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The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Palmer Hall
Monad–1–is so called because it remains always in the same condition–that is, separate from multitude. Its attributes are as follows: It is called mind, because the mind is stable and has preeminence; hermaphrodism, because it is both male and female; odd and even, for being added to the even it makes odd, and to the odd, even; God, because it is the beginning and end of all, but itself has neither beginning nor end; good, for such is the nature of God; the receptacle of matter, because it produces the duad, which is essentially material.
By the Pythagoreans monad was called chaos, obscurity, chasm, Tartarus, Styx, abyss, Lethe, Atlas, Axis, Morpho (a name for Venus), and Tower or Throne of Jupiter, because of the great power which abides in the center of the universe and controls the circular motion of the planers about itself. Monad is also called germinal reason, because it is the origin of all the thoughts in the universe. Other names given to it were: Apollo, because of its relation to the sun; Prometheus, because he brought man light; Pyralios, one who exists in fire; geniture, because without it no number can exist; substance, because substance is primary; cause of truth; and constitution of symphony: all these because it is the primordial one.
Between greater and lesser the monad is equal; between intention and remission it is middle; in multitude it is mean; and in time it is now, because eternity knows neither past nor future. It is called Jupiter, because he is Father and head of the gods; Vesta, the fire of the home, because it is located in the midst of the universe and remains there inclining to no side as a dot in a circle; form, because it circumscribes, comprehends, and terminates; love, concord, and piety, because it is indivisible. Other symbolic names for the monad are ship, chariot, Proteus (a god capable of changing his form), Mnemosyne, and Polyonymous (having many names).
Now let us treat particularly of numbers themselves: and because number is nothing else but a repetition of Unity, let us first consider Unity it self.
For Unity doth most simply go through every number, and is the common measure, fountain, and original of all numbers, contains every number joined together in it self entirely, the beginner of every multitude, always the same, and unchangeable: whence also being multiplied into it self, produces nothing but it self: it is indivisible, void of all parts: But if it seem at any time to be divided, it is not cut, but indeed Multiplied into Unities: yet none of these Unities is greater or lesser then the whole Unity, as a part is less then the whole: It is not therefore Multiplied into parts, but into it self: Therefore some called it concord, some piety, and some friendship, which is so knit, that it cannot be cut into parts.
But Martianus, according to the opinion of Aristotle saith, it is named Cupid, because it is made one alone, and will always bewail it self, and beyond it self it hath nothing but being void of all haughtiness, or coupling, turns its proper heats into it self. It is therefore the one beginning, and end of all things, neither hath it any beginning, or end it self:
Nothing is before one, nothing is after one, and beyond it is nothing, and all things which are, desire that one, because all things proceeded from one, and that all things may be the same, it is necessary that they partake of that one:
And as all things proceeded of one into many things, so all things endeavor to return to that one, from which they proceeded; it is necessary that they should put off multitude.
One therefore is referred to the high God, who seeing he is one, and innumerable, yet creates innumerable things of himself, and contains them within himself.
There is therefore one God, one world of the one God, one Sun of the one world, also one Phoenix in the World, one King among Bees, one Leader among Flocks of Cattle, one Ruler among herds of Beasts, & Cranes follow one and many other Animals honor Unity;
Among the Members of the body there is one Principle by which all the rest are guided, whether it be the head, or (as some will) the heart.
There is one Element overcoming, and penetrating all things, viz. Fire.
There is one thing created of God, the subject of all wondering, which is on Earth, or in Heaven, it is actually Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral, every where found, known by few, called by none by its proper name, but covered with figures, and Riddles, without which neither Alchemy, nor Natural Magick, can attain to their complete end, or perfection.
From one man, Adam, all men proceed, from that one all become mortal, from that one Jesus Christ they are regenerated: and as saith Paul, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God, and Father of all, one mediator betwixt God and man, one most high Creator, who is over all, by all, and in us all. For there is one Father, God, from whence all, and we in him: one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom all, and we by him: one God Holy Ghost, into whom all, and we into him.
How Magicians Collect Virtues from the Three-Fold World is Declared in these Three Books
Agrippa, Book 1, Chapter 1
Seeing there is a three fold World, Elementary, Celestial, and Intellectual and every inferior is governed by its superior, and receives the influence of the virtues thereof, so that the very original, and chief Worker of all doth by Angels, the Heavens, Stars, Elements, Animals, Plants, Metals, and Stones convey from himself the virtues of his Omnipotency upon us, for whose service he made, and created all these things: Wise men conceive it no way irrational that it should be possible for us to ascend by the same degrees through each World, to the same very original World it self, the Maker of all things, and first Cause, from whence all things are, and proceed; and also to enjoy not only these virtues, which are already in the more excellent kind of things, but also besides these, to draw new virtues from above.
Hence it is that they seek after the virtues
The order and process of all these I shall endeavor to deliver in these three Books: Whereof the first contains Natural Magick, the second Celestial, and the third Ceremonial.
But I know not whether it be an unpardonable presumption in me, that I, a man of so little judgment and learning, should in my very youth so confidently set upon a business so difficult, so hard, and intricate as this is. Wherefore, whatsoever things have here already, and shall afterward be said by me, I would not have any one assent to them, nor shall I my self, any further then they shall be approved of by the Universal Church, and the Congregation of the Faithful.
every inferior is governed by its superior: We are reminded here of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. De Alchemia, Chrysogonus Polydorus’ collection of alchemical and hermetic texts includes a copy which states “Quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius.” This translates to “That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of [the] one thing.” Often this is simplified, while losing much meaning, to “As above, so below”.
receiveth the influence of the virtues thereof: The meaning of virtue intended here, and elsewhere, is “Active quality or power; capacity or power adequate to the production of a given effect; energy; strength; potency; efficacy; as, the virtue of a medicine”. Remember this.
the very Original and Chief Worker of all doth by angels, the heavens, stars, elements, animals, plants, metals and stones convey from Himself the virtues of His Omnipotency upon us: See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanationism for varieties on this theme, which is central to everything else here.
for whose service He made and created all these things: Gen. 1:28–30:
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
the help of physic: The meaning here is “medicine” rather than the modern scientific field of physics.
in my very youth: Agrippa was only around 23 years old when writing these three books. They would go on to form the basis of western occultusm for nearly half a millenium.
Wherefore, whatsoever things […] be said by me, I would not have anyone assent to them, nor shall I myself, any further than they shall be approved of by the universal church and the congregation of the faithful.: “Please don’t burn me at the stake”. A serious concern in the 16th century, and one which Giordano Bruno who also upheld a largely panthiest view failed to avoid, being literally burnt at a stake for his support of Copernican heliocentrism. Happily, Agrippa avoided this fate.
Of the necessity, power, and profit of Religion
Agrippa, Book 3, Chapter 1
Now it is time to turn our pen to higher matters, and to that part of Magick which teaches us to know and perfectly understand the rules of Religion, and how we ought to obtain the truth by Divine Religion, and how rightly to prepare our mind and spirit, by which only we can comprehend the truth; for it is a common opinion of the Magicians, that unless the mind and spirit be in good case, the body cannot be in good health: But then a man to be truly sound when body and soul are so coupled, and agree together, that the firmness of the mind and spirit be not inferior to the powers of the body; But a firm and stout mind (saith Hermes) can we not otherwise obtain, than by integrity of life, by piety, and last of all, by Divine Religion: for holy Religion purges the mind, and makes it Divine, it helps nature, and strengthens natural powers, as a Physician helps the health of the body, and a Husbandman the strength of the earth.
Whosoever therefore (Religion being laid aside,) do confide only in natural things, are wont very oft to be deceived by evil spirits; but from the knowledge of Religion, the contempt and cure of vices arises, and a safeguard against evil spirits; To conclude, nothing is more pleasant and acceptable to God, than a man perfectly pious, and truly Religious, who so far excels other men, as he himself is distant from the Immortal gods;
Therefore we ought, being first purged, to offer and commend our selves to divine piety and Religion; and then our senses being asleep, with a quiet mind to expect that Divine Ambrosian Nectar (Nectar I say, which Zachary the prophet calls Wine making maids merry) praising and adoring that super-celestial Bacchus, the chiefest ruler of the gods and priests, the author of regeneration, whom the old poets sang was twice born, from whom rivers most Divine flow into our hearts.
Ambrosia was what granted the gods their immortality; the meaning here is something along the lines of achieving henosis.
Bacchus, a.k.a. Dionysus, was amongst other things the god of religious ecstasy or henosis which in modern times was extricated from religion in the guise of magical gnosis, hence “our senses being asleep, with a quiet mind”, lat. “sopitis sensibus, tranquilla mente”, which basically means a lack of distraction, external or internal. This was accomplished largely by way of substituting peity and discipline and faith to achieve belief in the work, with essentially exhaustion or physical inebriation or mind-altering substances to achieve a lack of disbelief in it. Bacchus being titled “chiefest ruler of the gods and priests”, especially after mention made of “Immortal gods” distinct from (and inferior to) “God” should be particularly noted.
None of this is to say Agrippa worshipped Bacchus or Dionysus, such would be missing his meaning entirely. Magic isn’t something simply handed to you by some deity, whatever its name, however dearly you may adore them; magic is something you earn by – at least for a time – becoming one. It is the act of accomplishing this which was to be the subject of “praising and adoring”, which is another way of saying “striving for”, not some entity that happened to be named Bacchus that’s floating around somewhere beyond space with a glass of wine. And in that moment you’ve accomplished it, whether you call it ecstasy, henosis, gnosis, samadhi, trance, flow, or in some cases just “stoned off your ass”, when you’re truly in a state of mind where “nothing is an absolute reality, all is permitted”, where you have become Heka, then … “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). It is as near as I can tell the Philosophical Mercury spoken of in alchemical texts when it isn’t explicitly something more mundane (e.g. nitric acid derived from morning dew).
To Agrippa in 16th century Europe, essentially only Christianity and Greek myth were acceptable to speak of without winding up killed, and then he still had to justify his use of non-Christian sources as in ‘Of the two helps of Ceremoniall Magick, Religion and Superstition’. Yet here, while clearly “Divine Religion” was meant to imply “Christianity”, at least in this particular chapter Agrippa never explicitly states so. The only mention of a specifically Christian element in this chapter is his paraphrase of Zechariah 9:17 as a note regarding ambrosia:
For how great is his goodness,
and how great is his beauty!
corn shall make the young men cheerful,
and new wine the maids.
Of course in this time and place, dancing to a drum after having ingested psychadelics or imbibing a couple gallons of wine and otherwise working one’s self up into a frenzy would have been frowned upon to say the least, and so most of the earlier portions of this chapter are concerned with reaching this ambrosian state largely by way of discipline and belief, rather than drunkenness. This did not however preclude many recipies in the various grimoires (including Agrippa’s), particularly for incenses, from including various opiates and other alkaloids, and there is a strong argument that even the Holy Annointing Oil of Exodus 20 includes a (very) large quanitity of calamus or cannabis.
Regardless of method chosen, whether founded upon religion or chemistry or something else, is it highly beneficial to have one. Simply deciding – and honestly beleiving – that “okay magic works and I can do this”, is about as easy as achieving samadhi without meditation, or sight without eyes, or orgasm without touch … not necessarily an impossibility, but so absurdly improbable that it’s not worth considering, nor giving the least credit to anyone who boasts of having achieved it, who’ve far more likely only achieved self-delusion rather than self-deification.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
– Matthew 7:13–14
Of concealing of those things which are secret in Religion
Agrippa, Book 3, Chapter 2
Whosoever therefore you are who now desires to study this science, keep silence and constantly conceal within the secret closets of your Religious breast, so holy a determination; for (as Mercury saith) to publish to the knowledge of many a speech thoroughly filled with so great majesty of the Deity, is a sign of an irreligious spirit; and Divine Plato commanded, that holy and secret mysteries should not be divulged to the people; Pythagoras also and Porphyrius consecrated their followers to a Religious silence; Orpheus also, which a certain terrible authority of Religion did exact an oath of silence, from those he did initiate to the Ceremonies of holy things: Whence in the verses concerning the holy word he sings,
You, that Admirers are of virtue, stay,
Consider well what I to you shall say.
But you, that sacred laws contemn, profane!
Away from hence, return no more again.
But thou O Museus whose mind is high,
Observe my words, and read them with thine eye,
And them within thy sacred breast repone,
And in thy journey, think of God alone
The Author of all things, that cannot dye,
Of whom we shall now treat–
So in Virgil we read of the Sybil
The goddess comes, hence, hence, all ye profane,
The Prophet cries, and from her grove refrain.
Hence also in celebrating the holy mysteries of Ceres Eleusine, they only were admitted to be initiated, the crier proclaiming the profane vulgar to depart; and in Esdras we read this precept concerning the Cabalistic secret of the Hebrews, declared in these verses, You shall deliver those books to the wise men of the people, whose hearts you know can comprehend them, and keep those secrets.
Therefore the Religious volumes of the Egyptians & those belonging to the secrets of their ceremonies, were made of consecrated paper; in these they did write down letters which might not easily be known which they call holy. Macrobius Marcellinus and others say, they were called Hieroglyphs, least perchance the writings of this kind should be known to the profane, which also Apuleius testifies in these words, saying, The sacrifice being ended, from a secret retired closet he brings forth certain books noted with obscure letters, affording compendious words of the conceived speech, partly by the figures of beasts of this kind, partly by figures full of knots, and crooked in manner of a wheel & set thick, twining about like vine tendrils, the reading thereby being defended from the curiosity of the profane;
Therefore we shall be worthy scholars of this science, if we be silent, and hide those things which are secret in religion, for the promise of silence (as saith Tertullian) is due to Religion; but they which do otherwise, are in very great danger, whence Apuleius saith concerning secrets of holy Writs; I would tell it you, if it were lawful to tell it; you should know it, if it were lawful to hear it; but both ears and tongue would contract the same guilt of rash curiosity. So we read Theodorus the tragic poet, when he would have referred somethings of the mysteries of the Jews Scripture to a certain fable, was deprived of sight.
Theopompus also who began to translate somethings out of the Divine law into the Greek tongue, was presently troubled in mind and spirit, whence afterward earnestly desiring God, wherefore this had happened to him, received an answer in a dream, because he had basely polluted Divine things, by setting them forth in public. One Numenius also being very curious of hidden things, incurred the displeasure of the Divine powers, because he interpreted the holy mysteries of the goddess Eleusina and published them for he dreamed that the goddesses of Eleusis stood in a whores habit before the Brothel house, which when he wondered at, they wrathfully answered, that they were by him violently drawn from their modesty and prostituted everywhere to all comers, by which he was admonished, that the Ceremonies of the gods ought not to be divulged.
Therefore it hath always been the great care of the Ancients to wrap up the mysteries of God and nature, and hide them with diverse Enigmas, which law the Indians, Brahmans, Ethiopians, Persians, and Egyptians also observed; hence Mercurius, Orpheus, and all the ancient Poets and Philosophers, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato Aristoxenus, Ammonius, kept them inviolably.
Hence Plotinus and Origenes and the other disciples of Ammonius (as Porphyry relates in his book of the education and Discipline of Flotinus) swore never to set forth the Decrees of their master. And because Plotinus, brake his oath made to Ammonius, and published his mysteries, for the punishment of his transgression, he was consumed (as they say) by the Horrible disease of Lice.
Christ also himself, while he lived on earth, spoke after that manner and fashion that only the more intimate disciples should understand the mystery of the word of God, but the other should perceive the parables only: commanding moreover that holy things should not be given to Dogs, nor pearls cast to Swine: Therefore the Prophet saith, I have hid thy words in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Therefore it is not fit that those secrets which are among a few wise men, and communicated by mouth only, should be publicly written. Wherefore you will pardon me, If I pass over in silence many and the chiefest secret mysteries of Ceremonial Magick. I suppose I shall do enough, if I open those things which are necessary to be known, and you by the reading of this book go not away altogether empty of these mysteries; but on that condition let these things be communicated to you, on which Dionysius bound Timothy, that they which perceive these Secrets, would not expose them to the unworthy, but gather them together among wise men, and keep them with that reverence that is due to them.
Furthermore I would also warn you in this beginning, that even as the divine powers detest public things and profane, and love secrecy: So every Magical experiment flees the public, seeks to be hid, is strengthened by silence, but is destroyed by publication, neither doth any complete effect follow after; all these things suffer loss, when they are poured into prating and incredulous minds; therefore it behooves a Magical operator, if he would get fruit from this art, to be secret, and to manifest to none, neither his work nor place, nor time, neither his desire nor will, unless either to a master, or partner, or companion, who also ought to be faithful, believing, silent, and dignified by nature and education: Seeing that even the prating of a companion, his incredulity and unworthiness hinders and disturbs the effect in every operation.
To attain the sanctum regnum, in other words, the knowledge and power of the Magi, there are four indispensable conditions – an intelligence illuminated by study, an intrepidity which nothing can check, a will which nothing can break, and a discretion which nothing can corrupt and nothing intoxicate. TO KNOW, TO DARE, TO WILL, TO KEEP SILENCE – such are the four words of the Magus inscribed upon the four symbolical forms of the sphinx.
– Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual
Whosoever would know Secrets, let him know how to keep secret things secretly; and to reveal those things that are to be revealed, and to seal those things which are to be sealed: and not to give holy things to dogs, nor cast pearls before swine. Observe this Law, and the eyes of thy understanding shall be opened, to understand secret things; and thou shalt have whatsoever thy mind desires to be divinely revealed unto thee. Thou shalt have also the Angels and Spirits of God prompt and ready in their nature to minister unto thee, as much as any humane mind can desire.
– Arbatel: De Magia Veterum
The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever …
– Deuteronomy 29:29
He that walketh fraudulently, revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit, concealeth the matter.
– Proverbs 11:13
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
– Proverbs 25:2
Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another:
– Proverbs 25:9
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
– Matthew 7:6
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known unto you.
– John 15:15
What dignification is required, that one may be a true Magician and a worker of miracles
Agrippa, Book 3, Chapter 3
About the beginning of the first book of this work, we have spoken what manner of person a Magician ought to be; but now we will declare a mystical and secret matter, necessary for every one who desires to practice this art, which is both the beginning, perfection and key of all Magical operations, and it is the dignifying of men to this so sublime virtue and power;
for this faculty requires in man a wonderful dignification, for that the understanding which is in us the highest faculty of the soul, is the only worker of wonders, which when it is overwhelmed by too much commerce with the flesh, and busied about the sensible soul of the body, is not worthy of the command of Divine substances; therefore many prosecute this art in vain;
Therefore it is meet that we who endeavor to attain to so great a height should especially meditate of two things;
first how we should leave carnal affections, frail sense, and material passions.
Secondly, by what way and means we may ascend to an intellect pure & conjoined with the powers of the gods, without which we shall never happily ascend to the scrutiny of secret things, and to the power of wonderful workings, or miracles;
for in these dignification consists wholly, which, nature, desert, and a certain religious art do make up; natural dignity is the best disposition of the body and its Organs, not obscuring the soul with any grossness, and being without all distemper, and this proceeds from the situation, motion, light, and influence of the Celestial bodies and spirits which are conversant in the generation of every one, as are those whose ninth house is fortunate by Saturn, Sol, and Mercury; Mars also in the ninth house commands the spirits; but concerning these things we have largely treated in the books of the Stars: But who so is not such a one, it is necessary that he recompense the defect of nature by education, and the best ordering and prosperous use of natural things until he become complete in all intrinsical and extrinsical perfections.
Hence so great care is taken in the law of Moses concerning the priest, that he be not polluted by a dead carcase, or by a woman a widow, or menstruous, that he be free from leprosy, flux of blood, burstness, and be perfect in all his members, not blind, nor lame, nor crook-backed, or with an ill-favored nose.
And Apuleius saith in his Apology, that the youth to be initiated to divination by magic spells, ought to be chosen, sound without sickness, ingenious, comely, perfect in his members, of a quick spirit, eloquent in speech, that in him the divine power might be conversant as in the good houses; That the mind of the youth having quickly attained experience, may be restored to its divinity.
But the meritorious dignity is perfected by two things; namely learning and practice.
The end of learning is to know the truth; it is meet therefore, as is spoken in the beginning of the first book, that he be learned and skillful in those three faculties; then all impediments being removed, wholly to apply his soul to contemplation & to convert it self into it self; for there is even in our own selves the apprehension and power of all things; but we are prohibited, so as that we little enjoy these things, by passions opposing us even from our birth, and vain imaginations and immoderate affections, which being expelled, the divine knowledge and power presently takes place;
but the Religious operation obtains no less efficacy which ofttimes of it self alone is sufficiently powerful for us to obtain this deifying virtue, so great is the virtue of holy duties rightly exhibited and performed, that though they be not understood, yet piously and perfectly observed, and with a firm faith believed, they have no less efficacy then to adorn us with a divine power;
But what dignity is acquired by the art of Religion, is perfected by certain Religious Ceremonies, expiations, consecrations, and holy rites, proceeding from him whose spirit the public Religion hath consecrated, who hath power of imposition of hands, and of initiating with Sacramental power, by which the Character of the divine virtue and power is stamped on us which they call the divine consent, by which a man supported with the divine nature, and made as it were a companion of the Angels bears the in-grafted power of God; & this rite is referred to the Ecclesiastical mysteries:
If therefore now you shall be a man perfect in the sacred understanding of Religion, and piously and most constantly meditates on it, and without doubting believes, and are such an one on whom the authority of holy rites and nature has conferred dignity above others, and one, whom the divine powers contemn not, you shall be able by praying, consecrating, sacrificing, invocating, to attract spiritual and Celestial powers, and to imprint them on those things you please, and by it to vivify every magical work;
But whosoever beyond the authority of his office, without the merit of Sanctity and Learning, beyond the dignity of nature and education, shall presume to work any thing in Magic, shall work in vain, and deceive both himself and those that believe on him, and with danger incur the displeasure of the Divine powers.
Of the two helps of Ceremoniall Magick, Religion and Superstition
Agrippa, Book 3, Chapter 4
There are two things, which rule every operation of Ceremonial Magic, namely Religion and Superstition.
This Religion is a continual contemplation of Divine things, and by good works and uniting ones self with God and the Divine powers, by which in a reverent family, a service, and a sanctification of worship worthy of them is performed, and also the Ceremonies of Divine worship are rightly exercised; Religion therefore is a certain discipline of external holy things and Ceremonies by the which as it were by certain signs we are admonished of internal and spiritual things, which is so deeply implanted in us by nature, that we more differ from other creatures by this then Rationality; whosoever therefore neglects Religion (as we have spoken before) and confides only in the strength of natural things, are very often deceived by the evil spirits; therefore they who are more religiously and holily instructed, neither set a tree nor plant their vineyard, nor undertake any mean work without divine invocation, as the Doctor of the Nations commands the Colossians, saying, whatsoever you shall do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ giving thanks to him, and to God the Father by him.
Therefore to superadd the powers of Religion to Physical and Mathematical virtues is so far from a fault, that not to join them, is an heinous sin.
Hence in libro senatorum saith Rabbi Hemina, he that enjoys any of the creatures without Divine benediction, is supposed both by God and the Church to have used it as taken by theft and robbery, of whom it is written by Solomon, he that takes away any things violently from father and mother, is a destroyer; But God is our father, and the Church our mother, as it is written, Is not he thy father who possesses thee? and elsewhere, Hear my son the discipline of thy father, and despise not the law of thy mother; nothing more displeases God, than to be neglected and contemned; nothing pleases him more, then to be renowned and adored. Hence he hath permitted no creature of the world to be without Religion.
All do worship God, pray (as Proclus saith) frame hymns to the leaders of their order; but some things truly after a natural, others after a sensible, others a rational, others an intellectual manner, and all things in their manner, according to the song of the three children, bless the Lord: But the rites and Ceremonies of Religion, in respect of the diversity of times and places, are diverse.
Every Religion hath something of good, because it is directed to God his creator; and although God allows the Christian Religion only, yet other worships which are undertaken for his sake, he doth not altogether reject, and leaves them not unrewarded, if not with an eternal, yet with a temporal reward, or at least doth punish them less; but he hates, thunders against and utterly destroys profane persons and altogether irreligious as his enemies, for their impiety is greater then the others who follow a false and erroneous Religion: For there is no Religion (saith Lactantius) so erroneous, which hath not somewhat of wisdom in it, by which they may obtain pardon, who have kept the chiefest duty of man, if not in deed, yet in intention: But no man can of himself attain to the true Religion, unless he be taught it of God.
All worship therefore, which is different from the true Religion, is superstition; In like manner also that which gives Divine worship, either to whom it ought not, or in that manner which it ought not. Therefore we must especially take heed least at any time, by some perverse worship of superstition, we be envious to the Almighty God, and to the holy powers under him; for this would be not only wicked, but an act most unworthy of Philosophers; superstition therefore although it be far different from the true Religion, yet it is not all and wholly rejected, because in many things it is even tolerated, and observed by the chief rulers of Religion;
But I call that superstition especially, which is a certain resemblance of Religion, which for as much as it imitates whatsoever is in Religion, as miracles, Sacraments, rites, observations and such like, from whence it gets no small power, and also obtains no less strength by the credulity of the operator; for how much a constant credulity can do, we have spoken in the first book, and is manifestly known to the vulgar. Therefore superstition requires credulity, as Religion faith, seeing constant credulity can do so great things, as even to work miracles in opinions and false operations; whosoever therefore in his Religion, though false, yet believes most strongly that it is true, and elevates his spirit by reason of this his credulity, until it be assimilated to those spirits who are the chief leaders of that Religion, may work those things which nature and reason discern not; but incredulity and diffidence doth weaken every work not only in superstition, but also in true Religion, and enervates the desired effect even of the most strong experiments.
But how superstition imitates Religion, these examples declare; namely when worms and locusts are excommunicated, that they hurt not the fruits; when bels and Images are baptized and such like; but because the old Magicians and those who were the authors of this art among the ancients, have been Chaldeans, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians and Arabians, all whose Religion was perverse and polluted idolatry, we must very much take heed, least we should permit their errors to war against the grounds of the Catholic Religion; for this were blasphemous, and subject to the curse; and I also should be a blasphemer, if I should not admonish you of these things, in this science; wheresoever therefore you shall find these things written by us, know that those things are only related out of other Authors, and not put down by us for truth, but for a probable conjecture which is allied to truth and an Instruction for imitation in those things which are true;
Therefore we ought from their Errors to collect the Truth, which work truly requires a profound Understanding, perfect Piety, and painful and laborious Diligence, and also Wisdom which knows out of every Evil to extract Good, and to fit oblique things unto the right use of those things which it governs, as concerning this Augustine gives us an Example of a Carpenter to whom Oblique and Complicate things are no less necessary and convenient than the Straight.
In the 21st century your particular belief structure is simply not that important, more so that you have one at all.
Crucifixus est Dei Filius, non pudet, quia pudendum est;
et mortuus est Dei Filius, prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est;
et sepultus resurrexit, certum est, quia impossibile.
The Son of God was crucified, there is no shame, because it is shameful;
and the Son of God died: it is to be believed, because it is absurd;
and buried he rose again, it is certain, because impossible.
– Tertullian, De Carne Christi, Ch. 5
The ancient poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged and numerous senses could perceive.
And particularly they studied the Genius of each city and country, placing it under its mental deity.
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of and enslaved the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects.
Thus began Priesthood.
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounced that the Gods had ordered such things.
Thus men forgot that all deities reside in the human breast.
– William Blake, Marriage of Heaven and Hell
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
– Matthew 17:20
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
– Matthew 21:21
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
– Mark 11:22–24
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
– Luke 17:6
Of the three Guides of Religion, which bring us to the path of Truth
Agrippa, Book 3, Chapter 5
There are three Guides which bring us even to the paths of truth and which rule all our Religion, in which it wholly consists, namely Love, Hope and Faith:
for Love is the chariot of the Soul, the most excellent of all things, descending from the Intelligences above even to the most inferior things. It congregates and converts our mind into the Divine beauty, preserves us also in all our works, gives us Events according to our wishes, administers power to our supplications: as we read in Homer, Apollo heard Chrysons prayers because he was his very great friend: and some read of Mary Magdalene in the Gospel, many sins were forgiven her, because she loved much;
But hope immovably hanging on those things it desires, when it is certain and not wavering, nourishes the mind and perfects it;
But Faith the superior virtue of all not grounded on humane fictions, but Divine revelations wholly, pierces all things through the whole world, for seeing it descends from above from the first light, and remains nearest to it, is far more noble and excellent than the arts, sciences and beliefs arising from inferior things: this being darted into our intellect by reflection from the first light.
To conclude, by Faith man is made somewhat the same with the superior powers and enjoys the same power with them: Hence Proclus saith, As belief which is a credulity, is below science: so belief which is a true faith, is super-substantially above all science and understanding conjoining us immediately to God; for Faith is the root of all miracles, by which alone (as the Platonists testify) we approach to God, and obtain the Divine power and protection.
So we read that Daniel escaped the mouths of the Lions, because he believed on his God.
So to the woman with the bloody issue saith Christ, thy Faith hath made thee whole; and of the blind man desiring sight, he required faith, saying, Do ye believe, that I can open your eyes?
So Pallas in Homer comforts Achilles with these words, I am come to pacify your wrath, if you will believe.
Therefore Linus the Poet sings all things are to be believed, because all things are easy to God;
nothing is impossible to him, therefore nothing incredible;
therefore we believing those things which belong to Religion, do obtain the virtue of them;
but when we shall fail in our Faith, we shall do nothing worthy admiration, but of punishment;
As we have an example of this in Luke, in these words, Therefore certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call, over them which had evil spirits in the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches; and the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who art thou? And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them, and over came them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded.
How by these guides the soul of man ascendeth up into the Divine nature, and is made a worker of Miracles
Agrippa, Book 3, Chapter 6
Therefore Our mind being pure and divine, inflamed with a religious love, adorned with hope, directed by faith, placed in the height and top of the humane soul, doth attract the truth, and suddenly comprehend it & beholds all the stations, grounds, causes and sciences of things both natural and immortal in the divine truth its self as it were in a certain glass of Eternity.
Hence it comes to pass that we, though Natural, know those things which are above nature, and understand all things below, and as it were by divine Oracles receive the knowledge not only of those things which are, but also of those that are past and to come, presently, and many years hence;
Moreover not only in Sciences, Arts and Oracles the Understanding challenges to it self this divine virtue, but also receives this miraculous power in certain things by command to be changed:
Hence it comes to pass that though we are framed a natural body, yet we sometimes predominate over nature, and cause such wonderful, sudden and difficult operations, as that the evil spirits obey us, the stars are disordered, the heavenly powers compelled, the Elements made obedient;
so devout men and those elevated by these Theological virtues, command the Elements, drive away Fogs, raise the winds, cause rain, cure diseases, raise the dead, all which things to have been done among diverse Nations, Poets and Historians do sing and relate:
and that these things may be done, all the famous-est Philosophers, and Theologians do confirm;
so the prophets, Apostles, and the rest, were famous by the wonderful power of God;
therefore we must know, that as by the influx of the first agent, is produced oftentimes something without the cooperation of the middle causes, so also by the work of Religion alone, may something be done without the application of natural and Celestial virtues;
but no man can work by pure Religion alone, unless he be made totally intellectual;
But whosoever, without the mixture of other powers, works by Religion alone, if he shall persevere long in the work, is swallowed up by the Divine power and cannot live long:
But whosoever shall attempt this and not be purified, doth bring upon himself judgment, and is delivered to the evil spirit, to be devoured.
That the knowledge of the true God is necessary for a Magician, and what the old Magicians and Philosophers have thought concerning God
Agrippa, Book 3, Chapter 7
Seeing that the being and operation of all things, depend on the most high God Creator of all things, from thence also on the other divine powers, to whom also is granted a power of fashioning and creating, not principally indeed, but instrumentally by virtue of the first Creator (for the beginning of every thing is the first cause, but what is produced by the second causes, is much more produced by the first, which is the producer of the second causes; which therefore we call secondary gods) it is necessary therefore that every Magician know that very God, which is the first cause, and Creator of all things;
And also the other gods, or divine powers (which we call the second causes) and not to be ignorant, with what adoration, reverence, holy rites conformable to the condition of every one, they are to be worshiped:
Whosoever therefore invokes the gods, and doth not confer on them their due honor, rightly distribute to them what belongs to them, shall neither enjoy their presence, nor any successful effect from them.
As in Harmony, if one string be broken, the whole music jars, and sometimes incurs the hazard of punishment, as it is written of the Assyrians, whom Salmanasar plan