Eliphas Levi

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Eliphas Levi 1874
'Father, forgive them,' said Jesus, 'for they know not what they do' -- People of good sense whoever you may be, I will add, do not listen to them, for they know not what they say.

Eliphas Lévi (February 8, 1810May 31, 1875), born Alphonse Louis Constant, was a French occult author and magician. "Eliphas Lévi," the name under which he published his books, was his attempt to translate or transliterate his given names "Alphonse Louis" into Hebrew.

Quotes[edit]

The History Of Magic (1860)[edit]

(Text online)

  • Magic has been confounded too long with the jugglery of mountebanks, the hallucinations of disordered minds and the crimes of certain unusual malefactors. There are otherwise many who would promptly explain Magic as the art of producing effects in the absence of causes; and on the strength of such a definition it will be said by ordinary people — with the good sense which characterises the ordinary, in the midst of much injustice — that Magic is an absurdity. (Introduction)
  • It can have no analogy in fact with the descriptions of those who know nothing of the subject; furthermore, it is not to be represented as this or that by any person whomsoever: it is that which it is, drawing from itself only, even as mathematics do, for it is the exact and absolute science of Nature and her laws. (Introduction)
  • Magic is the science of the ancient magi; and the Christian religion, which silenced the counterfeit oracles and put a stop to the illusions of false gods, does, this notwithstanding, revere those mystic kings who came from the East, led by a star, to adore the Saviour of the world in His cradle. They are elevated by tradition to the rank of kings, because magical initiation constitutes a true royalty; because also the great art of the magi is characterised by all adepts as the Royal Art, as the Holy Kingdom — Sanctum Regnum. The star which conducted the pilgrims is the same Burning Star which is met with in all initiations. For alchemists it is the sign of the quintessence, for magicians it is the Great Arcanum, for Kabalists the sacred pentagram. (Introduction)
  • The Great Work is the attainment of that middle point in which equilibrating force abides. Furthermore, the reactions of equilibrated force do everywhere conserve universal life by the perpetual motion of birth and death. It is for this reason that the philosophers have compared their gold to the sun. For the same reason that same gold cures all diseases of the soul and communicates immortality. (p. 500)
  • Those who have found this middle point are true and wonderworking adepts of science and reason. They are masters of the wealth of worlds, confidants and friends of the princes of heaven itself, and Nature obeys them because they will what is willed by the law which is the motive power of Nature. It is this which the Saviour of the world spoke of as the Kingdom of Heaven; this also is the Sanctum Regnum of the Holy Kabalah. It is the Crown and Ring of Solomon ; it is the Sceptre of Joseph which the stars obeyed in heaven and the harvests on earth. (p.501)


The Great Secret: or Occultism Unveiled[edit]

(Originally written in 1868. Published in French in 1898. Published in English in 1975.) ISBN 0-87728-938-7

  • Happy in the time of Jesus were those who wept! Happy, now, are those who can laugh, because laughter is the attribute of man, as the great prophet of the Renaissance, Rabelais, said. Laughter is forbearance; laughter is philosophy. The heavens clear when they laugh, and the great secret of divine omnipotence resides in an eternal smile!
    • Book Two: The Royal Mystery or the Art of Subduing the Powers, Chapter V: The Outer Darkness
  • We want to be clearly understood on this point. We are not trying to say that signs and rites are a big piece of humbug. They would be such if people did not need them; but we have to recognize that everyone has not the same degree of intelligence. Children have always had fairy stories told to them, and these stories will continue to be told as long as there are nurses and mothers. Children have faith and this is what saves them. Imagine a child of seven saying: 'I do not want to accept anything I cannot understand.' What could one teach such a monster? Accept what your teachers tell you to begin with, my fine fellow, then study it and, if you are not an idiot, you will understand it by-and-by.
    • Book Two: The Royal Mystery or the Art of Subduing the Powers, Chapter XI: The Arcana of Solomon's Ring
  • Progress is a possibility for the animal: it can be broken in, tamed and trained; but it is not a possibility for the fool, because the fool thinks he has nothing to learn. It is his place to dictate to others and put them right, and so it is impossible to reason with him. He will laugh you to scorn in saying that what he does not understand is not a meaningful proposition. 'Why don't I understand it, then?', he asks you, with marvellous impudence. To tell him it is because he is a fool would only be taken as an insult, so there is nothing you can say in reply. Everybody else sees it quite clearly, but he will never realize it.

    Here then, at the outset, is a potent secret which is inaccessible to the majority of people; a secret which they will never guess and which it would be useless to tell them: the secret of their own stupidity.
    • Book Two: The Royal Mystery or the Art of Subduing the Powers, Chapter XII: The Terrible Secret
  • 'Father, forgive them,' said Jesus, 'for they know not what they do' -- People of good sense whoever you may be, I will add, do not listen to them, for they know not what they say.
    • Book Two: The Royal Mystery or the Art of Subduing the Powers, Chapter XII: The Terrible Secret


Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (1856)[edit]

"The sign of the Cross adopted by the Christians does not belong exclusively to them. It is kabalistic, and represents the oppositions and quaternary equilibrium of the elements. We see by the occult verse of the Pater, to which we have called attention in another work, that there were originally two ways of making it, or, at least, two very different formulas to express its meaning — one reserved for priests and initiates; the other given to neophytes and the profane. Thus, for example, the initiate, carrying his hand to his forehead, said: To thee; then he added, belong; and continued, while carrying his hand to the breast — the kingdom; then, to the left shoulder — justice; to the right shoulder — and mercy. Then he joined the two hands, adding: throughout the generating cycles: 'Tibi sunt Malchut, et Geburah et Chassed per AEonas' — a sign of the Cross, absolutely and magnificently kabalistic, which the profanations of Gnosticism made the militant and official Church completely lose.

  • Bloody and hideous facts; acts of revolting superstition, arrests, and executions of stupid ferocity. "Burn every body!" the Inquisition seemed to say — God will easily sort out His own! Poor fools, hysterical women, and idiots were roasted alive, without mercy, for the crime of "magic." But, at the same time, how many great culprits escaped this unjust and sanguinary justice! This is what Bodin makes us fully appreciate.
    • Quoted in Isis Unveiled, by H.P. Blavatsky, Vol. II, Chapter III (1877)


Miscellaneous Quotes On the Subjects of Magic and Magicians[edit]

Lévi's works are filled with various definitions for magic and the magician:

Magic

  • "Magic is the traditional science of the secrets of Nature which has been transmitted to us from the Magi."[1]
  • "THE GREAT Magical Agent, by us termed the Astral Light, by others the soul of the earth, and designated by old chemists under the names of Azoth and MAGNESIA, this occult, unique and indubitable force, is the key of all empire, the secret of all power. It is the winged dragon of Medea, the serpent of the Edenic Mystery; it is the universal glass of visions, [...] To have control of the Great Magical Agent there are two operations necessary – to concentrate and project, or, in other words, to fix and to move."[2]
  • I speak of the imagination, which the Kabalists term the DIAPHANE or TRANSLUCID. Imagination, in effect, is like the soul's eye; therein forms are outlined and preserved; thereby we behold the reflections of the invisible world; it is the glass of visions and the apparatus of magical life. By its intervention we heal diseases, modify the seasons, warn off death from the living and raise the dead to life, because it is the imagination which exalts will and gives it power over the Universal Agent.[3]
  • The force of itself is blind, but can be directed by the will of man and is influenced by prevailing opinions. This universal fluid [the Astral Light] – if we decide to regard it as a fluid – being the common medium of all nervous organisms and the vehicle of all sensitive vibrations, establishes an actual physical solidarity between impressionable persons, and transmits from one to another the impressions of imagination and of thought."[4]
  • [...] the hieroglyphic work of Hermes, being the Tarot or Book of Thoth."[5]
  • "Magic, or rather magical power, comprehends two things, a science and a force: without the force the science is nothing, or rather it is a danger."[6]
  • "The ceremonies being, as we have said, artificial methods for creating a habit of will, become unnecessary when the habit is confirmed."[7]
  • "Magic is an instrument of divine goodness or demoniac pride, but it is the annihilation of earthly joys and the pleasures of mortal life."[8]
  • "There is a true and a false science, a Divine and an Infernal Magic – in other words, one which is delusive and tenebrous."[9]
  • "Necromancy, and Goetia, which is Evil Magic, do produce such shells and demons, apparitions of deceit."[10]
  • "In Black Magic, the Devil means the employment of the Grand Magical Agent for a wicked purpose by a perverted Will."[11]
  • "To practice magic is to be a quack; to know magic is to be a sage."
  • "The science of spirits is therefore summed up entirely in the science of Jesus Christ. Angels and demons are purely hypothetical or legendary beings; let them remain in poetry, they cannot belong to science."[12]*"Magic, the mere name became a crime and the common hatred was formulated in this sentence: “Magicians to the flames!” – as it was shouted some centuries earlier: “To the lions with the Christians!"[13]
  • "Magic is the divinity of man conquered by science in union with faith; the true Magi are Men-Gods, in virtue of their intimate union with the divine principle."[14]
  • "ALL religions have preserved the remembrance of a primitive book, written in hieroglyphs by the sages of the earliest epoch of the world. [...] The tradition in question rests altogether on the one dogma of Magic: the visible is for us the proportional measure of the invisible."[15]

Magician

  • "He knows the significance of all symbolisms [sic] and of all religions; he dares to practise or abstain from them without hypocrisy and without impiety; and he is silent upon the one dogma of supreme initiation. He knows the existence and nature of the Great Magical Agent; he dares perform the acts and give utterance to the words which make it subject to human will, and he is silent upon the mysteries of the Great Arcanum."[16]
  • "I will go further and affirm that magical circles and magnetic currents establish themselves, and have an influence, according to fatal laws, upon those on whom they can act. [...] The man who is eccentric in his genius is one who attempts to form a circle by combating the central attractive force of established chains and currents."[17]
  • "In the “Ritual” it will be our task to estimate the sequence of truly magical ceremonies and evocations which constitute the great work of vocation under the name of the Exercises Of St. Ignatius."[18]
  • "The sorcerer and sorceress were almost invariably a species of human toad, swollen with long-enduring rancours. They were poor, repulsed by all and consequently full of hatred. The fear which they inspired was their consolation and their revenge; poisoned themselves by a society of which they had experienced nothing but the rebuffs and the vices, they poisoned in their turn all those who were weak enough to fear them, and avenged upon beauty and youth their accursed old age and their atrocious ugliness."[19]
  • The most important magical instruments are the wand, the sword, the lamp, the chalice, the altar and the tripod. In the operations of Transcendental and Divine Magic, the lamp, wand and chalice are used; in the works of Black Magic, the wand is replaced by the sword and the lamp by the candle of Cardan."[20]
  • "The Magus must have also another avocation than that of magician. Magic is not a trade."[21]
  • "To live like an anchorite, without the superstitious ignorance which leads him to such a course of life, this is wisdom indeed, and power is the reward."[22]
  • "He looks on the wicked as invalids whom one must pity and cure; the world, with its errors and vices, is to him God's hospital, and he wishes to serve in it."
  • "They are without fears and without desires, dominated by no falsehood, sharing no error, loving without illusion, suffering without impatience, reposing in the quietude of eternal thought... a Magus cannot be ignorant, for magic implies superiority, mastership, majority, and majority signifies emancipation by knowledge. The Magus welcomes pleasure, accepts wealth, deserves honour, but is never the slave of one of them; he knows how to be poor, to abstain, and to suffer; he endures oblivion willingly because he is lord of his own happiness, and expects or fears nothing from the caprice of fortune. He can love without being beloved; he can create imperishable treasures, and exalt himself above the level of honours or the prizes of the lottery. He possesses that which he seeks, namely, profound peace. He regrets nothing which must end, but remembers with satisfaction that he has met with good in all. His hope is a certitude, for he knows that good is eternal and evil transitory. He enjoys solitude, but does not fly the society of man; he is a child with children, joyous with the young, staid with the old, patient with the foolish, happy with the wise. He smiles with all who smile, and mourns with all who weep; applauding strength, he is yet indulgent to weakness; offending no one, he has himself no need to pardon, for he never thinks himself offended; he pities those who misconceive him, and seeks an opportunity to serve them; by the force of kindness only does he avenge himself on the ungrateful..."
  • "Judge not; speak hardly at all; love and act."
  • "He whom we behold perishing poor and abandoned is Cornelius Agrippa, less of a magician than any, though the vulgar persist in regarding him as a more potent sorcerer than all."[23]
  • "There was much talk in the last century about an adept accused of charlatanism, who was termed in his lifetime the divine Cagliostro. It is known that he practised evocations and that in this art he was surpassed only by the illuminated Schroepffer."[24]


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  1. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p.3
  2. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 52
  3. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 6
  4. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 56
  5. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 12
  6. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, Introduction p. 11
  7. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part II: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 53
  8. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 53
  9. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 3
  10. The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum, Eliphas Levi, Translated by W. Wynn Westcott, London, George Redway, 1896, p. 51.
  11. The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum, Eliphas Levi, Translated by W. Wynn Westcott, London, George Redway, 1896, p. 60.
  12. La Science des Esprits, Eliphas Levi, Paris, Germer Baillière, Libraire-éditeur, 1865, p. 6.
  13. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, Introduction p. 2
  14. Lévi, Éliphas; Blavatsky, H. P. (2007). Paradoxes of the Highest Science. Wildside Press LLC. p. 15. ISBN 9781434401069. 
  15. Friedrich Nietzsche, H.L. Mencken (Translator), The Anti-Christ, Chicago, Sharp Press, 1999, p. 144.</
  16. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 44
  17. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 54
  18. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, pp. 53-54
  19. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 89
  20. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part II: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 48
  21. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part II: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, p. 52
  22. The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum, Eliphas Levi, Translated by W. Wynn Westcott, London, George Redway, 1896, p. 44.
  23. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, Introduction p. 5
  24. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magi Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), Translated by A. E. Waite, England, Rider & Company, England, 1896, Introduction p. 72