IN La Clef des Grands Mystères, mentioned in the Prefatory Remarks, Eliphas Lévi gives: The Preface to the Prognostication of Doctor Theophrastus Paracelsus, of which the following is a translation:
'Socrates, discoursing one day upon the too curious research of celestial things, during which one forgets the realities of human life, and of the earth that lies at our feet, exclaims: "That which is above our comprehension does not exist for us"; wishing thereby to say that a timorous and superstitious consideration of the heavens is vain, useless and dangerous.
'It may be indeed that a wise man warned by his reason of peril may be deterred from such study. Elsewhere Socrates, in the Dialogues of Plato, everywhere praises moderation and balance in all things. It is thus that the words of this great philosopher should be understood; for there is no reason to suppose that he would calumniate astrology, he being himself, according to the testimony of Plato, an excellent Astrologer.
'I will not here essay an apology for a science honoured by many learned men, I will only say one word: that there is not another art that can so justly be called divine in its source, in its tradition and in its theory. Read Moses, he will tell you why God has placed in the firmament the sun, the moon, and the stars to be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years; which inspires Saint Paul to praise those wise men of the world who have found and known in visible things their invisible Creator. It is true that he continues to blame them for not having honoured him more than the creature. God wills, in fact, that we should be attentive to the law of the elements, in order to elevate ourselves from the work to its Author, to know and adore Him; for all appearances and all material forms are but marks and veils that allow the most intimate secrets of nature to be divined beneath them.
'Thus were those magnificent sciences invented, thus were those marvellous arts born, that make us discover in roots, in stones, and even in men powers occult to the vulgar and revealed only to the sagacity of those sages named by Hesiod and by Homer μεροπες, meropes, that is to say, great seekers.
'All the while let us not attribute too much to human intelligence. It is a divine Wisdom descending from the Father of Light, according to the text of St. James. God has given us characters forming letters; He has attached to them all the feelings of the Soul. Through them we can speak; through them as through a divine instrument, He transmits to us and teaches us every day the secrets of all sciences.
'God having thus adapted the wonders of creation to the use of man, has established from the beginning a school of initiation for that. Wisdom which all may not comprehend. There we learn with care the things hidden from the multitude. Thus the fisherman draws his net from the depths of the sea filled with fish that he never saw; the miners bring forth masses of gold and silver from the depths of the earth where the eye cannot penetrate. In this wise in the school of Nature God teaches us and places before our eyes things altogether unknown. Thus there is nothing hidden which shall not become revealed and placed in the light; be it in the firmament of the heavens, be it in the sea, be it in the earth, all must be brought forth to the light of the day by those great seekers of whom I have spoken.
'Meanwhile these celebrated men by their science cause their immortal names to pass from mouth to mouth; for they have in a manner cleared up Nature, and their memory should never become extinct. The muse never cedes her inheritance of glory to death. It is by genius that we live, all the rest belongs to death.
'In same wise, according to our powers and the gift of Providence, have we desired to glean after those noble harvesters and explained to the world the threatenings of Nature and of the stars, for a period to come, which is to last forty (query 400) years, in order that men may find themselves informed, learning to fear God, and to prepare themselves for the future chastisement of great crimes. It is impossible to express up to what point all flesh has corrupted its way. Anarchy is everywhere. Heaven and Earth are confounded, and were God not to shorten the days of His wrath no flesh could be saved. The disorderly life of men of my time is that which specially determined me carefully to study the stars.
'Now there are signs in the sun, the moon and the stars that announce the speedy coming of the judgment of God. The axe is at the foot of the tree, blood flows upon blood, and as the Prophet says,
no one among men disturbs himself about God, there is not one who seeks Him. But the Prophets and Evangelists have at present the mission to recall us to charity, concord and unity. Unity is in the Divine Triad, and the Divine Triad is summarised in Unity.
'It is in this wise that in human society, unity, peace, and tranquillity should arise. When unity is broken, plurality of power immediately engenders discord and war. There are as many opinions as there are heads; each one would make his own triumphant; then there is no more harmony possible, but in unity there is rest with abundance of peace. O how well and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity! exclaims the prophet David. Unity is the happiness of all creatures. The Heavens have but one law of motion and harmony; the earth has but one law to produce love, and gives her fruit in season. All obey unity, except Satan and Man. Man, however, is sufficiently warned by the signs of heaven, by the sun, the moon and the stars . . . But what do these announce? He is too menaced with a sudden and quickly approaching end. Happy is he that sitteth not in the chair of pestilence, and walketh not in the counsel of scorners! The coming of God is at hand. The arm of the avenger
falls on us; everyone feels the misfortunes coming which he cannot avoid.
'Who will then struggle against God? One kicks not against the pricks with impunity. The God of Hosts is the strong God, the jealous God, who visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the fourth and fifth generation.
'Oppose God, what folly! Foolhardy Titans who would dethrone Jupiter were themselves overthrown by his thunder. It is time to show men their madness, and it is this we propose to do by thirty-two figures intelligible but to a small number of the elect.
'We have seen the consummate iniquity of the people of Gomorha, carrying their blasphemies unto the heavens; but when things are pushed to extremes, the overbent bow breaks, and men are driven by a fatal law to a contrary extremity, whereby motion relaxes and the balance is established.
'Thus by perpetrating crime after crime corruption shall exhaust itself; and who can sadden thereat? Behold the salvation of the multitude is coming and redemption shall overcome the kingdom of evil.
'Who would not be impatient to see the days
where unity shall be given unto us and we shall live in peace under only one shepherd!
'Then no more troubles, no more injustice, the balm shall descend upon the venerable beard of the High-Priest, the blessing, light, gratitude to Heaven shall spread upon the children of unity.
'Pride having made itself odious even in Heaven, the faithful angels did not weep at the fall of Lucifer, they affirmed the Divine sentence.
'Let us therefore not grieve if God opens now His Hell under the feet of the haughty.
'Let us rather rejoice, for the judgment has commenced in the House of God itself, and it will thence extend upon every kind of unjust pride.
'Our prediction has hardly any other aim than to reveal, as we have said, the threatenings of Heaven against insolent heads.
'God desires to deliver and avenge finally His oppressed children Himself, He wishes to cast down the powerful and to lift up the humble. . . . But it is not yet there that the pains begin. The greatness of evil has not yet revealed itself; it shall reveal itself, and with it a force shall become manifested that will prevent the just from being seduced and drawn into the ruin of the perverse.
'We say that no one shall be named in our
prophecy. God knows those whom He has resolved to chastise, men do not know Him, but they shall sooner feel that justice has overtaken them than we with our human sagacity can seek and divine. All is concealed and nevertheless revealed to us.
'The Kabbala always veiled, never pronounces oracles without mysteries, and we are assured that it is of her we receive Astrology. God blinds the eyes and hardens the heart of those whom He has delivered to His vengeance, for He no longer wishes to save them.
'In concluding this Preface I pray all those who will read these articles to interpret my words in simplicity and not to seek personalities under my emblems.
'Let them keep their minds free from all thoughts of hate, fear or envy. The event will strike in justice and then those who will shall know.
'I know many others have worked in the same direction, I do not despise either their knowledge nor their efforts, on the contrary I encourage them.
'I see death flying over many monastic institutions, but if men would be wise and were to return to God, He is merciful and good and allows Himself to be moved by the importunity of prayers.
'We do not attribute to the stars a fatal power,
they impel us by their influence, but if the Master wills it, He alone can alter the direction and change all. Joshua prayed and the sun stood still to allow him to accomplish his victory. Hezekiah prayed and the shadow tarried on the sundial. Elijah prayed and the heavens closed. The continual prayer of the righteous is all powerful. Those who would avert the threatened danger have but to repent, to pray, to live wisely and soberly. God our Father gives us His Grace by Christ and in His Holy Spirit. Amen.'
This Preface is imbued with the Spirit of Paracelsus but differs from the Preface in the German edition of the Prognostications given in the following section.