Considerations on Magic
The Path, March, 1887
We hear a good deal nowadays and are likely to hear still more of occult science. In this regard we may as well accept the inevitable. All things have their day, and all things revolve in cycles; they come and go, and come again, though never twice the same. Even our very thoughts conform to this universal law. The life, the teachings, and the fate of Pythagoras are involved in mystery, but the fate of the schools which he established and of the followers who succeeded him are matters of history. The slaughter of the Magi stands over against the abuses and abominations which were perpetrated in their name, and doubtless by many styling themselves Magicians.
It is not the object of this brief paper to attempt to define magic, or elucidate occult Science as such, but rather to suggest a few considerations which are of vital import at the present time, equally important to those who utterly deny to magic any more than an imaginative basis, as to those who convinced of its existence as a science, are, or are to become investigators. In both the publications and conversations of the day, frequently occur the expressions “black magic,” and “white magic” and those who follow these studies are designated as followers of the “left hand path,” or the “right hand path“. It ought to be understood that up to a certain point all students of magic, or occultism, journey together. By and by is reached a place where two roads meet, or where the common path divides, and the awful voice from the silence, heard only in the recesses of the individual soul utters the stern command: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” Instead of black and white magic, read, black and white motive.
The student of occultism is rushing on his destiny, but up to a certain point that destiny is in his own hands, though he is constantly shaping his course, freeing his soul from the trammels of sense and self, or becoming entangled in the web, which, with warp and woof will presently clothe him as with a garment without a seam.
If early in the race he finds it difficult to shake off his chains, let him remember that at every step they grow more and more tyrannical, and often before the goal is reached where the ways divide, the battle is lost or won, and the decision there is only a matter of form. That decision once made is irrevocable, or so nearly so that no exception need be made. Man lives at once in two worlds: the natural and the spiritual, and as in the natural plane he influences his associates, and is in turn influenced by them, so let him not imagine that in the spiritual plane he is alone. This will be a fatal mistake for the dabbler in magic, or the student in occultism. Throughout this vast universe, the good will seek the good, and the evil the evil, each will be unconsciously drawn to its own kind.
But when man faces his destiny in full consciousness of the issues involved, as he must before the final decision is reached, he will be no longer unconscious of these influences, but will recognize his companions: companions, alas! no longer, Masters now, inhuman, pitiless; and the same law of attraction which has led him along the tortuous path, unveils its face, and by affinity of evil, the slave stands in the presence of his master, and the fiends that have all along incited him to laugh at the miseries of his fellow men, and trample under his feet every kindly impulse, every tender sympathy, now make the measureless hells within his own soul resound with their laughter at him, the poor deluded fool whose selfish pride and ambition have stifled and at last obliterated his humanity.
Blind indeed is he who cannot see why those who are in possession of arcane wisdom, hesitate in giving it out to the world, and when in the cycles of time its day has come, they put forth the only doctrine which has power to save and bless, UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD with all that the term implies.
There may be those who have already in this new era, entered the left-hand road. But now as of old, “by their works ye shall know them”. To labor with them is in vain. Selfishness, pride and lust for power are the signs by which we may know them. They may not at once cast off disguise, and they will never deceive the true Theosophist. They can nevertheless deceive to their ruin the ignorant, the curious, the unwary, and it is for such as these that these lines are penned, and the worst of it is, that these poor deluded souls, are led to believe that no such danger exists, and this belief is fortified by the so-called scientists, who are quoted as authority, and who ridicule everything but rank materialism. Yet notwithstanding all this, these simple souls flutter like moths around the flame till they are drawn within the vortex. It is better a million times, that the proud, the selfish and time-serving should eat, drink and be merry, and let occultism alone, for these propensities unless speedily eradicated, will bear fruit and ripen into quick harvests, and the wages thereof is death, literally the “second death“.
The purpose of Theosophy is to eradicate these evil tendencies of man, so that whether on the ordinary planes of daily life, or in the higher occult realms, the Christ shall be lifted up, and draw all men unto him.
“Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn.”
The Christs of all the ages have preached this one doctrine: Charity and Brotherhood of Man. To deny the law of charity is to deny the Christ. The Theosophical Society is not responsible for unveiling to the present generation the occult nature of man. Modern Spiritualism had already done this; nor is the responsibility to be charged to the Spiritualists, for these unseen forces had revealed themselves in the fullness of time, and many millions had become convinced, many against their wills, of the reality of the unseen universe. These things are here, and neither crimination, or recrimination is of any use. The responsibility therefore, rests entirely with the individual, as to what use he makes of his opportunities, as to his purposes and aims, and as he advances in his course, involved in the circle of necessity, he influences whether he will or no, those whose spheres of life touch at any point his own. As ye sow, so shall ye also reap. By and by the cycle will close and both the evil and the good will return like bread cast upon the waters. This is a law of all life.
Imagine not that they are weak and vacillating souls who enter the left-hand road: Lucifer was once a prince of light, admitted to the councils of the Most High. He fell through pride, and dragged downward in his fall all who worshiped the demon pride. This is no foolish fable, but a terrible tragedy, enacted at the gates of paradise, in the face of the assembled universe, and reenacted in the heart of man, the epitome of all. Only Infinite pity can measure the downfall of such an one, only Infinite love disarm by annihilation, and so put an end to unendurable woe, and that only when the cycle is complete, the measure of iniquity balanced by its measure of pain. Occultism and magic are not child’s-play, as many may learn to their sorrow, as many visitants of dark circles have already and long ago discovered. Better give dynamite to our children as a plaything, than Magic to the unprincipled, the thoughtless, the selfish and ignorant. Let all who have joined the Theosophical Society remember this, and search their hearts before taking the first step in any magical formulary. The motive determines all. Occult power brings with it unknown and unmeasured responsibility.
If in the secret councils of the soul, where no eye can see, and no thought deceive that divine spark conscience, we are ready to forget self, to forego pride, and labor for the well-being of man, then may the upright man face his destiny, follow this guide and fear no evil. Otherwise it were far better that a millstone were hung about his neck, and he were cast into the depths of the sea.