(This series of 8 Speeches forms part of the 34 Speeches that Demetrius Semelas made on Alchemy in the Lodge of the Essenes of the Order of the Martinists, in Cairo, 1911.)
First Speech by D. Semelas The State of an Initiate
(19 /10 /1911. Cairo, Egypt)
The purpose of our studies on Initiation in general is to give our brothers and sisters an accurate idea of the work that we propose to carry out in the future. In this manner, through their study, they will be able to find the path that is proper to each personally, the one which each is called to follow.
This study will clearly show you the Unity of the Tradition that has come to us, either through direct transmission or through revelation.
Traditionally, there are 7 degrees in Initiation. Sometimes these are summed up to 3, and sometimes to 2.
The presentation in 3 degrees teaches the mysteries and gives the keys to the 3 planes, the physical, the astral, and the mental. These are analysed: in the science of the physical plane or Alchemy, in the science of the psychical plane or Astrosophy - Astronomy according to the time and place, and finally in the science of the mental plane or Theurgy.
Each of these 3 divisions comprises both theory and practice.
The division into 7 degrees is presented as 4 divisions for theory and 3 divisions for practice.
These 7 divisions were illustrated by the 7 steps of the Temple of Eternal Wisdom, as Kunrath presented them.
In locations where traditional Initiation was given, nobody was permitted to aim at the 5th or 7th degree before having climbed the first ones.
The Initiator assessed his Initiate’s progress by observing its effects on him, and imposed what we call trials on his disciple. These trials varied according to the School, but they all had the same aim. We shall speak about this further on.
Here are the 7 traditional divisions of the Great Initiation :
1st part (theory)
(Unitary and Traditional Principle) 1st degree : Mystery of the Unity
2nd degree: Mystery of the Binary
3rd degree: Mystery of the Quaternary
4th degree:Mystery of the Ternary
2nd part 5th or 1st degree: Adaptation of knowledge & practical
(practical) realizations, all of which lead to the mastery of
the physical plane or to the mastery of Alchemy.
(adaptation and 6th or 2nd degree: Mastery of the Astral or the psychical
plane.realization) 7th or 3rd degree: Adaptation in the mental plane or Theurgy.
As you see, it would be foolish to wish to follow the path of Initiation starting from the end. Some imprudent and ignorant amateurs did so, and the result was exactly the opposite of what they sought. Since the Invisible did not respond to their desires, they were unable to bring about any effectuation. Some of them whose character was weak, were frustrated, fell into the nihilism of atheism, and lost faith in Initiatic work and study. It is due to this thoughtlessness and this erroneous estimate, to this impatience to effectuate something, and to this foolish untested self-confidence that they were defeated and ended up unsuccessful and disillusioned. At the start, they were certainly full of good intentions, but by not following the path from its very beginning, they opened the door wide to scepticism, and finally lost their peace of mind.
I intend to provide each of you with the maximum means, and this is why we shall start on the principles and work our way progressively. We shall go through the first 4 degrees quite rapidly, which each of you will develop according to your aptitude, and then proceed to the particular study of the 3 branches of practice.
* * *
Let us take one of the three branches of the practical part at random, for example, mastery over the astral plane. We observe that in this branch, just as in the other two, all the work requires the possession of certain qualities and virtues and the realization of a certain state.
In fact, anyone who desires to approach the sanctuary and become master of some practice must try as much as possible to give birth to certain virtues within him/her. These are virtues that he does not possess. They have been designated to him through the teachings that he received. He must then cultivate them to the utmost and make them bear fruit, otherwise he runs the risk of being forever excluded from all initiatic practice or, if he attempts the practice, he then runs the risk of ending up in failures and their subsequent evils.
Therefore the disciple must:
Be morally pure. This means that through willpower, he must manage to overcome his passions and vices, banish hate from his soul, as well as everything that can hinder him from doing his humanitarian duties. Because most of his imperfections are the product of the soul, they must be fought in their own domain. And it is only by means of his Will that Man can get rid of them.
Have faith. He must believe in the existence of these 3 planes and firmly want to act on them.
Ignore fear. However, he must bear in mind the importance of the danger that exists. One can attain no mastery whatever if one is afraid.
One who is not pure of heart, one who is thwarted by hate, one who is feeble of will and lacks faith, one who is afraid of his very shadow, who is afraid of the darkness of the unknown must retrace his steps and leave the path. He cannot seek to acquire knowledge of the great mysteries.
When seen from a distance, all these great mysteries correspond to something that is beautiful and brilliant. When they are approached, reality is then seen as monstrous. Indeed take, for example, a person who externally appears beautiful and agreeable to you. What is this person like internally? What is his soul like? It may be full of passions and weaknesses. The psychical, the astral, the plane of the soul is full of all human exhalations. The astral is ugly, and it is in order to prevent you from getting disillusioned that I exhort you, my dear brothers and sisters, to study yourselves, to purify yourselves and to examine your conscience and your heart.
In ancient times anyone who demanded Initiation was compelled to undergo very hard trials. These were not meant to test his physical prowess but to assess his courage. The Masters Initiators chose as their disciples only persons who showed courage in the face of danger and those possessing great knowledge. This was because of the importance of Initiation and because of the active role of Man on the physical and astral planes. It was also because they feared disastrous and regrettable consequences that were likely to result if the one who experimented was ignorant or cowardly. In our days, such trials are no longer applied, and it is now up to the one who desires Initiation to purify his imperfect being through willpower.
Brethren, what did I tell you at the time of your Initiation? I spoke to you of the Unity presented symbolically to you by the 3 luminaries that represent the unity of Initiation on the 3 planes. In our talks on Alchemy, I explained to you the Unity in the physical plane. I shall now explain to you the Unity in the astral or psychical plane. Just as you see 3 flames springing from 3 different luminaries and forming one and unique light, so too, from the united souls of three or more persons there springs a single psychical radiation.
You know the constitution of the human body. Let us now see how the astral or psychical plane or the soul is constituted. The soul or astral is the product of the Essential Force acting on Matter. Matter is thus spiritualized and its etherization or sublimation is the result of the action of the energy of the Spirit on it. This soul, this astral, this psyche is an existing life and possibly verifiable by our animic senses, for it issues from the body and radiates. Because it is the outcome of the union of the 2 Principles of the Binary - Force or Spirit, and Matter - the soul is a third and factitious life.
Let us now see why the soul or astral is produced and what its purpose is. In Creation, all beings are united with one another by means of a mediator. This mediator is invisible to the human eye, but is existence is continuously demonstrated by the experience and the actions in everyday life. It is needless to enumerate to you the proofs of the existence of the soul. The soul, the astral, governs all, encompasses all, and impregnates all.
On our Earth it influences the mineral, vegetal and animal kingdoms. In the Universe it regulates the movement of the worlds and unites them for, since the void does not exist, it is filled with Matter that is etherized to a smaller of greater degree.
As a consequence, the purpose of the creation of the soul is to effectuate the 1st Natural Law, the occult union of all created beings with one another, as also their collective union with the Creator.
The whole of Man’s life is dependent on the soul. Even before Man’s birth, the Spirit fashions the embryo by means of the astral. After Man’s birth the Spirit devotes all its attention and efforts so as to form a healthy body. It seeks to acquire a beautiful covering (envelope) by means of which it (the Spirit) can learn to work on the physical plane. There are persons who managed to reach a superior state of being and from there on sought to penetrate higher than the physical plane by developing their soul and their spirit, which is covered by the soul. They were able to live in half of this Invisible plane and later in the whole of it.
What theory could we give so as to explain the creation of the psychic fluid or astral? A substance can become etherized only if two states that are contrary to one another adapt themselves so as to form a third, which is a factitious, a false state. These two initial states are Matter and Spirit, which are represented in Masonic symbolism by the two pillars of the Temple, one of which is black and the other is white, one is square and the other is round. This indicates two contrary things and this symbolism of the two pillars explains to you the great law according to which a third agent can result from two agents that are negative as regards each other. In this case the result is the Astral. You can find a corresponding action in Alchemy, as well as in the other branches, for the Law of Unity is the same law in all the branches of Initiation.
The symbol of what manifests Truth is at one and the same time a reality, but there also exist adaptations and emblems on all the planes, in all areas and in all the branches of Initiation. In truth the life of Christ can be adapted to everything. An apostle of the Light and of Truth cannot have a life that is not in accord with the Law that governs Creation. Since he is universal, he must accordingly render the data of the Universal Law a reality.
The two pillars designate two states that are contrary to one another and express the binary that we can find everywhere present.
* * *
The astral, the soul, the psychical plane, which is the product of Matter and Spirit, is neither Matter nor Spirit. It is simply a mediator. Do not seek to find spirituality, intelligence or reason in it. It will deceive you, and all those who have consulted it and asked its opinion - one that it cannot give - ended up with sad results. Still, the Initiate must seek to find out what is behind the physical plane and get to know the astral.
Within the material plane you cannot find any virtue whatever that is superior to instinct. The astral, the soul - which is the etherization of the physical - possesses all the imperfections of the physical and is distinguished by its great incoherence. It can only serve as a mediator so as to enable one to see and control what is more difficult to perceive through physical sight.
By evocations, ceremonials and practices, the Initiate obtains mastery over the astral, while still remaining on the physical plane. As regards what is called ‘voyage to the astral’, it is considered as exceptional as the condensations of a psychical nature (those of psychurgy). One who is called to such effectuations will eventually know how to find the requisite means and the necessary superior assistance to do so.
Second Speech by D. Semelas
On the Quaternary
(26 /10 /1911. Cairo, Egypt)
In our study of the initiatic theory we examined the Unity and the Binary. Today we shall study the Quaternary. The astral proper resides in the Unity, that is to say, in the mixed (compound) basis of the Universal All. In the Binary there is an agent and a patient - two equal contraries. The Ternary belongs to the mental plane in particular but we shall not deal with it for the present. Today we shall examine the force of the Quaternary in both the physical and the astral planes.
But let us first see its composition. Two contrary principles form the Binary; the force that balances them brings them to the Ternary; the product of the two balanced principles contributes to form the Quaternary.
You have probably not grasped very well what I have just told you. The basis of all Initiations is found in the theories that I am now presenting to you. But I shall be as explicit as possible so that you may understand this better.
The importance of the Quaternary in the astral provides most useful knowledge to one who desires to attain mastery over this plane. As we previously demonstrated, in the physical plane the occult force is derived from the union of two contrary physical principles. In like manner, the astral plane is produced from two contrary principles. Here is an example :
On the physical plane, man as such is considered positive whereas woman is considered negative. The attraction of these two principles produces a force, which is sexual love; this in turn produces a neutral being, the offspring ...... and thus the Quaternary is formed.
The same analysis can be made as regards the astral. The necessity of the existence of two principles is everywhere present. For example, would good exist if we did not have the notion of evil? Would we have the perception of daylight if night did not exist? No, we would not. Human thought would not have any concept of all these. Every realization requires the contribution of two contrary agents.
Therefore, in the astral there exist two principles, two forces, two contrary fluids, whose union brings about equilibrium.
We previously defined the astral as vivified and vivifying etheric Substance, which acts on Matter and etherizes it, giving it a factitious life. This force acts on everything in Nature and produces and etherification, and its action differs according to the gender, kind, etc, of the ‘patients’. When this force acts on mineral Matter it produces electricity, which is a mixture of Matter and of the Force that vivifies Matter. Recent discoveries have proved that electricity contains Matter - in very small quantities it is true - but its presence is enough to prove the material origin of electricity. The product of what the Spiritual Force produced, by acting on mineral Matter, is the mineral astral agent, whose active principle is the Force and whose passive principle is Matter. The action of the Cosmic Force on planets creates this mediator, this general agent, this intermediary fluid that unites asterisms to one another.
Since we see a mineral astral, there must also be an astral of the vegetal kingdom. This one differs greatly from the former. The mineral astral produces a kind of fire that supports Matter. The vegetal astral generates a vivifying production which is of service to the animal kingdom and makes it live. It is a kind of fluid that is susceptible to take on a vegetal form.
As such, the astral composition of the mineral kingdom does not possess any definite form.
Electricity cannot be seen or discerned through our material eyes. Though what we see as a spark is visible, it still does not take on a particular form. On the other hand, the vegetal astral presents its form to its material principle. One who is able to see well, can see in the neighbourhood of forests other forests superimposed on the lateral ones. In general, the astral of a vegetal can be seen by the imprint of form that it has made on its original patient ( substance ).
In the animal astral, the form is imprinted, and this creates a factitious life, which becomes adapted and remains latent in an astral state. It is felt in both the animal kingdom and in Man. Some sensitive persons have seen in the astral level various animals of strange and bizarre forms that eventually disappeared.
These beings are nonentities; they are animal astral imprints that are destined to eventually dissolve after their formation.
Bear in mind that the astral is not born as a result of an act of Will. In all three kingdoms - mineral, vegetal and animal - as well as in Man, it is the result of the association of Matter and Spiritual Force. Man does not create his astral. His Will has no part whatever in this. Every union produces a result; everything proves this to be so and Science has the same opinion on the subject. The Spiritual Principle Force on the one hand, and Matter, which is another fundamental Principle of Creation on the other, produce the balance of harmony or neutrality, which binds one to the other. Otherwise life could not exist and be manifest, and Matter would be dead.
Here is the schema of the realization of the Quaternary when applied to the astral. Among the general symbols that we constantly see, and by a new application to what we are studying, the two pillars of the Temple represent the two principles, the black one represents Matter and the white one represents the Spiritual Force. But a common support is needed for these pillars to remain upright, to be located in a particular place. This support will thus provide them with a plane of action, will unite them so that they may contribute to attain a definite purpose. This support is equilibrium, represented here by the line of the earth, on which the two pillars rest. Thus balanced, the pillars unite for a common task. Their union serves to sustain what is placed on top of them. The action of the Spiritual Force on Matter brings forth the astral, Life, which is the product of this reaction, animating Matter and making it grow.
In this manner we have this schema of the astral Quaternary - the two Principles, Matter and Spirit, which are balanced and thus produce the Astral.
Let us sum up in order to better grasp the whole meaning. We know what the positive is; it is a Force, the Spirit. The negative is Matter. The result is the Astral and Equilibrium. It is the link, the receptacle in or on which the action takes place. In Creation, it is the Universal All, where the work of Nature takes place, the quaternary work. It stands to reason that if we wish to form a chemical or other compound, we need a receptacle; if we wish to construct a temple, we need the ground on which the pillars will stand. It is only this agent, Equilibrium, that permits the action of Force on Matter, and this mystery is one of the most incomprehensible.
The ancient Greeks conceived an allegory so as to put a check on the curiosity of the profane ( secular ), for the Initiates knew what it was all about. It was the myth of Atlas bearing the world on his shoulders. The matter was considered to be quite a clear description, since nobody would think of wondering on what Atlas himself was supported !
So you see that we always come back to the subject of Equilibrium.
The Earth, just like every other star, rests on or in the bosom of a non-material agent, which continually demonstrates its presence. You will object by saying that the equilibrium of the worlds is due to the attraction and repulsion of the stars on one another. This is very true, but this attraction and this repulsion must also be expressed in some place, in some kind of substance. And since everything has a beginning and an end, at a certain point the stars cease to exist. On what then are these stars at the very edge supported ? What encompasses them? Again we come back to Equilibrium and we are obliged to admit its very important role. Now that we have understood what the Quaternary is, we can more easily form a general idea of the usefulness of the occult theory. Both the creator and the created exist in the astral quaternary.
The creator comprises Force, Matter, and Equilibrium.
The created is the result of the concurrence of these three. It is the Astral.
Let us now see if, by analogy, the quaternary exists on another plane, on the physical, for example. The four material principles that make up this plane are the four elements. As you learnt in the Course on Alchemy, this composition of the four elements is created as well as creative Matter. From now on you can see the analogy between the two planes, the physical and the astral. The law of this analogy was defined by Hermes Trismegistus in a great symbolic manner :
’’ What is above is like what is below, and what is below is like what is above ”.
The Hindus have the same dogma, expressed in a different manner : “What is in the large is like what is in the small, and what is in the small is like what is in the large”. What is the usefulness of the quaternary in the study of the Astral? It is quite clear that, since the Astral is a creative and created agent, a person who can have a concept of it and discern the general direction of this creation can penetrate into it and direct it according to their will.
Therefore it is by means of a total knowledge of the quaternary that this result can be attained.
I shall now give you a tangible explanation, a general outline of the way in which the Astral is accomplished. Matter is something passive into which Force is thrust. In other terms, the action of the Spirit involuted in Matter, gives us the following diagram. The horizontal line represents the extremity of Matter, which is here depicted by the darkened area.
The descending slanted line expresses the Spiritual Force. The action of this Force on Matter provokes numerous physical states, such as heat, fire, dissolution, etc. These states differ in degree and variety, depending on Matter.
Here you can see a sketch of the formation of the astral. Let us imagine a mass of Matter. As the arrow penetrates into it in a slanting direction and as it involutes into Matter and begins to act within it, it first produces very intense heat.
This is schematically located on the line a-a. The continuous action of the Force then produces a second state in which the heat is less intense but more dense. In the diagram this is located in the line b-b.
The Spiritual Force will then tend to get out of Matter, dragging with it atoms of Matter and will start creating a factitious life. This is located in the line A-A, which touches Matter and encompasses it.
As it continues its evolution, the Force will produce an etherification close to Matter. The line B-B represents this state. After that, the Astral will be free and will emerge from Matter as depicted by lines C-C and D-D.
Since the Astral is derived from Matter, it is subject to the laws of Matter.
Now that it has been etherized, it is subject to the alternatives of the variable attraction and repulsion.
It is born and it dies, though its span of life is longer and more durable than that of physical Matter.
Once the Astral is liberated from Matter, it is subject to the divers currents of the physical world. The Initiate who has command over these currents can provoke any atmospheric state of Matter that he desires. For example, he can cause rainfall by evocation. When Jesus’ apostles prayed to God to fight a period of dryness and bring about rain, it was not God who acted; it was the power of their prayer that moved the astral currents, mastered them, and produced a condensation in a physical mode.
The Magician makes use of the Quaternary in his evocations. In the circle that he has previously traced as a protection, he draws a cross. In this instance, the cross is the symbol of the Quaternary, for it separates the circle into 4 parts and is thus resolved in the Unity.
Magic is the action of physical Man on the astral plane, and whether the cross is drawn in the circle or placed under it .
The domination of Unity over the Quaternary, or the latter’s resolving in Unity, is expressed in both cases.
The cross of Malta and of the Templars X does not express the same quaternary.
Here, it is neither the physical nor the astral plane that is depicted, but the mental plane, whose quaternary is composed of four triangular formations. But we shall return to this subject further on.
This, brethren, was a general outline of the symbolic meaning and the practical value of the Astral Quaternary. You have already studied the Unity and the Binary. Here you should not forget that everything emanates from the Unity and everything returns to it. Note too that the Law of Unity is not a mere fantasy, for everything in the Astral Quaternary is so intimately bound that the existence of Matter is necessary for the existence of Force, and the existence of Equilibrium is necessary to both the above Principles.
When we say that the Quaternary will be resolved into the Unity, be sure that the Great Problems have begun to be formulated and that the comprehension of this fact will lead us to the perception of a higher truth: the Divine Trinity, the Trinity in Unity.
Let us meditate and work. It is by this means alone that we shall acquire knowledge, that ‘the scales will fall from our eyes’ and that the Light will become manifest.
Third Speech by D. Semelas
(2 / 11 / 1911. Cairo, Egypt)
In my previous talks on the study of the Astral, I spoke to you of the occult Unity, of the Binary, and of the Quaternary. Now that we know this theory, let us try to delve deeper into it and apply it to the study of the Pentagram. This symbol is of very great significance and is very powerful in the astral plane. But before I go into an explanation of it, let us first see the different kinds of adaptation of the Astral - this median region between the Spirit and Matter - that were made in the past and are still made today.
You may ask of what use is the knowledge of the astral to an Initiate. This knowledge has two aims: The first is to enable the Initiate, by meditation, to have a concept of the Invisible, to unite himself with the entities that occupy this plane, to get to know its constitution, and to receive the opinions of Superior Spirits. And all this can be achieved while the Initiate remains in his physical body without release from it (exteriorization). The second aim is to enable the Initiate to release himself from the bonds of his physical body, enter the astral plane, see the beings that live in it, and get to know and understand what takes place there. All this can be achieved without the assistance of his sight or any other of his human physical senses.
Let us momentarily stop at the second aim and let us see how this release and ‘trip’ of the Spirit to that region can be realized. Astral exteriorization has been known and practised since all time both among ancient and modern peoples. We shall divide it into two distinct categories: 1) exteriorization in an active mode and 2) exteriorization in a passive mode. The first comprises a) the state of being a student (Initiate) and b) the state of being a Master. The second category comprises exteriorization a) with direct reflection and b) with indirect reflection.
We shall now examine these different categories and subdivisions. Exteriorization in a passive mode with indirect reflection is found as a phenomenon among certain persons who manage to get into a kind of ecstasy by absorbing narcotics. When in this state, these persons have visions of incoherent and false images. These have been called ‘hallucinations’ but this term is not correct. Although incoherence is the particular characteristic of these visions, although the state that these persons are in is not normal, they have still penetrated into a part of the Astral, and what they see is real. I shall describe to you the case of a young girl whose visions were of this category of phenomena. In her sleep at night, she would see beings that surrounded her and threatened her with death. She would then see women beside her who had come to console her and who promised to protect her. In the beginning she was strongly affected by these visions, but she gradually got used to them and was even able to almost take pleasure in this astral nightmare. This state of things eventually wore her out and she fell ill. If the experts of science had examined her, they would have found her hysterical. Hysteria is the term that serves to describe what is beyond the competence of official science. It is a functional not an organic injury. The organs are not attacked, but the regular functioning of the organism is hindered and paralysed. The doctor’s inability to cure it is due to the fact that it is impossible for him to give prognosis concerning an illness if no injury exists on the body. The young girl was disturbed because she was in passive ecstasy and so perceived incoherent inferior things, which influenced her to such a point as to become impressed on her brain. In this manner, when she woke up, she could remember what she had seen in her vision of the lower astral plane.
Exteriorization in passive mode with direct reflection is a state in which one has consciousness of all that exists and is part of the astral plane, a state in which one has a vision of it from a distance. This is produced by the result of auto-suggestion or of the influence of a visible ‘operator1 (magnetist or hypnotist) or of an invisible being that acts on the ‘subject’ and directs it in the astral plane. As an example, I shall mention the case of a young person who was put to artificial sleep. She saw a young man direct her to a great number of places and make her penetrate into them. When she woke up, she remembered what she had seen during her trip, accompanied by her young fiance. She could describe the houses that she had visited and portray the persons she had seen playing cards round a table, and she even gave a great number of details that were checked and found to be exact. There is no mistake about it; this young person had indeed seen, and very well at that. Her Spirit had been exteriorized and had been released from its body due to the effect of the influence of the Will of another person. It thus became subject to the domination of this other Will. But because it was passive, it lacked the power to choose which place to go to but blindly carried out the commands given to it.
Let us now pass on to exteriorization in active mode. It is divided in that of an adept and that of a master. This is true realization in this vast domain of the Astral. The exteriorization of the adept to the astral plane is a voluntary one. In the beginning, the Initiate is directed by a visible or invisible guide that makes him get to know this plane, directs him in it and prepares him towards mastery over it. This manner of exteriorization to the astral does not provoke any injury as the above mentioned examples do - those in passive mode - which always have dire results.
But why are the exteriorizations in passive mode always dangerous, whereas the others are not? The former are dangerous because, as in the first example given, the state of ecstasy is the consequence of a non-normal sleep and, as in the second example given, the subject is under the yoke of a Will that is superior to her own. Therefore her receptive and passive state takes everything that is imposed on her and her body receives the repercussion of the violence of the ‘operator’s’ Will. The Spirit no longer has freedom of action and in this way injuries and physical illnesses may ensue.
As regards exteriorizations in active mode, here sleep is natural. The body rests and the Spirit travels to the astral domain, learns about it, sees it and seeks what is of interest to it. It transmits everything to the brain and impresses it so that, upon awakening, the person in question remembers everything they saw and did. No particular diet is needed; both the Adept and the Master can eat anything and lead an ordinary life.
Mastery - the dream of every adept - is the summit of conscious exteriorization. In this state, the Master sees their body lying on the bed. With lightning speed he transports himself to whatever place he desires for the research that he wishes to make. He can act on all his being and return to his body whenever he wishes to. One who has the faculty of mastering the Astral and the forces that act in it is really in possession of enormous power, which is at the full disposal of his Will. However, certain conditions are indispensable in order to attain this result. The Master must have reason as well as well balanced vital faculties, and he must be truly free. No passive person can aspire to such favours, for here exteriorization is the result of one’s own will through personal impulse during sleep, which is neither artificial nor imposed by others.
A little more than a hundred years ago there was a lot of fuss over magnetism that had just been discovered. Since then and thanks to a number of experiments, there has been proof of the existence of an etheric substance that has an impact on the body, the soul, and even on the Spirit (in the sense that one spirit can influence another by means of this agent). In order to explain to you what I maintain concerning the theories of the Astral, we shall use the experiments made by our predecessors so as to be certain of the veracity of the results.
When magnetism is used as a healing agent and is guided by spiritual will and a pure desire, it is harmless to Man. It is continuously generated within us by the pressure exerted by the Spiritual Force on Matter through the nervous system. A truly astral fluid incessantly issues from the organs of the human body and every nerve- terminal is a projector of this fluid.
If your hand touches a person at a certain point, you will both feel a sensation that is the result of this physical touch - an astral communication. The best proof of the existence of this agent is that even if you do not see the movement of the person who touches you, you will still be conscious that the movement has been made. This is because, by means of the nervous system, the astral fluid has reached the brain. The brain is in direct communication with all the members of the body through a nerve conductor that transmits sensation to the brain. The whole body is covered by a network of nerves and the extremities of the members are the terminal points of this organism. It is through these that the astral fluid is released. When a person contacts another, he/she transmits to the other what his/her body produces. It is a spiritual-material-etherification; it is the astral fluid.
We can distinguish two kinds of transmission :
1) simple, without any continuity of spiritual vibrations, and
2) with continuity of vibrations.
In the first case, transmission is made for cures through magnetism. You surely know that when someone feels pain in any part of their body, if hands are laid at the very place where the pain is, the pain eases. This is produced by the impact of astral release, which is at first projected by the person who magnetizes and then is driven into the part that has been afflicted and so re-establishes the astral action and accomplishes the cure. This of course depends on the equilibrium of the ‘operator1. In the second case, a person who wishes to make his Will felt by another who is at a more or less great distance away, makes use of this mediator which serves as a vehicle so as to transmit a thought or bring about a cure from a distance.
The astral fluid does not escape from the body only from the extremities of the members or from the projecting organs, such as the eyes, but it radiates over all the surface of the body and is projected outwards at the rate that the spiritual-material action is produced. When the Initiate wishes to communicate and impose his will at a distance, it is through the radiation of the whole of his astral that he can manage to transmit his desire and do what he has decided to do. I will later give you certain indispensable details on this subject and practice.
You now have some information regarding this active agent that we do not see; we only feel its effects. The ancient Initiations knew all about it, and Martines de Pasqually made use of it.
Let us now see of what usefulness the astral is to Man. Even when fully awake, if the Initiate makes certain preparations and uses certain formulas, he can manage to get into contact with the Astral and the beings that dwell in it.
By condensation of this intermediary, he can see the entities, order them, impress them or, on the other hand, be ordered and act according to their Will. When the Initiate acts as described in the first instance, that is, when he is obeyed and when the spirits carry out his orders, this science is called High Magic. In the opposite case, which is but the magic of a malevolent ignorance, it is the Black Magic done by the sorcerer who becomes the tool of base astral entities, which command him.
During ceremonies of High Magic, the Magician follows certain preparatory rites in detail and makes use of symbols.
These are indispensable so as to attract the spiritual element, which becomes manifest by astral condensation.
By exerting his Will, the Magician acts on the spirits and the powers that he has evoked. He is their absolute master; he sees and commands them, and his orders are carried out. Among the symbols that he uses during his evocations, there is none more powerful than the Pentacle or Pentagram, the corresponding knowledge of which explains the mysteries of all the planes and all the initiatic adaptations: Alchemy, Magic, etc. This symbol has the power to fetter any spirit and, when used by a learned ‘operator1, because it is a sign of divine power in Creation, it brings terror to the astral domain and subjects all the beings found there to the one who holds and has knowledge of it.
In Black Magic, the ceremonies, rites and preparations are totally different from the practices of the Magic of Light.
In the latter, the Pentacle is held upright, whereas in Black Magic it is held upside down. The signatures of the genii are reversed as also the names and signs. Everything done is meant to attract the influence of the spirit of disorder, of incoherence, and of evil.
In a pact that has been previously made, the sorcerer is not the master of these evil entities that he evokes; he is their servant; he carries out their Will and they make his desire come true.
Note that there is a great difference between their Will and his desire as regards the eventual action. A lot of persons are sorcerers without meaning to be and they later become sorcerers through habit. They have no knowledge of Occult Philosophy but have seen or possess some wizard’s book of so-called spells, with alluring titles and infallible recipes, such as to become loved, to discover treasures, etc. They imagine that in order to acquire magical power, it is enough to pronounce certain bizarre words or utter incomprehensible phrases and thus be able to give orders and be served by spirits. They feel very brave and courageous, draw the circle - or even forget to draw it at all - and inscribe signs that they do not understand. They enter the circle, like powerful warriors, holding the sword in one hand and the wand in the other, and begin their evocations. They may be able to see or they may not, but the mere utterance of certain words and formulas has some result, which in most cases is bad. There are many examples that can be cited. This temerity, to dare carry out operations whose importance one does not know, was, is, and will always be the surest means that leads to certain loss. Absolute ignorance of these matters is the sorcerer’s characteristic. After his infernal evocations, he is overcome by vices and commits the monstrosities of the entities that visit him. If he is not subjected to serious illnesses or organic perturbations, he is under the yoke of evil genii and base entities of the Astral. He ends his life in misery, full of horrible nightmares and eventually kills himself.
It is therefore the Initiator’s duty to prepare the Initiate so that he may have knowledge of these matters. All those who come to Initiatic Societies seeking for the Truth will find it. They will have the joy of knowing and practising this alluring attraction towards the Invisible. But serious study must precede this, for the Initiator must indicate the road to be followed - and it is a long and hard road.
We shall study these phenomena and the causes that provoke accidents; we shall learn, by purely physical means, about the force that acts. And while on the mystic path, we shall be able, by conscious release during natural sleep, to have a perception of what exists in that region, of its laws and of what can be of use to us.
This result is the outcome of work and of the Initiate’s perfection, together of course with the permission of the Invisible.
Fourth Speech by D. Semelas
On the Psychical Senses
(10 / 1911. Cairo Egypt)
You surely remember that in my previous speech I mentioned releases (exteriorizations) to the astral plane, their classification, various cases of possession, and mastery over this plane, which is superior to the physical one. It is a plane of etherized Substance and in it Force is freely manifest. There, everything evades our physical senses, though we have direct contact with this plane by means of our invisible or psychical senses.
I also spoke to you about Man’s communication with the beings that live in the Astral, by means of the practice of Magic.
I shall proceed to explain to you the manner in which you can acquire the necessary power for your evocation, and how you can come in contact with all the beings of the plane in question. But before I do so, let us see what our relations with it can be, how and in what way we feel its influence daily, in what form do we see its inhabitants, and how the reality of this plane is manifest.
The astral plane certainly exists for every person and we can all have perception of it, either awake or asleep. Although its reality cannot be checked by instruments or the physical senses, we can have conscience of it thanks to the psychical sensibility that we are all susceptible to feeling.
When awake, by means of which organs can we have the sensation of the existence of the astral? When we find ourselves among individuals whose evolution is not advanced and as such, is of truly inferior mentality, we feel a certain psychical discomfort. When we meet a person for the first time, we immediately submit to and in turn make that person also submit to an astral influence. Both of us feel a sentiment of sympathy or antipathy in a lesser or greater degree. This sentiment is not the result of physical contact, due to sensations of sight, taste, hearing or touch. It is due to the psychical perception that provides Man with conscience, by setting his psychical senses into action. These last, contrary to the physical senses, can never lead him to error. These invisible senses have the faculty of making Man feel everything that is not related to the physical plane. They are of three different kinds: hearing, sight, and a general psychical sensation. Their seat is located in the breast, and more particularly in the heart.
How do these astral or psychical senses function? During sleep and in a state of dreaming, our senses of sight and hearing are activated. In a state of wakefulness, only the general psychical sensation derived from the heart is active. Consequently, suggestion, telepathy, transmission, attraction and all spontaneous or provoked influences manifested in this state of wakefulness are effectuated by psychical means that result from the astral contact.
What other means do we also have so as to feel the influence of the Astral?
When asleep, Man has dreams that are derived from his impressions of the day, or again sees things that have no relation to these impressions. The origin of both is wholly due to his astral vision. How do we consider these two kinds of phenomena? In the first case, is it a fact that the actions of the day are formations that exist in the astral or just impressions registered in the brain, which present themselves to our memory during sleep? The actions that we do and the thoughts that we emit during the day are not able to impress the brain to such a point, but they do leave a trace on the astral plane. I shall explain to you the theory concerning this phenomenon: You all know where this fluid is derived from - this fluid that fills the void and is the universal mediator. It is derived from the Astral. In Man too, the Spirit acts on Matter and produces this agent. Once it has been produced, on what parts of the human organism does it in turn act? It acts on the nervous system, which is an organ specially created either to manifest this agent or to have command over it. Every action that Man does, every movement, every emission of thought, everything - whatever its plane, physical, moral or intellectual - produces vibrations that affect the nervous system. The vibration ‘astralizes’ Matter and registers everything that has been done and thought on this mediating plane. In this manner, all around the person who has provoked them, in his/her astral atmosphere, these formations remain for a certain length of time, about a day or more, and are likely to be seen and perceived. Man is thus able during his sleep to see again these astral cliches that he has produced. Consequently it is not the impression given to the brain that makes these cliches reappear, nor is it the Spirit that has kept these memories. However, the Spirit, released from the physical body and wandering in the Astral all around its body, sees and remembers. It reviews what it has done, it sees once again the faces of persons with whom it has spoken when it was attached to its body, remembers conversations and in a word, it sees a detailed picture of what it has lived through, and facts whose physical impress has been registered on the astral plane.
Dreams that have no relation with actions and impressions of the day can be of three different natures. In the first case, when the Spirit, released from its body, travels in the Astral, it may come across vibrations of actions made or events that took place in distant places. In this way, it is impressed. When it wakes up, it may remember having assisted in certain curious events. Sometimes, the spirit meets other spirits; they communicate and exchange thoughts. Upon awakening, the person remembers having seen a certain friend or having heard certain news.
In the second case, the Spirit that has been initiated travels in the Astral, fully conscious of what it sees and hears.
It analyses, is capable of judging, and can go wherever it pleases. It voluntarily transmits its impressions to the brain so as to recall them upon awakening.
The third case is the nightmare. It comes as the result of very great nervous excitement or is caused by a state due to the absorption of a great quantity of food or drink. It is not produced by any impression of the Spirit but by the effect of the astral on the nervous system. In this state, Man sees beings trying to strangle him, horrible animals, or again whatever he can imagine as most hideous. This phenomenon is explained as follows: the extreme nervous excitement caused by inebriety or the absorption of too much food produces an effect that corresponds to being physically carried away.
It is represented in the astral plane, and Man makes unconscious evocations that provoke a coagulation of the Astral and attract elementals and other impure beings of this plane, which momentarily take possession of his body.
These disorders of the nervous system have very dire results. The beings that come to trouble Man’s sleep and cause nightmares can be seen by the Magician, whose evocation is a conscious one.
The Magician who makes an evocation is obliged to enclose himself within a protective circle. This is not because he runs any danger from the superior spirits that he evokes, but because he wishes to protect himself from the inferior and incoherent entities that swarm in the astral plane. Ignoble beings can present themselves and try to frighten him so as to make him leave his circle and thus have him at their mercy. The role of the circle is to serve as an astral rampart to the Magician and scare away these elementals.
In order to be able to make an evocation, the Magician should not be in a normal state. He should be driven by some stimulant - coffee, alcohol, tea, ether, hashish, nicotine, etc., that is, by some substance that causes a nervous over-stimulation. You observe that the state required for an evocation is similar to the one that provokes nightmares to the person who has drunk or eaten too much. The Magician voluntarily causes this over-stimulation of the nerves in order to provoke an astral condensation, to see entities, and command them. The state he is in permits him to be fearless and enables him to push back all evil entities.
On the other hand, the one who is drunk or has eaten too much, due to this very nervous over-stimulation, involuntarily condenses the Astral, without making any evocation. He thus allows the elementals to approach him, feels their influence and is in the hold of nightmares from which he is saved only by waking up, that is, when his Spirit returns to his body.
If he falls asleep again, the chain is formed once more and the nightmares reappear. He wholly recovers only when, upon awakening, he walks around for a few minutes until the astral coagulation dissolves completely.
It should be quite understood that I take full responsibility for the theories that I present to you. I am authorized to tell you all this through personal experience. These ideas may have already been expressed by those who have dealt with the subject. I leave it to your good sense to draw the suitable conclusions in accordance with the spirit of our Order.
We should not deny the existence of the Astral. We all feel its impact, and the present speeches can permit you to study in what way we can establish well- balanced relations between the physical and the astral planes. We shall thus know what we must do so as to avoid the unfavourable action of evil entities and attract the good and superior spirits from whose influence we can only profit. They will enlighten us concerning this domain and help us acquire superior initiatic instruction.
The Initiate tries to communicate with the astral plane because of the importance of the knowledge that he can derive from it. He does not desire any material profit but an intellectual one, whose result is far from insignificant to anyone who knows. It is indeed very agreeable to follow a path that leads to the mastery of this plane. This mastery provides its chosen one with the mysterious key that will open the door of secrets to him. He will then learn the most marvellous and noble things, whose reality he cannot even suspect while still in the physical plane. He will then possess power that flatters him, and from then on will be able to act for the common good and be of assistance to his brethren, physically, morally and spiritually.
Now that we have proved the existence of the Astral, let us examine its usefulness to the Initiate.
The Initiate who has the qualities required in order to have contact with the inhabitants of the astral plane, the Initiate who has an intense desire and a pure heart, must do everything possible so as to acquire knowledge of this superior plane that governs intellectual, moral, psychical and physical forces. He must then try to apply his knowledge in the present plane for his own benefit and for that of all others.
Once the Initiate is master of the astral plane, he has greater facility in speeding up his own evolution.
He can perform acts (works) that will render both him and others happy. At first these will be intellectual, but later, through practice and adaptation, they will be morally, physically, and socially beneficial. He will understand laws that were unknown to him. This new knowledge will reveal to him a number of mysteries. When he crosses the threshold, he will become a new being who possesses the knowledge of the great mysteries of Nature and the allegories of the Cabbalah. He will have the solution to all the problems set in his Spirit and possess that most precious good - moral consolation, evenness of temper in his affections, and peace of heart. Moreover, in his ‘trips’, the Initiate will see unknown places that will attract him by the beauties found there. He will go wherever he desires and rapidly get knowledge that would have required years to acquire in a mere physical body. He can learn the mysteries of Man’s life and get to know Man perfectly well. Then, through his own willpower, he can impose, suggest, and emit ideas that will become a reality for the good of others. His life will truly be a life with a mission which, together with intellectual satisfaction, will provide him with a priceless spiritual harvest.