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THE MYSTERIES OF THE OABALAH, or, The Occult Agreement of the Two Testaments
By ELIPHAS LÉVI
Samuel Weiser, Inc.Copyright © 2000 Samuel Weiser, Inc.
All rights reserved.
And it came to pass in the thirtieth year of the fourth month.
Three multiplied by ten (30) in the cycle of twelve. Division of the ternary by the quaternary in the cycle of twelve.
On the fifth day of the month.
Five, the number of the soul queen of the four elements, in the science of three as explained by ten and ruled by the movement of twelve.
As I stood among the prisoners by the river Chobar.
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] The river of astral and prophetic light represented by Shin, giving life to Beth and finding reproduction through Resch.
That the heavens were opened.
In other words, I was given understanding of celestial analogies.
And I saw the visions of God.
That is, the visible hieroglyphs by means of which can be manifested the ideas one can reasonably have of God.
And I looked and there came a whirlwind from the north.
The impulsion of the motivating principle is given to the negative pole, manifesting itself through the positive.
Impulsion of the motivating principle.
Vision of a whirlwind of fire
And a great cloud.
The universal substance, Ether, is condensed through a movement of molecular polarization, and matter first appears in a gaseous state, then in the form of vapours.
And a whirlwind of fire.
The active force manifest in fire rushes from one pole to another, giving to all points of matter, or of condensed Ether, a rapid movement of rotation. Thus are brought about the force of attraction and the force of projection.
And in the universal light middle of the fire, in the centre of polarized in an astral circle, like an electrical configuration, there appears a globe of light resembling amber or transparent gold.
Cosgulation of light and formation of the electric astral nucleus
And in the middle of this formation, at the central point of the primitive globe from which radiates projection and toward which attraction is born, the appearance of four animals:
1. The eagle: air, understanding, mind, soul.
2. Man: water, knowledge, life, light.
3. The lion: fire, force, action, movement.
4. The bull: earth, work, resistance, form.
In Hindu symbology the eagle is replaced by the peacock and the lion by the serpent.
And this was their appearance:
The forces in combination produce the elementary forces
The animals are purely hieroglyphic, nothing more than figures of convention.
The face of man was in the centre.
Man is the synthesis of forms and the intelligent centre of creation.
The animal was single of form, repeating itself four times like the name [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] a single name composed of four letters.
And it had four faces and four wings: four characters representing four thoughts and four hands on each side beneath the wings.
The power of action corresponded to thought and the feet resembled those of a calf: this image was based on the mystery of sacrifice.
They were covered with brilliant sparks like burning brass.
Thus they stood for the four cardinal points of the sky sewn with stars.
Their faces looked in four directions.
Each of the four hieroglyphs has an absolute significance.
Their wings spread, touching.
But the thoughts which they represent are relative and analagous one to another.
And they marched continually in the same path without ever turning back.
The circle turns, the four points come and go without ever moving backward.
And all four had the face of a man, to the right the head of a lion, to the left the head of a calf, and above, the head of an eagle.
Man, directed by intelligence, is placed between active force and passive force, for he has an active soul and a passive body which receives from the soul its movement and activity.
Here Eliphas Lévi inserts a series of idols and initiatic images designed to illustrate the use of animals and their parts as a matter of pure convention.
The length of this insertion indicates the importance he attaches to hieroglyphic truth. The variety of examples points to the universality of the phenomenon.
ASSYRIAN QABALAH (Sculpture from Nineveh)
Intelligence conquering force Fire mastered and vanquished by water
SCULPTURE FROM NINEVEH
The man of inspiration Ethered water or universal matter
Force subduing matter Fire penetrating the earth's crust
THE TWENTY-FIRST KEY FROM THE TAROT
The crown, the tetragram: life in motion and at rest universal synthesis
Vishnu in the centre of the universe
The great Sphinx of Thebes
Eliphas Lévi places the Ark of the Covenant in this series without further comment; but one of his disciples has this to say, based no doubt on correspondence with the master:
It is the world of ideas which is manifested in the hieroglyphic forms of the ark of the covenant.
The four symbolic animals are emblematic of the equilibrating geniuses of the four elementary forms, in physical, moral, intellectual and religious order, in the mineral, vegetable, animal and human kingdoms. Each genius of the four forms has a double aspiration, emphasized by the wings, one of which is raised, the other lowered, in order to express the flow of life, rising with the soul and descending with the body.
The Ark of the Covenant and the Cherubim
The four raised wings are an expression of the four celestial currents of the universal agent, extending into the four corners of the human world; and the four wings which cling to the sides of the ark show that what is below is like that which is on high. If that which exists in fixed form had not first existed in volatile form, there would be no bodies, nor any of the laws governing the four kingdoms.
In the interior of the ark of the universe, that is, within the latent action of the combustion of elements and their forms, rays of light combine to produce, by analogy, the directions of the raison d'être of all things, things which should be in perfect, mathematical harmony.
The Ark of the Covenant (front)
It is there, beneath that celestial vault of aspiring souls, that causes radiate toward ideas, the mothers of form; where the benevolent action of solar splendour sends warmth and life to form the bodies for souls destined to terrestrial existence.
It is beneath this vault that the high priest made God speak about the destinies of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The double triangle which separates the lower wings, one white and one black, shows the duality of ideas and forms; that is, the white triangle symbolizes all that is known to us; for the reversed triangle is the shadow of God, and this shadow, for us, is light. Whereas the black triangle, its point in the air, is the light of God, which for us is shadow.
Thus these two triangles exemplify the struggle between the finite and the infinite, a struggle which forms the beat of the universal pulse.
The quadrangular base is the cube of immutable laws. The two rods are the polar axes; the rings through which they are run are the four periods of human civilization.
For example: a world disappears from the domain of realities. It leaves behind the germinal grounds for another which will be progressive or retrograde, according to whether the first was ascending or descending, and in opposite reaction to this, following the law of polarities.
The five finials which can be seen between the raised wings are an expression of the incommunicable name formed around the just existence of the four letters of the name of God, in order to proclaim that all which is in the exterior being is also in the interior being. For on this table of gold, all numbers of all forms combine to multiply the existences of universal and external life: it is the number of the soul.
And there appeared among the four animals a splendour of fire and lightning bolts coming out of the fire.
The double movement of light in a spiral is here described along with the exceptional emissions which bring about prodigious wonders and which are represented by the usual characters in writings on sacred magic.
Now, the animals were coming and going,
The starry skies revolve with the splendid brilliance of lightning.
For movement produces light and circular friction releases electricity.
THE PENTACLE OF LIGHTNING
Explaninig the movement of comets, mysterious illnesses, storms and wonders
And as I looked at the animals,
That is, towards the four cardinal points of the sky,
there appeared a wheel on the earth, corresponding to the four animals.
I understood that the measurements of the earth are analogous to the divisions of the sky.
And this wheel had four sides.
The globe of the earth corresponding to the parallel sides of a cube.
The appearance of these wheels was like that of the sea.
That is, immense and extending to the very ends of the earth.
It was like a wheel in a wheel.
First elements of the ringed sphere with its ecliptic and equator.
And they went forward without turning back.
Rotation and gravitation of the earth.
The vision of the wheels.
The wheels went forward with the animals.
Movement of the earth corresponding to the seasons.
When one of the animals rose, the corresponding point on the wheel rose with him.
Division of the sky into zenith and nadir, apogee and perigee.
For the spirit of life was in the wheels.
Currents of living universal light.
When the animals stopped they folded their wings, and they stopped when a voice was heard from above the firmament.
The word of God determines the length of the great periods of existence after which the universe is renewed.
For upon the firmament which extended over their heads like a vault of sapphire,
I saw the semblance of a throne and on the throne, the image of a human form.
That is, the allegorical figure of a man serving to give us a relative idea of the infinite and incomprehensible essence of God.
And I saw a kind of electric radiance—
fire, universal light. The od, ob and aour of the qabalists. Ether in perfect balance through double polarization.
Like an interior fire which moved in a circle from the waist of the image to its feet, with another circle above. The circle was a splendour of light. The lower circle was a burning fire and around the two circles there was a rainbow, as can be seen on rainy days.
Two circles in one, the central ternary and the seven nuances of light.
SPHERES OF CAUSES AND CREATIONS
Thus it was that I saw in symbols the idea of the glory of God and I fell with my face to the ground, but I heard a voice speaking to me and saying, 'Son of man, stand up and I will speak with you.'
The first religious movement of man is to prostrate himself before symbols and images. This is what characterizes the leaning towards idolatry of all peoples in their beginnings. But the initiate gets up and contemplates face to face to face the allegorical image of God; and it is when he can stand and worship that God speaks to his intelligences and to his reason.
Such is the magnificent and mysterious introduction to the prophecies of Ezekiel, as contained in the first chapter.
Here the initiate can retrace all the symbols of high theology, already forgotten or scorned by the priests of the time. Next he declares that God has made him the sentinel of his people and that he must, under pain of death, warn them of the dangers which threaten them; all the acts of the prophet will be symbolic warnings addressed to the infidel people of Jerusalem and to her rulers who have forgotten their duty and the truth.
He draws the map of Jerusalem on a brick. He shows it under siege, as it is soon destined to be. He gives himself up to terrifying fasts which represent the famine to which the besieged Jews will be reduced. He eats rough bread, dirtied with unspeakable filth. This manner of preaching, in conformity with the excessive and exalted genius of the orientals, was aimed at striking the imagination of the people and at convincing them of the extent to which their prophet was convinced of the terrible things he announced. From the eighth to the twelfth chapter the prophet describes the profanation of the temple.
To fully understand this profanation, one must know that the temple, by its architecture and its disposition, symbolized the doctrine of truth, but that Moses had expressly forbidden the sculpting of hieroglyphs or erection of images in imitation of the Egyptians who, by multiplying the symbols of high theology, had finally brought the vulgar populace to- monstrous idolatry. The ignorant willingly take comparisons for the underlying reasons and the abstractions of symbolism for material realities.
The particular genius of Israel lay entirely in this hatred of idolatry and it was by straying from this national tradition that the Samaritans were lost and that the ten dissident tribes intermingled with the surrounding nations and were not to be found at the moment of freedom from the great bondage.
The idols of Samaria were nothing more than hieroglyphic images of high concepts from the Qabalah, but as these images were imitative of those of Egypt, they later fused with Greek and Roman idols and became a subject of mockery for philosophers of decadence.
Here is a sampling of such images:
Rempham or the flaming star in reverse which was later made into the head of anl ass.
Nibbas, the same as Anubis. Sacerdotal science. Black magic. The demon Samaxia or Belial.
Thartac or Onochoetites. Shiva of the Indians. Material fertility. Ignorant faith. Fatal life. The devil Astaroth.
Marcolis. The cubic stone. Stability. Fatality. Moloch.
Azima, the same as Mendes or Beelphegor. The scapegoat. Physical love.
Anamelech, the same as Pegasus. The word of beauty. The king of analogies.
Nergal. The cock of the Sabbath. Abraxas. The serpent of Mars. The philosopher's dragon.
Succoth Benoth. Nature. The black hen of the magicians.
Nisroch. The phallus.
Adrmelech. The Peacock. The Proud World.
The following table, which grades the preceding idols, shows how divine notions were soon degraded by taking on hieroglyphic and idolatrous forms froms impure cults. We can now begin to understand the visions or allegorical descriptions of Ezekiel relative to the temple of the true God.
Table of the group of idols.
In ch. VIII
I felt something like a hand,
Not a hand, but something like a hand, that is, a force, an action.
Which took me by the top of the head.
That is, by the highest inspirations.
And the spirit raised me up between earth and heaven.
That is, in the prophetic domain of universal analogies.
And in the sight of God,
That is, by sublime inspiration.
I was led to Jerusalem.
In the spirit and manner of the ecstatics.
Near the inner gate which looks northward.
The northern gate corresponds to the letter Yode
There an idol had been placed, capable of stirring up jealousy.
Any image substituted for the divine Yod is an infidelity and a religious adulteration.
And the voice said to me, 'Pierce the wall of the temple.'
That is, look through it as during visionary sleep.
And I did as I was bid and inside, on the walls, I saw images of reptiles and animals.
The bronze serpent and the four animals transformed from hieroglyphs into idols.
And all the idols of the house of Israel painted in circles on all the walls.
The impure gods of Samaria drawn in pentacles and forming false qabalistic figures.
Then the prophet sees the priests and ancients of Israel offering incense to these idols; he even sees women in the temple, bewailing the death of Adonis. Filled with indignation and zeal, he again depicts the splendour of the great qabalistic images which appeared to him on the banks of the Chobar.
The tenth chapter repeats the mysteries of the first. He again presents to his readers this sphinx who is one anomal in four forms, that riddle of Oedipus which is repeated so many times and in so many different ways in the hieratic hieroglyphs of the ancient world.
We will continue by giving several of these images.
A TALISMAN OF THE ANCIENT GNOSTICS
The watchful mind: The double serpent - water
Subdued matter or docile will: The horse - earth
Force and action: the lion - fire
Changing, transient from: The cock - air
Central fire, both terrestrial and aerial, stirred to action by water.
Excerpted from THE MYSTERIES OF THE OABALAH, or, The Occult Agreement of the Two Testaments by ELIPHAS LÉVI. Copyright © 2000 Samuel Weiser, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Samuel Weiser, Inc..
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