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But let them not condemn this learned man thus hastily, without having received an explanation of his conduct. He revealed all to me, it is true, tut he did so only with the utmost cabalistic circumspection. It is necessary to pay his memory the tribute of stating that he was a great zealot for the
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[paragraph continues] Religion of his Fathers the Philosophers, and that he would rather have gone through fire than have profaned its sanctity by taking into his confidence any unworthy prince, or ambitious or immoral man, three types of persons excommunicated for all time by the Sages. Happily I am not a prince, I have but little ambition, and you will presently see that I have even a trifle more chastity than is requisite for a Philosopher.
He found me to be of a tractable, inquiring, and fearless disposition. A dash of melancholy is lacking in me, else I would make all, who are inclined to blame the Comte de GABALIS for having concealed nothing from me, confess that I was a not unfit subject for the Occult Sciences. One cannot make great progress in them, it is true, without melancholy; but the little that I possess in no wise disheartened him. You have, he told me a hundred times, Saturn in an angle, in his own house, and retrograde; some day you cannot. fail to be as melancholy as a Sage ought to be; for the wisest of all men, as we learn in the Cabala III, had like you Jupiter in the Ascendant, nevertheless so powerful was the influence of his Saturn, though far weaker than yours, that one cannot find proof of his having laughed a single time in all his life.
The Amateurs must, therefore, find fault with my Saturn and not with the Comte de GABALIS, if I prefer to divulge their secrets rather than to practise them. If the stars do not do their duty the Comte is
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not to blame for it; and if I have not sufficient greatness of soul to strive to become the Master of Nature, overthrow the Elements, hold communion with Supreme Intelligences, command demons, become the father of giants, create new worlds, speak with God upon His formidable Throne, and compel the Cherubim who guards the gate of terrestial Paradise to let me stroll now and then in its alleys, it is I, and I alone, who am to blame or to be pitied. One must not, on this account, insult the memory of that rare man by saying that he met his death because he taught me all these things. Since the fortunes of war are uncertain, is it not possible that the Comte may have been overcome in an encounter with some unruly hobgoblin? Peradventure while talking with God upon His flaming Throne, he could not keep his glance from straying to His face, now it is written that man may not behold God and live IV. Perhaps he merely pretended to die, as is the way of Philosophers, who feign death V in one place, only to transplant themselves to another. Be that as it may, I cannot believe that the manner in which he entrusted his treasures to me merits punishment. This is what took place.
As common sense has always made me suspect the existence of much claptrap in all the so-called Occult Sciences, I have never been tempted to waste time in perusing books which treat of them nevertheless it does not seem quite rational to condemn, without
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knowing why, all those who are addicted to these Sciences, persons often perfectly sane otherwise, and for the most part scholars, distinguished at the law and in society. Hence to avoid being unjust, and in order not to fatigue myself with tedious reading, I determined to pretend to all whom I could learn were interested in Occultism, that I was infatuated with it.
From the outset I had greater success than I had even dared hope. Since all these gentlemen, however mysterious and reserved they may pride themselves upon being, ask nothing better than to parade their theories and the new discoveries they pretend to have made in Nature, it was not long before I became the confidant of the most important among them, and I had always some one or another of them in my study, which I had purposely furnished forth with the works of their most fantastic authors. Without exception there was no foreign scholar upon whom I did not have an opinion, in short, as regards the Science in question, I soon found myself a personage of importance. I had as companions, princes, men of lofty rank, lawyers, beautiful ladies, (and ugly ones as well), doctors, prelates, monks, nuns, in fact people from every walk in life. Some were seeking Angels, others the Devil, some their guardian spirit, others evil spirits, some a panacea for every ill, others knowledge of the stars, some the secrets of Divinity, and almost all the Philosopher's Stone. VI
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They were to a man agreed that these mighty secrets, and especially the Philosopher's Stone, are hard to find and that few people possess them, but all entertained a sufficiently good opinion of themselves to fancy that they were of the number of the Elect.
Happily, the most advanced were at that time ex-pecting with impatience the arrival of a German, a nobleman of high rank and a great Cabalist, whose lands lie toward the frontiers of Poland. He had written to the Children of the Philosophers at Paris, promising to pay them a visit when passing through France on his way to England. I was commissioned to answer this great man's letter. I sent him the map of my horoscope that he might judge whether I VII should aspire to the Supreme Wisdom. Fortunately my map and letter caused him to do me the honour of replying that I should be one of the first persons whom he would see in Paris, and that Heaven willing, it would not be his fault if I did not enter the Society of the Sages.
To my joy, I kept up a regular correspondence with the illustrious German. From time to time, I propounded to him weighty, and so far as in me lay, well reasoned problems concerning the Harmony of the World VIII, the Numbers of Pythagoras IX, the Visions of St. John X and the first Chapter of Genesis XI. The profundity of these subjects enraptured him, he wrote me unheard of wonders, and I soon recognised that I was dealing
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with a man of very vigorous and very vast imagination. I have three or four score of his letters written in so extraordinary a style that I could never bring myself to read anything else the moment I was alone in my study.
One day as I was marvelling at one of the most sublime of these letters, a very good looking man came in and bowing gravely to me, said in French but with a foreign accent, "Adore, oh my Son, adore the very good and the very great God of the Sages, and never allow yourself to become puffed up with pride because He sends one of the Children of Wisdom to initiate you into their Order XII, and to make you a sharer in the wonders of His Omnipotence."
The novelty of the salutation startled me, and for the first time in my life, I began to question whether people may not sometimes see apparitions; nevertheless, collecting myself as best I could, and looking at him as politely as my slight fear permitted, I said, "Who ever you may be whose greeting is not of this world, your visit does me great honour; but, before I adore the God of the Sages, may it please you to let me know to what Sages and to what God you refer, and if agreeable to you pray take this armchair and have the kindness to enlighten me as to this God, these Sages, this Order, and, before or after all this, as to the manner of being to whom I have the honour of speaking."
"You receive me very sagely sir," he replied with a smile, taking the profferred armchair; "You ask me to
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explain to you in the beginning certain things, which with your permission, I shall not touch upon to-day. The words of the compliment I have paid you the Sages address, at the outset, to those to whom they have determined to open their hearts and reveal their Mysteries. From your letters I adjudged you so advanced that this salutation would not be unknown to you, and that you would esteem it the most gratifying compliment the Comte de Gabalis could pay you."
"Ah Sir," I exclaimed, recollecting that I had a great rôle to play, "How shall I render myself worthy of such kindness? Is it possible that the greatest of all men is in my study, and that the renowned GABALIS honours me with a visit?"
"I am the least of the Sages, "he answered gravely, "and God, who dispenses the Light of his Wisdom together with its responsibilities in that measure which His Sovereignty deems best, has bestowed upon me but a very small portion of the Light, in comparison to that at which I marvel in my fellow Initiates XIV. I expect you to equal them some day, if I dare judge from the map of your horoscope with which you have honoured me. But why Sir," he added mirthfully, "Are you doing your utmost to get into my bad graces by mistaking me at first sight for a phantom?"
"Ah, not for a phantom," I said, "But I confess, Sir,
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that I suddenly recalled that story of Cardan's. He says his father was one day visited in his study by seven unknown beings, clothed in different colours, who XV made rather strange statements to him as to their nature and occupation--"
"I am familiar with the incident to which you refer," interrupted the Comte, "They were Sylphs; I will tell you about them some day. They are a kind of etherial being, and now and then they come to consult the Sages about the books of Averroes XVI which they do not understand very well. Cardan is a rattlepate to have published that in his 'Subtilties.' He found the reminiscence among his father's papers. His father was one of Us. Realising that his son was a born babbler, he did not wish to teach him anything of moment, and let him amuse himself with ordinary astrology whereof he knew only enough to forecast that his son would be hanged. So that rascal is to blame for your having insulted me by taking me for a Sylph?"
"Insulted you!" I exclaimed, "What have I done that I should be so unfortunate--?"
"I am not angry with you," he interposed, "You are under no obligation to know that all these Elementary Spirits are our disciples; that they are only too happy when we condescend to instruI them; and that the least of our Sages is more learned and more powerful than all those little fellows. We will speak of these matters, however, at another time; it is
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enough to-day that I have had the satisfaction of seeing you. Strive to render yourself worthy to receive the Cabalistic Light, my Son, the hour of your regeneration is at hand; it rests solely with you to become a new being. Pray ardently to Him, who alone has the power to create new hearts, that He may give you one capable of the great things which I am to teach you, and that He may inspire me to withhold from you none of our Mysteries."
Then he arose, kissed me solemnly, and without giving me a chance to reply said, "Adieu, my Son, I must see the members of our Order who are in Paris, afterward I shall give you my news. Meanwhile, WATCH, PRAY, HOPE AND BE SILENT." XVII
With these words he left my study. On the way oi to the door I expressed my regret at the shortness of his visit, and at his cruelty in forsaking me so soon after he had shown me a Spark of his Light XVIII. But assuring me, with very great kindness, that I would lose nothing by waiting, he entered his coach and left me in a state of amazement which beggars description.
I coûld believe neither my eyes nor my ears. "I am sure," I kept saying to myself "that this is a man of exalted rank, that he has inherited a yearly income of fifty thousand pounds; moreover he appears to be a person of great accomplishment; can it be that he has lost his head over these occult follies? He talked to me about those Sylphs in an exceedingly cavalier
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fashion. Is it not possible that he may be a sorcerer, and may I not have been altogether mistaken in believing, as I hitherto have, that sorcerers no longer exist? On the other hand, if he is a sorcerer, are they all as devout as he seems to he?"
I could not solve this riddle, nevertheless, I determined
to see the matter through to the
end, although I fully realised that I
should have to put up with not
a few sermons, and that the
demon tormenting him
was of a highly
moral and pious
1:I p. 2 COMTE DE GABAIS.--Paracelsus says of the practice of Philosophy, "this Art is taught by Gabalis (the spiritual perception of man)." These words inspired the title Comte de Gabalis which veils the identity of a great Teacher from whom the instruction embodied in these Discourses was received. The Comte's true name will be widely recognised.
1:II 1235, A.D.--RAYMOND LULLY--1315, A.D.--Spanish Initiate and alchemist, known during his life time as the "Illuminated One." His greatest work, "Ars Magna," was written to prove that the doctrines of Christianity are truths which have been demonstrated and are capable of scientific, though supersensible, demonstration. He was the first to place the chemistry of his day upon a sound basis, and introduced into Western Europe the use of chemical symbols, which he had learned from an arabian Adept subsequent to his Initiation into the Mysteries in Arabia. His system, consisting of an arrangement of hieroglyphs, is in use to-day. Raymond Lully is said to have been the first christian student of the Cabala.
HIS TESTAMENT.--"Nevertheless, declaring these truths to you, as I do, upon behalf of the Supreme Architect of the Universe, I warn you to guard them, when imparted, with all possible secrecy; lest you squander this treasure upon the unworthy and God require an accounting from you."--TRANSLATED FROM. RAYMOND LULLY'S "TESTAMENTUM NOVISSIMUM." BOOK I.
3:III p. 4 THE CABALA.--Sacred book of the Jews, is an occult interpretation or key to their Scriptures, and contains explicit revelation of the art of communing with spirits. Tradition states that it has been transmitted from Adam and Abraham by a continuous chain of Initiates to the spiritual heads of the Hebrew race to-day. The Cabala can be read in seven different ways. Its inner mystery has never be written, but is imparted orally by hierophant to disciple. In its original form the system of esoteric Masonry was identical with that of the Cabala.
5:IV p. 6 IT IS WRITTEN THAT MAN MAY NOT BEHOLD GOD AND LIVE.--And Moses said, I beseech thee, shew me Thy glory. And He said, "Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live."--EXODUS xxxiii., 18, 20.
5:V PRETENDED DEATH.--When a Philosopher has passed a certain number of years in service for the uplift-ment of humanity, having fulfilled the purpose of his soul upon incarnation, he earns the right to retire from the world and to enjoy the freedom demanded for his own spiritual evolution. In the Order of the Philosophers are enrolled the names of many Brothers who have feigned death in one place or who have mysteriously disappeared, only to transplant themselves to another. The burial place of Francis St. Alban has never been divulged by those who know. Lord Bacon's death at the age of 65 is said to have occurred in the year 1626. It is significant that a rare print of John Valentine Andrea, author of certain mystical tracts of of profound influence in Germany, appears to be a portrait of Lord Bacon at 80 years of age and bears a helmet, four roses, and the St. Andrew's cross, the arms of St. Alban's town. * Within the past hundred years a notable feigned death has been that of Marshall Ney, a p. 8 Brother and 'the bravest of the brave,' † who lived for many years after his supposed execution in France as a respected citizen of Rowan County, North Carolina. Another Brother, 'the friend of humanity,' Count Cagliostro, supposedly died in prison only to pass the remainder of his life in the East.
In the higher degrees of the Order, a Philosopher has power to abandon one physical body no longer suited to his purpose, and to occupy another previously prepared for his use. This transition is called an Avesa, and accounts for the fact that many Masters known to history seemingly never die. The Comte de Gabalis is himself a noteworthy example of this temporal immortality. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted." Eccle. III., v., 1, 2. These times and seasons are known to the true Philosopher.
5:* See Frontispiece Volume 1. 'A Catalog ue Raisonné,' F. L. Gardner.
5:† HISTORIC DOUBTS AS TO THE EXECUTION OF MARSHALL NEY. By J. A. WESTON. Published New York, Thomas Whittaker, 1895.
7:VI THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE IS a term used by Cabalists to denote the Supreme Wisdom, the union of the divine consciousness or omniscient Solar Principle in man with the lower consciousness or personality, which union has been the goal of .Initiates in all ages. Exoterically the Philosopher's Stone is the secret of the transmutation of the baser metals into gold.
9:VII p. 10 MAP OF THE HOROSCOPE, see Note A Commentary Continued. Many notes relevant to the Discourses but non-essential to an understanding of their meaning have been placed at the end of the book.
9:VIII HARMONY OF THE WORLD. Note B Commentary Continued.
9:IX NUMBERS OF PYTHAGORAS. Note C Commentary Continued.
9:X VISIONS OF ST. JOHN.--"Now, in plain words, what does this very occult book, the Apocalypse, contain? It gives the esoteric interpretation of the Christosmyth; it tells what 'Iêsous the Christos' really is; it explains the nature of 'the old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan; ' it repudiates the profane conception of an anthropomorphic God; and with sublime imagery it points out the true and only path to Life Eternal. It gives the key to that divine Gnôsis which is the same in all ages, and superior to all faiths and philosophies--that secret science which is in reality secret only because it is hidden and locked in the inner nature of every man, however ignorant and humble, and none but himself can turn the key."--JAMES M. PRYSE. "THE APOCALYPSE UNSEALED."
9:XI FIRST CHAPTER OF GENESIS.--"When I find learned men believing Genesis literally, which the ancients with all their failings had too much sense to receive except allegorically, I am tempted to doubt the reality of the improvement of the human mind."-GODFREY HIGGINS.
11:XII p. 12 ORDER OF THE PHILOSOPHERS.--Deep down in the human soul is implanted that divine instinct which reveals to man his oneness with God and his fellows. And any wilful segregation of a soul, or group of souls, for the purpose of syndicating God's benefits to His children, is rightly esteemed unnatural, and is sooner or later disintegrated either by force, opinion, or the trend of human evolution which is in accord with the divine Law of Nature willing obedience from all things. The Order of the Philosophers, if not in accord with this Law, could not have endured through every age of which records exist. This organisation is is composed of those souls who have reached the crest of evolution on this planet, and who have passed beyond intellectualism into spiritual realisation. The aim of all souls who have attained to this level of consciousness is an entirely disinterested one--the stimulation of human evolution and the benefit of mankind. They have renounced self (the personality.) Renunciation is the word of power compelling admission to this Brotherhood of the Servants of God, and inevitably bringing association with its members through the attainment of that consciousness which transcends the barriers of time and space. There are no oaths, no vows of secrecy, and nothing is required of a member which is contrary to the dictates of his own soul. Yet no true Initiate has ever been known to sell divine knowledge for money, nor to exercise his spiritual gifts for personal gain.
13:XIV INITIATION, OR SPIRITUAL REBIRTH, results from the quickening in man of that Divine Spark which evolves, through upward direction of the Solar Force, * into the deathless Solar Body. † The degrees of Initiation are but the degrees of the evolution of the God in man; Illumination being that degree in which the Divine Self masters and enkindles its manifestation, the personality, which is henceforward subservient to its evolution. At the moment of Illumination man becomes, in truth, a "Son of God," having claimed and made his own his divine and natural birthright. Initiation and Illumination are the destiny of the race. " For all creation, gazing eagerly as if with outstretched neck, is waiting and longing to see the manifestation of the Sons of God. For those whom He has known beforehand He has also predestined to bear the likeness of His Son, that He might be the Eldest in a vast family of brothers."--ROMANS viii., 19, 29; "NEW TESTAMENT IN MODERN SPEECH." R. F. WEYMOUTH, D.LIT.
13:* Solar Force defined. Page 48.
13:† The Solar Body is the Spiritual Body.
15:XV CARDAN AND THE SYLPHS OF CARDAN. SEE NOTE D, COMMENTARY CONTINUED.
15:XVI AVERROES. SEE NOTE E, COMMENTARY CONTINUED.
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The lower nature and mind.
Demand and realise power to govern them.
Aspire to the highest.
Let the personality listen that it may hear the voice of the Divine Self.
17:XVIII SPARK OF HIS LIGHT.--Light is used as a synonym for spiritual knowledge and evolution since, to the seer, the spirit or Solar Principle of man is at certain times actually visible as a light that " true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." 1 The spirit of the average man or woman exists, as it were, in embryo only, and appears as a dim and tiny light at some distance above the head. In the Master this light, developed, is visible as an elongated cleft flame extending upward from the centre of the forehead. This flame ever the distinctive mark of all highly evolved beings who are able to manifest and to keep in touch with their divine consciousness while in the physical body. Such were the flames, those "cloven tongues like as of fire," 2 which descended at Pentecost upon the heads of the twelve Apostles, who went out from that degree of Initiation qualified to do Master works.
The Christ, Melchizedek, and other high priests of humanity, in whom the Divine Principle has evolved to the supreme point manifestable on earth, are able p. 20 to make visible to their disciples the spiritual or Solar Body, and to appear when they so desire, "clothed with the sun." We read that Christ led Peter, James and John" up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them:
and his face did shine as the sun, and his
raiment was white as the light." 3The words
"For the Lord thy God is a consuming
fire," 4 and "He maketh the spirits
His angels, His ministers a flaming fire" 5
are literally true.
17:1 St. John, I., 9;
17:2 Acts, ii., 3;
17:3 St. Matthew, xvii., 1, 2;
17:4 Deuteronomy, iv., 24;
17:5 Psalms, 4