Blood, the Universal Proteus: Significance of Blood in Ancient Magic and Religion
“…it was then that I understood for the first time a little of that message proclaimed by my ancestors on the banks of the Ganges thirty centuries ago–‘They who see but One in all the changing manifoldness of this universe, unto them belongs Eternal Truth, unto none else!'”MODERN SCIENCE AND THE VEDANTA, THE BRAHMAVADIN, VOLUME 8, 1903
I. BLOOD THE UNIVERSAL PROTEUS
Occultism has for centuries in the English and other Western languages been a synonym for or associated with evil, heresy, superstition, and witchcraft. Occultism refers to those sciences involving the knowledge or use of the super-natural. Theosophy explains that there is no such thing as the super-natural, and that everything happens as the result of law, known and yet known to us mortals. When we speak therefore of the significance of Blood in ancient magical rites and religious scriptural literature, we must begin with the theoretical basis. Blood is a property very significant in the subject and study of Occultism. Rudolf Steiner, German philosopher (founder of Anthroposophy) once gave a lecture on esoteric Christianity titled The Etherisation of the Blood and wrote a pamphlet called Occult Significance of Blood. The history of the subject follows in accordance with early scientific studies into chemistry and hematology. Blood is spoken of throughout the old religions in Judaism and Christianity as a magical element. But what makes the blood so important? Concerning the rationale and theoretical significance of blood in the Occult philosophies, it is taught that Blood is a modification of the Eternal Matter (Svabhavat), or Omnipresent Proteus of the Universe, which is beyond physical MATTER. The ‘life-essence,’ or universal fluid the alchemists taught was identical to the nucleus of the Magnes, or primordial matter. Blood is the incarnation of a higher and purer form of matter. This is why H.P.B. had said, that “verily modern science will never be able to dig deep enough into the cosmological formations to find the roots of the world-stuff or matter, unless she works on the same lines of thought as the medieval alchemist did” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 544fn).
“Blood begets phantoms, and its emanations furnish certain spirits with the materials required to fashion their temporary appearances. “Blood,” says Levi, “is the first incarnation of the universal fluid; it is the materialized vital light. Its birth is the most marvellous of all nature’s marvels; it lives only by perpetually transforming itself, for it is the universal Proteus. The blood issues from principles where there was none of it before, and it becomes flesh, bones, hair, nails . . . tears, and perspiration. It can be allied neither to corruption nor death; when life is gone, it begins decomposing; if you know how to reanimate it, to infuse into it life by a new magnetization of its globules, life will return to it again. The universal substance, with its double motion, is the great arcanum of being; blood is the great arcanum of life.”
“Blood,” says the Hindu Ramatsariar, “contains all the mysterious secrets of existence, no living being can exist without. It is profaning the great work of the Creator to eat blood.”
In his turn Moses, following the universal and traditional law, forbids eating blood.
Paracelsus writes that with the fumes of blood, one is enabled to call forth any spirit we desire to see; for with its emanations it will build itself an appearance, a visible body — only this is sorcery (…)” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2., p. 567)
Blood serves as the physical vehicle or “bases” (upadhi) for three other principles, that are used by the consciousness, or the universal spiritual substance. According to Theosophy, everything unfolds according to Law in the manifested Universe on a sevenfold principle. As said, the blood is not merely a substance of the physical body, but carries in it the vital essence of the universal substance. With blood, man can conjure the shadows, and produce phenomena, but as said only this is associated with sorcery and goetia. This concept of a upadhi is analogous to an electrical transformer that transfers electrical energy (Upadhi, Theosophy World), which in this case refers to consciousness, substance (or Spirit as some call it) working through the blood through which these three principles manifest:
- kama. volitional force, impelling desire, living electrical impulses, in its energetic aspect;
- prana. circulating vital force, the radiant force or energy of the universal cosmic self or substance (the noumenon of what we call “matter” or phenomenon as it appears to our finite consciousness); and the
- linga-sarira. the astral-double.
These three vehicles are 3 of our seven principles in the human constitution. The theoretical basis, and allegorical and philosophical significance underlying blood rites and blood magic, tell us the root source of the blood is the Supreme Substance (Aithēr) itself. Blood is not merely a substance of the physical body, but carries in it, occultists teach — the vital essence of the universal substance. Who remembers Bram Stoker’s film Dracula? In this opening act, a classic and epic scene, Dracula says that Blood is the great arcanum of life, it is the One Life:
“the blood is the life.”
Dracula: “Is this my reward for defending God’s Church?”
Priest: “Sacrilege! Do not turn your back on Christ.”
Dracula: “I renounce Him! I renounce God! …and all you hypocrites who feed off Him!” “If my beloved dies in Hell, so shall I…
Voivode of Transylvania…shall arise from my own death…to avenge hers with all the powers of darkness!”
“The blood is the life…
and it shall be mine!”
II. VITALITY IN THE BLOOD: THE ASTRAL BODY AND THE UNIVERSAL SELF
Blood, as stated is one of the modifications, or innumerable states of the universal Proteus. Blood is its first materialized incarnation. The essence of the blood is volitional; and it is through the blood, that the vital-life in the body circulates. Under spiritual cultivation, its volitional power is rich with electrical, or vital-giving life, energizing the cells, and transmitting that volitional power to the body.
- Blood is the lowest principle of the human body;
- The highest is the Self, Atman, Christos or Augoeides (with the yellow ‘Sun’ as its symbol).
Augoeides is the “only God we can have cognizance of,” which “has the power to subdue passions and desires.”
The role of the physical body (or sōma) is to relate the one element to the lower planes. The body possesses a psychic (subtle) body, or astral döppelganger, which serves as the mediator between mind and matter. It functions as the medium of action and sensibility, between the terrestrial and astral plane. Blood is, therefore in the classical metaphysics, closely tied to this body, termed other names, depending on the context, e.g., vital prototypal body, eidolon (the “astral double,”)
III. BLOOD AND THE ASTRAL BODY
The human constitution possesses an eidolon, that has its own nerve-centres and cells. The bodily organ associated with the eidolon (linga-sarira) in diagrams is the spleen, where it is said to be “curled up” in the process of its materialization. The döppelganger is said to emerge from the left-side of the body in this process, forming its shape, and acquiring a shape, using nearby particles of living organisms. It is the same thing elementals are said to do to the eidolon or “shell” of the dead or the living when entering and re-animating them. It is the spleen, that is the link between the eidolon and the physical body. In the ancient Greek psychology, certain organs were likewise linked with the human principles. The spleen is the physical vehicle of the infernal light, known as the sidereal force (or “astral light”) to the occultists.
The double (döppelganger, or eidolon) in its relation to mysteries of blood has three aspects, or functions. H.P. Blavatsky on the spiritualist phenomena describes it as being drawn out, and evolving a shadowy, gyrating essence (like smoke), that gradually forms shape, by drawing certain particles from the surrounding atmosphere.
- This is the one aspect of the döppelganger, that can form outside of the body.
- The other aspect of the astral, is the illusory double, projected by the mind.
§ Its volitional power is rich with electrical, or vital-giving life, and energizes the cells, which transmit that volitional power to the body.
There are two ways to accumulate vital energy:
- By acquiring it externally, receiving or taking it from others;
- Inwardly [from within – prayer, observation of causal interconnections related to machinations and functions of body and mind, contemplation, etc]. The student acquires it as a result of the process of inner transformation, and not because one deliberately seeks it for selfish purpose, or abuse.
It is the Augoeides she speaks of, associated with the symbolic color of sun-yellow, as opposed to red blood.
All their life-elements are transmitted through each other, while the essence of the blood, causes the universal electrical fluid, or principle of life to transmit its volition to every part of the body.
The nature of man is one, in which this psychical element in its descent had evolved what the Platonists call, the vital congruities, with the prepared matter; which was then shaped gradually into the form of an animal (Plato’s Phaedo). So, the Platonists taught of there being a three-fold “vital congruity” to the human constitution.
These three degrees of bodily existence are the:
- Aerial, or Vital;
The aetherial is the Augoeides of the chaste — the vehicle of divine virtue. Having brought its irrational part (the lower or terrestrial man) under subjection to the rational nature, one becomes wedded to that principle, whereby they partake in the potency of the inner god. The ancients taught, that to return to the aetherial state, the aerial element, finding itself in an incomplete process of purification — following the dissolution of the terrestrial body — must undergo a cyclical transmigration. This concept was taught in the Mysteries and generally. It was a common myth, that the soul has descended into matter from its original state, and underwent a cyclical journey to return to the One Unity.
IV. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD IN BLOOD RITES BOTH ALLEGORICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL
Re-explaining the allegorical and philosophical meaning to blood in blood rite magic:
- The offering of blood in Initiation and Rites (exchanging life; absorbing life; blood-giving; or life-giving to the gods), and;
- Differences between the 1) symbolic color of sun-yellow, as the symbol of pure blood and the stream of life in the sunlight; and 2) Red blood, symbolizing the color of ‘black adepts’ (see Helena P. Blavatsky, Miscellaneous Notes, Collected Writings, Vol. IX., pg. 64.).
Blood, soul, and light, are synonymous in the language of the MYSTERIES.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves.” (New Testament, John 6:53)
“Every initiate of the “last hour” became, by the very fact of his initiation, a son of God. When Maxime, the Ephesian, initiated the Emperor Julian into the Mithraic Mysteries, he pronounced as the usual formula of the rite, the following: “By this blood, I wash thee from thy sins. The Word of the Highest has entered unto thee, and His Spirit henceforth will rest upon the NEWLY-BORN, the now-begotten of the Highest God. . . . Thou art the son of Mithra.” “Thou art the ‘Son of God,‘ ” repeated the disciples after Christ’s baptism.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2., p. 567)
BLOOD, THE OCCULT AND RELIGION
Based on what was covered, it was generally believed, that the physical blood can be used to develop magnetic bonds, and strengthen the results of magical rituals. As regards to the “magical” or magnetic properties of blood, of consuming blood and assistance in conjuration, many have used rites and ceremony to evoke spirits or fashion illusions with the use of blood.
The offering of blood has another meaning, other than literally throwing people into volcanos and so forth. Another form of religious offering, or sacrifice is the Renunciation of Self, which is the transmutation of the vital-fluid. It is a sacrifice of worldly pleasures, i.e., an act of submission to the One Life. The student, instead of wasting their vital-fluid practices, purifies and develops their vehicles.
The life-blood is infused with a degree of vitality and action, to which they feel acted upon (or being moved) by their God from within. They gain that strength, almost all mythology and art depicts as the god that conquers the lower self (the python, or dragon).
The universal Proteus was also known as Archeus, because it is the all-pervading cause, radiant light, all-consuming fire burning up impurities and illuminating the soul and mind, electricity, matter, and magnetism, attracting, and repulsing other sympathetic and antipathetic elements, or forces along and across different planes — all in their respective manifestations, in essence One Element. Due to the attraction to those forces of our plane in our constitution, we find our animal nature always inclined to debasement, hence the myth of Pan and Prometheus. We are pulled repeatedly in directions we are not fully conscious of, until we take some action of renunciation, or control and moderation. Ordinarily, we could not, except without realizing we have a higher noetic nature to the mind and action, whereas normally, we are centered in our animal material side.