Religion holds a greater place among the realities of life than those who do without religion—or pretend to do without it—affect to believe. All ideas that raise man above the animal—moral love, devotion, honour—are sentiments essentially religious. The cult of the fatherland and of the family, fidelity to an oath and to memory, are things which humanity will never abjure without degrading itself utterly, and which could never exist without the belief in something greater than mortal life, with all its vicissitudes, its ignorance and its misery.
Considered in this light, it is nothing but the need of infinite idealism, a need which justifies every aspiration for progress, which inspires every devotion, which alone prevents virtue and honour from being mere words, serving to exploit the vanity of the weak and the foolish to the profit of the strong and the clever.
The essence of the object of religion is mystery, since faith begins with the unknown, abandoning the rest to the investigations of science. Doubt is, moreover, the mortal enemy of faith ; faith feels that the intervention of the divine being is necessary to fill the abyss which separates the finite from infinite, and it affirms this intervention with all the warmth of its heart, with all the docility of its intelligence.
The true revealed religion is the hierarchical and traditional religion, which affirms itself absolutely, above human discussion, by communion in faith, hope and charity.
The divine ideal of the ancient world made the civilization which came to an end, and one must not despair of seeing the god of our barbarous fathers become the devil of our more enlightened children. One makes devils with cast-off gods, and Satan is only so incoherent and formless because he is made up of all the rags of ancient theogenies. He is the sphinx without a secret, the riddle without an answer, the mystery without truth, the absolute without reality and without light.
Every day has furnished a new revelation, every new king of the world has been for a day the image and the incarnation of God ! Sublime dream which explains the mysteries of India, and justifies all symbolisms !
We wait for the worship of the bride and of the mother ; we shall aspire to the wedding of the New Covenant.
Then the poor, the blind, the outlaws of the old world will be invited to the feast, and will receive a wedding garment. They will gaze the one upon the other with inexpressible tenderness and a smile that is ineffable because they have wept so long.
Psyche made divine by her torments, became the bride of Eros ; Adonis, raised form death, found again his Venus in Olympus ; Job, victorious over evil, recovered more than he had lost.
The elect are those who dare ; woe to the timid !
Glory to the Holy Ghost, who has promised victory over earth and over heaven to the angel of liberty !
Lucifer, of whom the dark ages have made the genius of evil, will be truly the angel of light when, having conquered liberty at the price of infamy, he will make use of it to submit himself to eternal order, inaugurating thus the glories of voluntary obedience.
The fallen angel is then he who, from the beginning, refused to love ; he does not love, and that is his whole torture ; he does not give, and that is his poverty ; he does not suffer, and that is his nothingness ; he does not die, and that is his exile.
The fallen angel is not Lucifer the light-bearer ; it is Satan, who calumniated love.
“He that saveth his life shall lose it,” says the Holy Book ; “ and he who consents to lose it will save it.”
God loves prodigal children !
The more one discusses with the object of obtaining greater accuracy, the less one believes ; every new dogma is a belief which a sect appropriates to itself, and thus, in some sort, steals from universal faith.
Our prayer will be perfect, when we pray without known whom we pray.
Prayer is not a noise which strikes the ear ; it is a silence which penetrates the heart.
Soft tears come to moisten the eyes, and sighs escape like incense smoke.
One feels oneself in love, ineffably in love, with all that is beauty, truth, and justice ; one throbs with a new life and one fears no more to die. For prayer is the eternal life of intelligence and love ; it is the life of God upon earth.
With the débris of the worlds, God makes stars ; with the debris of souls He makes angels.
Flocks who know yet only your shepherds, who wish to remain ignorant of their dealings with the butchers, it is excusable that you should stone them who humiliate you and disturb you, in speaking to you of your rights.
O Christ ! The authorities condemn Thee, Thy disciples deny Thee, the people curses Thee, and demands Thy murder ; only Thy mother weeps for Thee, even God abandons Thee !
“ Eli ! Eli ! lama sabachthani ! “
In order to dominate the vulgar, it is already necessary that the sanctuary should surround itself with sacrifices and with terror.
Persecution stirs up avengers ; the idea incarnates itself in a man ; Moses springs up ; Pharoah falls ; and the column of smoke and flame, which goes before a freed people, advances majestically into the desert.
He comes when the priesthood is worn out, when the old symbols have no more virtue, when the beacon of intelligence is extinguished.
He comes to recall Israel to life, and if he cannot galvanize Israel, slain by the Pharisees, into life, he will resurrect the world given over to the dead worship of idols.
Christ is the soul of protest.
He is the emancipation of the spirit which breaks the slavery of the flesh.
He is devotion in revolt against egoism.
He is the sublime modesty which replies to pride : “I will not obey thee ! “
THE NUMBER NINE
This is the hermit of the Tarot ; the number which refers to initiates and to prophets.
The prophets are solitaries, for it is their fate that none should ever hear them.
The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Priests of l’Abbaye and les Carmes, victims of the Reign of Terror, butchered royalists, revolutionaries sacrificed in your turn, soldiers of our great armies who have sown the world with your bones, all you who have suffered the penalty of death, workers, strivers, darers of every kind, brave children of Prometheus, who have feared neither the lightning nor the vulture, all honour to your scattered ashes ! Peace and veneration to your memories ! You are the heroes of progress, martyrs of humanity !
And in the earth of blood and tears, He planted the vine of fraternity ; and the tears and the blood, sucked up by the roots of the divine tree, became the delicious sap of the grape which is destined to intoxicate with love the children of the future.
Nations succeed each other like men ; and nothing is stable, because everything is marching towards perfection.
However, the poetry of the East, in its magical souvenirs, will call him still Brahma, and Jupiter. India will teach our enchanted climates the marvellous fables of Vishnu, and we shall place upon the still bleeding forehead of our well-beloved Christ the triple crown of pearls of the mystical Trimurti. From that time, Venus, purified under the veil of Mary, will no more weep for her Adonis.
The bridegroom is risen to die no more, and the infernal boar has found death in its momentary victory.
The whole earth, reclothed with the rich adornments which all the arts have embroidered for her, will no longer be anything but a magnificent temple, of which man shall be the eternal peace.
All that was true, all that was beautiful, all that was sweet in the past centuries, will live once more glorified in this transfiguration of the world.
And the beautiful form will remain inseparable from the true idea, as the body will one day be inseparable from the soul, when the soul, come to its own power, will have made itself a body in its own image.
That will be the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth, and the body will be the temple of the soul, as the regenerated universe will be the body of God.
And bodies and souls, and form and thought, and the whole universe, will be the light, the word, and the permanent and visible revelation of God. Amen. So be it.
Warrior and bold intelligence, accomplice of divine Prometheus, eldest daughter of Lucifer, hail unto thee in thine audacity ! Thou didst wish to know, and in order to possess, thou didst brave all the thunders, and affronted every abyss !
How blind are they who do not see that physical light is nothing but the instrument of thought !
—Eliphas Levi from “The Key of the Mysteries (La Clef des Grands Mystéres)” , translated by Aleister Crowley, as found in The Equinox, Vol. 1, No. 10.