Chapter 12. Notions of the Egyptian Priests Criticized

The same absurdities occur, however, if any of these things are considered as causes of what is effected at the Sacred Rites, namely: Certain numbers that are still regarded among us, as in regard to the crocodile, sixty as akin to the Sun; <sup>1</sup> or terms expressive of natural objects, as the powers and energies of animals, such as the dog, the baboon, the field-mouse, which are assigned to the Moon, <sup>2</sup> or material forms, such as are beheld in the sacred animals, according to the colors and shapes of the body; <sup>3</sup> or some other of the animals in relation to their bodies, or whatever else may be brought into notice; or an organ, like the heart of the cock, <sup>4</sup> or other things of similar character, which are regarded in respect to the world of nature as causes of successful results in the Sacrifices. For not one of the gods is shown from these things to be the cause beyond the realm of nature; nor is he as such set in activity by the sacrifices. But as a natural cause held fast by matter and physically encompassed by the bodies it is aroused by them, and put to rest again. Indeed, these things are essentials in the region of nature. If, then, anything of such a character is at the Sacred Rites, it accompanies them as a joint cause and as having the consideration of being indispensable, and in this way it is allied to the anterior causes.

It is better, theref6re, to assign as the cause of efficacy an attraction and affinity, and likewise an interrelation such as allies workmen to the things which they have wrought and parents to offspring. When, therefore, this common principle being the anterior cause, we take some animal or thing growing upon the earth that has preserved the purpose of the Creator intact and pure, then through such an object, we deal familiarly with the Demiurgic Cause which is over it unmingled with anything else.

These causes (or categories), however, are numerous. Some of them, as, for example, the daemonian, are closely joined together; and others, for instance the divine, are ranked after a manner higher than these; and then still beyond there is their Leader, the One Most Ancient Cause. All the categories act together at the perfect Sacrifice. <sup>5</sup> Every one is adapted to it generally according to the rank which is possessed.

If, however, any sacrifice chances to be defective, it goes forward to a certain extent, but it is not possible to go still further. Hence many think that sacrifices are to be presented to the beneficent daemons; many to the final powers of the gods; and many to the pericosmian or to the terrestrial <sup>6</sup> powers of daemons or of divinities. These things, being a part in regard to the sacrifices, are not told guilefully, but they by no means afford us a view of the whole of the virtue of the rite and all the benefits and the divineness which extends through all.

We admit, then, all these statements. <sup>7</sup> We say .that the beings that belong to the realm of nature act in concert together according to convenience, or sympathy, or antipathy; and in other respects are subject and follow and are subservient to the superior being, and cause of the efficacy of sacrifices. But the daemons, and also the terrestrial and pericosmian powers as being principals, are associated together according to rank as is the case with us. Nevertheless, the most effective highest-ranking of the causes of efficacy in the sacrifices are united with the Demiurgic and absolutely perfect powers.

But since these comprehend themselves all the causes, however many they are, we affirm that all the active operators are moved together with these causes at the same moment; and that from them all there descends a common beneficial influence into the whole realm of generated existence. Sometimes this help is imparted according to cities and districts, or to various nations, or to greater or smaller divisions of these. At other times, the benefits are given with an ungrudging willingness to households, or to every individual, and the distribution of them is made freely and without feeling; and with an unimpassioned mind according to relationship and affiliation, as it is right and proper to give; one affection meanwhile holding all together and forming this bond through an unutterable communion.

These things are much more true, and happen to be more correct in relation to the essence and power of the gods, than what thou dost conjecture, namely: “that they themselves are allured most of all by the fumes of the sacrifices of animals.” For if there is in any sense a body to the daemons which some imagine to be nourished from the sacrifices, this body must be unchangeable and impassive, and likewise luminous and in want of nothing. Hence there is neither need for anything to flow from it nor of an inflow from without. If, however, any one remains still of opinion that this is the case, yet the world and the atmosphere in it have an incessant exhalation from the region about the earth. What need, then, have they of the sacrifices? <sup>8</sup>

On the other hand, the substances which are thus received do not supply to an equivalent amount in proportion to the deficiency created by what has been cast forth, so that neither an excess may predominate nor a deficiency occur, but that there shall exist in like manner in every way, equality and a uniform condition of the bodies of the daemons. For the Creator (Demiurgos) does not by any means set food abundant and in reach for all living things in the earth and sea, but has implanted want of the same in the races superior to us. Nor has he furnished to the other living things a natural abundance of the necessaries of life. But to the daemons he gives food of a quality adapted to their nature, which is contributed by us human beings. Hence, if we, through laziness or some other pretext, as is likely, should neglect such contributions, the bodies of the daemons will be in want of food, and will experience both privation and disorder. <sup>9</sup>

Why, then, do not they who make these assertions overturn the whole order of things so as to establish us in a better and more powerful arrangement? For if they make us agents to supply nourishment to the daemons, we shall be of a category superior to the daemons. For every thing receives food and what it requires from the source by which it came into existence. This may be seen in the visible world of created beings, and it is also perceivable in the universal order. For they who are living upon the earth are nourished from the celestial regions. But it becomes more distinctly manifest with the invisible causes. For soul is sustained from mind, and physical nature from soul; and other things are also nourished in like manner from their originators.

If, then, it is impossible for us to be the ones who brought the daemons into existence, by the same reasoning it is demonstrated that we are not the sources from which they derive their support.

It seems to me, moreover, that the question now being considered goes astray in another particular. For it ignores the bringing of the sacrifices through fire, as it is rather a consuming and destroying of the matter of which they consist, and likewise an assimilating of it to itself, while in no sense does it become itself assimilated to the matter. It is also a bringing upward to the divine, celestial and non-material fire, but by no means a moving downward to the region of matter and generated existence. For if the enjoying of the fumes of matter in the sacrifices “allured” the Superior races, it is proper that the matter shall be pure from contamination, for in this way there will be a greater exhalation from it to those that partake. Now, however, all is burned and utterly consumed, and is changed into the pure and tenuous substance of fire, which is itself clear proof to the contrary to what thou affirmest. For the superior races are impassive and it is a delight to them to extirpate the matter by means of the fire and to render us impassive. The characteristics in us become like the gods in the same manner as fire transforms all hard and refractory materials to luminant and tenuous bodies. <sup>10</sup> They likewise lead us upward, by the sacrifices and sacrificial fire to the fire of the gods in the same way that fire rises to fire, by leading and drawing upward those qualities which drag downward and are opposed to the divine and celestial essences.

To speak without disguise, it is neither from the matter of which the sacrifices consist, nor from the elements, nor from any other of the bodies known to us, that the daemons have the vehicle serving as bodies and resembling them. <sup>11</sup> What fruition, then, can ever take place from an essence of one kind to a different one, or what enjoyment can be imparted by alien natures to those that are alien to them? There is none, but rather it is far the other way. As the gods cut the matter away with the electric fire and separate from it whatever things are non-material in their essence, but yet are held firmly and fettered by it, and as they likewise evolve impassive natures from the impassible – so also the fire that is with us, imitating the operation of the divine fire, destroys everything in the sacrifices that is constituted of matter. It purifies the things that are brought to the fire, releases them from their bonds in matter, and likewise renders them, through its purity of nature, fit for the commonalty of gods. It also, through these changes, releases us from the bonds of generated existence, makes us like the gods, and likewise renders us fit for their friendship, and our material nature near to the non-material essence. <sup>12</sup>

Having thus refuted the absurd opinions generally in regard to Sacred Rites, we will introduce in their place the true conceptions. As it belongs to another subject, we omit the explanation in detail in respect to each form of sacrifices which the peculiar reason in respect to the rites requires. Nevertheless, any person who is well endowed will be able, from what has been said, to extend his understanding from one subject to many, and cognize quickly from these the things which have been passed over in silence. I think, therefore, that these things have been sufficiently explained, in their different aspects, and because our explanation sets forth becomingly the pure essence and quality of the divine beings. This, however, may appear equally incredible and by no means clear, and likewise suspicious as not setting the reasoning faculty at work, but not extending to the discourses upon the Soul. I mean, therefore, to go over these things a little more fully, and likewise, if possible, to bring forward proofs more conclusive than those which have been already examined.

The best introduction of all shows plainly the institution of Sacred Rites as it relates to the ranking of the gods. At the outset, therefore, we may lay down that some of the gods belong to the realm of matter and others are beyond it; those of the sphere of matter encompassing the matter in them-selves, and organizing it, and the non-material divinities being entirely separate from matter and superior to it. <sup>13</sup> In the Sacerdotal Technic, it is necessary for the Sacred Rites to be begun from the divinities belonging to the realm of matter, for otherwise there would be no going upward to the gods who are aloof from matter. They have therefore a communion with the sphere of matter in so far as they are placed over it. Hence they have control of those affairs which are permitted in relation to the sphere of matter; as, for example, classification, active effort, repulsion, change, the generation and decay of all material bodies.

Suppose, then, any one should wish to worship divinities of this class according to Theurgic Rites, in a manner proper to them and as originally allotted. In such case, as they are of the realm of matter, the attention ought to be given to a form of service appropriate to that realm. For in this way we will be led wholly into familiar intimacy with them all, and will bring to them in worship what is appropriate to a kindred race. Hence dead bodies and creatures deprived of life, and likewise the slaughter of animals and consuming of the bodies, <sup>14</sup> and also the manifold change, decay and vicissitude generally which befall to matter pertain to the gods; not to them through themselves, but through the realm of matter over which they are rulers. For although they are to the utmost separated from it they are nevertheless present with it; and although they encompass it by a power which is not of matter, they exist along with it. The things that are thus conducted are not alien to those who conduct them, nor are those that are put in order foreign to those who put them in order, and those likewise that are subservient are not unadapted to those that make use of them as instruments.

Hence the offering of anything belonging to the realm of matter is alien and repugnant to the divinities of the supramaterial world, but it is perfectly proper for all those that are allied to matter. <sup>15</sup>

Let us next consider what is in harmony with the sentiments which have been. uttered, and with our twofold constitution. For when we become entirely soul and are outside of the body, and soaring on high with all the gods of the non-material realm, we occupy ourselves with sublime visions. Then again, we are bound in the oyster-like body and held fast under the dominion of matter, and are corporeal in feeling and aspiration. <sup>16</sup> There comes, accordingly, therefore, a twofold form of worship. For the one which is for unstained souls will be simple, free of the body and pure from every condition of generated existence; but the other, which is accommodated to souls that are not pure and liberated from the conditions of generated existence, is filled with corporeal things and everything that relates to the world of matter. <sup>17</sup>

I admit therefore that there are two forms of Sacred Rites. The one, those for individuals who are entirely purified. Such rarely happen, as Herakleitos affirms, beyond a single person at one time or a few that may be easily counted. The other class, such as are yet held by the body, consists of those who are of the realm of matter and of corporeal quality, sustaining themselves through change. <sup>18</sup>

Hence, unless such a form of worship shall be instituted for cities and peoples that are not relieved from the hereditary allotment, <sup>19</sup> and that hold tenaciously to the communion with the body, they will fail utterly of both kinds of good, that which is superior to the realm of matter, and that which is of the world of matter. For the former they are unable to receive, and to the latter they bring nothing of kindred nature. At the same time every one performs his service according to what he is, and certainly not with reference to what he is not. For it is not proper for it to exceed the worshipers' own condition. I have the same thing to say also in respect to the intimate union which joins together the men who are worshipping and the powers that are worshipped as members of a family. For I desire the same unity, that the usage of religious worship which is homogeneous with it shall be chosen, namely: not only that which is non-material being commingled in the manner accordant with itself, and joining the incorporeal natures in a pure manner with themselves, with pure incorporeal powers, but also uniting the corporeal natures after a corporeal manner with corporeal essences, commingling with the bodies the superior essences that pervade them.

We shall not, therefore, think it unworthy of us to treat also of matters of such a lower character. Thus in respect of the needs of the body, we often perform some office to the guardians of the corporeal nature, the gods and good daemons; such as purifying it from old stains, or freeing it of diseases, and making it abound with health, or taking away from it heaviness and torpor, and imparting to it lightness and activity instead – or if nothing else, procuring for it all manner of benefits. We do not, therefore, in any way treat it as though it was of mental quality or even as though it was not corporeal. For the body is not constituted to participate in such modes of proceeding. But when it participates in modes of a nature corresponding to itself, a body is healed and purified by bodies. From necessity of such a kind, therefore, the institution of Sacred Rites will be of a corporeal ideal; on the one hand pruning away what is superfluous in us, and on the other supplying whatever in us is wanting, and also bringing into order and proportion in so far as it is disordered. We often make use of sacred ceremonies, beseeching from the superior races that they do for us many things of importance to the human life. These, doubtless, are the beings that take care of the body, or have charge of those things which we procure for the sake of our bodies. <sup>20</sup>

What, then, it may be asked, will there be for us from the gods who are entirely exempt from all human conditioned existence in respect to unfruitfulness of the soil, or abundance, or other concern of life? Nothing whatever; for it is not the province of those beings who are free of all such things to touch gifts of this kind.

But suppose it is affirmed that the divinities who are entirely beyond the realm of matter encompass those of the other class, and when they encompass them, they also include their gifts in themselves, as being the One First Cause. <sup>21</sup>

It may also be asserted that abundance of the divine bounty comes down from them. But it must be allowed to no one to say that these superior divinities who perform these things come in close contact with the affairs of human life. For such an administration of things here is capable of division into departments, and is exercised with a certain degree of care; it is likewise by no means wholly separate from bodies, and it cannot be endowed with authority entirely untarnished. Does not the mode of religious worship best suit the case in performance of this kind, which is mingled with corporeal matters and allied to generated existence; and not that which is wholly apart from the realm of matter and from concerns of the body? For the mode that is thus pure is absolutely above us, and is wholly unsuitable; but the one that makes use of bodies and of the powers that operate by means of bodies is, in the completest sense of all, especially allied to us. It can not only effect successes in life, but it can also avert imminent misfortunes, and bring harmony and a just tempering of conditions to the mortal race.

According to another classification, the numerous throng of human beings is arranged under the head of “Nature.” It is governed by the powers of the realm of Nature, looks down to the operations of Nature, and likewise in addition makes complete the jurisdiction of Fate, submits to the order of things to be accomplished in so far as it is fated, and also employs practical reasoning in regard to things that belong alone to the department of nature.

A certain few, however, who exercise a faculty of mind superior to nature, are exalted beyond that class and ranked in the order of separate and unalloyed intelligence as being those who have become altogether superior to the powers of the realm of nature.

Others, however, are placed between these as intermediaries between the department of nature and that of pure intelligence; some following after both classes, others pursuing a life commingled from the two, and others being set free from the inferior classes and placed with the more excellent. <sup>22</sup>

These, then, having been thus defined, that which is to accompany them becomes especially plain. For they who are governed by the general condition of things, and they in particular who live according to their own peculiar natural disposition and make use of their natural powers, adopt the religious worship that is proper to nature and to bodies made active by nature; <sup>23</sup> making choice of places, atmosphere, matter and powers of matter, bodies and habitudes of bodies, qualities, appropriate dances, changes incident to generated existence, and other things congruous with these, in other departments of religious worship, and in the department which is directly connected with sacrificing.

But they who live with reference to mind alone, and the life which is of the mind, and who are free of the bonds of the realm of nature, exercise diligently in the spiritual and incorporeal law of the Sacred Art relating to the several departments of Theurgy.

Those who are intermediary between the two classes, pursue assiduously the ways of holiness in different manner, according to the differences between them, either participating in both these modes of religious devotion, or standing aloof from one of them, or accepting them as a foundation of things more valuable. For without these they may never accomplish the higher attainments. In some other way perhaps they may take them in hand in a becoming manner.

In respect, however, to this very mode of distinction, there is brought to our attention the following classification of the divine Essences and powers:

  1. Some have a soul and nature subject and subservient to their creations, in whatever way they will.
  2. Others are entirely separate from soul and nature. I mean from the divine soul and nature and not from the cosmic and genetic soul and nature only.
  3. Some, however, are intermediaries between them, and preserve a communion from each to each other; either by an unsevered bond of union, or by a generous imparting of superior benefits or an unchecked reception of lesser ones, or by the harmony of mind which binds both together. <sup>24</sup>

When, therefore, we are worshipping the gods that are kings of the realms of soul and nature, it is not out of the way to present to them natural powers and bodies that are not controlled by nature,. devoting to them what is not worthless. For all the operations of nature are subservient to them and associated with them in the administration of the world.

But when we are paying homage to these gods that are uniform in respect to themselves, it is proper to distinguish them with unlimited honors. Gifts of a spiritual character are suited to them, things of the incorporeal life, and likewise such as virtue and wisdom bestow, and whatever good things of the soul are perfect and entire.

And moreover, to the intermediary divinities, those who lead in benefits of the middle class, sometimes gifts of a twofold character will be suitable, and sometimes those common to both the classes, or those which are separate from the lower orders but belong to the higher; or to sum up the whole matter, those Which will in one of the modes be amply sufficient for the intermediate.

Setting out from another original principle: that of the world and the cosmian divinities, and likewise the distribution of the four elements in the world, the apportioning of the elements by allotment in due proportion, and their circling revolution in orderly arrangement in respect to centers, we have an easy path to the true conception of the holy rites in respect to sacrifices. Suppose we ourselves are in the world, and are included as parts in the whole universe, that we are likewise produced by it at first and brought to maturity by all the forces in it, and also that we are constituted from the elements in it, and receive from it a certain allotment of life and nature. We may not, on account of these things, pass over the world and the cosmian arrangements. We must grant accordingly that in every region about the world there is this body which we observe, and there are also the incorporeal classified powers around the bodies. Hence the law of religion, it is plain, assigns like things to like and extends in this manner through the universal spaces from on high to the last, assigning things incorporeal to the incorporeal, and things corporeal to the corporeal, each giving to the other in due accord with their peculiar nature.

But when one of the theurgists becomes participant with the supernal gods – which is the rarest occurrence of any – that individual, he, from whatever corner he may come, being united to the gods by a supernal power, is superior to corporeal things and the realm of matter, as respects the worship of the gods. This sublime attainment is made by a person with difficulty and at a late period at the end of the sacred experience. It is not proper, therefore, to set it forth as a matter common to everybody; and in particular it should not be made common to those who are beginners in the theurgic discipline, nor to those who are midway in it; for these, in some way or other, bestow attention upon sacred matters as if it were a matter of bodily concern. <sup>25</sup>


  • 1. The Pythagoreans, who are supposed to have adopted their principal philosophic notions from Egypt, attached special honor to certain numbers and geometric figures. Plutarch affirms that they designated these as divinities, calling the equilateral triangle Athena or Wisdom; the unit, Apollo, as denoting “not many” (a-pollôn); the duad or two, courage and conflict; the triad, justice; and the four, the universe; and also thirty-six as being the sum of the first four odd and the first four even numbers (36) The crocodile was described as producing sixty eggs and occupying sixty days in their hatching It was venerated anciently in the country of the Fayum in Middle Egypt, and was the Symbol of Ra, the Sun-God, and also of Osiris, as the Sun-God of Amenti, the region of the dead.
  • 2. The goddess Isis, the sister and consort of Osiris, the Egyptian Bacchus, was sometimes considered to represent the Moon. When seeking for the body of her murdered husband, a dog was said to have accompanied her. A dog is also included in the Parsi ceremonies. Anubis, who was symbolized by the dog and the dog-headed baboon, was always commemorated in the Secret Rites. The male baboon is melancholy when the moon is hidden, and the female exhibits peculiarities common to women.
  • 3. Sacred animals were numerous in Egypt, every nome or district having its own. The bulls Apis and Men were selected for their color and peculiarities of body. There were also the sacred bat, ram, cat, river-horse, wolf, serpent, hawk, ibis, etc. They were considered as representing qualities indicative of soul, emotion and moral sense, qualities produced by nature and Divinity. “We worship God through them,” says Plutarch.
  • 4. The cock was anciently venerated in many countries as sacred to the Sun and at the sacrifices it was customary for the divines to inspect his heart for auguries Porphyry has recorded similar facts in relation to the heart of the crow, the mole and the hawk. Indeed, every ancient people had its sacred bird. The eagle and the cock seem to have continued to modern time, and even with peoples where the primitive mystic purport is not known.
  • 5. This appears to be a conceding that the Supreme Divinity is influenced by these sacrifices and similarly by the Magian Rites. This, however, many of the Platonists, as well as the Aristotelians, Stoics and Epicureans, strenuously denied.
  • 6. The term “powers” is used by Abammon in the Aristotelian sense, denoting inherent faculties as prior to the exercise of force, and the producing of effects.
  • 7. Our author here refers, as will be observed, to the declarations of Porphyry, which are quoted in the First Chapter, but are not found in the present text of the Letter to the Expounder Anebo. Porphyry had questioned the utility and actual effect of the sacrificial rites upon the general order of the universe and the purposes of the gods, and likewise whether they were performed in a proper manner as related to the gods, or really procured any advantage to the worshipers themselves.
  • 8. It was held that these sacrifices to the daemons were more acceptable than exhalations from other things, because that in the fumes there were more vivid traces of the living soul, and so a greater relationship. Hence in invocations to the daemons and to the manes or shades of the dead, victims were immolated in order that a nourishing exhalation might be obtained from the flowing blood. See Odyssey, Book XI.
  • 9. Plato, in the Timaeus, treats of junior divinities, whose bodies were derived from the elements, and were to be dissolved. Proklos also describes the gods of the cosmian universe as both of indissoluble nature and such as are to he dissolved. Plutarch and Hesiod describes daemons as a distant race from the gods, and as the inspirers of oracles, but as actually moral. If they commit any fault they are thrust down to earth, fall into the sphere of generated existence, and are fastened to human bodies.
  • 10. Marsilio Ficino, the Italian Platonist, remarks that the fire which is kindled by us is more like heaven than like what is left behind. It is made participant of light, which is a something incorporeal, the most powerful of all things, and as if alive, perpetually moving, dividing everything, yet not itself divisible, absorbing all things into itself, yet evading every alien mixture; and suddenly, when it is fully set free, flying back to the celestial fire which is latent everywhere.
  • 11. The daemons may be described as having vehicles of a substance different from that of bodies, and accorded to the different orders. The daemons of the sky are described as having such vehicles composed not of elementary and natural principles, but those of the water and earth were so endowed, and to these the sacrifices were offered. The former were of the number not nourished from the fumes of the sacrifices, but the latter acquire growth from external sources. Yet as the vehicles were not derived from the elements, nor from bodies known to us, our author would have done a favor by telling whence they came. This, however, was no easy thing to do, if modern “materialization” of spiritual beings seems not to have been imagined. Plato, in the Timaeus, seems to regard the vehicle as self-created, or the production of the “junior gods.”
  • 12. Proklos remarks of the Perfective Discipline, “that, as the Oracles teach, it obliterates, through the divine fire, all the stains derived from generated existence.” The //Chaldaean Oracle// also says: “The mortal drawing near the sacrificial fire will have light from Divinity.”
  • 13. Proklos, in the Commentary upon the Alkibiades, sets forth this classification, calling the divinities, the absolute and the cosmian gods. The Chaldaean Oracles denominate the latter, the Synoches or Associated divinities. Plato has also called them Lesser or Junior Gods. Other writers declare that these divinities, whose ministry is about the earth and human affairs, actually belong to the order of daemons. The gods of the Mystic Rites are accordingly so included.
  • 14. Porphyry and others of the philosophers of that period declared distinctly that the sacrifices of living creatures were not for the gods at all, but for daemons and the lower orders of spiritual essences. Indeed, their sentiments were considered as evidence of a hostility to Judaism. In archaic times, and even in many centuries of the historical period, human victims were immolated, and the Hebrew writings seem to recognize the custom (Leviticus xxvii, 28, 29; Judges xi, 30-40; Micah, vi, 7). Plutarch denounced this practice, and declared his belief that there was never a god that required it, but it was only intended to avert and appease the malice and rancor of evil spirits. The slaughter of hogs at the festivals of Adonis, Osiris and Demites seems to have been of the latter character, as swine were abhorred in Oriental countries.
  • 15. Here may be perceived the distinction between different teachers. One school adopted the notion that the body being constituted of matter, was to be macerated and held in low esteem. Plato, however, in Theætetos, taught that we escaped from evil in the body by becoming as much as possible like a god. This was to be accomplished by a life of purity and justice, not by bodily worship, but by mental and moral excellence.
  • 16. This figure is borrowed from Plato, and we find it eloquently depicted in the Phaedros.
  • 17. This twofold phase of religions customs, the religion of the right hand and that of the left, still exists with the worshiper of Shiva and the Shakti in India It was exhibited in the Orphic and Dionysiac worships of Greece, and in several Oriental Rites. So the ascetic and the freer religionist were alike treated according to their respective dispositions.
  • 18. In other words, holding to no stable purpose, and exhibiting some new energy at every new phase of opinion or experience.
  • 19. They were considered as more or less infested by evil daemon whom it was necessary to placate.
  • 20. In the Egyptian System the human body was apportioned into thirty-six regions, each of which was supposed to be in charge of its own over-lord or presiding divinity, and had its class of physicians at the different temples.
  • 21. This including of the Superior divinities under the designation of One First Cause, will seem to imply that they were considered as substantially one godhead. The late Prof. Taylor Lewis, of Union College, so viewed the matter. It will be observed that in the Hebrew text of the Bible, the Supreme Being is often designated by a plural term: “The Lord (Yava) our Eloim (Gods) is one.” There is abundant evidence that the ancient religious systems generally recognized but one Supreme Divinity, in which all minor powers and essences were included as qualities or attributes. Yet they seem also to have been often regarded as distinct personalities.
  • 22. Plotinus has also described these classes with equal distinctness. All from their birth, he declares, make use of the senses before they have acquired any superior perception. He adds that, “Some proceed no further, but pass through life considering the things of sense to be the first and last of all; and as they apprehend that what is painful is evil, and that whatever is pleasant is good, they think it sufficient to pursue the one and to avoid the other. Others have a greater share of intelligence, but do not rise above the earth. Some of these exhibit greater perception, but not superior moral excellence. In the third class are the divine ones who acutely perceive supernal light, rise superior to sense, and live above the world.
  • 23. By “Nature” some understood the Great Goddess, others simply a daemon, others the Superior Mind.
  • 24. Mr. Thomas Taylor classes the intermediary divinities as archai or rulers (principalities, Ephesians vi, 12), and apolutoi or liberated; the one being supercosmic and the other supercelestial, or superior to the visible gods in the sky.
  • 25. Iamblichos, in the “Life of Pythagoras,” remarks that “He who pours clean water into a muddy well does but disturb the mud.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus charges the disciples not to give the holy truth to dogs, nor cast pearls before the swine; for the latter will tread the jewels under their feet, and the dogs will rend the uncautious givers.