“I fancy that certain practices, such as the use of the circle to keep the power in, were local inventions, derived from the use of the Druid or pre-Druid circle. At one time I believed the whole cult was directly descended from the Northern European culture of the Stone Age, uninfluenced by anything else; but I now think that it was influenced by the Greek and Roman mysteries which originally may have come from Egypt. But while it is fascinating to consider the cult existing in direct descent from ancient Egypt, we must take into account the other possibilities.”
[Gerald Gardner, Witchcraft Today, Chapter 4, “Witches Practices”]
How strong of an influence was classical Greco-Roman Paganism, and the ancient Mystery Religions in particular, on Gerald Gardner’s Wicca? In this Fourth Part of the series Modern Paganism and the Ancient Mysteries, we’ll look at a particular passage in Gardner’s book Witchcraft Today in which he talks about ancient Rites of Initiation while also referring to a number of ancient philosophers (whom Gardner associates with the Mysteries) from Thales (born c. 624 BC) to Proclus (died 485 AD) spanning more than a millennium. But before getting to that passage, let’s first set the scene.
(In what follows I will not be giving page numbers in Witchcraft Today, both because there have been many editions over the years, and also because it is freely available for download on teh interwebs, so you can easily search the text electromagically.)
Gardner begins Witchcraft Today (in the Forward) with an attempt to explain to the reader the intrinsic difficulties of writing openly about an Initiatory religious tradition like Wicca. Even those Witches, according to Gardner, who were eager to clear their religion from slander and misperceptions nevertheless had impressed upon Gardner the need to remember that “there are certain secrets that you mustn’t give away.” He also tells us that there had transpired “some argument as to exactly what I must not reveal.”
Such secrecy can easily arouse suspicion and hostility, and to those who are already suspicious and hostile it can be perceived as validating their fears. Gardner seeks to overcome this, at least somewhat, by reminding his readers (or, in the case of the grossly uneducated, by informing them for the first time) that the same kind of “secretiveness” (as it appears to the literally uninitiated) found in Wicca was a quite normal part of the religious scene of the classical world. Gardner quotes from the 2nd century Platonic philosopher Apuleius:
“who wrote a long account of his own initiation into the mysteries in cryptic language, saying: ‘I have told you things of which, although you have heard them, you cannot know the meaning.'”
Direct references to the classical Paganism, and to the Mystery Religions in particular, are found frequently in Witchcraft Today (as well as in the sequel, The Meaning of Witchcraft). In fact, two full chapters of Witchcraft Today are devoted explicitly to the Mysteries. In this post, I will be focussing on one of those chapters, “The Witches and the Mysteries”.
“Mysteries as orgies”?
Gardner begins that chapter by stating (echoing the sentiment expressed in the quote at the top of this post, which is from an earlier chapter):
“I had always believed that witches belonged to an independent Stone Age cult whose rites were a mixture of superstition and reality and had no connection with any other system.”
He then tells us that his first doubts on this subject began to form during a trip to New Orleans where he noticed elements of “European witchcraft” in Voodoo. Then during a subsequent trip to Pompeii, at the Villa of the Mysteries, he again noticed a “great resemblance to the cult.”
From that point on Gardner provides his own broad overview of the Mystery Religions of the classical world, relying heavily on the writings of Vittorio Macchioro. I hope to return in a later post to this overview in more detail, but what is really important for the present discussion is that Gardner uses this presentation to promote his contention that all of the ancient Mysteries shared “some inner secret”, and that the overall impact of the Mysteries on society as a whole, and on the individuals who underwent initiation, was positive.
The shared “inner secret” of the Mysteries is this: (and here Gardner is quoting Macchioro):
“‘The mystery is a special form of religion which existed amongst all ancient peoples, and among primitive peoples still preserves very considerable importance. Its essence is the mystic palingenesis, that is to say, a regeneration brought about by suggestion. In its most perfect stage this palingenesis is a veritable substitution of personality: the man is invested with the personality of a god, a hero or an ancestor, repeating and reproducing the gestures and actions attributed to him by tradition.'”
Gardner argues that this inner secret of palingenesis (which was also closely tied to the concept of metempsychosis) was originally limited to guaranteeing that the Initiate would enjoy “happiness after death”, and, according to Gardner, Initiation into the Mysteries was, therefore, at first “a purely magical ceremony.” Later though, the Mysteries “acquired a spiritual and moral content.” This, again according to Gardner, was primarily due to the influence of Orphism which “took a lofty moral and spiritual significance and exercised great influence on lofty souls such as Heraclitus, Pindar and Plato.” In particular, Gardner claims that the influence of Orphism transformed the “rural cult at Eleusis” by “adding the element of redemption.”
Throughout this section of Witchcraft Today, in which there are long passages quoted straight from Macchioro’s little guidebook “The Villa of the Mysteries at Pompei”, Gardner is striving to promote a positive view of the ancient Mysteries that is twofold. On the one hand, the Mysteries promoted human happiness both here and hereafter, and also included an ecstatic element that was essential. On the other hand, the regeneration wrought by the Mysteries led not only to greater happiness, but to a moral and spiritual advancement as well.
More specifically, one of Gardner’s objectives in his overview of the Mysteries is to defend these ancient Pagan institutions against misrepresentations and misunderstandings, including slanders arising from followers of the Jesus cult:
“Christian writers were accustomed to speak of these mysteries as orgies, and Chesterton, speaking of the Bacchae of Euripides, says: ‘Nowadays, imagine the Premier going off with the Archbishop of Canterbury to dance with unknown fair ones on Hampstead Heath.'”
G.K. Chesterton was merely echoing the ancient, and infamous, condemnation of Clement of Alexandria (150 – c.215 Anno Deceptoris):
“And what if I go over the mysteries? I will not divulge them in mockery, as they say Alcibiades did, but I will expose right well by the word of truth the sorcery hidden in them; and those so-called gods of yours, whose are the mystic rites, I shall display, as it were, on the stage of life, to the spectators of truth. The bacchanals hold their orgies in honour of the frenzied Dionysus, celebrating their sacred frenzy by the eating of raw flesh, and go through the distribution of the parts of butchered victims, crowned with snakes, shrieking out the name of that Eva by whom error came into the world. The symbol of the Bacchic orgies is a consecrated serpent. Moreover, according to the strict interpretation of the Hebrew term, the name Hevia, aspirated, signifies a female serpent.
“Demeter and Proserpine have become the heroines of a mystic drama; and their wanderings, and seizure, and grief, Eleusis celebrates by torchlight processions. I think that the derivation of orgies and mysteries ought to be traced, the former to the wrath (orgh) of Demeter against Zeus, the latter to the nefarious wickedness (musos) relating to Dionysus; but if from Myus of Attica, who Pollodorus says was killed in hunting–no matter, I don’t grudge your mysteries the glory of funeral honours. You may understand mysteria in another way, as mytheria (hunting fables), the letters of the two words being interchanged; for certainly fables of this sort hunt after the most barbarous of the Thracians, the most senseless of the Phrygians, and the superstitious among the Greeks.
“Perish, then, the man who was the author of this imposture among men, be he Dardanus, who taught the mysteries of the mother of the gods, or Eetion, who instituted the orgies and mysteries of the Samothracians, or that Phrygian Midas who, having learned the cunning imposture from Odrysus, communicated it to his subjects. For I will never be persuaded by that Cyprian Islander Cinyras, who dared to bring forth from night to the light of day the lewd orgies of Aphrodite in his eagerness to deify a strumpet of his own country. Others say that Melampus the son of Amythaon imported the festivals of Ceres from Egypt into Greece, celebrating her grief in song.
“These I would instance as the prime authors of evil, the parents of impious fables and of deadly superstition, who sowed in human life that seed of evil and ruin–the mysteries.”
[Exhortation to the Heathen]
“A vanished Britain”
In defense of the ancient Pagan Mysteries against Christian slanders, Gardner points out that “when we find that the greatest and best men of the ancient world belonged to the initiates, we may be sure the mysteries were not just orgies.” A little further on, Gardner elaborates on this point:
“[I]n their true state I think the mysteries were really good. Porphyry, Iamblicus, Synesius, all refer to them and their objects and revelations. ‘Of what the disease of the spirit consists, from what cause it is dulled, how it can be clarified, may be learned from their philosophy. For by the lustrations of the mysteries the soul becomes liberated and passes into a divine condition of being, hence disciplines willingly endured become of far greater utility for purification,’ says Plato.
He continues: ‘On entering the interior part of the Temple, unmoved and guarded by the sacred rites, they genuinely receive into their bosoms divine illumination, and divested of their garments they participate of the divine nature.’ The same method takes place in the speculation of Thales: see Proclus on the theology of Plato, vol. i, and Ede anima ae daemona, Stobaeus, Dr. Warbarton’s trans.: ‘The mind is affected and agitated in death, just as it is in initiation into the mysteries, and word answers to word, as well as thing to thing; for to die, to be initiated, is the same; with hymns, dances and sublime and sacred knowledge, crowned and triumphant they walk the regions of the blessed.’
But it was also said: ‘The rites are not equally good for all; there are many more Thyrsus-bearers than Bacchic souls. Many have the fire indeed, without the power to discover it’: that is, ‘All are not true initiates.’ ‘Who can question the extraordinary power of woman over man? Whether questioned or reasoned about, it always remains the irresistible factor of life. This power is a divine gift and therefore induces more than merely sex attraction. With any woman, young, beautiful and vivacious, her influence for good or evil is overwhelming. When moved by high principle and purpose, womankind can elevate and ennoble man.’ – A Suggestive Inquiry, etc., by A.J. Attwood [Gardner’s attribution in the original]
The full title of the work Gardner has borrowed from most heavily in the above three paragraphs is A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery With a Dissertation on the More Celebrated of the Alchemical Philosophers, being an attempt towards the recovery of the ancient experiment of Nature by Mary Anne Atwood. In fact, passages from that book are scattered, unattributed or misattributed, throughout the above, although the last several sentences of the final paragraph, which Gardner does attribute to Atwood, are not actually found in her book.
Suggestive Inquiry was first published in London in 1850, and while never a bestseller, the book has enjoyed a certain positive notoriety ever since. It’s author has been hailed as not just a great Alchemical “adept”, but even as “the last one”. It has also been said that “The Atwood material is very important for the study of a vanished Britain, when Neo-Platonism and High Ideas influenced the nation. But, as Mrs. Atwood says, they went in for power and threw their spiritual heritage out the window.” [These quotes can be found at the Mary Anne Atwood archive website, maintained by Brown University here.]
Adding, significantly, to the mystique surrounding Atwood’s Suggestive Inquiry is the fact that soon after it’s first publication, the author experienced a sudden change of heart and attempted, and nearly succeeded in the attempt, to destroy all copies. When it was reissued in Belfast in 1918, it had acquired a new and extensive (60+ pages) Introduction by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst, who was eager to draw the reader’s attention to the “strange history” of the book:
“This is the reissue of a book with a strange history; a book moreover not only entirely unknown, for reasons that will presently appear, to all but the meagrest minority, but one treating of a subject hitherto excluded from consideration by exponents of conventional learning. Whether even now men devoted professionally or otherwise to philosophy, divinity or science will give it the least attention is problematical. Be that as it may, it is believed that among those to hwom the book and its subject matter will be new there will be not a few who will accord it at least an interested and respectful notice, whilst many others who are already aware of the book’s existence and the general tenor of its theme will welcome its re-issue and the fact that after nearly seventy years of suppression it now becomes generally accessible.” [p. 1]
Wilmshurst takes his time getting to the details of how the book was “suppressed”. First he wants to tell us about Thomas South, the father of Mary Anne (Atwood was her married name): “a gentleman of leisure and certain means, a scholar and somewhat of a recluse, and the possessor of an exceptionally fine specialized library of classical, philosophical and metaphysical works, many of them old, rare and foreign editions, collected in days when such books were more easily procurable than now.” In this private library, South and his daughter carried out far ranging researches into “the writings of the Platonists, the medieval and subsequent Alchemical Philosophers, and the myths and mythology of Greece and Rome.” To what end? Why, to study “the ultimate nature of the human soul, the spiritual potentialities latently present in man, and the science of rectification of man from the the imperfect state in which he now finds himself to perfection and integrity in spiritual order.” In other words, “the subject of the Mysteries of antiquity.” [pp. 1-2]
After pursuing these studies together as “intellectual equals” and even “intellectual comrades” there came a time (~1849) when father and daughter resolved to prepare their own separate works in which the “matured conclusions from [their] long researches into Hermetism” could be presented to the world “crystallized into writing.” The father would write in poetry, the daughter in prose:
“With the concurrence of the other members of the household it was agreed that the two should segregate themselves from the normal family life and duties, and devote themselves exclusively to their tasks. The father occupied one room and proceeded with his poem, one intended to be a lengthy epic of the Hermetic subject; the daughter occupied another and compiled the present volume [Suggestive Inquiry …] from the expository standpoint, evidencing her theory by frequent references to the authorities and text-books.” [p. 6]
So far, so good. But now the plot thickens, and darkens:
“The daughter was the first to complete her labours, considerable as they must needs have been. Such was his confidence in his daughter’s capacity, the father did not trouble to look at her manuscript or even proof-prints of it when they came to hand. The volume was printed at Mr. South’s cost and was issued, as before stated, in 1850. A few copies — something under one hundred in all — had been either sent to public libraries or sold to purchasers, when the further issue of the book was abruptly stopped by Mr. South. The entire residue of the edition was called in, under considerable protest from the publisher and at a cost of £250 to Mr. South, and was brought from London to Gosport. There, upon the lawn of Bury House, the volumes, along with the uncompleted manuscript of Mr. South’s poem were stacked and a bonfire was made of them. Of the poem nothing now remains save some twelve lines the daughter had quoted in her own prose work and to be found on p. 57 of the present edition. The return of the outstanding copies of the book was gradually secured as far as possible, the authoress continuing for years afterwards to buy in any copy that came upon the market and often paying as much as ten guineas for it. Of those so bought in some were destroyed; a few she retained for her private use or that of her most intimate and understanding friends.” [p. 6]
Now we know the what, but what was the why? Wilmshurst provides us with two different reasons behind the “suppression”. First we are told that Mr. South was concerned that too much sacred knowledge had been irresponsibly, in hindsight, revealed to a world that was too profane to receive it: “They felt themselves to be, as the authoress herself explained many years afterwards, not simple exponents of a recondite philosophy, but betrayers of a sacred secret … They felt the only way to avoid the penalty of such a betrayal was to destroy their handiwork entirely.” [p. 7]
To anyone familiar with the ancient Mysteries, this reasoning is, at least as far as general principles go, both familiar and appropriate. After all, those who took Initiation at Eleusis (etc) were bound by the strictest oaths of secrecy. The efficiency/ruthlessness with which these oaths were enforced is made plain by the dearth today of any specific knowledge of any of the inner secrets of those ancient Mystery Rites. “But,” Wilmshurst informs us, “coupled with this reason there was another.”
“The normal devout-mindedness of Mr. South experienced a change just at this time. It will be recalled that the period was one of great religious unrest and ferment. Whether or not Mr. South became caught up by the current of contemporary Evangelical Revival, his religious life became suddenly and strangely quickened. The fire of ‘conversion’ came upon him, and his outlook upon certain things was opened in a way that caused him to see them in a different relationship. Especially he was prompted to re-consider the Hermetic subject in its relation to Christian soteriology.”[pp.8-9]
Wilmshurst insists, perhaps a bit too insistently, that Thomas South did not turn against things Hermetic in favor of things Christian. In fact, though, by going out of his way to broadly refer to the “Evangelical Revival” of the times, Wilmshurst must realize that he calls his own protestations into question. This was, after all, the period that gave us Thomas Darby, the Anglo-Irish preacher whose “dispensationalist” teachings form the basis of the “end-time” ravings that are the mainstay of contemporary televangelism and Pentecostalism.
While it is common to think of the revivalist movement of the mid 19th century as isolated to the United States (this was the period when Charles Godfrey Leland coined the term “holy roller”, in reference to the ecstatic worship style of “holiness” Methodists in Pennsylvania), in reality this was a far broader movement, as the cases of the Plymouth Brethren, The Free Church of England, Thomas Darby, Charles Henry Mackintosh, etc., clearly demonstrate.
It is also clear that Mary Anne Atwood, through her own actions, saw to it that not only were copies of her book preserved, but that it continued to be read by a small circle of her friends and admirers (including a copy given to Anna Kingsford in 1886). This strongly implies that whatever “conversion” the father had experienced was not fully shared by the daughter. Wilmshurst tells us, and it is painful to read: “Although her will and reason had entirely concurred in the suppression of the book, she admitted in the after years that she had felt acutely the destruction of her intellectual offspring, that at the time it had been a crushing sorrow to her and had left her in a sense a broken woman.”
Wilmshurst goes on to tell us of the friend who became the legatee of Mary Anne Atwood’s writings, Madame Isabelle de Steiger, who was responsible for the posthumous re-issue of Suggestive Inquiry in 1918.
The story told above by Wilmshurst is corroborated by the following “Biographical/Historical note” found at the Mary Atwood Papers Archive website (at Brown University):
“Born in 1817, the daughter of Thomas South, Mary Anne Atwood would author two books. In 1846 she published (under a pen name) Early Magnetism, in its Higher Relation to Humanity as Veiled in the Poets and the Prophets. In 1850, under her maiden name, M.A. South, she published A Suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mystery, a book which put forth an early statement of the theory that the true goal of alchemy was spiritual perfection. A short time later Mrs. Atwood regretted publication of this work, fearing she had revealed too much of matters that would be better kept secret. She subsequently bought up as many copies of the book as possible and destroyed them. Nevertheless, a few copies survived and in 1918, some years after her death, a new edition of the work was brought out, with an introduction by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst and memorabilia of Mrs. Atwood. A further printing appeared in 1920, but the book remained a scarce one until 1960 when it was again reprinted from the Wilmshurst edition by Julian Press, New York.
“On both of the above works Mrs. Atwood collaborated with her father and after his death she wrote nothing more for publication. In 1859 she married Alban Thomas Atwood, vicar of Leake, Yorkshire. They had no children. Alban Atwood died in 1883. Mary Anne Atwood lived out her life at Knayton Lodge, Thirsk [England]. She died on April 13, 1910. Her last words were: “I cannot find my center of gravity.”
“Divested of their garments”
The story of Mary Anne Atwood and her Suggestive Inquiry helps us to understand two things about the relationship between Wicca and the ancient Mysteries. First of all, both Gardner’s attraction to the Mysteries, and his conviction that the writings of the ancient Pagan philosophers provide us with significant insights into those Mysteries, were very far from being unique or newfangled ideas by the time the mid-twentieth century came rolling around. In fact, these ideas had a long, and prestigious history, both in Europe generally, and in Britain in particular.
Secondly, the sad and strange tale of the “suppression” of Atwood’s book tells us, if somehow we were ’til now unaware, of the ongoing tension between Christianity and the Mysteries. This tension demands (still today) some resolution (in the form of an attitude adopted toward Christianity) from all those who stray too deeply into the embrace of the Hermetic science. The easiest, and most common, resolution is to at the very least feign acceptance of the supremacy, or at least the primacy, of Christianity. Even into the nineteenth century both societal pressures and the law itself demanded that there be no explicit breach with the Jesus cult. Where Gerald Gardner did make a truly unique contribution to the history of Paganism was in his explicit, public proclamation of a non-Christian religious tradition, and one that was most emphatically not a new religion. Divested of their Christianizing garments, one could say, with the publication of Witchcraft Today, the ancient Mysteries, aka the Old Religion, could once again openly proclaim the true nature of the Divine, but, in accordance with ancient tradition, without revealing “certain secrets that you mustn’t give away.”
I’ll end this post by providing a closer look at some of the sources scrambled together in those three paragraphs in Witchcraft Today quoted somewhere above. The first three are from Atwood’s book, the fourth is from Thomas Taylor’s translation of Proclus’ Theology of Plato.
1. From Suggestive Inquiry [p. 188]
The Neoplatonists wrote largely of the Theurgical art; many books are quoted by St. Augustine and his contemporaries which are not transmitted, but were destroyed probably through sectarian malice and shortsighted policy of the later Roman government, which tolerated nothing but luxury and arms. Yet sufficient remains to evince the nature of the Mysteries, since, besides those before named — Plotinus, Proclus, Porphyry, Synesius, and Iamblichus especially — all refer to them, declaring also the objects and revelations. And in what the disease of the Spirit consists, and from what cause it falsifies and is dulled, and how it becomes clarified and defecated, and restored to its innate simplicity, may be learned in part from their philosophy; for by the lustrations in the Mysteries, as they describe, the soul becomes liberated and passes into a divine condition of being.
2. From Suggestive Inquiry [p. 191]
And the extremity of all evil in this life consists, according to the ancients, in not perceiving the present evil and how much human nature stands in need of amelioration; and this is a part of that two-fold ignorance which Plato execrates, which being ignorant that it is ignorant has no desire to emerge, but may be compared to a body all over indurated by diseases, which, being no longer tormented with pain, is neither anxious to be cured. But he who lives in the consciousness of something better will meditate improvement , and desire is the first requisite; indeed, without desire on our part, art will labor for us in vain, since Will is the greatest part of purgation. And through the means of this, says Synesius, both our deeds and discourses extend their hands to assist us in our assent; but this being taken away the soul is deprived of every purifying machine because destitute of assent, which is the greatest pledge of reconciliation. Hence disciplines willingly endured become of far greater utility, while they oppose vexation of evil and banish the love of stupid pleasure from the soul.
3. From Suggestive Inquiry [pp. 262-263]
But in the sensible world the circulation of things is altogether different; for though this has been proved also to be an outbirth from the same universal center, yet the equilibrium of being is broken everywhere at the circumference for manifestation; one thing does not subsist by another, but each part or individual remains alone in contrariety of conscience; nor does the devious wheel of life obey her axle any more, until returning into it, she perceives her error and the transgression that was made in self-will, for the sake of this experience, from the great Law of Light, from plenitude of Power, from immortal Harmony, and that high Exemplar which is before all things, and the Final Cause of all; which seeing only is seen, and understanding is understood by him, who having a sight like that of Lynceus, penetrating all centers, discovers himself in That finally which is the source of all; and passing from himself to That, transcending, attains the end of his progression.
Ille deum vitam accipiet, divisque videbit
Permixtos heroas, et ipse videbitur illis
And this was the consummation of the Mysteries, the ground of the Hermetic philosophy, prolific in supernatural increase, transmutations and magical effects. And thus it is said to be lawful for the Vital Spirit to descend and ascend in successive circulations until she terminated her flight in the Principle of things. And this was the life of the gods and of divine happy men, who rising in voluntary abnegation above the evil and sensual habitude of this life and many sufferings to which body is allied, obtained together with a liberation from these, a foretaste simple, beatific, and secure, of the life which is eternal; when, by exciting the divine virtue within, they became simultaneously elevated, and proceeding through Intellect to Wisdom, they arrived at the First Principle; and again descending thence, increasing in divine virtue by each ascent, until the total life was irradiated from the ample recess of light.
Tunc ire ad mundum archetypum saepe atque redire
Cunctarumque patrem rerum spectare licebit
Cujus tunc Co-operator effectus potest Omnia. But there are many degrees of Divine illumination; nor were the rites of Eleusis found to be equally efficacious for all; since the souls are not of equal capacity or bias towards intellectual education: but as philosophers agree that preceding initiations are preparatory to those in a subsequent order, so the possession of the best habits of thought in this life, and natural inclination, render the Spirit better adapted to sublime. Plato, accordingly, cites the records of the Mysteries, to witness that there are many more thrysus bearers than Bacchic souls; which is to say, that many had the fire indeed, and were able even to perceive it, who were without the power to discover and draw it forth to manifestation. For, in the thrysus, Prometheus is fabled to have concealed the fire he stole from heaven; but Bacchus, persisting through the whole course of life allotted, returned,. As the orphic verse denotes him, triumphant, and appearing in splendour to mortals.
Bacchus, ipse totus igneus et fulgidus apparet, qui nudis oculis tolerari non posset.
So Osiris appeared in shining garments, as Apollo, all over radiant; so Socrates, in his mighty genius once freed, in ecstasy shone forth, as it is related, to the beholders, more dazzling than the luciferous wheel of the meridian sun, diffusing itself from the freed center outwardly center outwardly until it moved the dark circumference of sense itself (31).
So Orpheus, and so divine Achilles shone refulgent in his armour; and Jason, on his return from Colchis, with the Golden Fleece.
[Atwood’s footnote #31: (31) Agrippa Occult Phil., Book 3, where are given several notable examples in ths kind; and Apuleius on the Demon of Socrates.]
4. Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, Chapter III, Thomas Taylor translation [p. 9]
“Indeed, Socrates in the [First] Alcibiades rightly observes, that the soul entering into herself will behold all other things, and deity itself. For verging to her own union, and to the centre of all life, laying aside multitude, and the variety of the all manifold powers which she contains, she ascends to the highest watch-tower of beings. And as in the most holy of mysteries, they say, that the mystics at first meet with the multiform, and many shaped genera, which are hurled forth before the Gods, but on entering the interior parts of the temple, unmoved, and guarded by the mystic rites, they genuinely received in their bosom divine illumination, and divested of their garments, as they would say, participate of a divine nature;– the same mode, as it appears to me, takes place in the speculation of wholes. For the soul when looking at things
Modern Paganism and the Ancient Mysteries:
- Part One: Sallustius, Gardner & Wicca: “A general statement of their creed.”
- Part Two: Gerald Gardner, Sallustius, and the Problem of Evil
- Part Three: Gerald Gardner, Sallustius, and Reincarnation
- Part Four: “Divested of their garments”