Updated: Sep 8, 2020
From the book of The Great Secret: Or Occultism Unveiled by Eliphas Levi
The will is the practical realizer: we can do everything which we believe is a reasonable project.
In his own sphere of action, man is the image of the all-powerful God; he is able both to create and to transform.
His first task is to exercise this power on himself. When he enters the world, his faculties are a chaos, the darkness of his intellect covers the abyss of his heart, and his spirit is poised in uncertainty as if it were swept here and there by the waves.
He has been endowed with reason, but this reason is still passive and it is up to him to rouse it into activity; to let his face shine in the midst of the waves and cry: let there be light!
He develops a rational mind, he develops a conscience, he develops a heart. The divine law will express just what he has been doing, and the whole of nature will become for him exactly what he would like it to be.
Eternity will enter and remain in his memory. He will say to spirit: be matter, and to matter: be spirit, and spirit and matter will obey him!
All substance is modified by action, all action is controlled by spirit, all spirit is controlled conformably to the will, and all will is decided by some reason.
The reality of things is in their reason for existing, and this reason for things is the principle of that which is.
There is nothing other than force and matter, say the atheists. They might just as well declare that books are nothing more than paper and ink.
Matter is the adjunct of the spirit; without the spirit it would have no reason to exist, and it would not exist.
Matter is changed into spirit by the agency of our senses, and this transformation, perceptible only to our souls, is the thing we call pleasure.
Pleasure is the sensation of a divine action. Letting it thrive creates life and transforms dead compounds into living substances in the most marvellous manner.
Why does nature draw the two sexes together with so much rapture and intoxication? Because she invites them to the great work par excellence, the work of eternal fruitfulness.
What talk is that about the joys of the flesh? The flesh has neither griefs nor joys: it is but a passive instrument. Our nerves are the violin strings with which nature makes us hear and feel the music of sensual delight; and all the joys of life, even those which are most spoilt, are the exclusive share of the soul.
What is beauty, if not the imprint of spirit on matter? Does the body of the Venus de Milo need to be flesh to enchant our eyes and inflame our thoughts? Woman's beauty is the hymn of motherhood; the soft and delicate shape of her breasts never fails to remind us of the first thirst of our lips; we should like to repay them with eternal kisses for the sweet drink they gave us. Does this mean that we are in love with the flesh? Despoil them of their adorable poetry and what inspiration could one find in these 'rubber pillows' filled with glands under a skin now brown and now pink and white? And whatever would become of our most charming emotions if the hand of the lover, no longer trembling, had to arm itself with the magnifying glass of the physician or the scalpel of the anatomist?
Apuleus, in a clever fable, recounts how a blundering experimenter, having seduced the maidservant of a female magician, got from her an ointment which had been prepared by her mistress. He attempted to change himself into a bird, but only succeeded in transforming himself into an ass. He was told that to recover his original form, all that he needed to do was to feed on some roses, and his first thought was how easy this would be. However, he soon found out that roses were not made for the benefit of donkeys. Whenever he tried to get near a rose-bush, he was driven off with cudgel blows. He suffered a thousand misfortunes, and was only saved at last by the direct intervention of the gods.
Some people have suspected that Apuleus was a Christian, and have tried to read into this legend of the Ass a sly dig at the mysteries of Christianity. Eager to mount upw