Six Points on “Magic”: Theosophy rejects Supernaturalism and Miracle
“The problem of life is man. Magic, or rather Wisdom, is the evolved knowledge of the potencies of man’s interior being; which forces are Divine emanations, as intuition is the perception of their origin, and initiation our induction into that knowledge (…) We begin with instinct: the end is OMNISCIENCE.”ALEXANDER WILDER
Real magical operations stem from a thorough comprehension of the latent and potent powers in matter, especially as regards to force-correlations. According to Helena Blavatsky, “magic” is the higher knowledge of nature, and nothing works by ‘super-natural’ means.
“Our Society believes in no miracle, divine, diabolical or human, nor in anything which eludes the grasp of either philosophical and logical induction, or the syllogistic method of deduction. But if the corrupted and comparatively modern term of “magic” is understood to mean the higher study and knowledge of nature and deep research into her hidden powers—those occult and mysterious laws which constitute the ultimate essence of every element, whether with the ancients we recognize but four or five, or with the moderns over sixty; or, again, if by magic is meant that ancient study within the sanctuaries known as the “worship of the Light,” or divine and spiritual wisdom as distinct from the worship of darkness or ignorance, which led the initiated High-priests of antiquity among the Âryans, Chaldaeans, Medes and Egyptians to be called Maha, Magi or Maginsi, and by the Zoroastrians Meghistom (from the root Meh’al, great, learned, wise)—then, we Theosophists “plead guilty.” (Helena Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 2, pg. 32)
This magic is what constitutes Occultism, a general term in society for dark and “evil things.” The source of magical, or occult wisdom is a Force manifesting under various forms of energy. Where matter ends, and where spirit begins is another question modern science has not found.
Six Fundamental Propositions of the Oriental Philosophy in Isis Unveiled
“To comprehend the principles of natural law, . . . the reader must keep in mind the fundamental propositions of the Oriental philosophy which we have successively elucidated. Let us recapitulate very briefly:
1st. There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law — eternal, immutable, ever active. (…)
2nd. Nature is triune: there is a visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other, and its vital principle; and, above these two, spirit, source of all forces, alone eternal, and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not.
3rd. Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body, his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third — the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.
4th. Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of these principles, and of the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature’s forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice.
5th. Arcane knowledge misapplied, is sorcery; beneficently used, true magic or WISDOM.
6th. Mediumship is the opposite of adeptship; the medium is the passive instrument of foreign influences, the adept actively controls himself and all inferior potencies.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2., pg. 587-590)
There are altogether ten points given in Isis Unveiled. These describe the last four—
The 7th Speaks of the astral light, a highly subtle and radiant degree of matter, said to contain the repository of all causes and effect. The initiated are said to be able to through vision, know all that has been known, or can be known.
The 8th Says that races of men differ, as in colour or stature, in spiritual gifts. Among some, seership is natural, or in others, mediumship. Some are addicted to sorcery and transmit its secret rules of practice through generations.
The 9th One phase of magical skill is separating the astral form from the physical body, and she describes it further. The logical description and explanation repudiates and discredits claims of mediums purporting to undergo aerial flight in the physical body, due to the actual limitations and magnetic conditions required.
The 10th “The corner-stone of MAGIC is an intimate practical knowledge of magnetism and electricity, their qualities, correlations, and potencies. Especially necessary is a familiarity with their effects in and upon the animal kingdom and man. There are occult properties in many other minerals, equally strange with that in the lodestone, which all practitioners of magic must know, and of which so-called exact science is wholly ignorant…” (ibid.)
—Note on Theosophical Positions—
(i.) Magic is commonly associated with super-naturalism, but any phenomena should be reducible to natural law. It is neither super-naturalism, accidental magical causes, nor is there a supernatural “God” behind the phenomena.
(ii.) The Mahatma Letters speak of an illimitable Force in the universe, though adding, this is not a God of the Mosaic-type, since, this force can be utilized, or manipulated. They repeatedly state, that the knowledge of certain phenomena, are the result of a knowledge of the laws of nature. As stated: “Space is infinity itself. It is formless, immutable and absolute. Like the human mind, which is the exhaustless generator of ideas, the Universal Mind or Space has its ideation which is projected into objectivity at the appointed time; but space itself is not affected thereby.” (K.H., The Mahatma Letters, Letter no. 119)
“What things are co-existent with space?”
Morya answers in Two Key Subjects in Morya’s Cosmological Notes: Space and Essence:
(2) matter; and
iii.) Everything in the hidden universe, it adds, that embraces all the primary causes, are based on two principles: Kosmic energy (rendered in the English as the “breath of wisdom”), and Kosmic ideation. This energy is the one fundamental energy in the universe, whose varying manifestations, include much of the physical phenomena we are familiar with. All forms of energy, therefore, known to science, are but the different expressions of this one fundamental principle, electrifying primordial matter into life. Fohat is not a mechanical force, but an intellectual force. It is exactly, the force, physicists and astro-physicists are trying to discover, but they disregard metaphysics. “There is a force as limitless as thought, as potent as boundless will, as subtle as the essence of life, so inconceivably awful in its rending force as to convulse the universe to its centre, were it but used as a lever” (The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Letter no. 90). “The life-principle, or life energy, which is omnipresent, eternal, indestructible, is a force and a PRINCIPLE as noumenon, atoms, as phenomenon. It is one and the same thing, and cannot be considered as separate except in materialism.” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2, pp. 672-673) “In other words we believe in Matter alone, in matter as visible nature and matter in its invisibility as the invisible omnipresent omnipotent Proteus with its unceasing motion which is its life…” K.H. says in Letter no. 10. In addition, adding of Fohat, that: “there is an illimitable Force in the universe, but even this Force is not God, since man may learn to bend it to his will. It is simply the visible and objective expression of the absolute substance in its invisible and subjective form.”
Dgyü (also spelled Dgiü) is a mysterious and unidentified term used by Blavatsky and her teachers, described as the source of the real magical knowledge, or occult wisdom, “the expression of the collective Wisdom of the Dhyani-Buddhas,” and the origin of Fohat, cosmic electricity. Its nature involves eternal truths and primal causes, and it means, a knowledge of natural laws, which when applied in the right direction becomes almost omnipotence.
“For the old Grecian Sage there was a single object of attainment: REAL KNOWLEDGE. He considered those only to be genuine Philosophers, or students of truth, who possess the knowledge of the really-existing, in opposition to mere objects of perception; of the always-existing, in opposition to the transitory; and of that which exists permanently, in opposition to that which waxes, wanes, and is alternately developed and destroyed.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Lucifer, July, 1892)
“Everything is relative in this Universe, everything is an illusion. But the experience of any plane is an actuality for the percipient being, whose consciousness is on that plane; though the said experience, regarded from the purely metaphysical standpoint, may be conceived to have no objective reality. But it is not against metaphysicians, but against physicists and materialists that Esoteric teachings have to fight (…)” (H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, 1888, pp. 295-296.)
Theosophy furthermore rejects the belief that either God or Devil are the sources of spiritual phenomena.
“For the life of me I cannot make out how I could ever impart to you that which I know since the very A.B.C. of what I know, the rock upon which the secrets of the occult universe, whether on this or that side of the veil, are encrusted, is contradicted by you invariably and a priori. My very dear Brother, either we know something or we do not know anything. In the first case what is the use of your learning, since you think you know better? (…) Pardon me for contradicting you, but it is nothing of the kind. There are a thousand questions I will never be permitted to answer, and it would be dodging were I to answer you otherwise than I do. I tell you plainly you are unfit to learn, for your mind is too full and there is not a corner vacant from whence a previous occupant would not arise, to struggle with and drive away the newcomer. Therefore I do not evade, I only give you time to reflect and deduce and first learn well what was already given you before you seize on something else. The world of force, is the world of Occultism and the only one whither the highest initiate goes to probe the secrets of being. Hence no-one but such an initiate can know anything of these secrets. Guided by his Guru the chela first discovers this world, then its laws, then their centrifugal evolutions into the world of matter. To become a perfect adept takes him long years, but at last he becomes the master. The hidden things have become patent, and mystery and miracle have fled from his sight forever. He sees how to guide force in this direction or that — to produce desirable effects. The secret chemical, electric or odic properties of plants, herbs, roots, minerals, animal tissue, are as familiar to him as the feathers of your birds are to you. No change in the etheric vibrations can escape him. He applies his knowledge, and behold a miracle! And he who started with the repudiation of the very idea that miracle is possible, is straightway classed as a miracle worker and either worshipped by the fools as a demi-god or repudiated by still greater fools as a charlatan! And to show you how exact a science is occultism let me tell you that the means we avail ourselves of are all laid down for us in a code as old as humanity to the minutest detail, but everyone of us has to begin from the beginning, not from the end. Our laws are as immutable as those of Nature, and they were known to man and eternity before this strutting game cock, modern science, was hatched. If I have not given you the modus operandi or begun by the wrong end, I have at least shown you that we build our philosophy upon experiment and deduction — unless you choose to question and dispute this fact equally with all others. Learn first our laws and educate your perceptions, dear Brother. Control your involuntary powers and develop in the right direction your will and you will become a teacher instead of a learner. I would not refuse what I have a right to teach. Only I had to study for fifteen years before I came to the doctrines of cycles and had to learn simpler things at first.” (K.H. to A.O. Hume, The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Letter no. 22, 1882)
‡ Read Occultism and the Source of Magical Knowledge and Éliphas Lévi’s (Alphonso Louis Constant) warning to the Impudent, i.e., students that rush into practical occult studies.