[Notes on “A Canon Occultist”]
Journal of The Theosophical Society, April, 1884
Letter Selections from “A Russian Theosophist” (translated by H.P.B.) | Notes by H.P.B.
A Russian Theosophist sends to us extracts from a letter received from an old friend of his—a Canon having his prebend in one of the R. C. Districts of Southern Russia. It is not every day that one meets with Catholic priests so profoundly versed in Occultism; and one especially who, appreciating the Kabala at its real worth, takes a proportionate interest in Eastern Occultism and Theosophy. The letter is interesting in various ways, and not to our members alone. We hope to gratify our readers by translating extracts from it.
“. . . you seem a great linguist . . . But you ought, in addition to this, to study Hebrew, at least so far as to be able to understand all the Kabalistic terms. Were I younger, I would certainly study Sanskrit, as this would offer very little difficulty to one of my nationality . . . Your son should study Sanskrit; it will prove useful to him in the future when the great (cyclic) change prophesied by the adepts will come to pass.
I congratulate you upon the post occupied by you in the Theosophical Society1
1. The writer alludes to our Society.
. . . I know little of your Society . . . and am anxious to learn something of its Rules, Objects and Laws. Who are your Mahatmas? Are they Mages, Zoroastrians or Brahmins? Kindly send me your translation of some of these (theosophical) publications . . . Why you should regard me as an adept in secret sciences is a matter of wonder to me . . . It is rather I that could be taught by you than yourself learn anything from me.2
2. “Notwithstanding his protests”—remarks the gentleman-theosophist who sends us the above extracts—“he is a man profoundly versed in these sciences, one who had studied occultism for over twenty years. But they are all the same, ever hiding their knowledge behind the veil of ignorance!”
Action and Reaction! this magic law or dogma is repeated now-a-days by every profane without understanding its significance. And yet it is to be found everywhere; in all the Societies, religious and political, among the nations as within man himself. Like action, like reaction. As the Kabalists have it—Malkuth is always made in3 the image of Keter. But to form Malkuth in a large Society, requires several centuries. . . .
3. For a better comprehension of those of our members who are ignorant of the meaning of these Kabalistic terms, we explain them. Kether is the equilibrizing power (lit. the “crown”), and Malkuth—the kingdom, the synthesis of the whole creation—or in another sense supreme and absolute universal intelligence––Parabrahm.
The history and progress of initiation (into adeptship) ever varies and is being ever restricted. It began in India, with the Brahmins . . . it was transplanted in its pristine purity into Egypt and Chaldea. Abraham was but an Indian Brahman, Abba Brahma, meaning simply “Father Brahman,” . . . When Egypt profaned the occult sciences, the secrets of initiation were carried by Moses into Palestine under the name of the Holy Kabala or oral tradition. When the Hebrew high-priests left it in their turns to profanation—came Christ who renewed, purified and transmitted it to his aposltes. St. John was a Kabalist. All of the first Christian founders, writers, father of the Church, Apostles, Popes and Bishops were Kabalists and adepts of various degrees . . .
The Christian initiation has now, however, ceased. There are but few adepts now-a-days—yet there are some left. . . . The adepts are waiting for the renovation of Initiation through two persons; that is to say, of the two persons who will reveal once more the grand mysteries, one will become the spiritual, the other the political ruler—“Aaron and Moses.” The object of the true initiation is to found the Kingdom of Heaven, on earth, based upon truth and justice supported by one strong Church and one strong empire. Let us hope it will come soon.4
4. It is the firm belief of the Kabalists (the Jewish especially) that the time will come when all the nations will be one under one Church composed of Hierophants, whose combined knowledge and wisdom, symbols and differences will also be one.
Why should you not know more than I do? You know better and more languages than I do, and have easier access to books than I. The religion or rather the philosophy of the adepts, i.e. their rites, are easy enough to learn theoretically; sufficient for it to read, to reflect and understand. As to the practice, or the application of the secret forces in nature to deeds—it is very difficult; none of the adepts ever put this science clearly in writing, on the contrary they have all concealed the means used. One can be toiling 20 years and more and have no success. . . . I searched and pursued the mystery of the “rod of Moses” and partiall—the Philosopher’s stone. My labour was interrupted only owing to the iniquitous and impious attempts of the Nihilists and I gave it up lest I should become suspected5 of treason. Thus I was prevented from discovering fully these secrets, yet I learned something of them . . .
5. The writer refers here to alchemical works. The crucible and the ever burning fire of the seeker after the Philosopher’s stone risk certainly to be easily mistaken by the ignorant Police and detectives (in search for the criminal fabricators of dynamite and explosive bombs)—for an apparatus of the murderous Nihilists.