Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr / Podcast

1886 / Belgium

Revisionist History



Paulthier, the French Indianist, may or may not be taxed with too much enthusiasm when saying that India appears before him as the grand and primitive focus of human thought, whose steady flame has ended by communicating itself to, and setting on fire, the whole ancient world—yet, he is right in his statement. It is Aryan metaphysics that have led the mind to occult knowledge—the oldest and the mother science of all, since it contains within itself all the other sciences. And it is Occultism—the synthesis of all the discoveries in nature and chiefly of the psychic potency within and beyond every physical atom of matter—that has been the primitive bond that has cemented into one cornerstone the foundations of all the religions of antiquity.

The primitive spark has set on fire every nation, truly, and magic underlies now every national faith, whether old or young. Egypt and Chaldea are foremost in the ranks of those countries that furnish us with the most evidence upon the subject, helpless as they are to do as India does—to protect their paleographic relics from desecration. The turbid waters of the canal of Suez carry along to those that wash the British shores, the magic of the earliest days of pharaonic Egypt, to fill up with its crumbled dust the British, French, German, and Russian museums. Ancient, historical magic is thus reflecting itself upon the scientific records of our own all-denying century. It forces the hand and tires the brain of the scientist, laughing at his efforts to interpret its meaning in his own materialistic way, yet helps the occultist better to understand modern magic, the rickety, weak grandchild of her powerful, archaic grandam. Hardly a hieratic papyrus exhumed along with the swathed mummy of a king or priest hierophant, or a weather-beaten, indecipherable inscription from the tormented sites of Babylonia or Nineveh, or an ancient tile cylinder—that does not furnish new food for thought or some suggestive information to the student of Occultism. Withal, magic is denied and termed the “superstition” of the ignorant ancient philosopher.

Thus, magic in every papyrus; magic in all the religious formulas; magic bottled up in hermetically closed vials, many thousands of years old; magic in elegantly bound, modern works; magic in the most popular novels; magic in social gatherings; magic worse than that, sorcery—in the very air one breathes in Europe, America, Australia: the more civilized and cultured a nation, the more formidable and effective the effluvia of unconscious magic it emits and stores away in the surrounding atmosphere.

  1. 1
  2. 2
Bookmark and Share
Love this? Subscribe to Lapham's Quarterly today.

Post a Comment

Note: Several minutes will pass while the system is processing and posting your comment. Do not resubmit during this time or your comment will post multiple times.

Published In
Magic Shows
About the Author

Helena Blavatsky, from “Ancient Egyptian Magic.” After leaving Russia at the age of seventeen in the late 1840s, Blavatsky reported that she traveled across the American West, sustained a wound while fighting on the side of Giuseppe Garibaldi in Italy, and lived for two years in Tibet, where she learned the ancient wisdom of two mahatmas. She helped to found the Theosophical Society in 1875 and published her first book, Isis Unveiled, two years later. In 1885 the London Society for Psychical Research declared her claims of psychic powers fraudulent.

No one shall be found among you who makes a son or daughter pass through fire, or who practices divination, is a soothsayer, an augur, or a sorcerer, or one who casts spells, consults ghosts or spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead. For whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord; it is because of such abhorrent practices that the Lord your God is driving them out before you.
Book of Deuteronomy, c. 620 BC
Visual Aids
Rites of Passage Coming-of-age rituals from around the world.
Art, Photography, & Illustrations View a selection of art from our latest issue.
Charts & Graphs All of our charts and graphs, pulled from the pages of Lapham’s Quarterly.
Events & News
June 2 / Tickets for the DECADES BALL are available now. Join us at our yearly gala to celebrate the 1870s with readings from the Quarterly with stars of stage and screen. More

Vague Premonitions

The Great Beyond

Current Issue Youth Summer 2014

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Audio & Video
LQ Podcast:
Robert Weide
Robert B. Weide talks about his decades-long production of a documentary on Kurt Vonnegut due to be released in 2015.
Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
Recent Issues