Mary A. ATWOOD
Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy:
A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery
Revised Edition, with an Introduction by Walter L. Wilmhurst
Julian Press, Inc., New York
Library of Congress # 60-15990
An Exoteric View of the Progress and Theory of Alchemy
Chapter I ~ A Preliminary Account of the Hermetic Philosophy, with the more Salient Points of its Public History
Chapter II ~ Of the Theory of Transmutation in General, and of the First Matter
Chapter III ~ The Golden Treatise of Hermes Trismegistus Concerning the Physical Secret of the Philosophersí Stone, in Seven Sections
A More Esoteric Consideration of the Hermetic Art and its Mysteries
Chapter I ~ Of the True Subject of the Hermetic Art and its Concealed Root.
Chapter II ~ Of the Mysteries
Chapter III ~ The Mysteries Continued
Chapter IV ~ The Mysteries Concluded
Concerning the Laws and Vital Conditions of the Hermetic Experiment
Chapter I ~ Of the Experimental Method and Fermentations of the Philosophic Subject According to the Paracelsian Alchemists and Some Others
Chapter II ~ A Further Analysis of the Initial Principle and Its Education into Light
Chapter III ~ Of the Manifestations of the Philosophic Matter
Chapter IV ~ Of the Mental Requisites and Impediments Incidental to Individuals, Either as Masters or Students, in the Hermetic Art
The Hermetic Practice
Chapter I ~ Of the Vital Purification, Commonly Called the Gross Work
Chapter II ~ Of the Philosophic or Subtle Work
Chapter III ~ The Six Keys of Eudoxus
Chapter IV ~ The Conclusion
A More Esoteric Consideration of the Hermetic Art and its Mysteries
The Mysteries (Concluded)
It behooves thee to hasten to the Light, and to the beams of the Father from whence was sent to thee a soul clothed with much mind. --- Zoroastri Oracula, Anima, Corpus, Homo.
It is known concerning Hercules, that he performed his last labour in the Hesperidian region, and Olympiodorus, in his Commentary on the Gorgias of Plato, informs us what we are to understand by this, It is necessary to know, says he, that islands stand out of, as being higher than the sea; a condition of being, therefore, which transcends this corporeal life and generation is denominated the Islands of the Blessed; and these are the same with the Elysian Fields. Hence Hercules is said to have accomplished his last labour in the Hesperidian region; signifying by this, that having vanquished an obscure and terrestrial life, he afterwards lived in open day (1). For he dragged up Cerberus from hell, that is to say, he liberated the whole individual entity through a threefold evolution from the bond of its earthly geniture, and established it finally in the most exalted life. And those golden apples were a part also of the regard of his arcane and telestic labours; which Theseus, before him, was unable to finish, being detained by his passions in the sea of sense. So Proclus understands the allegory, where he says that, being purified by sacred institutions and enjoying undefiled fruits, Hercules at length obtained an establishment among the god.
Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere Causas,
Atque metus omnes et inexorabile Fatum
Subjectit pedibus, strepitimque Acherontis avari!
Nature indeed, as a beneficient mother, offers the rich treasury of life to all, and the universal Father, it is said, keeps the gate of the fatal cavern open for the convenience of mankind. The descent, therefore, is allowed on all hands to be easy; but the ascent otherwise; the gate indeed being so narrow, close, and difficult to discern, that there be few, and they immortals only, that are able to pass through. The allusion to these gates is frequent in antiquity, and that of Homer in the thirteenth book of the Odyssey, describing the cave in Ithaca has been the subjects of many comments.
A lofty gate unfolds on either side,
That to the North is pervious to mankind,
The sacred South tí immortals is consigned.
That the poet does not narrate these particulars from historical information or misinformation either is very evident. For neither if there had been any geographical ground for such a description, could he have hoped to gain belief for the persistent allegory, thus artificially opening up a path to god and men in the region of Ithaca. But the wise Porphyry, after combating many erroneous opinions, explains that whereas the northern gate pertains to souls descending into the realms of generation, and the southern to souls ascending to divinity; we ought to observe, on this account, that Homer does not say indeed that this last is a passage of the gods but of immortals: signifying by this, souls which are per se, that is to say, essentially immortal (2). For nothing but the subtlety of an immortal essence, and that by regeneration, can pass into immortality. And here we may better conceive, perhaps, the value of that Golden Branch, which, attracted from the first to its native soil, indifferent to every other lure, through death and darkness enters; and taking root at last, gathers strength to germinate and blossom, as a radiant flower, overspreading and illuminating the surrounding wilderness of life. The sudden transition from the horrid realms of Tartarus, forms an admirable contrast in that part of the Aeneid where the hero, having passed the Stygian border, goes forth to meet his father in the Elysian Fields.
Devenere locos laetos, et amoena vireta
Fortunatorum nemorum, sedsque beatas
Largior hic campos Aether et Lumine vestit
Purpureo: solemque suum, sua sidera norunt (3).
This divine ethereal purpled verdure, this meadow of Divine Ideas, or Pratum, as the Oracle denotes it, is a place well known to philosophers; the Alchemists in general call it their garden, and Flammel, in his Summary, includes the Mountain of the Seven metals, saying, --- the philosophers have indeed a garden where the sun as well morning as evening remains with a most sweet dew; whose earth brings forth trees and fruits which are transplanted thither, which also receive nourishment from the pleasant meadows. And if thou wouldst come hither and find good, betake thyself to the mountain of the Seven, where there is no plain, and look down from the highest downward to the Sixth, which you will see afar off; in the topmost height, you will find a royal herb triumphing, which some call mineral, some vegetable, some saturnine (4). For it is either and all, which Vaughan describes as the rendezvous of all spirits, where Ideas as they descend from above, are conceived and incorporated. But it is a delicate and pleasant region, he says, as it were in the suburbs of heaven. Those seven mystic mountains, whereupon grow the roses and lilies, are the outgoings of paradise mentioned in Esdras, and the Planetary Sphere of Sendivogius, and that most famous tincture of the Sapphiric Mine: which is in truth the cleansed Augean, the already prepared medial receptacle of the newborn light; no sooner does this arise than all the vegetable colours, before obliterated in darkness, return to neutralize their poison and restore the suspended circulation to a conscious equilibriate accord. This is Elysium, the enclosed garden of Solomon, where God condescends to walk and drink of the sealed fountain; the true Terrestrial Paradise, which some have called nox corporis, the night of body or corporeal sleep, a term made more intelligible by the apposite saying of Heraclitus, concerning souls in that condition, that we live their death and die their life. In these meadows therefore the souls of the dead are said to inhabit, souls dead indeed to this life, yet more alive in that. For converted to externals, we desert our best life unconsciously as Empedocles says,
Heavenís exiles straying from the orb of light.
But philosophers are said continually to have visited this place, as we read for instance concerning the habitation of R.C., Vidi aliquando Olympicos domos, non procul a fluviolo et civitate nota quas Sanctus Spiritus fontem aperuit perennis aquae adhuc stillantem, in quo Diana se lavat, cui Venus ut Pedissaqua et Saturnus ut anteambulo, conjunguntur. Intelligenti nimium inexperto minimum hoc erit dictum. To clear the prospect a little, therefore, Vaughan adds this description to the Indian Brachmanís abode. I have seen, says Apollonius, the Brahmans of India dwelling on the earth and not on the earth; they were guarded without walls invisibly, and possessing nothing, they enjoyed all things (5). In such a place the oracle told Amelius the soul of Great Plotinus was,
Ubi Amicitia est, ubi cupido visu mollis,
Purae plenus laetitiae, et sempiternis rivis
Ambrosiis irrigatus a Deo; unde sunt amorum
Retinacula, dulcis spiritus et tranquillus Aether
Aurei generis magi Jovis.
By such clear and rapid rivers of supernal light the adoring Sybil drew her inspiration, and by such, according to the Orphic poet, the god Apollo even loved to contemplate.
Omnia quae Phoebo quondam meditante beatus
Audiit Eurotas, &c...
There are three modes of human vision recorded by St Augustine; the first external, and belongs to the outward eye; the second that of imagination, by which representations are visible to the internal sense; the third is anagogic, and an intellectual sight, drawn above, by which intelligible species are beheld, as a pure infusion of light to the understanding. The first mode is familiar, the second has already been discussed; but this third vision of the light is in Elysium: where the eye of mind, no longer as heretofore looking from without inwardly, beholds its object through the atmosphere of the natural life; but contrariwise, having passed through this, purifying to the center, is converted and raised; and, as a Unit, now regards the circumference transitively, including it as an understanding or reflector, as it were, to the focus of her light. Porphyry beautifully resembles this mode of being to a fountain, not flowing outwardly, but circularly scattering its streams into itself. And thus there is an assimilation established, as near as may be in consciousness, of the self-knowing and the self known; yet with this motion of the soul, time is consubsistent, as changing her conceptions, she passes from one to another according to the self motion of her essence, and through her eyes being directed to the survey of the different forms which she contains, and which have the relation of parts to her whole essence; but eternity is consubsistent only with the permanence of intellection itself (6). And thus, though there is a grade above; yet this is the Intellection in Elysium where the exemplary Image of the Universal Nature also is revealed as in that Athanor of Hermes before mentioned, or furnace having a glass to it, that singular fundamental of his small new world.
And the life of the intelligible world consists thenceforth in intellectually energizing, and this energy, distinguishing, desiring, understanding within itself simultaneously, generates Light through a perpetual tranquil and quiet contact with the Principle of things. And the calm delight of Being there in universal harmony, the truthful visions, scenery, occupations and integral intelligence are pictured with all the vivid colouring of that experienced poetís soul; and will be rightly understood as an unfolding of the embryo life, the nourishment and education of the understanding vehicle now standing in open presence before its Archetypal Light; according to which also it Archetypal Light; according to which also it perfects all the new-born attributes, as of justice, beauty, charity, hope, every faculty, sentiment and desire in orderly relation under the dominion of reason; and evolves the total harmony of nature, and all specific variety in her originating source. --- The sun shines but for us, exclaims the chorus of the Initiated in Aristophanes; we alone receive the glory of his beams; for us alone the meadows are enameled with flowers; even for us, who are initiated and who have learned to perform all acts of piety and justice (7). Nor is it without reason that the river Eridanus is said by Virgil to pass through those celestial abodes; for this indicates the prolific flow of spirit which accedes spontaneously from the occult energy of such a life. Taylor has admirably set forth these particulars of the poet in his Dissertation; and that the most abundant spectacles and powers are belonging to those Elysian fountains is shown by Proclus, in his fourth book On the Theology, in which also he relates that Theurgists placed their chief hopes of salvation: for the plain of Truth, he says, is intellectually expanded to intelligible Light and is splendid with the illuminations which proceed from thence; and as the one (subjective identity) emits by illumination intelligible light so the intelligible (objective entity) imparts to secondary natures a participation productive of essence. But the Meadow is the prolific power of life, according to Plato, and of all various reasons, and is the comprehension of the First Efficient causes of life and the generation of Forms: for the meadows also which are here, continues the great exponent, are productive of all various forms and reasons and bear water which is the symbol of vivification (8). And here the metaphysician accords with the ancient physiologists and alchemists, who, experimentally searching, were said to prove the Universal Identity of Nature on the ontological ground; reproducing the whole material principle to sense and visibility from the dissolution of the spirit in its proper kind without alloy. But intending to speak of these material rewards of initiation hereafter, and of this Water especially, we pass onward for the present to introduce the self-conspicuous and prolific goddess herself, according to Apuleiusí most eloquent announcement, appearing in the Eleusian Fane.
Moved by thy prayers, O Lucius! Behold, I am come! I, who am nature, the parent of all things, the Queen of all the nature, the parents of all things, the Queen of all the elements, the primordial progeny of ages, the supreme of divinities, the sovereign of the spirits of the dead, the first of celestials, and the uniform resemblance of gods and goddesses; I, who rule by my nod the luminous summit of the heavens, the salubrious breezes of the sea, and the deplorable silences of the realms beneath; and whose one divinity the whole orb of the earth venerates under a manifold form, by different rites and a various of appellations. Hence the primordial Phrygians call me Pessinuntica; the Attic Aborigines, Cecropian Minerva; the floating Cyprians, Paphian Venus; the arrow-bearing Cretans, Diana Dyctynna; the three-tongued Sicilians, Stygian Proserpine; and the Eleusinians, the ancient Goddess Ceres. Some also call me Juno; others, Bellona; others, Hecate; and others, Rhamnusia. And those who are illuminated by the incipient rays of that divinity, the Sun, when he rises, viz., the Ethiopians and the Arii, and the Egyptians skilled in ancient learning, worshipping me by ceremonies perfectly appropriate, call me by my true name, Queen Isis. Behold then, I, commiserating thy calamities, am present, favouring and propitious; dismiss now tears and lamentations, and expel sorrow; for now salutary day will shine upon thee. Listen therefore attentively to these my mandates. The religion which is eternal has consecrated to me the day which will be born of this night; on which day my priests offer to me the first fruits of navigation, dedicating to me a new ship, when now the winter tempests are mitigated and the stormy waves of the deep are appeased, and the sea itself has now become navigable. That sacred ceremony you ought to expect with a mind neither solicitous nor profane. For the priest, being admonished by me, shall bear a rosy crown in his right hand adhering to the rattle, in the precinct of the pomp. Without delay therefore cheerfully follow, confiding in my benevolence. When you approach the priest, gently pluck the roses as if you intended to kiss his hand, and immediately divest yourself of the hide of that worst of beasts, and which for some time since has been to me detestable (9). Nor should you fear anything pertaining to my concerns as difficult --- only remember and always retain it deposited in the penetralia of your mind, that the remaining course of your life must be dedicated to me, even to the boundary of your latest breath. Nor is it unjust that you should owe your whole life to that goddess by whose assistance you will return to the Human Form. But you will live happy, and you will live glorious under my protection: and when, having passed through the allotted space of your life, you descend (once more) to the realms beneath, there also in the subterranean hemisphere, you dwelling in the Elysian Fields, shall frequently adore me whom you now see, and shall there behold me shining amidst the darkness of Acheron, reigning in the Stygiam Penetralia, and being propitious to you. Moreover, if you shall be found to deserve the protection of my divinity, by sedulous obedience, religious services, and inviolable chastity, you shall know that it is possible for me to extend your life beyond the limits appointed to it by fate.
The venerable Oracle being thus finished, adds the philosopher, the invincible goddess receded into herself; and without delay, I, being liberated from sleep, immediately arose, seized with fear and joy, and in an excessive perspiration, and in the highest degree admiring so manifest a presence of the powerful goddess; having sprinkled myself with marine dew, and intent upon her great commands, I revolved in my mind the order of her mandates; shortly after too the sun arose, and put to flight the darkness of black night (10). The dragon shuns the sunís beams which look through the crevices, and the dead son lives --- and the new vessel, purified and holy, is brought into the Eleusinian temple, to be consecrated in Light. Not, as some have imagined, a crystal night-lamp or magic lanthorn, cleansed for the consumption of the best olive oil, to dazzle the ignorant or instruct beholders with artificial emblems of natural science; but a far more pellucid gas-lamp, an infallible gasometer, able to hold and sustain and measure simultaneously, even within itself to kindle a perpetual flame, shining in equilibriate constancy about the sufficient fuel of all life. As Apuleius further apostrophizing the same divinity, continues --- Thou rollest the heavens round the steady poles, dost illuminate the sun, govern the world, and tread on the dark realms of Tartarus. The stars move responsive to thy command, the gods rejoice in thy divinity, the hours and seasons return by thy appointment, and the elements reverence thy decree (11).
All which is readily admissible of the Universal Nature; and, if we may believe the experienced, we are not cut off from this fountain, but attracted out from it; which supplies all things with life perpetually, so that we are what we are by its influence; but in turn receiving the impressure of foreign forms, passions, accidents, and evil generations, the passive purity is defiled and obscured, and unconscious of that inner light which lives in reality; of which the present life is a mere vestige and a comparative diminution of existence, an imitation, as it were, of that which is absolute and real; whose spontaneous revelation in a purified soul imparts virtue with understanding, and universal knowledge, health of body, and long length of days; riches as from the Causal fountain of all things, and felicity in communion with all. It also emits light accompanied with harmony of intellection, and finally exhibits a form of such rarified effulgence that the eye of mind, all the while faithfully regarding, is drawn to contact suddenly, unable longer to sustain itself alone. This is the method and arcane principle of Self-Knowledge, and the narrow way of regeneration into life; and so great is the tenuity and attractive subtilty of the Divine Nature, says Iamblichus, that the initiated, when surveying it, are affected in the same manner as fishes, when they are drawn upwards from the dark and turbid waters into the diaphanous clear air; becoming languid as soon as they perceive it, and deprived of the use of their co-nascent spirit (12). For to this spirit the vision in Hades is allied which is born be through without much disturbance of the common life; but, when the central magnet moves to the ascent, this expiration is described as taking place; a liberation is effected through agony, as it were of death, the circulation oscillates, and the soul, coalescing with its vehicle, transcends free from corporeal hindrance into the elysian light. That was the rosy crown of which the Hierophant was to assist Apuleiusí Lucius to partake, when he was enabled to put off the hide of that worst of beasts, and re-enter into the Divine Form of humanity. Wherefore, O ye asses! Cries Agrippa, in condemnation, which are now with your children under the commandment of Christ by his Apostles, the messengers and readers of true Wisdom in his Gospel, be you loosed from the darkness of the flesh and blood, ye that desire to attain to true Wisdom; not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but of the tree of life: setting apart all traditions of men and discourse of the flesh and blood whatsoever it be; entering not either into the schools of other philosophers, but into yourself, ye shall know all things, for the knowledge of all things is compact in you: even as God hath created trees full of fruits, so hath he created the soul as a reasonable tree full of forms and knowledges: but through the sin of the first parent all things were opened; and oblivion, the mother of ignorance, stepped in. Set you then now aside who may, continues the magician, the veil of your understanding, who are wrapped in the darkness of ignorance: Cast out the drink of Lethe, you who have made yourselves drunken with forgetfulness, and wait for the True Light ,you who have suffered yourself t be overtaken with unreasonable sleep; and forthwith, when your face is discovered, ye shall pass from the light to light (13), and from glory to glory, as the Apostle says --- from the light of the senses to the illumination of reason, and from reason through its topmost faith into the substantive glorification of all.
ĎTwas in a golden cup
The Helius passed,
Helius, Hyperionís son.
Oíer floods and oceans wafted far away.
To Erebus he went, and the sad realms of night
His aged parent there he found,
And the kind consort of his better days,
And all his blooming offspring.
Then to the sacred grove he sped,
The sacred grove of laurel.
And this strain brings us to the final purpose of Aeneas who, going forth to meet his father in the Elysian fields, has the whole Epopteia opened to him --- the Pantheistic revealment of the Universal Nature, her secret foundation, the soulís essence, origin, hindrances, and proper end.
Principio ceolum,ac terra,composque liquentes
Lucentemque globum Lunae, Titaniaque astra
Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
Mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet... (14)
This initiation to the Paternal abode which, according to the Alexandrian Platonists, opens the whole of the divine paths and media by which the soul becomes finally fitted for establishment under the celestial circulation of her Law, exhibits in progress likewise the self-splendid appearances of the true gods, which are both entire and firm, and expand likewise the self-splendid appearances of the true gods, which are both entire and firm, and expand to the mystic inspection of all intelligibles; as Socrates explains in Phaedrus: For telete precedes muesis, and muesis, epopteia. Hence, says he, we are initiated (teleioumetha) in ascending by the perfective gods. But we view with closed eye, i.e., with the pure soul itself (muoumetha) entire and stable appearances, through the connective gods, with whom there is the intellectual wholeness and the firm establishment of souls. And we become fixed in, and spectators of (epopteuomen) the intelligible watch-tower, through the gods who are collectors of wholes; we speak, indeed, of all these things as with reference to the intelligible, but we obtain a different thing according to a different order. For the perfective gods initiate us in the intelligible through themselves; as the collective monads are through themselves the leaders of intelligibles. And there are indeed many steps of ascent, but all of them extend to the Paternal port and the Paternal Initiation (15).
To find the Hero, for whose only sake
We sought the dark abodes and crossed the bitter lake.
For the paternal is the first source of life, and the last into which the conscience is initiated; and the rebirth and recreation of this principle in the Free Ether, prepared for it, is the end and plenitude of initiatory rites.
In Taylorís notes to his Pausanias we find an extract from an ancient writer, Ascelpius Trallianus, wherein the etymon of ****, Wisdom, is derived from ****, the conspicuous and the clear. Thus --- what is Wisdom? We reply, that it is a certain clearness, as being that which renders all things conspicuous. From whence was this word clearness denominated? We reply, from light. Since, therefore, the clear is accustomed to lead into light and knowledge things concealed in the darkness of ignorance; on this account, concludes the writer, it is thus denominated. Thus, also, Minerva is sometimes called Phosphor, as being the bearer and measure of the Demiurgic Fire. And what are all the gods but manifestations of this same Fire germinating through the projecting energy of Intellect distinct in Light? In its lucid understanding, stable expanse, Minerva; in its golden radiance and ideality, Apollo; shining forth in beauty, warmth, and infinite attraction, Venus; in its concentrated flashing force, Mars; in compact impenetrable purity, the chaste Diana; penetrating in all the variety of perspicuous thought and imagination, the winged Mercury; in its universal fabricative virtue and beneficience, the Demiurgic Jupiter; and thenceforth downward and upward from the last to the first ineffable Phanes, before Saturn, or that ancient Cybele, proceeded to manifestation by will in time.
Then nor the sunís swift members splendid shone
But in dense harmony established lay
Concealed; eternityís revolving sphere
Rejoicing round its center firm to roll.
Until, as a poet goes on to explicate, by the fanning of the celestial ether set in motion,
Then all the members of the god appeared (16).
And the nourishing cause of these gods is said to be a certain intelligible union, comprehending in itself the whole intellectual progression, and filling the Ethereal Hypostasis with acme and power. All the gods, says Plotinus, are beautiful, and their splendour is intense. What else, however, is it but Intellect through which they are such? And because intellect energizes them in so great a degree, as to render them visible by its Light. For they are not at one time wise, and at another destitute of wisdom, but they are always wise, in an impassive, stable, and pure Intellect; seeing such things as Intellect itself sees, they occupy and pervade without ceasing the whole of that blissful region. For the life there is unattended with labour, and Truth is their generator and nutriment, their essence and their nurse (17). Plato also by Socrates narrating the mode of ascent to the Intelligible Beauty, and how, following the divine leaders they became partakers of the same, concludes. --- It was then lawful to survey splendid Beauty, where we obtained together with that happy choir, this blessed vision and contemplation; and we indeed enjoyed this felicity, following the choir together with Jupiter. But others in conjunction with some other god; at the same time beholding and being initiated in those mysteries which it is lawful to call the most blessed of all mysteries. And these divine orgies were celebrated by us while we were perfect and free from those evils which awaited us in a succeeding period of time; we likewise were initiated in and became spectators of entire, simple, quietly stable, and blessed visions, resident in a Pure Light; being ourselves pure and liberated from this surrounding vestment, which we denominate body, and to which we are bound like an oyster to its shell. And beauty, continues the divine narrator, shone upon us during our progression with the gods: but on our arrival hither, we possessed the power of perceiving it, through the clearest of our senses (18). Not, let us believe with Dr Warburton, "a mere illuminated image, which the priest had purified", for indeed his while account of the institution is absurd; but when we consider to what Plato really alludes, by those simple and blessed visions resident in a pure light, we can no longer wonder why the initiated were conjoined with the total deity and intellectual perfection of their leaders, and were replenished with the divine essentiality. And the being entire is derived to souls from equilibriate circulation in their Ether; which contains, and is connective of all the Divine genera. Everything, however, which in the whole contains parts, comprehends also that which is divided, and collects that which is various into union and simplicity. But the quiet, stable, and simple visions, are unfolded to souls supernally; as Proclus explains from the supercelestial place. And so those gods and those powers that follow the gods reveal themselves each in his particular form or essence of light, but by no means extend themselves as figured phantasms, such as the mind before beheld in Hades from its own self-shadowing creative fancy. For wherefore should they be supposed to exhibit these? Is it not evident that their characteristic would be far better expressed by their simple idea living in the understanding, than by any other figured light or representation? By no means therefore, says Iamblichus, does Divinity either transform himself into phantasms nor extend these from himself to other things, but emits illuminations, true representations of himself in the true manner of souls. And truth, he adds, is coexistent with the god, in the same manner as light with the sun. For as all other things, such as are principal, primarily begin from themselves, and impart to themselves that which they give to others; as for instance, in essence, in life, and in motion; thus also the natures which supply all beings with truth primarily proclaim the truth themselves, and precedaneously unfold the essence of themselves to the spectators. Hence likewise they exhibit to Theurgists a Fire which is itself, to itself, visible (20). Let no one therefore wonder, says Proclus, the gods being essentially in one simplicity according to transparency, if various phantasms are hurled forth before the presence of them; nor if they, being uniform, should in their appearance be multiform, as we have learned in the most perfect Mysteries. For nature and the demiurgic intellect extend corporeal formed images of things corporeal, sensible images of things intelligible, and those without interval, since all things are an emanation from these (21). And thus the soul, when looking at things posterior to herself, beholds the shadows only and images of true being; but, when she converts herself to herself, she evolves her own Essence, and the vivific reasons which she contains. And at first, indeed, she only as it were perceives herself; but, when she penetrates more profoundly for the examination of herself, she finds in herself both understanding and the Reason of created beings. When, however, she proceeds into her interior recesses and into the Adytum of Life, as the great theologist declares, she perceives, with the eye closed, as it were, the genus of the gods, which are the unities of all being: for all things are in us psychically, that is to say, in the efficient Reason of our life, and through this, when it is developed, we are capable of knowing of all things, by exciting the images and powers of the Whole which we contain. And this has been said to be the best employment of our energy, to be extended to a Divine nature, and having our individual powers at rest, to revolve harmoniously round it, to excite all the multitude of the soul to this union; and laying aside all such things as are posterior to the One, to become seated and conjoined to that which is ineffable and beyond all things (22).
It is satisfactory to observe how these ancients, with one accord, dismiss all visions which take place during the imperfect self-activity of the human mind as arbitrary and untrustworthy; how well they had learned to discriminate, and how very absolute and clear a line they draw between enthusiasm and fanaticism, between the shadowy world of imaginative vision and the light of the true gods; nor will any one, profoundly considering their assertions, doubt about the origin or respect due to these divinities, which, as an emanative splendour from the Causal Fountain, make manifest in energy its Intellectual Law.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball
In Reasonís ear they all rejoice,
And utter still their glorious voice,
For ever singing as they shine,
"The Hand that moves us is divine".
Or, as the mathematician paints it,
En tibi Norma Poli --- ! en divae Libramina Molis!
Computus en Jovis! Et quas dum primordial rerum
Conderet, omnipotens sibi leges ipse Creator
Dixerit, et Operis quae Fundementa locarit.
And here again we take occasion to observe that it is indeed by divine Media, and not a mere conception of the mind or metaphysical abstraction, either, that Theurgists are conjoined to the Divine nature; since, if this were the case, what would hinder those who philosophize theoretically from participating of this union? Which they do not; the perfect efficacy of ineffable works, says Iamblichus, which are divinely performed, in a way surpassing all ordinary intelligence and the power of inexplicable symbols which are known only to the gods themselves, impart Theurgic union. Hence we do not perform these things through intellectual perception; since, if this were the case, the intellectual energy of them would be imparted by us, neither of which is true: for when we do not energize intellectually (all preparative conditions having been fulfilled), the Synthemata, i.e., the Theurgic aids and media themselves, perform by themselves their proper work; and the ineffable power of the gods itself, knows by itself its own images. It does not however know them, as if excited by our intellections; but it is requisite to consider these and all the best dispositions of the soul, and also the purity pertaining, as certain concauses; the things which properly excite the Divine will being the Divine Synthemata themselves; and thus things pertaining to the gods are moved by themselves, and do not receive from an inferior nature (i.e., to say, from the regardant subject) the principle of their energy (23). As the Chaldaic Oracle likewise in its own operative language declares:
And these things I revolve in the recluse temples of my mind:
Extending the like fire sparkling into the spacious air,
To put into the mind the symbol of variety,
And not to walk dispersedly on the empyreal channels, but stiffly:
For the king did set before the world an intellectual incorruptible pattern,
This print through the world, he promoting, accordingly appeared,
Beautified with all kinds of Ideas of which there is one Fountain,
Intellectual notions from the Paternal Fountain cropping the Flower of Life ---
And to these Intellectual Presters of Intellectual Fire all things are subservient by the persuasive will of the Father.
Having put on the completely armed vigour of resounding Light, with triple strength, fortifying the soul and the mind.
O how the world hath Intellectual guides inflexible! (24).
So did Theurgic rites, by the medium of the passive Ether, unfold the embryo vigour of her newly conceived life; awakening intellect into reminiscence and filling it with the conscious reasons of things manifest and occult; and as it were by an obstetric hand and action, bringing forth the total nature and ornamenting it with Light. For Wisdom here enacts the apart of a discreet mother, who having educated her son and furnished him with understanding, bids him use it, exercising him in every virtue and theoretic discipline for the final conversion and accomplishment of his soul. And if the education has been complete and the discipline perfect, says Porphyry, the whole inferior powers will range in harmonious concord about their proper rule, and will so venerate this Reason, as to be indignant if they are at all self-moved, in consequence of not being quiet when their master is present; and will reprove themselves for them imbecility, so that the motions themselves will be dissolved through their proximity to the reasoning power (25).
So did Theurgic rites, by the medium of the passive Ether, unfold the embryo vigour of her newly conceived life; awakening intellect into reminiscence and filling it with the conscious reasons of things manifest and occult; and as it were by an obstetric hand and action, bringing forth the total nature and ornamenting it with Light. For Wisdom here enacts the part of a discreet mother, who having educate her son and furnished him with understanding, bids him use it, exercising him in every virtue and theoretic discipline for the final conversion and accomplishment of his soul. And if the education has been complete and the discipline perfect, says Porphyry, the whole inferior powers will range in harmonious concord about their proper rule, and will so venerate this Reason, as to be indignant if they are at all self-moved, in consequence of not being quiet when their master is present; and will reprove themselves for their imbecility, so that the motions themselves will be dissolved through their proximity to the reasoning power (25).
But the government of the natural life is oligarchical, almost an anarchy, where there is no permanently accepted leader of the whole; but each motive rising, as it were, becomes a usurper of a vacant throne; and external institutions imaged from thence accordingly are selfish, conflicting, and unhappy. Yet observing how the faculties of each tyrant motive, as it accedes, and how the highest are thus often made to subserve the lowest ends, how covetousness, ambition, and envy, and pride will erect and manifest themselves in the circumstances of individual and social life, and stamp their character on nations, and obscure the perception of every other good; we may gather from thence a passable though faint conception of the Almighty force that moves about the Rational Magnet, and how the Presters of Intellectual Fire follow in radiant order the will of their First Cause. Under such a monarch indeed, when once he is established, no dissensions would be likely to arise, but the inferior powers will so venerate his leading motive that they will move only according to his movement, pursuing constantly in observant order his infallible rule.
Fire, says the adept philosopher, is the purest and most worthy of all the elements, and its substance is the finest of all; for this was first of all elevated in the creation with the throne of Divine Majesty. This nature is of all the most quiet and like unto a chariot, when it is drawn, it runs; when it is not drawn, it stands still. It is also in all things indiscernibly. In it are the reasons of life and understanding, which are distributed in the first infusion of manís life, and these are called the rational soul, by which alone man differs from other creatures and is like to God. This soul was of that most pure fire, infused by God into the vital spirit, by reason of which man, after the creation of all things, was created into a particular world or microcosm. In this subject, God, the Creator of all things, put his seal and majesty, as in the purest and quietest subject, which is governed by the will and infinite wisdom of God alone. Wherefore God abhors all impurity; nothing that is filthy or compounded, or blemished may come near Him, therefore, no mortal man may come near Him, therefore, no mortal man can see God, or come to Him naturally. For that Fire which is carried the seal and majesty of the Most High, is so intense, that no eye can penetrate it; for Fire will not suffer anything that is compounded to come near to it: but is the death and separation of everything that is compounded. We have said that it is the most quiet subject; so it is, or else it would follow that God could not rest; but it is of a most quiet silence in itself more than any manís mind can imagine. Thou hast an example of this in the flint, in which there is fire, and yet is not perceived, neither doth appear until it is stirred up by motion, and kindled in it that it may appear. So the Fire in which is placed the sacred majesty of our Creator, is not moved unless it be stirred up by the proper will of the Most High, and so is carried where His holy will is. There is made by the will of the Supreme Maker of things a most vehement and terrible motion. Thou hast an example of this, when any monarch of this world sits in state; what a quietness there is about him, what a silence, and although some one of his court doth move, the motion is only of some one or other particular man, in an order which is not regarded. But when the Lord himself moves, there is a universal stir and motion, then all that attend on him move with him. What then, when that Supreme Monarch, the King of kings, and Maker of all things (after whose example the princes of this world are established) doth move in his own majesty? What a stir! What a trembling, when the whole guard of this heavenly army move about him! But some one may ask, how do we know these things, since heavenly things are hid from manís understanding? To whom we answer, that they are manifest to philosophers into whom the incomprehensible Deity has inspired his own Wisdom (26).
For the total Reason is in this life of ours hidden, as the fire in fuel that is not kindled, or as gold in the dark ore unseen --- our Iron, our Red Earth, our Loadstone, celeberrimus ille microcosmos et Adam, in which we are all now as dead; nor can be awakened to reminiscence without a resolution of the whole circulatory confine, when I arises identically reverse, perfect, and alone. This is the Sal Sepientum et Mercurius Philosophorum; their Secretu, Secretorum; --- Scire etiam tibi convenit, O bone rex, quod hoc magisterium nihil aliud est, nisi Arcanum et secretum secretorum Dei altissimi et magni; Ipse enim hoc secretum prophetis commendavit: quorum scilicet animas suo paradiso collocavit (27).
We learn, finally, that the souls of the Initiated, being made perfect in every telestic accomplishment and virtue, and having passed orderly through the whole progression of Intelligible Causes, by the Greeks called gods, were next promoted to a contemplation of their Highest Unity. For having vanquished every irrational and gravitating inclination, the soul, holding the circle of reason complete, as it were, and paramount over all, and possessing all, except her own identic essence, desires this now alone and above every other good, her final Cause and consummation in the Absolute so long deprived.
I open a secret to the Initiated, but let the doors be shut. And thou, O Musaeus, offspring of the bright Silene, attend carefully to my song; for I deliver the truth without disguise: suffer not therefore former prejudice to debar thee from that happy life which this knowledge will procure unto thee from that happy life which this knowledge will procure unto thee. But studiously contemplate the divine oracle, and persevere in purity if mind and heart. Go on in the right way, and contemplate the sole Governor of the World. He is One and of Himself alone, and to that One all things owe their Being. He operates through all, was never seen by mortal eyes, but does Himself see every one (28).
His contemplation, then, of the indwelling Unity was the final preparative to translation; and it has been supposed, from the concluding passage, that He was never seen by mortal eyes, and others of like import, that the Initiated, therefore, did not behold Him. But it should be remembered, that the initiated were nowhere considered as mortal men, in respect of their souls, which were regenerate, and so fortified by assimilation and proximity, that, whether in union or separation, their regard was not extraneous but hypostatical, as of like to like. No mortal can see God or come to Him naturally; for if that light which is in the circumference be so intense that nothing corporeal can sustain it, and previous unions, which were but partial and instantaneous, as it were, tried the ethereal vehicle to its utmost susceptibility, how much less, therefore, can the compound creature, approaching to the Fiery Centre, live? Neither is it said to be lawful for the pure to be touched by the impure, and the uninitiated are for this reason totally debarred, as it were, by a threefold barrier of sense, ignorance, and disinclination, from the discovery of truth. But neither let it be imagined, do the Initiated self-actively comprehend the life of Deity; for that would be indeed in inversion and a submerging of the Creator in the creature; but Plato beautifully unfolds the passive method of the Divine Intuition, and the three elevating causes of love, hope, and faith, to those who do not negligently read what he has written. For what else than love conjoins the soul to beauty? And where else is truth to be hoped for, asks the philosopher, except in this place? And what else than faith is the cause of this ineffable muesis? For muesis, in short, is neither through intelligence nor judgment, but through the uncial silence imparted by faith, which is then better than every Gnostic energy (when it surpasses this) and which establishes both whole and individual souls in the ineffable Unknown (29). But, lest we prolong the transcendental theme; that which is most externally remarkable in the theurgic mandates for this translation is, that the whole body should be buried, except the hear; sublimely signifying that the total life, with exception of that which is intellectual, should be buried in profound oblivion; alone elevating, in Platonic phrase, the head of the charioteer to the place beyond the heaven, where he is filled with the Demiurgic Wisdom and an empyreal life.
And it is necessary, says Proclus, that the soul thus becoming an Intellectual World, and being as much as possible assimilated to the whole intelligible universe, should introduce herself to the Maker of the Universe, and, from this introduction, should, in a certain respect, become familiar with him, through a certain intellectual energy. For uninterrupted energy about anything calls forth and resuscitates our dormant Ideas, But through this familiarity, it is necessary that we should become united to Him. For discovery is this, --- to meet with him, to be united to Him, and to see Him Himself --- the Alone with the Alone; the soul hastily withdrawing herself from every other energy to Him; for then, being present with her father, she considers scientific discussions to be but words, banquets together with Him on the Truth of Real being, and in pure splendour is purely initiated in entire and stable vision. Such, therefore, is the Discovery of the Father; not that which is doxastic, or pertaining to opinion; for that is dubious and not very remote from the irrational life; neither is it scientific; for this is syllogistic and composite, and does not come into contact with the intellectual essence of the Intellectual Demiurgus. But it is that which subsists according to Intellectual Vision itself: a contact with the Intelligible, and a union with the Demiurgic Intellect. And this may properly be denominated difficult, as Plato alludes, either as how to obtain, presenting itself to souls, after every evolution of life, or as to the true labour of souls For after wandering about generation, after the purification and the light of science; intellectual energy alone, by the Intellect that is in us, shines forth; locating the soul in the Father, as in a port, purely establishing her in fabricative intellections, and conjoining Light with Light. --- Not such as was with science, or that vision that was in Elysium, but more beautiful, more intellectual, and partaking more of the nature of the One than this. This, then, is the Paternal Port and the discovery of the Father, according to Proclus, viz., an undefiled union with him (30).
And with what magnificence of thought and diction does the Platonic Successor recall the Initiated Reason to the contemplation of her end, as ablating everything else in gradual approach, and calling together the whole voluntary accord, he exhorts us. Now, if ever, to remove from ourselves multiform knowledge, exterminate all the variety of life, and in perfect quiet approach near to the Cause of all. Let not only opinion and phantasy be at rest, and the passions alone, which impede our anagogic impulse to the First, be at peace; but let the air and the universe be still (within us), and let all things extend in us with a tranquil power, to commune with the Ineffable. Let us also, standing there, having transcended the Intelligible, and with nearly closed eyes, adoring, as it were, the rising sun (since it is not lawful for any being whatever intently to behold Him) let us survey that Sun whence the Intelligible gods proceed, emerging, as the Poets say, from the bosom of the ocean; and again from this divine tranquility descending into Intellect, and from Intellect, employing the reasonings of the soul, let us relate to ourselves what the natures are from which, in this progression, we shall consider the First God exempt. Let us, as it were, celebrate Him, not as establishing the earth and heavens, nor giving subsistence to souls and the generations of mortals; for these things He produces indeed, but amongst the last of things. Prior, rather, let us celebrate Him as unfolding in Light the whole Intelligible Universe and intellectual genus of gods, together with all the super-mundane and mundane divinities; as the God of all gods, the Unity of all unities, and beyond the First Adyta; as more ineffable than all silence, and more Unknown than all recondite essence, as Holy amongst the holies, and concealed within the Intelligible gods.
Such was the theology of the wise Ethnics, such their piety, and with such an energetic expansion of their whole unfettered will and understanding, did they seek to prove Reality in the Great Unknown --- unknown, because concealed in this life --- unconscious, even whilst yet in Elysium, the soul looked out through all her imaged light. But returning from thence into herself with all her beams concentrated, addressing the Great Archetype, He becomes known; yet not as in the individuated consciousness, things are said to be known apart; nor as before, either in separation of subject and object; but absolutely, in Identity; as passing from herself the soul no longer sees or distinguishes by intellection nor imagines that there are two things, but, consubstantial, becomes herself the ultimate object as she was before the subject in simultaneous accord. And thus the Divine Oracle ratified the platonic instruction to inquire.
There is something Intelligible which it behooves thee to understand with the Flower of thy mind.
For if thou inclinest thy mind thou shalt understand this also,
Yet understanding, thou shalt not comprehend this wholly:
For it is a Power of circumlucid strength glittering with vehemence of intellection.
But with the ample flame of the ample mind which measureth all things,
Except this Intelligible:
But it behooves thee to understand this also; not fixedly but having a pure turning eye,
Extend the empty mind of thy soul towards the Intelligible,
That thou mayest learn the Intelligible, for it exists beyond the mind.
Such is the condition and metaphysical alienation which ancient experience sublimely proved, as passing to deification; which the natural reason echoes, but by a necessity of faith only, since it cannot pass into the superstantial proof. Theoretic contemplation, sensible attraction, continuity of active thought, all are alike inadequate; Without the Pontic Medium, without Theurgic assistance we are unable to transcend the consciousness of this life, and so are prevented from carrying metaphysics or of proving existence on the ontological ground. But this desiring faith of reason by which she has persisted and still persists, occasionally to inquire and infer, respecting causes which are both beyond and behind her natural grasp, has, we think, been aptly compared to the perception which the eye has of light and colours for as sight, observing believes, yet can affirm nothing absolutely about the reason, reflecting abstractedly, perceives a necessity of subsistence within itself, yet, unable to know, can affirm nothing with respect to it. For affirmation implies a doubled testimony in subject and object, or as a logician might say, affirmation implies a doubled testimony in subject and object, or as a logician might say, affirmation arises out of that which is composite from a subject and a predicate. If therefore Intellect should by any means be enabled to come into visive contact with its vision, as if begetting an experience, it would then assert; and the assertion, as respects itself, would be true; and the disbelief of other who had not proved the same, would be to it as if some one having slept away his life dreaming in this world, should on awakening to outward sense, persist in those dreams with which he had been so long conversant, denying the reality of the appearing world; and as his infatuation would be obvious, and his denial disregarded by mankind, so is the blindness of the sensible life described as obvious and lamentable by those who have passed into a more profound and convictive experience.
But not reason, nor enthusiasm, nor ardent desire, nor an intellectual conception, nor abstraction, as we are taught, conjoins theurgist with the One; but these are preparatory steps only to the self-oblivious amplitude of conception which precedes Him moving in the ultimate recessure of life.
He comes, says Plotinus, suddenly alone, bringing with him his own empyreal universe and total deity, in one. And all things in that ultimate circulation are diaphanous, nothing dark or resisting, as of subject and object remaining in the mind; but everything is apparent to every faculty intrinsically throughout. For light everywhere meets light, as thought its understanding in the all, continental all, resident in each particular, perfect with all; and the splendour there is infinite, for everything there is great, even that which is small, for it has the great. The sun which is there is all the stars, and again each star is the sun, and all the stars, as ideas are in the mind everywhere, and the same mind in all; only in each a different quality is dominant, yet all are comprehensible in each, and transmutable one into another, as thoughts arise and are displaced without disorder or opposive persistence. Motion likewise there is perfectly harmonious, for the motion is not confounded, as in the world it is, by a mover different from itself; but the seat of each thing is that which the thing itself is; but the seat of each thing is that which the thing itself is, and concurs and proves itself to be what it is by its own self-evidence, proceeding constantly towards that whence it originated. Thus that which thinks and understands, and the thing understands, and the thing understood are one, co-eternal and co-equal, and their substance is intellect, and Intellect according to these philosophers is the subsistence of all.
But in the sensible world the circulation of things is altogether different; for though this has been proved also to be an outbirth from the same universal center, yet the equilibrium of being is broken everywhere at the circumference for manifestation; one thing does not subsist by another, but each part or individual remains alone in contrariety of conscience; nor does the devious wheel of life obey her axle any more, until returning into it, she perceives her error and the transgression that was made in self-will, for the sake of this experience, from the great Law of Light, from plenitude of Power, from immortal Harmony, and that high Exemplar which is before all things, and the Final Cause of all; which seeing only is seen, and understanding is understood by him, who having a sight like that of Lynceus, penetrating all centers, discovers himself in That finally which is the source of all; and passing from himself to That, transcending, attains the end of his progression.
Ille deum vitam accipiet, divisque videbit
Permixtos heroas, et ipse videbitur illis.
And this was the consummation of the Mysteries, the ground of the Hermetic philosophy, prolific in supernatural increase, transmutations and magical effects. And thus it is said to be lawful for the Vital Spirit to descend and ascend in successive circulations until she terminated her flight in the Principle of things. And this was the life of the gods and of divine happy men, who rising in voluntary abnegation above the evil and sensual habitude of this life and many sufferings to which body is allied, obtained together with a liberation from these, a foretaste simple, beatific, and secure, of the life which is eternal; when, by exciting the divine virtue within, they became simultaneously elevated, and proceeding through Intellect to Wisdom, they arrived at the First Principle; and again descending thence, increasing in divine virtue by each ascent, until the total life was irradiated from the ample recess of light.
Tunc ire ad mundum archetypum saepe atque redire
Cunctarumque patrem rerum spectare licebit ---
Cujus tunc Co-operator effectus potest Omnia. But there are many degrees of Divine illumination; nor were the rites of Eleusis found to be equally efficacious for all; since the souls are not of equal capacity or bias towards intellectual education: but as philosophers agree that preceding initiations are preparatory to those in a subsequent order, so the possession of the best habits of thought in this life, and natural inclination, render the Spirit better adapted to sublime. Plato, accordingly, cites the records of the Mysteries, to witness that there are many more thrysus bearers than Bacchic souls; which is to say, that many had the fire indeed, and were able even to perceive it, who were without the power to discover and draw it forth to manifestation. For, in the thrysus, Prometheus is fabled to have concealed the fire he stole from heaven; but Bacchus, persisting through the whole course of life allotted, returned,. As the orphic verse denotes him, triumphant, and appearing in splendour to mortals.
Bacchus, ipse totus igneus et fulgidus apparet, qui nudis oculis tolerari non posset.
So Osiris appeared in shining garments, as Apollo, all over radiant; so Socrates, in his mighty genius once freed, in ecstasy shone forth, as it is related, to the beholders, more dazzling than the luciferous wheel of the meridian sun, diffusing itself from the freed center outwardly center outwardly until it moved the dark circumference of sense itself (31).
So Orpheus, and so divine Achilles shone refulgent in his armour; and Jason, on his return from Colchis, with the Golden Fleece.
But, say the expounders, all this splendid delirium and transfiguration in the Mysteries was the effect of narcotic liquors, which were administered to the Mystae before the shows commence, causing a confusion of their intellects, and the strange and miraculous appearance of the objects exhibited to them. But this is all a mistake; arising naturally enough out of the tendency of common sense, Procrustes like, to accommodate things to the limitation of its own sphere, which comprehends but a small part, however, of the things which are. The light exhibited in the Eleusinian msteries, i.e., in the true initiations as is plainly to be gathered from the sense of the ancients, was the Light of Life which these could kindle and fortify, and the total drama was Divine. Let ignorance believe, and impiety reprobate, as long as they are able; those Theurgic associations were neither futil nor unholy; nor were the visions or gods attending on those Mysteries dead images, nor mere symbols, nor impotent, nor idle, nor invisible, though unseen. For are we not taught by the highest philosophic authorities to believe that by Theurgic rites, an ascent was made through appropriate media and a gradual assimilation, which without these could not be effected, to the knowledge of the First Cause; and that not theurgic only, but actual in co-efficiency of being and universal intellection?
And here, if any agree with us, he will readily appreciate that mandate of the Mysteries which forbids that divine things should be divulged to the uninitiated. For beyond the early danger to unpurified souls, there remains this objection, that such things cannot be understood by the multitude, nor rightly by any but by those only who were fortunately enabled to perceive them. But it is not possible, following their descriptions, the sublimely articulate relations of the Greek and Alexandrian Platonists, or those no less profound and earnest mystics of the middle ages, concerning the divine hypostasis and the last conjunction of the contemplative soul and its immortal experience, to maintain an indifferent spirit, or without being in a degree moved to a responsive sense of their reality. And he who, being endowed with a percipient mind and liberal, will take pains to examine those writings, or even those of the reputed enemies of their faith --- the enlightened Fathers of the Christian Church --- may be persuaded by very much evidence. Too much to intrude in this place, that the Eleusinian rites alluded to, and the objects attained, were of a nature widely differing from those which have been generally reported. And if, as must be indeed admitted, they became latterly disgraced in impure hands, yet this ought not by any means to detract from our esteem of the original institution, to which those latter orgies were diametrically opposed That the Mysteries were instituted pure there is no doubt, since it is universally allowed; early Christians concurring with the wisest Ethnics in declaring that they proposed the noblest ends, and by the worthiest means attained them; where not only everything within was conducted with decorum, but utmost care was taken to secure the same for those passing without the Fane, where misbehavior, even of the eye, was accounted criminal, and indiscretion was punished, and profanation by death. That all was a mere machination and priestly lure, or the visions of men of obscured intellects, is an assumption arising out of the double ignorance of modern times; all those immortal fables and glowing descriptions of poets, philosophers, saints and historians belie the folly, and reflect it on those who, from regarding objects of sense only, with a trifling imagination, have obscured the high reality and light of better days.
But is is then, as Epictetus says, that the idea of the Mysteries become truly venerable, when, believing the ancients, that all things therein were provided by them for the improvement and perfection of human life.
Thus far we have endeavored to sketch through the order of the Mysteries of their consummation; for the sake of affording a ground to the pursuit of our inquiry, to indicate the connection of the Sacred Art and Alchemy, and inasmuch as modern revelation would permit, the nature of that Art and proper Subject of this philosophy. In the progress of this Vital Experiment, it may not be difficult to imagine that powers would be disclosed and particular secrets of nature in the substance of her Whole. These intermediate fruits and fragments, having been exhibited at intervals to the world, without a discovery of their source, have given rise to much astonishment of common chemistry after the elixir and gold. Both of which are vital products, as we shall proceed to elucidate with the method and metaphysical origin of the Philosopherís Stone.
(1) See Taylorís notes to his Pausanius, Vol. 3, p. 215, the extract.
(2) Porphyry on the Cave of the Nymphs, sub. init.
(4) Falmmelli Summula, in fine, and Maria Practica.
(5) Famma et Confessio, R.C.;Preface by Vaughan.
(6) See Porphyryís Aid to Intelligibles; Taylor, p.237.
(7) In Ramis, Act 1.
(8) Proclus, on The Theology of Plato, Bk. 4, Cap. 7; Tractatus Aureus, Cap.3.
(9) It will be remembered that Lucius entered upon this initiation under the guise of an ass, into which he had been previously transformed, which guise the oracle also had announced should not depart from him until he eaten of some flowering roses.
(10) Apuleius, Metam., Book 11; Taylor, p. 263,etc.
(11) Apuleius, Metam., Book 11.
(12) Iamblichus on the Mysteries, Taylor, p. 100.
(13) Vanity of the Sciences, in conclusion.
(14). Aeneid, Lib. 6: 724.
(15) Proclus on The Theology of Plato, Book 4, Chapter 26.
(16) Empedocles, Physics.
(17) Plotinus on the Beautiful and the Three Hypostases.
(18) Phaedrus, Taylor, Vol 8, p. 327, and following.
(19) See Taylorís observations in the note on this passage, p. 327.
(20) Iamblichus on the Mysteries, Chap. 10; Taylor, p. 106.
(21) On the Theology, Book 1, Chap. 20.
(22) Idem., Chap. 3.
(23) Iamblichus on the Myst., Chap 11; Taylor, p. 109.
(24) Oracula Chaldaica
(25) Aids to Intelligence, Sect. 2.
(26) Sendivogius, New Light of Alchemy, Element of Fire, p. 99.
(27) Morieni, de Trans, Metal; Ars Aurifera, vol 2, p. 27.
(28) See the Orphic Fragment in Warburton, vol. 1.
(29) Proclus, on the Theology, Book 4, Chap. 9.
(30) On the Timaeus of Plato, Vol. 1,; Taylor, p. 254.
(31) Agrippa Occult Phil., Book 3, where are given several notable examples in ths kind; and Apuleius on the Demon of Socrates.