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X. CEREMONIAL MAGIC








Source: Light of Egypt


The above title has been selected, chiefly, because, in most
works treating upon magic we find it wrongly used, and therefore,
take the opportunity of explaining the matter, for, there were no
such terms in the vocabulary of the ancient Magi.

It is unfortunate, that, words of ancient origin are not more
carefully used, and that, we should attach so many different
meanings to the same word. The terms "ceremony" and "ceremonial"
are nothing more nor less than, what that eminent critic, John
Ruskin, would designate as "bastards of ignoble origin," which,
somehow or another, have usurped the places of "rite" and
"ritual." The word "rite" has descended to us from the Latin
"ritus" of our Roman ancestors, and they received it from the
more ancient "riti" of the Sanskrit, the Greek equivalent of
which is "reo," and means the method or order of service to the
gods, whereas, "ceremony" may mean anything and everything, from
the terms of a brutal prize fight to the conduct of divine
service within the church. But, no such chameleon-like definition
or construction can properly be placed upon the word "rite," for
it means distinctly, if it means anything at all, the serious
usage and sacred method of conducting service in honor of the
gods, or of superiors, and requires the attendance of the prophet
or priest, or some one duly qualified to fulfill such sacred
functions for the time being. The ritual of magic, then, is the
correct title of this present study, and as such, we shall,
henceforth, term it as we proceed with the course.

Man is especially, and above all creatures, an organizing force,
and when to this fact, we add the most interior and powerful of
his sentimental instincts--veneration for the powers that be, and
for the higher, invisible forces of Nature, his "religiosity," as
it has been aptly termed, we cannot wonder that, the earliest
races of which we possess any record are chiefly distinguished
for their imposing and elaborate religious rites. In fact, it is
to the stupendous temples and a colossal sacerdotalism, that, we
are indebted for nine-tenths of the relics and records which we
possess of them. So true is this that, from what we have been
able to discover, we are quite justified in asserting that the
ancient races were, above all other things, a profoundly
religious people. The temple was the center around which revolved
all their genius and art, and the sacred edifice became their
grandest achievement in architecture, and its high priest the
most powerful individual in the state. In fact, it was in
consequence of the real power invested in such sacred office that
it was so intimately connected with the throne, and why royalty
so frequently belonged to the priesthood or exercised priestly
functions. And there can be no real doubt, but that, amongst the
pastoral and more spiritual races of Earth's earliest
inhabitants, the priest, by reason of his superior wisdom, was
the first law-giver; and, by virtue of his sanctity of person and
elevation of mind became their first, primitive king, a
patriarchal monarch, whose scepter and symbol of power was the
shepherd's peaceful crook; just as among the ruder nomads of the
inhospitable North, we find the greatest hunters invested with
the dignity of chief, whose significant symbol and scepter of
royalty, upon their Nimrod thrones, was the trusty, successful
spear. And the times in which we live have bad their full effect
upon these symbols, so significant of rule. The monarch has
transformed the spear into the less harmful mace, while the
Church has added an inch of iron to the crook. Therefore, the
former has become less war-like, and the latter less peaceful,
and, verily, in actual life we find them so,

The patriarchal sire, head of the tribal household, was the
original priest; and the hearthstone the first altar around which
the family rites were performed; and from this pure and primitive
original have been evolved, through progressive ages, the stately
temple and the sacred person of the despotic pontiff; from the
sincere prayer the pure aspirations of the human heart and the
joyous offerings of fruits and flowers to the invisible powers
around them; and from the souls of their beloved ancestors has
arisen the costly and complicated ritual of theology. And, if the
theologians of to-day really knew the lost, secret meaning of
their complicated rituals, and the unseen powers lying behind
their external symbols, their anxieties for the continued life of
their dying creeds would be turned to new hopes and faith, which
could be demonstrated to their equally blind followers; that,
that which they were teaching they knew, and could practically
use the knowledge given forth in their sanctuaries; and, instead
of offering up their supplications to an imaginary, personal
Deity, their words, rites, and ceremonies, would take on the form
and power that such should command, and they would become truly,
what their title really means, a doctor of the soul. Then could
they, intelligently, lead and direct the souls of their followers
to the path of Christ (Truth), which leads up to salvation; not a
vicarious atonement, but gaining the at-one-ment through the
individual soul's development to a conscious relation, to that
Divine spirit, we call God, where it can say "I know."

Out of those simple gifts, which were the spontaneous offerings
of loving remembrance and unselfish charity, have grown the
prayers, penances, sacrifices, and servile worship, of
sacerdotalism. Out of the paternal consideration and love of the
aged sire has evolved the haughty, chilling pride of the selfish,
isolated priest, and which reflects its baneful influence upon
the worshipers at their feet. They have also changed their once
sacred, faithful, and reverent, obedience into suspicion and
distrust, and with the educated to utter disgust. The light has
been extinguished, and priest and people alike are groping about
in darkness.

It is strange, yea, passing strange, the amount of human
ignorance and folly that is revealed. When we look upon this
picture and then upon that, verily we cannot help but ask the
question, is mankind really progressing? We know that it is; we
are keenly alive to the truth that the Anthem of Creation sounds
out "Excelsior"--"move on," but how, and in what way
(SPIRITUALLY) we fail to comprehend. The cyclic development of
the human soul is an inscrutable mystery.

All the considerations above presented must be thoroughly weighed
and understood in order to arrive at the true value of "the dogma
and ritual of high magic," as Eliphas Levi terms it; because,
amid the vast array of tinselled drapery, the outcome of man's
vain conceit and bombastic pride, we shall find very little that
can be considered as vital and really essential to the rites of
magic. The show, the drapery, the priestly ornaments and
instruments, are to the really spiritual Occultist, but, as
sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. That they had, and still
have, their legitimate uses, is true, but these uses do not
concern magic, per se, nor its manifold powers. They awed the
popular mind, and impressed upon the masses a due reverence for
the powers that be. They were instrumental in holding the
untrained passions of the common herd in check, by a wholesome
fear of summary vengeance from the gods, so that this pageantry
of magic, the outward priestly show, was more of a politic
development than a spiritual necessity, an astute but,
philosophical method of enabling the educated few to govern the
uneducated many. And it was only when the educational and
initiatory rites of the temple became corrupt, and the priest
became the persecuting ally of the king--when, in real fact, the
priest lost his spirituality in the desire for temporal power and
place, that the people began to disbelieve his professions and
rebel against his tyrannical control.

The powers that be, are now wielding their sword of justice, and
unfurling the knowledge of freedom and truth to the aspiring mind
of man. He has begun to feel his bondage and the yoke of
oppression. The words of promise and love, instead of lifting him
up to the God he has been taught to worship, bow him down in
slavish obedience to his priest. Mankind cannot remain in this
mental and spiritual darkness much longer. Already I see the
break of day, the dawn of a new life, a new religion; or, rather,
the re-establishing of the true, which is as old as Time itself.
There is but One Law, One Principle, One Word, One Truth and One
God.

The original requirements for the office of priest, and the rites
of magic, were, as shown, a primitive, i.e., pure mind; one that
had outgrown the lusts and passions of youth, a person of
responsibility and experience; and even to this day the priest of
the Roman Church is called by the familiar title of "father." And
as Nature does not alter her laws and requirements in obedience
to the moral development of the race, we may rest assured that
the same requirements, of ten thousand years ago, still hold good
to-day. You may enter your magic circle, drawn with prescribed
rites, and you may intone your consecrations and chant your
incantations; you may burn your incense in the brazen censer and
pose in your flowing, priestly robes; you may bear the sacred
pentacles of the spirit upon your breast and wave the magic sword
to the four quarters of the heavens; yea, you may even do
more--you may burn the secret sigil of the objurant spirit; and
yell your conjurations and exorcisms till you are black in the
face; but all in vain, my friend--all in vain. It will prove
nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit unless the inward self,
the soul, interblends with the outward Word, and contacting by
its own dynamic intensity-- the elemental vibrations of
Nature--arouses these spiritual forces to the extent of
responding to your call. When this can be done, but not until
then, will your magical incantations have any effect upon the
voiceless air. Not the priestly robes nor magic sword, not the
incantations, WRITTEN WORD, nor mystic circle, can produce
Nature's response to Occult rite; but the fire of the inward
spirit, the mental realization of each word and mystic sign,
combined with the conscious knowledge of your own Deific
powers--this, and this only, creates Nature's true magician.

Who and where can such be found? Are they so few that the echo
answers back "Where and who?" Yet, there are many such upon the
Earth at the present time, but the present mental conditions
forbid them making their identity known. They would not be
recognized and accepted as the TRUE teachers, but reviled and
persecuted and dubbed as insane. But silently, they are sowing
the seed of truth that will spring up and bear fruit, where and
when least expected.

Because evil is so active, truth is not lying dormant. The spirit
of God, that Divine spark of Deity within every human soul, never
sleeps, never rests. "On and upward" is its cry. "Omnia vincit
veritas."

The grand sublimity of man's conception of at-one with the
Infinite Father, at-one with the limitless universe of being,
at-one with, and inheriting, all the sacred rights and
inalienable prerogatives of the ineffable Adonai of the deathless
soul, is the only test of man's qualification for the holy
office; for, as Bulwer Lytton has truthfully said, "the loving
throb of one great HUMAN HEART will baffle more fiends than all
the magicians' lore." So it is with the sacred ritual. One single
aspirational thought, clearly defined, outweighs all the priestly
trappings that the world has ever seen.

The success of all incarnations depends upon the complete unison
of VOICE and MIND, the interblend of which, produces the dynamic
intonation, that chords with the inward rhythmic vibrations of
the soul. Once this magical, dynamic, vibration is produced,
there immediately springs into being the whole elemental world
belonging thereto, by correspondence. Vocalists who hold their
audiences spellbound do so by virtue of the magical vibrations
they produce, and are in reality practical, even though
unconscious, magicians. The same power, to a degree, lies in the
voice when speaking, the graceful movement of the hand when
obeying the will, and the eye rays forth the same dynamic power
and becomes magical in its effects.

These powers are exercised more upon the physical plane, and no
better illustration can be given, than, the power man is able to
exert over the animal when gazing into its eyes.

Here, as well as in incantations and invocations, within the
power of the will, lies the success or failure.

At this point it may be asked, what, then, is the use of magical
rites, of symbols and priestly robes? We answer, in themselves
alone, nothing, absolutely nothing, except the facility and

convenience we derive from system, order and a code of procedure.
To this may be added the mental force and enthusiasm of soul
which such things inspire, just as men and women may feel more
dignified, artistic, and refined, when dressed in accordance with
their ideas. So may the average priest feel more priestly, holy;
and consequently, more powerful mentally; when arrayed in the
robes of his office and surrounded by the outward symbols of his
power and functions. But, in themselves alone, there is not, nor
can there be, any real virtue. The same may be said of the
incantations. The words used in their composition are the
hieroglyphics of mystical ideas. Therefore, the correct
pronunciation of the words or the grammatical construction of a
sentence is nothing, if the underlying idea is conceived in the
mind and responded to by the soul. Will and motive form the basis
of true magic.

One word more and we have completed our subject. Magic swords,
rings, pentacles, and wands, may, and often are powerful magical
agents in the hands of the magician, by virtue of the power, or
charm, that is invested within them when properly prepared; but
apart from such preparation, by those who know, they are as
powerless as unintelligible incantations.

All the foregoing are aids, but if physical manifestations of
magical forces be required, there must always be present the
necessary vital, magnetic pabulum, by means of which such
phenomena are made to transpire; and in every case, to be
successful, the assistance of a good natural magician, or seer,
is necessary; for without this essential element the whole art,
in its higher aspects, becomes abortive.





Next: XI. THE MAGIC WAND

Previous: IX. TALISMANS



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