Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Eliphas Levi ~ Magic, Mysteries & Man

Noting that transiting Neptune is still closely conjunct my natal Jupiter in Pisces, I decided I should be writing about something, or someone, mystical and magical. How about Eliphas Levi? I didn't find any natal chart for him online - I should remedy that, at least!

Who was he then?

His birth name was Alphonse Louis Constant - but he is better known by his pseudonym Eliphas Levi. He was born on February 8, 1810, in Paris, son of a shoemaker. He died in Paris on 31 May 1875. He studied for the priesthood before becoming a writer, mystic, magician, and prominent name in that foggy realm . He had links to various characters of his time, famous within their own circles: socialist and feminist Flora Tristan; fellow mystic M. Ganneau, "messianic mathematician" Jozef Maria Hoëhne-Wronski; British novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton; and French sculptress Marie-Noémi Cadiot. He married Cadiot in 1846. He wrote two books on the magical arts, they were later combined and translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite in 1896 and titled Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual. Several more books followed, and in the prevailing atmosphere of the times were well received.

Wikipedia indicates that it was Levi who incorporated the Tarot into contemporary practice. He influenced other mystics and magicians of his time and later on, including Aleister Crowley. He was also originator of a famous "Sabbatic Goat" image and the idea that a pentagram pointing upwards represents good, while one pointing downwards represents evil. See HERE.

Natal chart of Eliphas Levi, Paris, France on 8 February 1810; it's set for 12 noon as no time of birth is available.

First thing I noticed was that Levi had no planet in an Earth sign (we can't know whether his rising sign was in Earth without a birth time). The possible absence of Earth translates to a lack of any "feet on the ground" feel in his nature; no small voice at the back of his mind whispering : "but are you sure that's not pure imagination and fantasy?" Manly P. Hall, another mystical character, born some 90 years later, did have a solid Capricorn anchor to his chart, along with a comparable mix of Aquarius and Pisces to that of Levi. I suppose good helpings of Aquarius and Pisces could be considered as "usual suspects" when considering magically mysterious characters: Aquarius' inquiring Airy mind mixed with Pisces' deep, dreamy creativity.

Levi had Neptune conjunct Saturn, so Pisces modern ruler was conjoined with his Aquarius Sun's traditional ruler! He also had his Sun's modern ruler Uranus in Pluto-ruled Scorpio, in harmonious trine to his Pluto/Mars conjunction in Pisces. This might be a pointer to his draw towards "the dark side".

Aries Moon doesn't strike quite the right note. Moon would have been in Aries, whatever Levi's time of birth. Moon could well have been conjunct Jupiter though; Jupiter relates to religion and philosophy - maybe a reflection of his early training for the priesthood? Another reflection of that can be seen in his Sagittarius (ruled by Jupiter) conjunction of Saturn/Neptune.

The illustration which led me to write this post appears in an old book of mine; to save scanning the image from the book I found a version of the illustration on line, this one in colour. My book states that the drawing was produced for Manly P. Hall, astrologer and metaphysician (see my post on him and his natal chart HERE)

 The Grand Man of the Zohar

Text beneath the black and white illustration my book, Best of the Illustrated National Astrological Journal 1933-35
Eliphas Levi thus describes the Great Prototypal Man: “That synthesis of the word, formulated by the human figure, ascended slowly and emerged from the water, like the sun in its rising. When the eyes appeared, light was made; when the mouth was manifested, there was the creation of spirits and the word passed into expression. The entire head was revealed, and this completed the first day of creation. The shoulders, the arms, the breast arose, and thereupon work began. With one hand the Divine Image put back the sea, while with the other it raised up continents and mountains. The Image grew and grew; the generative organs appeared, and all beings began to increase and multiply. The form stood at length erect, having one foot upon the earth and one upon the waters. Beholding itself at full length in the ocean of creation, it breathed on its own reflection and called its likeness into life. It said: Let us make man—and thus man was made. There is nothing so beautiful in the masterpiece of any poet as this vision of creation accomplished by the prototype of humanity. Hereby is man but the shadow of a shadow, and yet he is the image of divine power. He also can stretch forth his hands from East to West; to him is the earth given as a dominion. Such is Adam Kadmon, the primordial Adam of the Kabalists. Such is the sense in which he is depicted as a giant; and this is why Swedenborg, haunted in his dreams by reminiscences of the Kabalah, says that entire creation is only a titanic man and that we are made in the image of the universe.” (From The History of Magic)

And from HERE:
The symbol of Primordial Man, the first being to emerge with the creation of the cosmos is common to a number of religious and philosophical traditions. The Upanishads describe a primal man composed of the very elements which were to become the world. According to the Upanishads this "gigantic divine being" is both infinitely far and deposited near the innermost recesses of the human heart. Indeed, in the Hindu tradition, the Primordial Man is identified both with the entire Universe and the soul or essence of all things.

Interestingly, a similar image is found in Plutarch who relates that the entirety of the heavens is arranged in the form of a macroanthropos, a colossal human being who is conceived as a model for the human world. For Plutarch, the sun is at the heart of this being and the moon, the sun¹s androgynous messenger, is located in between the heart and belly.

The Primordial Man is also an important symbol in Gnosticism. The Gnostics inferred from the verse in Genesis "Let us make man in our own image" that the first earthly man was created on the model of a cosmic Adam on high.

I rather fancy an idea that, originally, before the Big Bang, there was one ginormous humanoid creature who disseminated - either accidentally or on purpose - to become us and our universe. Well...it's as believable as anything else on offer!


mike said...

Levi's final dispositors are Mars in Pisces and Jupiter in Aries, in mutual reception...all of his other planets are flavored by this. Being a self-appointed leader and initiator (Aries) in the domain of the occult (Pisces) was an obvious natural for him. I suspect he enjoyed gaining prominence for his theosophy, which at the time was a burgeoning "industry".

The mid to late 1800s was an interesting era for the esoteric and occult...a movement of anti-established-religion and toward more individualized spiritualism. Many individuals, like Levi, made their name providing the fundamentals of their own particular versions of the occult that was impossible to refute, as its basis was pure conjecture. Magic, the occult, and spiritualism were as attractive to the lay person then as now...lots of money to be made through this conduit of anointment.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, although Aries Moon seems a bit non-mystic, for a guy like this, as you say, he was a kind of leader in his field, at that time, and an influence on others, so it really is a decent fit.

The theosophy scene of those times is something to which I've always felt averse, even though years ago I did take a passing interest in related subjects such as spiritualism and magic(k).

I suppose the next stage to theosophy on time's spiral translates as hippie culture in the 1960s when such things came back in focus again, but in a slightly different way.

mike (again) said...

You are probably aware of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater as prominent theosophists along the stature of Levi. Besant and Leadbeater used their clairvoyance to determine subatomic particles...much has been written about this duo, some pro, some con. Leadbeater's birthday was yesterday.

I can understand the theosophical-esoteric appeal of these individuals, as there wasn't much available at the time. An interesting juxtaposition to the Victorian era. Spiritualism was the rage and communicating with the deceased was prominent entertainment.

We have a number of contemporaries that have similarities to the in-crowd theosophists of old. I find them interesting, but I have extreme doubts. There are a handful of current seers that may have some substance, but even those I hold-out as novelties.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ The names are familiar, yes - I'd have read about them back in the day when investigating this stuff. They belonged to the generation born some 40+ years after Eliphas Levi, so I suppose they, and their contemporaries, were polishing and expanding what Levi had put out.

I can't exactly pinpoint why I feel so averse to that theosophical crowd - but I do. LOL - maybe in some past life I butted heads (or worse) with 'em. ;-D

Re Seers, old and new - they tend to "get a bit too big for their britches" (as my grandma would have said). When they make a career of seer-ing it begins to raise my cynical hairs. To my mind, that type of gift or ability is something that might happen once in a lifetime, maybe twice. I don't accept that it can be done to order, or be carried out on a regular basis. Professional seers smack too much of money-grubbing, on the coat-tails of one accurate prediction - which might have been a lucky guess in any case.

Anonymous said...

He doesn't seem like an Aries moon...well, honestly, we don't know him. The moon is the most private part of you. It relates to family and domestic matters. We don't know him like his wife knew him. We know him based on his occult writings. If anything what we see is his Midheaven and/or his Ascendant (though we don't know what those are!) Mercury is communication, and the Mercury in Pisces is very obvious. Aries' ruler, Mars, is also in Pisces and conjunct Pluto, another indicator of a mystic, but the Aries moon doesn't cancel out mysticism. Just because we can't see it doesn't mean it wasn't there.

Anonymous said...

He doesn't seem like an Aries moon? Well, honestly, we don't know him. Mercury in Pisces, Mars in Pisces conjunct Pluto, these are all indicators of being a mystic. His sun is square it's ruler, Uranus, which is indicative of being a rebel or an innovator, someone who likes new ideas. Aries isn't a typically mystical placement in of itself but it doesn't cancel out mysticism. Moon is the most private, personal part of you. It's related to family and domestic issues. Its how his parents probably saw him and/or his lovers. If anything, what we see is the Midheaven (though we don't know what that is!). The Jupiter conjunction to the moon does make sense though for someone who is known for being an innovator in philosophy.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Thank you for your observations.