Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations

This it now becomes necessary to describe to thee: “in what a demon differs from a hero or half-god and a soul, whether in essence, in power, or in energy.”

I say accordingly, that demons are produced by the generative and creative powers of the gods, in the furthest extreme of emanation and the last divisions: but that the heroes or half-gods have their origin by the forces of life in the gods; and that the superior and highest in rank of the souls are brought to completeness and distinguished from these forces.

The nature of the demons and half-gods being thus derived from different sources, their essence is of necessity different. Thus that of the demons is effective of purposes, bringing to maturity the natures about the world, and exercising guardianship individually over those coming into existence. <sup>1</sup> That of the heroes is life-sustaining, promotive of the reasoning faculty, and directive of souls.

The powers likewise may be defined accordingly. Those of the demons pertain to coming into existence and also to the oversight of the souls and of the connection of the souls with the bodies. It is also proper to assign to the heroes powers life-imparting, directive of human beings, and setting free from the nativity.

It follows now that their energies should be explained. Those of the demons may be described as being employed around the world and as extending generally among the things accomplished by themselves; but those of the heroes not only as not extending so far, but as being engaged with the distribution of the souls. So, therefore these being explained, the Soul is next, and ranks as the end of the series of divine beings. Having received from these two races a specific allotment of powers, it both augments the apportionment by other more abundant additions from itself, and likewise projects from itself at one time various forms and principles of life which are entirely different, and at another time still others. Thus making use of different lives and ideals according to each region of the world, it is united with those that it likes, and draws away from those from which it may wish to be separate, becoming assimilated to all, and separated from them by otherness. In this way, choosing principles akin both to the things that are sempersistent and to those that come into existence in time, it allies itself to the gods by harmonies of essence and power other than those by which the demons and half-gods are likewise entwined with them. Though possessing in a less degree than they the everlasting condition of similar life and energy, nevertheless, through the good will of the gods and the luminance imparted by their light, it often goes higher and is exalted to a higher rank, even to that of angels. It, then, remains no longer in the limitations of the psychal condition, but is developed completely through its whole substance into an angelic soul and an uncontaminate life. Hence, manifestly, the Soul seems to contain in itself manifold essences, different rational qualities, and all manner of idealities. If, however, we must speak the honest truth, the contingency exists, that it is always limited in reference to one particular thing; yet being in communication with the Causes it is at different times allied to different ones.

So great, therefore, being the differences among them in all these respects, it is no longer worth while to dispute in regard to the particular thing which is the cause of difference among them. Whatsoever nature they every one have, by that they are to be distinguished from the others. So far also, as they form one common society, to such an extent their common quality may be contemplated; for in this way it will be possible to comprehend without mistake, and to define distinctly the view to be entertained of the whole subject.

Let us now proceed to the Epiphanies or apparitions (which are seen at the Initiations). What is the difference in them? For thou puttest the question: “What is the token (at the Sacred Rites) of the presence of a god, an angel or an archangel, or a demon, or of some archon, or a soul?” <sup>2</sup>

I will, therefore, in a single statement lay down the proposition that the apparitions are in accord with their essences, powers and energies. For such as they are as such do they manifest themselves to those who are making the invocations; and they not only exhibit energies and forms which are characteristic of themselves, but they likewise display their own particular tokens. In order, however, to draw the distinctions minutely, this is the explanation: The spectral forms of the gods are uniform; those of the demons are diversified; those of the angels are more simple in appearance than those belonging to the demons, but inferior to those of the gods; those of the archangels approach nearer to the divine Causes; those of the archons – if those that have charge of the sublunary elements seem to thee to be the lords of the world <sup>3</sup> – will be diversified but arranged in proper order; but if they are princes of the region of Matter, they will not only be more diversified but much more imperfect than the others; and those of the souls will appear in every kind of style.

In the (Epoptic) Vision the figures of the gods shine brilliantly; <sup>4</sup> those of the archangels are awe-inspiring and yet gentle; those of the angels are milder; those of the demons are alarming. Those of the half-gods, although these are left out in your question, yet there should be an answer for the sake of the truth because they are more gentle than those of the demons. Those of the archons are terrifying to the Beholders, <sup>5</sup> if they are the archons of the universe; and hurtful and distressing, if they are of the realm of Matter. The figures of the souls are similar to those of the half-gods except that they are inferior to them.

Moreover, the figures of the gods in regard to size, aspect, external appearance and everything around them, are absolutely unchangeable. Those of the archangels are very near to those of the gods in these respects, but come short of being actually the same. Those of the angels are inferior to these, but are unchangeable. Those of the demons are seen in different shapes and appear great and small at different times; but the manifestations are the same. Those of the archons who are rulers are unchangeable, but the apparitions of those that belong to the realm of Matter are apt to change into innumerable forms. Those of the half-gods are like those of the demons, and those of the souls conform in no small degree to changeableness, peculiar to the demons.

Further still, to the gods there pertain order and tranquillity; and with the figures of the archangels there exists a dramatic representation of order and quietude. With the angels there is present the disposition for order and peacefulness, but they are not free from motion. The figures of the demons are accompanied by tumult and disorder. With those of the archons there are objects to be seen analogous to each class which we have already mentioned: those of the realm of Matter being borne along tumultuously. Those of the half-gods are constantly in motion and are never exempt from change, and those of the Souls resemble the figures of half-gods, but at the same time are inferior to them.

With these peculiarities there flashes out from the gods Beauty which seems inconceivable, holding the Beholders fixed with wonder, imparting to them an unutterable gladness, displaying itself to view with ineffable symmetry, and carrying off the palm from other forms of comeliness. The glorious views of the archangels have themselves very great beauty, but it is by no means ineffable and admirable as that of the gods. Those of the angels partake in a degree of the beauty which they receive from the archangels.

The spirits at the Autopsia, the demons and half-gods, <sup>6</sup> both of them possess beauty in defined forms; but that of the demons is set forth in ways that make their essence distinct, and that of the half-gods displays a manlike character. The figures of the archons are classified by the twofold distinction. For those of the one class display a beauty predominant and self-originated; and those of the other class exhibit an ingenious mock-representation of a beautiful shape The figures of the souls are themselves arranged in definite forms, but these are more diverse than is the case with the half-gods, being more particularly circumscribed and controlled by a single ideal.

If, however, it is necessary in regard to them all that they shall be defined by a common rule, I say that as every one of them all is constituted, and as it has its own peculiar nature, even so do they all participate of the Absolute Beauty according to the existing allotment.

Proceeding therefore to other peculiarities of the superior races, we will remark that in the Sacred Performances there is with the gods an incredible celerity, and although they themselves are immutable and steadfast, they shine out swifter than mind itself. But with the archangels the swift movements are commingled in some way with the dramatic performances. Those of the angels, however, are connected with a certain moving impulse and take part no further in a similar manner in the Perfective Rite <sup>7</sup> by way of speaking.

With the demons there is a show of rapidness in the Performances which is more than genuine. But with the figures of the half-gods, there appears a certain grandness in the motions; nevertheless it is not possible to effect these things, which they desire at the Perfective Rite as quickly as it is for the demons. In the case of those of the archons, those of the former class possessing authority, exhibit performances that appear highly creditable; and those of the second class have more display, but fall short in regard to results at the end. The figures of the souls are seen to be incessantly in motion, but feebler than in the case of those of the half-gods.

In addition to these points, the magnitude of the apparitions may be considered. In the case of the gods it is displayed to such a degree as sometimes to hide from view the entire sky, the sun and the moon, and likewise to make it no longer possible for the earth to stand firm while they are making their descent. <sup>8</sup>

When archangels appear, there are certain regions of the world set in motion, and a divided luminance goes In advance before them. But they themselves according to the magnitude of their dominion display also light in correspondence with its dimension. The angelic luminosity is very much less, and is likewise greatly divided. In the case of the demons themselves, it is still more diffused than with the angels, and their magnitude is observed to be not always equal. The manifestation of the half-gods is less than this, but it exhibits more of pride of condition. The figures of the archons that are rulers of pericosmic forms appear large and indeed of huge dimensions, but those that are distributed over the realm of Matter employ more ostentation and false pretending. Those of the souls do not all seem equal, and they appear smaller than the figures of the half-gods. In short, it is according to the magnitude of the powers in each of the Superior races, according to the vastness of the dominion through which they are extended and in which they exercise authority, and according to the due proportion itself, that the magnitude of the manifestations is graciously exhibited in every one of them.

After these explanations let us define the characteristics of these images thus individually manifest. In the autoptic visions of the gods, the most brilliant spectacles of reality itself are to be beheld. They not only shine steadily but they are plainly visible as if in organic shapes. The images of the archangels present themselves to view genuine and perfect. Those of the angels preserve the form itself, but they come short in the completeness of distinctive tokens. Those of the demons are scarcely perceptible, and those of the half-gods are still inferior. Those of the cosmic archons are clear, and those of the archons of the realm of Matter are indistinct, but both classes seem to be exercising authority. Those of the souls appear like mere shadows.

In like manner, let us explain also, in regard to the luminosity. The images of the gods glow with abundance of light, and those of the archangels are surpassingly luminous. <sup>9</sup> Those of the angels are resplendent with light, but the demons present the appearance of smouldering fire, and the half-gods a commingling from many sources. The cosmic archons are relatively more pure from such admixture, but those of the realm of Matter exhibit a mingling of dissimilar and incongruous elements. The Souls are more distinctly visible from many admixtures in the sphere of generated existence, the light being supplied only by partial gleams.

In the same manner we will speak further of the things which have been discussed. The Fire of the gods shines brilliantly an undivided flame without sound, and it fills all the depths of the world like a conflagration, but not after the manner of a worldly occurrence. <sup>10</sup> The fire of the archangel is unbroken, but there is to be seen around it a great mass going before it or following after it. The fire of the angels is disjoined, yet it appears in very perfect forms. That of the demons is not only circumscribed into still briefer dimensions, and may be explained in a word, but it is not worthy to be noticed by those who are contemplating spectacle of the superior beings. That of the half-gods contain after a manner the same peculiarities, but at the same time it falls short of an exact similarity to that of the demons. That of the archons of the higher class is observed to be more glowing; but in the case of those belonging to the realm of Matter, it is darker. That of the Souls themselves exhibits many divisions and various forms mingled together from many of the natures around the world.

To repeat: The fire of the gods is always stable to the view. That of the archangels is mild; that of the angels is in constant motion; that of the demons is unstable; that of the heroes is for the most part in swift motion; that of the archons of the first class is mild, but that of those of the lower order is full of fluctuation. That of the souls changes with innumerable motions.

Nevertheless, that which operates to purify the souls (from impurity incident in the realm of generated existence) is complete in the gods, but is simply of an exalting character in the archangels. The angels only loosen the bonds which fasten them to the sphere of matter. Demons draw them into the realm of nature, <sup>11</sup> and the half-gods bring them down into the province of the operations of the senses. The archons either entrust them with the charge of things pertaining to the cosmic world, or with the dominion of those belonging to the realm of matter, as the case may be. Souls, when they appear to the Beholders, attract in some manner downward to the sphere of generated existence.

And, further, this fact is to be kept in view: that everything of the visible likeness that is pure and stable thou shouldst attribute to the Superior Races. Whatever of them is very brilliant and firmly fixed in itself, ascribe to the gods. Whatever is luminous and nevertheless exists as by something else than itself, impute to the archangels; and whatever remains in a different form assign to the angels. Whatever is borne along as by a breeze and is not stably fixed, but is permeated by alien natures, all which is conformable to the inferior orders, is to be credited to some foreign source.

This classification, however, may also be made according to the difference of the commingling. For with the demons emanations from the planetary worlds are mingled and are borne along unsteadily by the motion of the astral world. With the half-gods, groups of spirits belonging to the department of generated life are again mixed up around which they are also themselves constantly in motion. The cosmic archons likewise remain exhibiting the cosmic character which they possess; but those archons that belong to the realm of matter are filled with exhalations of the material region. Souls are infected with extraordinary defilements and alien spirits. With these accompaniments each of these races exhibits itself at the epiphanies.

To thee it will be no unimportant evidence that on these occasions there is in the case of the gods a consuming of matter all at once as by lightning. With the archangels it is destroyed in a short time. In the case of the angels there is a loosening and leading away from it. With the demons there is an arranging of it in an orderly manner. With the half-gods it is to be observed that they become adapted to it in due measures and give careful attention to it ingeniously. The archons that rule the planetary worlds are placed with it as though they were superior, and so shine forth as from themselves; but those of the realm of matter exhibit themselves as entirely filled up from matter. As for the souls, those also, that are pure manifest themselves outside of matter, but those of the opposite character are encompassed by it.

Moreover, the benefits acquired from the manifestations, are neither all alike, nor do they have the same fruits. <sup>12</sup> The advent of the god imparts to us health of body, virtue of soul, purity of mind, and indeed, to speak to the point, the leading of everything in us upward to its own first principles. It not only takes away the cold and destructive quality in us, but it augments the vital warmth and makes it more potent and predominant. It likewise brings everything into accord with the soul and mind. The light not only shines in the mental constitution, but it also exhibits that which is not body as body; to the eyes of the soul through those of the body.

The coming of the archangels likewise brings the same benefits, but it does not give them at all times, nor to all persons, nor such as are sufficient, or complete, or that may not be taken away; nor does the light shine in a manner equal to what is beheld at the manifestations of the gods. The presence of the angels dispenses benefits as if making a distribution of them, and the energy through which it is manifested comes far short of including in itself a perfect light. That of the demons weighs down the body and chastens it with diseases, drags down the Soul into the realm of nature, and also fails to remove from bodies the sensibility born with bodies, detains in this region those who were hastening toward the fire, and does not set free from the bonds of Fate. The appearing of the half-gods is similar in various respects to that of the demons, but it differs in this respect, that it arouses the individual to noble and important deeds. The display of the cosmic archons at the autopsia imparts advantages of a general character and everything pertaining to the business of life; and that of the archons of the realm of matter extends benefits incident to the sphere of matter, and such works as pertain to the earth. Still further, moreover, the Vision of the Souls that are uncontaminate and established in the order of angels is elevating in its influence and salutary to the soul. It likewise imparts a sacred hope and bestows those benefits to which a sacred hope aspires. But the Vision of Souls of a different quality produces a tendency downward into the sphere of generated existence, corrupts the fruits of hope, and fills the Beholders with Perturbations that nail them fast to corporeal conditions.


Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations1. Plato, Republic, X, Ch. 15. “This is the beginning of another period for men of mortal race. The demon will not receive you as having been allotted to him, but you will choose the demon; the cause is in him who makes the choice.”

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations2. Scutellius enumerates nine classes of spiritual beings, namely: 1. Invisible Gods; 2. Visible Gods of the Sky; 3. Archangels; 4. Angels; 5. Demons; 6. Leaders; 7. Princes; 8. Heroes or Demi-gods; 9. Souls. Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians enumerates the following: 1. Princes; 2. Authorities; 3. Kosmokrators or princes of the Cosmos; 4. Spiritual essences in the super-celestial spheres. Damaskios enumerates six orders in the Chaldaean Categories as follows: 1. God that are purely mind; 2. The Gods subsisting before all subordinate dominion; 3. Rulers; 4. Archangels; 5. Divinities that are confined to no specific place or service; 6. Divinities or geniuses with specific duties.

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations3. These, the Kosmokrators, are supposed by Thomas Taylor to be the rulers of the planets. The Assyrians and Chaldaeans enumerated nine distinct orders – three Triads of three classes each. The Archangels correspond to the seven Amshaspands of the Zoroastrian category; and the archons of the sphere of Matter appear to have been often regarded as evil potencies. The ancients, however, did not always distinguish good and evil quite as the moderns with their ethical standards.

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations4. Proklos following Iamblichos gives this description: “In all the Perfective Rites and Mysteries, the gods project many shapes of themselves, and display many changing figures; there will be a formless luminance radiating from them; then again it will be represented in a human form, and again it will go into some different shape.” Some of the figures were empousæ and not gods, and excited alarm; others were attractive, and others encouraged.

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations5. The “Beholders,” epopæ or seers, were the individuals engaged in being initiated, or “perfected.” We have preserved this term uniformly to avoid confusing readers.

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations6. The Greek term “autoptic spirits,” meaning those which appear at the “Autopsia,” or Perfective Rite. Mr. Robert Brown, Jr., ably describes it. The candidates, or Beholders, having passed the preliminary discipline as Mystæ, are ushered into the Sekos, or chamber of Initiation. “Here, deeply excited and agitated by all they have gone through, ready to believe anything and everything, in that state of abstinence, which is, or is supposed to be, most favorable to the reception of supernatural displays, with their minds more or less affected by drugs and their whole being permeated with the impression and expectation of a revelation of the more than mortal, they were allowed to see. This is the Autopsia, or Personal inspection, the Crown of Mysteries, the Etopteia, or Divine Beholding, which was used as a synonym to express the highest earthly happiness, and he who enjoyed it became an Epoptes, or Contemplator, beyond which this world could afford him nothing.” - Great Dionysiak Myth, VI, ii, 3. Compare also Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, XII, 2-4.

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations7. Greek, Tó apotelestikon, the perfective rite. The Romans termed the ceremonies “Initiations,” as signifying the beginning of a new life, while the Greeks regarded it as denoting a completing of the Herculean labors of the Soul. The services were conducted after the form of a dramatic representation, and Clement styled them accordingly, “the Drama of the Mysteries.” The ancient Theatre took its rise from these rites, as the Modern Theatre had its origin in the Mystery-Plays of the Monks in the Middle Ages. The Athenian Theatre was a Temple of Bacchus.

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations8. The Chaldaean Oracles describe these scenic displays in very similar terms:
“If thou invoked me often, thou wouldst behold what thou desirest:
For then the concave vault of heaven does not appear,
The stars shine not, the moonlight wastes away,
The earth no more stands still;
All things are to be seen by the flashes of the lightnings.”

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations9. The Chaldaean Oracles disapprove of invoking those manifestations “Thou shalt not invoke the Autoptic Image of Being, for it is not proper for thee to see these things before the body is perfected, or initiated.”

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations10. The divine essence was anciently described in every religion as fire, and so the “eternal fire” was preserved in temples and on altars, as its symbol. Hence, the Chaldaean Oracle commands: “When thou shalt behold the Very Holy Fire without form, shining in flashes down into the depths of the world, then listen to the Voice of the Fire.” Zoroaster at the Altar and Moses on Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy IV, 4) are described as hearing the Voice of the Supreme Being from such a source.

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations11. Minutius Felix remarks that “the demons bear downward by heavy weight, and turn from God to material conditions.” The Chaldaean Oracle also says: “When bewitching (magnetizing) souls they always draw them away from the Sacred Rites.” Much that is considered spiritual, and even divine influence, is of this character.

Chapter 5. The Superior Races and their Manifestations12. The Chaldaean Oracles have this declaration: “From those descending from the Empyreal regions the soul obtains the soul-nourishing flower.”