Monday, April 24, 2017



We casually remarked, in a masterpiece of understatement in SH17 that back in 1890 Paul Sédir  made himself extremely useful to Papus and his associates.  It is perhaps time we filled in some of the details of the following years until his death in 1926. For the first  decade he played a major part in helping  to build up the Faculty of Hermetic Sciences, overseeing its three year course on subjects that included alchemy, hypnosis, curative magnetism and divinatory arts. Then having met and been astounded by Maïtre Philippe, he developed a mystical equivalent to the traditional occult arts, including a five volume commentary upon the Gospels. This we recently mentioned, regretting its unavailability in English. The least we can do now is to give our version of a short example of his take on the all important subject, the dynamics of faith.

Anyway, here goes:

‘Ancient beliefs, still popular today, that affirm the existence of spirits of the elements in vegetable and mineral forms are true. In the invisible, everything possesses not only an aura and an etheric double, but a spiritual type, soul, intelligence, sensibility and free will.

‘An alchemist working on a mineral affects its aura; a magnetiser affects its etheric double; a magician works with its spirit, whether by force or ingenuity. Although only a ‘spiritually free’ man does so legitimately.

‘A mountain, a rock, a field  – a state, a province, a village   a spring, a stream, a river –  grass,  grain, or forest   gulf,  ocean, or lake – house, room, or furniture –  tool, book, or letter – all have a physical existence and an invisible being. Polytheistic belief  is the recognition of these agents and their power, and research into the right way to contact or conciliate them.

‘Theoretically, a polytheist has to master a very complex science and animistic disrupting force, and in practice, may work a little good with fragmentary knowledge and a fragile will.

‘Calming a storm can be effected in various ways. There are physical means such as oil or explosive. There are fluidic ways, given a knowledge of electro-telluric currents, to discern the poles of the perturbing whirlwind, and annul them by producing artificial ones in a contrary fashion. There are what could be called idolatrous ways, when a sailor makes a promise or a threat to his god, to a saint, or to a sanctuary in his country. The magician may determine the type of daimonic originators of a meteorological disturbance and send other agents to fight them, as they do on barbarous coasts or in the China seas.  There is also prayer pure and simple to God or to the Virgin. And finally there is the procedure of the Christ, the effortless command, a method possible only to a ‘free’ soul.

‘It is toward this last attitude that His disciples inclined, with one single method – the culture of faith. “Fear and doubt exist,” it has been said, “to prevent us over-reaching ourselves” and fear can be surmounted by pride or humility. But it is necessary to have confidence in God. Nothing comes to us without His permission; and so, as we are all His children, altruism tends to make us happy if trials come upon us more than upon our siblings.

‘But such self abandon is difficult, even the primitive protozoa in stagnant water fear for their ephemeral existence! As for ourselves, our whole life can be a succession of unjustified fears. That is what we must fight against. We have within us the seed of faith. For it to grow, we must first understand the all powerful Divinity. In the second place, throw ourselves completely into the effort. In the third place, know that, even when we seem to have done all that is possible, there remains the  supreme attempt to try.

‘Faith is a substance that exists only in Heaven. Its ‘biological mode’ is supernatural. Intelligence,  muscular or magnetic force, and reason are nothing. Among the powers of the human spirit, only passion and will have points of contact with it. It may seem ignorant, illogical, measureless, but it is light in a dark night; it is life where there was none; it is the impossible incarnating at our insistance.

‘But the Christ does not command only storms at sea. In all being there is a hydrological function; with man it is the circulatory system; in society it is commerce; in religion it is edificying doctrine. In physiology the Christ is the heart (although in present society its place may be taken by Mammon). In the Church, it is the celebration of the Mass. In mathematics it is called Number; in physical nature the Brahmans call it the dark sun; in philosophy it is truth; in art it is expression. In life the storms that it calms include anything undefined, sick, wrong or insignificant. And everywhere, for all and in all – is the Faith that we can employ to re-establish harmony.

‘Several times the evangelists affirm the power that Jesus exercised over the forces of Nature. Let us take the miracles on Lake Tiberiad.

 ‘Travellers tell many tales of this type, and, to confirm their numerous accounts it seems that over the whole world men can be met who can command the clouds, the winds, the rain, the storm, the hail. Enchanters in all races appear to possess this power. But there is an essential difference between their procedures and that of the Christ. They operate by means of a pact, expressed or tacit. Most give something to such spirits and, in return, the spirit performs a service – it is what popular legend calls selling one’s soul to the devil. Even those wonder workers who believe they obtain their power by rational culture of their own psychic forces, unconsciously conclude a pact with daimons on the mental plane.

 ‘Only mystics, whatever their religion, who limit themselves to a single accomplishment of charity by private prayer perform legitimate miracles. They ask, and the form of the Word of God particular to their race grants it. The Christ, being the supreme Master, knowing the language of all categories of creatures, commands and they obey. ...

`...For the being who has received the Holy Spirit, a miracle is a very simple act, such as a sentence, like “take up your bed and walk”. That being lives on the first plane, and has not, like the great poets and great thinkers, its feet on earth and head in the heavens. It is completely on the earth and at the same time completely in the heavens; it carries the heavens with it wherever it goes and anything it undertakes. Thus Jesus needed no great effort to heal, to resuscitate, to change the way of the worlds, to calm a storm or to multiply fishes or loaves. He ordered and His creatures obeyed.

‘What did He say to his terrified disciples?  “Why are you frightened, O ye of little faith?” In fact the only cause of our fears is a lack of faith. This is not a matter of theological faith, which  may be a belief in the Trinity, or the Immaculate Conception, and other dogmas because they have been told they are true.  But if these same sources affirm that the Christ can cure them, or save them from ruin, they no longer believe it. The dogmas do not touch us, do not move our terrestrial sensibilities, do not affect us much, so we accept them. But when it is a matter of our health we see nothing  but menacing catastrophe – and faith evaporates.

‘In fact, acceptance of certain truths incomprehensible to understanding but that are admitted by authorised witness – such as the great church councils  – do not penetrate to the depths of our being. The only true faith is to realise as far as the material sense the affirmations of the Apostles. “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.”

‘If He is almighty, He can cure me, save me from fire, from bankruptcy; if I believe He is my Father, He will heal me and save me; if I am not convinced that He can do these things I have no faith. Now the only sign of my conviction will be the serenity whereby I find the true perspective of suffering, ruin and death; if these eventualities worry me, it is because I have no faith.

‘To adhere then with all the strength of our will, all the fervour of our love, to the words of the Christ, that central adhesion will gently illuminate our intelligence, and we will understand little by little that which at first appeared obscure. If, what is more, we come to oblige our body and its instincts to obey these words, then our faith will begin to live. Mental belief alone is not enough; for faith to work miracles it needs to live in our corporeal being. Faith without works is a dead faith. True faith is susceptible to unlimited growth.

‘It gives us peace of heart, knowledge of the mysteries, thaumaturgic power. But do not confuse these divine powers with its caricatures: of auto-suggestion, mentalism, artificial development of will power. An American religion proclaims “Believe that evil does not exist and you will be cured.” That is philosophic sophistry and a volatile illusion. Another, Belgian, religion proclaims “Anything exists only because we believe it”.   More sophistry; of oriental origin, and another illusion.

 'I hope I have been clear enough for you to see what antinomy exists between the faith the Christ proposes and its human imitation. May the length and minutiae of the necessary training necessary to render our personality capable of receiving this divine force not discourage us; consider how it needs the constancy of the athlete to develop muscles, cell by cell; or the musician to render fingers or larynx supple; or the business entrepreneur to amass a fortune coin by coin. Let us put ourselves to work. And not stop, once begun.’  Paul Sedir


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