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of magic, the history of magic at this period is inseparable from the development of Christianity.
The mythologic process closed with the Grecian period, as Schelling has beautifully shown, and Christianity then became the central point of history. Nor has Christianity yet reached its full accomplishment; it is in the process of its growth and the diffusion of its light, which proceeded from Christ, the focus of all history, into which all individual rays, and all that the wise have sought out, collect themselves as a principle, that now the mystery may be unfolded to babes and sucklings, and the word of truth may be preached. From Christ emanated the light of the eternal word, which, encompassing the whole world, shall spread itself over all people, as the one happiness-producing idea, for the salvation of the whole race, and in which every nation and every individual must educate themselves, and come to a clear and perfect consciousness. The mystic hovering in a darkling feeling shall become purified and comprehensible, and faith be understood. Christ himself says, “ Nothing is hidden that shall not be revealed; what I say unto you in the darkness shall be proclaimed in the light and on the house-tops.”
Universal history not only demonstrates an advance of the human race in civilisation, but still more in the development of different intellectual powers in all directions, in which the primeval ideas of truth and goodness, of beauty and of truth, come forth from the subjective ground into the objective revelation. The mightiest nations are always those who in a general development most purely and perfectly manifest a peculiar spirit, or the substance of some particular idea. People who have not impressed upon them these primeval ideas in a permanent form, are destitute of history, and disappear like shadows on the arena of the world. Thus we have only three historical ancestors from whom we draw our history of magic—the Oriental, the Greco-Roman, and the German. These people have raised themselves above all others by their intellectual stamina, and with a characteristic strength, and have planted on a certain elevation of development the focus of an advanced knowledge, which can never more vanish from history, but must for ever pass on to a fresh posterity, and be again
brought forward by it, but only in a new form, and more varied and entwined with the roots of its peculiar strength of life. “With firm pace, like a procession of the dynasties of a kingdom, history now marches forward along a chain of nations, each of which seizes on the dominion of the world in an ever-ascending power, and retains it for a longer duration, placing itself in the van of the intellectual world till it is pushed aside by another; thus extending from the Assyrians to the Germans, the people of the present worldperiod, in whom the unity again appears to divaricate in a multitude of states, amongst whom now these now those preponderate, but who altogether constitute a closelywoven system, and gravitate towards an invisible point, and are governed by the laws of universal development." -C. F. Haug's General History.
It is a fact in the history of the world, that with the advent of Christ the Germans first appeared on the arena of the world—a circumstance of such deep moment, that we do not perfectly understand Germanity if we do not include a knowledge of this coincidence. For the complete establishment of the divine idea in the development of humanity, it is necessary to presuppose at once Christianity and Germanity. Germanity, in fact, has an organisation more capable of the reception of Christianity than any other people. Truly, the good seed might have fallen into rough and uncultivated ground, where after a long slumber it might have put forth wretched and uncertain foliage, the frivolously-ideal Greek, and the able-bodied, strong-limbed Roman, having outlived their periods, without being able rightly to comprehend the deep, the whole man-pervading doctrine of Christ. For this the German people was destined, which now possesses the post of ruling the world. Our present subject stands in close connection with this, as will soon be made apparent.
In the preceding mythological observations we have arrived at the result, that a natural philosophy excluding all sec practice and teaching was first made possible by the Christian religion, with its universality of love for man, and its conflict against any contempt of our fellowcreatures. For that purpose, the great book written for all, the totality of nature, was thrown open, and
Christianity was made the religion of the world, not merely for the perfect development of all the primeval ideas of the soul, but also for the opening up of nature, and for the right use of her powers. The glory of genuine Christianity consists in this, that, considered in relation to other religions, it does not suffer itself to be separated from culture and science, from the accomplishment of the intellect and from natural philosophy. On that account the first apostles addressed themselves only to such people as possessed the necessary degree of cultivation for the comprehension of the higher truths ; to whom they might say, not in vain: “Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.” Christ himself, as we have seen above, appeared in a particular time, and amongst a particular people, in order to reveal the word of the Fatherthe bringing back of a sinful race. As an earlier appearance of Christ would have failed of its grand object—to awaken the universal love of mankind,-a later appearance would have been a delay, since the darkening and perversion of the human spirit had reached its highest point, and nature, instead of a dwelling-place and an instrument of the spirit, was become to men a dungeon, as to the beasts without understanding; and, as St. Paul says, “Howbeit, then, when ye knew not God, all did service to them which by nature are no gods” (Galatians, iv. 8).
When the human spirit possessed no higher wisdom than the earthly and the human, than that which reason and the light of nature gave it, nature was to it a sealed book-a Babel. Man had wholly fallen from his empire; his sense and language were confused; no consciousness of the real object of life remained to him, nor of the true use of means. Man was blind, and deaf, and lame, as it regarded the kingdom of nature. He would climb, by the tower of sorcery, up to heaven, and the eye met only a delusive light; out of all objects glared demoniac visages; the lute of nature gave forth voices of condemnation, filling the heart with fear and terror, despair and madness, instead of peace, rest, and truth; and where the enterprising hand seized on the elements to compel the powers of nature to service, the attempt was defeated in the conflict, or totally repelled.
“But the soul of the old Adam had lusted after the lord
ship of outer rule, and his will was sundered from the unity of God, and carried away in the dominion of this world; so that this was converted into a monstrosity. The true spirit withered; the light of God was extinguished ; and the divine idea became benumbed and dead in him. To this spirit now came Jesus; and as he assumed human nature to restore it, he brought back again the light into the darkness. In this light stands the soul again in original fatherland, as in her first days, when the spirit of God wrought in her. She stands there in vision, and may inquire into all things ; and she understands the language of nature, and works with her strength. In delusion—that of Adam—there is no perfection; the spirit of God in His Son must be the guide, otherwise he stands in an outward mystery, as in the outward heaven of the stars, but not in the divine magic school, which consists only in a simple, child-like spirit. The outward guide-theoretic reason—works only in a glass ; but the inner sense, directed of God, shines into the soul; and, therefore, the choice stands with God: he who comprehends the heavenly school will become a Magus-a creator out of self-knowledge—without wearisome running; and even if he must greatly exert himself, yet is he penetrated by God, and will be impelled by the Holy Spirit.”--Jacob Böhme.
To all nations before Christ the world was enchanted. Through Christianity will she become disenchanted, and the true magic be restored. Religion amongst the ancients had degenerated into a worship of the stars, and the cosmic powers were idolised. Even amongst the Jews revelation took place through symbols and through the elements of nature. The true reconciliation of deeply-fallen humanity with God; the release of the spirit from the bonds of nature; the separation of the sensual from the intellectual, the animal from the divine, appearance from reality; the ideas of truth and goodness, of right and virtue, of motive, freedom, and immortality, were first made possible through the
pure doctrine of Christianity. But although by obedience to, and true faith in, the words of Christ, any one may enter with him “to-day” into Paradise ; yet the substance of the faith can only become the possession of entire humanity, by being expanded to its full extent in the course of time. Now, as Germanity seems especially designed to realise and to carry out Christianity to that full extent, it is easy to perceive that in the footsteps of the GrecoRoman cultivation the first beginnings everywhere must imperfectly succeed; and that thus magic amongst the ancient Germans was of such a kind, that you might say with Pliny, not only of the pagan Germans, but of the Christian ones,—“ Magiam attonite celebrant tantis cæremoniis, et eam dedisse Persis videre possit.” The belief in sorcery amongst the northern nations was, moreover, universal; and the scientific endeavour to make intelligible the ancient gods and the demon-life; to separate the operations of the powers of nature from those of the spirit; to divide the inner existence of religion from hypocrisy and mere ceremonies, could only succeed slowly and partially. The idea of angels and devils being given by the Christian religion, and the nature of ecstasy and the psychological fundamental activity of the soul being as little understood as the mysterious operation of the powers of nature, especially in pathological circumstances; supernatural action of the soul, therefore, in all unusual phenomena, was considered as something settled, or as if
, on the other hand, nature was entirely dead, and only used as the material and instrument of superhuman powers. It must have been very difficult for the few more profound inquirers and material observers to operate on the universal prejudice, and to enlighten ignorance, which was only possible by slow degrees, and by this means, that with the critical examination of the Scriptures as to religion and spiritual philosophy, the inquiries into, and the fathoming of nature and her powers was at the same time undertaken, and, spite of all opposing influences, carried through, -a process to which Christianity itself had given the occasion. For one of the most wayward fixed ideas of pagan sorcery was through Christianity already set aside; the belief, namely, that the power of the gods might be restrained by nature and by forces independent of themselves; a feature which is characteristic of the Greeks and Romans, as in the cases of Medea, Circe, Erectho, Canidia, mentioned by Horace,