From the Book: "Magic: A History of Its Rites, Rituals, and Mysteries" by Éliphas Lévi

WE are told by Kabalistic tradition that India was peopled by the descendants of Cain, and thither at a later period migrated the descendants of Abraham and Keturah; in any case it is, above all others, the country of Goetia and illusionary wonders. Black Magic has been perpetuated therein, as well as the original traditions of fratricide imposed by the powerful on the weak, continued by the dominant castes and expiated by the pariahs.

It may be said of India that she is the wise mother of all idolatries. The dogmas of her gymnosophists would be keys of highest wisdom if they did not open more easily the gates leading to degradation and death. The astounding wealth of Indian symbolism seems to suggest that it is anterior to all others, and this is supported by the primeval freshness of its poetic conceptions. But the root of its tree seems to have been devoured by the infernal serpent. That deification of the devil against which we have already entered an energetic protest is displayed in all its grossness. The terrible Trimurti of the Brahmans comprises a Creator, a Destroyer and a Preserver. Their Adhi-nari, who represents the Divine Mother, or Celestial Nature, is called also Bohani, to whom the thugs or stranglers make votive offerings of their murders. Vishnu, the preserver, incarnates only to destroy an inferior devil, who is always brought back to life by the intervention of Siva, or Rudra, the god of death.

One is conscious that Siva is the apotheosis of Cain, but there is nothing in all this mythology which recalls the mildness of Abel. The mysteries of India are notwithstanding grandiose in their poetry and singularly profound in their allegories; but they are the Kabalah in profanation, and hence so far from sustaining the soul and leading it to supreme wisdom, Brahminism, with its learned theories, plunges it into gulfs of madness.

It was from the false Kabalism of India that the Gnostics borrowed their reveries—by turns horrible and obscene; it is also Indian Magic, manifesting on the threshold of the occult sciences with a thousand deformities, which terrifies reasonable minds and provokes the anathemas of all the understanding churches. It is this false and dangerous knowledge, so often confounded by the ignorant and by smatterers with true science, which has involved all that bears the name of occultism in a general condemnation, to which the author of these pages himself subscribed sincerely before he had attained the key of the magical sanctuary. For theologians of the Vedas, God manifests as force only; all progress and all revelations are determined by conquest; Vishnu incarnates in monstrous leviathans of the sea and in enormous wild boars, which mould the primeval earth with their snouts.

Still, it is a marvellous pantheistic genesis, and the authors of its fables are lucid at least in their somnambulism. The ten Avatars of Vishnu correspond numerically to the Sephiroth of the Kabalah. The god in question assumed successively three animal or elementary forms of life, after which he became a sphinx and then a human being. He appeared next as Brahma and in a guise of assumed humility possessed the whole earth. He was a child on another occasion, and as such the consoling angel of the patriarchs. After this he assumed the mask of a warrior and gave battle to the oppressors of the world. Again he was embodied as diplomacy, opposing it to violence, and seems at this point to have abandoned the human form to assume the agility of the monkey. Diplomacy and violence consumed each other, and the world awaited some intellectual and moral redeemer. Vishnu thereupon incarnated as Krishna. He was proscribed even in his cradle, beside which there watched the symbolical ass. He was carried far away to save him from the power of his enemies; he attained manhood and preached the doctrine of mercy and good works. He descended into hell, bound the infernal serpent and returned gloriously to heaven. His annual festival is in August, under the sign of the Virgin. Here is astonishing intuition concerning Christian mysteries and so much the more impressive when we remember that the sacred books of India passed into writing many centuries before the Christian era. To the revelation of Krishna succeeded that"of Buddha, who married the purest religion to philosophy of the highest kind. The happiness of the world was thus held to be secured and there was nothing further to expect, pending the tenth and final incarnation, when Vishnu will return in his proper form, leading the horse of the last judgment—that dread steed whose forefoot is raised always and when it is set down the world will be strewn in atoms.

We may note herein the presence of the sacred numbers and prophetic calculations of the Magi. Gymnosophists and Zoroastrian initiates drew from the same sources, but it was the false and black Zoroaster who remained master of theology in India. The final secrets of this degenerate doctrine are pantheism and its legitimate consequence, being absolute materialism masquerading as the absolute negation of matter. But what, it may be asked, does it signify whether spirit is materialised or matter spiritualised so long as the equality and identity of the two terms are postulated? But the consequence of such pantheism is, however, mortal to ethics: there are neither crimes nor virtues in a world where all is God. We may expect after such teachings a progressive degradation of the Brahmans into a fanatical quietism; but as yet the end was not reached. It remained for their great magical ritual, the Indian book of occultism, otherwise the Oupnek'hat, to furnish the physical and moral means of consummating the work of their stupefaction and arriving by a graduated method at that raving madness termed by their sorcerers the Divine State. The work in question is the progenitor of all grimoires and the most curious among the antiquities of Goetia. It is divided into fifty sections and is a darkness spangled with stars. Sublime maxims are blended with false oracles.1 At times it reads like the Gospel of St. John; as, for example, in the following extracts from the eleventh and forty-eighth sections.

Oupnek'hat (Commentary by E.A. Waite):
"A position apart from the 52 and the 108 Upanishads is occupied by that collection of 50 Upanishads which, under the name of Oupnek'hat, was translated from the Sanskrit into the Persian in the year 1656 at the instance of the Sultan Mohammed Dara Shakoh, and from the Persian into the Latin in 1801-2 by Anquetil Duperron. The Oupnek'hat professes to be a general collection of Upanishads. It contains under twelve divisions the Upanishads of the three older Vedas, and with them 26 Atharva Upanishads that are known from other sources. It further comprises eight treatises peculiar to itself, five of which have not up to the present time been proved to exist elsewhere, and of which therefore a rendering from the Persian-Latin of Anquetil is alone possible. Finally the Oupnek'hat contains four treatises from the Vaj. Samh. 16, 31, 32, 34, of which the first is met with in a shorter form in other collections also, as in the Nilarudra Upanishad, while the three last have nowhere else found admission. The reception of these treatises from the Samhita into the body of the Upanishads, as though there were danger of their falling otherwise into oblivion, makes us infer a comparatively later date for the Oupnek'hat collection itself, although as early as 1656 the Persian translators made no claim to be the original compilers, but took the collection over already complete. Owing to the excessive literality with which Anquetil Duperron rendered these Upanishads word by word from the Persian into Latin, while preserving the syntax of the former language—a literality that stands in striking contrast to the freedom with which the Persian translators treated the Sanskrit text—the Oupnek'hat is a very difficult book to read; and an insight as keen as that of Schopenhauer was required in order to discover within this repellent husk a kernel of invaluable philosophical significance, and to turn it to account for his own system. An examination of the material placed at our disposal in the Oupnek'hat was first undertaken by A. Weber, Ind. Stud. 1, 11, ix, on the basis of the Sanskrit text. Meanwhile the original texts were published in the Bibliotheca Indica in part with elaborate commentaries, and again in the Anandas'rama series. The two longest and some of the shorter treatises have appeared in a literal German rendering by Ol Bohtlingk. Max Miiller translated the twelve oldest Upanishads in Sacred Books of the East, vol. i, 15. And my own translation of the 60 Upanishads contains complete texts of this character which, upon the strength of their regular occurrence in the Indian collections and lists of the Upanishads, may lay claim to a certain canonicity. The prefixed introductions and the notes treat exhaustively of the matter and composition of the several treatises."

"The angel of creative fire is the word of God, which word produced the earth and the vegetation that issues therefrom, together with the heat which ripens it. The word of the Creator is itself the Creator and is also His only Son." Now, on the other hand, the reveries are worthy only of the most extravagant arch-heretics: "Matter being only a deceptive appearance, the sun, the stars and the very elements are genii, while animals are demons and man is a pure spirit deceived by the illusions of forms." We are perhaps sufficiently edified by these extracts in respect of doctrinal matters and may proceed to the Magical Ritual of the Indian enchanters.

"In order to become God, the breath must be retained—that is to say, it must be inhaled as long as possible, till the chest is well distended— and in the second place, the divine OM must be repeated inwardly forty times while in this state. Expiration, in the third place, follows very slowly, the breath being mentally directed through the heavens to make contact with the universal ether. Those who would succeed in this exercise must be blind, deaf and motionless as a log of wood. The posture is on knees and elbows, with the face turned to the North. One nostril is stopped with a finger, the air is inhaled by the other, which is then also closed, the action being accompanied by dwelling in thought on the idea that God is the Creator, that He is in all animals, in the ant even as in the elephant. The mind must be absorbed in these thoughts. OM is at first recited twelve times and afterwards twenty-four times during each inspiration, and then as rapidly as possible. This regimen must be continued for three months—without fear, without remission, eating and sleeping little. In the fourth month the Devas will manifest; in the fifth you will have acquired all qualities of the Devatas; in the sixth you will be saved and will have become God."

What seems certain is that in the sixth month the fanatic who is sufficiently imbecile to persevere in such a practice will be dead or insane. If, however, he should really survive this exercise in mystic breathing the Oupnek'hat does not leave him in the happy position mentioned but makes him pass to other experiences.

"With the end of one finger close the anus, and then draw the breath from below upwards on the right side; make it circulate three times round the second centre of the body; thence bring it to the navel, which is the third centre; then to the fourth, which is the middle of the heart; subsequently to the throat, which is the fifth; and finally to the sixth, which is the root of the nose. There retain the breath: it has become that of the universal soul."

This seems simply an auto-hypnotic method of inducing a certain cerebral congestion. But the author of the treatise continues-:
"Think therefore of the great OM, which is the name of the Creator and is that universal, pure and indivisible voice which fills all things. This voice is the Creator Himself, Who becomes audible to the contemplative after ten manners. The first sound is like that of a little sparrow; the second is twice the first in volume; the third is like the sound of a cymbal; the fourth is as the murmur of a great shell; the fifth is comparable to the song of the India lyre; the sixth is like the sound of the instrument called tal; the seventh resembles the sound of a bacabou flute, held close to the ear; the eighth is like that of the instrument called Pakaoudj, which is struck with the hand; the ninth is like the sound of a little trumpet and the tenth like that of a thunder cloud. At each of these sounds the contemplative passes through different states, and at the tenth he becomes God. At the first sound the hairs of his whole body rise erect; at the second his limbs become torpid; at the third he feels through all his frame the kind of exhaustion which follows the intercourse of love; at the fourth his head swims and he is as one intoxicated; at the fifth the life-force flows back into his brain; at the sixth this force descends into him and he is nourished thereon; at the seventh he becomes the master of vision, can see into the hearts of others, and hears the most distant voices; at the ninth be becomes so ethereal that he can pass wheresoever he will and can see without being seen, like the angels; at the tenth he becomes the universal and indivisible voice. He is the great creator, the eternal being, exempt from all and, having become the perfect peace, he dispenses peace to the world."

What is noticeable in these most curious extracts is their exhaustive description of phenomena which characterise lucid somnambulism combined with a complete practice of auto-hypnosis; it is the art of inducing ecstasy by tension of the will and fatigue of the nervous system. We recommend therefore to mesmerists a careful study of the mysteries of the Oupnek'hat. The graduated use of narcotics and of a scale of coloured discs will produce effects analogous to those described by the Indian sorcerer. M. Ragon has provided the recipe in his work on La Mafonnerie Occulte. The Oupnek'hat gives a simpler method of losing consciousness and arriving at ecstasy; it is to look with both eyes at the end of the nose and to maintain this act, or rather this grimace, until paralysis of the optic nerve supervenes. All such practices are equally painful, dangerous and ridiculous; we are far from recommending them to anyone; but we do not question that in a shorter or longer time, according to the sensibility of the subjects, they will induce ecstasy, catalepsy and even a dead swoon. In order to obtain vision and the phenomena of second sight, a state must be reached which is akin to that of sleep, death and madness. It is in this that the Indians excel, and it is perhaps to their secrets that we must refer the strange power of certain American mediums.

Black Magic may be defined as the art of inducing artificial mania in ourselves and in others; but it is also and above all the science of poisoning. What is, however, generally unknown, and the discovery in our days is due to M. Du Potet, is that it is possible to destroy life by the sudden congestion or withdrawal of the Astral Light. This may take place when, through a series of almost impossible exercises, similar to those described by the Indian sorcerer, our nervous sytem, having been habituated to all tensions and fatigues, has become a kind of living galvanic pile, capable of condensing and projecting powerfully that light which intoxicates or destroys.

We are not, however, at the end of the Oupnek'hat and its magical wonders; there is a final arcanum which the darksome hierophant entrusts to his initiates as the supreme secret of all; it is actually the shadow and reverse side of the great mystery of Transcendent Magic. Now, the latter is the absolute in morality and consequently in the direction of activity and in freedom. On the other hand, that of the Oupnek'hat is the absolute in immorality, in fatality and in deadly quietism: it is expressed as follows by the author of the Indian work:
"It is lawful to lie in order to facilitate marriages, to exalt the virtues of a Brahman or the good qualities of a cow. God is truth, and in Him shadow and light are one. Whosoever is acquainted with this truth never lies, for his very falsehood turns true.
Whatever sin he commits, whatever evil he performs, he is never guilty; if he committed a double parricide; if he killed a Brahman initiated into the mysteries of the Vedas; in a word, whatever he did, his light would not be impaired, for God says: I am the Universal Soul; in Me are good and evil, which are moderated one by the other; he who knows this cannot sin, for he is universal even as Myself."

Such doctrines are incompatible with civilisation, and furthermore, by stereotyping its social hierarchy, India has imbedded anarchy in the castes whereas social life is a question of exchange. Now, exchange" is impossible when everything belongs to a few and nothing to others. What do social gradations signify in a putative civil state wherein no one can fall or rise? Herein is the long-delayed punishment of the fratricide; it is one which involves his entire race and condemns it to death. Should some alien, proud and egotistic nation intervene, it will sacrifice India— even as oriental legends tell us that Cain was killed by Lamech. Woe, notwithstanding to the murderer of Cain—so say the sacred oracles of the Bible.