Chapter 1 (The Church! Where is it?”) Christianity’s relation to Spiritualism and Paganism
Not quite the epic, revolutionary, innovative manifesto that was volume one, volume two is more linear and focused. It is essentially concerned with exploring the origins of Christianity and critiquing the Nicene creed. It aims at proposing a reformation of Christian theology through comparative religion and esoteric philosophy, notably in vindicating Gnosticism and the Kabbalah; hence she can be considered a seminal figure in the revival of those two belief systems. This work can also be seen as a forerunner of all the alternative biographies of Jesus Christ that continue to catch the public attention. The first chapter is a solid introduction that succinctly presents some key themes that will be more fully developed in later chapters.
1- Christianity’s attitude towards paganism and spiritualism (p.1)
Summoning back the long-forgotten memories of the Mosaic laws, the Romish Church claims the monopoly of miracles, and of the right to sit in judgment over them, as being the sole heir thereto by direct inheritance. The Old Testament, exiled by Colenso, his predecessors and contemporaries, is recalled from its banishment. The prophets, whom his Holiness the Pope condescends at last to place, if not on the same level with himself, at least at a less respectful distance,*** are dusted and cleaned. The memory of all the diabolical abracadabra is evoked anew. The blasphemous horrors perpetrated by Paganism, its phallic worship, thaumaturgical wonders wrought by Satan, human sacrifices, incantations, witchcraft, magic, and sorcery are recalled and DEMONISM is confronted with spiritualism for mutual recognition and identification. Our modern demonologists conveniently overlook a few insignificant details, among which is the undeniable presence of heathen phallism in the Christian symbols. A strong spiritual element of this worship may be easily demonstrated in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God; and a physical element equally proved in the fetish-worship of the holy limbs of Sts. Cosmo and Damiano, at Isernia, near Naples; a successful traffic in which ex-voto in wax was carried on by the clergy, annually, until barely a half century ago.* 4-5
It is but fair to say at once that the last of the true Christians died with the last of the direct apostles. Max Muller forcibly asks: “How can a missionary in such circumstances meet the surprise and questions of his pupils, unless he may point to that seed,** and tell them what Christianity was meant to be? unless he may show that, like all other religions, Christianity too, has had its history; that the Christianity of the nineteenth century is not the Christianity of the middle ages, and that the Christianity of the middle ages was not that of the early Councils; that the Christianity of the early Councils was not that of the Apostles, and that what has been said by Christ, that alone was well said?”*** (10)
2-Origin of Christian belief in the Devil and Hell (10)
Whence then did the divine learn so well the conditions of hell, as to actually divide its torments into two kinds, the poena damni and poenae sensus, the former being the privation of the beatific vision; the latter the eternal pains in a lake of fire and brimstone? If they answer us that it is in the Apocalypse (xx. 10), we are prepared to demonstrate whence the theologist John himself derived the idea, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented for ever and ever,” he says. Laying aside the esoteric interpretation that the “devil” or tempting demon meant our own earthly body, which after death will surely dissolve in the fiery or ethereal elements,* the word “eternal” by which our theologians interpret the words “for ever and ever” does not exist in the Hebrew language, either as a word or meaning. 12
3- Christianity’s relation to the Supernatural (16)
Where, in the records of European Magic, can we find cleverer enchanters than in the mysterious solitudes of the cloister? Albert Magnus, the famous Bishop and conjurer of Ratisbon, was never surpassed in his art. Roger Bacon was a monk, and Thomas Aquinas one of the most learned pupils of Albertus. Trithemius, Abbott of the Spanheim Benedictines, was the teacher, friend, and confidant of Cornelius Agrippa; and while the confederations of the Theosophists were scattered broadcast about Germany, where they first originated, assisting one another, and struggling for years for the acquirement of esoteric knowledge, any person who knew how to become the favored pupil of certain monks, might very soon be proficient in all the important branches of occult learning.
This is all in history and cannot be easily denied. Magic, in all its aspects, was widely and nearly openly practiced by the clergy till the Reformation. And even he who was once called the “Father of the Reformation,” the famous John Reuchlin,* author of the Mirific Word and friend of Pico di Mirandola, the teacher and instructor of Erasmus, Luther, and Melancthon, was a kabalist and occultist. (20)
4- The attitude of Science and Comparative Religion to Spiritualism (25)
But if Science has unintentionally helped the progress of the occult phenomena, the latter have reciprocally aided science herself. Until the days when newly-reincarnated philosophy boldly claimed its place in the world, there had been but few scholars who had undertaken the difficult task of studying comparative theology. This science occupies a domain heretofore penetrated by few explorers. The necessity which it involved of being well acquainted with the dead languages, necessarily limited the number of students. Besides, there was less popular need for it so long as people could not replace the Christian orthodoxy by something more tangible. (25)
5- India and Paganism as source of Christian theology (The logos, the Trinity, the Eucharist) (30)
Babylonia happened to be situated on the way of the great stream of the earliest Hindu emigration, and the Babylonians were one of the first peoples benefited thereby.** These Khaldi were the worshippers of the Moon-god, Deus Lunus, from which fact we may infer that the Akkadians — if such must be their name — belonged to the race of the Kings of the Moon, whom tradition shows as having reigned in Pruyay — now Allahabad. With them the trinity of Deus Lunus was manifested in the three lunar phases, completing the quaternary with the fourth, and typifying the death of the Moon-god in its gradual waning and final disappearance.
This death was allegorized by them, and attributed to the triumph of the genius of evil over the light-giving deity; as the later nations allegorized the death of their Sun-gods, Osiris and Apollo, at the hands of Typhon and the great Dragon Python, when the sun entered the winter solstice. Babel, Arach, and Akkad are names of the sun.
The Zoroastrian Oracles are full and explicit upon the subject of the Divine Triad. “A triad of Deity shines forth throughout the whole world, of which a Monad is the head,” admits the Reverend Dr. Maurice.
“For from this Triad, in the bosoms, are all things governed,” says a Chaldean oracle. The Phos, Pur, and Phlox, of Sanchoniathon,*** are Light, Fire, and Flame, three manifestations of the Sun who is one. Bel-Saturn, Jupiter-Bel, and Bel or Baal-Chom are the Chaldean trinity;**** “The Babylonian Bel was regarded in the Triume aspect of Belitan, Zeus-Belus (the mediator) and Baal-Chom who is Apollo Chomaeus. This was the Triune aspect of the ‘Highest God,’ who is, according to Berosus, either El (the Hebrew), Bel, Belitan, Mithra, or Zervana, and has the name [[Pater]], “the Father.”*****
The Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva,****** corresponding to Power, Wisdom, and Justice, which answer in their turn to Spirit, Matter, Time, and the Past, Present, and Future, can be found in the temple of Gharipuri; thousands of dogmatic Brahmans worship these attributes of the Vedic Deity, while the severe monks and nuns of Buddhistic Thibet recognize but the sacred trinity of the three cardinal virtues: Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, professed by the Christians, practiced by the Buddhists and some Hindus alone.
The Persian triplicate Deity also consists of three persons, Ormazd, Mithra, and Ahriman. “That is that principle,” says Porphyry,* “which the author of the Chaldaic Summary saith, ‘They conceive there is one principle of all things, and declare that is one and good.‘ ”
The Chinese idol Sanpao, consists of three equal in all respects;** and the Peruvians “supposed their Tanga-tanga to be one in three, and three in one,” says Faben.*** The Egyptians have their Emepht, Eicton, and Phta; and the triple god seated on the Lotos can be seen in the St. Petersburg Museum, on a medal of the Northern Tartars. (49)
6- Christianity’s struggles with Gnostics and Neoplatonists (51)
In the foregoing lies the foundation of the fierce hatred of the Christians toward the “Pagans” and the theurgists. Too much had been borrowed; the ancient religions and the Neo-platonists had been laid by them under contribution sufficiently to perplex the world for several thousand years. Had not the ancient creeds been speedily obliterated, it would have been found impossible to preach the Christian religion as a New Dispensation, or the direct Revelation from God the Father, through God the Son, and under the influence of God the Holy Ghost. As a political exigence the Fathers had — to gratify the wishes of their rich converts — instituted even the festivals of Pan. They went so far as to accept the ceremonies hitherto celebrated by the Pagan world in honor of the God of the gardens, in all their primitive sincerity.*** It was time to sever the connection. Either the Pagan worship and the Neo-platonic theurgy, with all ceremonial of magic, must be crushed out forever, or the Christians become Neo-platonists. (51)
The following authors and their works receive notable discussion in this chapter:
Speeches of Pope Pius IX (1792-1878) (1875)
Roger Gougenot des Mousseaux (1805–76)
Les hauts phénomènes de la magie. (1864)
Friedrich Max Müller (1820-1900)
Chips from a German Workshop (1867–75, 5 vols.)
Louis Jacolliot (1837-1890)
Le Spiritisme dans le monde : l’initiation et les sciences occultes dans l’Inde et chez tous les peuples de l’antiquité. (1875)
Adolphe Franck (1809-1893)
La Kabbale ou Philosophie Religieuse des Hébreux. (1843)
John William Draper (1811-1892)
History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (1874)