The empire of the world is the empire of the light.
A chain of iron is easier to break than a chain of flowers.
The beauty of the word is a splendour of truth. A true word is always beautiful, a beautiful word is always true.
For this reason works of art are always holy when they are beautiful.
Poetry is as pure as the Sun : it spreads its veil of light over the errors of humanity. Woe to him who would lift the veil in order to perceive things ugly !
One realizes evil in books of morality ill-written far more than in the poetry of Catullus or the ingenious Allegories of Apuleius.
There are no bad books, except those which are badly conceived and badly executed.
Every word of beauty is a word of truth. It is light crystallized in speech.
All magic is in a word, and the word pronounced qabalistically is stronger than all the powers of Heaven, Earth and Hell. With the name of Jod hé vau hé, one commands Nature : kingdoms are conquered in the name of Adonai, and the occult forces which compose the empire of Hermés are one and all obedient to him who knows how to pronounce duly the incummunicable name of Agla.
The most fatal enemy of our souls is idleness. Inertia intoxicates us and sends us to sleep ; but the sleep of inertia is corruption and death. The faculties of the human soul are like the waves of the ocean. To keep them sweet, they need the salt and bitterness of tears : they need the whirlwinds of Heaven : they need to be shaken by the storm.
We all of us breathe in the life of others, and we breathe upo them in some sort a part of our own existence. Good and intelligent men are, unknown to themselves, the doctors of humanity ; foolish and wicked men are public poisoners.
Whatever the reputation of any one may be, and whatever may be the testimonies of friendship that that person may give you, if, on leaving him, you feel yourself less well disposed and weaker, he is pernicious for you: avoid him.
“ The stars,” said Paracelsus, “ breathe out their luminous soul, and attract each other’s radiation. The soul of the earth, prisoner of the fatal laws of gravitation, frees itself by specializing itself, and passes through the instinct of animals to arrive at the intelligence of man. The active portion of this will is dumb, but it preserves in writing the secrets of Nature. The free part can no longer read this fatal writing without instantaneously losing its liberty. One does not pass from dumb and vegetative contemplation to free vibrating thought without changing one’s surroundings and one’s organs. Thence comes the forgetfulness which accompanies birth, and the vague reminiscences of our sickly intuitions, always analogous to the visions of our ecstasies and our dreams.”
But when the brute governs brutes, when the blind leads the blind, when the leader is as subject to fatality as the masses, what must one expect? What but the most shocking catastrophes? In that we shall never be disappointed.
The abysses of grace correspond to the abysses of perversity. God has often made saints of scoundrels ; but He has never done anything with the half-hearted and the cowardly.
A man whom one may call the great prophet of drunkards, Edgar Poe, that sublime madman, that genius of lucid extravagance, has depicted with terrifying reality the nightmares of perversity. …
“ If God did away with Hell, men would make another in order to defy Him,” said a good priest to us one day. He was right : and it is for that reason that Hell is so anxious to be done away with. Emancipation ! is the cry of every vice. Emancipation of murder by the abolition of the pain of death ; emancipation of prostitution and infanticide by the abolition of marriage ; emancipation of idleness and rapine by the abolition of property. … So revolves the whirlwind of perversity until it arrives at this supreme and secret formula : Emancipation of death by the abolition of life !
This war is as ancient as the world; the Greeks figured it under the symbols of Eros and Anteros, and the Hebrews by the antagonism of Cain and Abel. It is the war of the Titans and the Gods. The two armies are everywhere invisible, disciplined and always ready for attack or counter-attack. Simple-minded folk on both sides, astonished at the instant and unanimous resistance that they meet, begin to believe in vast plots cleverly organized, in hidden, all-powerful societies. Eugène Sue invents Rodin ; churchmen talk of the Illuminati and of the Freemasons ; Wronski dreams of his bands of mystics, and there is nothing true and serious beneath all that but the necessary struggle of order and disorder, of the instincts and of thought ; the result of that struggle is balance in progress, and the devil always contributes, despite himself, to the glory of St. Michael.
To escape this fatality, really great men isolate themselves from all comradeship, knowing it to be death to liberty. They save themselves by a proud unpopularity from the contamination of the vile multitude. If Balzac had been during his life a man of a clique or of a party, he would not have remained after his death the great and universal genius of our epoch.
Genius contemplates truth as its work because it is the victor of light, and immortality is the triumph of light because it will be the recompense and crown of genius.
What you have been taking for life is but the hallucinations and the dreams of the first slumber of death !
God, in order to exalt man to moral emancipation, hides Himself from him and abandons to him, after a fashion, the government of the world. He leaves Himself to be guessed by the grandeurs and harmonies of Nature, so that man may progressively make himself perfect by ever exalting the idea that he makes for himself of its author.
TO CREATE GOD, TO CREATE ONE’S SELF, TO MAKE ONE’S SELF INDEPENDENT, IMMORTAL AND WITHOUT SUFFERING : there certainly is a programme more daring than the dream of Prometheus. Its expression is bold to the point of impiety, its thought ambitious to the point of madness. Well, this programme is only paradoxical in its form, which lends itself to a false and sacrilegious interpretation. In one sense it is perfectly reasonable, and the science of the adepts promises to realize it, and to accomplish it in perfection.
Man, in effect, creates for himself a God corresponding to his own intelligence and his own goodness ; he cannot raise his ideal high than his moral development permits him to do. The God whom he adores is always an enlargement of his own reflection. To conceive the absolute of goodness and justice is to be one’s self exceeding just and good.
Yes, man is called to complete the work of his creator, and every instant employed by him to improve himself or to destroy himself, is decisive for all eternity. It is by the conquest of an intelligence eternally clear and of a will eternally just, that he constitutes himself as living for eternal life, since nothing survives injustice and error but the penalty of their disorder. To understand good is to will it, and on the plane of justice to will is to do.
One can reign in Heaven by virtue of faith, on earth by virtue of science. The man who knows how to command himself is king of all Nature.
If you are a dog, and you want a pretty little cat to love you, you have only one means to take : to metamorphose yourself into a cat.
In one of the admirable stories which, though he did not invent it, he has told better than anybody, Perrault puts upon the stage a cat, which cunningly induces an ogre to change himself into a mouse, and the thing is no sooner done, than the mouse is crunched by the cat. The Tales of Mother Goose, like the Golden Ass of Apuleius, are perhaps true magical legends, and hide beneath the cloak of childish fairy tales the formidable secrets of science.
But no metamorphosis may be worked without destruction. To change a hawk into a dove, one must first kill it, then cut it to pieces, so as to destroy even the least trace of its first form, and then boil it in the magic bath of Medea.
It is not the hashish intoxication which was useful to the knavery of the Old Man of the Mountain ; it is a dream without sleep, an hallucination without madness, a reasoned and willed vision, a real creation of intelligence and faith.
The great magical means of preserving the youth of the body is to prevent the soul from growing old by preserving preciously that original freshness of sentiments and thoughts which the corrupt world calls illusions, and which we shall call the primitive mirages of eternal truth.
Become children in heart, and you will remain young in body.
High magic, as we have proved, leads man back to the laws of the purest morality. Either he finds a thing holy or makes it holy, says an adept—Vel sanctum invenit, vel sanctum facit ; because it makes us understand that in order to be happy, even in this world, one must be holy.
What contributes above all to age us by making us ugly? Hatred and bitterness, the unfavourable judgments which we make of others, our rages of hurt vanity, and our ill-satisfied passions. A kindly and gentle philosophy would avoid all these evils.
Suffering is always a warning. So much the worse for him who does not understand it ! When Nature tightens the rein, it is that we are swerving ; when she plies the whip, it is that danger is imminent. Woe, then, to him who does not reflect !
During embryonic life it seemed to it that the placenta was its body, and it was in fact its special embryonic body, a body useless for another life, a body which had to be thrown off as an unclean thing at the moment of birth.
The body of our human life is like a second envelope, useless for the third life, and for that reason we throw it aside at the moment of our second birth.
The great arcanum—that is to say, the unutterable and inexplicable secret—is the absolute knowledge of good and of evil.
One will thus recognize that the divine revelation is permanent in nature and humanity.…
—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.