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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Qabalah Unveiled

Qabalah Unveiled by M. MacGregor Mathers




As a pupil of my late husband and in later years collaborator in his more esoteric studies, I take this opportunity to say a few words in regard to himself and his work. Moreover, since his death at the end of 1918, I have received innumerable visits, letters and enquiries from all parts of the world from students of his writings. As most of these questions would appear to bear on his more esoteric knowledge, I will quote his own words (see page 13, paragraph 22, of the Introduction): "The term 'Unwritten Qabalah' is applied to certain knowledge which is never entrusted to writing, but communicated orally. I may say no more on this point, nor even whether I myself have or have not received it."

Simultaneously with the publication of the Qabalah in 1887, he received instructions from his occult teachers to prepare what was eventually to become his esoteric school. In this connection were associated with him the late Dr. Woodman and the late Dr. Wynn−Westcott, both eminent Masons and Qabalists. They, with my husband, held high Office in the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, and other Masonic bodies.

Since the year 1887, when the first edition of the Qabalah Unveiled appeared, the whole attitude of the thinking world has changed considerably towards occult philosophy and science. The gigantic strides madeby science since the end of the last century, the staggering facts disclosed by its practical demonstrations, simultaneously with the development of the great occult movement, must strike all thoughtful people as the evidence of some imminent change in the evolution of this planet. Material science would appear to be spiritualizing itself and occult science to be materializing itself. If not clasping hands, they are certainly making tentative attempts in that direction. The Ancient Wisdom, the Sacred Books, taught. that we cannot understand Matter without understanding Spirit, that we cannot understand Spirit without understanding Matter. That Matter and Spirit are only opposite poles of the same universal substance. All through the Qabalah runs this axiom: "that Malkuth is in Kether, that Kether is in Malkuth." The same idea is repeated through the Gnostic teaching: "the earth that is in the heaven, the heaven that is in the earth."

Religion has its word, science its promises and demonstrations, philosophy its systematized theories, art its creations and ideals, and yet these in their fundamental separations fall short of that Synthetical ideal which the Spirit of Humanity unceasingly demands. There remains always the perpetual cry of humanity, that plaint of a world in pain demanding apparently in vain some solution to the problem of existence. The answer of the ancient world to this cry of the Spirit of Humanity is to be found in the establishment of the Mysteries, as containing in their penetralia that which even the highest then known forms of religion had not, namely, a philosophico−religious reply resumed in Formulas and Ceremonies, to the problems of Life and Death, of Nature, of the Gods, of Spiritual Beings, etc., and lastly of the linking of these as a whole back to the First Cause of all things.

In 1888, after the publication of the Qabalah Unveiled, my husband started the working of his esoteric school. To write the consecutive history of an occult Order is a difficult matter, as difficult as to write the life of an Adept, there being so much of an inner and secret nature necessarily involved in both; so much of the symbolical in the historical, so much of the latter in the symbology.

The general constitution of the teaching, the skeleton of the work, was handed to him by his occult teachers together with a vast amount of oral instruction. The object of the establishment of this school was similar to that of the foundation in ancient times of centres for the Celebration of the Mysteries. The literature of this school, with a few exceptions, was written by my husband under the direction of these teachers, based upon the ancient mysteries, chiefly those of Egypt, Chaldea and Greece, and brought up to date to suit the needs of our modern mentalities. It is a system eminently suited to Western occultism, which a man can follow while living the ordinary life of the world, given that this is understood in its highest sense. Dr. Woodman and Dr. Wynn−Westcott aided in the administrative side of this school and its teaching to a certain extent.

As a pioneer movement, for the first ten or twelve years it encountered many of the difficulties that beset work that is given ahead of its time, but we had been told that the beginning would be in the nature of an experiment and that the students would be sifted. Dr. Woodman had died in the year 1890, and in 1897 Dr. Wynn−Westcott resigned, after which my husband entirely reorganized the school under orders, and further teachings were given him. The teaching is principally by Ceremony, Ritual, and Lecture. Purity of aspiration and of life are the first and essential qualities demanded of the student. A simultaneous development of soul, mind and body is insisted upon. The curriculum comprises the study of the intelligent forces behind Nature, the Constitution of man and his relation to God. The whole aim and object of the teaching is to bring a man to the knowledge of his higher self, to purify himself, to strengthen himself, to develop all qualities and powers of the being, that he may ultimately regain union with the Divine Man latent in himself, that Adam Qadmon, whom God hath made in His Own Image.

Great stress is laid on the ideal of Fraternity. The potency of Fraternity has ever been an essential factor in an Occult order, apart from its altruistic aspect; there are. also the spiritual and psychic. Any breach in the harmony of a circle will permit the entry of an opposing force. A Spiritualist of experience will bear witness to the truth of this statement.

Through all the Sacred Books, be they our Bible, the Qabalah, the Egyptian Books, the Vedantic Teachings, the Druidic traditions, etc., the Symbols of the Rose and of the Lily or Lotus and of the Cross, reveal themselves as veritable living images of some great fundamental truth. I am prepared to affirm that any Order, Society, group of students, etc., forming themselves with the aim of studying the composition and nature of the manifested Universe, must inevitably fall under the symbolism of the Rose, of the Lily or Lotus, and of the Cross. The Rose with its mysterious centre, its nucleus, the central Sun, is a symbol of the infinite and harmonious separations of nature.

The symbol of the Lily or Lotus is very similar to that of the Rose, with some slight differentiations.

We know that the symbol of the Cross is practically the Key−note of the New Testament. It is the Quaternary in Nature, the four letters of the Holy Name, I.H.V.H., the Tetragrammaton, Jehovah, which with the addition of the letter of the Holy Spirit, Shin, becomes Yeheshuah, the Name of the Messiah. In Alchemy, whether Spiritual or physical, we are told that the ultimate secret is to find the centre of the Cross. A true understanding of the four−lettered Name, containing as it does the powers of the four elements of nature, Air, Water, Fire, and Earth, from their lowest degree to their highest aspect, would imply a knowledge and power of creation as well as that of death and destruction. Is it not for this reason that its pronunciation has been forbidden by the Qabalist? The Ancient Wisdom implied that this Name might only be pronounced by the Initiate who has attained the Supreme Initiation, that is to say "He who has learnt to be One with the FIRST MOVER and be His Will."

Regarding the distinction between monotheism, polytheism and pantheism, this distinction hardly exists for the Initiate. Verily there is little difference between a single God and a harmony of Supreme Forces, so absolutely linked that the effect would be that of an indivisible unit, a plurality whose action is unified, an unity whose action is pluralised.

Concerning Science and its "missing links," occult Science has asserted that there exists no void in the Universe, and that the "missing links" are to be found in the invisible world. Modern Science and Philosophy are continually demonstrating that our physical senses are limited and cognize but little in proportion to that perceived by the more subtle methods. Sir Oliver Lodge says: "A physicist is never limited to direct sensory impressions. He has to deal with a multitude of conceptions and things for which he has no physical organ: the dynamical theory of heat, for instance, and of gases, the theory of electricity, of Magnetism, of chemical affinity, of cohesion, aye, and his apprehension of the ether itself, lead him into regions where sight and hearing and touch are impotent as direct witnesses . . . . . . . in such regions everything has to be interpreted interms of the insensible, the apparently unsubstantial, and in a definite sense, the imaginary." Again he says: "I am reasonably convinced of the existence of grades of beings not only lower in the scale than man, but higher also, grades of every order of magnitude, from zero to infinity, and I know from experience that among these Beings are some who care for and help and guide humanity . . . . . and further it is my faith�however humblyit may be held�that among these lofty beings, highest of those who concern themselves directly with this earth, of all the myriads of worlds in infinite space, is ONE on Whom the right instinct of Christianity has always lavished heartfelt reverence and devotion." Here is an almost parallel idea taken from Egyptian Symbolism: "Concerning the harmonious linking together of the divine and the natural; as in the vision of the ladder of Jacob whereon the Angels of God ascended and descended. As also in the very ancient ideals of Egypt, Chaldea, China, India, etc., there was the conception of an unbroken chain proceeding from the highest Godhead, through Gods; angels; spirits, genii; souls, whether in our life or another; spiritual beings; and ultimating through the sacred animals upon the very Ground of Earth Itself, and also even through the trees, plants and minerals. What, then, can be such a chain that links all things unto their divine Origin? Surely it cannot be other than the Descending Divine Influence MEZLA; the Influence of the HOLY and DIVINE SPIRIT."

Take this Divine Spirit in its Triune Manifestation, call it Light, Life, and Love, call it Father, Son, and HolySpirit, or Father, Mother, Son; take Radium as being so very close in nature to the one element of the Ancients and note its triune manifestation, through the alpha, beta and gamma rays.

Regarding seers and mediums, as before remarked, our school lays great stress on the simultaneous development of, crudely speaking, the three planes of being. which development must precede psychic experiment. The methods employed to equilibrate the nature entail considerable study, time and patience. There is no royal road to any science, let alone the science of the occult. Before touching such experiments as obtain in spiritualism, the student would be supposed to be in a measure aware of the nature of the entities he would be likely to encounter, and especially to have some idea of the constitution of Man. When this is achieved he will be equipped and enabled to face the many dangers and difficulties he will encounter in the invisible world.

Take the astral plane in its varied divisions, where some of the adventures described by the seer take place. This plane may be described as a hall panelled with mirrors, where one is confronted with bewildering reflexes. Manifesting therein are numerous and varying entities.

Spiritualism is distinctly a Western movement and has certainly been the means of bringing conviction of the after life to many. The methods employed by spiritualists may be very dangerous, in that they frequently lack the preliminary preparation and knowledge necessary before approaching psychic phenomena. The spiritualist who lacks this specialized knowledge must be prepared to encounter all the dangers with which explorers in unknown lands are beset. He who enters into these regions has sometimes found it easier to open the door than to close it.

A few words which may be of interest on my husband's life. As a very young boy he was intensely interested in mysticism and symbolism generally. He was educated at Bedford Grammar School, −specializing on the Classical side. During his spare moments he collected and made a special study of Celtic tradition and symbolism. This love of Celtic Symbology was inherited from his Highland ancestry. His ancestor, Ian MacGregor of Glenstrae, an ardent Jacobite, after the /45 Rebellion went over to France and under Lally Tolendal fought at Pondicherry. This ancestor was created Comte de Glenstrae by Louis XV. This French title was inherited by my husband and he always used it when living in France. As a young man he came into contact with Kenneth Mackenzie, with whom he had a strong occult link. Kenneth Mackenzie, author of the Encyclop√¶dia of Masonry, had been a great friend of Bulwer Lytton. After some years of seclusion in the country, where my husband led a student's life in preparation for his future work, he met Anna Kingsford, who introduced him to Madame Blavatsky. Madame Blavatsky invited him to collaborate with her in the formation of her Society. After deliberation, notwithstanding his profound admiration for that remarkable woman, this invitation he was compelled to decline. Their ideals were not entirely the same. At that time he was more in sympathy with Anna Kingsford's ideals of esoteric Christianity and of the advancement of woman. Moreover he was profoundly interested in her campaign against vivisection, in which he vigorously aided her. Three or four years later he was told by his Occult teachers to transfer his centre to Paris, where my husband and I lived for the rest of his life. I wish here to record my thanks to my occult masters, and the deepest gratitude to the memory of my husband, comrade and teacher, all of whom have shed such light upon my path.



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