The Golden Star

VISION 4

Witchcraft

“When the animal shapes of the transformed beings become visible to a seer, what does it portend?” asked Ma-u.

“It may mean that that person is obsessed,” said Neteru-Hem. “It may be that he sees elementals, such as the horses and soldiers which were still heard at Marathon 400 years after the battle, as Pausanias writes. Many victims of obsessions, such as the afflicted persons of Salem and other historical outbreaks of witchcraft, are incited to suicide and other crimes when they see the forms of dogs, cats, pigs, and other animals enter their rooms, biting them, and talking to them. Others see horses with so-called heavenly riders; or yellow birds which sit on their shoulders and whisper dreadful things into their ears. All such spectral animal forms are elementals, manifesting all the worst traits of depraved human nature, without themselves being human. These elementals act either on their own behalf, or at the behest of sorcerers or witches who know how to control them; but all are bad and dangerous to the uninitiated, who often go into raptures when describing their astral visitors. They forget, or do not know, that such visions come from without instead of from within. Coming from without they should always be distrusted, for it is only within that we can find the truth. The Astral World without can be entered by the use of certain magical arts and practices, and an elemental existing without can attack a person and utterly scatter and destroy him and break him down, as a forest is stricken by a hurricane. Such an elemental can strike in a thousand places at once, without being visible; or it can select one man or woman at the command of the sorcerer’s traced signs, or his voice. It can attack even the Adept, should he be momentarily off guard; only that in such a case he would be quickly rescued by his Brothers.”

“But how can an Adept, with his vast knowledge and divine power, ever be hurt by a mere elemental force?” asked Ma-uti.

“The reason is, my child, that the Adept seldom thinks of himself, and so may neglect to surround himself with the protecting shell which no negative condition can ever penetrate. His work is that of Service to Mankind, and whereas he will do all that is possible to protect and guide others, less enlightened, he will forget his own protection against the evil he so often has to circumvent. In the earth’s atmosphere there are hosts of spirits, as you have already seen; there are the invisible but tangible magnetic vampires, the subjective Dæmons, the blood-dæmons of Porphyry, the larvæ and lemures of the ancients. Moses, the great Egyptian Initiate, who knew them so well, enacted cruel, murderous laws against witches who were possessed by these beings; but Jesus, in his divine justice and love to humanity, healed such persons instead of killing them, by driving these elementals away. Against the wisdom of Moses and Jesus, we find the ignorant opposition of most churchmen, who put down witchcraft as mere superstition. Witches and sorcerers, or wizards, are human beings who have a bad spirit within them, and this also applies to lunatics and criminals. If one can only succeed in releasing such spirits, so relieving the one obsessed, a cure can be effected; provided the victim or patient remains under expert observation for a time. Generally the victims are mentally weak, and this defect has to be repaired by careful and patient instruction and guidance. St. Paul knew how to command evil spirits to leave the body of the obsessed, and in the Kabala it is said that one should shut the door in the face of the dæmon, who will then run away as if pursued. This means that you must not give such spirits a hold on you, so that they can obsess you, and the best way to avoid them is to refrain from evil practices which attract them, for such practices form an atmosphere of sin congenial to these beings. The elemental spirits are also afraid of swords, knives, or anything sharp. We find an illustration of this in Homer, when Ulysses evokes the spirit of his friend, the soothsayer, Tiresias. Preparing for the ceremony of the festival of blood, Ulysses draws his sword and in this manner he frightens away the thousands of elementals attracted by the sacrifice. The soothsayer himself does not dare to approach either, so long as Ulysses holds the dreaded weapon.

“In the Æneid we read that Æneas prepares to descend to the Kingdom of the shadows, and as soon as they approach its entrance he is warned by the Sybil who guides him, whereupon the Trojan hero draws his sword and clears himself a passage through the dense crowd of flitting forms.

“Psellus tells how the elemental who had taken possession of the body of his sister-in-law, was driven out by a magician named Anaphalangis, who threatened the elemental with a naked sword until he was finally dislodged. He further states that the elementals are sensible to pain when struck by any hard or sharp substance; for the elemental in possession of a human body sees, hears, and feels in the same way as when not in such a body, and pain inflicted upon the body he temporarily occupies hurts the elemental as well.

“It has been said that whilst the witch is the ignorant instrument used by the elementals, the magician, on the other hand, is their master, and these spirits must obey his commands. This is true.

“The amulets prepared by a master magician, for instance, are extremely powerful, as was proved in the case of the Spanish prisoner who was condemned to be shot in 1568 by the Prince of Orange at Juliers. He was tied to a tree and fired at, but was found to be invulnerable. Thinking that he wore armour beneath his clothes they stripped him, but all that they found was an amulet. After that was taken away from him he fell dead at the first shot.

“There is also the well attested story of the Abyssinian sorcerer, who allowed himself to be shot at for a small fee by a party of Frenchmen. Although the muzzles were but two yards away from his body and at times five shots were fired at him simultaneously, he was never once touched; and when a German in the party pressed the muzzle of his gun against the body of the sorcerer and then fired, the weapon burst into fragments and the man walked off unhurt.

“Plotinus, when asked to attend the public worship of the Gods, replied proudly that it was for the spirits to come to him (for he was their master).

“Iamblichus asserted and proved that it is possible for our minds to hold communion with the highest intelligences; he always drove away any inferior spirits from his theurgical ceremonies, and taught his disciples to recognise them.

“Proclus taught that there was a magic password that would carry a person from one order of spiritual beings to another, higher and higher; till he arrived at the absolute divine.

“Jesus declared man the Lord of the Sabbath, and at his commands the terrestrial and elementary spirits fled from their temporary abodes. This power was shared by Apollonius and many of the Brotherhood of the Essenes of Judea and Mount Carmel, the predecessors of our present-day Sages, some of whom have these same powers also.

“The ancient Sortilegium, or divination by means of Sortes, or lots, was a form of witchcraft once widely practised by the clergy, and even St. Augustine sanctioned it, provided it was not used for worldly purposes; and so it was with the sainted Bishop Gregory of Tours and many other famous Churchmen.”

“How do the wizards obtain knowledge of witchcraft, dear Messenger, and what is their principal means of power over the elementals?” demanded Ma-u.

“They obtain their knowledge by initiation from their masters, and their most powerful weapon is a certain Word. A real sorcerer, or witch, cannot die until he has passed on this word to a disciple. This is a well-known fact, and when a sorcerer is dying, and there is no disciple near to whom he can pass on this Word of Power, he lingers on in agony. No one who knows the truth of this will come near him, for he can find release by passing on the Word to anyone. It is known that a doctor committed suicide after a dying sorcerer had whispered the dread Word into his ears. The wizard wanted release from his torment, but the doctor could not bear the knowledge of that secret Word; and he shot himself an hour after he had been told.

“It is not so long ago that even Royalty availed itself of the services of sorcerers, such as the apostate Jacobin priest, who had won the gratitude and protection of Queen Catherine de’ Medici, on account of his unparalleled skill in killing people at a distance for his pious mistress; and by torturing with various incantations their wax simulacræ. When her son, Charles, was dying of an incurable disease, her henchmen celebrated the devil’s mass by decapitating a young child, after giving it the holy white wafer, and then placing the palpitating head on a black wafer upon the altar. The devil was then urged to pronounce an oracle; but without avail, for Charles died—and Catherine remained the faithful daughter of Rome!

“Pope Sylvester II was publicly accused by Cardinal Benno of being a sorcerer and an enchanter; for he used a brazen ‘oracular head,’ of the same sort as was made by Albertus Magnus.

“Popes Benedict IX, John XX, and Gregory VI and VII, were all known as magicians.

“In the Record Office of the House of Rolls, in the Cromwell papers, can be found accusations of witchcraft against Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey.

“At the same time Torquemada, the confessor of Queen Isabella, burned over ten thousand persons and had eighty thousand tortured; all in the space of fourteen years.

“At Lisbon, in 1601, a trained horse, which could tell the spots on cards, was burned for witchcraft together with its trainer. Thus did holy church protect its flock from the ‘wicked’ wizards, and kept it pure.

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