THE KABBALAH UNVEILED
TRANSLATED BY S. L. MACGREGOR MATHERS
[Published by George Redway, 15 York Street, Convent Garden.]
Reviewed by William Wynn Westcott
THE author of this welcome volume has supplied the present generation of students of theosophy and occultism with a text-book which has been long wanted and waited for. The “Zohar” is the great storehouse of the ancient Hebrew theosophy, supplemented by the philosophical doctrines of the mediaeval Jewish Rabbis. It consists of several distinct yet allied tracts, each discussing some special branch of the subject; each tract again consists of several portions, a kernel of most ancient dogma, to which are added comments and explanations, in some cases by several hands and at very different epochs. There is sufficient proof that these kernels of dogma are remnants of one of the oldest systems of philosophy that have come down to us, and they show also intrinsic evidence that they are associated at least with the return from the Babylonish captivity. On the other hand, it is pretty certain that the Zohar, in its present form, was put together and first printed about 1558, at Mantua, and a little later in other editions at Cremona and Lublin. This Mantuan edition was a revision of the collection of tracts collected and edited in MS. form by Moses de Leon, of Guadalaxara, in Spain, about 1300; even the most hostile views of the antiquity of the Zohar grant this much, and although direct historical evidence is not forthcoming of the several steps in the course of transmission of these doctrines from ante-Roman times, yet, as aforesaid, the internal evidence is ample to show the essential origination of the specially Hebrew ideas found in the Zohar from Rabbis, more or less tinged with a Babylonish cast, who must have flourished antecedent to the building of the second Temple. The tradition of the mediaeval Rabbis definitely assigned the authorship to Rabbi Schimeon ben Jochai, who lived in the reign of the Roman Emperor Titus, A.D. 70-80; and it is the claim of authorship made on his behalf that the modern critic is so fond of contesting.
The “Zohar” or “Splendour”, or “Book of Illumination”, and the “Sepher Yetzirah” are almost the only extant books of the Kabbalah, Qbalah or Cabbala. The “Kabbalah Denudata” of Knorr von Rosenroth, is a Latin version of the former, with commentaries by himself and by certain learned Rabbis. No French and no German translation of the Zohar has ever been published, nor until the present time has any English version been printed. Eliphaz Levi has, however, paraphrased a few chapters of the “Book of Concealed Mystery”, and these have been printed in The Theosophist.
Some parts of the Zohar are written in pure Hebrew, but a large portion is in Aramaic Chaldee, and there are passages in other dialects; this variation of language adds immensely to the difficulties of an accurate translation.
Knorr von Rosenroth was a most able and compendious Hebrew savant, and [Page 142] his translation of much of the Zohar into Latin is a work of established reputation, and has been, indeed, almost the only means by which the students of our era have been able to consult Hebraic philosophy. The present revival of theosophical studies by the English speaking races has created a demand for the Kabbalah in an English dress, and hence the appearance of the present work is well timed, and will form an epoch in the history of occultism; and much good fruit will no doubt be borne by a more intimate acquaintance with Jewish lore, which will tinge the present tendency to supremacy of the Sanscrit and Hermetic forms of mysticism. There is much reason to suppose that an attentive study of each of these forms of knowledge may lead one to the Hidden Wisdom; but a skilful analogy, and an investigation into the three forms of dogma on parallel lines will give a breadth of grasp and a cosmopolitan view of the matter which should lead to a happy solution of the great problems of life in a speedy and satisfactory manner. The Kabbalah may, in concise terms, be said to teach the ancient Rabbinical doctrines of the nature and attributes of the Divinity, the cosmogony of our universe, the creation of angels and the human soul, the destiny of angels and men, the dogma of equilibrium, and the transcendental symbolism of the Hebrew letters and numerals.
Mr. Mathers, who is a most patient and persevering student, if not professor, of mystic lore, is at the same time a first-rate classical scholar, and a skilful interpreter of the Hebrew tongue, and his translation from the Latin, varied and improved by his own study of the original Chaldee, has produced an English version of the Kabbalah Denudata which is eloquent in its construction, true to its text, and lucid in its abstruseness. For the matter is abstruse, much of it, and some is practically incomprehensible to the beginner, to the world in general for certain, and perhaps to every one at the first glance. But it will be certainly perceived that those very portions which seem most extravagant at a first reading are just the passages from which later a light will arise and lead one on to a firm grasp of the subject. To take up this volume and read at odd moments is a useless and hopeless task; no progress will be made, at any rate at first, except by thoroughly abstracting one’s individuality from the things of common life; disappointment can only accompany superficial reading.
Great credit is due to the enterprise of Mr. Redway in publishing this volume, for which no very extensive sale could have been anticipated; that he has already distributed a considerable number is matter for congratulation to himself and to the public. It is hoped that his success will induce him to publish other volumes of antique lore, of which many yet remain more or less completely ignored by the present generation.
The “Siphra Dtzenioutha”, the “ Idra Rabba”, and the “Idra Zuta”, included in this volume are doubtless three of the most valuable of the tracts of the Zohar, yet there are others of equal interest. The “Book of the Revolutions of Souls” is a most curious and mysterious work, and the “Asch Metzareph” is a treatise on the relations between Theosophy and the oldest alchemical ideas which are known to exist; it is a work on the Asiatic plane, on the lowest of the four kabbalistic worlds of Emanation. [Page 143]
Beyond the limits of the Zohar proper, the “Sepher Yetzirah”, is a treatise which for interest and instruction cannot be surpassed.
Mr. Mathers supplies us with an introduction to the Qabalah, which stamps him as a master of the science, and although he refers us on some pages to Ginsburg (a recognised authority), yet his remarks and explanation are more deep and thorough than those published in Ginsburg’s little English pamphlet, and are more discursive and complete. My remarks on the difficulty of our subject hardly render it necessary for me to insist on the absolute necessity of a painstaking study of this introduction, which will supply in a great measure the want of a de novo education in Hebrew, and Hebrew modes of thought and expression.
Mr. Mathers justly insists on the literal rendering of the Hebrew title by the spelling Qabalah, which is no doubt correct, but lays him open to a charge of pedantry, which perhaps does not much affect him, since it would only come from superficial and possibly scoffing critics. The use of the letter Q without its usual English companion the “u” is sanctioned and advised, in this connection, by the learned Max Müller and other Orientalists of repute. To avoid the printing of Hebrew letters, the publisher has adopted a scheme of printing Hebrew words in English capital letters (in addition to the mode of pronunciation), after a method given by the author in tabular form. To the Hebrew scholar this gives an idea of barbarism, which is painful to the eye and sadly mars the volume, whilst it only saves the student the task of learning an alphabet of 22 letters. I differ from the author in representing the Hebrew Teth by T, while depicting the Tau by TH., the reverse would have been a closer imitation of the sounds. The Introduction includes a learned excursus upon the idea of “Negative Existence”, in which considerable light is thrown on that difficult subject; skilful definitions are added concerning the AIN, the AIN SOPH, and AIN SOPH AUR, answering in English to Negativity, The Limitless, and Limitless Light, the first essences of Deity. Several pages are devoted to a clear description of the Ten Sephiroth, the Numerical Conceptions of Godhead, and their explanatory titles; the Four Worlds of Emanation, and the component elements of a Human Soul; the Mysteries of the Hexagram as a type of Macroprosopus, the Most Holy Ancient One, or God the Father — and the succeeding mystery of Microprosopus, the Lesser Countenance, typified in the Pentagram and corresponding to the Christian Personality of the “Son of God”, are all explained at length. The series of references to the IHVH the Tetragrammaton, the Concealed Name of unknown pronunciation, form a valuable dissertation. The book is supplied with nine well executed diagrams, explanatory of the Sephiroth. the sacred names, essences of the soul, and a very perfect and complete scheme of the Sephiroth in the four worlds of emanation associated with the Vision of Ezekiel. Mr. Mathers desires to call special attention to the differentiation of the Deity in the Emanations, into the female type in addition to masculine characteristics: note the idealism of the Superior HE, Binah, the Mother, and the Inferior HE, Malkuth, the Bride of Microprosopus, the Kingdom of God (the Son of God and his Bride the Church), note that Genesis i. 26, says “let Us make man in our image”, “male and female created he them”; the “us” is “Elohim”, a noun in the plural. [Page 144]
The “Siphra Dtzenioutha”, or “Book of Concealed Mystery”, is the most difficult of comprehension. Mr. Mathers adds a running commentary of his own, which proves to be very valuable. It consists of five chapters; in the first are found references to the Mystical Equilibrium, the worlds of unbalanced force characterised as the Edomite kings, the Vast Countenance, Theli the Dragon, the powers of IHVH, and the essence of the female power — the Mother. The second chapter mentions the Beard of Truth, and passes on to define Micropofosopus. The third chapter treats of the Beard of Microprosopus in an allegorical manner, and of the formation of the Supernal Man. An annotation follows concerning Prayer, and a curious note on the word AMEN ! as composed of IHVH, and ADNI Adonai or Lord. Chapter IV. treats of the male and female essences, and has a curious note on the Hebrew letter He’, speaking of it as female, and composed of D, Daleth, and I, Jod — a great mystery worthy of study. Chapter V. speaks of the Supernal Eden, the Heavens, the Earth, the Waters, the Giants-Nephilim in the earth, wars of the kings, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the serpent, and the houses of judgment; so that this treatise is no less discursive than abstruse.
The “ Idra Rabba”, or “Greater Holy Assembly”, consisted of ten Rabbis, of whom Rabbi Schimeon was chief, and the book contains their several speeches and comments upon the doctrines laid down by Rabbi Schimeon, on a similar plan to the conversations narrated in the Book of Job. Twenty-five chapters are occupied ‘with an allegory of the several parts of Macroprosopus, the type of God the Father; the twenty-sixth concerns the Edomite kings, the vanished creations; Chapters XXVII. to XLII. are an allegorical description of Microprosopus, the Son Deity, the V or Vau of the Tetragrammaton; Chapter XLIII. concerns the Judgments; XLIV., the Supernal Man; and XLV. is a Conclusion, in narrative form, of the passing away of three of the ten Rabbis, and the acknowledgment of R. Schimeon as chief of them all.
Very much of this descriptive volume referring to Deity is not only abstruse, but is, to the modern European, verbiage run wild; yet in this characteristic it is truly Oriental and Hebrew; some passages remind me very much of’ the “Song of Solomon”, there are the same exuberant and flowery outbursts of poetic imagery.
The “Idra Zuta”, or “Lesser Holy Assembly”, is a similar treatise, explanatory of the Holy powers of the Deity, ascribing honour and power to Macroprosopus, Microprosopus, AIMA the God Mother, and the Bride of God; with instructive allusions to the Prior Worlds of the so-called Edomite Kings, and the sexual aspects of Godhead. The work concludes with a narrative of the death of R. Schimeon and his burial, the whole “Idra” being his last dying declaration of doctrine.
It is noteworthy that the words of the “Smaragdime Tablet, of Hermes” — “that which is below is like that which is above” occur in paragraph 388 of the Idra Rabba, and are thus introduced, “We have learned through Barietha, the tradition given forth without the Holy City”. I note also that the Mischna is mentioned in the Idra Zuta. Want of space compels me to omit all extracts from this volume, which is a matter of regret, as many passages are very eloquently written. [Page 145]
A flaw in this book is the construction of the Index, which should have contained sub-headings, as well as main headings. Of what value is the entry “Microprosopus”, followed by eleven lines each of fourteen page-numbers ? A score of references, sub-divided between his characteristics, his relationships, and his titles would have been of more practical use. With this exception, and when the abomination of Hebrew in English letters has been tolerated, we must acknowledge the production of a most valuable theosophical and philosophical storehouse of ancient Hebrew doctrine, on which Mr. MacGregor Mathers may be heartily congratulated.
AN ADVENTURE AMONG THE ROSICRUCIANS
BY A STUDENT OF OCCULTISM
[Dr. Franz Hartmann (1838-1912)]
Reviewed by H.P.Blavatsky, Editor
A strange and original little story, charmingly fantastic, but full of poetic feeling and, what is more, of deep philosophical and occult truths, for those who can perceive the ground-work it is built upon. A fresh Eclogue of Virgil in its first part, descriptive of Alpine scenery in the Tyrol, where the author “dreamt” his adventure, with “shining glaciers glistening like vast mirrors in the light of the rising sun”, deep ravines with rushing streams dancing between the cliffs, blue lakes slumbering among the meadows, and daisy-sprinkled valleys resting in the shadow of old pine forests.
Gradually as the hero of the “Adventure” ascended higher and higher, he began losing the sense of the world of the real, to pass unconsciously into the land of waking dreams.
In these solitudes there is nothing to remind one of the existence of man, except occasionally the sawed-off trunk of a tree, showing the destructive influence of human activity. In some old, rotten, and hollow trunks rain-water has collected, sparkling in the sun like little mirrors, such as may be used by water-nymphs, and around their edges mushrooms are growing, which our imagination transforms into chairs, tables, and baldachinos for elves and fairies. . . . . . . . . . No sound could now be heard, except occasionally the note of a titmouse and the cry of a hawk who rose in long-drawn spiral motion high up into the air. . . . . . . .
Throwing himself upon the moss, he begins watching the play of the water until it becomes “alive with forms of the most singular shape,” with super-mundane beings dancing in the spray, “shaking their heads in the sunshine and throwing off showers of liquid silver from their waving locks”. . . .
“Their laughter sounded like that of the Falls of Minnehaha, and from the crevices of the rocks peeped the ugly faces of gnomes and kobolds, watching slyly the fairies”.
Then the dreamer asks himself a variety of questions of the most perplexing nature, except, perhaps, to the materialist, who cuts every psychological problem as Alexander cleft the Gordian knot. . . .
“What is the reason that we imagine such things?” he inquires.
Why do we endow “dead” things with human consciousness and with sensation? . . . . . . . . Is our consciousness merely a product of the organic activity of our physical body, or is it a function [Page 146] of the universal life . . . . . within the body? Is our personal consciousness dependent for its existence on the existence of the physical body, and does it die with it; or is there a spiritual consciousness, belonging to a higher, immortal, and invisible self of man, temporarily connected with the organism, but which may exist independently of the latter? If such is the case, if our physical organism is merely an instrument through which our consciousness acts, then this instrument is not our real self. If this is true, then our real self is there where our consciousness exists, and may exist independently of the latter. . . . . . . Can there be any dead matter in the Universe? Is not even a stone held together by the “cohesion” of its particles, and attracted to the earth by “gravitation”? But what else is this “cohesion” and “gravitation” but energy, and what is “energy” but the soul, an anterior principle called force, which produces an outward manifestation called matter? . . . . . . . All things possess life, all things possess soul, and there may be soul-beings . . . . . . . invisible to our physical senses, but which may be perceived by our soul. [p.19.]
The arch-druid of modern Hylo-Idealism, Dr. Lewins, failing to appear to rudely shake our philosopher out of his unscientific thoughts, a dwarf appears in his stead. The creature, however, does not warn the dreamer, as that too-learned Idealist would. He does not tell him that he transcends “the limits of the anatomy of his conscious Ego,” since “ psychosis is now diagnosed by medico-psychological symptomatology as vesiculo-neurosis in activity”, [What is Religion? A Vindication of Free Thought. By C. N., [Constance Naden], annotated by Robert Lewins, M. D. See his Appendices, p. 35, et seq. ] and — as quoth the raven — “merely this, and nothing more”. But being a cretin, he laughingly invites him to his “Master”.
The hero follows, and finds he is brought to a “theosophical monastery,” in a hidden valley of the most gorgeous description. Therein he meets, to his surprise, with adepts of both sexes; for, as he learns later: —
“What has intelligence to do with the sex of the body? Where the sexual instincts end, there ends the influence of the sex”.
Meanwhile, he is brought into the presence of a male adept of majestic appearance, who welcomes and informs him that he is among “The Brothers of the Golden and Rosy Cross”. He is invited to remain with them for some time, and see how they live. His permanent residence with them is, however, objected to. The reasons given for it are as follows: —
“There are still too many of the lower and animal elements adhering to your constitution. . . . . . . They could not resist long the destructive influence of the pure and spiritual air of this place; and, as you have not yet a sufficient amount of truly spiritual elements in your organism to render it firm and strong, you would, by remaining here, soon become weak and waste away, like a person in consumption; you would become miserable instead of being happy, and you would die”.
Then follows a philosophical conversation on WILL, in which the latter, in individual man, is said to become the stronger if it only uses the universal Will-Power in Nature, itself remaining passive in the LAW. This sentence has to be well understood, lest it should lead the reader into the error of accepting pure mediumistic passivity as the best thing for spiritual and occult development. A phenomenon is produced on a passing cloud, into which apparent life is infused by the Master’s hand, stretched towards it; this is again explained by showing that LIFE is universal and identical with WILL. Other phenomena still more wonderful follow; and they are all explained as being produced through natural laws, in which science will not believe. The thoughts of the student are read and answered as though his mind were an opened book. A lovely garden, full of exotic plants and luxurious palm-trees, into which he is taken, striking him as something unnatural in the Tyrolean Alps; so much [Page 147] luxury, moreover, seeming to him to disagree with the ascetic views just expressed by the adept, he is told forthwith, in answer to his unexpressed thoughts, that the garden had been erected to make his visit an agreeable one; and that it was an illusion. “All these trees and plants . . . . require no gardeners, . . . . . . they cost us nothing but an effort of our imagination” — he learns.
“Surely”, he said, “this rose cannot be an illusion . . . . or an effect of my imagination?”
“No”, answered the adept . . . .“ but it is a product of the imagination of Nature, whose processes can be guided by the will of the adept. The whole world . . . . is nothing else but a world of the imagination of the Universal Mind, which is the Creator of forms. . . . . ”
To exemplify the teaching, a Magnolia Tree in full blossom sixty feet high, standing at a distance, is made to look less and less dense. The green foliage fades into gray, becomes “more and more shadowy and transparent,” until “it seemed to be merely the ghost of a tree, and finally disappeared entirely from view.”
“Thus” continued the adept “you see that tree stood in the sphere of my mind as it stood in yours. We are all living within the sphere of each other’s mind. . . . . . . . The Adept creates his own images; the ordinary mortal lives in the products of the imagination of others, or the imagination of nature. We live in the paradise of our own soul but the spheres of our souls are not narrow. They have expanded far beyond the limits of the visible bodies, and will continue to expand until they become one with the universal Soul. . . .. . ”
“The power of the imagination is yet too little known to mankind, else they would better beware of what they think. If a man thinks a good or an evil thought, that thought calls into existence a corresponding form or power which may assume density and become living . . . . . . and live long after the physical body of the man who created it has died. It will accompany his soul after death, because the creations are attracted to their creator”. [p. 83.]
Scattered hither and thither, through this little volume are pearls of wisdom. For that which is rendered in the shape of dialogue and monologue is the fruit gathered by the author during a long research in old forgotten and mouldy MSS. of the Rosicrucians, or mediaeval alchemists, and in the worm-eaten infoglios of unrecognized, yet great adepts of every age.
Thus when the author approaches the subject of theosophical retreats or communities — a dream cherished by many a theosophist — he is answered by the “Adept” that “the true ascetic is he who lives in the world, surrounded by its temptations; he in whose soul the animal elements are still active, craving for the gratification of their desires and possessing the means for such gratification, but who by the superior power of his will conquers his animal self. Having attained that state he may retire from the world. . . . He expects no future reward in heaven; for what could heaven offer him except happiness which he already possesses? He desires no other good, but to create good for the world.” . . . . Saith the Adept.
“If you could establish theosophical monasteries, where intellectual and spiritual development would go hand-in-hand, where a new science could be taught, based upon a true knowledge of the fundamental laws of the universe, and when at the same time man would be taught how to obtain a mastery over himself, you would confer the greatest possible benefit upon the world. Such a convent would afford immense advantage for the advancement of intellectual research. . . . . . . . These convents would become centres of intelligence. . . . . . . ” [Page 148]
Then, reading the student’s thoughts:
“You mistake” he added, “it is not the want of money which prevents us to execute the idea. It is the impossibility to find the proper kind of people to inhabit the convent after it is established. Indeed, we would be poor Alchemists if we could not produce gold in any desirable quantity . . . . . . but gold is a curse to mankind, and we do not wish to increase the curse. . . . . . . . . Distribute gold among men, and you will only create craving for more; give them gold, and you will transform them into devils. No, it is not gold that we need; it is men who thirst after wisdom. There are thousands who desire knowledge, but few who desire wisdom. . . . . Even many of your would-be Occultists . . . . . . . have taken up their investigations merely for the purpose of gratifying idle curiosity, while others desire to pry into the secrets of nature, to obtain knowledge which they desire to employ for the attainment of selfish ends. Give us men or women who desire nothing else but the truth, and we will take care of their needs. . . . . .”
And then having given a startlingly true picture of modern civilisation, and explained the occult side of certain things pertaining to knowledge, the Adept led on the student to his laboratory, where he left him for a few minutes alone. Then another adept, looking like a monk, joined him, and drew his attention to some powders, by the fumigations of which the Elementals, or “Spirits of Nature” could be made to appear. This provoked the student’s curiosity. Sure of his invulnerability in the matter of tests and temptations, he begged to be allowed to see these creatures. . . .
Suddenly the room looked dim, and the walls of the laboratory disappeared. He felt he was in the water, light as a feather, dancing on the waves, with the full moon pouring torrents of light upon the ocean, and the beautiful Isle of Ceylon appearing in the distance. The melodious sound of female voices made him espy near to where he was three beautiful female beings. The Queen of the Undines, the most lovely of the three — for these were the longed-for Elementals — entices the unwary student to her submarine palace. He follows her, and, forgetting theosophical convents, Adepts and Occultism, succumbs to the temptation. . . .
Was it but a dream? It would so appear. For he awakes on the mossy plot where he had lain to rest in the morning, and from whence he had followed the dwarf. But how comes it that he finds in his button-hole the exotic lily given to him by the adept lady, and in his pocket the piece of gold transmuted in his presence by the “Master”? He rushes home, and finds on the table of his hotel-room a promised work on “The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians”, and on its fly-leaf a few words in pencil. They ran thus: —
“Friend, I regret . . . I cannot invite you to visit us again for the present. He who desires to remain in the peaceful valley must know how to resist all sensual attractions, even those of the Water Queen. Study . . . bring the circle into the square, mortify the metals…. When you have succeeded we shall meet again . . . . I shall be with you when you need me.”
The work ends with the quotation from Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians, where the man caught up into Paradise (whether in the body or out of the body . . . God knoweth) “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”
The “adventure” is more than worth perusal.
TABULA BEMBINA SIVE MENSA ISIACA
THE ISIAC TABLET OF CARDINAL BEMBO: ITS HISTORY AND OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE.
by W. WYNN WESTCOTT, M.B. BATH. R. H. FRYAR, 1887.
Review by Anon
THIS work is a monograph of 20 foolscap folio pages, on the celebrated Isiac Tablet. It is well and clearly printed in good-sized type on good paper, and has for frontispiece a well-executed photogravure of the Tablet itself, from a drawing made by the author some years previously. It is written in the clear style which distinguishes Dr. Westcott’s writings, and in all quotations chapter and verse are scrupulously given. Three centuries ago this Tablet greatly exercised the minds of the learned, and continued to do so till the researches of modern Egyptologists began to throw some doubt upon its authenticity as a reliable specimen of ancient Egyptian art; since which time the interest in it has gradually declined. Undoubtedly occult, as its meaning and symbolism alike are, we feel that this monograph will be of service to all lovers and students of the mystical ideas of ancient Egypt. The first thing which strikes the eye of even the most careless observer is the careful and systematic arrangement of the figures and emblems in triads, or groups of three, which system of classification prevailed in the religious symbolism of the Egyptians. The Tablet, again, is divided by transverse horizontal lines into three principal portions, Upper, Lower, and Middle, the latter being sub-divided by vertical lines into three parts, the centre of which is occupied by a throned female figure, flanked on each side by a triad, of which the central figure in each instance is seated. Thus the Upper and Lower portions of the Tablet give each a Dodecad sub-divided into Triads, while the central portion forms a Heptad. This at once corresponds to the symbolism of the הד׳צ׳ דפם, Sepher Yetzirah, Chapter VI., § 3. “The Triad, the Unity which standeth one and alone, the Heptad divided into Three as opposed to Three and the Centre Mediating between them, the Twelve which stand in war …. the Unity above the Triad, the Triad above the Heptad, the Heptad above the Dodecad and they are all bound together each with each”.
Commencing with a description of the Tablet, Dr. Westcott gives as much as is known of its history, quoting from Kircher, Keysler, Murray, and others. It appears that it was first discovered in Rome, at a spot where a Temple of Isis had once stood. After the sack of Rome by the Constable De Bourbon, it fell into the hands of a smith, who sold it to Cardinal Bembo for a large sum. At his death it came into the possession of the Dukes of Mantua, at the taking of which city in 1630, it passed into the hands of Cardinal Pava. It is now in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at Turin. The dimensions are 4 ft. 2 in., by 2 ft. 5½ in. Thus its experiences during the last few centuries have been rather storm.
After mentioning Aeneas De Vico and Pignorius, Dr. Westcott gives us an extensive digest of the views of Athanasius Kircher, from whose plate in the [Page 150] “Oedipus Aegyptiacus” the photogravure at the commencement is taken. Kircher undoubtedly more nearly grasped the esoteric design of the tablet than any one except Eliphas Levi, and his attempted explanation marks him alike as a profound scholar and an advanced mystic, notwithstanding the great disadvantages with which he had to contend in the utter ignorance of Egyptology as it is now understood, which prevailed at the date at which he wrote.
Quotations and notes from Montfauçon, Shuckford, Warburton, Jablonski, Caylus, Banier, Mackenzie, Kenealy, and Winckelman follow the excerpts from Kircher, and we then come to the views of modern Egyptologists on the subject, notably those of Professor Le Page Renouf as expressed to Dr Westcott in person. The reasons they assign for doubting the authenticity of the Tablet are briefly these: — that they consider the execution of the work stamps it as a Roman production; that the hieroglyphics will not read so as to make sense that the running pattern with the masks would never have been employed by an Egyptian; and that some of the best known Egyptian deities are conspicuous by their absence. In answer to these attacks Dr. Westcott wisely remarks that “it is a gross absurdity to suppose that any man capable of designing such a tablet, over which immense energy, research, and knowledge must have been expended, to say nothing of the skill displayed in its execution, should have wasted his abilities in perpetrating a gigantic hoax; for that is, I suppose, what some modern writers mean who call it a ‘forgery’; but a forgery is a deceitful imitation. How it can be called an imitation considering that its special character is that of being different to any other Stelé or Tablet known is not clear; and how it can be a deceit is also incomprehensible, since it bears no name or date purporting to refer it to a definite author or period”.
On page 16 Dr. Westcott observes that the Four Genii of the Dead are conspicuous by their absence, but he seems to overlook their representation in figure 41 of the Limbus, where the sepulchral vases beneath the couch have, as usual, the heads of the Genii of the Dead.
A quotation, together with a plate from Levi’s “Histoire de la Magie”, follows this, together with a disquisition on the Taro, which has so much exercised occult students of late. Altogether the book is an extremely interesting production, and Dr. Westcott puts forward his own views on the subject with much clearness. [Page 151]
EARTH’S EARLIEST AGES: AND THEIR CONNECTION
WITH MODERN SPIRITUALISM AND THEOSOPHY
by C H Pember
Review by B.K.(?Bertram Keightley)
To meet with a book like this in the last quarter of the nineteenth century is like meeting a Pterodactyl strolling along the Row in the height of the season. But more careful perusal, while augmenting the reader’s wonder, mingles with it a certain respect for the writer’s courage and unflinching logic.
Granting his fundamental premiss — the verbal inspiration of the Bible — and accepting his first principle of interpretation, his argument is at least consistent, and is weakened by no half-hearted pandering to the facts of experience or the discoveries of science.
To quote Mr. Pember’s primary canon, he assumes —
I. “ That the first chapter of Genesis, equally with those which follow it, is, in its primary meaning, neither vision nor allegory, but plain history, and must, therefore, be accepted as a literal statement of facts”.
On this basis he gives an interpretation of Genesis, the main idea of which is the interposition of “The Interval” between the creation and the “Six Days” described in the text. During this period the earth was wholly given over to Satan and his host, and the “Six Days” creation was, according to Mr. Pember, the restoration and reformation of the world from this chaos of confusion.
But space forbids to follow the author into details, since one-half of his volume is devoted to the subject indicated in its sub-title, and this portion is of greater interest to readers of LUCIFER.
As an accurate and thorough student of the work of those he condemns, Mr. Pember stands unrivalled. He has both read and understood a very large part of the literature of Theosophy and Spiritualism. His quotations are fair and well chosen, his comments strictly moderate in tone and entirely free from any personal animus. And these traits are the more surprising since the author has certainly got the “Powers of the Air” very much on the brain. It is hardly even a rhetorical expression to say that it is his firm and unshakeable conviction, that all persons who do not hold the same views of Biblical criticism and Scriptural exegesis as Mr. Pember, are, to the extent of their difference from him, serving the Powers of Evil, the Personal Devil, the Antichrist, whose coming he expects in the very near future.
On this point only Mr. Pember does not seem to have the courage of his opinions; perhaps he does not see, or seeing does not realise, the inevitable conclusion to which his arguments point. But then he may, after all, take refuge in the famous credo quia absurdum.
The author, moreover, is sure to meet with scant sympathy even from the materialists to whom he is most nearly allied in thought. For he accepts, en bloc, the phenomena and wonders of spiritualism as of occultism, and never attempts even to question their reality. Meanwhile, he believes in the [Page 152] resurrection of the physical body after death, in a physical kingdom of Christ upon earth, and so on. Indeed, his views are the most remarkable compound of pure materialism and, wholesale acceptance of the psychic and so-called supernatural that have ever appeared in print.
To sum up, a few passages may be quoted to give an idea of the spirit of Mr. Pember’s treatment of this part of the subject, which at the same time will be the most telling criticism of his book to the minds of those who have grasped the ideas of which he speaks.
“… the existence, in all times of the world’s history, of persons with abnormal faculties, initiates of the great mysteries and depositors of the secrets of antiquity, has been affirmed by a testimony far too universal and persistent to admit of denial. . . . He who would be an adept must conform to the teaching of those demons, predicted leaders of the last apostasy, who forbid to marry, and command to abstain from meat”.
” We have never met with a single reported instance of a spirit entering the lower spheres with the glad tidings, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved”. On the contrary, among Spiritualists, as with Theosophists and Buddhists, sin can be expiated only by personal suffering. . . . “Sin”, shrieks the familiar of “ M. A. Oxon”, “is remediable by repentance and atonement and reparation personally wrought out in pain and shame, not by coward cries for mercy, and by feigned assent to statements which ought to create a shudder”.
Mr. Pember, therefore, believes in vicarious atonement in its crudest form ? He teaches that “repentance and faith” save man from the consequences of his actions !
After describing the “Perfect Way” as “an ecclesiastical compound of Heathenism” ( with a capital H) the author proceeds to expound the doctrine of reincarnation as therein set forth. Nothing can be fairer or more correct than this exposition, at the conclusion of which we read:
“Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Mahommedans . . . will become able to unite in a universal belief that sin is expiated by transmigrations and in the worship of the Great Goddess. The conception of a second league of Babel has been formed in the minds of Theosophists.
And even then, would not such a league be better than the sectarian wars, the religious persecutions, the tests and disabilities which still disfigure Christendom in the name of religion?
Further on the author refers to the occult axiom that “whereas God is I AM, or positive being, the Devil is NOT, and remarks:
“There is little doubt that the culminations of the Mysteries was the worship of Satan himself. . . It would appear, then, that from remote ages, probably from the time when the Nephilim [the fallen angels of Satan’s Host] were upon earth, there has existed a league with the Prince of Darkness, a Society of men consciously on the side of Satan, and against the Most High.
“The spells by which spirits may be summoned from the unseen are now known to all; and those unearthly forms which in past times were projected from the void only in the labyrinths, caverns, and subterranean chambers of the initiated, are now manifesting themselves in many a private drawing-room and parlour. Men have become enamoured of demons, and ere long will receive the Prince of the Demons as their God”.
Theosophy, says Mr. Pember, will become the creed of the intellectual and the educated, while Spiritualism influences the masses of mankind. And he traces the influences of Theosophy and Buddhism in “Broad-Churchism. Universalism, Comtism, Secularism, and Quietism” . Nay, even under the Temperance movement he spies the lurking serpent of esoteric teaching and guidance, and he cites letters from Christian friends complaining that these and other [Page 153] philanthropic movements are being swamped, and their periodicals occupied by Theosophists, who work on Buddhist principles.
In his concluding chapter, the author sums up a truly formidable array of evidences to prove that “the advocates of modern thought array themselves against every principle of the early revelations of the Divine Will”, apparently since they deny and repudiate the following “cosmic or universal laws” : —
I. The law of the Sabbath.
II. The headship of the man over the woman.
III. The institution of marriage i,e., they practise celibacy].
IV. The law of substitution, that life must atone for life, and that without shedding of blood there is no remission, as taught in type by animal sacrifices. Latter-day philosophers affect the utmost horror of such a salvation, and will have none of Christ.
V. The command to use the flesh of animals as food.
VI. The decree that “whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed”.
VII. The direction to multiply and replenish the earth.
The charge of disobedience to such laws as these every mystic will joyfully admit, with the cry, “Happy will it be for all things living when such laws shall no longer be obeyed by any living creature”.
These laws, the disobedience to which Mr. Pember so much regrets in the later schools, date from the dark past when man had to form his physical existence and root it upon the earth. If they are some of the early revelations of the “Divine Will”, that is no reason why they should rule mankind when its condition is changed and it is emerging from the darkness of Materialism, and losing, from its natural growth towards that Divine will, the desire for physical existence. The Mosaic laws were made by the Jehovah, the God of anger and cruelty. In spite of the strange inconsistency by which the followers of Jesus Christ, the teacher of a gentle and sublime faith, read in their churches these Mosaic laws, yet they are empty words from a past of bloodshed to the humane or religious man. The occultist professes even more than religion — he dares to avow himself a follower of the light, an aspirant towards knowledge, and one who is determined to live the noblest life knowledge can indicate. What to him are the laws of murder, of the shedding of blood, of marriage and giving in marriage ? It is not his aim to help people the earth, for he desires to lift himself and others above the craving for earth-life. He commits no murder, for all men are his brethren, and he no longer recognises the brutal law of the criminal, by which, when blood is shed, blood must be again shed to wash it away. He can have no interest either in the straightforward laws of the past, or the complicated modern law of the present — which permits of many things the Jews would have been ashamed of. The only law he recognises is that of charity and justice.
There is a charming page in the Introduction, a ring of genuine sorrow for the failure of certain missionaries in their cowardly attack upon the theosophical leaders, as refreshing as it is ludicrous. The Jeremiad runs in this wise: —
“It would seem that the attack of the Madras Christian College upon Madame Blavatsky has by no means checked the movement in which she has been so conspicuous an actor, and, apparently, the failure is nowhere more manifest than in Madras itself. It was confidently predicted that the High Priestess of Theosophy and Buddhism would not dare to show her face again in that city. Nevertheless she did so, and . . . received a warm welcome, not merely from the members of the Theosophical societies, but also from the members of the various colleges and from many other [Page 154] persons. She was conducted in procession from the shore to the Pancheappa Hall, and was there presented by the students with an address of sympathy and admiration, to which, among other signatures, were appended those of more than three hundred members of the very Christian College whose professors had assailed her’.’
And he adds, “Satan is now setting in motion intellectual forces which will be more than a match for the missionaries, if they persist in carrying on the warfare in the old way”.
Too much praise cannot be rendered to Mr. Pember for his fairness and impersonality. He writes as becomes a scholar and a gentleman, and though one may smile at his intellectual blindness and stand amazed at the mental capacity which can digest the views which he maintains, one cannot but respect his earnestness, his thoroughness, and his mastery of the subject.
ISAURE AND OTHER POEMS
by W. Steward Ross
Review by Anon
THE poem which gives its name to this volume of ringing verse is, as may easily be conjectured, the lament of a poet over his love torn from him by inexorable death.
A true instinct has taught the author that it is such hours of agony as this, such piercing of the heart, such fierce and burning torture, which reveal to the noble soul capable of intense suffering the inner truths and realities of life. To quote:
“ I stand on the cis-mortal,
And I gaze with ‘wildered eye,
To the mists of the trans-mortal,
And the signs called Live and Die.
Let me dream in this cis-mortal,
And the noblest dream I can.
Let me dream far from the formulae,
And I may dream more nigh
To the sable shore of mystery,
And the signs of Live and Die.”
Some passages in this opening poem are instinct with the breath of mysticism, and rouse a keen desire that Mr. Stewart Ross had become acquainted, in that period of his life when this book was written, with the wider and grander view of life as a whole, of its purpose and meaning, of its laws and its realities, which occultism affords to a mind capable of grasping them.
Surely the man who could write:
“For death and life are really one”.
“For the mystic Part is gathered
Unto the mystic Whole.
And the vague lines of non-Being
Are scribbled o’er thy soul.” [Page 155]
must have the power to sense the keener air of the subtle life and grasp its glorious promise.
What pilgrim of the path has not felt:
“Hard-paced the iron years have gone
Over my head since then;
I’ve haunted in a waking dream
The paths of living men;
But of this world my kingdom’s not,
Like him of Galilee,
For I grasp hands they cannot feel,
See forms they cannot see.”
In “Leonore: A Lay of Dipsomania”, one of the most terrible sides of human life is depicted with a vividness which tortures the reader, and flings a gloom on the inexorable sweep of life, fitly in keeping with the vision pictured in “A Nightmare”. A mystic, struggling with the negations of modern science, battling to assert the intuitive knowledge of his true self against its captious intellectualisms, speaks through this picture of desolation and decay, protesting against the disappearance of all that is great and valuable in life under the waves of oblivion.
But no man in whom the spark of true poetic inspiration burns can ever in the depths of his own heart accept the lifeless, empty, unreal phantom which materialism offers as the aim, the purpose, the fulfilment of life. We hope, therefore, that Mr. Stewart Ross will some day give us a volume of poetry in which his true power and insight will find expression, and which will enroll his name on the list of those who have given new life to men.
One cannot fill a vacuum from within itself. — L.S.C.
Many a man will follow a misleader. — L.S.C.
It is not necessary for truth to put on boxing-gloves.— L.S.C.
You cannot build a temple of truth by hammering dead stones. Its foundations must precipitate themselves like crystals from the solution of life. — L.S.C.
When a certain point is reached pain becomes its own anodyne. — L.S.C.
Some pluck the fruits of the tree (of knowledge) to crown themselves therewith, instead of plucking them to eat. — L.S.C. [Page 156]