Éliphas Lévi

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Éliphas Lévi Zahed, born Alphonse Louis Constant (8 February 1810 – 31 May 1875), was a French esotericist, poet, and author of more than twenty books about magic, Cabbalah, alchemical studies, and occultism. Considered the most influential occultist of the 19th-century,[1] he pursued an ecclesiastical career in the Catholic Church until, after great personal struggle, at the age of 26, he abandoned the Roman Catholic priesthood. At the age of 40 he started to profess a knowledge of the occult, also becoming a reputed ceremonial magician.[2]

Éliphas Lévi
Eliphas Levi.png
Born
Alphonse Louis Constant

(1810-02-08)8 February 1810
Died31 May 1875(1875-05-31) (aged 65)
Resting placeIvry Cemetery, Ivry-sur-Seine (later disinterred and placed in a common grave)
Spouse(s)
Noémie Cadiot
(m. 1846; annulled 1865)
Children4+

"Éliphas Lévi", the name under which he published his books, was his attempt to translate or transliterate his given names "Alphonse Louis" into the Hebrew language. Levi gained notoriety as an original thinker and writer. His works attracted the attention of the very heterogeneous ambiences of the era in Paris and London; from esotericists to artists of romantic or symbolist inspiration. He also expressed his independence by leaving the Masonic lodge of the "Great Orient", believing that it was a form of modern secularization, where knowledge of the original meanings of symbols and rituals was lost. Levi had a profound dislike of their persecution against the Catholic Church: "I ceased being a freemason, at once, because the Freemasons, excommunicated by the Pope, did not believe in tolerating Catholicism."[3]

Many authors influenced Constant's political, occultic and literary development, such as the French monarchist Joseph de Maistre, whom he quotes in many parts of his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, Paracelsus, Robert Fludd, Swedenborg, Fabre d'Olivet, the Rosicrucianists, Plato, Raymond Lull, and other esoterics.[4] Authors who have been influenced by him include the UR Group,[5] René Guénon,[6] Dragoš Kalajić,[7] Julius Evola, Papus, Aleister Crowley, Joséphin Péladan, Joscelyn Godwin, Valentin Tomberg, and others.

LifeEdit

Early periodEdit

Constant was the son of a shoemaker in Paris. In 1832 he entered the seminary of Saint Sulpice to study to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood, as a sub-deacon he was responsible for catechism, later he was ordained a deacon, remaining a cleric to the rest of his life. One week before being ordained to the priesthood, he decided to leave the priestly path, however the spirit of charity and the life he had in the seminary stayed with him through the rest of his life, later he wrote that he had acquired an understanding of faith and science without conflicts. [8]

In 1836, on leaving the priestly path, he provoked his superiors' anger. He had committed to permanent vows of chastity and obedience as a sub-deacon and deacon, returning to civil life was particularly painful for him; he continued to wear the clerical clothes, the cassocks, until 1844.

The possible reasons that saw Levi's departure from the Saint-Sulpice seminary, in 1836, are expressed in the following quote, by A. E. Waite: "He [Levi] seems, however, to have conceived strange views on doctrinal subjects, though no particulars are forthcoming, and, being deficient in gifts of silence, the displeasure of authority was marked by various checks, ending finally in his expulsion from the Seminary. Such is one story at least, but an alternative says more simply that he relinquished the sacerdotal career in consequence of doubts and scruples."[9]

Experiencing a kind of politico-spiritual crisis when he left the seminary, Constant dedicated himself to revolutionary action, the production of pamphlets in the spirit of utopian socialism and panhumanism.[10]

He had to obviate extreme poverty by working as a tutor in Paris. Around 1838, he met and was influenced by the views of the androgynous socialist mystic Simon Ganneau, and it may have been through Ganneau's meetings that he also met Flora Tristan.[11][12][13] In 1839 he entered the monastic life in the Abbey of Solesmes, he could not maintain the discipline so he quit the monastery.

Upon returning to Paris, he wrote, La Bible de la liberté (The Bible of Liberty), which resulted in his imprisonment in August 1841.

The Eliphas Levi Circle ("(Association law 1901) was set up on April 1 1975") gives the following summary of Levi's marriage and paternity: "At the age of 32 he met two young girls who were friends, Eugénie C and Noémie Cadiot. Despite his preference for Eugenie he also fell under the spell of Noémie whom he was obliged to marry in 1846 in order to avoid a confrontation with the girl’s father. Seven years later Noémie ran away from the marital home to join the marquis of Montferriet and in 1865 the marriage was annulled. Several children issued from this marriage, in particular twins who died shortly after birth. None of these children reached adult age, little Marie for example, who died when she was seven. Lévi had an illegitimate son with Eugénie C, born 29 September 1846, but the child never bore Lévi’s name. However he did know his father, who saw that he was educated. We know from reliable sources that the descendants of this son are living among us in France today."[14]

Writing at the beginning of the 20th-century, A. E. Waite depicts Levi's marriage, perished offspring, and (possible) violation of the Saint Sulpice seminary rule, as follows: "I have failed to ascertain at what period he married Mile. Noemy, a girl of sixteen, who became afterwards of some repute as a sculptor, but it was a runaway match and in the end she left him. It is even said that she succeeded in a nullity suit—not on the usual grounds, for she had borne him two children, who died in their early years if not during infancy, but on the plea that she was a minor, while he had taken irrevocable vows. Saint-Sulpice is, however, a seminary for secular priests who are not pledged to celibacy, though the rule of the Latin Church forbids them to enter the married state."[15]

Unexpectedly, in 1850, at the age of forty, Levi succumbed to a period of heightened financial and spiritual crisis - Leading him, more profoundly, to find refuge in the mileiu of mid-19th-century esotericism and the occult.[16] [17]

Later periodEdit

 
The tenth key of the tarot, in The Key of the Mysteries

In December 1851, Napoleon III organized a coup that would end the Second Republic and give rise to the Second Empire. Similar to many other socialists at the time, Constant saw the emperor as the defender of the people and the restorer of public order. In the Moniteur parisien of 1852, Constant praised the new government's actions as "veritably socialist," but he soon became disillusioned with the rigid dictatorship and was eventually imprisoned in 1855 for publishing a polemical chanson against the Emperor. What had changed, however, was Constant's attitude towards "the people." As early as in La Fête-Dieu and Le livre des larmes from 1845, he had been skeptical of the uneducated people's ability to emancipate themselves. Similar to the Saint-Simonians, he had adopted the theocratic ideas of Joseph de Maistre in order to call for the establishment of a "spiritual authority" led by an élite class of priests. After the disaster of 1849, he was completely convinced that the "masses" were not able to establish a harmonious order and needed instruction (a concept similar to other socialist doctrines such as the "revolution from above", the Avantgarde, or the Partei neuen Typs).[18][need quotation to verify]

Constant's activities reflect the socialist struggle to come to terms, both with the failure of 1848 and the tough repressions by the new government. He participated on the socialist Revue philosophique et religieuse, founded by his old friend Fauvety, wherein he propagated his "Kabbalistic" ideas, for the first time in public, in 1855-1856 (notably using his civil name). The debates in the Revue do not only show the tensions between the old "Romantic Socialism" of the Saint-Simonians and Fourierists, they also demonstrate how natural it was for a socialist writer to discuss topics like magic, the Kabbalah, or the occult sciences in a socialist journal.[19]

It has been claimed that Constant developed his ideas about magic in a specific milieu that was marked by the confluence of socialist and magnetistic ideas.[20] Influential authors included Henri Delaage (1825–1882) and Jean du Potet de Sennevoy, who were, to different extents, propagating magnetistic, magical, and kabbalistic ideas as the foundation of a superior form of socialism. Constant used a system of magnetism and dream magic to critique what he saw as the excesses of philosophical materialism.[21][need quotation to verify]

Lévi began to write Histoire de la magie in 1860. The following year, in 1861, he published a sequel to Dogme et rituel, La clef des grands mystères ("The Key to the Great Mysteries"). In 1861 Lévi revisited London. Further magical works by Lévi include Fables et symboles ("Stories and Images"), 1862, Le sorcier de Meudon ("The Wizard of Meudon", an extended edition of two novels originally published in 1847) 1861, and La science des esprits ("The Science of Spirits"), 1865. In 1868, he wrote Le grand arcane, ou l'occultisme Dévoilé ("The Great Secret, or Occultism Unveiled"); this, however, was only published posthumously in 1898.[citation needed]

Levi resumed the use of openly socialist language after the government had loosened the restrictions against socialist doctrines in 1859. From La clef on, he extensively cited his radical writings, even his infamous Bible de la liberté. He continued to develop his idea of an élite of initiates that would lead the people to its final emancipation. In several passages he explicitly identified socialism, Catholicism, and occultism.[22]

The thesis of magic propagated by Éliphas Lévi was of significant renown, especially after his death. That Spiritualism was popular on both sides of the Atlantic from the 1850s contributed to this success. However, Lévi diverged from spiritualism and criticized it, because he believed only mental images and "astral forces" persisted after an individual died, which could be freely manipulated by skilled magicians, unlike the autonomous spirits that Spiritualism posited.[23][page needed] In regard to the purported supernatural occurrences claimed by the practitioners of spiritualism, Levi was obviously credulous. He explained: "The phenomena which quite recently have perturbed America and Europe, those of table-turning and fluidic manifestations, are simply magnetic currents at the beginning of their formation, appeals on the part of Nature inviting us, for the good of humanity, to reconstitute great sympathetic and religious chains."[24] His magical teachings were free from obvious fanaticisms, even if they remained rather murky; and he had nothing to sell (notwithstanding his publications). He did profess himself to be: "A poor and obscure scholar [who] has found the lever of Archimedes, and he offers it to you for the good of humanity alone, asking nothing whatsoever in exchange."[25] He did not pretend to be the initiate of some ancient or fictitious secret society. He incorporated the Tarot cards into his magical system, and as a result the Tarot has been an important part of the paraphernalia of Western magicians.[26] He had a deep impact on the magic of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and later on the ex–Golden Dawn member Aleister Crowley. He was also the first to declare that a pentagram or five-pointed star with one point down and two points up represents evil, while a pentagram with one point up and two points down represents good. Lévi's ideas also influenced Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society.[27][need quotation to verify] It was largely through the occultists inspired by him that Lévi is remembered as one of the key founders of the 19th-century revival of magic.[citation needed]

Socialist background and alleged initiationEdit

It was long believed that the socialist Constant disappeared with the demise of the Second Republic and gave way to the occultist Éliphas Lévi. It has been argued recently, however, that this narrative was constructed at the end of the 19th-century in occultist circles and was uncritically adopted by later scholarship. According to this argument, Constant not only developed his "occultism" as a direct consequence of his socialist and post-clergical ideas, but he continued to propagate the realization of "true socialism" throughout his entire life.[28]

According to the narrative developed by the occultist Papus (Gérard Encausse) and cemented by the occultist biographer Paul Chacornac, Constant's turn to occultism was the result of an "initiation" by the eccentric Polish expatriate Józef Maria Hoene-Wroński. However, it has been argued that Wronski's influence had been brief, between 1852 and 1853, and superficial.[29] However, this narrative had been developed before Papus and his companions had any access to reliable information about Constant's life. This becomes most obvious in the light of the fact that Papus had tried to contact Constant by mail on 11 January 1886 – almost eleven years after his death. The two did know each other, as evidenced in Constant's 6 January 1853 letter to Hoene-Wroński, thanking him for including one of Constant's articles in Hoené-Wroński's 1852 work, Historiosophie ou science de l’histoire. In the letter Constant expresses his admiration for Hoené-Wroński's "still underappreciated genius" and calls himself his "sincere admirer and devoted disciple".[30] Later on, the construction of a specifically French esoteric tradition, in which Constant was to form a crucial link, perpetuated this idea of a clear rupture between the socialist Constant and the occultist Lévi. Julian Strube in 2016 claimed that a different narrative was developed independently by Arthur Edward Waite, who was a near contemporary of Levi. Strube opined that A. E. Waite knew insufficient details of Constant's life.[31] But, that the preponderance of Constant's literature deals with esoteric subjects, lends weight to it being Constant's principle dedication.

Levi contemplated "magic" as a new order - an ideology (potentially a politically useful superstition (?)) by which a new hierarchy would be articulated, as he states: "Hereunto therefore we have made it plain, as we believe, that our Magic is opposed to the goetic and necromantic kinds. It is at once an absolute science and religion, which should not indeed destroy and absorb all opinions and all forms of worship, but should regenerate and direct them by reconstituting the circle of initiates, and thus providing the blind masses with wise and clear-seeing leaders."[32]

A journey to London, that Levi made in May 1854, did not cause his preoccupation with magic, claims Strube - Even though Levi professed involvement in magical ritual. Instead, Strube believes, it was the aforementioned socialist-magnetistic dialectic that compassed Levi's interest in magic.[33]

Levi as a ceremonial magusEdit

Of his initial experience with British esoterists, in 1854, Levi wrote: "I had undertaken a journey to London, that I might escape from internal disquietude and devote myself, without interruption, to science. [...] They asked me forthwith to work wonders, as if I were a charlatan, and I was somewhat discouraged, for, to speak frankly, far from being inclined to initiate others into the mysteries of Ceremonial Magic, I had shrunk all along from its illusions and weariness. Moreover, such ceremonies necessitated an equipment which would be expensive and hard to collect. I buried myself therefore in the study of the transcendent Kabalah, and troubled no further about English adepts."[34]

It did not take long after his arrival in England, however, before his skills as a reputed magus were earnestly courted; and Levi obliged: An elderly British woman, who, on the agreement to strictest secrecy, "rigorous amongst adepts," provided him with "a complete magical cabinet" containing the necessary paraphernalia to apply his theories to the practice of magic in England. The following passage details Levi's subsequent, abortive, attempt at ritual evocation. It was the only experiment in ceremonial magic, undertaken by Levi, that he ever fully divulged:

"The preliminaries terminated on 2nd July; it was proposed to evoke the phantom of the divine Apollonius and interrogate it upon two secrets, one which concerned myself and one which interested the lady. She had counted on taking part in the evocation with a trustworthy person, who, however, proved nervous at the last moment, and, as the triad or unity is indispensable for Magical Rites, I was left to my own resources. The cabinet prepared for the evocation was situated in a turret; it contained four concave mirrors and a species of altar having a white marble top, encircled by a chain of magnetized iron. The Sign of the Pentagram, as given in the fifth chapter of this work, was graven and gilded on the white marble surface; it was inscribed also in various colours upon a new white lambskin stretched beneath the altar. In the middle of the marble table there was a small 1 copper chafing-dish, containing charcoal of alder and laurel wood; another chafing-dish was set before me on a tripod. I was clothed in a white garment, very similar to the alb of our catholic priests, but longer and wider, and I wore upon my head a crown of vervaine leaves, intertwined with a golden chain. I held a new sword in one hand, and in the other the “Ritual”. I kindled two fires with the requisite prepared substances, and began reading the evocations of the “Ritual” in a voice at first low, but rising by degrees. The smoke spread, the flame caused the objects upon which it fell to waver, then it went out, the smoke still floating white and slow about the marble altar; I seemed to feel a quaking of the earth, my ears tingled, my heart beat quickly. I heaped more twigs and perfumes on the chafing-dishes, and as the flame again burst up, I beheld distinctly, before the altar, the figure of a man of more than normal size, which dissolved and vanished away. I recommenced the evocations and placed myself within a circle which I had drawn previously between the tripod and the altar. Thereupon the mirror which was behind the altar seemed to brighten in its depth, a wan form was outlined therein, which increased and seemed to approach by degrees. Three times, and with closed eyes, I invoked Apollonius. When I again looked forth there was a man in front of me, wrapped from head to foot in a species of shroud, which seemed more grey than white. He was lean, melancholy and beardless, and did not altogether correspond to my preconceived notion of Apollonius. I experienced an abnormally cold sensation, and when I endeavoured to question the phantom I could not articulate a syllable. I therefore placed my hand upon the Sign of the Pentagram, and pointed the sword at the figure, commanding it mentally to obey and not alarm me, in virtue of the said sign. The form thereupon became vague, and suddenly disappeared. I directed it to return, and presently felt, as it were, a breath close by me; something touched my hand which was holding the sword, and the arm became immediately benumbed as far as the elbow. I divined that the sword displeased the spirit, and I therefore placed it point downwards, close by me, within the circle. The human figure reappeared immediately, but I experienced such an intense weakness in all my limbs, and a swooning sensation came so quickly over me, that I made two steps to sit down, whereupon I fell into a profound lethargy, accompanied by dreams, of which I had only a confused recollection when I came again to myself. For several subsequent days my arm remained benumbed and painful. The apparition did not speak to me, but it seemed that the questions I had designed to ask answered themselves in my mind. To that of the lady an interior voice replied – Death! – it was concerning a man about whom she desired information. As for myself, I sought to know whether reconciliation and forgiveness were possible between two persons who occupied my thoughts, and the same inexorable echo within me answered – Dead!"[35]

What was the upshot of this experiment in necromancy? Levi reasoned: "Am I to conclude from all this that I really evoked, saw and touched the great Apollonius of Tyana? I am not so hallucinated as to affirm or so unserious as to believe it. The effect of the preparations, the perfumes, the mirrors, the pantacles [sic], is an actual drunkenness of the imagination, which must act powerfully upon a person otherwise nervous and impressionable. I do not explain the physical laws by which I saw and touched; I affirm solely that I did see and that I did touch, that I saw clearly and distinctly, apart from dreaming, and this is sufficient to establish the real efficacy of magical ceremonies. For the rest, I regard the practice as destructive and dangerous; [...]"[36]

Levi's theory of magicEdit

In the preface to "The History of Magic," translator, A. E. Waite, enumerates (what he believed to be) the nine key tenets of magic as codified in Levi's earlier work, Doctrine and Ritual of Transcendental Magic. They are: "(i) There is a potent and real Magic, popular exaggerations of which are actually below the truth. (2) There is a formidable secret which constitutes the fatal science of good and evil. (3) It confers on man powers apparently super-human. (4) It is the traditional science of the secrets of Nature which has been transmitted to us from the Magi. (5) Initiation therein gives empire over souls to the sage and full capacity for ruling human wills. (6). Arising apparently from this science, there is one infallible, indefectible and truly catholic religion which has always existed in the world, but it is unadapted for the multitude. (7) For this reason there has come into being the exoteric religion of apologue [parable], fable and wonder-stories, which is all that is possible for the profane : it has undergone various transformations, and it is represented at this day by Latin Christianity under the obedience of Rome. (8) Its veils are valid in their symbolism, and it may be called valid for the crowd, but the doctrine of initiates is tantamount to a negation of any literal truth therein. (9) It is Magic alone which imparts true science."[37]

The three chief components of Levi's magical thesis were: Astral Light, the Will and the Imagination. Levi did not originate any of these as occult concepts.

Concerning the "Astral Light", Waite noted: "the Astral Light, which is neither more nor less than the odylic force of Baron Carl Reichenbach, as the French writer [Levi] himself admits substantially, [...]" [38] And: "This force he [Levi] usually terms the Astral Light, a name which is borrowed from Saint-Martin and the French mystics of the eighteenth century."[39] Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, had used the term "astral" to mean "psychic force".[40]

"Astral Light" was also indebted to the ideas of 18th-century proto-hypnotist, Franz Mesmer: "[Mesmer] evolved the theory of “ animal magnetism.” This he held to be a fluid which pervades the universe, but is most active in the human nervous organization, and enables one man, charged with the fluid, to exert a powerful influence over another."[41]

Astral is an adjective meaning: "Connected to, consisting of, stars."[42] Levi used the term "Astral", not only as a synonym for "psychic force", but because he believed in the ancient and medieval superstition of astrology. As Levi wrote himself: "Nothing is indifferent in Nature, a pebble more or less upon a road may crush or profoundly alter the fortunes of the greatest men and even of the greatest empires, much more then the position of a particular star can not be indifferent to the destinies of the child who is being, and who enters by the fact of his birth into the universal harmony of the sidereal [astrological] world."[43]

"Will" and "Imagination", as magical agents, were asserted three centuries before Levi, by Paracelsus: "The magical is a great hidden wisdom, and reason is a great open folly. No armour shields against magic for it strikes at the inward spirit of life. Of this we may rest assured, that through full and powerful imagination only can we bring the spirit of any man into an image. No conjuration, no rites are needful; circle-making and the scattering of incense are mere humbug and jugglery. The human spirit is so great a thing that no man can express it; eternal and unchangeable as God Himself is the mind of man; and could we rightly comprehend the mind of man, nothing would be impossible to us upon the earth. Through faith the imagination is invigorated and completed, for it really happens that every doubt mars its perfection. Faith must strengthen imagination, for faith establishes the will. Because man did not perfectly believe and imagine, the result is that arts are uncertain when they might be wholly certain.’’[44] "Whether the object of your faith be real or false, you will nevertheless obtain the same effects. Thus, if I believe in Saint Peter’s statue as I should have believed in Saint Peter himself, I shall obtain the same effects that I should have obtained from Saint Peter. But that is superstition. Faith, however, produces miracles; and whether it is a true or a false faith, it will always produce the same wonders.”[45]

Unquestioning, intense belief can lead to psychosis in susceptible individuals, as Levi's contemporary, Nietzsche, divined in passage 51 of The Antichrist: "The fact that faith, under certain circumstances, may work for blessedness, but that this blessedness produced by an idée fixe by no means makes the idea itself true, and the fact that faith actually moves no mountains, but instead raises them up where there were none before: all this is made sufficiently clear by a walk through a lunatic asylum."[46] Nietzsche continued: "Not, of course, to a priest: for his instincts prompt him to the lie that sickness is not sickness and lunatic asylums not lunatic asylums. Christianity finds sickness necessary, just as the Greek spirit had need of a superabundance of health—the actual ulterior purpose of the whole system of salvation of the church is to make people ill. And the church itself—doesn’t it set up a Catholic lunatic asylum as the ultimate ideal?—The whole earth as a madhouse?—The sort of religious man that the church wants is a typical décadent; the moment at which a religious crisis dominates a people is always marked by epidemics of nervous disorder; the “inner world” of the religious man is so much like the “inner world” of the overstrung and exhausted that it is difficult to distinguish between them; the “highest” states of mind, held up before mankind by Christianity as of supreme worth, are actually epileptoid in form—the church has granted the name of holy only to lunatics or to gigantic frauds in majorem dei honorem..."[47]

Eliphas Levi cautioned: "The operations of [magic] science are not devoid of danger. Their result may be madness for those who are not established on the base of the supreme, absolute, and infallible reason. They may over-excite the nervous system, producing terrible and incurable diseases."[48] "Let those, therefore, who seek in magic the means to satisfy their passions, pause in that deadly path, where they will find nothing but death or madness. This is the significance of the vulgar tradition that the devil finished sooner or later by strangling the sorcerers."[49]

 
Éliphas Lévi's Tetragrammaton pentagram, which he considered to be a symbol of the microcosm, or human being

Definition of magicEdit

Lévi's works are filled with various definitions for magic and the magician:

Magic

  • "Magic is the traditional science of the secrets of Nature which has been transmitted to us from the Magi."[50]
  • "THE GREAT Magical Agent, by us termed the Astral Light, by others the soul of the earth, and designated by old chemists under the names of Azoth and MAGNESIA, this occult, unique and indubitable force, is the key of all empire, the secret of all power. It is the winged dragon of Medea, the serpent of the Edenic Mystery; it is the universal glass of visions, [...] To have control of the Great Magical Agent there are two operations necessary – to concentrate and project, or, in other words, to fix and to move."[51]
  • I speak of the imagination, which the Kabalists term the DIAPHANE or TRANSLUCID. Imagination, in effect, is like the soul's eye; therein forms are outlined and preserved; thereby we behold the reflections of the invisible world; it is the glass of visions and the apparatus of magical life. By its intervention we heal diseases, modify the seasons, warn off death from the living and raise the dead to life, because it is the imagination which exalts will and gives it power over the Universal Agent.[52]
  • The force of itself is blind, but can be directed by the will of man and is influenced by prevailing opinions. This universal fluid [the Astral Light] – if we decide to regard it as a fluid – being the common medium of all nervous organisms and the vehicle of all sensitive vibrations, establishes an actual physical solidarity between impressionable persons, and transmits from one to another the impressions of imagination and of thought."[53]
  • [...] the hieroglyphic work of Hermes, being the Tarot or Book of Thoth."[54]
  • "Magic, or rather magical power, comprehends two things, a science and a force: without the force the science is nothing, or rather it is a danger."[55]
  • "The ceremonies being, as we have said, artificial methods for creating a habit of will, become unnecessary when the habit is confirmed."[56]
  • "Magic is an instrument of divine goodness or demoniac pride, but it is the annihilation of earthly joys and the pleasures of mortal life."[57]
  • "There is a true and a false science, a Divine and an Infernal Magic – in other words, one which is delusive and tenebrous."[58]
  • "Necromancy, and Goetia, which is Evil Magic, do produce such shells and demons, apparitions of deceit."[59]
  • "In Black Magic, the Devil means the employment of the Grand Magical Agent for a wicked purpose by a perverted Will."[60]
  • "To practice magic is to be a quack; to know magic is to be a sage."
  • "The science of spirits is therefore summed up entirely in the science of Jesus Christ. Angels and demons are purely hypothetical or legendary beings; let them remain in poetry, they cannot belong to science."[61]*"Magic, the mere name became a crime and the common hatred was formulated in this sentence: “Magicians to the flames!” – as it was shouted some centuries earlier: “To the lions with the Christians!"[62]
  • "Magic is the divinity of man conquered by science in union with faith; the true Magi are Men-Gods, in virtue of their intimate union with the divine principle."[63]
  • "ALL religions have preserved the remembrance of a primitive book, written in hieroglyphs by the sages of the earliest epoch of the world. [...] The tradition in question rests altogether on the one dogma of Magic: the visible is for us the proportional measure of the invisible."[64]

Magician

  • "He knows the significance of all symbolisms [sic] and of all religions; he dares to practise or abstain from them without hypocrisy and without impiety; and he is silent upon the one dogma of supreme initiation. He knows the existence and nature of the Great Magical Agent; he dares perform the acts and give utterance to the words which make it subject to human will, and he is silent upon the mysteries of the Great Arcanum."[65]
  • "I will go further and affirm that magical circles and magnetic currents establish themselves, and have an influence, according to fatal laws, upon those on whom they can act. [...] The man who is eccentric in his genius is one who attempts to form a circle by combating the central attractive force of established chains and currents."[66]
  • "In the “Ritual” it will be our task to estimate the sequence of truly magical ceremonies and evocations which constitute the great work of vocation under the name of the Exercises Of St. Ignatius."[67]
  • "The sorcerer and sorceress were almost invariably a species of human toad, swollen with long-enduring rancours. They were poor, repulsed by all and consequently full of hatred. The fear which they inspired was their consolation and their revenge; poisoned themselves by a society of which they had experienced nothing but the rebuffs and the vices, they poisoned in their turn all those who were weak enough to fear them, and avenged upon beauty and youth their accursed old age and their atrocious ugliness."[68]
  • The most important magical instruments are the wand, the sword, the lamp, the chalice, the altar and the tripod. In the operations of Transcendental and Divine Magic, the lamp, wand and chalice are used; in the works of Black Magic, the wand is replaced by the sword and the lamp by the candle of Cardan."[69]
  • "The Magus must have also another avocation than that of magician. Magic is not a trade."[70]
  • "To live like an anchorite, without the superstitious ignorance which leads him to such a course of life, this is wisdom indeed, and power is the reward."[71]
  • "He looks on the wicked as invalids whom one must pity and cure; the world, with its errors and vices, is to him God's hospital, and he wishes to serve in it."
  • "They are without fears and without desires, dominated by no falsehood, sharing no error, loving without illusion, suffering without impatience, reposing in the quietude of eternal thought... a Magus cannot be ignorant, for magic implies superiority, mastership, majority, and majority signifies emancipation by knowledge. The Magus welcomes pleasure, accepts wealth, deserves honour, but is never the slave of one of them; he knows how to be poor, to abstain, and to suffer; he endures oblivion willingly because he is lord of his own happiness, and expects or fears nothing from the caprice of fortune. He can love without being beloved; he can create imperishable treasures, and exalt himself above the level of honours or the prizes of the lottery. He possesses that which he seeks, namely, profound peace. He regrets nothing which must end, but remembers with satisfaction that he has met with good in all. His hope is a certitude, for he knows that good is eternal and evil transitory. He enjoys solitude, but does not fly the society of man; he is a child with children, joyous with the young, staid with the old, patient with the foolish, happy with the wise. He smiles with all who smile, and mourns with all who weep; applauding strength, he is yet indulgent to weakness; offending no one, he has himself no need to pardon, for he never thinks himself offended; he pities those who misconceive him, and seeks an opportunity to serve them; by the force of kindness only does he avenge himself on the ungrateful..."
  • "Judge not; speak hardly at all; love and act."
  • "He whom we behold perishing poor and abandoned is Cornelius Agrippa, less of a magician than any, though the vulgar persist in regarding him as a more potent sorcerer than all."[72]
  • "There was much talk in the last century about an adept accused of charlatanism, who was termed in his lifetime the divine Cagliostro. It is known that he practised evocations and that in this art he was surpassed only by the illuminated Schroepffer."[73]

Definition of KabalahEdit

Later authors, such as Macgregor Mathers and A. E. Waite, writing on the school of Jewish mysticism called the Kabalah, exhaustively referenced the texts of Eliphas Levi.

  • "All knowledge is in a word, all power in a name; the intelligence of this name is the Science of Abraham and Solomon."[74]
  • "All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabbalah and return therein; whatever is scientfic and grandiose in the religious dreams of all illuminati - Jacob Boehme, Swedenborg, Saint Martin, and the rest - has been borrowed from the Kabbalah; all masonic associations owe their secrets and symbols thereto."[75]

Levi on religionEdit

The religious views of Eliphas Levi were generally syncretic, on the basis that all religions were different expressions of the same ancient source of wisdom - The core principle of the Prisca Theologia.

  • "For the real history of the people of God is the allegorical legend of humanity."[76]
  • "Absolute magical science bids us, nevertheless, and before all things, believe in God, and adore without seeking to define Him, for a God defined is in some sense a finite God."[77]
  • "Faith is superstition and madness if reason be not at its base. We must believe in causes whose existence reason compels us to admit on the evidence of effects which are known and appreciated by science. Any faith which does not illuminate and extend reason is a superstition ; any dogma which denies the life of the understanding and the spontaneity of free-will is also a superstition."[78]

CriticismEdit

Although the writings of Levi would be the cornerstone of much occult literature produced during, and many years after his death, he was not above criticism. For instance, occult scholar, A. E. Waite, wrote: "When I published a few years ago my English version of Levi's "Transcendental Magic" [1896]; I stated that it was the work of a writer who had received initiation into a school of traditional knowledge, nor must I deny that this school possesses the respect of its participants."[79] However, by the time that Waite wrote The Doctrine and Literature of the Kabbalah (Completed in 1899, and published in 1902.[80]), he had become disenchanted: "I do not think that he [Lévi] ever made an independent statement upon any historical fact to which the least confidence could be given with prudence."[81]

A 21st-century intellectual recently published the following, somewhat dismissive, abstract of Levi's Kabalistic scholarship (which might be generalized to Levi's scholarship in respect to all forms of esoterica): "Franck and Lévi both thought of the Kabbalah as a universal tradition with non-Jewish ‘Zoroastrian’ origins and I argued that Lévi’s perspective was grounded essentially in the prisca theologia tradition of the Renaissance, derived from Patristic foundations that were well known to him from his Roman Catholic upbringing and his education for the priesthood. Lévi’s understanding of Kabbalah was a high Romantic literary invention of considerable brilliance and originality, although obviously lacking in any historical foundation."[82]

The relationship between Levi and English, writer and politician, Edward Bulwer-Lytton was not as intimate as it is often claimed.[83] In fact, Bulwer-Lytton's famous novel A Strange Story (1862) includes a rather unflattering footnote about Levi's Dogme et Rituel: "— a book less remarkable for its learning than for the earnest belief of a scholar of our own day in the reality of the art of which he records the history — [...]"[84][85]

During his own time, Levi anticipated those who would doubt his magical adeptship; Levi persistently failed to demonstrate the efficacy of his avowed magical praxis. To those critics, Levi penned the two following declarations: "To furnish proofs of science to those who suspect the very existence of science is to initiate the unworthy, to profane the gold of the sanctuary, to deserve the excommunication of sages and the fate of betrayers."[86] "Hence to those who would say to me [Eliphas Levi]: If you possess the secret of great successes and of a force which can transform the world, why do you not make use of them? I would answer: This knowledge has come to me too late for myself, and I have spent over its acquisition the time and the resources which might have enabled me to apply it. I offer it to those who are in a position to avail themselves thereof."[87]

But, Levi does somewhat contradict himself in his other writings: "How can one learn to will? This is the first arcanum of magical initiation, and that it might be realized fundamentally the ancient custodians of sacerdotal art surrounded the approaches of the sanctuary with so many terrors and illusions. They recognized no will until it had produced its proofs, and they were right. Power is justified by attainment." [88]

Selected writingsEdit

  • La Bible de la liberté (The Bible of Liberty), 1841
  • Doctrines religieuses et sociales (Religious and Social Doctrines), 1841
  • L'assomption de la femme (The Assumption of Woman), 1841
  • La mère de Dieu (The Mother of God), 1844
  • Le livre des larmes (The Book of Tears), 1845
  • Le testament de la liberté (The Testament of Liberty), 1848
  • Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual), 1854–1856
  • Histoire de la magie (The History of Magic), 1860
  • La clef des grands mystères (The Key to the Great Mysteries), 1861
  • Fables et symboles (Stories and Symbols), 1862
  • La science des esprits (The Science of Spirits), 1865
  • Le grand arcane, ou l'occultisme dévoilé (The Great Secret, or Occultism Unveiled), 1868
  • Le livre des splendeurs (The Book of Splendours), 1894
  • Clefs majeures et clavicules de Salomon (Major Keys and Minor Keys of Solomon), 1895
  • The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum, 1896

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ https://www.grupopensamento.com.br/produto/dogma-e-ritual-da-alta-magia-nova-edicao-5550
  2. ^ Christopher McIntosh, Éliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival, 1972.
  3. ^ https://freemasonry.bcy.ca/biography/esoterica/levi_e/levi_notes.html
  4. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie p.34
  5. ^ Introduction to Magic, UR Group
  6. ^ Crisis of the Modern World
  7. ^ http://www.dragoskalajic.com/
  8. ^ Dogma And Ritual of the High Magic p.30
  9. ^ The History of Magic, Eliphas Levi, Translated by A. E. Waite, 2nd Ed., London, William Rider & Son Ltd, 1922, p. Preface VIII.
  10. ^ http://www.dragoskalajic.com/?l=elifas-levi
  11. ^ Naomi Judith Andrews, Socialism's Muse: Gender in the Intellectual Landscape of French Romantic Socialism (2006), pages 40-41, 95, 102
  12. ^ Susan Grogan, Flora Tristan: Life Stories (2002), pages 193-194
  13. ^ Francis Bertin, Esotérisme et socialisme (1995), page 53
  14. ^ http://www.cercle-langage-sacre.fr/en/eliphas-levi-biography/
  15. ^ The History of Magic, Eliphas Levi, Translated by A. E. Waite, 2nd Ed., London, William Rider & Son Ltd, 1922, pp. Preface VIII - IX.
  16. ^ http://www.dragoskalajic.com/?l=elifas-levi
  17. ^ http://www.cercle-langage-sacre.fr/en/eliphas-levi-biography/
  18. ^ Strube 2016, pp. 418-426. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFStrube2016 (help)
  19. ^ Strube 2016, pp. 470-488. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFStrube2016 (help)
  20. ^ Strube 2016, pp. 523-563. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFStrube2016 (help)
  21. ^ Josephson-Storm 2017, p. 106.
  22. ^ Strube 2016, pp. 565-589. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFStrube2016 (help)
  23. ^ Josephson-Storm 2017.
  24. ^ https://Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 56
  25. ^ https://Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 56
  26. ^ Josephson, Jason Ānanda (May 2013). "God's Shadow: Occluded Possibilities in the Genealogy of Religion". History of Religions, Vol. 52, No. 4, 321. doi:10.1086/669644. JSTOR 10.1086/669644.
  27. ^ Josephson-Storm 2017, p. 116.
  28. ^ Strube, Julian (29 March 2016). "Socialist religion and the emergence of occultism: a genealogical approach to socialism and secularization in 19th-century France". Religion. 46 (3): 359–388. doi:10.1080/0048721X.2016.1146926. ISSN 0048-721X. S2CID 147626697.
  29. ^ Strube 2016, pp. 426-438. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFStrube2016 (help)
  30. ^ Rafał T. Prinke, Uczeń Wrońskiego - Éliphas Lévi w kręgu polskich mesjanistów, Pamiętnik Biblioteki Kórnickiej, Zeszyt 30., Red. Barbara Wysocka. 2013, p. 133
  31. ^ Strube 2016, pp. 590-618. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFStrube2016 (help)
  32. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 16
  33. ^ Strube 2016, pp. 455-470. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFStrube2016 (help)
  34. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, pp.64-65
  35. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, pp.65-66
  36. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 67
  37. ^ The History of Magic, Eliphas Levi, Translated by A. E. Waite, 2nd Ed., London, William Rider & Son Ltd, 1922, pp. Preface X - XI.
  38. ^ The History of Magic, Eliphas Levi, Translated by A. E. Waite, 2nd Ed., London, William Rider & Son Ltd, 1922, p. Preface XII.
  39. ^ Waite A. E., The Mysteries Of Magic, London, George Redway, 1886, p. XXXVI
  40. ^ Waite A. E., Saint-Martin, The French Mystic, London, William Rider & Son Ltd., 1922, p. 18.
  41. ^ Thomson Hudson, Law Of Psychic Phenomena, Chicago, A. C. McClurg and Co., 1893, p.84
  42. ^ Oxford Illustrated Dictionary, Bay Books/Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1986 p.44
  43. ^ Waite, A. E., The Occult Sciences, London, Keagan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd. 1891, p. 163.
  44. ^ Melton J. Gordon (Editor) Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Volume Two, Fifth Edition, Gale Group, Michigan, 2001, p. 958
  45. ^ Thomson Hudson, Law Of Psychic Phenomena, Chicago, A. C. McClurg and Co., 1893, pp. 148-149
  46. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, H.L. Mencken (Translator), The Anti-Christ, Chicago, Sharp Press, 1999, p. 144.
  47. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, H.L. Mencken (Translator), The Anti-Christ, Chicago, Sharp Press, 1999, p. 144.
  48. ^ Waite A. E., The Mysteries Of Magic, London, George Redway, 1886, p. 24
  49. ^ Waite A. E., The Mysteries Of Magic, London, George Redway, 1886, p. 26
  50. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p.3
  51. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 52
  52. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 6
  53. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 56
  54. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 12
  55. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, Introduction p. 11
  56. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part II: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 53
  57. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 53
  58. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 3
  59. ^ The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum, Eliphas Levi, Translated by W. Wynn Westcott, London, George Redway, 1896, p. 51.
  60. ^ The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum, Eliphas Levi, Translated by W. Wynn Westcott, London, George Redway, 1896, p. 60.
  61. ^ La Science des Esprits, Eliphas Levi, Paris, Germer Baillière, Libraire-éditeur, 1865, p. 6.
  62. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, Introduction p. 2
  63. ^ Lévi, Éliphas; Blavatsky, H. P. (2007). Paradoxes of the Highest Science. Wildside Press LLC. p. 15. ISBN 9781434401069.
  64. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, H.L. Mencken (Translator), The Anti-Christ, Chicago, Sharp Press, 1999, p. 144.</
  65. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 44
  66. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 54
  67. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, pp. 53-54
  68. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 89
  69. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part II: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 48
  70. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part II: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 52
  71. ^ The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum, Eliphas Levi, Translated by W. Wynn Westcott, London, George Redway, 1896, p. 44.
  72. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, Introduction p. 5
  73. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, Introduction p. 72
  74. ^ A.E. Waite, The Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah, London 1902, Footnote p. 61
  75. ^ Waite A. E., The Mysteries Of Magic, London, George Redway, 1886, p. 18
  76. ^ La Science des Esprits, Eliphas Levi, Paris, Germer Baillière, Libraire-éditeur, 1865, p. 142
  77. ^ Waite A. E., The Mysteries Of Magic, London, George Redway, 1886, pp. 39-40.
  78. ^ Waite A. E., The Mysteries Of Magic, London, George Redway, 1886, p. 24
  79. ^ A.E. Waite, The Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah, London 1902, p. 399
  80. ^ "Mysteries of Sex in the House of the Hidden Light: Arthur Edward Waite and the Kabbalah" (PDF). p. 170.
  81. ^ A.E. Waite, The Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah, London 1902, pp. 399-400
  82. ^ "Mysteries of Sex in the House of the Hidden Light: Arthur Edward Waite and the Kabbalah" (PDF). p. 169.
  83. ^ C. Nelson Stewart, Bulwer Lytton as Occultist 1996:36 notes that the one surviving letter from Lévi to Lytton "would appear to be addressed to a stranger or to a very distant acquaintance" (A. E. Waite).
  84. ^ Strube 2016, pp. 584-585. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFStrube2016 (help)
  85. ^ Bulwer Lytton, Edward Jones (1862). A Strange Story. 2. Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz. p. 249. Hence the author of Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, printed at Paris, 185-53
  86. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p.100
  87. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p.56
  88. ^ Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part II: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p.11

SourcesEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit