Page images

indeed, something more than a mere fantastic poem when Orpheus describes so minutely the effects of precious stones; when the many zealous inquirers into the hidden powers of nature, no doubt often fanatical,-attribute so many healing virtues to them; and which Voss has so fully described in his "De theologia gentili," tom. ii. The Jewish highpriests themselves wore on their hearts the breast-plate set with the twelve precious stones, by which divinations were to be obtained. Amongst other instances of the effect of jewels on different persons in producing clairvoyance and the like I have already quoted the case of the seeress, widow Petersen von Bende Bendsen, who asserted the decided effects of brilliants and other substances, the diamond being the most powerful of them. The widow Petersen used even small, but powerfully operating Baquete, which she herself constructed; and I myself treated a patient with a like affection in the same way; and on this occasion quicksilver and borax had a particularly striking effect. The same clairvoyant spoke of the powerful effect of juniper and of laurel in promoting clear spiritual vision, as we have noticed in the case of the Delphian oracle.

Haüy was the first to discover and demonstrate the electricity of crystals, and to show that these electric crystals not unfrequently presented exceptions to the otherwise invariable laws of symmetry in crystallization; whence it follows that the electric power must be an active power, especially as regards the formation of crystals, since they as active laws appear to have the same influence. Haüy speaks with enthusiasm of the small crystals of borax which represent an eight-fold electricity. One may ask, he says, in the conclusion of the first part of his Physics, whether the effects produced by the admirable construction of our scientific machines can present anything more astonishing to the eye, or more capable of exciting the interest of professors of physics, than these small electrical instruments produced through crystallization, these unions of the most opposed influences, compressed into a crystal of scarcely two millimetres in thickness,-not a single Parisian line. And here again the often repeated observation presents itself, that those productions of nature which seem as

if they would withdraw themselves from our notice, are not unfrequently exactly those which are the most worthy of it. That astrology always constituted a leading feature in the mysteries of the ancients is well known; that the places and motions of the heavenly bodies were considered to exercise a decided influence on all the chief events of life, even on our birth, is a well-known historical fact. Was it likely then that the influences of the stars on human ailments would be unknown to the Mystagogues who were so well acquainted with the silently operating forces of nature? The history of the most ancient philosophy proves that they knew these things well; and if the magnetic clairvoyants perfectly agree with the ancients not only as to the influence of the sun and moon, but even of particular stars and constellations, as was the case with the widow Petersen, we have thus a clear agreement between antiquity and modern science, over which the very knowing and highly learned may laugh, but which will excite astonishment in industrious natural philosophers and true observers at their perverse ignorance and admiration of the order-producing omnipotence of the great Creator.

In conclusion, I must not forget that illumination and those appearances of light which our somnambules assert that they often see, now surrounding their genii and guardian angels which appear to them, and now round their magnetisers. Does not this recall to every one the luminous horns of Moses, and that ancient expression, "the horns of healing," with which the horns of Jupiter Ammon agree ?-whence it appears that the ancient expounders of that wonderful magic light in the mysteries, which, as Pliny says, surrounds the heads of men in prophetic announcement, regarded it as an unusual, exalted, and, to the uninitiated, a blinding fire; while others have considered it to be electrical. They were accustomed to represent the light which surrounded the head of Athena, and mingled and interwove itself with her locks, as luminous horns, as in the moon. The healing double fires of the Dioscuri were represented as lunar horns, and paintings of them were represented with stars above their heads. With this accords the Hermes or Elmes fire, and the luminous staff of Mercury and its wings; and the lunar

horns with wings also point to remarkable symbols. Those luminous appearances round the head, which we have already become acquainted with amongst the ecstatic Brahmins, are not merely found amongst the gods of Greece, to whom we have here referred, but are applied to the hero of the Odyssey :

"Scornful of age, to taunt the virtuous man,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

I have spoken more fully of these illuminations in a historical and scientific point of view in my work on "Magnetism in relation to Nature and Religion." More than two hundred years ago, Bartholin delivered an interesting account of the illuminations of men and animals. We shall, as we proceed, hear frequently of similar appearances, and must confess that we are convinced that these lights, if not actual electrical lights, are and remain always subjective phenomena of an ecstatic condition, and are one in principle, though shaped according to the popular ideas of the time: so that to the oracle-pronouncing Greek appears the winged Hermes, the luminous Apollo, or Minerva," the heavenly goddess of splendour who scatters the darkness," as the genius; while to the modern somnambule it appears as an angel, a saint, or the holy mother.

The conditions of human nature remain the same, but circumstances are different, and vary with time and place. The conditions conceal themselves, but the circumstances come forth to the light, which occasion a difference in the illumination, and in the significance of it, which can be only properly interpreted when we go down to the cause of the subject state.

We think now that by our comparison of the ancient facts of divination, sorcery, and the circumstances attending the delivery of the oracles, with the facts of modern science and observation, we have solved many ancient riddles. We believe that we have adduced sufficient evidence that magic was contained in the ancient mythologies; that mythology in many respects only receives its

true interpretation from the point of view afforded by the natural philosophers, because there were not only historical and religious, but also philosophical enigmas, involved in these systems. We have quoted the assurance of Strabo, that "the ancients concealed their physical views of things in enigmas, and their scientific observations in myths.' As a concluding justification of our attempts in this respect, we may quote the words of a distinguished natural philosopher, as it regards mythology :

"It is very striking, that in all ages all people have clothed the ideas of their dreams in the same imagery. It may, therefore, be asked, whether that language which now occupies so low a place in the estimation of men, be not the actually waking language of the higher regions, while we, awake as we fancy ourselves, may not be sunk in a sleep of many thousand years, or at least in the echo of their dreams, and only intelligibly catch a few dim words of that language of God, as sleepers do scattered expressions from the loud conversation of those around them."-Schubert's Symbolism of Dreams.

"If we do not understand the pictorial style of the ancients, it is clear that we are become estranged to the region in which that pictorial language was formed. Since it constitutes the entire mode of expression of the most ancient times, and arose simultaneously with those peoples, so are all myths poetic-symbolic-metaphoric inspirations of a transcendent material power of nature, or the physical incarnation of an infinite spirit."-Steinbeck, The Poet as Seer.

"It is possible that the idea of unconsciousness in the formation of myths may appear to many dark, or even magical, for no other reason than that the mythic creative power has no analogy in our present modes of thought; but will not history recognise the extraordinary, where free inquiry leads unquestionably to it ?"-Ottfr. Müller's Prolegomena.



As we now arrive at the third and last period of the history of magic, I recall the recollection of the reader to that part of the work in which I endeavoured to show how in the three chief periods, the Oriental, the Greco-Roman, and the German, magic shaped itself characteristically according to the natural spirit of the people; how the transit and the diffusion of it gradually took place, and the spiritual life of the German people struck its roots into the Greco-Roman element, and by its peculiar and powerful individual strength elaborated the manifold collected materials in lasting fermentation into a new and living impulse. It was shown how the German people in the infancy of its arising and of its first development in the newly-conquered lands, received so many-sided an excitement, and through the gradual decline of the Roman ascendancy not only appropriated its intellectual acquisitions, but succeeded to the educational element of the Arabs; to which advantages the Alexandrine school also added a particularly important influence both on the philosophical direction of mind and on the new religious doctrines; so that it becomes very intelligible how magic in Germany became as multifarious in its growth and progress, as it had shown itself in all forms of the Oriental and Greco-Roman times, and yet in a pre-eminently religious and Christian dress. As Christianity acquired root and growth in the Germanic race earlier than in all others, and as Christianity became a very important turning point for the modification

« PreviousContinue »