THEOSOPHY, Vol. 58, No. 7, May, 1970
(Pages 201-207; Size: 20K)
(Number 31 of a 36-part series)



THE greatest of the kabalistic works of the Hebrews -- the Sohar -- was compiled by Rabbi Simeon Ben-Iochaï. According to some critics, this was done years before the Christian era; according to others only after the destruction of the temple. However, it was completed only by the son of Simeon, Rabbi Eleazar, and his secretary, Rabbi Abba; for the work is so immense and the subjects treated so abstruse that even the whole life of this Rabbi, called the Prince of kabalists, did not suffice for the task. On account of its being known that he was in possession of this knowledge, and of the Mercaba, which insured the reception of the "Word," his very life was endangered, and he had to fly to the wilderness, where he lived in a cave for twelve years, surrounded by faithful disciples, and finally died there amid signs and wonders.

But voluminous as is the work, and containing as it does the main points of the secret and oral tradition, it still does not embrace it all. It is well known that this venerable kabalist never imparted the most important points of his doctrine otherwise than orally, and to a very limited number of friends and disciples, including his only son. Therefore, without the final initiation into the Mercaba the study of the Kabala will be ever incomplete, and the Mercaba can be taught only in "darkness, in a deserted place, and after many and terrific trials." Since the death of Simeon Ben-Iochai this hidden doctrine has remained an inviolate secret for the outside world. Delivered only as a mystery, it was communicated to the candidate orally, "face to face and mouth to ear."

This Masonic commandment, "mouth to ear, and the word at low breath," is an inheritance from the Tanaïm and the old Pagan Mysteries. Its modern use must certainly be due to the indiscretion of some renegade kabalist, though the "word" itself is but a "substitute" for the "lost word," and is a comparatively modern invention, as we will further show. The real sentence has remained forever in the sole possession of the adepts of various countries of the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Only a limited number among the chiefs of the Templars, and some Rosicrucians of the seventeenth century, always in close relations with Arabian alchemists and initiates, could really boast of its possession. From the seventh to the fifteenth centuries there was no one who could claim it in Europe; and although there had been alchemists before the days of Paracelsus, he was the first who had passed through the true initiation, that last ceremony which conferred on the adept the power of travelling toward the "burning bush" over the holy ground, and to "burn the golden calf in the fire, grind it to powder, and strow it upon the water." Verily, then, this magic water, and the "lost word," resuscitated more than one of the pre-Mosaic Adonirams, Gedaliahs, and Hiram Abiffs. The real word now substituted by Mac Benac and Mah was used ages before its pseudo-magical effect was tried on the "widow's sons" of the last two centuries. Who was, in fact, the first operative Mason of any consequence? Elias Ashmole, the last of the Rosicrucians and alchemists. Admitted to the freedom of the Operative Masons' Company in London, in 1646, he died in 1692. At that time Masonry was not what it became later; it was neither a political nor a Christian institution, but a true secret organization, which admitted into the ties of fellowship all men anxious to obtain the priceless boon of liberty of conscience, and avoid clerical persecution. Not until about thirty years after his death did what is now termed modern Freemasonry see the light. It was born on the 24th day of June, 1717, in the Apple-tree Tavern, Charles Street, Covent Garden, London. And it was then, as we are told in Anderson's Constitutions, that the only four lodges in the south of England elected Anthony Sayer first Grand Master of Masons. Notwithstanding its great youth, this grand lodge has ever claimed the acknowledgement of its supremacy by the whole body of the fraternity throughout the whole world, as the Latin inscription on the plate put beneath the corner-stone of Freemasons' Hall, London, in 1775, would tell to those who could see it.

In Die Kabbala, by Franck, the author, following its "esoteric ravings," as he expresses it, gives us, in addition to the translations, his commentaries. Speaking of his predecessors, he says that Simeon Ben-Iochai mentions repeatedly what the "companions" have taught in the older works. And the author cites one "Ieba, the old, and Hamnuna, the old." But what the two "old" ones mean, or who they were, in fact, he tells us not, for he does not know himself.

Among the venerable sect of the Tanaïm, or rather the Tananim, the wise men, there were those who taught the secrets practically and initiated some disciples into the grand and final Mystery. But the Mishna Hagiga, 2d section, say that the table of contents of the Mercaba "must only be delivered to wise old ones." The Gemara is still more dogmatic. "The more important secrets of the Mysteries were not even revealed to all priests. Alone the initiates had them divulged." And so we find the same great secrecy prevalent in every ancient religion.

But, as we see, neither the Sohar nor any other kabalistic volume contains merely Jewish wisdom. The doctrine itself being the result of whole millenniums of thought, is therefore the joint property of adepts of every nation under the sun. Nevertheless, the Sohar teaches practical occultism more than any other work on that subject; not as it is translated though, and commented upon by its various critics, but with the secret signs on its margins. These signs contain the hidden instructions, apart from the metaphysical interpretations and apparent absurdities so fully credited by Josephus, who was never initiated, and gave out the dead letter as he had received it.

The real practical magic contained in the Sohar and other kabalistic works, is only of use to those who read it within. The Christian apostles -- at least, those who are said to have produced "miracles" at will(1) -- had to be acquainted with this science. It ill-behooves a Christian to look with horror or derision upon "magic" gems, amulets, and other talismans against the "evil eye," which serve as charms to exercise a mysterious influence, either on the possessor, or the person whom the magician desires to control. There are still extant a number of such charmed amulets in public and private collections of antiquities. Illustrations of convex gems, with mysterious legends -- the meaning of which baffles all scientific inquiry -- are given by many collectors. King shows several such in his Gnostics, and he describes a white carnelian (chalcedony), covered on both sides with interminable legends, to interpret which would ever prove a failure; yes, in every case, perhaps, but that of a Hermetic student or an adept. But we refer the reader to his interesting work, and the talismans described in his plates, to show that even the "Seer of Patmos" himself was well-versed in this kabalistic science of talismans and gems. St. John clearly alludes to the potent "white carnelian" -- a gem well-known among adepts, as the "alba petra," or the stone of initiation, on which the word "prize" is generally found engraved, as it was given to the candidate who had successfully passed through all the preliminary trials of a neophyte. The fact is, that no less than the Book of Job, the whole Revelation, is simply an allegorical narrative of the Mysteries and initiation therein of a candidate, who is John himself. No high Mason, well versed in the different degrees, can fail to see it. The numbers seven, twelve, and others are all so many lights thrown over the obscurity of the work. Paracelsus maintained the same some centuries ago.

In the pre-Christian Mithraïc Mysteries, the candidate who fearlessly overcame the "twelve Tortures," which precede the final initiation, received a small round cake or wafer of unleavened bread, symbolizing, in one of its meanings, the solar disk and known as the heavenly bread or "manna," and having figures traced on it. A lamb, or a bull was killed, and with the blood the candidate had to be sprinkled, as in the case of the Emperor Julian's initiation. The seven rules or mysteries were then delivered to the "newly-born" that are represented in the Revelation as the seven seals which are opened "in order" (see chap. v. and vi.). There can be no doubt that the Seer of Patmos referred to this ceremony.

The origin of the Roman Catholic amulets and "relics" blessed by the Pope, is the same as that of the "Ephesian Spell," or magical characters engraved either on a stone or drawn on a piece of parchment; the Jewish amulets with verses out of the Law, and called phylacteria, and the Mahometan charms with verses of the Koran. All these were used as protective magic spells; and worn by the believers on their persons. Epiphanius, the worthy ex-Marcosian, who speaks of these charms when used by the Manicheans as amulets, that is to say, things worn round the neck (Periapta), and "incantations and such-like trickery," cannot well throw a slur upon the "trickery" of the Pagans and Gnostics, without including the Roman Catholic and Popish amulets.

But consistency is a virtue which we fear is losing, under Jesuit influence, the slight hold it may ever have had on the Church. That crafty, learned, conscienceless, terrible soul of Jesuitism, within the body of Romanism, is slowly but surely possessing itself of the whole prestige and spiritual power that clings to it. For the better exemplification of our theme it will be necessary to contrast the moral principles of the ancient Tanaïm and Theurgists with those professed by the modern Jesuits, who practically control Romanism to-day, and are the hidden enemy that would-be reformers must encounter and overcome. Throughout the whole of antiquity, where, in what land, can we find anything like this Order or anything even approaching it? We owe a place to the Jesuits in this chapter on secret societies, for more than any other they are a secret body, and have a far closer connection with actual Masonry -- in France and Germany at least -- than people are generally aware of. The cry of an outraged public morality was raised against this Order from its very birth [1540]. Barely fifteen years had elapsed after the bull approving its constitution was promulgated, when its members began to be driven away from one place to the other. Portugal and the Low Countries got rid of them, in 1578; France in 1594; Venice in 1606; Naples in 1622. From St. Petersburg they were expelled in 1815, and from all Russia in 1820.

It was a promising child from its very teens. What it grew up to be every one knows well. The Jesuits have done more moral harm in this world than all the fiendish armies of the mythical Satan. Whatever extravagance may seem to be involved in this remark, will disappear when our readers in America, who now know little about them, are made acquainted with their principles (principio) and rules as they appear in various works written by the Jesuits themselves. We beg leave to remind the public that every one of the statements which follow in quotation marks are extracted from authenticated manuscripts, or folios printed by this distinguished body. Many are copied from the large Quarto published by the authority of, and verified and collated by the Commissioners of the French Parliament. The statements therein were collected and presented to the King, in order that, as the "Arrest du Parlement du 5 Mars, 1762," expresses it, "the elder son of the Church might be made aware of the perversity of this doctrine.... A doctrine authorizing Theft, Lying, Perjury, every Passion and Crime, teaching Homicide, Parricide, and Regicide, overthrowing religion in order to substitute for it superstition, by favoring Sorcery, Blasphemy Irreligion, and Idolatry ... etc." Let us then examine the ideas on magic of the Jesuits. Writing on this subject in his secret instructions, Anthony Escobar says:

"It is lawful ... to make use of the science acquired through the assistance of the Devil, provided the preservation and use of that knowledge do not depend upon the Devil, for the knowledge is good in itself, and the sin by which it was acquired has gone by." Hence, why should not a Jesuit cheat the Devil as well as he cheats every layman?

"Astrologers and soothsayers are either bound, or are not bound, to restore the reward of their divination, if the event does not come to pass. I own" remarks the good Father Escobar, "that the former opinion does not at all please me, because, when the astrologer or diviner has exerted all the diligence in the diabolic art which is essential to his purpose, he has fulfilled his duty, whatever may be the result. As the physician ... is not bound to restore his fee ... if his patient should die; so neither is the astrologer bound to restore his charge ... except where he has used no effort, or was ignorant of his diabolic art; because, when he has used his endeavors he has not deceived."

Further, we find the following on astrology: "If any one affirms, through conjecture founded upon the influence of the stars and the character, disposition of a man, that he will be a soldier, an ecclesiastic, or a bishop, this divination map be devoid of all sin; because the stars and the disposition of the man may have the power of inclining the human will to a certain lot or rank, but not of constraining it."

Busembaum and Lacroix, in Theologia Moralis, say, "Palmistry may be considered lawful, if from the lines and divisions of the hands it can ascertain the disposition of the body, and conjecture, with probability, the propensities and affections of the soul."

This noble fraternity, which many preachers have of late so vehemently denied to have ever been a secret one, has been sufficiently proved as such. Their constitutions were translated into Latin by the Jesuit Polancus, and printed in the college of the Society at Rome, in 1558. "They were jealously kept secret, the greater part of the Jesuits themselves knowing only extracts from them. They were never produced to the light until 1761, when they were published by order of the French Parliament in 1761, 1762, in the famous process of Father Lavalette." The degrees of the Order are: I. Novices; II. Lay Brothers, or temporal Coadjutors; III. Scholastics; IV. Spiritual Coadjutors; V. Professed of Three Vows; VI. Professed of Five Vows. "There is also a secret class, known only to the General and a few faithful Jesuits, which, perhaps more than any other, contributed to the dreaded and mysterious power of the Order," says Niccolini. The Jesuits reckon it among the greatest achievements of their Order that Loyola supported, by a special memorial to the Pope, a petition for the reörganization of that abominable and abhorred instrument of wholesale butchery -- the infamous tribunal of the Inquisition.

This Order of Jesuits is now all-powerful in Rome. They have been reinstalled in the Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, in the Department of the Secretary of State, and in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Pontifical Government was for years previous to Victor Emanuel's occupation of Rome entirely in their hands. The Society now numbers 8,584 members. But we must see what are their chief rules. By what is seen above, in becoming acquainted with their mode of action, we may ascertain what the whole Catholic body is likely to be. Says Mackenzie: "The Order has secret signs and passwords, according to the degrees to which the members belong, and as they wear no particular dress, it is very difficult to recognize them, unless they reveal themselves as members of the Order; for they may appear as Protestants or Catholics, democrats or aristocrats, infidels or bigots, according to the special mission with which they are entrusted. Their spies are everywhere, of all apparent ranks of society, and they may appear learned and wise, or simple or foolish, as their instructions run. There are Jesuits of both sexes, and all ages, and it is a well-known fact that members of the Order, of high family and delicate nurture, are acting as menial servants in Protestant families, and doing other things of a similar nature in aid of the Society's purposes. We cannot be too much on our guard, for the whole Society, being founded on a law of unhesitating obedience, can bring its force on any given point with unerring and fatal accuracy." (Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia.)

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(2) NOTE.--"The Christian Scheme," begun in November, 1967, is collated from the works of H. P. Blavatsky. It recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
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(1) There are unconscious miracles produced sometimes, which, like the phenomena now called "Spiritual," are caused through natural cosmic powers, mesmerism, electricity, and the invisible beings who are always at work around us, whether they be human or elementary spirits.
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