Devil-Worship in France/Chapter XIV

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We have finished with the witnesses of Lucifer, and I think that the search-light of a drastic criticism has left them in considerable disarray. We approach the limit of the present inquiry, but before summing up and presenting such a general statement or conclusion as may be warranted by the facts, there is one point, left over hereunto, and designed for final consideration, because it appeals more exclusively to professed transcendentalists, which it will be necessary to treat briefly. I have already indicated that sporadic revivals of black magic have occasionally been heard of by mystics here in England, and from time to time we have also heard vaguely of obscure assemblies of Luciferians. Quite recently an interview with Papus, the French occultist, published in Light, mentions a society which was devoted to the cultus of Lucifer, star of the morning, quite distinct from Masonry, quite unimportant, and since very naturally dead. Now, a large proportion of mystics here in England are High-Grade Masons, and if a society of the Palladium had extended to anything remotely approaching the proportions alleged, they could not have failed to know of it. I will go further and affirm that our non-Masonic transcendental associations have abundant opportunities to become acquainted with institutions similar to their own, and it is preposterous to suppose that there could be several Palladian triangles working their degrees in this country without our being aware of the fact. But we have not been aware of it, and our only informations concerning Palladism have come to us from France. We do not accept these informations; we know that the persons here in England who are alleged by French false witnesses to be connected with the Palladium are not so connected, and are now learning of it for the first time. The statements concerning Mr John Yarker are categorically untrue; the gross calumny published by the "converted" Diana Vaughan about Dr Wynn Westcott, who happens to be a High-Grade Mason, she will never dare to come forth from her "retreat" and re-affirm within the jurisdiction of these islands, because she knows well that a British jury would make a large demand upon her reputed American dollars. Let us, however, put aside for the moment the mendacities and forgeries which complicate the question of Lucifer, and let us approach Palladism from an altogether different side. I believe that I may speak with a certain accent of authority upon any question which connects with the French magus Éliphas Lévi. I am an old student of his works, and of the aspects of occult science and magical history which arise out of them; in the year 1886 I published a digest of his writings which has been the only attempt to present them to English readers until the present year when I have undertaken a translation in extenso of the Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, which is actually in the hands of the printer. Now, it has not been alleged in so many words that the radix of Modern Diabolism and the Masonic cultus of Lucifer is to be found in Éliphas Lévi, but that is the substance of the charge. Most, or all, of the witnesses agree in representing him as an atrocious Satanist, an invoker of Lucifer, a celebrater of black masses, and an adept in the practical blasphemies of Eucharistic sacrilege; all of them father either upon the Palladium or upon Pike a variety of documents containing gross thefts from Lévi; some of them, directly and upon their own responsibility, cite passages from his works, always with conspicuous bad faith. Finally, they agree in connecting him with the foundation of the New and Reformed Palladium through his alleged disciple Phileas Walder; and one of them goes so far as to say that Palladism was a further development or restoration of a Satanic society directed by Éliphas Lévi and operating his theurgic system, which he in turn, if I rightly understand the mixed hypothesis of M. de la Rive, may have derived from the Palladic rite of 1730. If we accept for the moment this origin of the reformed order, it will follow that if the occult doctrines of Éliphas Lévi have been seriously misunderstood or grossly defamed by the witnesses, the diabolical or Luciferian connection of Palladism does not wear the complexion which has been ascribed to it. It is represented as: (a) outwardly Masonic, and (b) actually theurgic. (c) It is Manichæan in doctrine. (d) It regards Lucifer as an eternal principle co-existent, but in a hostile sense, with Adonaï. (e) It holds that the beneficent deity is Lucifer, while Adonaï is malevolent; (f) Certain sections of Palladists, however, recognise that Lucifer is identical with Satan, and is the evil principle. (g) This section adores the evil principle as such. Now, in each and all these matters the Palladian system conflicts with that of Lévi.

To give a colourable aspect to their hypothesis, the witnesses affirm that Lévi was a high-grade Mason. He was nothing of the kind; he affirms most distinctly in his “History of Magic,” that for any knowledge which he possessed about the mysteries of the fraternity, he owed his initiation only to God and to his individual studies. Secondly, the practice of ceremonial magic, which is what the witnesses understand by theurgy, is a practice condemned by Lévi, except as an isolated experiment to fortify intellectual conviction as to the truth of magical theorems. He attempted it for this purpose in the spring of the year 1854, and having satisfied himself as to the fact, he did not renew it. Thirdly, the philosophy of Éliphas Lévi is in direct contrast to Manichæan doctrine; it cannot be explained by dualism, but must be explained by its opposite, namely, triplicity in unity. He shows that "the unintelligent disciples of Zoroaster have divided the duad without referring it to unity, thus separating the pillars of the temple, and seeking to halve God" (Dogme, p. 129, 2nd edition). Is that a Manichæan doctrine? Again: "If you conceive the Absolute as two, you must immediately conceive it as three to recover the unity principle" (Ibid.). Once more: "Divinity, one in its essence, has two fundamental conditions of being—necessity and liberty" (Ibid., p. 127). And yet again: "If God were one only, He would never be Creator nor Father. If He were two, there would be antagonism or division in the infinite, and this would be severance or death for every possible existence; He is therefore three for the creation by Himself, and in His image of the infinite multitude of beings and numbers. Thus He is really one in Himself and triple in our conception, by which we also behold Him triple in Himself and one in our intelligence and in our love. This is a mystery for the faithful and a logical necessity for the initiate of the absolute and true sciences" (Ibid., p. 138). And the witnesses of Lucifer have the effrontery to represent Lévi as a dualist! I will not discredit their understanding by supposing that they could misread so plain a principle, nor dissemble my full conviction that they acted with intentional bad faith. Fourthly, Éliphas Lévi regarded Lucifer as a conception of transcendental mythology, and the devil as an impossible fiction, or an inverted and blasphemous conception of God—divinity à rebours. He describes the Ophite heresy which offered adoration to the serpent and the Caïnite heresy which justified the revolt of the first angel and the first murderer as errors fit for classification with the monstrous idols of the anarchic symbolism of India (Rituel, pp. 13, 14). Is that diabolism? Is that the cultus of Lucifer? True, Lévi did not believe in the personal existence of a father of lies, and if it be Satanism not to do so, let us be content to diabolise with Lévi while the false witnesses illustrate the methods of their father.

It is unnecessary to multiply quotations, but here is one more: "The author of this book is a Christian like you; his faith is that of a Catholic deeply and strongly convinced; therefore his mission is not to deny dogmas, but to combat impiety under one of its most dangerous forms, that of erroneous belief and superstition … Away with the idol which hides our Saviour! Down with the tyrant of falsehood! Down with the black god of the Manichæans! Down with the Ahriman of the old idolaters! Live God alone and His incarnate Logos, Jesus the Christ, Saviour of the world, who beheld Satan precipitated from heaven!" Go to, M. le Docteur Bataille! À bas, Signor Margiotta! Phi, diabolus and Leo Taxil!

Seeing then that Éliphas Lévi has been calumniously represented, and that he was not a Satanist, he could not have founded a Satanic society, nor could a Manichæan order have been developed out of his doctrines. Hence if a Palladian Society do exist at Charleston, it either owes nothing to Lévi, or its cultus has been falsely described. In other words, from whatever point we approach the witnesses of Lucifer, they are subjected to a rough unveiling. In the words of the motto on my title, the first in this plot was Lucifer—videlicet, the Father of Lies!