Eliphas Levy

RELIGION exists in humanity, like love.

Like it, it is unique.

Like it, it either exists, or does not exist, in such and such a soul; but, whether one accepts it or denies it, it is in humanity; it is, then, in life, it is in nature itself; it is an incontestable fact of science, and even o reason.

The true religion is that which has always existed, which exists to-day, and will exist for ever.

Some one may say that religion is this or that; religion is what it is. This is the true religion, and the false religions are superstitions imitated from her, borrowed from her, lying shadows of herself!

One may say of religion what one says of true art. Savage attempts at painting or sculpture are the attempts of ignorance to arrive at the truth. Art proves itself by itself, is radiant with its own splendour, is unique and eternal like beauty.

The true religion is beautiful, and it is by that divine character that it imposes itself on the respect of science, and obtains the assent of reason.

Science dare not affirm or deny those dogmatic hypotheses which are truths for faith; but it must recognize by unmistakable {72} characters the one true religion, that is to say, that which alone merits the name of religion in that it unites all the characters which agree with that great and universal aspiration of the human soul.

One only thing, which is to all most evidently divine, is manifested in the world.

It is charity.

The work of true religion should be to produce, to preserve, and to spread abroad the spirit of charity.

To arrive at this end she must herself possess all the characteristics of charity, in such a manner that one could define her satisfactorily, in naming her, "Organic Charity."

Now, what are the characteristics of charity?

It is St. Paul who will tell us.

Charity is patient.

Patient like God, because it is eternal as He is. It suffers persecutions, and never persecutes others.

It is kindly and loving, calling to itself the little, and not repulsing the great.

It is without jealousy. Of whom, and of what, should it be jealous? Has it not that better part which shall not be taken away from it?

It is neither quarrelsome nor intriguing.

It is without pride, without ambition, without selfishness, without anger.

It never thinks evil, and never triumphs by injustice; for all its joy is comprehended in truth.

It endures everything, without ever tolerating evil.

It believes all; its faith is simple, submissive, hierarchical, and universal. {73}

It sustains all, and never imposes burdens which it is not itself the first to carry.

{Illustration on page 74 described:


The figure is contained within a rectangle of width a bit less than half height. The figure itself is taken from Revelations Chapter 10 and is roughly divisible into four parts. The top contains a human head and upraised left hand in a shaded semi-circle under an arch of three curved lines. The hand is palmer, thum out, first and middle fingers upright and two remaining fingers to palm. "MICROPROSOPUS" is written horizontally above the arch, "Gnosis" to the left and "Atziluth" "Jezirah" "BRIAH" "Sulphur" to the right in rows. Following the arch outside to the left is "EIS THS". Following the arch outside to the right is

"GR:alpha-iota-omega-nu-alpha-sigma Alpha-mu-eta-nu" --- Greek is difficult to tell from Latin letters here, and the first part looks very much like "aiwvas", almost Crowley's "Aiwass" and very possibly a subconscious inspiration for it. There is a suggestion of a nimbus about the head. The section next down is contained largely within a cloud. To the left, outside "Psyche". To the right outside in rows "Aziah"

"JEZIRAH" "Mercury". In the center is a book held open by a right hand flat against the left page and open, palm to book, fingers extending to base of right page. At the top of this portion, just below the chin of the upper section head is the word " GR:eta delta-omicron-xi-alpha" (the glory). Immediately below this and above the spine of the book is an unrecognizable character a little like GR:mu or Mem from the Alphabet of the Magi, although this is the normal place for "Alpha". Immediately below the book is "GR:eta delta-upsilon-nu-alpha-mu-iota -sigma" (the power). There is a strange character below this, at th bottom of this section and like that noted above --- even harder to recognize, but this is the usual position for "Omega". The third section from the top and second from the bottom has two pillars issuing from the cloud. These have fluted capitols and ringed bases extending to form trapezoidal forms. The pillar to the left is black and marked at center with "B", while that to the right is white with "J". To the left is "Hyle".

To the right in rows "Briah" "AZIAH" and a small rectangle. There is a crescent moon between the bases of the drums, horns angled right and slightly upward. The lowest portion shows feet issuing from the bases of the pillars and cocked outward on a mass of rock to the left and a sea to the right. " GR:eta beta-alpha-sigma-iota- lambda-epsilon-iota-alpha" (the kingdom) is written on the base of this rock. The

rectangular frame is broken at the bottom to admit crude Hebrew letters, evidently Yod-Shin-Heh-Vau-Heh or something similar with the doubt being on the HB:Heh 's looking like HB:Chet 's. Below this is what appears to be GR:Omicron-tau-iota omicron-delta epsilon-delta-iota-nu, but the poor penmanship makes certain identification impossible. The entire figure gives the impression of a man with head in heaven and feet on earth.}

Religion is patient --- the religion of great thinkers and of martyrs.

It is benevolent like Christ and the apostles, like Vincent de Paul, and like Fenelon.

It envies not either the dignities or the goods of the earth. {74} It is the religion of the fathers of the desert, of St. Francis, and of St. Bruno, of the Sisters of Charity, and of the Brothers of Saint-Jean-de-Dieu.

It is neither quarrelsome nor intriguing. It prays, does good, and waits.

It is humble, it is sweet-tempered, it inspires only devotion and sacrifice. It has, in short, all the characteristics of Charity because it is Charity itself.

Men, on the contrary, are impatient, persecutors, jealous, cruel, ambitious, unjust, and they show themselves as such, even in the name of that religion which they have succeeded in calumniating, but which they will never cause to life. Men pass away, but truth is eternal.

Daughter of Charity, and creator of Charity in her own turn, true religion is essentially that which realizes; she believes in the miracles of faith, because she herself accomplishes them every day when she practises charity. Now, a religion which practises charity may flatter herself that she realizes all the dreams of divine love. Moreover, the faith of the hierarchical church transforms mysticism into realism by the efficacy of her sacraments. No more signs, no more figures whose strength is not in grace, and which do not really give what they promise! Faith animates all, makes all in some sort visible and palpable; even the parables of Jesus Christ take a body and a soul. They show, at Jerusalem, the house of the wicked rich man!! The thin symbolisms of the primitive religions overturned by science, and deprived of the life of faith, resemble those whitened bones which covered the field that Ezekiel saw in his vision. The Spirit of the Saviour, the spirit of faith, the spirit of {75} charity, has breathed upon this dust; and all that which was dead has taken life again so really that one recognizes no more yesterday's corpses in these

living creatures of to-day. And why should one recognize them, since the world is renewed, since St. Paul burned at Ephesus the books of the hierophants? Was then St. Paul a barbarian, and was he committing a crime against science? No, but he burned the winding-sheets of the resuscitated that they might forget death. Why, then, do we to-day recall the qabalistic origins of dogma? Why do we join again the figures of the Bible to the allegories of Hermes? Is it to condemn St. Paul, is it to bring doubt to believers? No, indeed, for believers have no need of our book; they will not read it, and they will not wish to understand it. But we wish to show to the innumerable crowd of those who doubt, that faith is attached to the reason

of all the centuries, to the science of all the sages. We wish to force human liberty to respect divine authority, reason to recognize the bases of faith, so that faith and authority, in their turn, may never again proscribe liberty and reason. {76}