Friday, April 22, 2016


Initiation of an Alchemist

Time to introduce another character, not only interesting in himself but a valuable witness to  others he met. François Jollivet Castelot was a talented young man particularly drawn to alchemy. A native of Douai in northern France, he was able to visit Paris relatively easily where he greatly impressed Papus to the point of being offered initiation at a high level into the Martinist Order.

He is particularly useful to us in that he set about writing a long novel, Le Destin (Destiny) or Les Fils d’Hermès (The Sons of Hermes) that was really a diary in disguise. Published in 1920 it is more revealing in many ways than Victor-Émile Michelet’s memoirs in Les Compagnons de la Hierophanie of 1938. Apart from making his hero a couple of years younger than himself and investing him with a minor aristocratic title {how they loved titles, aristocratic or esoteric, these fin de siècle young Frenchman! G.K.} with a little adjustment to dates his novel appears to be a remarkably accurate pen portrait of those he met and worked with on the Parisian occult scene, including his initiation into Martinism in a ceremony conducted by Papus one Saturday evening.

After dining together, the two had made their way to a short, narrow, dark, deserted little street on the Left Bank off the Quai des Grands-Augustins. The rue de Savoie led to nowhere in particular and so was very quiet by night or day, consisting of cheap lodging rooms along with a student hostel optimistically called the Hotel de Savoie whose overhead lantern halfway down the street provided the only lighting. The ambiance evoked in the mind of the young provincial a back alley in 16th century Paris that might have been the haunt of alchemists, astrologers, necromancers, and ancient Jews devoted to kabbalistic studies.

They made their way to a dilapidated looking house, No. 4, next to the only shop, No. 3, run by Papus’ friend Chamuel, one that sold only occult books.  A steep narrow staircase lit by an inefficient oil lamp led to a small door on the first floor, bearing the words Ordre Martiniste. Bureau de ‘l’Initiation’.  (Martinist Order. Offices of ‘l’Initiation’ on a copper plate. Papus gave three knocks and after a pause the door was opened by a young man of about François’ age, clad in a black smoking jacket and puffing away at a long clay pipe. This turned out to be Paul Sédir who was one of Papus’ most useful and dedicated acolytes.

After shaking hands he led them, limping slightly, into a room filled with books and ledgers that served as an editorial office, where he introduced them to several gentlemen in formal dress, including Oswald Wirth, friend and personal secretary of Stanislas de Guaita, and the celebrated Dr Rozier who claimed astonishing cures by magical and theurgic means. He also met a modest old gentleman, a retired civil servant who went by the pen name of Barlet (derived from his baptismal name of Albert Faucheux), greatly respected for his erudition into obscure esoteric subjects, if somewhat obscure prose style. After a while the room emptied, and François was asked to remain until called for.

Some minutes later he was joined by a man wearing a mask {somewhat akin to those that, as a child, I associated with the Lone Ranger! G.K.} who led him to a room lit by candles placed in three-branched candelabra around which stood a circle of about a dozen persons dressed in robes of white linen, and about their eyes the romantic looking mask of black satin. The officers also wore a sash of white silk with the insignia of their function embroidered in gold and the jewel of their order attached.

Before a table covered with an equally white cloth, upon which rested the Ritual and Manual of the Order, the President of the Lodge and his two assessors stood immobile.

All sat, and François, at their invitation, approached. He found the initiation very simple and brief and devoid of any phantasmagoria he associated with contemporary Freemasonry. 

There were no tests. They required no oaths, and expressed no profession of particular faith, for moral freedom was considered sacred.

Papus, whom François easily recognised by his corpulence, his forked beard and his voice,  conferred upon him the third grade and functions of a General Delegate and Member of the Supreme Council of the Martinist Order by reason of the light he possessed and services he had rendered to the Hermetic cause.

One of the assessors now tendered a linen robe which he put on along with the insignia of his grades, and Papus pronounced the discourse of reception, speaking without notes, his intonation clear, pleasant, slightly chanting, with occasional emphasis:

“You are now our brother.

“You are joined to us, not by any pact, nor by obligation, but through the communality of ideas, thoughts and feelings that inculcate the purest Ideal.

“You have come to us freely. You can leave us the same way. But never forget the obligations of friendship and discretion.

“We have joyfully received you, for we know that your mind is clear by the hyperphysical ray of the inner light, and that your soul is true. That peace and good will are at your heart.

“We initiates receive you as an initiate. But there is one thing you should know. Strictly speaking, we have not conferred initiation upon you.

“Initiation is personal. It communicates nothing, any more than the spirit, the sense of beauty or talent. Each one, at the appointed hour, will find the depth of his consciousness illuminated by the Eternal Being.

“You were initiated, despite your youth, thanks to your own knowledge, and you have already discovered a way extending into the mysterious domain of the Occult.

“Man is his own master, since it is an effect of his harmonious will, but it is the Invisible that will guide and direct him.

“And it is the Invisible too that leads him among us, to collaborate on the edifice that we construct: the Cubic Stone of the Temple of Hiram.

“Here, we can only confirm, among assembled companions who have resolved to accept you, the divine light that you have obtained and that you hold within you with love and fidelity, without flinching. In short we guarantee it.

“You were called, a long time ago, my brother and are here and now elected to the Sanctuary of Hermes where you take your place as one of the particularly loved sons of the thrice greatest: Trismegistus...

...You know why we enclose in the secrecy of the Order the majestic truths, and to the opportune diffusion of which, on the other hand, we work with enthusiasm and prudence.

The reason for our apparent obscurity you know. It resides in the circumspection of the mage. And I have no need to tell you the commandment to be superior and yet remain unknown.  The symbols are familiar to you, my brother, and the mask that hides our face indicates the danger, folly and vanity of daring revelations and glories of the world. The Initiate withdraws, hides his life and shows it only by his actions. Humility serves his power, whilst pride and egoism destroy it.

We must be unknown, so as to conserve the independence of our mind and soul. We are only as shadows to the crowd, for it is forbidden to us to throw pearls before the profane, on the advice of the most perfect of the Sons of God: Jesus the Christ, our Supreme Master. And so that we are not robbed of the treasures that fill our hands, they must pass unseen.

Besides, these treasures offer the greatest danger to those whose heart is not pure.

That is why the imperfect are kept from the garden of the Knowledge of Good and of Evil.

We distance ourselves from the indiscrete, the curious, the sceptical, who would perish if they should imprudently use the magical forces at our disposal. Nobility of soul is indispensible to whoever seeks to face the invisible worlds without peril.

The guardian is there, armed with a sword, fierce and incorruptible, on the sacred mountain from which the Eternal lets his Voice be heard.

He only opens the threshold of the mystery to those who know, will and remain silent.

Always remember, as an initiate, in whatever circumstances you may be, your essential moral obligations.

Chosen by the Invisible, consecrate your understanding and energies to the elucidation of the intimate nature of bodies, their combinations and struggles, in the Alchemy whose regard penetrates the depths of living Matter. Thus conserve intact the heritage of its millennial tradition.  Conform your acts to the superhuman Ideal that you carry religiously within you. Never use gold to a personal or unworthy end.

Remember, as an initiate and our chosen brother, that Gold is the symbol of the Absolute. Of  Unity for ever regained. And that Gold, the fruit of the Work of the Sun, does not shine with all its brightness while dust obscures its essence.”


Then, all the initiates of the Lodge, as one, removed their masks, since all were now faithful brothers.

Before leaving Paris, François realised a project that he had planned for a long time, to found an alchemical association. Papus, Stanislas de Guaita, Barlet and Paul Sédir lent their help and formed part of the Council of the Society.

The object was to found a group of competent researchers to synthesise their efforts in gathering documents and attempting appropriate experiments to renew Alchemy as the sublime Philosophy of Nature, resolving scientifically the possibility of the transmutation of bodies included in hylozoic doctrines.

“Matter is One. It lives, it evolves and transforms itself. There are no simple bodies.”

This was axiomatic for François Jollivet Castelot, who felt he had penetrated into the inner side of the World, and knew intuitively that Matter is the inseparable substratum of Life.

That all atoms, all molecules that composed minerals and metals were an agglomeration of animated particles, objectively and subjectively one Being, conscious in proportion to the degree of evolution it had attained, a Being that incarnated in itself the universal Will.

That there was only Life in the Cosmos and pure Matter was absolutely comprised of this eternal and infinite Principle. Being in Itself, whose first phenomena are expansive Will, Desire and elementary Consciousness. Then by indefinite transformation, by mutations at the heart of its own substance, its source of existence, Life developed, took more and more knowledge of its acts, of its phenomena and exteriorisation – and so Thought was born and grew.

These things were evident truths for him but modern thinkers, blinded by materialism and agnostic scepticism, stumbling into mechanism, saw nothing of these certainties. So he went on to create an alchemical centre with the intention of conserving the Hermetic tradition, to which end he launched a monthly journal called the Rosa Alchemica. Of which more later!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

OCCULTISM & THE STARS - by Dion Fortune



Issued as an early reminder of the Dion Fortune seminar at Glastonbury on 24th September 2016.

For programme and booking details see Company of Avalon website.

The following text is taken from  letters to students by Dion Fortune in 1942/3. Also published as part of ‘Principles of Hermetic Philosophy’ by Dion Fortune & Gareth Knight (Thoth Publications 1999).

It is no intention of mine to add to the extensive literature dealing with astrological interpretation but to examine the basis on which the whole elaborate superstructure rests. Astrological prediction has had some notable successes, but it has also had much more notable and frequent failures. Nevertheless, the fact that it has scored many successes beyond those attributable to the law of averages or of chance means that there is ‘something in it’; not, perhaps, as much in it as its more ardent exponents would have us believe, but not, at any rate, the absolute vacuum its denouncers declare. Therefore it is worthy of serious investigation by serious thinkers.

The only type of investigation of any value is that which deals with percentages of accuracy over a large number of cases. Such an investigation was conducted by a well known paper upon the predictions concerning national affairs, and especially the turn of the war, appearing week by week in the columns of its contemporaries, and the results were such as to discourage most comprehensively any serious attention to such methods of diagnosis as an alternative to common sense, or even guesswork. {The investigation was probably that featured in ‘Picture Post’ in September 1941, which drew up a table of spectacular failures in the accuracy of newspaper astrological predictions over the previous two years. However, the errors were, without exception, failures to forecast catastrophes. Whether or not the astrological columnists foresaw the worst or not, it needs to be remembered that the government  of the time was keenly anxious to preserve the morale of the civilian population. The astrological columns were regarded as a means whereby to keep the population optimistic. Indeed had they gone so far as to predict any disasters they would have been contravening Defence Regulations by spreading alarm and despondency. GK.}  

One astrologer, and one only, has been noted as scoring any high degree of reliability {probably  Edward Lyndoe, who I recall greatly impressed my mother – which was not easy! GK} and he, unlike his fellows, does not, curiously enough, give the astrological data on which his opinions are based; the irresistible conclusion being that his data is not astrological, but of a much less celestial nature, being derived from ‘information received’ and not from calculations based on the movements of the heavenly bodies.

On the other hand, there are few people who have not had in their own experience firsthand knowledge of personal predictions of remarkable accuracy and outstandingly good delineations of character made by purely astrological means. Equally, however, I have observed over a period of years the activities of an astrological friend who never successfully predicted anything, but could always demonstrate most convincingly why any given incident had happened after it had occurred, and the demonstrations were genuinely convincing. There in black and white in her textbooks were the statements, and there on the chart were the positions of the planets. Her trouble had been that the textbooks contained such a wide choice of factors among which as selection had to be made as to invalidate all accuracy until events themselves indicated which factor was effectual. Once that was ascertained, it was possible to work an astrological divination backwards in very evidential manner. This statement is not made in any spirit of irony, but in order to indicate that there is something in astrology if we only knew better how to extract it in a pure state.

It may be replied that the skill of the astrologer is the essential extractive, and that astrology is an art rather than a science. This proposition may in actual practice prove unanswerable, but it is not a very satisfactory position. If we are compelled to accept it, then astrology is in the same position as medicine in the days of Galen, of which Kipling aptly said: ‘Half of their remedies cured you dead; Most of their doctrines were quite untrue.’ Much of the early success of homeopathy was due to the fact that the smallness of the dose avoided drug-poisoning in an age accustomed to massive dosage, and the consequent drastic after effects. For the same reason the sceptics are justified in condemning the practice of astrology because of its disturbing and debilitating effect on great numbers of those who resort to it. Greater knowledge, however, may reveal the real significance and proper limitations of astrology, together with factors not as yet taken into the reckoning when casting horoscopes and which may be accountable for the uncertainty of the results.

Astrology labours under the added misfortune of being based in the first place upon a geocentric concept of the cosmos wherein the heavenly bodies circle around a fixed and flat earth, and in the second place by the fact that the constellations composing the Zodiacal Belt have in the course of ages gradually shifted their positions relative to the earth, so that they no longer occupy the positions assigned them in the astrological calculations. Nevertheless, the fact remains that accurate divinations can be made despite these seemingly insuperable obstacles. As Galileo said when forced to withdraw his statement concerning the movement of the earth around the sun, ‘Nevertheless, it moves.’ Our conclusion then must be there is something in astrology, but that the accepted theories of its basis are not wholly correct. Let us then see whether we can formulate a theory which will serve to explain the known facts and rule out the sources of error that render its operations so notoriously unreliable.

Not all astrologers are occultists, but it is in the occult doctrines that we find certain useful clues to the real nature of the celestial influences. Examining astrology in the light of these, we find that many discrepancies are explained and the missing factors indicated.

Esoteric tradition declares that different phases of evolution took place on the different planets, and we may not unreasonably conclude that the kind of development that took place on a planet determined its ‘temperament’. Into the question of ‘temperament’ or aura of planets and the phases of cosmic evolution I cannot enter in detail in these pages, but must presume a  knowledge of them on the part of my readers, or failing that, refer them to recognised authorities such as Mme. Blavatsky’s ‘Secret Doctrine’ or the many popular derivatives based thereon. Some information will also be found in my ‘Mystical Qabalah’. Students of the subject are agreed upon its broad principles, and I do not feel obliged to re-argue them before proceeding to the discussion of the matter in hand. Such re-argument could not be satisfactory unless conducted at considerable length, and would involve the introduction of too much matter irrelevant to our topic to make it a practical proposition. Unless, therefore, the reader is prepared to concede my esoteric propositions, the consideration cannot be pursued, so I shall only write for those who can. The rest must either seek the evidence where it is set out at length or abandon the quest for truth in my company.

Esoteric philosophy also declares that every organism has an aura or field of psycho-magnetic emanations surrounding it. It will be noted that I use the term organism, not living creature, for to the esotericist all existence is life in one form or another and there is no such thing as inanimate matter. On this basis, then, it may be concluded that the heavenly bodies have auras of varying characters, and that the study of their nature, changes and radius is not without either interest or practical value.

Let us consider first of all the solar system as a whole. It is believed to have condensed out of a solar nebula that occupied vastly more space than is contained within even the orbit of the outermost planet, but that the nearest fixed star is at so great a distance from our sun that even the vast extent of their mutual nebulae when they were at the nebulous stage of their evolution did not interfere with each other. Most probably matter in a nebulous condition was at one period of evolutionary time spread evenly through space, and the nebulae, and the stars and constellations into which they subsequently condensed, arose through the condensation of this tenuous, amorphous pre-matter around different centres of attraction. The why and how of this process concerns astronomy rather than astrology, so we will not pursue its investigation, as it cannot aid our understanding save as a background lending perspective. Nevertheless it is useful to assume that the line of demarcation between our solar system and its next door neighbour in the vast fields of space is the cosmic watershed, as it were, along which the airy particles of pre-matter divided, some going one way and some another as the process of attraction and condensation began to make itself felt among them.

We have no data as to whether magnetic or psychic influences from one stellar system cross the gulf to another, but as their light comes to us, it is not unreasonable to conclude that other influences may do so, even though unobserved and unrecorded by us. Such influences, in order to pass unobserved by modern science must either be so subtle as to be negligible for all practical purposes, or so closely correlated with other phenomena as to have been confused with them. The distinction is an academic one, therefore, so far as the bearing of astrology on human life is concerned, and we may safely leave the matter unargued in our present investigation, it is one of the background factors which we may from time to time need to refer to in order to gain perspective or use as markers in the cosmic scheme.

For practical purposes, then, let us take the solar system as an interacting unit consisting of the Sun and its planets, and so far as earth life is concerned, with special reference to our satellite the Moon. Astrology, as an empirical science of practical experience, declares that the  planets influence each other by virtue of their temperaments and according to their positions relative to each other in their circuits, and that their influence, thus modified and permuted, affects our earth. We shall probably express the position with greater accuracy and relevancy if we take this influence to be psychic rather than physical and regard it as exerted by the aura of the planets rather than by their light-rays, for the cloudy sky is not taken into account in casting a horoscope, though it has to be taken into account in reckoning the ultra violet rays that reach us from the sun. Let us assume, then, that the Earth has an aura, and the planets have auras, and that these interpenetrate each other, and the sum total of the auric influences at a given spot in the solar system determine the psychic atmosphere of that spot. Some emanations would reinforce each other, some would modify each other, and some would neutralise each other. Consequently for beings living on the surface of the earth the calculations of such influences would naturally be geocentric, and the heliocentric nature of the solar system would not need to be taken into account, thus disposing of one great objection to the unscientific nature of astrology.

In addition to the planets, however, the influence of the Zodiac is taken into account by astrology. The Zodiac consists of the circle of constellations surrounding the solar system, and in considering the influences attributed to the twelve segments into which it is divided, we should ask ourselves whether these influences are due to emanations proceeding from the constellations which give their names to the twelve segments, or whether the emanations really proceed from the Sun and create bands of psychic atmosphere in the earth’s orbit. In the days when the geocentric theory was held, it was taken for granted that the influences emanated from the constellations in question, but although I am not prepared to be dogmatic on this point, it appears to me that some of the difficulties presented by the translation of a geocentric philosophy of astrology into the heliocentric one demanded by modern astronomical knowledge are solved if we look upon the constellations of the Zodiac as markers in the heavens against whose background we see the sun as we circle round it, rather as sources of influence. Neither theory affects the practical work of judging horoscopes, but the theory of solar as opposed to stellar emanations enable us to construct a philosophy of astrology that does no violence to astronomy.

Finally there remains the factor of the houses of the heavens to be considered. Viewed from the heliocentric standpoint, these are not segments of the sky at all, but represent the angle of incidence of the various influences upon any given spot on the earth’s surface. This presents no difficulty if considered from the point of view of esoteric philosophy, for according to its doctrines, the Earth, like all other beings, possesses an aura which consists of several layers, it also has a magnetic core, and if the analogy of the auras of other beings is any guide to us, there will be centres of specialised activity in that core. Influences reaching a particular spot on the Earth’s surface will then have passed through a grater or less depth of aura according to the angle at which they enter it. If they come from low down on the horizon, they will pass through much more of the Earth’s aura, and enter each layer at a different angle from that which will prevail if they fall directly upon the earth’s surface from the mid-heaven. We well know the difference in appearance between the red sun of dawn or dusk and the golden sun of midday, the difference being solely due to the depth of atmosphere through which its rays travel. Moreover, the emanations of planets that are below the horizon will also have to pass through the dense body of the earth. There is no intrinsic difficulty in conceiving this, in view of what we know of X-rays and radium. We can quite conceive, however, that certain emanations would fail to penetrate, and that it is probable that it is only the more subtle that would get through. The view of some astrologers that planets below the horizon act on the subconscious levels of the mind would bear out this hypothesis.

To sum up, I suggest that we conclude from these considerations that a horoscope map should enable us to diagnose the conditions prevailing in the psychic atmosphere of the earth at any given moment. The factors to be taken into consideration are:

1. The natures of the various planets, which they developed during the phase of evolution which took place in their respective spheres, and which extends throughout their auras, creating a psychic atmosphere therein.

2. The effect of the interpenetrating auras of the different planets at different aspects, each modifying the influence exerted by the others, so that the psychic condition of the spot consists of a blend of planetary influences, modifying each other.

3. The effect upon each planet of its position in its orbit, due to the psychic atmosphere of that section of the cosmos, whether that atmosphere be derived from the influences of zodiacal constellations or of emanations from the Sun.

4. The effect of the Earth’s mass and aura on the emanations reaching any given point on its surface.

If these four sets of factors are calculated mathematically, and weighed up in the light of observed experience, which is what astrological tradition really is – for it is an empirical science like medicine, consisting of practical observations resting upon a very imperfectly ascertained basis of theory – it should be possible first to analyse the psychic atmosphere into its component parts, which is a purely mathematical operation, and then to synthesise the resulting deductions into a diagnosis or judgement. The latter operation is the real difficulty, for the factors are so numerous and so subtle that it might well be held beyond the power of the human mind to assess them with comprehensiveness and accuracy. In this matter, however, the subconscious mind comes to our aid, just as it does in learning to read, and there comes a point when we cease to spell out letter by letter, and recognise words as a whole. So it is with the experienced astrologer – he interprets the significance of aspects as a whole, and though no doubt he could analyse his deductions into their component parts and give reasons for them if required to do so, he does not interpret a horoscope in that laborious manner, any more than he spells out the columns of his morning paper letter by letter.

Another factor also comes into the reading of horoscopes, a factor beyond the rational and empirical. Each chart forms a glyph or composite symbol; symbols speak to the ultra-conscious levels of our minds as well as to the intellectual level. By means of subconscious and super-conscious mentation, the significance of the chart can be interpreted and findings beyond the range of consciousness used to supplement the work of the rational mind. It is probable that the best astrologers work in this way. Needless to say, intuitive readings are no substitute for exact knowledge, but without such extended interpretations exact knowledge is a barren affair. Who could appreciate poetry if he had to spell it out letter by letter?


Friday, April 15, 2016


Stanislas de Guaita address to 3rd Degree Martinist initiates

That which follows is my translation, to the best of my ability, (it was not easy!) of an address to 3rd Degree Martinist initiates by Stanislas de Guaita, published in his ‘Au Seuil du Mystère’. It is an important text showing the deeper implications of what he and his associates such as Papus regarded as the gist of initiatory fraternities.

You have been successively admitted to the three hierarchical grades of our Order and we greet you  now as Supérieur Inconnu, and when you have transcribed and meditated on our papers you will become an Initiator in your turn. An important mission will then be committed to your faithful hands, a duty that is also an honour:  to form a group of which you will be the intellectual Father, and on occasion the moral Tutor, subject to your conscience and Divine Humanity.

This is not a matter of imposing dogmatic convictions. It matters little whether you consider yourself to be spiritual, materialistic or idealistic; whether you profess to be Christian or Buddhist; call yourself a free-thinker or affect absolute scepticism. We do not impose mental questions  that you can only resolve yourself face to face with your own conscience in the silence of your heart.

So long as you embrace a true love for your fellow human beings and do not seek to deny your humanity you remain a member of a supreme and truly universal religion. One that expresses itself in many ways in the various religions of East and West.

Give to this sentiment whatever name you choose: love, solidarity, altruism, fraternity, charity or even express it in political or economic terms. Labels are not important!  Honour it Mystically under the names of Divine Mother or Holy Spirit. And never forget that putting it to work is the first and main essential.


Sincere and disinterested pursuit of the Truth is what your Mind owes to itself. Brotherly love   is what your Heart owes to others.

Apart from these two duties, no philosophical  or religious dogma is imposed on your faith. As for our doctrine, we have outlined the essential principles and ask only for meditation on them at leisure and without prejudice. It is the only means of persuasion by which traditional Truth seeks to win you to its cause.

We have presented to your eyes the seals of a Book. But it is for you to learn to spell out the Letters and then to penetrate the Spirit of the mysteries that the words contain.


We have given you a start. The role of Initiation must be limited to that. If by yourself  you come to an understanding of the Arcana, you will merit the title of Adept. But remember this. It is impossible for even the most knowledgeable masters to reveal the supreme formulae of  knowledge and power of magic to you. True Occultism cannot be transmitted by discourse. You  must evoke, create and develop it in yourself.

As an Initiate you are one that others have started on your way. Strive to become an Adept; one who has conquered the Science by himself; has become the son of his work.


Our Order, we have told you, limits its pretensions to the hope of harvesting the good earth by sowing the good seed everywhere. The teachings of the S*I* are precise, but elementary.

May this secondary programme satisfy your ambition. May your destiny bring you one day to the threshold of the mysterious temple from whence, for centuries, the luminous source of Western Esotericism has radiated. Listen to the words of your unknown Brothers. May they germinate in your mind and fructify in your soul.


I affirm that you can find there the infallible criterion of Occultism. And that the key to the vault of esoteric synthesis is there and nowhere else. But what point is insistence if you can understand and want to believe? And what good is insistence if you do not?

You are completely free to take what remains for me to say as a mystical allegory or as a literary fable without meaning, or even as an audacious imposture...

You are free; but LISTEN. Whether the seed sprout or perish, I intend to sow it!


In the beginning, at the root of Being, is the Absolute.

The Absolute – which the religious call God -  cannot be conceived. And whoever claims to define it denatures his notion by assigning it limits: “A God defined is a God finished.”  {Eliphas Levi}.

But this bottomless Absolute emanates eternally the androgynous Dyad, formed by two indissoluble principles united: the Life-giving Spirit {sulphur} and the Universal Living Soul {mercury}.

The mystery of their union constitutes the Great Arcanum of the Word.

Now, the Word is collective Man considered in his divine synthesis before his disintegration, and is Celestial Adam before his fall. By which Universal Being knew it was modalised, passing from Unity to Quantity; from Absolute to Relative; from Collectivity to Individualism; from Infinity to Space and from Eternity to Time.

With the Fall of Adam, here are some ideas of traditional teaching:

Incited by a mobile interior, about which we must be silent as to its essential nature, mobile in that Moses calls it נחש NaHaSh and that we define, if you like, as the egoic thirst for individual existence, a  great number of fragmented Words, potential consciousnesses, vaguely awake in a mode of emanation  in the heart of the Absolute Word, separate from the Word that contains them.

They detach themselves – minute sub-multiples – of the Mother-unity who has engendered them. Simple rays from this occult sun, they shoot into infinity through the shadows, in their individual coming to birth, in that they wish to be independent of any anterior principle. Or in a word, autonomous.

But as a luminous ray only has a relative existence in rapport with the source that produced it, the equally relative Words, stripped of the auto-divine principle and of the true light, obscure themselves in the measure that they distance themselves from the absolute Word.

They fall into matter, into the untruth of substance in objective frenzy. Into matter that is to Non-Being what the Spirit is to Being.  They descend as far as elemental existence, as far as animality; as far as vegetation; as far as minerality . {* They descend, as far as potentialities of these things, to the astral plane, which is the normal plane of Involution, while the physical plane is the normal plane of Evolution. By virtue of this ascending and repercussive movement called Evolution, beings appear in turn progressively on the scene of the material world on departure from the more elemental.}

Thus matter is born, soon elaborated from Spirit, and the concrete Universe takes on an ascending life, reascending from stone, apt to crystallisation, as far as man, susceptible to thought, to prayer, to consent to the understandable, and devotion to the similar!

This sensory repercussion of the captive Spirit, sublimating the progressive forms of Matter and Life, trying to escape from prison – contemporary Science defines and studies under the name of Evolution.

Evolution is the universal Redemption of the Spirit. In evolving, the Spirit remounts.

But before remounting, the Spirit had descended; which is what we call Involution.

How is the verbal sub-multiple arrested at a given point in its fall? What Force enabled it to retrace its way? How is the consciousness numbed by its collective divinity finally awakened within it under the still very imperfect form of Sociability?

 Such deep mysteries we cannot approach here, but of which you will acquire understanding if Providence is with you.


These few facts are precise, on the ‘great affair{term of Saint-Martin} of human destiny. It is for you to try to deduce the rest and state the solution to the problem.

But understand well, my Brother, for a third and last time I implore you to understand that Altruism is the only way that conducts you to the unique and final end – the reintegration of the sub-multiples in the Divine Unity – the only doctrine that furnishes the means from the grip of the material chains, to the ascension, through the superior hierarchies, towards the central star of regeneration and peace.

Never forget that the Universal Adam is an Homogenous All, a living Being, of which we are the organic atoms and constituting cells. We live all one in others, all one for others, and if we would be individually saved (to use Christian terms) we will never cease to suffer or to struggle until all our brothers are saved with us!

Intelligent Egoism thus concludes as traditional Science concludes. Universal brotherhood is not a delusion; it is a factual reality.

Whoever works for others works for himself; whoever kills or wounds his neighbour wounds or kills himself; whoever offends him, insults himself.

May these mystic terms not scare you; there is nothing arbitrary in this high doctrine; we are mathematicians of being, algebraists of metaphysics.

Remember, son of the Earth, that your great ambition must be the reconquest of the zodiacal Eden from which you should never had descended; finally to return to the Ineffable Unity, WITHOUT WHICH YOU ARE NOTHING, and in the heart of which you will find, after much work and adversity, that heavenly peace, that conscious sleep that the Hindus know under the name of NIRVANA: the supreme beatitude of Omniscience, in God.

S de G     S.I.

Thursday, April 07, 2016


 Stanislas de Guaita, Edward Bulwer Lytton  and ‘Zanoni’.

Although Stanislas de Guaita played an important rôle in the formation of initiatory groups in Paris in the last decade of the 19th century and was a larger than life figure in his time, such as to rival even Papus, his lasting contribution is likely to be what he wrote rather than what he did. Even so,  he was not able to finish his “great work” – the three volume La Serpent de la Genèse (The Serpent of Genesis).

Le Temple de Satan (The Temple of Satan) was an historical survey of magical belief and practice. La Clef de la Magie Noire (The Key to Black Magic) virtually a treatise on the Astral Plane. And the uncompleted and barely begun Le Problème du Mal (The Problem of Evil) would have been a philosophical review of the concept of evil.

Why he chose such ominous titles remains something of a mystery to me, they were hardly instruction books on the dark arts of sorcery, and certainly not intended as such. He seemed prompted by a desire to contribute a major work on the popular conception of evil beyond a fire and brimstone Demon King or the tempting Serpent in the Garden of Eden. The three volumes were loosely structured around Tarot Trump images following Eliphas Levi’s preferred system although for the most part there seems to have been no deep significance in this. He used it when it seemed appropriate or obvious and did not when it was not.

Victor Emile Michelet, true to style, tended to take his work and fate deeply romantically. “If he prematurely lifted the veils that conceal the dark Isis, if his tranquil audacity provoked the anger of the Furies, it was simply his destiny as a revealer. Death, jealous at having him reveal her mysteries, like a vengeful woman struck him down as a lover who sang too much about her intimate beauty.” In brute physical fact the odds were stacked against Stanislas from the beginning by an illness that had probably seen his father die young and which prostrated him with migraines of increasing frequency and severity from which he found relief only in narcotics. Which took him off, drugs or disease, or a combination of both, remains a matter of speculation.

His early essays in the esoteric field were published in volume form under the title Au Seuil du Mystère (At the Threshold of the Mysteries) in the final (1894) edition of which is an appendix on the subject of the English Rosicrucian novel Zanoni by Bulwer Lytton, which he hails  as “an exceptionally significant work in the form of a contemporary novel that is nothing less than a great esoteric and idealist epic.”

Zanoni  had been first  published in 1842 and into French in 1867.  A fact that was welcome by Stanislas, but who was incensed by the fact that the French edition had omitted the author’s Introduction to the original work. Indeed, so incensed was he, that he translated it himself and published it himself.

“We think these omitted pages of such importance that we have no hesitation, with the assent of the copyright holders, to repair the omission of the first translation. So bizarre as it may seem to offer the public a preface without a text, here are the preliminary pages together with a few substantial annotations.”

His view was that it contained ‘the magical key to the work’.

Zanoni  is a book full of revelations and arcana. Under the veil of dazzling fantasy the author has disguised secret traditions of the Rose Cross, and as far as the far depth of fraternities even more ancient and occult, of which the Order instituted by Rosenkreutz is only the latest prolongation.”

With this in mind, we might do well to take advantage of the fact that we have both original text and Introduction (or Preface as Stanilas tends to call it) readily available to us in English along with the text of the original novel. It is readily available on the internet.

Indeed it is well worth treating as a guided visualisation, about going to a rather strange antiquarian occult bookshop and meeting another customer who befriends us and whom we meet again coincidentally at the foot of Highgate Hill who accompanies us to the top and invites us into his house that has some aspects as an art gallery and museum and overlooks the town and city of London.

It can be a useful preliminary to then tackling the novel itself. Again which is best read with emphasis on the pictorial imagination rather than the discursive mental faculties. You never know where this can lead. Beats television or cinema or computer games any day of the week!

Remember it was a ‘loaded’ novel by Péladan that set de Guaita on his way.