Thursday, 28 October 2010
Alphonse Constant Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual
Eliphas Lévi, born Alphonse Louis Constant, (February 8, 1810 - May 31, 1875) was a French occult author and purported magician.
"Eliphas Lévi," the name under which he published his books, was his attempt to translate or transliterate his given names "Alphonse Louis" into Hebrew although he was not Jewish.
Lévi was the son of a shoemaker in Paris; he attended a seminary and began to study to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood. However, while at the seminary he fell in love, and left without being ordained. He wrote a number of minor religious works: Des Moeurs et des Doctrines du Rationalisme en France ("Of the Moral Customs and Doctrines of Rationalism in France", 1839) was a tract within the cultural stream of the Counter-Enlightenment. La Mère de Dieu ("The Mother of God", 1844) followed and, after leaving the seminary, two radical tracts, L'Evangile du Peuple ("The Gospel of the People," 1840), and Le Testament de la Liberté ("The Testament of Liberty"), published in the year of revolutions, 1848, led to two brief prison sentences. Read more at Wikipedia
In 1853, Lévi visited England, where he met the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who was interested in Rosicrucianism as a literary theme and was the president of a minor Rosicrucian order. Levi's first treatise on magic appeared in 1854 under the title Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, and was translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite as Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual. Its famous opening lines present the single essential theme of Occultism and gives some of the flavor of its atmosphere:
Behind the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvelous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed. (Introduction)
"Dogme et Rituel de La Haute Magie." With a Biographical Preface by Arthur Edward Waite. Including all the original Engravings and a Portrait of the author. Contents: The Candidate; Occult Symbolism; Magical Equilibrium; The Fiery Sword; Realization; Initiation; The Kabbalah; The Magic Chain; The Great Work; Necromancy; Black Magic; The Universal Medicine; Divination; etc
“The man who is enslaved by his passions or worldly prejudices can be initiated in no wise (meaning he can never be initiated); he must reform or he will never attain; meanwhile he cannot be an adept, for this word signifies a person who has acheived by will and by work. The man who loves his own opinions and fears to part with them, who suspects new truths, who is unprepared to doubt everything rather than admit anything on chance, should close this book; for him it is useless and dangerous. He will fail to understand it, and it will trouble him, while if he should divine the meaning, there will be a still greater source of disquietude. If you hold by anything in the world more than reason (as opposed to superstition), truth and justice; if your will be uncertain and vacillating, either in good or evil; if logic alarm you, or the naked truth make you blush; if you are hurt when accepted errors are assailed; condemn this work straight away. Do not read it; let it cease to exist for you; but at the same time do not cry it down as dangerous. The secrets which it records will be understood by an elect few and will be reserved by those who understand them.” Levi