chapter of the Book of the Dead (dating not later than 4500 B.C.), is more than suggestive. This monumental text contains a group of hieroglyphics, which, when interpreted, read thus:
Baron Bunsen shows this sacred formulary mixed up with a whole series of glosses and various interpretations on a monument forty centuries old. “This is identical with saying that the record (the true interpretation) was at that time no longer intelligible. . . . We beg our readers to understand,” he adds, “that a sacred text, a hymn, containing the words of a departed spirit, existed in such a state about 4,000 years ago . . . as to be all but unintelligible to royal scribes.”
That it was unintelligible to the uninitiated among the latter is as well proved by the confused and contradictory glossaries, as that it was a “mystery”-word, known to the hierophants of the sanctuaries, and, moreover, a word chosen by Jesus, to designate the office assigned by him to one of his apostles. This word, PTR, was partially interpreted, owing to another word similarly written in another group of hieroglyphics, on a
stele, the sign used for it being an opened eye. Bunsen mentions as another explanation of PTR — “to show.” “It appears to me,” he remarks, “that our PTR is literally the old Aramaic and Hebrew ‘Patar,’ which occurs in the history of Joseph as the specific word for interpreting; whence also Pitrum is the term for interpretation of a text, a dream.” In a manuscript of the first century, a combination of the Demotic and Greek texts, and most probably one of the few which miraculously escaped the Christian vandalism of the second and third centuries, when all such precious manuscripts were burned as magical, we find occurring in several places a phrase, which, perhaps, may throw some light upon this question. One of the principal heroes of the manuscript, who is constantly referred to as “the Judean Illuminator” or Initiate, [[Teleiotes]], is made to communicate but with his Patar; the latter being written in Chaldaic characters. Once the latter word is coupled with the name Shimeon. Several times, the “Illuminator,” who rarely breaks his contemplative solitude, is shown inhabiting a [[Krupte]] (cave), and teaching the multitudes of eager scholars standing outside, not orally, but through this Patar. The latter receives the words of wisdom by applying his ear to a circular hole in a partition which conceals the teacher from the listeners, and then conveys them, with explanations and glossaries, to the crowd. This, with a slight change, was the method used by Pythagoras, who, as we know, never allowed his neophytes to see him during the years of probation, but instructed them from behind a curtain in his cave.
But, whether the “Illuminator” of the Graeco-Demotic manuscript is identical with Jesus or not, the fact remains, that we find him selecting a “mystery”-appellation for one who is made to appear later by the Catholic Church as the janitor of the Kingdom of Heaven and the interpreter of Christ’s will. The word Patar or Peter locates both master and disciple in the circle of initiation, and connects them with the “Secret Doctrine.” The great hierophant of the ancient Mysteries never allowed the candidates to see or hear him personally. He was the Deus-ex-Machina, the presiding but invisible Deity, uttering his will and instructions through a second party; and 2,000 years later, we discover that the Dalai-Lamas of Thibet had been following for centuries the same traditional programme during the most important religious mysteries of lamaism.
If Jesus knew the secret meaning of the title bestowed by him on Simon, then he must have been initiated; otherwise he could not have learned it; and if he was an initiate of either the Pythagorean Essenes, the Chaldean Magi, or the Egyptian Priests, then the doctrine taught by him was but a portion of the “Secret Doctrine” taught by the Pagan hierophants to the few select adepts admitted within the sacred adyta.
But we will discuss this question further on. For the present we will endeavor to briefly indicate the extraordinary similarity — or rather identity, we should say — of rites and ceremonial dress of the Christian clergy with that of the old Babylonians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, and other Pagans of the hoary antiquity.
If we would find the model of the Papal tiara, we must search the annals of the ancient Assyrian tablets. We invite the reader to give his attention to Dr. Inman’s illustrated work, Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism. On page sixty-four, he will readily recognize the head-gear of the successor of St. Peter in the coiffure worn by gods or angels in ancient Assyria, “where it appears crowned by an emblem of the male trinity” (the Christian Cross). “We may mention, in passing,” adds Dr. Inman, “that, as the Romanists adopted the mitre and the tiara from ‘the cursed brood of Ham,’ so they adopted the Episcopalian crook from the augurs of Etruria, and the artistic form with which they clothe their angels from the painters and urn-makers of Magna Grecia and Central Italy.”
Would we push our inquiries farther, and seek to ascertain as much in relation to the nimbus and the tonsure of the Catholic priest and monk? We shall find undeniable proofs that they are solar emblems. Knight, in his Old England Pictorially Illustrated, gives a drawing by St. Augustine, representing an ancient Christian bishop, in a dress probably identical with that worn by the great “saint” himself. The pallium, or the ancient stole of the bishop, is the feminine sign when worn by a priest in worship. On St. Augustine’s picture it is bedecked with Buddhistic crosses, and in its whole appearance it is a representation of the Egyptian T (tau), assuming slightly the figure of the letter Y. “Its lower end is the mark of the masculine triad,” says Inman; “the right hand (of the figure) has the forefinger extended, like the Assyrian priests while doing homage to the grove. . . . When a male dons the pallium in worship, he becomes the representative of the trinity in the unity, the arba, or mystic four.”
“Immaculate is our Lady Isis,” is the legend around an engraving
of Serapis and Isis, described by King, in The Gnostics and their Remains, [[ ‘E KURIA EICIC AGNE]] “. . . the very terms applied afterwards to that personage (the Virgin Mary) who succeeded to her form, titles, symbols, rites, and ceremonies. . . . Thus, her devotees carried into the new priesthood the former badges of their profession, the obligation to celibacy, the tonsure, and the surplice, omitting, unfortunately, the frequent ablutions prescribed by the ancient creed.” “The ‘Black Virgins,’ so highly reverenced in certain French cathedrals . . . proved, when at last critically examined, basalt figures of Isis”!
Before the shrine of Jupiter Ammon were suspended tinkling bells, from the sound of whose chiming the priests gathered the auguries; “A golden bell and a pomegranate . . . round about the hem of the robe,” was the result with the Mosaic Jews. But in the Buddhistic system, during the religious services, the gods of the Deva Loka are always invoked, and invited to descend upon the altars by the ringing of bells suspended in the pagodas. The bell of the sacred table of Siva at Kuhama is described in Kailasa, and every Buddhist vihara and lamasery has its bells.
We thus see that the bells used by Christians come to them directly from the Buddhist Thibetans and Chinese. The beads and rosaries have the same origin, and have been used by Buddhist monks for over 2,300 years. The Linghams in the Hindu temples are ornamented upon certain days with large berries, from a tree sacred to Mahadeva, which are strung into rosaries. The title of “nun” is an Egyptian word, and had with them the actual meaning; the Christians did not even take the trouble of translating the word Nonna. The aureole of the saints was used by the antediluvian artists of Babylonia, whenever they desired to honor or deify a mortal’s head. In a celebrated picture in Moore’s Hindoo Pantheon, entitled, “Christna nursed by Devaki, from a highly-finished picture,” the Hindu Virgin is represented as seated on a lounge and nursing Christna. The hair brushed back, the long veil, and the golden aureole around the Virgin’s head, as well as around that of the Hindu Saviour, are striking. No Catholic, well versed as he might be in the mysterious symbolism of iconology, would hesitate for a moment to worship at that shrine the Virgin Mary, the mother of his God! In Indur Subba, the south entrance of the Caves of Ellora, may be seen to this day the figure of Indra’s wife, Indranee, sitting with her infant son-god, pointing the finger to heaven with the same gesture as the Italian Madonna and child. In Pagan and Christian Symbolism, the author gives a figure from a
mediaeval woodcut — the like of which we have seen by dozens in old psalters — in which the Virgin Mary, with her infant, is represented as the Queen of Heaven, on the crescent moon, emblem of virginity. “Being before the sun, she almost eclipses its light. Than this, nothing could more completely identify the Christian mother and child with Isis and Horus, Ishtar, Venus, Juno, and a host of other Pagan goddesses, who have been called ‘Queen of Heaven,’ ‘Queen of the Universe,’ ‘Mother of God,’ ‘Spouse of God,’ ‘the Celestial Virgin,’ ‘the Heavenly Peace-Maker,’ etc.”
Such pictures are not purely astronomical. They represent the male god and the female goddess, as the sun and moon in conjunction, “the union of the triad with the unit.” The horns of the cow on the head of Isis have the same significance.
And so above, below, outside, and inside, the Christian Church, in the priestly garments, and the religious rites, we recognize the stamp of exoteric heathenism. On no subject within the wide range of human knowledge, has the world been more blinded or deceived with such persistent misrepresentation as on that of antiquity. Its hoary past and its religious faiths have been misrepresented and trampled under the feet of its successors. Its hierophants and prophets, mystae and epoptae, of the once sacred adyta of the temple shown as demoniacs and devil-worshippers. Donned in the despoiled garments of the victim, the Christian priest now anathematizes the latter with rites and ceremonies which he has learned from the theurgists themselves. The Mosaic Bible is used as a weapon against the people who furnished it. The heathen philosopher is cursed under the very roof which has witnessed his initiation; and the “monkey of God” (i.e., the devil of Tertullian), “the originator and founder of magical theurgy, the science of illusions and lies, whose father and author is the demon,” is exorcised with holy water by the hand which holds the identical lituus with which the ancient augur, after a solemn prayer, used to determine the regions of heaven, and evoke, in the name of the HIGHEST, the minor god (now termed the Devil), who unveiled to his eyes futurity, and enabled him to prophesy! On the part of the Christians and the clergy it is nothing but shameful ignorance, prejudice, and that contemptible pride so boldly denounced by one of their own reverend ministers, T. Gross, which rails against all investigation “as a useless or a criminal labor, when it must be feared that they will result in the overthrow of preestablished systems of faith.” On the part of the scholars it is the same apprehension of the possible necessity of having to
modify some of their erroneously-established theories of science. “Nothing but such pitiable prejudice,” says Gross, “can have thus misrepresented the theology of heathenism, and distorted — nay, caricatured — its forms of religious worship. It is time that posterity should raise its voice in vindication of violated truth, and that the present age should learn a little of that common sense of which it boasts with as much self-complacency as if the prerogative of reason was the birthright only of modern times.”
All this gives a sure clew to the real cause of the hatred felt by the early and mediaeval Christian toward his Pagan brother and dangerous rival. We hate but what we fear. The Christian thaumaturgist once having broken all association with the Mysteries of the temples and with “these schools so renowned for magic,” described by St. Hilarion, could certainly expect but little to rival the Pagan wonder-workers. No apostle, with the exception perhaps of healing by mesmeric power, has ever equalled Apollonius of Tyana; and the scandal created among the apostles by the miracle-doing Simon Magus, is too notorious to be repeated here again. “How is it,” asks Justin Martyr, in evident dismay, “how is it that the talismans of Apollonius (the [[telesmata]]) have power in certain members of creation, for they prevent, as we see, the fury of the waves, and the violence of the winds, and the attacks of wild beasts; and whilst our Lord’s miracles are preserved by tradition alone, those of Apollonius are most numerous, and actually manifested in present facts, so as to lead astray all beholders?” This perplexed martyr solves the problem by attributing very correctly the efficacy and potency of the charms used by Apollonius to his profound knowledge of the sympathies and antipathies (or repugnances) of nature.
Unable to deny the evident superiority of their enemies’ powers, the fathers had recourse to the old but ever successful method — that of slander. They honored the theurgists with the same insinuating calumny that had been resorted to by the Pharisees against Jesus. “Thou hast a daemon,” the elders of the Jewish Synagogue had said to him. “Thou hast the Devil,” repeated the cunning fathers, with equal truth, addressing the Pagan thaumaturgist; and the widely-bruited charge, erected later into an article of faith, won the day.
But the modern heirs of these ecclesiastical falsifiers, who charge magic, spiritualism, and even magnetism with being produced by a demon, forget or perhaps never read the classics. None of our bigots has ever looked with more scorn on the abuses of magic than did the true initiate
of old. No modern or even mediaeval law could be more severe than that of the hierophant. True, he had more discrimination, charity, and justice, than the Christian clergy; for while banishing the “unconscious” sorcerer, the person troubled with a demon, from within the sacred precincts of the adyta, the priests, instead of mercilessly burning him, took care of the unfortunate “possessed one.” Having hospitals expressly for that purpose in the neighborhood of temples, the ancient “medium,” if obsessed, was taken care of and restored to health. But with one who had, by conscious witchcraft, acquired powers dangerous to his fellow-creatures, the priests of old were as severe as justice herself. “Any person accidentally guilty of homicide, or of any crime, or convicted of witchcraft, was excluded from the Eleusinian Mysteries.” And so were they from all others. This law, mentioned by all writers on the ancient initiation, speaks for itself. The claim of Augustine, that all the explanations given by the Neo-platonists were invented by themselves is absurd. For nearly every ceremony in their true and successive order is given by Plato himself, in a more or less covered way. The Mysteries are as old as the world, and one well versed in the esoteric mythologies of various nations can trace them back to the days of the ante-Vedic period in India. A condition of the strictest virtue and purity is required from the Vatou, or candidate in India before he can become an initiate, whether he aims to be a simple fakir, a Purohita (public priest) or a Sannyasi, a saint of the second degree of initiation, the most holy as the most revered of them all. After having conquered, in the terrible trials preliminary to admittance to the inner temple in the subterranean crypts of his pagoda, the sannyasi passes the rest of his life in the temple, practicing the eighty-four rules and ten virtues prescribed to the Yogis.
“No one who has not practiced, during his whole life, the ten virtues which the divine Manu makes incumbent as a duty, can be initiated into the Mysteries of the council,” say the Hindu books of initiation.
These virtues are: “Resignation; the act of rendering good for evil; temperance; probity; purity; chastity; repression of the physical senses; the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures; that of the Superior soul (spirit); worship of truth; abstinence from anger.” These virtues must alone direct the life of a true Yogi. “No unworthy adept ought to defile the ranks of the holy initiates by his presence for twenty-four hours.” The adept becomes guilty after having once broken any one of these vows. Surely the exercise of such virtues is inconsistent with the idea one has of devil-worship and lasciviousness of purpose!
And now we will try to give a clear insight into one of the chief ob-
jects of this work. What we desire to prove is, that underlying every ancient popular religion was the same ancient wisdom-doctrine, one and identical, professed and practiced by the initiates of every country, who alone were aware of its existence and importance. To ascertain its origin, and the precise age in which it was matured, is now beyond human possibility. A single glance, however, is enough to assure one that it could not have attained the marvellous perfection in which we find it pictured to us in the relics of the various esoteric systems, except after a succession of ages. A philosophy so profound, a moral code so ennobling, and practical results so conclusive and so uniformly demonstrable is not the growth of a generation, or even a single epoch. Fact must have been piled upon fact, deduction upon deduction, science have begotten science, and myriads of the brightest human intellects have reflected upon the laws of nature, before this ancient doctrine had taken concrete shape. The proofs of this identity of fundamental doctrine in the old religions are found in the prevalence of a system of initiation; in the secret sacerdotal castes who had the guardianship of mystical words of power, and a public display of a phenomenal control over natural forces, indicating association with preterhuman beings. Every approach to the Mysteries of all these nations was guarded with the same jealous care, and in all, the penalty of death was inflicted upon initiates of any degree who divulged the secrets entrusted to them. We have seen that such was the case in the Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, among the Chaldean Magi, and the Egyptian hierophants; while with the Hindus, from whom they were all derived, the same rule has prevailed from time immemorial. We are left in no doubt upon this point; for the Agrushada Parikshai says explicitly, “Every initiate, to whatever degree he may belong, who reveals the great sacred formula, must be put to death.”
Naturally enough, this same extreme penalty was prescribed in all the multifarious sects and brotherhoods which at different periods have sprung from the ancient stock. We find it with the early Essenes, Gnostics, theurgic Neo-platonists, and mediaeval philosophers; and in our day, even the Masons perpetuate the memory of the old obligations in the penalties of throat-cutting, dismemberment, and disemboweling, with which the candidate is threatened. As the Masonic “master’s word” is communicated only at “low breath,” so the selfsame precaution is prescribed in the Chaldean Book of Numbers and the Jewish Mercaba. When initiated, the neophyte was led by an ancient to a secluded spot, and there the latter whispered in his ear the great secret. The Mason swears, under the most frightful penalties, that he will not communicate the secrets of
any degree “to a brother of an inferior degree“; and the Agrushada Parikshai says: “Any initiate of the third degree who reveals before the prescribed time, to the initiates of the second degree, the superior truths, must be put to death.” Again, the Masonic apprentice consents to have his “tongue torn out by the roots” if he divulge anything to a profane; and in the Hindu books of initiation, the same Agrushada Parikshai, we find that any initiate of the first degree (the lowest) who betrays the secrets of his initiation, to members of other castes, for whom the science should be a closed book, must have “his tongue cut out,” and suffer other mutilations.
As we proceed, we will point out the evidences of this identity of vows, formulas, rites, and doctrines, between the ancient faiths. We will also show that not only their memory is still preserved in India, but also that the Secret Association is still alive and as active as ever. That, after reading what we have to say, it may be inferred that the chief pontiff and hierophants, the Brahmatma, is still accessible to those “who know,” though perhaps recognized by another name; and that the ramifications of his influence extend throughout the world. But we will now return again to the early Christian period.
As though he were not aware that there was any esoteric significance to the exoteric symbols, and that the Mysteries themselves were composed of two parts, the lesser at Agrae, and the higher ones at Eleusinia, Clemens Alexandrinus, with a rancorous bigotry that one might expect from a renegade Neo-platonist, but is astonished to find in this generally honest and learned Father, stigmatized the Mysteries as indecent and diabolical. Whatever were the rites enacted among the neophytes before they passed to a higher form of instruction; however misunderstood were the trials of Katharsis or purification, during which they were submitted to every kind of probation; and however much the immaterial or physical aspect might have led to calumny, it is but wicked prejudice which can compel a person to say that under this external meaning there was not a far deeper and spiritual significance.
It is positively absurd to judge the ancients from our own standpoint of propriety and virtue. And most assuredly it is not for the Church — which now stands accused by all the modern symbologists of having adopted precisely these same emblems in their coarsest aspect, and feels herself powerless to refute the accusations — to throw the stone at those who were her models. When men like Pythagoras, Plato, and Iamblichus, renowned for their severe morality, took part in the Mysteries, and spoke of them with veneration, it ill behooves our modern critics to judge them so rashly upon their merely external aspects. Iamblichus explains the worst; and his explanation, for an unprejudiced mind, ought to be
perfectly plausible. “Exhibitions of this kind,” he says, “in the Mysteries were designed to free us from licentious passions, by gratifying the sight, and at the same time vanquishing all evil thought, through the awful sanctity with which these rites were accompanied.The wisest and best men in the Pagan world,” adds Dr. Warburton, “are unanimous in this, that the Mysteries were instituted pure, and proposed the noblest ends by the worthiest means.”
In these celebrated rites, although persons of both sexes and all classes were allowed to take a part, and a participation in them was even obligatory, very few indeed attained the higher and final initiation. The gradation of the Mysteries is given us by Proclus in the fourth book of his Theology of Plato. “The perfective rite [[telete]], precedes in order the initiation — Muesis — and the initiation, Epopteia, or the final apocalypse (revelation).” Theon of Smyrna, in Mathematica, also divides the mystic rites into five parts: “the first of which is the previous purification; for neither are the Mysteries communicated to all who are willing to receive them; . . . there are certain persons who are prevented by the voice of the crier ([[Kerux]]) . . . since it is necessary that such as are not expelled from the Mysteries should first be refined by certain purifications which the reception of the sacred rites succeeds. The third part is denominated epopteia or reception. And the fourth, which is the end and design of the revelation, is the binding of the head and fixing of the crowns . . . whether after this he (the initiated person) becomes . . . an hierophant or sustains some other part of the sacerdotal office. But the fifth, which is produced from all these, is friendship and interior communion with God.” And this was the last and most awful of all the Mysteries.
There are writers who have often wondered at the meaning of this claim to a “friendship and interior communion with God.” Christian authors have denied the pretensions of the “Pagans” to such “communion,” affirming that only Christian saints were and are capable of enjoying it; materialistic skeptics have altogether scoffed at the idea of both. After long ages of religious materialism and spiritual stagnation, it has most certainly become difficult if not altogether
around the Agora of Athens, with its altar to the “Unknown God,” are no more; and their descendants firmly believe that they have found the “Unknown” in the Jewish Jehova. The divine ecstasies of the early Christians have made room for visions of a more modern character, in perfect keeping with progress and civilization. The “Son of man” appearing to the rapt vision of the ancient Christian as coming from the seventh heaven, in a cloud of glory, and surrounded with angels and winged seraphim, has made room for a more prosaic and at the same time more business-like Jesus. The latter is now shown as making morning calls upon Mary and Martha in Bethany; as seating himself on “the ottoman” with the younger sister, a lover of “ethics,” while Martha goes off to the kitchen to cook. Anon the heated fancy of a blasphemous Brooklyn preacher and harlequin, the Reverend Dr. Talmage, makes us see her rushing back “with besweated brow, a pitcher in one hand and the tongs in the other . . . into the presence of Christ,” and blowing him up for not caring that her sister hath left her “to serve alone.”
From the birth of the solemn and majestic conception of the unrevealed Deity of the ancient adepts to such caricatured descriptions of him who died on the Cross for his philanthropic devotion to humanity, long centuries have intervened, and their heavy tread seems to have almost entirely obliterated all sense of a spiritual religion from the hearts of his professed followers. No wonder then, that the sentence of Proclus is no longer understood by the Christians, and is rejected as a “vaglary” by the materialists, who, in their negation, are less blasphemous and atheistical than many of the reverends and members of the churches. But, although the Greek epoptai are no more, we have now, in our own age, a people far more ancient than the oldest Hellenes, who practice the so-called “preterhuman” gifts to the same extent as did their ancestors far earlier than the days of Troy. It is to this people that we draw the attention of the psychologist and philosopher.
One need not go very deep into the literature of the Orientalists to become convinced that in most cases they do not even suspect that in
the arcane philosophy of India there are depths which they have not sounded, and cannot sound, for they pass on without perceiving them. There is a pervading tone of conscious superiority, a ring of contempt in the treatment of Hindu metaphysics, as though the European mind is alone enlightened enough to polish the rough diamond of the old Sanscrit writers, and separate right from wrong for the benefit of their descendants. We see them disputing over the external forms of expression without a conception of the great vital truths these hide from the profane view.
“As a rule, the Brahmans,” says Jacolliot, “rarely go beyond the class of grihesta [priests of the vulgar castes] and purahita [exorcisers, divines, prophets, and evocators of spirits]. And yet, we shall see . . . once that we have touched upon the question and study of manifestations and phenomena, that these initiates of the first degree (the lowest) attribute to themselves, and in appearance possess faculties developed to a degree which has never been equalled in Europe. As to the initiates of the second and especially of the third category, they pretend to be enabled to ignore time, space, and to command life and death.”
Such initiates as these M. Jacolliot did not meet; for, as he says himself, they only appear on the most solemn occasions, and when the faith of the multitudes has to be strengthened by phenomena of a superior order. “They are never seen, either in the neighborhood of, or even inside the temples, except at the grand quinquennial festival of the fire. On that occasion, they appear about the middle of the night, on a platform erected in the centre of the sacred lake, like so many phantoms, and by their conjurations they illumine the space. A fiery column of light ascends from around them, rushing from earth to heaven. Unfamiliar sounds vibrate through the air, and five or six hundred thousand Hindus, gathered from every part of India to contemplate these demi-gods, throw themselves with their faces buried in the dust, invoking the souls of their ancestors.”
Let any impartial person read the Spiritisme dans le Monde, and he cannot believe that this “implacable rationalist,” as Jacolliot takes pride in terming himself, said one word more than is warranted by what he had seen. His statements support and are corroborated by those of other skeptics. As a rule, the missionaries, even after passing half a lifetime in the country of “devil-worship,” as they call India, either disingenuously deny altogether what they cannot help knowing to be true, or ridiculously attribute phenomena to this power of the Devil, that outrival the “miracles” of the apostolic ages. And what do we see this French
author, notwithstanding his incorrigible rationalism, forced to admit, after having narrated the greatest wonders? Watch the fakirs as he would, he is compelled to bear the strongest testimony to their perfect honesty in the matter of their miraculous phenomena. “Never,” he says, “have we succeeded in detecting a single one in the act of deceit.” One fact should be noted by all who, without having been in India, still fancy they are clever enough to expose the fraud of pretended magicians. This skilled and cool observer, this redoubtable materialist, after his long sojourn in India, affirms, “We unhesitatingly avow that we have not met, either in India or in Ceylon, a single European, even among the oldest residents, who has been able to indicate the means employed by these devotees for the production of these phenomena!”
And how should they? Does not this zealous Orientalist confess to us that even he, who had every available means at hand to learn many of their rites and doctrines at first hand, failed in his attempts to make the Brahmans explain to him their secrets. “All that our most diligent inquiries of the Pourohitas could elicit from them respecting the acts of their superiors (the invisible initiates of the temples), amounts to very little.” And again, speaking of one of the books, he confesses that, while purporting to reveal all that is desirable to know, it “falls back into mysterious formulas, in combinations of magical and occult letters, the secret of which it has been impossible for us to penetrate,” etc.
The fakirs, although they can never reach beyond the first degree of initiation, are, notwithstanding, the only agents between the living world and the “silent brothers,” or those initiates who never cross the thresholds of their sacred dwellings. The Fukara-Yogis belong to the temples, and who knows but these cenobites of the sanctuary have far more to do with the psychological phenomena which attend the fakirs, and have been so graphically described by Jacolliot, than the Pitris themselves? Who can tell but that the fluidic spectre of the ancient Brahman seen by Jacolliot was the Scin-lecca, the spiritual double, of one of these mysterious sannyasi?
Although the story has been translated and commented upon by Professor Perty, of Geneva, still we will venture to give it in Jacolliot’s own words: “A moment after the disappearance of the hands, the fakir continuing his evocations (mantras) more earnestly than ever, a cloud like the first, but more opalescent and more opaque, began to hover near the small brasier, which, by request of the Hindu, I had constantly fed with live coals. Little by little it assumed a form entire human, and I distinguished the spectre — for I cannot call it otherwise — of an old Brahman sacrificator, kneeling near the little brasier.
“He bore on his forehead the signs sacred to Vishnu, and around his
body the triple cord, sign of the initiates of the priestly caste. He joined his hands above his head, as during the sacrifices, and his lips moved as if they were reciting prayers. At a given moment, he took a pinch of perfumed powder, and threw it upon the coals; it must have been a strong compound, for a thick smoke arose on the instant, and filled the two chambers.
“When it was dissipated, I perceived the spectre, which, two steps from me, was extending to me its fleshless hand; I took it in mine, making a salutation, and I was astonished to find it, although bony and hard, warm and living.
” ‘Art thou, indeed,’ said I at this moment, in a loud voice, ‘an ancient inhabitant of the earth?’
“I had not finished the question, when the word AM, (yes) appeared and then disappeared in letters of fire, on the breast of the old Brahman, with an effect much like that which the word would produce if written in the dark with a stick of phosphorus.
” ‘Will you leave me nothing in token of your visit?’ I continued.
“The spirit broke the triple cord, composed of three strands of cotton, which begirt his loins, gave it to me, and vanished at my feet.”
“Oh Brahma! what is this mystery which takes place every night? . . . When lying on the matting, with eyes closed, the body is lost sight of, and the soul escapes to enter into conversation with the Pitris. . . . Watch over it, O Brahma, when, forsaking the resting body, it goes away to hover over the waters, to wander in the immensity of heaven, and penetrate into the dark and mysterious nooks of the valleys and grand forests of the Hymavat! ” (Agroushada Parikshai.)
The fakirs, when belonging to some particular temple, never act but under orders. Not one of them, unless he has reached a degree of extraordinary sanctity, is freed from the influence and guidance of his guru, his teacher, who first initiated and instructed him in the mysteries of the occult sciences. Like the subject of the European mesmerizer, the average fakir can never rid himself entirely of the psychological influence exercised on him by his guru. Having passed two or three hours in the silence and solitude of the inner temple in prayer and meditation, the fakir, when he emerges thence, is mesmerically strengthened and prepared; he produces wonders far more varied and powerful than before he entered. The “master” has laid his hands upon him, and the fakir feels strong.
It may be shown, on the authority of many Brahmanical and Buddhist sacred books, that there has ever existed a great difference between
adepts of the higher order, and purely psychological subjects — like many of these fakirs, who are mediums in a certain qualified sense. True, the fakir is ever talking of Pitris, and this is natural; for they are his protecting deities. But are the Pitris disembodied human beings of our race? This is the question, and we will discuss it in a moment.
We say that the fakir may be regarded in a degree as a medium; for he is — what is not generally known — under the direct mesmeric influence of a living adept, his sannyasi or guru. When the latter dies, the power of the former, unless he has received the last transfer of spiritual forces, wanes and often even disappears. Why, if it were otherwise, should the fakirs have been excluded from the right of advancing to the second and third degree? The lives of many of them exemplify a degree of self-sacrifice and sanctity unknown and utterly incomprehensible to Europeans, who shudder at the bare thought of such self-inflicted tortures. But however shielded from control by vulgar and earth-bound spirits, however wide the chasm between a debasing influence and their self-controlled souls; and however well protected by the seven-knotted magical bamboo rod which he receives from the guru, still the fakir lives in the outer world of sin and matter, and it is possible that his soul may be tainted, perchance, by the magnetic emanations from profane objects and persons, and thereby open an access to strange spirits and gods. To admit one so situated, one not under any and all circumstances sure of the mastery over himself, to a knowledge of the awful mysteries and priceless secrets of initiation, would be impracticable. It would not only imperil the security of that which must, at all hazards, be guarded from profanation, but it would be consenting to admit behind the veil a fellow being, whose mediumistic irresponsibility might at any moment cause him to lose his life through an involuntary indiscretion. The same law which prevailed in the Eleusinian Mysteries before our era, holds good now in India.
Not only must the adept have mastery over himself, but he must be able to control the inferior grades of spiritual beings, nature-spirits, and earthbound souls, in short the very ones by whom, if by any, the fakir is liable to be affected.
For the objector to affirm that the Brahman-adepts and the fakirs admit that of themselves they are powerless, and can only act with the help of disembodied human spirits, is to state that these Hindus are unacquainted with the laws of their sacred books and even the meaning of the word Pitris. The Laws of Manu, the Atharva-Veda, and other books, prove what we now say. “All that exists,” says the Atharva-Veda, “is in the power of the gods. The gods are under the power of magical conjurations. The magical conjurations are under the control of the Brahmans. Hence
the gods are in the power of the Brahmans.” This is logical, albeit seemingly paradoxical, and it is the fact. And this fact will explain to those who have not hitherto had the clew (among whom Jacolliot must be numbered, as will appear on reading his works), why the fakir should be confined to the first, or lowest degree of that course of initiation whose highest adepts, or hierophants, are the sannyasis, or members of the ancient Supreme Council of Seventy.
Moreover, in Book I., of the Hindu Genesis, or Book of Creation of Manu, the Pitris are called the lunar ancestors of the human race. They belong to a race of beings different from ourselves, and cannot properly be called “human spirits” in the sense in which the spiritualists use this term. This is what is said of them:
“Then they (the gods) created the Jackshas, the Rakshasas, the Pisatshas, the Gandarbas and the Apsaras, and the Asuras, the Nagas, the Sarpas and the Suparnas, and the Pitris — lunar ancestors of the human race” (See Institutes of Manu, Book I., sloka 37, where the Pitris are termed “progenitors of mankind”).
The Pitris are a distinct race of spirits belonging to the mythological hierarchy or rather to the kabalistical nomenclature, and must be included with the good genii, the daemons of the Greeks, or the inferior gods of the invisible world; and when a fakir attributes his phenomena to the Pitris, he means only what the ancient philosophers and theurgists meant when they maintained that all the “miracles” were obtained through the intervention of the gods, or the good and bad daemons, who control the powers of nature, the elementals, who are subordinate to the power of him “who knows.” A ghost or human phantom would be termed by a fakir palit, or chutna, as that of a female human spirit pichhalpai, not pitris. True, pitara means (plural) fathers, ancestors; and pitra-i is a kinsman; but these words are used in quite a different sense from that of the Pitris invoked in the mantras.
To maintain before a devout Brahman or a fakir that any one can converse with the spirits of the dead, would be to shock him with what would appear to him blasphemy. Does not the concluding verse of the Bagavat state that this supreme felicity is alone reserved to the holy sannyasis, the gurus, and yogis?
“Long before they finally rid themselves of their mortal envelopes, the souls who have practiced only good, such as those of the sannyasis and the vanaprasthas, acquire the faculty of conversing with the souls which preceded them to the swarga.”
In this case the Pitris instead of genii are the spirits, or rather souls, of the departed ones. But they will freely communicate only with those whose atmosphere is as pure as their own, and to whose prayerful kalassa (invocation) they can respond without the risk of defiling their own celestial purity. When the soul of the invocator has reached the Sayadyam, or perfect identity of essence with the Universal Soul, when matter is utterly conquered, then the adept can freely enter into daily and hourly communion with those who, though unburdened with their corporeal forms, are still themselves progressing through the endless series of transformations included in the gradual approach to the Paramatma, or the grand Universal Soul.
Bearing in mind that the Christian fathers have always claimed for themselves and their saints the name of “friends of God,” and knowing that they borrowed this expression, with many others, from the technology of the Pagan temples, it is but natural to expect them to show an evil temper whenever alluding to these rites. Ignorant, as a rule, and having had biographers as ignorant as themselves, we could not well expect them to find in the accounts of their beatific visions a descriptive beauty such as we find in the Pagan classics. Whether the visions and objective phenomena claimed by both the fathers of the desert and the hierophants of the sanctuary are to be discredited, or accepted as facts, the splendid imagery employed by Proclus and Apuleius in narrating the small portion of the final initiation that they dared reveal, throws completely into the shade the plagiaristic tales of the Christian ascetics, faithful copies though they were intended to be. The story of the temptation of St. Anthony in the desert by the female demon, is a parody upon the preliminary trials of the neophyte during the Mikra, or minor Mysteries of Agrae — those rites at the thought of which Clemens railed so bitterly, and which represented the bereaved Demeter in search of her child, and her good-natured hostess Baubo.
Without entering again into a demonstration that in Christian, and especially Irish Roman Catholic, churches the same apparently indecent customs as the above prevailed until the end of the last century, we will recur to the untiring labors of that honest and brave defender of the ancient faith, Thomas Taylor, and his works. However much dogmatic Greek scholarship may have found to say against his “mistranslations,” his memory must be dear to every true Platonist, who seeks rather to learn the inner thought of the great philosopher than enjoy the mere external mechanism of his writings. Better classical translators may have
rendered us, in more correct phraseology, Plato’s words, but Taylor shows us Plato’s meaning, and this is more than can be said of Zeller, Jowett, and their predecessors. Yet, as writes Professor A. Wilder, “Taylor’s works have met with favor at the hands of men capable of profound and recondite thinking; and it must be conceded that he was endowed with a superior qualification — that of an intuitive perception of the interior meaning of the subjects which he considered. Others may have known more Greek, but he knew more Plato.”
Taylor devoted his whole useful life to the search after such old manuscripts as would enable him to have his own speculations concerning several obscure rites in the Mysteries corroborated by writers who had been initiated themselves. It is with full confidence in the assertions of various classical writers that we say that ridiculous, perhaps licentious in some cases, as may appear ancient worship to the modern critic, it ought not to have so appeared to the Christians. During the mediaeval ages, and even later, they accepted pretty nearly the same without understanding the secret import of its rites, and quite satisfied with the obscure and rather fantastic interpretations of their clergy, who accepted the exterior form and distorted the inner meaning. We are ready to concede, in full justice, that centuries have passed since the great majority of the Christian clergy, who are not allowed to pry into God’s mysteries nor seek to explain that which the Church has once accepted and established, have had the remotest idea of their symbolism, whether in its exoteric or esoteric meaning. Not so with the head of the Church and its highest dignitaries. And if we fully agree with Inman that it is “difficult to believe that the ecclesiastics who sanctioned the publication of such prints could have been as ignorant as modern ritualists,” we are not at all prepared to believe with the same author “that the latter, if they knew the real meaning of the symbols commonly used by the Roman Church, would not have adopted them.”
To eliminate what is plainly derived from the sex and nature wor-
ship of the ancient heathens, would be equivalent to pulling down the whole Roman Catholic image-worship — the Madonna element — and reforming the faith to Protestantism. The enforcement of the late dogma of the Immaculation was prompted by this very secret reason. The science of symbology was making too rapid progress. Blind faith in the Pope’s infallibility and in the immaculate nature of the Virgin and of her ancestral female lineage to a certain remove could alone save the Church from the indiscreet revelations of science. It was a clever stroke of policy on the part of the vicegerent of God. What matters it if, by “conferring upon her such an honor,” as Don Pascale de Franciscis naively expresses it, he has made a goddess of the Virgin Mary, an Olympian Deity, who, having been by her very nature placed in the impossibility of sinning, can claim no virtue, no personal merit for her purity, precisely for which, as we were taught to believe in our younger days, she was chosen among all other women. If his Holiness has deprived her of this, perhaps, on the other hand, he thinks that he has endowed her with at least one physical attribute not shared by the other virgin-goddesses. But even this new dogma, which, in company with the new claim to infallibility, has quasi-revolutionized the Christian world, is not original with the Church of Rome. It is but a return to a hardly-remembered heresy of the early Christian ages, that of the Collyridians, so called from their sacrificing cakes to the Virgin, whom they claimed to be Virgin-born. The new sentence, “O, Virgin Mary, conceived without sin,” is simply a tardy acceptance of that which was at first deemed a “blasphemous heresie” by the orthodox fathers.
To think for one moment that any of the popes, cardinals, or other high dignitaries “were not aware” from the first to the last of the external meanings of their symbols, is to do injustice to their great learning and their spirit of Machiavellism. It is to forget that the emissaries of Rome will never be stopped by any difficulty which can be skirted by the employment of Jesuitical artifice. The policy of complaisant conformity was never carried to greater lengths than by the missionaries in Ceylon, who, according to the Abbe Dubois — certainly a learned and competent authority — “conducted the images of the Virgin and Saviour on triumphal cars, imitated from the orgies of Juggernauth, and introduced the dancers from the Brahminical rites into the ceremonial of the church.” Let us at least thank these black-frocked politicians for their consistency in employing the car of Juggernauth, upon which the “wicked heathen”
convey the lingham of Siva. To have used this car to carry in its turn the Romish representative of the female principle in nature, is to show discrimination and a thorough knowledge of the oldest mythological conceptions. They have blended the two deities, and thus represented, in a Christian procession, the “heathen” Brahma, or Nara (the father), Nari (the mother), and Viradj (the son).
Says Manu: “The Sovereign Master who exists through himself, divides his body into two halves, male and female, and from the union of these two principles is born Viradj, the Son.
There was not a Christian Father who could have been ignorant of these symbols in their physical meaning; for it is in this latter aspect that they were abandoned to the ignorant rabble. Moreover, they all had as good reasons to suspect the occult symbolism contained in these images; although as none of them — Paul excepted, perhaps — had been initiated they could know nothing whatever about the nature of the final rites. Any person revealing these mysteries was put to death, regardless of sex, nationality, or creed. A Christian father would no more be proof against an accident than a Pagan Mysta or the [[Mustes]].
If during the Aporreta or preliminary arcanes, there were some practices which might have shocked the pudicity of a Christian convert — though we doubt the sincerity of such statements — their mystical symbolism was all sufficient to relieve the performance of any charge of licentiousness. Even the episode of the Matron Baubo — whose rather eccentric method of consolation was immortalized in the minor Mysteries — is explained by impartial mystagogues quite naturally. Ceres-Demeter and her earthly wanderings in search of her daughter are the euhemerized descriptions of one of the most metaphysico-psychological subjects ever treated of by human mind. It is a mask for the transcendent narrative of the initiated seers; the celestial vision of the freed soul of the initiate of the last hour describing the process by which the soul that has not yet been incarnated descends for the first time into matter, “Blessed is he who hath seen those common concerns of the underworld; he knows both the end of life and its divine origin from Jupiter,” says Pindar. Taylor shows, on the authority of more than one initiate, that the “dramatic performances of the Lesser Mysteries were designed by their founders, to signify occultly the condition of the unpurified soul invested with an earthly body, and enveloped in a material and physical
nature . . . that the soul, indeed, till purified by philosophy, suffers death through its union with the body.”
The body is the sepulchre, the prison of the soul, and many Christian Fathers held with Plato that the soul is punished through its union with the body. Such is the fundamental doctrine of the Buddhists and of many Brahmanists too. When Plotinus remarks that “when the soul has descended into generation (from its half-divine condition) she partakes of evil, and is carried a great way into a state the opposite of her first purity and integrity, to be entirely merged in which is nothing more than to fall into dark mire”; he only repeats the teachings of Gautama-Buddha. If we have to believe the ancient initiates at all, we must accept their interpretation of the symbols. And if, moreover, we find them perfectly coinciding with the teachings of the greatest philosophers and that which we know symbolizes the same meaning in the modern Mysteries in the East, we must believe them to be right.
If Demeter was considered the intellectual soul, or rather the Astral soul, half emanation from the spirit and half tainted with matter through a succession of spiritual evolutions — we may readily understand what is meant by the Matron Baubo, the Enchantress, who before she succeeds in reconciling the soul — Demeter, to its new position, finds herself obliged to assume the sexual forms of an infant. Baubo is matter, the physical body; and the intellectual, as yet pure astral soul can be ensnared into its new terrestrial prison but by the display of innocent babyhood. Until then, doomed to her fate, Demeter, or Magna-mater, the Soul, wonders and hesitates and suffers; but once having partaken of the magic potion prepared by Baubo, she forgets her sorrows; for a certain time she parts with that consciousness of higher intellect that she was possessed of before entering the body of a child. Thenceforth she must seek to rejoin it again; and when the age of reason arrives for the child, the struggle — forgotten for a few years of infancy — begins again. The astral soul is placed between matter (body) and the highest intellect (its immortal spirit or nous). Which of those two will conquer? The result of the battle of life lies between the triad. It is a question of a few years of physical enjoyment on earth and — if it has begotten abuse — of the dissolution of the earthly body being followed by death of the astral body, which thus is prevented from being united with the highest spirit of the triad, which alone confers on us individual immortality; or, on the other hand, of becoming immortal mystae; initiated before death of the body into the divine truths of the after life. Demi-gods below, and GODS above.
“KING. — Let us from point to point this story know.” –– All’s Well That Ends Well. –
Act v., Scene 3.
“He is the One, self-proceeding; and from Him all things proceed.
And in them He Himself exerts His activity; no mortal
BEHOLDS HIM, but HE beholds all!” — Orphic Hymn.
“And Athens, O Athena, is thy own!
Great Goddess hear! and on my darkened mind
Pour thy pure light in measure unconfined;
That sacred light, O all-proceeding Queen,
Which beams eternal from thy face serene.
My soul, while wand’ring on the earth, inspire
With thy own blessed and impulsive fire!” — PROCLUS; TAYLOR: To Minerva.
“Now faith is the substance of things. . . . By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with
them that believed not, when she had received the spies in peace.” — Hebrews xi. 1, 31.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man hath faith, and have not works? Can
FAITH save him? . . . Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when
she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” — James ii. 14, 25. CLEMENT describes Basilides, the Gnostic, as “a philosopher devoted to the contemplation of divine things.” This very appropriate expression may be applied to many of the founders of the more important sects which later were all engulfed in one — that stupendous compound of unintelligible dogmas enforced by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others, which is now termed Christianity. If these must be called heresies, then early Christianity itself must be included in the number. Basilides and Valentinus preceded Irenaeus and Tertullian; and the two latter Fathers had less facts than the two former Gnostics to show that their heresy was plausible. Neither divine right nor truth brought about the triumph of their Christianity; fate alone was propitious. We can assert, with entire plausibility, that there is not one of all these sects — Kabalism, Judaism, and our present Christianity included — but sprung from the two main branches of that one mother-trunk, the once universal religion, which antedated the Vedaic ages — we speak of that prehistoric Buddhism which merged later into Brahmanism.
The religion which the primitive teaching of the early few apostles most resembled — a religion preached by Jesus himself — is the elder of these two, Buddhism. The latter as taught in its primitive purity, and carried to perfection by the last of the Buddhas, Gautama, based its
moral ethics on three fundamental principles. It alleged that 1, every thing existing, exists from natural causes; 2, that virtue brings its own reward, and vice and sin their own punishment; and, 3, that the state of man in this world is probationary. We might add that on these three principles rested the universal foundation of every religious creed; God, and individual immortality for every man — if he could but win it. However puzzling the subsequent theological tenets; however seemingly incomprehensible the metaphysical abstractions which have convulsed the theology of every one of the great religions of mankind as soon as it was placed on a sure footing, the above is found to be the essence of every religious philosophy, with the exception of later Christianity. It was that of Zoroaster, of Pythagoras, of Plato, of Jesus, and even of Moses, albeit the teachings of the Jewish law-giver have been so piously tampered with.
We will devote the present chapter mainly to a brief survey of the numerous sects which have recognized themselves as Christians; that is to say, that have believed in a Christos, or an ANOINTED ONE. We will also endeavor to explain the latter appellation from the kabalistic stand-point, and show it reappearing in every religious system. It might be profitable, at the same time, to see how much the earliest apostles — Paul and Peter, agreed in their preaching of the new Dispensation. We will begin with Peter.
We must once more return to that greatest of all the Patristic frauds; the one which has undeniably helped the Roman Catholic Church to its unmerited supremacy, viz.: the barefaced assertion, in the teeth of historical evidence, that Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome. It is but too natural that the Latin clergy should cling to it, for, with the exposure of the fraudulent nature of this pretext, the dogma of apostolic succession must fall to the ground.
“Nothing better than those MYSTERIES, by which, from a rough and fierce life, we
are polished to gentleness (humanity, kindness), and softened.” — CICERO: de Legibus,
“Descend, O Soma, with that stream with which thou lightest up the Sun. . . .
Soma, a Life Ocean spread through All, thou fillest creative the Sun with beams.” — Rig-
Veda, ii., 143.
“. . . the beautiful Virgin ascends, with long hair, and she holds two ears in her hand, and
sits on a seat and feeds a BOY as yet little, and suckles him and gives him food.” –
AVENAR. IT is alleged that the Pentateuchwas written by Moses, and yet it contains the account of his own death (Deuteronomy xxxiv. 6); and in Genesis (xiv. 14), the name Dan is given to a city, which Judges (xviii. 29), tells us was only called by that name at that late day, it having previously been known as Laish. Well might Josiah have rent his clothes when he had heard the words of the Book of the Law; for there was no more of Moses in it than there is of Jesus in the Gospel according to John.
We have one fair alternative to offer our theologians, leaving them to choose for themselves, and promising to abide by their decision. Only they will have to admit, either that Moses was an impostor, or that his books are forgeries, written at different times and by different persons; or, again, that they are full of fraudulent interpolations. In either case the work loses all claims to be considered divine Revelation. Here is the problem, which we quote from the Bible –– the word of the God of Truth:
“And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name of JEHOVAH was I not known to them” (Exodus vi. 3), spake God unto Moses.
A very startling bit of information that, when, before arriving at the book of Exodus, we are told in Genesis (xxii. 14) that “Abraham called the name of that place” — where the patriarch had been preparing to cut the throat of his only-begotten son — “JEHOVAH-jireh”! (Jehovah sees.) Which is the inspired text? — both cannot be — which the forgery?
Now, if both Abraham and Moses had not belonged to the same holy group, we might, perhaps, help theologians by suggesting to them a convenient means of escape out of this dilemma. They ought to call the reverend Jesuit Fathers — especially those who have been missionaries in India — to their rescue. The latter would not be for a moment disconcerted. They would coolly tell us that beyond doubt Abraham had heard the name of Jehovah and borrowed it from Moses. Do they not maintain that it was they who invented the Sanscrit, edited Manu, and composed the greater portion of the Vedas?
Marcion maintained, with the other Gnostics, the fallaciousness of the idea of an incarnate God, and therefore denied the corporeal reality of the living body of Christ. His entity was a mere illusion; it was not made of human flesh and blood, neither was it born of a human mother, for his divine nature could not be polluted with any contact with sinful flesh. He accepted Paul as the only apostle preaching the pure gospel of truth, and accused the other disciples of “depraving the pure form of the gospel doctrines delivered to them by Jesus, mixing up matters of the Law with the words of the Saviour.”
Finally we may add that modern biblical criticism, which unfortunately became really active and serious only toward the end of the last century, now generally admits that Marcion’s text of the only gospel he knew anything about — that of Luke, is far superior and by far more correct than that of our present Synoptics. We find in Supernatural Religion the following (for every Christian) startling sentence: “We are, therefore, indebted to Marcion for the correct version even of ‘the Lord’s Prayer.‘ “
“Learn to know all, but keep thyself unknown.” — GNOSTIC MAXIM.
“There is one God supreme over all gods, diviner than mortals,
Whose form is not like unto man’s, and as unlike his nature;
But vain mortals imagine that gods like themselves are begotten
With human sensations, and voice, and corporeal members.” — XENOPHANES: Clem.
Al. Strom., v. 14, § 110.
“TYCHIADES. — Can you tell me the reason, Philocles, why most men desire to lye,
and delight not only to speak fictions themselves, but give busie attention to others who do?
“PHILOCLES. — There be many reasons, Tychiades, which compell some to speak
lyes, because they see ’tis profitable.” — A Dialogue of Lucian.
“SPARTAN. — Is it to thee, or to God, that I must confess?
“PRIEST. — To God.
“SPARTAN. — Then, MAN, stand back!” — PLUTARCH: Remarkable Lacedemonian Sayings. WE will now give attention to some of the most important Mysteries of the Kabala, and trace their relations to the philosophical myths of various nations.
In the oldest Oriental Kabala, the Deity is represented as three circles in one, shrouded in a certain smoke or chaotic exhalation. In the preface to the Sohar, which transforms the three primordial circles into THREE HEADS, over these is described an exhalation or smoke, neither black nor white, but colorless, and circumscribed within a circle. This is the unknown Essence.The origin of the Jewish image may, perhaps, be traced to Hermes’ Pimander, the Egyptian Logos, who appears within a cloud of a humid nature, with a smoke escaping from it. In the Sohar the highest God is, as we have shown in the preceding chapter, and as in the case of the Hindu and Buddhist philosophies, a pure abstraction, whose objective existence is denied by the latter. It is Hakama, the “SUPREME WISDOM, that cannot be understood by reflection,” and that lies within and without the CRANIUM of LONG FACE (Sephira), the uppermost of the three “Heads.” It is the “boundless and the infinite En-Soph,” the No-Thing.
The “three Heads,” superposed above each other, are evidently taken from the three mystic triangles of the Hindus, which also superpose each other. The highest “head” contains the Trinity in Chaos, out of which springs the manifested trinity. En-Soph, the unrevealed forever, who is
boundless and unconditioned, cannot create, and therefore it seems to us a great error to attribute to him a “creative thought,” as is commonly done by the interpreters. In every cosmogony this supreme Essence is passive; if boundless, infinite, and unconditioned, it can have no thought nor idea. It acts not as the result of volition, but in obedience to its own nature, and according to the fatality of the law of which it is itself the embodiment. Thus, with the Hebrew kabalists, En-Soph is non-existent , for it is incomprehensible to our finite intellects, and therefore cannot exist to our minds. Its first emanation was Sephira, the crown . When the time for an active period had come, then was produced a natural expansion of this Divine essence from within outwardly, obedient to eternal and immutable law; and from this eternal and infinite light (which to us is darkness) was emitted a spiritual substance. This was the First Sephiroth, containing in herself the other nine Sephiroth, or intelligences. In their totality and unity they represent the archetypal man, Adam Kadmon, the [[protogonos]], who in his individuality or unity is yet dual, or bisexual, the Greek Didumos, for he is the prototype of all humanity. Thus we obtain three trinities, each contained in a “head.” In the first head, or face (the three-faced Hindu Trimurti), we find Sephira, the first androgyne, at the apex of the upper triangle, emitting Hackama, or Wisdom, a masculine and active potency — also called Jah, — and Binah, , or Intelligence, a female and passive potency, also represented by the name Jehovah . These three form the first trinity or “face” of the Sephiroth. This triad emanated Hesed, , or Mercy, a masculine active potency, also called El, from which emanated Geburah , or Justice, also called Eloha, a feminine passive potency; from the union of these two was produced Tiphereth , Beauty, Clemency, the Spiritual Sun, known by the divine name Elohim; and the second triad, “face,” or “head,” was formed. These emanating, in their turn, the masculine potency Netzah, , Firmness, or Jehovah Sabaoth, who issued the feminine passive potency Hod, , Splendor, or Elohim Sabaoth; the two produced Jesod, , Foundation, who is the mighty living one El-Chai, thus yielding the third trinity or “head.” The tenth Sephiroth is rather a duad, and is represented on the diagrams as the lowest circle. It is Malchuth or Kingdom, , and Shekinah , also called Adonai, and Cherubim among the angelic hosts. The first “Head” is called the Intellectual world; the second “Head” is the Sensuous, or the world of Perception, and the third is the Material or Physical world.