(Continued from the last issue.)
Now to more amusing facts of my career. The first thing I learnt was to travel in the astral body. This seems to have been a natural gift with me; in half-a-dozen experiments I was already master of the “Astral Plane.” I could go where I would, see what I would, hear what I would. At that time I did not know of those higher planes to which initiation is the only key.
The next step to going out on the Astral Plane is to get it to return the visit; in other words, evocation of spirits to material appearance. It was just as I started on this that I found Allan Bennett. The occasion was an initiation into the order of which we were both members; but he had not been present since I joined it. After the ceremony I was led trembling before the great man, and of course, could say not a word. However, in the ante-room, an hour later, he came directly to me and began: “So, little brother, you have been meddling with the Goetia.” I protested myself unworthy even to pronounce the word! But he had spotted me as a promising colt, and when, using my opportunity, I made myself even as his familiar spirit, he consented to take me as a pupil. Before long we were working together day and night, and a devil of a time we had!
In my chambers in Chancery Lane I fitted up a temple, the walls covered by six vast mirrors, so as to throw back the force of the invocations. There were circle and triangle on the floor, and an altar in the midst of the circle.
I constructed all my magical weapons with my own hands, except the wand, which cannot be made, but must be transmitted. This, a shaft of almond cut with a single blow of the Magick Knife at sunrise on Easter morn, was transmitted to me by Frater Volo Noscere.
The effect of all this was pretty sultry.
I was attacked by a black magician in the very early days — the story is told at length and with perfect accuracy of detail in my tale, “At the Fork of the Roads”; it is too long to cite here. I will only say that a woman was sent by the Black Lodge to get a drop of my blood, that she succeeded, that for ten nights following I was assailed by a succubus which I killed with my hands every time, that with the help of my master I put her out of business by sending a plague of cats to her house, and that when she came to try for more blood I punished her by sending her into my black temple — a tiny closet where I kept a skeleton which I fed on mice and birds with the idea of creating a material and living demon servant — where she was rent in pieces by the evil things she had invoked. She went to the devil, and her master fled the country.
Not bad, all this, for one’s first year of magick?
One of our great exploits was the saving of the life of my master. Absolutely unselfish, he would never stir to help himself, and he was a permanent invalid from spasmodic asthma, with complications. Frater V. N. and I determined, in the name and for the sake of the Order, to save him. We evoked the spirit Buer to visible appearance. This was not wholly successful; at that time we wanted things to happen as they did in books — for we were young. But we got the right leg and the foot and ankle of the left as solid as need be; and the head, helmeted, was dimly visible through the incense smoke. In those days we were too pious to use blood, or we might have done better. However, the purpose of the work succeeded. The Master recovered, and is alive to this day — fifteen years later.
Curious how dull good is, how amusing evil! Much keener in memory is one night when Frater V. N. and I were alone together working on the talismans and other necessaries for some operation or other, I entirely forget what. We went out to dinner, and before leaving the room, I noticed that the temple door was slightly open. It was locked by a Yale key of which there was but one, which had never left my possession. In those days my chief alarm was that some one would get into my magical affairs. (Nowadays I callously let them in; if they blow their heads off, that’s their affair, not mine!) So I sedulously slammed and tested the door, and out we went to dinner. On the stairs was a black cat — not a real cat, either. Back we came from a perfectly temperate meal, found the outer door secure as we had left it, entered, found the temple door wide open, though with no sign of violence, and the altar overthrown, and its furniture tossed in all directions. — And then the fun began!
Round and round the big library tramped the devils all the evening, an endless procession; 316 of them we counted, described, named, and put down in a book. It was the most awesome and ghastly experience I had known. Strange how they love to open doors! In the East of my big temple in Scotland was a secret shrine, on to which folding doors opened. These I would lock, padlock, seal, nail down, fasten (in short) by every manner of means; yet, every time I left the room, I expected to find them open. Too often to recount, I did so. I set all kinds of traps for the spirits; it was useless. As long as I was in the room nothing would happen; the moment I shut the outer doors behind me, the inner ones would open noiselessly. I ultimately had to perform a special ceremony to get rid of the annoyance. The demons who played this game were the 49 servitors of Beelzebub; when tamed they became exceedingly useful.
There is a manuscript in the Arsenal Library of Paris which has been translated and published under this title, “The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.” It is the best and the most dangerous book ever written. The translator, who lived at the other end of Paris, had to give up cycling to the library, so many were his accidents. Even afoot, he was in constant danger of his life. And he misused the book, fell from a very creditable degree of attainment as a magician to be a loafer, a dipsomaniac, a sponger, and a blackmailer; in the end he died insane.
The book is the address of one “Abraham the Jew” to his second son, Lamech, bestowing this magick upon him. The author records his research, his many travels and disappointments. At last he meets with one Abramelin in Egypt, goes with him into an oasis, and is there initiated by the bestowal of this Sacred Magick. He returns, achieves the task, and employs his powers to the glory of God and the benefit of his neighbor, “forcing even bishops to restore stolen property,” winning battles for Electors by the timely creation of “artificial cavalry,” healing the sick wholesale, and generally bestirring himself as a philanthropist.
The substance of the operation is as follows: Get a house in a quiet place, have a terrace opening to the North of your Oratory, have robes and a crown, a wand, and a few other not-too-Persian apparatus, and then get busy. Pray more and more every day to obtain the Knowledge and Conversation of your Holy Guardian Angel. After two months cut out all distractions and pray harder. After two months of that, pray harder still.
Then the climax. The Angel appears and instructs. Then and not till then summon the Four Great Princes of the Evil of the World and compel them to swear obedience on the wand, and order them to operate certain talismans. The next day call the Eight Sub-Princes, and the third day their servitors.
The book is written throughout in a serious and simple style. It is by far the most convincing mediaeval magical document in existence. The personality of Abraham himself is evidence.
And any person who doubts magick has only to get a copy of the book, and refuse to take it seriously. He will get proofs enough in standard time; place, the back of the neck!
But if you take it seriously and reverently, if you aspire with your whole will to this attainment, you are safe. The blows of the demon will fall only on those about you.
Yet every obstacle will be put in your way. For example, I had command of what was for all practical purposes unlimited money. I didn’t care what I spent on this work. It took me eleven months to find a house.
In copying out on vellum the talismans, I used the breakfastroom of that house, a room chosen because it was light and cheerful and caught the early morning sun. The weather was fine. Yet I had to do my copying by artificial light. The sun could not penetrate the murk that gathered about those talismans.
One day I returned from shooting on the hill to find a Catholic Priest in my drawing room. It was to ask my permission to do what he could for my gardener, a total abstainer of twenty years’ standing who had gone raving drunk.
My housekeeper vanished, unable to bear the eeriness of the place.
An adept with whom I had arranged that he should stay to be a link between me and the outer world likewise fled in terror without a word of warning.
One of the workmen employed about the place went raving mad, and tried to kill me. Others again became dipsomaniacs. All my dogs died. My cook very nearly died, and was only saved by a talisman.
Such are just a few of many incidents which averted the tragedy of dullness from my daily life. And all this, mind you, at the mere threat to perform the Operation!
Time would fail me to tell of all the untoward events that happened to people who did not even go so far as this. Only to have that book on one’s shelves is a more serious risk than drying dynamite on a stove!
The talismans work automatically. They are as easy to explode as Iodide of Nitrogen, and a sight more dangerous. My friend and editor, Captain J. F. C. Fuller, once marked his place in the book with his butcher’s bill; a couple of days later the butcher was at work; his knife slipped, pierced his thigh and killed him. As Fuller observed at the time, “It may be only a coincidence, but it’s just as bad for the butcher!”
“At my initiation I was taught to be cautious” is a note in one system; in another the neophyte is told “Fear is failure, and the forerunner of failure. Be thou therefore without fear, for in the heart of the coward virtue abideth not.”
Keep these two precepts constantly in your mind, and you should go far and fast.
Now for the third class of magical operations! It deals no longer with the brain of the magician himself, as in the case of visions and evocations; it acts upon third parties directly. I refer to the arts of “fascination” in its proper sense — the word comes from the Latin “fascinum.” Love is blind: and fascination includes all arts that have this effect. You transform yourself, like Zeus into swan or bull, like Lucius into an ass, like the Egyptian Magi into an hawk, swallow, or Ibis, or like the Syrian into a dove, and by this means compel the desired object to your arms. Or you become invisible — in the practical sense that you remain unseen by those whom you wish not to see you, and if you are playfully inclined, and hungry, you become a bat or a wolf and go afield for blood. These stories are not legends: they veil true powers. I only once tried vampirism, for examination purposes, and in about an hour I bled my victim white. I passed with honors and special mention.
Of course, the reason why one does not do these things is that in the trance Atmadarshana, on the threshold of masterpiece, one loses one’s Ego for ever. Thenceforth the man exists only as a vehicle for an Impersonal Master; he lives his own life, and does his own duty, but the Master in him doesn’t care what happens to him.
The other day a young lady came to consult me. I gave her about a thousand dollars’ worth of information. She asked me what I was going to charge. I said: “Nothing; regard me as a bank account on which you can always draw.” She said: “But you must eat!” I answered: “I do not see the necessity.”
I am always being asked why, if I have all these powers, I do not cause stones to become bread, and throw myself from the Woolworth Building in order to prove the truth of the Ninetyfirst Psalm, and obtain all the kingdoms of the earth at slight cost to self-respect.
Why did Christ refuse in the Temptation on the Mount?
It is the same story: I am come to do the Will of Him that sent me. And if I have to die on the cross, that is better than living on it!
One form of fascination is the power over animals. Persuade your animal that you are not that dangerous wild beast, a man, and your task is over.
Remember St. Francis preaching to birds and fishes. I have seen Allan Bennett do the same with the krait, the deadliest of the Indian snakes. We met it on a road. Before I could blow its head off with my revolver (the first duty of man) Allan interposed with his umbrella. But not to kill it. He deliberately stirred it up. It struck at the umbrella. “That,” said Allan, “is anger,” and went on to prove to the (I trust attentive) reptile the terrible results on character of allowing oneself to give way to anger! He also animadverted on the danger of frequenting the public highway, and, to conclude, removed the beast gently to the long grass. As a krait can strike in the fiftieth part of a second, and kill (if he does strike) in about ten minutes, and as Allan’s only protection, besides his divinity, was a pair of thin white duck trousers, I think that may stand as one of the bravest acts ever done. I consider myself a bit of a hero merely to have stood by!
However, I learnt a few tricks of this kind myself; for example — a thing most useful in the tropics — how to prevent mosquitoes from biting one. This is done by thinking kindly of them. It must be a genuine spontaneous feeling of brotherhood, or it won’t work. You can also pick up anything hot by fixing the attention on the fact that “it doesn’t hurt.” But that again is a matter of knack. If you think about it too hard, you can no longer do it. I believe D. D. Home had this power.
Again, you can prevent things from biting you by certain breathing exercises. Hold the breath in such a way that the body becomes spasmodically rigid, and insects cannot pierce the skin. Near my bungalow at Kandy was a waterfall with a pool. Allan Bennett used to feed the leeches every morning. At any moment he could stop the leech, though already fastened to his wrist, by this breathing trick. We would put our hands together into the water; his would come out free, mine with a dozen leeches on it. At such moments I would bitterly remark that a coyote will not eat a dead Mexican, but it failed to annoy him.
With invisibility I was very successful. I made a big operation of it in the City of Mexico, and practiced daily for months in front of a mirror. I got good at it at last; and several times I have saved my life, and even things that I valued, thereby.
(To be concluded.)