The Magical Evolution of Appollonius of Tyana
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tioning neither the name the quality, nor the residence of this lady, whom I soon recognized as an initiate, not precisely of the first degree, but of a very high one. We had several long conversations, in the course of which she constantly insisted upon the necessity of practical experiments to complete initiation. She showed me a collection of magical robes and instruments, even lent me some curious books that I needed; in short, she decided to try at her house the experiment of a complete evocation, for which I prepared myself during twenty-one days, by scrupulously observing the practices indicated in the XIIIth chapter of the “Ritual.”
All was ready by the 24th of July; our purpose was to evoke the phantom of the Divine Apollonius and interrogate him as to two secrets, of which one concerned myself, and the other interested this lady. She had at first intended to assist at the evocation, with an intimate friend; but at the last moment, this lady’s courage failed, and, as three persons, or one, are strictly required for magical rites, I was left alone. The cabinet prepared for the evocation was arranged in the small tower, four concave mirrors were properly disposed, and there was a sort of altar, whose white marble top was surrounded by a chain of magnetized iron. Upon the white marble was chiselled and gilded the sign of the pentagram; and the same sign was traced in different colors upon a fresh white lambskin, which was spread under the altar. In the centre of the marble slab, there was a little brazier of copper, containing charcoal of elm and laurel wood; another brazier was placed before me, on a tripod. I was clothed in a white robe, something like those used by our Catholic priests, but longer and more full, and I wore upon my head a crown of verbena leaves interwoven in a golden chain. In one hand I held a naked sword, and in another the Ritual. I lighted the two fires, with the substances requisite and prepared, and I began at first in a low voice, then louder by degrees, the invocations of the Ritual. The smoke spread, the flame flickered and made to dance all the objects it lighted, then went out. The smoke rose white and slow from the marble altar. It seemed as if I had detected a slight shock of earthquake, my ears rang and my heart beat rapidly. I added some twigs and perfumes to the braziers, and when the flame rose, I saw distinctly, before the altar, a human figure, larger than life size, which decomposed and melted away. I recommenced the evocations, and placed myself in a circle which I had traced in advance of the ceremony between the altar and the tripod; I saw then the disc of the mirror facing me, and which was behind the altar becoming illuminated by degrees, and a whitish form there developed itself, enlarging and seeming to approach, little by little. I called three times upon Apollonius, at the same time closing my eyes; and, when I re-opened them a man was before me, completely enveloped in a shroud, which seemed to me rather gray than white; his face was thin, sad and beardless, which did not seem to convey to me the idea which I had previously formed of Apollonius. I experienced a sensation of extraordinary cold, and when I opened my mouth to question the phantom, it was impossible for me to articulate a sound. I then put my hand upon the sign of the Pentagram, and I directed towards him the point of the sword, commanding him mentally by that sign, not to frighten me but to obey. Then the form became confused, and suddenly disappeared. I commanded it to reappear; upon which I felt it pass near me, like a breath, and something having touched the hand which touched the sword, I felt my arm instantly stiffened, as far as the shoulder. I thought I understood that this sword offended the spirit, and I planted it by the point in the circle near me. The human figure then re-appeared, but I felt such a weakness in my limbs, and such exhaustion seize hold of me, that I took a couple of steps to seat myself. As soon as I was in my chair, I fell into a profound slumber, accompanied by dreams, of which, upon returning to myself, I had only a vague and confused remembrance. For several days my arm was stiff and painful. The apparition had not spoken to me, but it seemed that the questions which I wished to ask it, answered themselves in my mind. To that of the lady, an interior voice replied in me, “Dead!” (it concerned a man of whom she wished to have some intelligence). As to myself I wished to know, if reconciliation and pardon would be possible between two persons, of whom I thought, and the same interior echo pitilessly answered, “Dead!” I relate these facts exactly as they happened, not forcing them upon the faith of any one. The effect of this first experiment upon me, was something inexplicable. I was no longer the same man. . . .
I twice repeated in the course of a few days, the same experiment. The result of these two other evocations, was to reveal to me two cabalistic secrets, which might, if they were known by everyone, change in a short time the foundations and laws of the whole society. . . . I will not explain by what physiological laws, I saw and touched; I simply assert, that I did see and touch, that I saw clearly and distinctly, without dreaming, and that is enough to prove the efficacy of magic ceremonies. . . .
I will not close this chapter without noticing the curious belief of certain Cabalists, who distinguish apparent from real death, and think that they seldom occur simultaneously. According to their story, the greatest part of persons buried are alive, and many others, whom we think living, are, in fact, dead. Incurable insanity, for instance, would be, according to them, an incomplete but real death, which leaves the earthly body under the exclusive instinctive control of the astral or sidereal body. When the human soul experiences a shock too violent for it to bear, it would separate itself from the body and leave in its place the animal soul, or in other words, the astral body, which makes of human wreck something in one sense less living than even an animal. Dead persons of this kind can be easily recognized by the complete extinction of the affectional and moral senses; they are not bad, they are not good; they are dead. These beings, who are the poisonous mushrooms of the human species, absorb as much as they can the vitality of the living; that is why their approach paralyzes the soul, and sends a chill to the heart. These corpse-like beings prove all that has ever been said of the vampires, those dreadful creatures who rise at night and suck the blood from the healthy bodies of sleeping persons. Are there not some beings in whose presence one feels less intelligent, less good, often even less honest? Does not their approach quench all faith and enthusiasm, and do they not bind you to them by your weaknesses, and slave you by your evil inclinations, and make you gradually lose all moral sense in a constant torture?
These are the dead whom we take for the living persons; these are the vampires whom we mistake for friends!
So little is known in modern times of Ancient Magic, its meaning, history, capabilities, literature, adepts and results, that I cannot allow what precedes to go out, without a few words of explanation. The ceremonies and paraphernalia so minutely described by Lévi, are calculated and were intended to deceive the superficial reader. Forced by an irresistible impulse to write what he knew, but fearing to be dangerously explicit, in this instance, as everywhere throughout his works, he magnifies unimportant details and slurs over things of greater moment. True, Oriental Cabalists need no preparation, no costumes, apparatus, coronets or war-like weapons: these appertain to the Jewish Cabala, which bears the same relation to its simple Chaldaean prototype as the ceremonious observances of the Romish Church to the simple worship of Christ and his apostles. In the hands of the true adept of the East, a simple wand of bamboo with seven joints, supplemented by their ineffable wisdom and indomitable will-power, suffices to evoke spirits and produce the miracles authenticated by the testimony of a cloud of unprejudiced witnesses. At this séance of Lévi’s, upon the reappearance of the phantom, the daring investigator saw and heard things, which in his account of the first trial, are wholly suppressed, and in that of the others merely hinted at. I know this from authorities which cannot be questioned.
Suppose that the criticasters of the “Banner” and the “ir-Religio,” who, every week, occupy themselves with shooting off their little pop-guns at the Elementary Spirits evoked in their literature by Colonel Olcott and myself, should try their hand at some of the simplest ceremonies given to neophytes, to sharpen their wisdom-teeth upon, before undertaking to amuse and instruct the world with their wit and wisdom. Shoot away, good friends, you amuse yourselves and hurt nobody else.