Chapter 7. Origin of the Art of Divination

First, then, thou askest that it shall be explained to thee in detail what it is that takes place in the prognosticating of the future. It is impossible to set forth at once what thou art trying to learn. For according to the gist of the question, thou imaginest something like this of the art of prognosticating: as that it is generated, and some thing existing in the realm of nature. But it is not one of the things that are generated, nor what a certain natural mutation accomplishes, nor some ingenious product which has been invented for useful purposes in every-day life – nor, in short, is it a human accomplishment at all, but divine, and beyond the realm of nature; and having been sent down from the heaven above, unbegotten and eternal, it naturally takes the first place.

The chief remedy for all doubts of such a kind is this: to know the origin of the Divining Art, that it is neither set in motion from bodies nor from the conditions incident to bodies, nor from a peculiar nature and the faculties incident to the nature, nor from human preparation or experience pertaining to it; but on the other hand, not from any skill acquired externally in relation to some part of which may be attempted in every-day life. Its entire validity pertains to the gods, and is conferred by the gods. It is perfected by the divine Performances and symbols, and there are likewise divine spectacles and learned theorems. All other things are subject as instrumentalities for the gift of foreknowledge which has been transmitted from the gods. These include both such as relate to our soul and body and such as are inherent in the nature of everything or in the individual natures of every one. Some things, however, are subordinate beforehand, as being in the realm of Matter; such, for example, as places, or other things of a like character.

If, however, any one thinking that he is saying something erudite, shall refuse to consider the primary causes, <sup>1</sup> but shall attribute the art and faculty of divining to operations of an inferior character, such as to the activities of bodies, or changes of conditions, or to different movements or operations of human life, or to reasons of a psychic or physical nature; or if he shall argue from the correspondence of these things to others as being causes, presuming that he is setting forth what is true, he has gone entirely wrong. <sup>2</sup> On the contrary, the one right goal, and the one principle in relation to all these matters, will be found to be: that in no case do we derive the divination of the future from any of those things that have no foreknowledge in themselves, but that we shall contemplate the mantic power which is apportioned over all the world and to all the natures distributed therein from the gods who possess in themselves the entire compass of the knowledge of the things that have a being. For such a cause is not only primal, and, in the fullest sense, universal, but it also contains in itself primarily whatever it imparts to those that participate of it; and it especially bestows the true knowledge which the divining art requires. It likewise comprehends beforehand the essence and cause of the things about to take place, from which, of necessity, the attaining of foreknowledge comes unceasingly.

Let such, therefore, be the principle generally, not only in relation to all divining from which it is practicable to find out by the mode of the superior knowing all the forms of it, but let us also now take it in turn, following out the questions which thou hast proposed.
 

In regard to divining in sleep thou remarkest as follows: “When we are asleep we often come, through dreams, to a perception of things that are about to occur. We are not in an ecstasy, full of commotion, for the body lies at rest; yet we do not ourselves apprehend these things as clearly as when we are awake.” <sup>3</sup>

These things of which thou speakest are likely to take place in human dreams and in those set in motion by the soul or by our own thoughts, or by discourse, or such things as arise from phantasies or daily cares. These are sometimes true and sometimes false; they sometimes hit upon actual fact, but they go, many times, wide of the mark.

The dreams, however, which are termed “God-sent,” do not have their origin in the way which thou describest. On the contrary, either when sleep is leaving us and we are beginning to awake, it happens that we hear a brief expression in regard to things to be done; or it may be that the voices are heard during the period between being awake and asleep, or when we have become entirely awake. Sometimes, also, an invisible and unbodied spirit encompasses the recumbent persons in a circle, so as not to come to the sight of the individual, but to be present in another joint sensation and understanding. It makes a rustling sound when thus coming in, and also diffuses itself in every direction, without producing any sense of contact; and it likewise accomplishes wonderful results in setting free from ill conditions of the soul and also of the body. At other times, however, a light beaming forth bright and soft, the sight of the eyes is not only held fast, but it remains so even when they had been wide open before. But the other senses continue awake, and are jointly conscious to a certain degree as to how the gods are visible in the light. Hence the individuals both hear what they say, and, following with the thought, know what they do. Of course, this is perceived more perfectly when the eyes are looking attentively, and the mind, being in full vigor, understands the things which are performed, and the movement of the Beholders is likewise in harmony. <sup>4</sup> These, therefore, being so many and so different, are in nothing like human dreams. On the contrary, not only are the peculiar wakeful condition, the holding of the sight, the seizure resembling torpor (catalepsis), the condition between sleep and awake, and the recent awaking or entire wakefulness, all of them divine, and accordant with the receiving of the gods, but they are actually sent from the gods themselves, and a part of the divine manifestations precedes them, after the manner of such things.

Banish, then, from the divine dreams in which particularly there is divination, all notion that “we are asleep” in any sense whatever, and also the statement that “we do not clearly apprehend the meaning,” as applying to those who behold the divine apparitions. For not only is the presence of the gods manifest in a degree by no means inferior to those who understand such things, but if we must tell the truth, it is necessarily more exact and distinct, and effects a more perfect consciousness in the former case than in the latter. Some, however, who do not take cognizance of these proofs of dreams which are truly oracular, but who think that they are in some way common with those that are merely human, fall rarely, and by accident, upon those in which there is a foreknowing of the future. Hence they doubt whether there are any dreams that contain truth in any degree. Indeed, this, it seems to me, disquiets thee because of not knowing their genuine tokens. But it is necessary that thou shouldst prefer the true meaning of dreams before thy own notions, and follow out the whole argument in regard to divination during sleep.
 

They (the ancient sages to whom we have referred) likewise affirm the following things:

The soul, having a twofold life – the one along with the body, and the other separate from everything corporeal – we, in the case of the other mode of living, when we are awake, make use of many things pertaining to the life belonging with the body, except we, after a manner, detach ourselves from it in every respect by pure principles of thought and understanding. In sleep, however, we are completely set free as from fetters lying by us, and bring into activity the life which is separate from the sphere of generated existence. Hence, therefore, this form or ideal of life, whether it is spiritual <sup>5</sup> or divine, which is the same, or only one existing individually by itself, is awakened in us and puts forth its energy according to its own nature.
 

Since, therefore, the mind contemplates the things that have real being, but the soul encompasses in itself the principles of all things that exist in the sphere of generated existence, it follows, of course, that, answering to the cause which comprehends future events, it prognosticates them, as arranged by their antecedent principles. Besides, however, when it joins together the divided sections of life and spiritual energy in the wholes (divine essences) from which they were taken, it creates a more perfect art of divining than this. For it is then filled from the wholes with every kind of knowledge, and thus most frequently attains to true conception in regard to the events which are taking place in the world. Nevertheless, when it is united to the gods through such liberated energy, it receives on the instant abundances of perceptions absolutely genuine, from which it gives forth the true oracular solution of divine dreams, and thenceforth establishes the absolutely genuine principles of knowledge. If, on the other hand, the soul interblends its spiritual and divine nature with the superior beings, its mental images will then be more pure and unalloyed, whether in respect to the gods or in relation to beings essentially incorporeal; or, to speak in simple terms, in respect to whatsoever contributes to the truth, that which relates to the world of mind. If, however, it exalts the notions of things pertaining to the world of creation to the gods, their causes, it receives from them, in addition, a power and a capacity of knowing which reasons intelligently both of things that were and things that will be. <sup>6</sup> It not only takes a view of every period of time, and examines events that are to take place in the period, but it likewise participates in the arranging, management and correcting of them. It not only heals diseased bodies, <sup>7</sup> but also restores to order many things among men which were discordant and disorderly. It also gives forth discoveries of arts, proper regulations .for the administering of law, and institutions of customs. Thus, in the temples of Asklepios, not only are diseases brought to an end by dreams of divine origin, but through manifestations by night the medical art is combined with the sacred visions. <sup>8</sup>

The entire army of Alexander was saved when in imminent danger of being destroyed in the night, Dionysos (Bacchus) appearing in a dream and indicating the way to be delivered from desperate calamities. <sup>9</sup> Aphutis, likewise, when it was besieged by King Lysander, was saved through dreams sent from Amun; he withdrawing his troops at the shortest notice and raising the siege without delay. <sup>10</sup>

Yet why is it necessary to refer specifically to events which occur daily, and exhibit an energy superior to speech? These things, therefore, which have been set forth in relation to divination from the gods during sleep, both as to what it is and the benefit which it affords to human beings, are certainly enough.
 

And then thou affirmest as follows: “In like manner, many also come to a perception of the future through enthusiastic rapture and a divine impulse, when at the same time so thoroughly awake as to have the senses in full activity. Nevertheless, they by no means follow the matter closely, or at least they do not attend to it as closely as when in their ordinary condition.”

Right here I wish to show the tokens in these occurrences of those who are really possessed by the gods. For they have either placed their whole life at the disposal as a vehicle or organ for the inspiring gods, or they exchange the human for the divine life, or else they carry on their own life in reference to the divinity. They are not acting by sense, nor are they watchful as those whose senses are aroused to greater acuteness, nor do they attempt the study of the future, nor are they moved as those who are active from impulse. On the other hand, they do not understand themselves, either as they were formerly or in any other way; nor, in short, do they exercise their own intelligence for themselves, nor do they put forth any superior knowledge of their own.

The chief token may be adduced as follows: Many, through the divine affiatus, are not burned when brought to the fire, nor when the fire touches them. Many, also, who are burned, do not perceive it, because in this case they are not living the life of an animal. Some, also, who are pierced with spits do not feel it; and others who have been struck on the shoulders with axes, and others still whose arms are cut with knives, <sup>11</sup> do not mind <sup>12</sup> it at all. Indeed, their performances. are not at all usual with human beings. For to those who are divinely possessed inaccessible places become accessible: they are thrown into the fire; they go through fire they pass through rivers like the holy maids in Kastabalis. <sup>13</sup> From these examples it is shown that they who are enthusiasts do not have any thought of themselves, and that they do not live a human or an animal life so far as relates to sense or natural impulse, but that they exchange it for another more divine life by which they are inspired and by which they are held fast.
 

There are truly many forms of divine possession, and the divine inbreathing is set in motion in many ways. Hence, accordingly, there are many different signs of it. For on the one hand the gods by whom we are inspired are different, and communicate a different inspiration; and on the other hand, the mode of the divine transports being changed, it occasions another form of divine impulse. For either the divinity possesses us, or we our entire selves become the god's own, or we are active in common with him. Sometimes we share the ultimate or last power of the divinity, at another time the intermediate, and sometimes the first. At one time there is a bare participation of these raptures; at another there is also communion; and sometimes, again, there is a complete union. Either the soul alone enjoys, or it has it with the body, or else the whole living individual shares it in common.

From these diversities it follows that the distinctive signs denoting those who are inspired are of many kinds. Not only among them are the motions of the body and of specific parts, but likewise its perfect repose, and also harmonious orders and dances and musical voices, or the contraries of these. The body also is seen lifted up, or increased in size, or borne along raised up in the air, <sup>14</sup> or there appear occurrences in relation to it the contrary of these. There is likewise to be observed an evenness of voice according to extent, or with many deviations with intervals of silence and irregularities. Again, sometimes, the sounds are augmented or relaxed after the rules of music, and sometimes after another manner.
 

The principal thing in the evoking of a spirit is that the spirit is seen coming down and entering into an individual, also its importance and kind, and he is mystically persuaded and governed by it. The form of fire is seen by the recipient before the receiving of the spirit, and sometimes, either when the god is descending or when he is withdrawing himself, it becomes visible to all the Beholders. <sup>15</sup> From this manifestation the sign of the god which is the most genuine, the most potent, and most perfectly ordered, becomes known to a certainty; and it is not only proper to proclaim what is true in respect to certain matters but also to exhibit the power or to complete the rite with the adepts. But they who, without witnessing these holy spectacles at the Sacred Rites, effect the conjuring of the spirits in some invisible manner, grope their way as in the dark, and know nothing of what they are doing, except some very small signs which are manifested through the body of the person who is divinely inspired and some other things which are plainly to be seen; and they are likewise ignorant of everything of divine inbreathing which is veiled in invisibility.

But to come back from this digression. If the presence of the fire of the gods and an ineffable form of light from without shall permeate the individual who is under control, fill him completely, have absolute dominion over him, and encompass him on all sides so that he can put forth no energy of his own, what sense or mental effort or purpose of his own can he have who receives the divine fire? Or what impulse merely human can then insinuate itself, or what human reception of passion or ecstasy or turning aside of imagination, or anything else of the kind, such as the many conceive of, may then take place?

Let such as these, then be the divine tokens of genuine inspiration from the gods, which any one, keeping in mind, will not swerve from the right knowledge in regard to it.
 

Nevertheless, it is not enough to learn these things alone, nor may any one who knows only these things become perfect in divine overknowledge. On the other hand, it is necessary to know also what enthusiasm or divine possession really is and how it is developed. The conjecture that it is a carrying away of the understanding by a demonian afflatus is utterly false. <sup>16</sup> The human understanding, if it is truly thus possessed, is not carried away. Not from daemons, but from gods. comes inspiration. Really, on the other hand, it is not simply an ecstatic rapture or trance, but, on the contrary, an exaltation and passing to the superior condition; whereas mental distraction and ecstasy indicate a general overturning to the worse. Hence, a person declaring this may speak of the results in respect to the entheast individuals and yet give no instruction in regard to the principal matter. This, however, consists in holding fast to all these manifestations of divinity to which the ecstatic condition afterward succeeds. No one, therefore, may justly suppose that the entheast condition is of the soul and of faculties belonging to it, or of the mind or of the energies or of bodily infirmity, or that without this latter concomitant it may not thus occur and be, as a matter of course, the underlying cause. For the matter of divine possession and inspiration is in no sense a human attainment, nor has it an origin in human organs and energies. On the contrary, these are subordinate, and the Divinity employs them as instruments. Neither the soul nor the body of the individual has the least agency in the matter, but he exercises the whole function of divination through himself; and being free, with no intermingling of anything extraneous; he works according to his own nature.

Hence, the vaticinations being thus performed as I describe, they are, of a certainty, incapable of being untruthful. But when the Soul begins beforehand or is disturbed in the meantime or takes part with the body, and interrupts the divine harmony, the divinations become tumultuous and false, and the inspiration is no longer true or genuine.
 

Suppose, accordingly, that the genuine art of divining was a liberating of the divine from the other soul <sup>17</sup> or a separating of the mind by itself or an extending of its purview, or that it was a vehemence and extending of energy or passion or a sharpening and prompting of the understanding or an in-spiriting of the mind. All such things being conditions which are set in motion by our own soul, it may be assumed with good reason that enthusiasm or inspiration has the same origin. But if the body is to be regarded as the cause of the inspired rapture or trance, on account of certain temperaments, either melancholic or some other, or, to speak more particularly, on account of heat and cold and moisture, or some form of these or, in a word, the mingling or tempering of them or the breath, or more or less of these, in such case the bodily condition would be the cause of the aberration, and it would arise from the physical disturbances. <sup>18</sup> If, however, the origin arises from both these, from the body and the soul so far as these are blended together with each other, such activity will be common to them as a single living being. But on the contrary, it is neither an affair of the body nor of the soul nor of the two together. For there is not in these any cause of divine aberration, and it is not in the order of nature for superior things to be generated from those that are inferior. <sup>19</sup>

On the other hand, it is necessary to investigate the causes of the divine frenzy. <sup>20</sup> These are illuminations that come down from the gods, the inspirations that are imparted from them, and the absolute authority from them, which not only encompasses all things in us but banishes entirely away the notions and activities which are peculiarly our own. The frenzy causes words to be let fall that are not uttered with the understanding of those who speak them; but it is declared, on the contrary, that they are sounded with a frenzied mouth, the speakers being all of them subservient and entirely controlled by the energy of the dominant intelligence. All enthusiasm is of such a character, and is brought to perfection from causes of such a kind; hence it is by impression, and not with precise accurateness, that we speak in relation to it.
 

In addition to these things you remark as follows: “So also certain others of these ecstatics become entheast or inspired when they hear cymbals, drums, or some choral chant, <sup>21</sup> as, for example, those who are engaged in the Korybantic Rites, <sup>22</sup> those who are possessed at the Sabazian festival and those who are celebrating the Rites of the Divine Mother.” <sup>23</sup>

It is proper, accordingly, to tell the causes of these things, how they came into existence, and what explanation there is for the performing of the Rites.

These allusions which you make, namely, that the music at these festivals is exciting and passionate; that the sound of the flutes causes or heals conditions of aberration; that the music changes the temperaments or dispositions of the body; that by some of the choral s6ngs the Bacchic frenzy is excited, but by others the Bacchic orgies are made to cease; how the peculiar differences of these accord with the various dispositions of the soul, and also that the peculiar wavering and variable choric chants, such as those of Olympus, and others of the same kind., are adapted to the producing of ecstasies <sup>24</sup> – all of them seem to me to be stated in a manner unfavorable to the entheast condition; for they are both physical and human in their quality and performances, according to our technic, but nothing essentially divine appears in them.

We affirm, accordingly, not only that the shoutings and choric songs are sacred to the gods, each and all of them, as being peculiarly their own, but likewise that there is a kindred relationship between them in their proper order, according to their respective ranks and powers, the motions in the universe itself and the harmonious sounds emitted from the motions By the agency of such a relationship of the choric songs to the gods it is that their presence actually becomes manifest, for there is nothing intervening; and hence whatever has a mere incidental resemblance to them becomes immediately participant of them. There also takes place at once a perfect possession and filling with the divine essence and power. Nor is this because the body and soul are in each other, and affected alike in sympathy with the songs; but, on the contrary, it is because the inspiration of the gods is not separated from the divine harmony, and being allied with it, as being of the same kindred, it is shared by it in just measures. It is, however, aroused or checked, one or the other, according to the specific rank of the gods. But this is never by any means to be termed a separating, purifying, or a remedy. For, first of all, it is not dispensed on account of any disease or excess or plethora in us, but the whole beginning and course of operation are from the gods above.

On the contrary, it is not proper to say that the soul originally consisted of harmony and rhythm, for in that case the entheast condition is an inherent property of the soul alone. It will be better, therefore, to bring our discourse back to this statement: that the soul, prior to the giving of itself to the body, was a hearer of the divine harmony, and accordingly, when it came into a body it heard such songs as especially preserve throughout the divine trace of harmony, it followed them eagerly, recalled from them the remembrance of divine harmony, is borne along with it, becomes closely allied to it, and partakes of it as much as possible.

Hence we may generally explain in this way the source of the divine faculty of divination.
 

Let us now proceed with our reasoning in relation to this subject of divination. We may not affirm this at the outset, namely, that Nature is leading everything to its own, for to be entheast is in no way a work of Nature; nor may we say that the composition and quality of the air and of the environment create a different condition in the bodies of those that are entheast, for the divine products of inspiration are never modified by bodily powers or components; nor may we suppose that the divine inspiration gives sanction to special conditions and incidents, for the gift of the gods to human beings is the bestowing of their own energy, and is superior to everything of the sphere of generated existence. But since the power of the Korghantian divinities is, in a certain degree, of a guardian and perfecting character, <sup>25</sup> and the peculiar usages of the Sabazian worship make ready for the Bacchic enthusiasm, the purifying of souls, and deliverances from old incriminations, their respective inspirations are, accordingly, different in every important particular. <sup>26</sup>

Thou seemest to think that those who are enrapt by the Mother of the gods are males, for thou callest them, accordingly, “Metrizontes”; yet that is not true, for the “Metrizontesæ” are chiefly women. A very few, however, are males, and such as may be more delicate. This enthusiasm has a power that is both life-engendering and perfective, in which respect it differs from every other form of frenzy.

Proceeding thus, after this way, into what remains of the present discussion, and distinguishing particularly the inspirations of the Nymphs or of Pan, and their other specific differences with reference to the powers of the gods, we shall treat of them separately according to their respective peculiarities; and shall, likewise, explain why they sally forth and spend time in the mountains, why some of them appear bound, and why they are to be worshipped by offerings. We shall like-wise attribute these things to the sources of divine authority, as they possess all power in themselves; but we shall neither affirm that an accumulation of refuse of the body or soul requires to be cleansed away, nor that the periods of the seasons are the cause of such ill conditions, nor that the receiving of what is similar and the taking away of the contrary will prove a remedy for an excess of this kind. For all such things are set down in the category of the corporeal, and are entirely separate from a divine and spiritual life. Each, however, succeeds in accomplishing the operations which pertain to its own nature. Hence the spirits that are aroused by the gods, and that excite human beings to the Bacchic frenzy, overstep every other human and natural activity, and it is not right to compare their operations to those taking place in ordinary ways; but in respect to those which are utterly strange, and of earliest origin, it is proper to refer them back to the gods as authors. One form of divine inspiration is, accordingly, of this kind, and takes place after this manner.
 

Another mode of entheastic divining, that of Oracles, is famous, and very plain in many ways, concerning which thou declarest such things as these, namely: “Others are inspired when drinking water, like the priest of the Klarian Apollo at Kolophon; others when sitting over cavities in the earth, like the women who deliver the oracles at Delphi; others when overpowered by vapors from the water, like the prophetesses at Branchidæ.”

Thou hast mentioned these three oracles by name, not be-cause there are only these, for there are many more which thou hast passed over in silence; but since these take rank before the others, and on account of which are more sought, thou art sufficiently instructed in respect to the mode of divining. I will now, because thou hast enough of these things, speak of the oracular art which has been sent down to human beings from the gods. We will, therefore, make our discourse in relation to these three, and not let a word fall respecting the many other oracles.

It is acknowledged by everybody that the oracle at Kolophon gives its responses through the medium of water. There is a spring in a house underground, and from this the prophet drinks. On certain appointed nights, many sacred ceremonies having taken place beforehand, he drinks, and delivers oracles, but he is not seen by the beholders who are present. It is manifest from this, therefore, that that water possesses an oracular quality; but how this is so not every man, as the saying is, may know. For it seems as though a mantic spirit extended through it; but this is not true. For the divine being does not go about among its participants, thus divided and apportioned; but, on the contrary, it shines upon the fountain as though giving of itself from without, and fills it with the mantic power from itself. The inspiration which the water imparts is by no means all of it from the god, but it causes an adaptedness alone and a purification of the light-like spirit <sup>27</sup> in us, through which we become able to contain the divinity; but the presence of the god is different from this, and prior to it, and it flashes in from above like the lightning. Indeed, this presence forsakes no one of those who, through kindred nature, are in intimate union to it; but it is immediately present, and employs the prophet as an instrument, he neither being normally himself, nor aware of what he is saying or where on the earth he is. Hence, after giving the oracles, he recovers control of himself at a later moment with difficulty. Indeed, before drinking the water he fasts an entire day and night, and as he begins to become entheast he withdraws by himself into certain sacred retreats. Thus, by this withdrawing and separating from human affairs, he makes himself pure, and prepared for the receiving of the divinity; and through this means he has the inspiration of the divinity illuminating the pure sanctuary of his own soul, and he likewise effects by himself, unobstructed, the possession and divine presence complete and without impediment.

The prophetess at Delphi, however, whether she gives oracles to human beings from a tenuous and fire-like spirit brought up from somewhere through an aperture, <sup>28</sup> or vaticinates sitting in the inner shrine, upon the bronze chair with three feet or upon the four-footed chair sacred to the divinities, <sup>29</sup> gives herself up entirely to the divine spirit and is shined upon by the ray of the fire. In fact, when the fiery mist coming up from the aperture, dense and abundant, encompasses her on every side in a circle, she becomes filled by it with a divine luminance, and when she sits down in the seat of the god she comes into harmony with the unwavering oracular power of the divinity, and from these two preparatory operations she becomes entirely the medium of the god. Then truly is the god present, shining upon her separately, being himself other than the fire, the spirit, their peculiar seats and all the visible apparatus about the place, physical, and sacred.

The woman also who delivers the oracles in verse at Branchidal, whether she is holding the staff <sup>30</sup> which was first presented by a divinity and becomes filled with the divine luminance, or whether she sits upon a wheel and predicts what is to occur, or whether she dips her feet or the border of her robe in the water, or receives the god by inhaling vapor from the water, she becomes by all these ways prepared for the reception, and partakes of him from without. <sup>31</sup>

These things, therefore, are plain to view, namely: the abundance of offerings, the established law of the whole sacred Observance, and such other things as are performed in a manner worthy of a god, prior to the oracular responding, such as the baths of the prophetess, her fasting for three entire days, her abiding in the interior shrine and having there already the light and enjoying it a long time. For these things all make it manifest that there is an invoking of the deity, and that he becomes present as though coming from outside; and not only that the prophetess, before she takes her position in the accustomed place, receives an inspiration of a wonderful character, but likewise in the very spirit that is brought up from the fountain shows forth another divinity more ancient comes to view, separate from the place, who is the cause or the author of the place, of the fountain, and of the whole technic of divining. <sup>32</sup>

 

Notes:

  • 1. The Causes are to be understood to be divine beings. Plato and the Stoic philosophers regarded the art or faculty of divination as incited by a divine rapture or enthusiasm, and an imparting of divine knowledge to human beings. They also believed that there were divine dreams. Xenophanes, however, was a disbeliever, and Pythagoras rejected all forms of divination by sacrifices. Strato taught that the noëtic faculties are active in sleep. Plutarch explains that when the imaginative part of the soul and the divine efflux are in accord, there is a mantic inspiration. The body, he insists, is sometimes naturally endued with the faculty of divining; and in other cases, this faculty may he set in operation by external and artificial means.

Abammon, as will be noted, denies that the sex of the seer or ecstatic is an essential in the technique of divination. The oracle at Delphi was served by virgin attendants, and the shrines in other places by persons of some particular age, and in a peculiar state of alienation produced by fasting, mesmeric applications, anesthesia or other artificial means.

  • 2. Aristotle imputed the divining faculty to a melancholic temperament; others to an inhaling of certain vapors or gases, and others to a variety of causes. Abammon in subsequent chapters treats of these. Plato describes priests skilled in divining as “the interpreters of the divinity to men.”
  • 3. We are reminded of Campbell's verse:

“Coming events cast their shadows before.” The person whose faculties are acute thus perceives them. Plutarch defines the matter as follows: “The divining faculty when it has drawn itself farthest from the present, touches on that which is to come; and it withdraws itself from this by a certain disposition of body, by which that state is produced which we call Inspiration or Enthusiasm.”

  • 4. This is similar in many respects to the vision of the prophet Balaam (Numbers, XXIV, 15, 16) “Balaam the son of Beor saith – the man beholding what is good and true, saith: Hearing the oracular utterances of God, apprehending superior knowledge from the Most High – Beholding the vision of God in sleep, having his eyes unsealed.”
  • 5. Greek, noeros, the pure reason; spiritual; from noos, or Mind. It is the term usually rendered so in this treatise.
  • 6. Nothing resembles death more than sleep,“ says Xenophon. “In sleep the soul reveals her divine quality, and being then set free from the body she beholds the future.”
  • 7. Physicians and others having the care of the sick have been indebted to dreams for the discovery of many remedies. Such is the testimony of Cicero, Diodoros, Plutarch and others. Intuitive suggestion also prompts to the employing of the proper remedial measures.
  • 8. Asklepios (or Asklepios or Æsculapius), the patron god of the medical art, was called Oneiropompos or sender of dreams. There were sleep-houses at his various temples, in which “incubation” or mesmerism was employed. The dreams which were thus procured were interpreted by the prophets or mantic priests, and the remedies suggested if found valuable became a part of the pharmacopoeia. The names of Cheiron, Jason, Medeia, seem to refer to this practice. Aristeides, in the reign of the Antonines, gives a very full account of this matter.
  • 9. Plutarch and Arrian state that when Alexander on his return from India passed through Gedrosia, his army suffered from famine and disease; The mortality was prodigious and it required all the energy of the king to bring forward the survivors out of the trackless desert. We have no account of the interposition of the divinity, but, after arriving in Karamania, an orgy or festival of seven days was celebrated in his honor.
  • 10. Aphutis or Aphytis was a city of the peninsula of Pallene or Phlegra on the gulf of Saloniki. Pausanias and Plutarch tell the story that Lysander, the King of Sparta, was warned by a dream to abandon his purpose of investing the city and a temple to the god Amun was built and dedicated.
  • 11. This is probably an allusion to the mutilations practiced at Rites like the orgies of the Great Mother. Similar suspensions of sensibility are reported in cases of burning alive and the tortures inflicted upon religious devotees. The enthusiasm or mental ecstasy overcomes the corporeal sensation.
  • 12. Greek, parakolonthéw to follow a subject. It implies an understanding, together with a fixing of the attention till external consciousness is lost sight of.
  • 13. Kastabalis was a city in Kappadokia. In it was a temple of Artemis or Anahita, whose priestesses or holy maids, it was affirmed, walked with bare feet upon the snow and upon burning coals without harm.
  • 14. M. Eugene Salverte in his work on the ”Philosophy of Magic“ remarks that in spite of their master's assertions to the contrary, “the enthusiastic disciples of Iamblichos affirmed that when he prayed he was raised to the height of ten cubits from the ground; and dupes to the same metaphor, although Christians, have had the simplicity to attribute a similar miracle to St. Clare and St. Francis of Assisi.”

Calmet mentions “several instances of persons full of religion and piety, who, in the fervor of their visions, have been taken up into the air and remained there some time.” He adds that he personally knew a man to whom this occurred. Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, it is said; “was raised up from the ground to the height of two feet, while his body shone like light.” Savonarola, who was burned at the stake, one person declares, was seen to remain suspended at a considerable height from the floor of his dungeon. Superintendent Moeller of Freiburg testified that Anna Maria Fleischer was “raised in bed, with her whole body, head and feet to the height of nine ells and a half, so that it appeared as if she would have flown through the windows.”
If the polarity of the body can be changed by the will, this would be a physical possibility.

  • 15. This description presents a striking analogy to that given by John the Baptist in the Gospels, “He shall baptize or envelop you in a holy spirit and fire.” (The words, “and fire,” are interpolated.) “I have beheld the holy spirit descending as a dove from the sky, and it remained upon him.”
  • 16. Theophrastos, who became the teacher in the Lyceum at Athens after Aristotle, regarded enthusiasm as a disease.
  • 17. Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno concur in the statement that the soul is itself of a several-fold nature. The “immortal principle” which proceeds from the Creator consists of the faculty of intelligence, the epistêmê or overmind, and sound judgment. The “mortal part” comprises the thumos or passionate, aggressive quality, and the epithumetic, appetitive, or receptive nature.
  • 18. Plato declares in the Timaios that the faculty of divining is active only when the understanding or reasoning faculty is in abeyance, fettered by sleep or aliened by disease or the entheastic rapture. Plutarch imputes its activity to a certain crasis or condition of body through which it becomes separated from the consciousness of objects and matters that are immediately present.
  • 19. Abammon seems to clash with the modern dogma of evolution except as associated with the hypothesis of the Rev. Dr. James Martineau, that whatever is evolved or unwombed has been before involved.
  • 20. Greek, mania, rage, madness, entheasm, religious excitement, or rapture. The term is used here to denote the rapture incident upon being possessed by a superior power. Plato remarks in the Phaidros: “There are two kinds: one arising from human diseases and the other by a digression from fixed habits.” He subdivides the divine mania or entheasm into four kinds, and assigns the mantic or prophetic inspiration to Apollo, mystic inspiration to Dionysos, poetic inspiration to the Muses, and the passion of love to Aphrodite. This last, he declares to be the best of all enthusiasms and of the best origin, describing it as “the right hand of the divine mania, and the source of greatest blessing to us.”
  • 21. Some exhibition of this kind is described by the Apostle Paul in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. “If,” says he, “the whole assembly come together to the same place and all prattle in tongues, and common men should come in, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are raving?” Hence he counsels that only two or three should speak in turn, and one interpret; but if nobody present is capable of this, they should keep silence, and speak only to themselves and to God: “for not of tumult is he a god, but of tranquillity.” (Ovid; Fasti IV, “The attendants beat the brass, and the hoarse-sounding hides. Cymbals they strike in place of helmets, tambourines for the shields; the pipe yielded its Phrygian notes.”)

There is evidently a deeper meaning in all this than is commonly apprehended.

  • 22. The Korybantes are variously described. Their cult was identified or closely allied to that of the Kabeirian divinities, and that of the Great Mother. It was celebrated in the islands of the Aegean Sea and in Phygia. Music, dancing, processions, and ecstatic frenzy were characteristics.
  • 23. Sabazios, Sabaoth, or Sabbat, the god of the Planet Saturn, was better known as Bacchus or Dionysos, and was also styled in Semitic countries, Iao or Yava. His worship was more or less associated and identified with that of the Great Mother, under various designations, and it was characterized by phallephoric processions, dances, mourning for the slain divinity, and the Watch Night. It came from Assyria as its peculiar symbols, the ivy or kissos, the spotted robe or Nimr, and the Thyrso, indicate. The name Zagreus the Kissos and nimr remind us of Kissaia or Asiatic Ethiopia, and the Zagros mountains occupied by the Nimr. Assyria was called “the land of Nimrod.” -Amos VIII.
  • 24. Proklos declared that the choral songs of Olympus were adapted to produce ecstasy. Plato describes an audience in Ion, comparing it to a series of iron rings connected by a chain and moved by the lodestone: “Some hand from one Muse and some from another,” he remarks, “some, for example, from Orpheus, others from Mussios, but the greater part are inspired by Homer and are held fast by him.”
  • 25. In these rites the worshippers danced, forming a circle around the altar. See also I Kings, XVIII, 26. With the Korghantians, this represented a guard about the Demiurgos or Creator; with the Kuretes, it denoted a protecting of the divine maid Kora.
  • 26. Servius remarks that the Sacred observances of Father Liber, the Roman Bacchus, related to the purification of souls. This cleansing, as here declared, was considered to be not only from contamination acquired by coming into the conditions of physical existence, but also from guilt actually incurred.
  • 27. Mr. Thomas Taylor refers us to the treatise accredited to Plutarch, on the “Failure of the Oracles” in which this matter is explained at length. The faculty of divining, this author declares, is farthest withdrawn from this present condition by that idiosyncrasy of body which favors the development of the entheast condition. “The soul does not acquire the faculty of divining when clear of the body,” he says, “for it has the same before, but is blinded by the commixture and confusion which it has with the body.” Hence be argues, “we do not divest divination either of divine origin or of rationality, seeing that we allow it for its subject, the Human Soul, and for its instrument an aura or exhalation productive of the entheastic rapture.”
  • 28. Modern writers have conjectured that this exhalation was of the nature of nitrous protoxide. Such a deriving of prophetic inspiration from “laughing gas” has a resemblance to the concept that Emanuel Swedenborg acquired his illumination by drinking coffee, and is equally absurd.
  • 29. Apollo and Dionysos Zagreus his hearth-mate were the divinities at Delphi.
  • 30. The staff, rod, wand, scepter, or baton, as the symbol or authority, possesses the greatest antiquity. It appears in mythology as the scepter of Zeus charged with lightning, the caduceus of Hermes that lulled to sleep, the staff of Asklepios with healing virtue, the narthex or thyrsos of Bacchus, and the club of Heracles. Every Roman Senator carried a wand. The rods of Moses and Aaron, the staff of the prophet, the wand of Kirkê Kircê, the magic divining staff and the bishop's crosier belong in the same category.
  • 31. Branchidia or Didymea was situated near Milletus in Ionia. The temple was very ancient. It was twice burned by the Persians. The structure was of the Ionic order, but a straight road, which led from it to the sea, was bordered on each side with statues on charis of a single block of stone with the feet close together and the hands on the knees precisely as at the avenues of the temples of Egypt. There was an Egyptian influence in Asia Minor and the islands of the Levant in very ancient times.
  • 32. The divinity here indicated belonged to the pantheon of Egypt. He was probably Imopht or Emeph the Asklepios of the Egyptians.