Monday, January 6, 2014

Ceremonial Magi

It is Epiphany, the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and the holiday of the Three Magi who in the Bible story visit the baby Jesus in his rustic crib. Much has been written about these figures, especially concerning their ethnicity. Supposedly they were Persian Zoroastrian priests and astrologers, who had interpreted the Star as a sign that the Messiah was born in the West. Occultists and esotericists then and now have speculated on the identity of these Magi in all sorts of ways, from astral wanderers to Theosophical Masters.

I collect occult books, especially works of otherworldly fiction. One of my treasures (bought for $2) is "In the Sanctuary," by Albert Van der Naillen, published in 1895. Van der Naillen wrote about a secret group of high adepts who survey the world with their far-ranging powers and recruit holy and powerful people for their Order. It's much like the "Hidden Masters" of Blavatsky's Theosophy, which had a major influence on esotericism in the last decades of the 19th and early 20th centuries. "Sanctuary" is the second book in a trilogy about these Magi and the people they are involved with. It contains a wealth of descriptions of ceremonial magic as well as Theosophical pseudo-science. The book spends many chapters depicting the investiture of a Western Archbishop as a Magi. Interestingly, there is also a long proposal for a schismatic and more liberal "American Catholic Church," some of which might be written even today. It's a mix of occultism and Catholic politics…you gotta love it.

Fortunately for those who might be interested in this trilogy, it is available as an e-text in various formats at the "Internet Archive." Here's the link for "On the Heights of Himalay," the first book in the series. And here's "In the Sanctuary," and here's the last one, "Balthazar the Magus," written in 1904. I love the Occult Web of Light.

This illustration from the Sanctuary of the Magi was done at the close of 1980, a year of turmoil for me, and little did I know that years later I would be spending many years among real Zoroastrian Magi, attending the Sacred Fire.

Ink, watercolor, and acrylic on sketchbook page, about 8 1/2" x 7", December 31, 1980. Click on the image for an astrally larger view.

1 comment:

Tristan Alexander said...

Wow, I love this. The style is very old style book illustration and I just love everything about this!