[excerpts from Magic: History, Theory, Practice by Ernst Schertel, 1923]
Black vs. White Magic
Magic, on this basis we are able to create reality where no reality is. In contrast to the “empirical” effect on things, we refer to the effectiveness of the imagination as “magical.” The border between both forms is overlapping, since the empirical effects also have a certain imaginative foundation. After these contemplations it won’t seem totally unjustified if we assign the primacy within our living activities to the imagination. The man with the greatest force of imagination is commanding of the world and creates realities according to his will, instead of being the slave. Magic is autogenic exertion of power on the basis of imagination. “Truth” is the “process of observation.”
The magical man is now, as we have already indicated, a man with the highest abilities, with such a great creative “power of projection” that he is able to affect every perception until it reaches the last material reality.
Forms of magic permitted by the Catholic Church were “white,” forbidden practices were considered “black” and were summarized in the widest sense as “witchcraft.” Witchcraft manifests itself as a degenerated and vulgarised form of elements, which originated from the sacral magic of antiquity, but did not get approbation from the Catholic Church. The nerve center of witchcraft was the artificial creation of somnambulant dream states, by using narcotic salves and inhalants modelled on antiquity, and the consequential experience of amalgamation with the otherworldly (demonic) potencies analogous to antique sexual mysteries. What gives witchcraft its somewhat disgusting varnish is its low and plebeian level, but which puts its stamp on all life-expressions of that time, the Peasants’ Wars, the Defenestration at Prague Castle, and finally the Thirty Years’ War.
One could say that all magic was originally based on a kind of more or less stylized “pantomime,” that is to say based on a part theatrical and part dancing presentation of what one wants to accomplish. This brings to light the magic origins of all ceremonial arts. If one wants to destroy enemies, war dances are arranged, if one wants to take possession of something the act of taking, stealing, or robbing is imitated, etc. Often times the ceremony can differ so much from the “natural” act that it is hardly possible for outsiders to identify both. Most often a symbol is present that is only by (indirect) way of complicated and often times arbitrary appearing associations connected to the natural image of the pertaining act.
All that we are able to think is an imagination. What we call our “empiric world” is also to a high degree based upon the power of suggestion of our fellow humans. The imaginations of the magical “I” are efforts for the formations of another-world. The imagination becomes a hallucination at first for the medium and finally reality, that is to say a complete hallucination for all attendees: it becomes visible, hearable, and tangible, it gets in line with the context of our environment. If we see and feel it, it is the only reality.
Reported by M. du Potete are some very interesting facts. He writes: “My effect extended to persons who were at a distance, and those who had been exposed to my thoughts had character changes, or at least changes in the immediate individuality for a brief time. Our thoughts are rays of strange, invisible forces, magical in nature.”
A great amount of irritability is a prerequisite for being granted permission into the circle of the magicians. Added to this are a lot of mannerisms and oddities which we today can still find frequently in people of “genius.” In any case we recognize that the magician in former times had a lot of features which we would today call “psychopathic.” Today we associate with this term a derogatory meaning and do not think that most of the great things were created by these kinds of “psychopaths.” Also the magician of the early times despite his abnormal predisposition should not to be pictured as an “ill” human in our sense of the word. To the contrary he had to be equipped with a great amount of robustness to be able to put up with the pathological sides of his being without impairment of his organism as a whole and to match up to all the stress that his function required. Frequently these magicians have been epic warlords who took an active part in battle and were, because of their efficiency in war, a light unto all others.
We know of the patriarch Abraham, who was undoubtedly magically gifted, that he led a very warlike life and was not afraid of any potentate on earth, and even Mohammed who was after all part of a comparatively late time period was a notable commander despite his notorious epilepsy. Also we have to visualize Moses as an imposingly coarse person despite his somnambulistic dream-story, since he would otherwise not have been able to lead a grumbling people from Egypt to Jordan with all the exertions and hardships involved. Ignatius of Loyola, who was profoundly hallucinatory-inclined and the founder of the Jesuit Order, was an outstanding soldier and a rough daredevil before he turned towards his spiritual activity.
The aristocratic characteristic of all magic hallmarked it as the privilege of a selected few. The magical type of man was the one who dominated and defined all primeval cultures. The magician was in all early times identical with the “ruler,” be it as chieftain or as priest or as both combined in one. He acts as intermediary between the profane reality and the world above, he himself radiates forces which exceed the normal, he is in reality the superior and the highest and so it is natural that he also holds worldly power in his hands. Even later on by the time the worldly power usually cuts itself off from the spiritual, it is still the magician, the priest who represents supreme authority and before whom also princes and kings have to bow. Not until the end of civilization does the magician step back from his dominating position, the hierarchical structure of the people disintegrates.
Humanity in earlier times was in possession of all magical abilities and since then has only slumped from this height. In any case all theories which speak of constant “progress” of world affairs fail here.
Therefore, we can demonstrate clearly only the history of the degeneration of magic. This degeneration coincides with the gradual crystallisation of that world view and attitude which we call “European” in the widest sense. We not only mean a world sentiment which would only appear inside of Europe in its geographic or even racial meaning, but (structurally-psychologically) the form of human existence that may have reached its climax in today’s Europe. The more a people converge to this “European” state, the more its magical capability wanes and conceals its magical forms of expression. But with this the ground is cut from under the whole religious life and it degenerates into bloodless, abstract theorems with atheistic tendencies.
The Europeans and with them the “late” type of man is in general characterised by his lack of feeling for the “concrete,” “corporeal.” He does not experience the physical world as something intrinsic and substantial, and he therefore lacks every sense for the deeper meaning of the gestalt-like, the actual. It is always said that the European has a pronounced “sense of reality” and “sense of fact.” But closer inspection reveals that he always looks past “reality” and the “facts” and what he holds in his hands are empty schemes. The whole materialism and rationalism of our time virtually strikes in the face every deeper sense of reality and facts.
The tendency towards abstraction manifest[ed] itself in the direction that the concrete borders between the peoples and therefore the religious borders were perforated and a sole [god] was held up as a theoretical world principle, that is to say the transition from concrete polytheism to abstract monotheism was implemented. There arguably has always been a hierarchy of the demons and one of them was always considered to be the supreme and most powerful, but this was always a different one for each people, and one would have been wary to appoint a totally shady concept as a universal-demon for all people.
This tendency which manifested itself in the generalisation, and with it in the abatement of the godly perception, is closely connected with the process of abstraction we can call “universalism.” The concrete human, the concrete people, the concrete gods are thereby eliminated and in their stead the abstract notion of “humanity” is placed, above which a likewise purely conceptual “Monotheism” is enthroned. The slogan of “humanism,” of the general “humanity,” the universal manhood, derives from this tendency of universalism of a late time, likewise do dreams of a “solely true world religion” and random “exhilaration of humanity,” which both once again flourish today.
The immediate consequence of abstract monotheism was the establishment of an absolute “morality,” which was seen as equally applicable for all people. The early time knows no morality in this universal sense. Its rule of life is given by the folkish “custom” and by the will of the tribal god, whose governing was utterly autocratic, and was giving orders at his discretion. These as well as the customs of the people can potentially be very violent and “immoral,” they can demand blood and destruction and have nothing to do with “humaneness,” “brotherly love,” or an abstract “good” of some sort. The pertaining rule of life always stays limited to the individual nation and this nation conceives it as completely natural that other people again have other guidelines for their way of life. The abstract Monotheism of recent times is just the epitome of an abstract morality, which intrudes in the most rigorous way on the whole of “humanity.”
This so-called “good,” for which the late universal moral strives, consists of an apotheosis of the abstract and rational and therefore of an alienation from the concrete, from the body, from the picture, from the irrational-compulsiveness. It is a moral of castration and abatement, just as abstract monotheism is appearing as an emasculated and waned demon. The fleshly-strong, aristocratic ideal of life of earlier times is forsaken and forgotten in favor of a sentimental levelling down, which seeks the imprisonment and domestication of all mankind. But magic is something primeval, heroic, unsentimental, something violent, aristocratic, bodily-concrete, which resists every abstraction, universalism, and moralisation. Magic is the plunder of demonically imbued men.
It is therefore self-evident, especially in the late European cultural sphere, that there has been little liveability for it, and that it – just like the heroism of early times – was condemned to decline in every place where humanistic-universalistic trends have gained the upper hand. Its downfall would have been even faster if not for Hinduism in India.
The doctrine of the Kabbalah was a true secret science, that is to say its knowledge was in the hands of a few rabbis and was only passed on by way of personal schooling to a carefully selected younger generation.
Catholicism, which was alien to Europe, meant a kind of flooding, and one is almost tempted to say – a “taking by surprise” – of the actual European developmental trends which emerged again at the time of humanism after having been suppressed for centuries.
The “people“ (Volk) of the magician are always opposed to abstract “humanity” and at first are therefore conceived just as ”evil” as the magician himself. A.M.O. says: “Your God is both good and evil in appearance and it cannot be otherwise. If your God is not even evil, he is just not God. God as the almighty should also be all-evil.”
The demonic cult consists of the performance of mystical ceremonies which refer to the character and the form of activity of the relevant demon, and consists of the making of sacrifices by which the magician connects himself and his tribe with the deity and always acquires new fullness of strength. The sacrifice is the most mysterious fact in the whole demonic cult. With the sacrifice the demon always gains new fullness of the blood and reality, while the acting magician and his community are saturated with new demonic strengths.
Every demonic-magical world is centered towards the great individuals, from whom basic creative conceptions spring. The individuals which are infected by him form a “community” or his “people” (Volk) and create a complex of life of a certain imaginative framework which is called “culture.” People feel allocated to certain demons, family-demons and tribal-demons come into existence, in certain circumstances even pure individual-demons. From that moment on, when these imaginative-magical forces of cohesion run dry, the result is a deteriorating people (Volk) and with them, their culture.
The Catholics did indeed fight pagan/demonic beliefs, that is to say pagan religion and magic, as “satanic.” Pagan magic was considered to be the work of demons. With this the reality of demons was fully admitted, and with the differentiation between “black” and “white” magic, which arose in the early middle ages, did pagan magic also obtain a position in Catholic dogma. “Black magic” always meant pagan magic, which worked with the help of pagan gods (those “demons”), while the notion of “white magic” combined all – by the Catholic cult – permitted magical actions which were then attributed to the universal-Monotheism and his “angels.” This is how it came to be that an activity of “black magic” (witchcraft etc.) was interpreted as the crime of heresy, that is to say as apostasy of the solely authorised Monotheism, but without – as during the later enlightenment – regarding it as nonsense and fantasy.
Demons are therefore not “empirical” essentialities, we are not able to simply become aware of them with “observation,” but they are to a high degree of purely imaginative origin. They are nonetheless “real” in the proper phenomenal sense just like empirical objects.
All the magic landscapes, demonic appearances and peculiar mysterious events of the ecstasy have been empiric-real, so that the hallucinatory powers of the mystic and the suggestion-energies of the master found enormous support and a positive response in the empiric environment. The whole cult with its temples and underground vaults, his idols, his sacred groves, gardens, lakes and mountains, his whole magic pomp and solemn ritual was nothing else but a big imago-spurious, a powerful imaginative bastard-creation, which served the purpose to let imageless processes of the inside become image, become real in the empiric world. Mythology could only create itself in actual life, mythology had to be something lived and experienced.
The sacrifice creates the state of ecstasy…such enthusiastic, heaven-assailing ecstasy, which lets all gravity of the earth vanish in the beatific presence of the gods. The witches during the middle-ages likewise had a magical feast and dance as the center of their cultic practices, and unification with the demonic world was carried out by them in a most palpable manner.
He who wants to enter the actual area of demonism and therefore of magic has to be in full possession of all, thus also his animal powers, and will therefore stick to the appropriate meat food. The consumption of meat played a virtually cultic role in the primeval religions, every other kind of food on the other hand was regarded as something almost worthy of contempt. The primitive man still had a sense for the fact that in the meat of the animals, and last but not least of the human itself, a compression of certain world powers is given, which for him reached into mysticism. The content of “mnemonic energy,” that is to say of latent memory-substance, and therefore of psychogenic force in general is without a doubt greater with regards to the animal body than the vegetable. He who “eats” an animal is thereby also assimilating the whole ancestral line of the animal, and this has a greater energetic meaning than the ancestral line of plants which are used for nutritional purposes. Vegetarian food notoriously decreas[es] the intensity of the animal powers, so that the vegetarian is then easier to control. Man is becoming “tamer.” Meat in contrast increases animalism and demands therefore increased efforts for its direction; it makes the man “wilder.”
The sacrifice gives and creates everything. In this way does the sacrificial hymn, the sacrificial formula, the Brahman obtain domineering power. Since initially the demon is always thought of as incarnated in a human – the oldest sacrifice is the human sacrifice, and since the sacrifice always consists of an “eating” of the sacrificed one – we clearly recognize the magical sacred roots of what we call “cannibalism.”
The intellectual of today only has a scoffing smile for these things, since from the heights of his “bodiless knowledge” he no longer recognizes the deeper connections of reality. For the old peoples the consuming of a “body” – irrespective of whether animal or human – was something gruesome-holy and of darkest magical importance. Even in the moderated religions of our time we can still see the bloody origins of individual rites.
A very abstract form which the sacrificial techniques have developed in the European cultural sphere, but still distinctly refers to the bloody foundation is, at present, in the Catholic mass. Here bread and wine are the replacements, but the consciousness, that this is the flesh and the blood of a human god, is still clearly preserved.
The following is an excerpt from the book of P. Anselm Schott, which plainly illustrates these facts: “God exerted all means of almightiness and wisdom to enhance the sacrifice of the cross and to give it everlasting importance. He made the once opened source of his lifeblood into a vast stream, which flooded the whole of God’s kingdom on earth and the whole of the Holy Church. As often as a poor human, who is consecrated by the bishop as a priest, changes bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of reconciliation on Golgatha is renewed. Jesus Christ is indeed sacrificing himself on the altar, truly like on Mount Calvary. The priest elevates him, shows him to the people and by separating the body from the blood, the consecrated host from the chalice, Jesus appears as slaughtered and deceased, as the lamb whose lifeblood to the last drop has run out of its body. The word of the priest which changes and separates the forms is much like the sacrificial sword under which the lamb is slain. The breaking of the consecrated host represents the violent sacrificial death of the Lord. Encouraged and strengthened by the prayers, the priest enjoys the body and the blood of the lord.”