Éliphas Lévi

Éliphas Lévi, born Alphonse Louis Constant (February 8, 1810 – May 31, 1875), was a French occult author and ceremonial magician.[1]

“Éliphas Lévi,” the name under which he published his books, was his attempt to translate or transliterate his given names “Alphonse Louis” into the Hebrew language.

In 1853, Lévi visited England, where he met the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who was interested in Rosicrucianism as a literary theme and was the president of a minor Rosicrucian order.[2] Lévi’s first treatise on magic appeared in 1854 under the title “Dogme de la Haute Magie,” followed in 1856 by the companion “Rituel de la Haute Magie.” The two books were later combined into one book titled Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, which was translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite as Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual in 1896. Its famous opening lines present the single essential theme of Occultism and gives some of the flavour of its atmosphere:

Behind the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvelous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed. (Introduction)

Although famous, the Introduction was not written until 1861 after the initial success of the first edition.

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