THEOSOPHY, Vol. 62, No. 10, August, 1974
(Pages 295-301; Size: 19K)


[Part 1 of 3]

MAGIC is the science of communicating with and directing supernal, supramundane Potencies, as well as of commanding those of the lower spheres; a practical knowledge of the hidden mysteries of nature known to only the few, because they are so difficult to acquire without falling into sins against nature. Magic, White, or "Beneficent Magic," so-called, is divine magic, devoid of selfishness, love of power, of ambition, or lucre, and bent only on doing good to the world in general, and one's neighbor in particular. The smallest attempt to use one's abnormal powers for the gratification of self, makes of these powers sorcery or black magic.

Formerly, magic was a universal science, entirely in the hands of the sacerdotal savant. Though the focus was jealously guarded in the sanctuaries, its rays illuminated the whole of mankind. Otherwise, how are we to account for the extraordinary identity of "superstitions," customs, traditions, and even sentences, repeated in popular proverbs so widely scattered from one pole to the other...?

Magic was considered a divine science which led to a participation in the attributes of Divinity itself. ... In later periods its abuse and degeneration into sorcery made it an object of general abhorrence. We must therefore deal with it only as it was in the remote past, during those ages when every true religion was based on a knowledge of the occult powers of nature. It was not the sacerdotal class in ancient Persia that established magic, as it is commonly thought, but the Magi, who derive their name from it. The word is derived from Magh, Mah, in Sanskrit Maha --great, a man well versed in esoteric knowledge. The secret doctrines of the Magi, of the pre-Vedic Buddhists, of the hierophants of the Egyptian Thoth or Hermes and of the adepts of whatever age and nationality, including the Chaldean kabalists and the Jewish nazars, were identical from the beginning. When we use the term Buddhists, we do not mean to imply by it either the exoteric Buddhism instituted by the followers of Gautama-Buddha, nor the modern Buddhistic religion, but the secret philosophy of Sakyamuni, which in its essence is certainly identical with the ancient wisdom-religion of the sanctuary, the pre-Vedic Brahmanism.

In the days of old, when prophets were not treated as charlatans, nor thaumaturgists as imposters, there were colleges instituted for teaching prophecy and occult sciences in general. Samuel is recorded as the chief of such an institution at Ramah; Elisha, also, at Jericho. The schools of hazim, prophets or seers, were celebrated throughout the country. Hillel had a regular academy, and Socrates is well known to have sent away several of his disciples to study manticism. The study of magic, or wisdom, included every branch of science, the metaphysical as well as the physical, psychology and physiology in their common and occult phases, and the study of alchemy was universal, for it was both a physical and a spiritual science. Therefore, why doubt or wonder that the ancients, who studied nature under its double aspect, achieved discoveries which to our modern physicists, who study but its dead letter, are a closed book?

From the very day when the first mystic found the means of communication between this world and the worlds of the invisible host, between the sphere of matter and that of pure spirit, he concluded that to abandon this mysterious science to the profanation of the rabble was to lose it. An abuse of it might lead mankind to speedy destruction; it was like surrounding a group of children with explosive batteries, and furnishing them with matches. If the great danger of furnishing an uncultivated populace with the double-edged weapon of knowledge which gives power, left the innermost corner of the sanctuary in the profoundest shade, who, that is acquainted with human nature, can blame them for it?

The first self-made adept initiated but a select few, and kept silence with the multitudes. He recognized his God and felt the great Being within himself. "The Atman," the Self, the mighty Lord and Protector, once that man knew him as the "I Am," the "Ego Sum," the "Ahmi," showed his full power to him who could recognize the "still small voice." From the days of the primitive man described by the first Vedic poet, down to our modern age, there has not been a philosopher worthy of that name, who did not carry in the silent sanctuary of his heart the grand and mysterious truth. If initiated, he learnt it as a sacred science; if otherwise, then, like Socrates repeating to himself, as well as to his fellow-men, the noble injunction, "O man, know thyself," he succeeded in recognizing his God within himself.

The ancient Kabala, the Gnosis, or traditional secret knowledge, was never without its representatives in any age or country. The trinities of initiates, whether passed into history or concealed under the impenetrable veil of mystery, are preserved and impressed throughout the ages.

That expression "Ye are gods," which to our biblical students, is a mere abstraction, has for the kabalists a vital significance. Each immortal spirit that sheds its radiance upon a human being is a god -- the Microcosmos of the Macrocosmos, part and parcel of the Unknown God, the First Cause of which it is a direct emanation. It is possessed of all the attributes of its parent source. Among these attributes are omniscience and omnipotence. Endowed with these, but yet unable to fully manifest them while in the body, during which time they are obscured, veiled, limited by the capabilities of physical nature, the thus divinely-inhabited man may tower far above his kind, evince a god-like wisdom, and display deific powers; for while the rest of mortals around him are but overshadowed by their divine SELF, with every chance given to them to become immortal hereafter, but no other security than their personal efforts to win the kingdom of heaven, the so chosen man has already become an immortal while yet on earth.

It is with a certain degree of logic that the ancient theurgists maintained that the rational part of man's soul (spirit) never entered wholly into the man's body, but only overshadowed him more or less through the irrational or astral soul, which serves as an intermediatory agent, or a medium between spirit and body. The man who has conquered matter sufficiently to receive the direct light from his shining Augoeides, feels truth intuitionally; he could not err in his judgment, notwithstanding all the sophisms suggested by cold reason, for he is ILLUMINATED. Hence, prophecy, vaticination, and the so-called Divine inspiration are simply the effects of this illumination from above by our own immortal spirit. Individuals whose names will remain forever immortal, inscribed on the portal of the spiritual history of man, have afforded in their persons examples of how far could be developed the god-like powers of the microcosmos.

The ancients never entertained the sacrilegious thought that such perfected entities were incarnations of the One Supreme and forever invisible God. No such profanation of the awful majesty entered into their conceptions. The disembodied spirits of the heroes and sages were termed gods by the ancients. Hence, the accusation of polytheism and idolatry on the part of those who were the first to anthropomorphize the holiest and purest abstractions of their forefathers.

Thoroughly acquainted with all the resources of the vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms, experts in occult chemistry and physics, psychologists as well as physiologists, why wonder that the graduates or adepts instructed in the mysterious sanctuaries of the temples, could perform wonders, which even in our days of enlightenment would appear supernatural? It is an insult to human nature to brand magic and the occult science with the name of imposture. To believe that for so many thousands of years, one-half of mankind practiced deception and fraud on the other half, is equivalent to saying that the human race was composed only of knaves and incurable idiots. Where is the country in which magic was not practiced? At what age was it wholly forgotten?

In the oldest documents now in our possession -- the Vedas and the older laws of Manu -- we find many magical rites practiced and permitted by the Brahmans. Thibet, Japan and China teach in the present age that which was taught by the oldest Chaldeans. The clergy of these respective countries, prove moreover what they teach, namely: that the practice of moral and physical purity, and of certain austerities, develops the vital soul power of self-illumination. Affording to man the control over his own immortal spirit, it gives him truly magical powers over the elementary spirits inferior to himself. In the West we find magic of as high an antiquity as in the East. The Druids of Great Britain practised it in the silent crypts of their deep caves; and Pliny devotes many a chapter to the "wisdom" of the leaders of the Celts. Magic is as old as man. It is as impossible to name the time when it sprang into existence as to indicate on what day the first man himself was born.

The Chaldeans, whom Cicero counts among the oldest magicians, placed the basis of all magic in the inner powers of man's soul, and by the discernment of magic properties in plants, minerals, and animals. By the aid of these they performed the most wonderful "miracles." Magic, with them was synonymous with religion and science. The corner-stone of MAGIC is an intimate practical knowledge of magnetism and electricity, their qualities, correlations, and potencies. Especially necessary is a familiarity with their effects in and upon the animal kingdom and man.

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. 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 phenomenal control over natural forces, indicating association with preter-human beings.

Admission to the mysteries did not confer magical powers. These depended upon two things: the possession of innate capacities, and the knowledge of certain formulae employed under suitable circumstances.

To become a neophyte, one must be ready to devote himself heart and soul to the study of mystic sciences. Magic -- most imperative of mistresses -- brooks no rival. Unlike other sciences, a theoretical knowledge of formulae without mental capacities or soul powers, is utterly useless in magic. The spirit must hold in complete subjection the combativeness of what is loosely termed educated reason, until facts have vanquished cold human sophistry.

In the East, this science is called, in some places, the "seven storied," in others, the "nine-storied" Temple; every story answers allegorically to a degree of knowledge acquired. Throughout the countries of the Orient, wherever magic and the wisdom-religion are studied, its practitioners and students are known among their craft as Builders -- for they build the temple of knowledge, of secret science. Those of the adepts who are active, are styled practical or operative Builders, while the students, or neophytes are classed as speculative or theoretical. The former exemplify in works their control over the forces of inanimate as well as animate nature; the latter are but perfecting themselves in the rudiments of the sacred science. The building of the Temple of Solomon is the symbolical representation of the gradual acquirement of the secret wisdom, or magic; the erection and development of the spiritual from the earthly; the manifestation of the power and splendor of the spirit in the physical world, through the wisdom and genius of the builder.

The Akasa is the indispensable agent of every Kritya (magical performance) either religious or profane. The Brahmanical expression "to stir up the Brahma" means to stir up the power which lies latent at the bottom of every such magical operation, for the Vedic sacrifices are but ceremonial magic. This power is the Akasa or the occult electricity; the alkahest of the alchemists in one sense, or the universal solvent, the same anima mundi as the astral light. There evidently exists a corresponding electricity produced by the cerebral pile of man; this soul-electricity, this spiritual and universal ether, which is the ambient, middle nature of the metaphysical universe, or rather of the incorporeal universe, has to be studied before it is admitted by science, which, having no idea of it, will never know anything of the great phenomenon of life until she does.

The thaumaturgists of all periods, schools, and countries, produced their wonders, because they were perfectly familiar with the imponderable -- in their effects -- but otherwise perfectly tangible waves of the astral light. They controlled the currents by guiding them with their will-power.

The ancients called it Chaos; Plato and the Pythagoreans named it the Soul of the World. According to the Hindus, the Deity in the shape of Aether pervades all things. It is the invisible, but, as we have said before, too tangible Fluid.

Animal magnetism is a fluid, an emanation. Some people can emit it for curative purposes through their eyes and the tips of their fingers, while the rest of all creatures, mankind, animals and even every inanimate object, emanate it either as an aura, or a varying light, and that whether consciously or not. When acted upon by contact with a patient or by the will of a human operator, it is called "Mesmerism." Mesmerism is the most important branch of magic; and its phenomena are the effects of the universal agent which underlies all magic and has produced at all ages the so-called miracles. By the radiant light of the universal magnetic ocean, whose electric waves bind the cosmos together, and in their ceaseless motion penetrate every atom and molecule of the boundless creation, the disciples of mesmerism -- howbeit insufficient their various experiments -- intuitionally perceive the alpha and omega of the great mystery. Alone, the study of this agent, which is the divine breath, can unlock the secrets of psychology and physiology, of cosmical and spiritual phenomena.

(To be Continued)

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


In all things there lives and reigns an eternal law. To him whose mind, through disposition and faith, is filled, penetrated, and quickened with the necessity that this can not possibly be otherwise, as well as to him whose clear, calm mental vision beholds the inner in the outer and through the outer, and sees the outer proceeding with logical necessity from the essence of the inner, this law has been and is enounced with equal clearness and distinctness in nature (the external), in the spirit (the internal), and in life which unites the two. This all-controlling law is necessarily based on an all-pervading energetic, living, self-conscious, and hence eternal Unity. This fact, as well as the Unity itself, is again vividly recognized, either through faith or through insight, with equal clearness and comprehensiveness, therefore, a quietly observant human mind, a thoughtful clear human intellect, has never failed, and will never fail to recognize this Unity. 


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(1) NOTE.--A student's collation from Isis Unveiled and The Theosophical Glossary.
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