SPARK surrenders out of the world, when it disappears to us, in the universal ocean of Invisible Fire. That is its disappearance. It quits us in the supposed light, but to it really darkness--as fire-born, the last level of all--to reappear in the true light, which is to us darkness. This is hard to understand. But, as the real is the direct contrary of the apparent, so that which shows as light to us is darkness in the supernatural; and that which is light to the supernatural is darkness to us: matter being darkness, and soul light. For we know that light is material; and being material, it must be dark. For the Spirit of God is not material, and therefore, not being material, it cannot be light to us, and therefore darkness to God. Just as (until discovered otherwise) the world it is that is at rest, and the sun and the heavenly bodies in daily motion--instead of the very reverse being the fact. This is the belief of the oldest Theosophists, the founders of magical knowledge in the East, and the discoverers of the Gods; also the doctrine of the Fire-Philosophers, and of the Rosicrucians, or Illuminati, who taught that all knowable things (both of the soul and of the body) were evolved out of Fire, and finally resolvable into it: and that Fire was the last and only-to-be-known God: as that all things were capable of being searched down into it, and all things were capable of being thought up into it. Fire,
they found--when, as it were, they took this world, solid, to pieces (and also, as metaphysicians, distributed and divided the mind of man, seeking for that invisible God-thing, coherence of ideas)--fire, these thinkers found, in their supernatural light of mind, to be the latent, nameless matter started out of the tissues--certainly out of the body, presumably out of the mind--with groan, disturbance, hard motion, and flash (when forced to sight of it), instantly disappearing, and relapsing, and hiding its Godhead in the closing-violently-again solid matter--as into the forcefully resuming mind. Matter, the agent whose remonstrance at disturbance out of its Rest was, in the winds, murmur, noises, cries, as it were, of air; in the waters, rolling and roaring; in the piled floors of the sky, and their furniture, clouds, circumvolvence, contest, and war, and thunders (defiant to nature, but groans to God), and intolerable lightning-rendings; matter tearing as a garment, to close supernaturally together again as the Solid, fettered and chained--devil-bound--in the Hand upon it, 'To Be!' In this sense, all noise (as the rousing or conjuration of matter by the outside forces) is the agony of its penance. All motion is pain, all activity punishment; and fire is the secret, lowest--that is, foundation-spread--thing, the ultimate of all things, which is disclosed when the clouds of things roll, for an instant, off it--as the blue sky shows, in its fragments, like turquoises, when the canopy of clouds is wind-torn, speck-like, from off it. Fire is that floor over which the coats or layers, or the spun kingdoms of matter, or of the subsidences of the past periods of time (which is built up of objects), are laid: tissues woven over a gulf of it: in one of which last, We Are. To which Fire we only become sensible when we start it by blows or force, in the rending up of atoms, and
in the blasting out of them that which holds them, which then, as Secret Spirit, springs compelled to sight, and as instantly flies, except to the immortal eyes, which receive it (in the supernatural) on the other side.
The Fire-Philosophers maintained that we transcend everything into Fire, and that we lose it there in the flash; the escape of fire being as the door through which everything disappears to the other side. In their very peculiar speculations, and in this stupendous and supernatural view of the universe, where we think that fire is the exception, and is, as it were, spotted over the world (in reality, to go out when it goes out), they held that the direct contrary was the truth, and that we, and all things, were spotted upon fire: and that we conquer patches only of fire when we put it out, or win torches (as it were) out of the great flame, when we enkindle fire--which is our master in the truth, making itself, in our beliefs (in our human needs), the slave. Thus fire, when it is put out, only goes into the under world, and the matter-flags close over it, like a grave-stone.
When we witness Fire, we are as if peeping only through a door into another world. Into this, all the (consumed into microscopical smallness) things of this world, the compressed and concentrate matter-heaps of defunct tides of Being and of Time, are in combustion rushing: kingdoms of the floors of the things passed through--up to this moment held in suspense in the invisible inner worlds. All roars through the hollow. All that is mastered in the operations of this Fire, and that is rushing through the hollow made by it in the partition-world of the Knowable--across, and out on the other side, into the Unknowable--seeks, in the Fire, its last and most perfect evolution into ABSOLUTE NOTHING--
as a bound prisoner urges to his feet, in his chains, and shrieks for freedom when he is smitten. In Fire, we witness a grand phenomenon of the subsidiary (or further, and under, and inner, and multiplied) birth and death, and the supernatural transit of microscopic worlds, passing from the human sense-worlds to other levels and into newer fields. Then it is that the Last Spirit, of which they are composed, is playing before us; and playing, into last extinction, out of its rings of this-side matter; all which matter, in its various stages of thickening, is as the flux of the Supernatural Fire, or inside God.
It will appear no wonder now, if the above abstractions be caught by the Thinker, how it was that the early people (and the founders of Fire-Worship) considered that they saw God, standing face to face with Him--that is, with all that, in their innermost possibility of thought, they could find as God--in Fire. Which Fire is not our vulgar, gross fire; neither is it the purest material fire, which has something of the base, bright lights of the world still about it--brightest though they be in the matter which makes them the Lightest to the material sight; but it is an occult, mysterious, or inner--not even magnetic, but a supernatural--Fire: a real, sensible, and the only possible Mind, or God, as containing all things, and as the soul of all things; into whose inexpressibly intense, and all-devouring and divine, though fiery, gulf, all the worlds in succession, like ripe fruit to the ground, and all things, fall--back into whose arms of Immortal Light: on the other side, as again receiving them, all things, thrown off as the smoke off light, again fall!
At the shortest, then, the theory of the Magi may be summed up thus. When, as we think, fire is spotted over all the world, as we have said, it is we who make
the mistake, necessitated in our man’s nature and we are that which is spotted over it--just as, while we think we move, we are moved; and we conclude the senses are in us, while we are in the senses; everything--out of this world--being the very opposite of that which we take it. The views of these mighty thinkers amounted to the suppression of human reason, and the institution of magic, or god head, as all. It will be seen at once that this knowledge was possible but for -the very few. It is only fit for men when they seek to pass out of the world, and to approach--the nearer according to their natures--God.
The hollow world in which that essence of things, called Fire, plays, in its escape, in violent agitation--to us, combustion--is deep down inside of us; that is, deep-sunk inside of the time-stages; of which rings of being (subsidences of spirit) we are, in the flesh--that is, in the human show of things, in the OUTER. It is exceedingly difficult, through language, to make this idea intelligible; but it is the real mystic dogma of the ancient Guebres, or the Fire-Believers, the successors of the Buddhists, or, more properly, Bhuddists.
What is explosion? It is the lancing into the layers of worlds, whereinto we force, through turning the edges out and driving through; in surprisal of the reluctant, lazy, and secret nature, exposing the hidden, magically microscopical stores of things, passed inwards out of the accumulated rings of worlds, out of the (within) supernaturally buried wealth, rolled in, of the past, in the procession of Being. What is smoke but the disrupted vapour-world to the started soul-fire? The truth is, say the Fire-Philosophers, in the rousing of fire we suddenly come upon Nature, and start her violently out of her ambush of things, evoking her secretest and immortal face to us. Therefore
is this knowledge not to be known generally of man; and it is to be assumed at the safest in the disbelief of it: that disbelief being as the magic casket in which it is locked. The keys are only for the Gods, or for god-like spirits.
This is the true view of the religion of the leaders of the ancient Fire-Believers, and of the modern Illuminati.
We shall proceed to demonstrate, in the chapters following, other strange things, hitherto wholly unsuspected in the philosophical short-sight of the modern metaphysicians.
We imagine that it will be said that it is impossible that any religionists could have seriously entertained such extraordinary doctrines; but, incredible as it may seem, because it requires much preparation to understand them, it is certainly true, that it is only in this manner the ideas of the divinity of fire, which we know once prevailed largely, can be made intelligible--we mean, to the philosopher, who knows how properly to value the ancient thinkers, who were as giants in the earth. We shall shortly show that the monuments raised to this strange faith still remain, and that, surviving from the heathen times, the forms still linger and lurk largely amidst the Christian European institutions--the traces of the idolatry, if not the idolatry itself.
Obelisks, spires, minarets, tall towers, upright stones (Menhirs), monumental crosses, and architectural perpendiculars of every description, and, generally speaking, all erections conspicuous for height and slimness, were representatives of the sworded, or of the pyramidal, Fire. They bespoke, wherever found, and in whatever age, the idea of the First Principle, Or the male generative emblem.
Having given, as we hope, some new views of the
doctrine of Universal Fire, and shown that there has been error in imagining that the Persians and the ancient Fire-Worshippers were idolaters simply of fire, inasmuch as, in bowing down before it, they only regarded Fire as a symbol, or visible sign, or thing placed as standing for the Deity--having, in our preceding chapters, disposed the mind of the reader to consider as a matter of solemnity, and of much greater general significance, this strange fact of Fire-Worship, and endeavoured to show it as a portentous, first, all-embracing as all-genuine principle--we will proceed to exemplify the widespread roots of the Fire-Faith. In fact, we seem to recognize it everywhere.
Instead of--in their superstitions--making of fire their God, they obtained Him, that is, all that we can realize of Him; by which we mean, all that the human reason can find of the Last Principle--out of it. Already, in their thoughts, had the Magi exhausted all possible theologies; already had they, in their great wisdom, searched through physics--their power to this end (as not being distracted by world’s objects) being much greater than that of the modern faith-teachers and doctors; already in their reveries, in their. observations (deep within their deep souls) upon the nature of themselves, and of the microcosm of a world in which they found themselves, had the Magi transcended. They had arrived at a new world in their speculations and deductions upon facts, upon all the things behind which (to men) make these facts. Already, in their determined climbing into the heights of thought, had these Titans of mind achieved, past the cosmical, through the shadowy borders of Real and Unreal, into Magic. For, is Magic wholly false?
Passing through these mind-worlds, and coming out, as we may figure it, at the other side, penetrating
into the secrets of things, they evaporated all Powers, and resolved them finally into the Last Fire. Beyond this, they found nothing; as into this they resolved all things. And then, on the Throne of the Visible, they placed this--in the world, Invisible--Fire: the sense-thing to be worshipped in the senses, as the last thing of them, and the king of them--that is, that which we know as the phenomenon, Burning Fire--the Spiritual Fire being impalpable, as having the visible only for its shadow; the Ghostly Fire not being even to be thought upon; thought being its medium of apprehension when it itself had slipped; the waves of apprehension of it only flowing back when it--being intuition--had vanished. We only know that a thought is in us when the thought is off the object and in us: another thought being, at that simultaneous instant, in the object, to be taken up by us only when the first has gone out of us, and so on; but not before to be taken up by us--that thought being all of us, and a deceptive and unreal thing to pass at all to us through the reason, and there being no resemblance between it and its original: the true thing being 'Inspiration', or 'God in us', excluding all matter or reason, which is only built up of matter. It is most difficult to frame language in regard to these things. Reason can only unmake God; He is only possible in His own development, or in His. seizing of us, and 'in possession'. Thus Paracelsus and his disciples declare that Human Reason become our master, that is, in its perfection--but not used as our servant--transforms, as it were, into the Devil, and exercises his office in leading us away from the throne of Spiritual Light--other, and, in the world, seeming better; in his false and deluding World-Light, or Matter-Light, really showing himself God. This view of the Human Reason, intellectually trusted,
transforming into the Angel of Darkness, and effacing God out of the world, is borne out by a thousand texts of Scripture. It is equally in the belief and in the traditions of all nations and of all time, as we shall by and by show. Real Light is God’s shadow, or the soul of matter; the one is the very brighter, as the other is the very blacker. Thus, the worshippers of the Sun, or Light, or Fire, whether in the Old or the New Worlds, worshipped not Sun, or Light, or Fire--otherwise they would have worshipped the Devil, he being all conceivable Light; but rather they adored the Unknown Great God, in the last image that was possible to man of anything--the Fire. And they chose that as His shadow, as the very opposite of that which He really. was; honouring the Master through His Servant; bowing before the manifestation, Eldest of Time, for the Timeless; paying homage to the spirit of the Devil-World, or rather to the Beginning and End, on which was the foot of the ALL, that the ALL, or the LAST, might be worshipped; propitiating the Evil Principle in its finite shows, because (as by that alone a world could be made, whose making is alone Comparison) it was permitted as a means of God, and therefore the operation of God Downwards, as part of Him, though Upwards dissipating as before Him--before Him in whose presence Evil, or Comparison, or Difference, or Time, or Space, or anything, should be Impossible: real God being not to be thought upon.
But it was not only in the quickening Spirit of Divinity that these things could be seen. Otherwise than in faith, we can hope that they shall now--in our weak attempts to explain them--be gathered as not contradictory, and merely intellectual, and seen as vital and absolute. They need the elevation of the mind in the sense of 'inspiration', and not the
quickening and the sharpening of the Intellect, as seeking wings--devil-pinions--wherewith to sail into the region only of its own laws, where, of course it will not find God. Then step in the mathematics, then the senses, then the reason--then the very perfection of matter-work, or this world’s work, sets in--engines of which the Satanic Powers shall realize the work. The Evil Spirit conjures, as even by holy command, the translucent sky. The Archangelic, clear, child-like rendering-up in intuitive belief--intense in its own sun--is FAITH. Lucifer fills the scope of belief with imitative, dazzling clouds, and built splendours. With these temptations it is sought to dissuade, sought to rival, sought to put out Saints’ sight--sought even to surpass in seeming a further and truer, because a more solid and a more sensible, glory. The apostate, real-born Lucifer is so named as the intensest Spirit of Light, because he is of the things that perish, and of the things that to Mind--because they are all of Matter--have the most of glory! Thus is one of the names of the Devil, the very eldest-born and brightest Star of Light, that of the very morning and beginning of all things--the clearest, brightest, purest, as being soul-like, of Nature; but only of Nature. Real law, or Nature, is the Devil; real Reason is the Devil.
Now we shall find, with a little patience, that this transcendental, beyond-limit-or-knowledge ancient belief of the Fire-God is to be laid hand upon--as, in a manner, we shall say--in all the stories and theologies of the ancient world--in all the countries (and they, indeed, are all) where belief has grown--yea, as a thing with the trees and plants, as out of the very ground, in all the continents, and in both worlds. And out of this great fact of its universal diffusion, as a matter of history the most innate and coexistent,
shall we not assume this fire-doctrine as being of truth--as a thing really, fundamentally, and vitally true? As in the East, so in the West; as in the old time, so in the new; as in the preadamite and postdiluvian worlds, so in the modern and latter-day world; surviving through the ages, buried in the foundations of empires, locked in the rocks, hoarded in legends, maintained in monuments, preserved in beliefs, suggested in tradition, borne amidst the roads of the multitude in emblems, gathered up--as the recurring, unremarked, supernaturally coruscant, and yet secret, evading, encrusted, and dishonoured jewel--in rites, spoken (to those capable of the comprehension) in the field of hieroglyphics, dimly glowing up to a fitful suspicion of it in the sacred rites of all peoples, figured forth in the religions, symbolized in a hundred ways; attested, prenoted, bodied forth in occult body, as far as body can--in fine, in multitudinous fashions and forms forcibly soliciting the sharpness of sight directed to its discovery, and spelt over a floor as under-placing all things, we recognize, we espy, we descry, and we may, lastly, ADMIT the mysterious sacredness of Fire. For why should we not admit it?
Of course, it will not for a moment be supposed that we mean anything like--or in its nature similar to--ordinary fire. We hope that no one will be so absurd as to suppose that this in any manner could be the mysterious and sacred element for which we are contesting. Where we are seeking to transcend, this would be simply sinking back into vulgar reason. While we are seeking to convict and dethrone this world’s reason as the real devil, this would be distinctly deifying common sense. Of common sense, except for common-sense objects, we make no account. We have rather in awed contemplation the divine, ineffable, transcendental SPIRIT--the Immortal fervour--
into which the whole World evolves. We have the mystery of the Holy Spirit in view, called by its many names.
It is because theologies will contest concerning divers names of the same thing, that we therefore seek, in transcending, but to identify. It is because men will dispute about forms, that we seek philosophically to show that all forms are impossible--that, when we take the human reason into account, all forms of belief are alike. Reason has been the great enemy of religion. Let us see if this world’s reason cannot be mastered:
We are now about--in a new light--to-treat of facts, and of various historical monuments. They all bear reference to this universal story of the mystic Fire.
We claim to be the first to point out how strikingly--and yet how, at the same time, without any suspicion of it--these emblems and remains, in so many curious and unintelligible forms, of the magic religion are found in the Christian churches.