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Eliphas Le'vi was steeped in the Western occult tradition and a master of the Rosicrucian interpretation of the Qabalah, which forms the basis of magic as practiced in the West today. The Key of the Mysteries represents the culmination of Le'vi's thoughts and is written with subtle and delicate irony. It reveals the mysteries of religion and the secrets of the Qabalah, providing a sketch of the prophetic theology of numbers. The mysteries of nature, such as spiritualism and fluidic phantoms, are explored. Magical...
Eliphas Le'vi was steeped in the Western occult tradition and a master of the Rosicrucian interpretation of the Qabalah, which forms the basis of magic as practiced in the West today. The Key of the Mysteries represents the culmination of Le'vi's thoughts and is written with subtle and delicate irony. It reveals the mysteries of religion and the secrets of the Qabalah, providing a sketch of the prophetic theology of numbers. The mysteries of nature, such as spiritualism and fluidic phantoms, are explored. Magical mysteries, the Theory of the Will with its 22 axioms are divulged. And finally it offers "the great practical secrets."
The true greatness of this work, however, lies in its ability to place occult thought firmly in Western religious traditions. For Le'vi, the study of the occult was the study of a divine science, the mathematics of God.
SOLUTION OF THE FIRST PROBLEM
THE TRUE GOD
GOD can only be defined by faith; science can neither deny nor affirm that He exists.
God is the absolute object of human faith. In the infinite, He is the supreme and creative intelligence of order. In the world, He is the Spirit of Charity.
Is the Universal Being a fatal machine which eternally grinds down intelligences by chance, or a providential intelligence which directs forces in order to ameliorate minds?
The first hypothesis is repugnant to reason; it is pessimistic and immoral.
Science and reason ought then to accept the second.
Yes, Proudhon, God is an hypothesis, but an hypothesis so necessary, that without it, all theorems become absurd or doubtful.
For initiates of the Qabalah, God is the absolute unity which creates and animates numbers.
The unity of the human intelligence demonstrates the unity of God.
The key of numbers is that of creeds, because signs are analogical figures of the harmony which proceeds from numbers.
Mathematics could never demonstrate blind fatality, because they are the expression of the exactitude which is the character of the highest reason.
Unity demonstrates the analogy of contraries; it is the foundation, the equilibrium, and the end of numbers. The act of faith starts from unity, and returns to unity.
We shall now sketch out an explanation of the Bible by the aid of numbers, for the Bible is the book of the images of God.
We shall ask numbers to give us the reason of the dogmas of eternal religion; numbers will always reply by reuniting themselves in the synthesis of unity.
The following pages are simply outlines of qabalistic hypotheses; they stand apart from faith, and we indicate them only as curiosities of research. It is no part of our task to make innovations in dogma, and what we assert in our character as an initiate is entirely subordinate to our submission in our character as a Christian.
SKETCH OF THE PROPHETIC THEOLOGY OF NUMBERS
Unity is the principle and the synthesis of numbers; it is the idea 1of God and of man; it is the alliance of reason and of faith.
Faith cannot be opposed to reason; it is made necessary by love, it is identical with hope. To love is to believe and hope; and this triple outburst of the soul is called virtue, because, in order to make it, courage is necessary. But would there be any courage in that, if doubt were not possible? Now, to be able to doubt, is to doubt. Doubt is the force which balances faith, and it constitutes the whole merit of faith.
Nature herself induces us to believe; but the formulae of faith are social expressions of the tendencies of faith at a given epoch. It is that which proves the Church to be infallible, evidentially and in fact.
God is necessarily the most unknown of all beings because He is only defined by negative experience; He is all that we are not, He is the infinite opposed to the finite by hypothesis.
Faith, and consequently hope and love, are so free that man, far from being able to impose them on others, does not even impose them on himself.
'These,' says religion, 'are graces.' Now, is it conceivable that grace should be subject to demand or exaction; that is to say, could anyone wish to force men to a thing which comes freely and without price from Heaven? One must not do more than desire it for them.
To reason concerning faith is to think irrationally, since the object of faith is outside the universe of reason. If one asks me: 'Is there a God?' I reply: 'I believe it.' 'But are you sure of it?' 'If I were sure of it, I should not believe it, I should know it.'
The formulation of faith is to agree upon the terms of the common hypothesis.
Faith begins where science ends. To enlarge the scope of science is apparently to diminish that of faith; but in reality, it is to enlarge it in equal proportion, for it is to amplify its base.
One can only define the unknown by its supposed and supposable relations with the known.
Analogy was the sole dogma of the ancient magi. This dogma may indeed be called 'mediator', for it is half scientific, half hypothetical; half reason, and half poetry. This dogma has been, and will always be, the father of all others.
What is the Man-God? He who realizes, in the most human life, the most divine ideal.
Faith is a divination of intelligence and of love, when these are directed by the pointings of nature and of reason.
It is then of the essence of the things of faith to be inaccessible to science, doubtful for philosophy, and undefined for certainty.
Faith is an hypothetical realization and a conventional determination of the last aims of hope. It is the attachment to the visible sign of the things which one does not see.
'Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.'
To affirm without folly that God is or that He is not, one must begin with a reasonable or unreasonable definition of God. Now, this definition, in order to be reasonable, must be hypothetical, analogical, and the negation of the known finite. It is possible to deny a particular god, but the absolute God can no more be denied than He can be proved; He is a reasonable supposition in whom one believes.
'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,' said the Master; to see with the heart is to believe; and if this faith is attached to the true good, it can never be deceived, provided that it does not seek to define too much in accordance with the dangerous inductions which spring from personal ignorance. Our judgments in questions of faith apply to ourselves; it will be done to us as we have believed; that is to say, we create ourselves in the image of our ideal.
'Those who make their gods become like unto them,' says the psalmist, 'and all they that put their trust in them.'
The divine ideal of the ancient world made the civilization which came to an end, and one must not despair of seeing the god of our barbarous fathers become the devil of our more enlightened children. One makes devils with cast-off gods, and Satan is only so incoherent and so formless because he is made up of all the rags of ancient theogonies. He is the sphinx without a secret, the riddle without an answer, the mystery without truth, the absolute without reality and without light.
Man is the son of God because God, manifested, realized, and incarnated upon earth, called Himself the Son of man.
It is after having made God in the image of His intelligence and of His love, that humanity has understood the sublime Word who said 'Let there be light!
Man is the form of the divine thought, and God is the idealized synthesis of human thought.
Thus the Word of God reveals man, and the Word of man reveals God.
Man is the God of the world, and God is the man of Heaven.
Before saying 'God wills', man has willed.
In order to understand and honour Almighty God, man must first be free.
Had he obeyed and abstained from the fruit of the tree of knowledge through fear, man would have been innocent and stupid as the lamb, sceptical and rebellious as the angel of light. He himself cut the umbilical cord of his simplicity, and, falling free upon the earth, dragged God with him in his fall.
And therefore, from this sublime fall, he rises again glorious, with the great convict of Calvary, and enters with Him into the Kingdom of Heaven.
For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to intelligence and love, both children of liberty.
God has shown liberty to man in the image of a lovely woman, and in order to test his courage, He made the phantom of death pass between her and him.
Man loved, and felt himself to be God; he gave for her what God had just bestowed upon him—eternal hope.
He leapt towards his bride across the shadow of death.
Man possessed liberty; he had embraced life.
Expiate now thy glory, O Prometheus!
Thy heart, ceaselessly devoured, cannot die; it is thy vulture, it is Jupiter, who will die!
One day we shall awake at last from the painful dreams of a tormented life; our ordeal will be finished, and we shall be sufficiently strong against sorrow to be immortal.
Then we shall live in God with a more abundant life, and we shall descend into His works with the light of His thought, we shall be borne away into the infinite by the whisper of His love.
We shall be without doubt the elder brethren of a new race, the angels of posterity.
Celestial messengers, we shall wander in immensity, and the stars will be our gleaming ships.
We shall transform ourselves into sweet visions to calm weeping eyes; we shall gather radiant lilies in unknown meadows, and we shall scatter their dew upon the earth.
We shall touch the eyelid of the sleeping child, and rejoice the heart of its mother with the spectacle of the beauty of her well-beloved son!
II THE BINARY
The binary is more particularly the number of woman, mate of man and mother of society.
Man is love in intelligence; woman is intelligence in love.
Woman is the smile of the Creator content with Himself, and it is after making her that He rested, says the divine parable.
Woman stands before man because she is mother, and all is forgiven her in advance, because she brings forth in sorrow.
Woman initiated herself first into immortality through death; then man saw her to be so beautiful, and understood her to be so generous, that he refused to survive her, and loved her more than his life, more than his eternal happiness.
Happy outlaw, since the has been given to him as companion in his exile!
But the children of Cain have revolted against the mother of Abel; they have enslaved their mother.
The beauty of woman has become a prey for the brutality of such men as cannot love.
Thus woman closed her heart as if it were a secret sanctuary, and said to men unworthy of her: 'I am virgin, but I will to become mother, and my son will teach you to love me.'
O Eve! Salutation and adoration in thy fall!
O Mary! Blessings and adoration in thy sufferings and in thy glory!
Crucified and holy one who didst survive thy God that thou mightst bury thy son, be thou for us the final word of the divine revelation!
Moses called God 'Lord'; Jesus called Him 'My Father', and we, thinking of thee, may say to Providence, 'You are our mother.'
Children of woman, let us forgive fallen woman !
Children of woman, let us adore regenerate woman!
Children of woman, who have slept upon her breast, been cradled in her arms, and consoled by her caresses, let us love her, and let us love each other!
III THE TERNARY
The Ternary is the number of creation.
God creates Himself eternally, and the infinite which He fills with His works is an incessant and infinite creation.
Supreme love contemplates itself in beauty as in a mirror, and It essays all forms as adornments, for It is the lover of life.
Man also affirms himself and creates himself; he adorns himself with his trophies of victory, he enlightens himself with his own conceptions, he clothes himself with his works as with a wedding garment.
The great week of creation has been imitated by human genius, divining the forms of nature.
Every day has furnished a new revelation, every new king of the world has been for a day the image and the incarnation of God! Sublime dream which explains the mysteries of India, and justifies all symbolisms!
The lofty conception of the man-God corresponds to the creation of Adam, and Christianity, like the first days of man in the earthly paradise, has been only an aspiration and a widowhood.
We wait for the worship of the bride and of the mother; we shall aspire to the wedding of the New Covenant.
Then the poor, the blind, the outlaws of the old world will be invited to the feast, and will receive a wedding garment. They will gaze the one upon the other with inexpressible tenderness and a smile that is ineffable because they have wept so long.
IV THE QUATERNARY
The Quaternary is the number of force. It is the ternary completed by its product, the rebellious unity reconciled to the sovereign trinity.
In the first fury of life, man, having forgotten his mother, no longer understood God but as an inflexible and jealous father.
The sombre Saturn, armed with his parricidal scythe, set himself to devour his children.
Jupiter had eyebrows which shook Olympus; Jehovah wielded thunders which deafened the solitudes of Sinai.
Nevertheless, the father of men, being on occasion drunken like Noah, let the world perceive the mysteries of life.
Psyche, made divine by her torments, became the bride of Eros; Adonis, raised from death, found again his Venus in Olympus; Job, victorious over evil, recovered more than he had lost.
The law is a test of courage.
To love life more than one fears the menaces of death is to merit life.
The elect are those who dare; woe to the timid!
Thus the slaves of law, who make themselves the tyrants of conscience and the servants of fear, and those who begrudge that man should hope, and the Pharisees of all the synagogues and of all the churches, are those who receive the reproofs and the curses of the Father.
Was not the Christ excommunicated and crucified by the synagogue?
Was not Savonarola burned by the order of the sovereign pontiff of the Christian religion?
Are not the Pharisees today just what they were in the time of Caiaphas?
If anyone speaks to them in the name of intelligence and love, will they listen?
In rescuing the children of liberty from the tyranny of the Pharaohs, Moses inaugurated the reign of the Father.
In breaking the insupportable yoke of Mosaic Pharisaism, Jesus welcomed all men to the brotherhood of the only Son of God.
When the last ideals fall, when the last material chains of conscience break, when the last of them that killed the prophets and the last of them that stifled the Word are confounded, then will be the reign of the Holy Ghost.
Then, Glory to the Father who drowned the host of Pharaoh in the Red Sea!
Glory to the Son, who tore the veil of the temple, and whose Cross, overweighing the crown of the Caesars, broke the forehead of the Caesars against the earth!
Glory to the Holy Ghost, who shall sweep from the earth by His terrible breath all the thieves and all the executioners, to make room for the banquet of the children of God!
Glory to the Holy Ghost, who has promised victory over earth and over Heaven to the angel of liberty!
The angel of liberty was born before the dawn of the first day, before even the awakening of intelligence, and God called him the morning star.
O Lucifer! Voluntarily and disdainfully thou didst detach thyself from the heaven where the sun drowned thee in his splendour, to plow with thine own rays the unworked fields of night!
Thou shinest when the sun sets, and thy sparkling gaze precedes the daybreak!
Thou fallest to rise again; thou tastest of death to understand life better!
For the ancient glories of the world, thou art the evening star; for truth renascent, the lovely star of dawn.
Liberty is not licence, for licence is tyranny.
Liberty is the guardian of duty, because it reclaims right.
Lucifer, of whom the dark ages have made the genius of evil, will be truly the angel of light when, having conquered liberty at the price of infamy, he will make use of it to submit himself to eternal order, inaugurating thus the glories of voluntary obedience.
Right is only the root of duty; one must possess in order to give.
This is how a lofty and profound poetry explains the fall of the angels.
God hath given to His spirits light and life; then He said to them: 'Love!'
'What is—to love?' replied the spirits.
'To love is to give oneself to others,' replied God. 'Those who love will suffer, but they will be loved.'
'We have the right to give nothing, and we wish to suffer nothing,' said the spirits, hating love.
'Remain in your right,' answered God, 'and let us separate! I and Mine wish to suffer and even to die, to love. It is our duty!'
The fallen angel is then he who, from the beginning, refused to love; he does not love, and that is his whole torture; he does not give, and that is his poverty; he does not suffer, and that is his nothingness; he does not die, and that is his exile.
The fallen angel is not Lucifer the light-bearer; it is Satan, who calumniated love.
To be rich is to give; to give nothing is to be poor; to live is to love; to love nothing is to be dead; to be happy is to devote oneself; to exist only for oneself is to cast away oneself, and to exile oneself in hell.
Heaven is the harmony of generous thoughts; hell is the conflict of cowardly instincts.
The man of right is Cain who kills Abel from envy; the man of duty is Abel who dies for Cain for love.
And such has been the mission of Christ, the great Abel of humanity.
It is not for right that we should dare all, it is for duty.
Duty is the expansion and the enjoyment of liberty; isolated right is the father of slavery.
Duty is devotion; right is selfishness.
Duty is sacrifice; right is theft and rapine.
Duty is love, and right is hate.
Duty is infinite life; right is eternal death.
If one must fight to conquer right, it is only to acquire the power of duty; what use have we for freedom, unless to love and to devote ourselves to God?
If one must break the law, it is when law imprisons love in fear.
'He that saveth his life shall lose it,' says the Holy Book; 'and he who consents to lose it will save it.'
Duty is love; perish every obstacle to love! Silence, ye oracles of hate! Destruction to the false gods of selfishness and fear! Shame to the slaves, the misers of love!
God loves prodigal children!
Excerpted from The Key of the Mysteries by ELIPHAS LÉVI, ALEISTER CROWLEY. Copyright © 2013 Eliphas Lévi. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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PART I RELIGIOUS MYSTERIES
Résumé of Part I
PART II PHILOSOPHICAL MYSTERIES
PART III THE MYSTERIES OF NATURE
First Book MAGNETIC MYSTERIES
Second Book MAGICAL MYSTERIES
PART IV PRACTICAL SECRETS