WE think that we shall be able fully in our succeeding chapters to place beyond contradiction an extraordinary discovery. It is, that the whole round of disputed emblems which so puzzle antiquaries, and which are found in all countries, point to the belief in Fire as the First Principle. We seek to show that the Fire-Worship was the very earliest, from the immemorial times--that it was the foundation religion--that the attestation to it is preserved in monuments scattered all over the globe--that the rites and usages of all creeds, down even to our own day, and in everyday use about us, bear reference to it--that problems and puzzles in religion, which cannot be otherwise explained, stand clear and evident when regarded in this new light--that in all the Christian varieties of belief--as truly as in Bhuddism, in Mohammedanism, in Heathenism of all kinds, whether Eastern, or Western, or Northern, or Southern--this 'Mystery of Fire' stands ever general, recurring, and conspicuous--and that in being so, beyond all measure, old, and so, beyond all modern or any idea of it, general--as universal, in fact, as man himself, and the thoughts of man; and, as being that beyond which, in science and in natural philosophy, we cannot further go, it must carry truth with it, however difficult to comprehend, and however unsuspected:
that is, as really being the manifestation and Spirit of God, and--to the confounding and annihilation of Atheism--Revelation.
Affirmatively we shall now, therefore, offer to the attention of the reader the universal scattering of the Fire-Monuments, taking up at the outset certain positions about them.
Narrowly considered, it will be found that all religions transcend up into this spiritual Fire-Floor, on which, to speak metaphysically, the phases of Time were laid. Material Fire, which is the brighter as the matter which constitutes it is the blacker, is the shadow (so to express, or to speak, necessarily with 'words', which have no meaning in the spirit) of the 'Spirit-Light', which invests itself in it as the mask in which alone it can be possible. Thus, material light being the very opposite of God, the Egyptians--who were undoubtedly acquainted with the Fire-Revelation--could not represent God as light. They therefore expressed their Idea of Deity by darkness. Their chief adoration was paid to Darkness. They bodied the Eternal forth under Darkness.
In the early times before the Deluge--of which 'phenomenon', as there remains a brighter or fainter tradition of it among all the peoples of the globe, it must be true--Man walked with the Knowledge of Spirit in him. He has derogated, through time, from this primeval, God-informed Type. Knowledge of Good and Evil, or the power of perceiving difference, became his faculty, with his power of propagation, only in his fallen state--that is, his gods only came to him in his fallen state. As one of two things must of necessity be under the other, and as 'one' and 'two' are double in succession--one being, as a matter of course, before the other--and 'positive' or 'particled', existence being in itself denial of 'abstract',
or 'imparticled', existence--existence needing something other than itself to find itself--logicians must see at once in this that Comparison is constituted; from out of which difference is built Light and Shadow, or a world, whether the moral world or the real world.
The immemorial landmark, in the architectural form, is the upright. We find the earliest record of this in the setting-up of monumental stones. Seth is said to have engraved the wisdom of the Antediluvians upon two pillars--one of brick, the other of stone--which he erected in the 'Siriadic land'--a Terra Incognita to modern antiquaries. This raising of the 'reminding-stone' prevails in all places, and was the act of all time. It is the only independent thing which stands distinct out of the clouds of the past. It would seem universally to refer to the single Supernatural Tradition--all that is heired out of Time. A mysterious Cabalistic volume of high repute, and of the greatest antiquity, is The Book of Light, whose doctrine divides. The first dogma is that of 'Light-Enlightened', or 'Self-Existent', which signifies God, or the Light Spiritual, which is darkness in the world, or Manifestation or Creation. This Light-Enlightened is Inspiration, or blackness to men (God), opposed to knowledge, or brightness to men (the Devil). The second Light is the Enlightening Light, or the Material Light, which is the producer, foundation, and God of this World--proceeding, nevertheless, from God; for He is All. It is in reverence to this second light, and to the Mysterious Identity of both (the third power Three in One)--but only in the necessity of 'being'--all dark-being constituting all bright-being in the Spirit, and Both, and their identity, being One--that these monumental pillars are raised--being really the mark
and the signal (warning on, in Time) of supernatural, or magic, knowledge.
Stones were set up by the Patriarchs: the Bible records them. In India, the first objects of worship were monoliths. In the two peninsulas of India, in Ceylon, in Persia, in the Holy Land, in Phœnicia, in Sarmathia, in Scythia, everywhere where worship was attempted (and in what place where man exists is it not?), everywhere where worship was practised (and where, out of fears, did not, first, come the gods, and then their propitiation?)--in all the countries, we repeat, as the earliest of man’s work, we recognize this sublime, mysteriously speaking, ever-recurring monolith, marking up the tradition of the supernaturally real, and only real, Fire-dogma. Buried so far down in time, the suspicion assents that there must somehow be truth in the foundation; not fanciful, legendary, philosophical creed-truth, unexplainable (and only to be admitted without question) truth; but truth, however mysterious and awing, yet cogent, and not to be of philosophy (that is, illumination) denied.
The death and descent of Balder into the Hell of the Scandinavians may be supposed to be the purgatory of the Human Unit (or the God-illuminate), from the Light (through the God-dark phases of being), back into its native Light. Balder was the Scandinavian Sun-God, and the same as the Egyptian Osiris, the Greek Hercules, Bacchus, and Phœbus, or Apollo, the Indian Crishna, the Persian Mithras, the Aten of the empires of insular Asia; or, even of the Sidonians, the Athyr or Ashtaroth. The presences of all these divinities--indeed, of all Gods--were of the semblance of Fire; and we recognize, as it were, the mark of the foot of them, or of the Impersonated Fire, in the countless uprights, left, as memorials, in the great
ebb of the ages (as waves) to nations in the latter divisions of that great roll of periods called Time; yet so totally unguessing of the preternatural mystery--seeming the key of all belief, and the reading of all wonders--which they speak.
It is to be noted that all the above religions--all the Creeds of Fire--were exceedingly similar in their nature; that they were all fortified by rites, and fenced around with ceremonies; and that, associated as they were with mysteries and initiations, the disciple was led through the knowledge of them in stages, as his powers augmented and his eyes saw, until, towards the last grades (as he himself grew capable and illuminate), the door was closed upon all after-pressing and unrecognized inquirers, and the Admitted One was himself lost sight of.
There was a great wave to the westward of all knowledge, all cultivation of the arts, all tradition, all intellect, all civilization, all religious belief. The world was peopled westwards. There seems some secret, divine impress upon the world’s destinies--and, indeed, ingrain in cosmical matter--in. these matters. All faiths seem to have diverged out, the narrower or the wider, as rays from the great central sun of this tradition of the Fire-Original. It would seem that Noah, who is suspected to be the Fo, Foh, or Fohi, of the Chinese, carried it into the farthest Cathay of the Middle Ages. What is the Chinese Tien, or Earliest Fire? The pagodas of the Chinese (which name, pagoda, was borrowed from the Indian; from which country of India, indeed, probably came into China its worship, and its Bhuddist doctrine of the exhaustion back into the divine light, or unparticled nothingness, of all the stages of Being or of Evil)--the Chinese pagodas, we repeat, are nothing but innumerable gilt and belled fanciful repetitions
of the primeval monolith. The fire, or light, is still worshipped in the Chinese temples; it has not been perceived that, in the very form of the Chinese pagodas, the fundamental article of the Chinese religion--transmigration, through stages of being; out into nothingness of this world--has been architecturally emblemed in the diminishing stories, carried upwards, and fining away into the series of unaccountable discs struck through a vertical rod, until all culminates, and--as it were, to speak heraldically of it--the last achievement is blazoned in the gilded ball, which means the final, or Bhuddist, glorifying absorption. Buildings have always telegraphed the insignia of the mythologies; and, in China, the fantastic speaks the sublime. We recognize the same embodied Mythos in all architectural spiring or artistic diminution, whether tapering to the globe or exaltation of the Egyptian Uræus, or the disc, or the Sidonian crescent, or the lunar horns, or the acroterium of the Greek temple, or the pediment of the classic pronaos itself (crowning, how grandly and suggestively, at solemn dawn, or in the 'spirit-lustres' of the dimming, and, still more than dawn, solemn twilight, the top of some mountain, an ancient of the days). Here, besetting us at every turn, meet we the same mythic emblem: again, in the crescent of the Mohammedan fanes, surmounting even the Latin, and therefore the once Christian, St. Sophia. Last, and not least, the countless 'churches' rise, in the Latter-day Dispensation, sublimely to the universal signal, in the glorifying, or top, or crowning Cross: last of the Revelations!
In the fire-towers of the Sikhs, in the dome-covered and many-storied spires of the Hindoos, in the vertically turreted and longitudinally massed temples of the Bhudds, of all the classes and of all the sects, in the religious buildings of the Cingalese, in the upright
flame-fanes of the Parsees, in the original of the campaniles of the Italians, in the tower of St. Mark at Venice, in the flame-shaped or pyramidal (pyr is the Greek for fire) architecture of the Egyptians (which is the parent of all that is called architecture), we see the recurring symbol. All the minarets that, in the Eastern sunshine, glisten through the Land of the Moslem; indeed, his two-horned crescent, equally with the moon, or disc, or two-pointed globe of the Sidonian Ashtaroth (after whose forbidden worship Solomon, the wisest of mankind, in his defection from the God of his fathers, evilly thirsted); also, the mystic discus, or 'round' of the Egyptians, so continually repeated, and set, as it were, as the forehead-mark upon all the temples of the land. of soothsayers and sorcerers--this Egypt so profound in its philosophies, in its wisdom, in its magic-seeing, and in its religion, raising out of the black Abyss a God to shadow it--all the minarets of the Mohammedan, we say, together with all the other symbols of moon, of disc, of wings, or of horns (equally with the shadowy and preternatural beings in all mythologies and in all theologies, to which these adjuncts or insignia are referred, and which are symbolized by them)--all these monuments, or bodied meanings, testify to the Deification of Fire.
What may mean that 'Tower of Babel' and its impious raising, when it sought, even past and over the clouds, to imply a daring sign? What portent was that betrayal of a knowledge not for man--that surmise forbidden save in infinite humility, and in the whispered impartment of the further and seemingly more impossible, and still more greatly mystical, meanings? In utter abnegation of self alone shall the mystery of fire be conceived. Of what was this Tower of Belus, or the Fire, to be the monument?
[paragraph continues] When it soared, as a pharos, on the rock of the traditionary ages, to defy time in its commitment to 'form' of the unpronounceable secret--stage on -stage and story on story, though it climbed the clouds, and on its top should shine the ever-burning fire--first idol of the world, 'dark, save with neglected stars'--what was the Tower of Babel but a gigantic monolith? Perhaps to record and to perpetuate this ground-fire of all; to be worshipped, an idol, in its visible form, when it should be alone taken as the invisible thought: fire to be waited for (spirit-possession), not waited on (idolatry). Therefore was the speech confounded, that the thing should not be; therefore, under the myth of climbing into heaven by the means of it, was the first colossal monolithic temple (in which the early dwellers upon the earth sought to enshrine the Fire) laid prostrate in the thunder of the Great God! And the languages were confounded from that day--speech was made babble--thence its name--that the secret should remain a secret. It was to be only darkly hinted, and to be fitfully disclosed, like a false-showing light, in the theosophic glimmer, amidst the world’s knowledge-lights. It was to reappear, like a spirit, to the 'initiate', in the glimpse of reverie, in the snatches of sight, in the profoundest wisdom, through the studies of the ages.
We find, in the religious administration of the ancient world, the most abundant proofs of the secret fire-tradition. Schweigger shows, in his Introduction into Mythology (pp. 132, 228), that the Phœnician Cabiri and the Greek Dioscuri, the Curetes, Corybantes, Telchini, were originally of the same nature, and are only different in trifling particulars. All these symbols represent electric and magnetic phenomena, and that under the 'ancient name of twin-fires,
hermaphrodite fire. The Dioscuri is a phrase equivalent to the Sons of Heaven: if, as Herodotus asserts, 'Zeus originally represented the whole circle of heaven'.
According to the ancient opinion of Heraclitus, the contest of opposing forces is the origin of new bodies, and the reconcilement of these contending principles is called combustion. This is, according to Montfauçon, sketched in the minutest detail in the engravings of the ancient Phœnician Cabiri.
From India into Egypt was imported this spiritual fire-belief. We recognize, again, its never-failing structure-signal. Rightly regarded, the great Pyramids are nothing but the world-enduring architectural attestation, following (in the pyramidal) the well-known leading law of Egypt's templar-piling--moundlike, spiry--of the universal Flame-Faith. Place a light upon the summit, star-like upon the sky, and a prodigious altar the mighty Pyramid then becomes. In this tribute to the world-filling faith, burneth expressed devotion to (radiateth acknowledgment of) the immemorial magic religion. There is little doubt that as token and emblem of fire-worship, as indicative of the adoration of the real, accepted deity, these Pyramids were raised. The idea that they were burial-places of the Egyptian monarchs is untenable, when submitted to the weighing of meanings, and when it comes side by side with this better fire-explanation. Cannot we accept these Pyramids as the vast altars on whose top should burn the flame--flame commemorative, as it were, to all the world? Cannot we see in these piles, literally and really transcendental in origin, the Egyptian reproduction, and a hieroglyphical signalling-on, of special truth, eldest of time? Do we not recognize in the Pyramid the repetition of the first monolith--all the uprights constituting
the grand attesting pillar to the supernatural tradition of a Fire-Born World?
The ever-recurring globe with wings, so frequent in the sculptures of the Egyptians, witnesses to the Electric Principle. It embodies the transmigration of the Indians, reproduced by Pythagoras. Pythagoras resided for a long period in Egypt, and acquired from the priests the philosophic 'transition'-knowledge, which was afterwards doctrine. The globe, disc, or circle of the Phœnician Astarte, the crescent of Minerva, the horns of the Egyptian Ammon, the deifying of the ox--all have the same meaning. We trace among the Hebrews, the token of the identical mystery in the horns of Moses, distinct in the sublime statue by Michael Angelo in the Vatican; as also in the horns of the Levitical altar: indeed, the use of the 'double hieroglyph' in continual ways. The volutes of the Ionic column, the twin-stars of Castor and Pollux, nay, generally, the employment of the double emblem all the world over, in ancient or in modern times, whether displayed as points, or radii, or wings on the helmets of those barbarian chiefs who made war upon Rome, Attila or Genseric, or broadly shown upon the head-piece of the Frankish Clovis; whether emblemed in the rude and, as it were, savagely mystic horns of the Asiatic idols, or reproduced in the horns of the Runic Hammerer (or Destroyer), or those of the Gothic Mars, or of the modern devil; all this double-spreading from a common point (or this figure of HORNS) speaks the same story.
The Colossus of Rhodes was a monolith, in the human form, dedicated to the Sun, or to fire. The Pharos of Alexandria was a fire-monument. Heliopolis, or the City of the Sun, in Lower Egypt (as the name signifies), contained a temple, wherein, combined with all the dark superstitions of the Egyptians, the
flame-secret was preserved. In most jealous secrecy was the tradition guarded, and the symbol alone was presented to the world. Of the Pyramids, as prodigious Fire-Monuments, we have before spoken. Magnificent as the principal Pyramid still is, it is stated by an ancient historian that it originally formed, at the base, 'a square of eight hundred feet, and that it was eight hundred feet high'. Another informs us that 'three hundred and sixty-six thousand men were employed twenty years in its erection'. Its height is now supposed to be six hundred feet. Have historians and antiquaries carefully weighed the fact (even in the name of the Pyramids), that Pyr, or Pur, in the Greek, means Fire? We would argue that that object, in the Great Pyramid, which Ms been mistaken for a tomb (and which is, moreover, rather fashioned like an altar, smooth and plain, without any carved work), is, in reality, the vase, urn, or depository, of the sacred, ever-burning fire: of the existence of which ever-living, inextinguishable fire, to be found at some period of the world’s history, there is abundant tradition. This view is fortified by the statements of Diodorus, who writes that 'Cheops, or Chemis, who founded the principal Pyramid, and Cephren, or Cephrenus, who built the next to it, were neither buried here, but that they were deposited elsewhere'.
Cheops, Cephrenus, and Mycerinus, the mighty builders of these super-gigantic monuments, of which it is said that they look as if intended to resist the, waste of the ages, and, as in a front of supernatural and sublime submission, to await, in the undulation of Time (as in the waves of centuries), the expected revolution of nature, and the new and recommencing series of existence, surely had in view something grander, something still more universally portentous, than sepulture--or even death!
Is it at all reasonable to conclude, at a period when knowledge was at the highest, and when the human powers were, in comparison with ours at the present time, prodigious, that all these indomitable, scarcely believable, physical efforts--that such achievements as those of the Egyptians--were devoted to a mistake? that the Myriads of the Nile were fools labouring in the dark, and that all the magic of their great men was forgery? and that we, in despising that which we call their superstition and wasted power, are alone the wise? No! there is much more in these old religions than, probably, in the audacity of modern denial, in the confidence of these superficial-science times, and in the derision of these days without faith, is in the least degree supposed. We do not understand the old time.
It is evident from their hieroglyphics that the Egyptians were acquainted with the wonders of magnetism. By means of it (and by the secret powers which lie in the hyper-sensual, 'heaped floors' of it), out of the every-day senses, the Egyptians struck together, as it were, a bridge, across which they paraded into the supernatural; the magic portals receiving them as on the other and armed side of a drawbridge, shaking in its thunders in its raising (or in its lowering), as out of flesh. Athwart this, in trances, swept the adepts, leaving their mortality behind them: all, and their earth-surroundings, to be resumed at their reissue upon the plains of life, when down in their humanity again.
In the cities of the ancient world, the Palladium, or Protesting Talisman (invariably set up in the chief square or place), was--there is but little doubt--the reiteration of the very earliest monolith. All the obelisks--each often a single stone, of prodigious weight--all the singular, solitary, wonderful pillars
and monuments of Egypt, as of other lands, are, as it were, only tombstones of the Fire! All testify to the great, so darkly hinted secret. In Troy was the image of Pallas, the myth of knowledge, of the world, of manifestation, of the fire-soul. In Athens was Pallas-Athene, or Minerva. In the Greek cities, the form of the deity changed variously to Bacchus, to Hercules, to Phœbus-Apollo; to the tri-formed Minerva, Dian, and Hecate; to the dusky Ceres, or the darker Cybele. In the wilds of Sarmathia, in the wastes of Northern Asia, the luminous rays descended from heaven, and, animating the Lama, or 'Light-Born', spoke the same story. The flames of the Greeks, the towers of the Phœnicians, the emblems of the Pelasgi; the story of Prometheus, and the myth of his stealing the fire from heaven, wherewith to animate the man (or ensoul the visible world); the forges of the Cyclops, and the monuments of Sicily; the mysteries of the Etrurians; the rites of the Carthaginians; the torches borne, in all priestly demonstrative processions, at all times, in all countries; the vestal fires of the Romans; the very word flamen, as indicative of the office of the officiating sacerdote; the hidden fires of the ancient Persians, and of the grimmer (at least in name) Guebres; the whole mystic meaning of flames on altars, of the ever-burning tombs-lights of the earlier peoples, whether in the classic or in the barbarian lands--everything of this kind was intended to signify the deified Fire. Fires are lighted in the funeral ceremonies of the Hindoos and of the Mohammedans, even to this day, though the body be committed whole to earth. Wherefore fire, then? Cremation and urn-burial, or the burning of the dead--practised in all ages--imply a profounder meaning than is generally supposed. They point to the transmigration of Pythagoras, or to the
purgatorial reproductions of the Indians, among whom we the earliest find the dogma. The real signification of fire-burial is the commitment of human mortality into the last of all matter, overleaping the intermediate states; or the delivering over of the man-unit into the Flame-Soul, past all intervening spheres or stages of the purgatorial: the absolute doctrine of the Bhudds, taught, even at this day, among the initiate all over the East. Thus we see how classic practice and heathen teaching may be made to reconcile--how even the Gentile and Hebrew, the mythological and the (so-called) Christian, doctrine harmonize in the general faith--founded in magic. That magic is indeed possible is the moral of our book.
We have seen that Hercules was the myth of the Electric Principle. His pillars (Calpe and Abyla) are the Dual upon which may be supposed to rest a world. They stood in the days when giants might really be imagined--indeed, they almost look as impressive of it now--the twin prodigious monoliths, similar in purpose to the artificial pyramids. They must have struck the astonished and awed discoverer's gaze, navigating that silent Mediterranean (when men seemed as almost to find themselves alone in the world), as the veritable, colossal, natural pillars on which should burn the double Lights of the forbidden Baal: witness of the ever-perpetuated, ever-perpetuating legend of the fire-making! So to the Phœnician sailors, who, we are told, first descried, and then stemmed royally through, these peaked and jagged and majestic Straits--doorway to the mighty floor of the new blue ocean, still of the more Tyrian crystal depth--rolling, in walls of waves, under the enticing blaze of the cloud-empurpled, all-imperial, western sun, whose court was fire indeed--God’s, not Baal's!
[paragraph continues] --so to these men of Sidon, emblemed with the fire-white horns of the globed Astarte, or Ashtaroth, showed the monster rocks: pillar-portals--fire-topped as the last world-beacon--to close in (as gate) that classic sea, and to warn, as of the terrors of the unknown, new, and second world of farthest waters, which stretched to the limits of possibility. Forsaking, indeed, daringly, were these Iberi their altars, to tempt perils, when they left behind them that mouth of their Mediterranean: that sea upon whose embayed and devious margin were nations the most diverse, yet the mightiest of the earth. The very name of the Iberia which they discovered, and to which they themselves gave title, hints the Cabiri, who carried, doubtless, in their explorations, as equally with their commerce and their arts, their religious usages and their faith, as pyramidically intensifying, until it flashed truth upon the worlds in the grand Fire-Dogma--that faith to which sprung monuments from all the sea-borders at which glittered the beak--itself an imitation flame--of every many-oared, single ship of their adventurous, ocean-dotting fleets--the precursors of the exploring ships of the Vikings.
We claim the cauldron of the witches as, in the original, the vase or urn of the fiery transmigration, in which all the things of the world change. We accept the sign of the double-extended fingers (pointed in a fork) or of horns, which throughout Italy, the Greek Islands, Greece, and Turkey, is esteemed as the counter-charm to the Evil Eye, as the occult Magian telegraphic. The horns, or radii of the Merry-Andrew, or Jester, or Motley, and the horns of Satan; indeed, the figure of horns generally 1, even have a strange
affinity in the consecrate and religious. The horseshoe, so universally employed as a defensive charm, and used as a sign to warn-off and to consecrate, when--as it so frequently is--displayed at the entrance of stables, outhouses, and farm-buildings in country places, speaks the acknowledgment of the Devil, or Sinister Principle. The rearing aloft, and 'throwing out' as it were, of protesting, and--in a certain fashion--badge-like, magic signs, in the bodies of bats, and wild nocturnal creatures, fixed upon barn doors, we hold to be the perpetuation of the old heathen sacrifice to .the harmful gods, or a sort of devil-propitiation. Again, in this horse-shoe we meet the horse, as indicative of, and connected with, spirit power: of which strange association we shall by and by have more to say. The horse-shoe is the, mystic symbol of the Wizard's Foot, or the sigma, or sign, of the abstract 'Four-footed', the strangely secret, constantly presented, but as constantly evading, magic meaning conveyed in which (a tremendous cabalistic sign) we encounter everywhere. May the original, in the East, of the horse-shoe arch of the Saracens, which is a foundation-form of our Gothic architecture--may the horse-shoe form of all arches and cupolas (which figure is to be met everywhere in Asia)--may these strange, rhomboidal curves carry reference to the ancient mysterious blending of the ideas of the horse and the supernatural and religious? It is an awing thought but Spirits and supernatural embodiments--unperceived by our limited, vulgar senses--may make their daily walk amidst us, invisible, in the ways of the world. It may indeed be that they are sometimes suddenly happened upon, and, as it were,
surprised. The world--although so silent--may be noisy with ghostly feet. The Unseen Ministers may every day pass in and out among our ways, and we all the time think that we have the world to ourselves. It is, as it were, to this inside, unsuspected world that these recognitive, deprecatory signs of horseshoes and of charms are addressed; that the harming presences, unprovoked, may pass harmless; that the jealous watch of the Unseen over us may be assuaged in the acknowledgment; that the unrecognized presences amidst us, if met with an unconsciousness for which man cannot be accountable, may not be offended with carelessness in regard of them for which he may be punishable.
112:1 Horns generally--whether the horns of the cocu, which need not be those of the 'wittol', or contented, betrayed husband, but generally implying the mysterious ultra-natural scorn, ranging p. 113 in meaning with the 'attiring' and stigmatizing of Acton turned into the stag, and hunted by his own hounds, for surprising Diana naked.