Eliphas Levi

The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic

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The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic was first published in 1854. This work establishes the concepts behind symbols like the tetragram and pentagram, the significance of Hebrew letters and numbers, and the relationship between science, occultism, and formal religion. Levi was the first to document the meaning of the points of the pentagram. He stated that a pentagram with only one point up and two down is a symbol of the Savior, and a pentagram with two points up and one down is a “symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces.”
This work explores the magician’s foundations for his spiritual beliefs, as well as his idea that an elite class of priests would be necessary to lead the people into both social and magical order. He writes, “Occult philosophy seems to have been the nurse and godmother of all intellectual forces, the key of all divine obscurities, and the absolute mistress of society, in those ages when it was exclusively reserved for the education of priests and of kings...Magic is the traditional science of the secrets of Nature which comes to us from the Magi.”
Although Levi didn’t enjoy much notoriety during his life, his works eventually became highly influential among other occultists, and he is now considered one of the fathers of modern mysticism. Famous occultist Aleister Crowley even claimed to be Levi himself in one of his past lives, as he was born less than six months after Levi’s death in 1875.
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