SABON AND TRUMP
OF THE SO CALLED MAGIC OF THE ATLANTEANS.
Magic in Atlas was a ``Science of Sciences.'' It was the final integration of all knowledge. In method its theory was differentiation, and in theory its method was integration. For example, the fifth of the great philosophers indicated ``Everything is Zro'' to the Keeper of the Speech at the annual sacrifice. This in spite of the fact that in that very year two new forms of Zro had been discovered by that same philosopher. It was the third of the galaxy who announced ``The ultimate analysis of sensation is pain; that of thought, madness; that of super-consciousness (a state of trance induced by Zro and valued above all things) annihilation.''
His successor had retorted that in this was implicit a postulate that pain, madness and annihilation were undesirable. The third admitted that he had so meant his phrase, but destroying the postulate, still stuck to it. All this was the foundation of much magical theory, and on these purely psychological researches was based the whole magical practice. ``There is no God'' was a commonplace. It only implied that the mind was wrong to try to conceuve within it what was by definition without it. To set limits to anything whatever seemed to them the greatest of crimes, the exact opposite of the true path to the Sun.
The practical side of Magic was for the most part a mere utilization of known forces, such as are employed by modern science. But the resources of Atlas were as great, and the advantages incomparably greater. The whole archipelago was a laboratory. There was no question of the ``cost of research''; every man was devoted to it. Every man thought only of the main problem ``How to reach Venus'' and its sub-issues. Further, the main laws of Magic had always been found to govern and include chemical and physical laws.
In the early days of colonization Zro was only known in its crude state; it was the genius of a single man that obtained the third state in its purity. From this state to the seventh it moved almost of itself, very much as radium does. The genius, having sufficient in this seventh state, made a sword, and completed in three days the subjugation of the servile races. It was a stroke of fortune, this quickness, for on the fourth day the Zro began to disintegrate. The Magicians then began to seek a means of making this state permanent. But in this they failed,®MDSU¯*®MDNM¯ so that knives had always to be replaced twice weekly; but in the course of their failures they discovered the infinitely more valuable eighth and ninth stages of Zro. Tradition has preserved a hint of their efforts in Alchemy with its problems of the fixation of the Universal Mercury, the secret of perpetual motion, and ``potable gold -- the Universal Medicine.'' It has been theoretically determined towards the end of the tenth state, that Zro should be a solid, but whether this was confirmed is beyond my knowledge.
To return to the main magical theory, the Quintessence, said they, or Universal Substance (which some strove to identify with Hyle, others with the Luminiferous AEther) is the two-in-one, liquid and solid, the former part being also twofold, fluid and gaseous, and the latter earthy and fiery. The combination of these four phases of Zro accounted for the universe. This Quintessence is Zro in some state unknown and incalculable. Some expected to find it in its twelth state, some in a seventeenth, others in a thirty-seventh: all this was pure guesswork. Some tradition to this effect appears to have reached Plato; and the neo-Platonists combined with those Jews who had preserved fragments of the Egyptian tradition to form a new initiated hierarchy, the echo of whose teaching is found in Paracelsus. At one period, too, missionaries (not colonists, as has been ignorantly asserted; there was no trouble of over-population in Atlantis) were sent to the four quarters and parties landed in Mexico, Ireland and Egypt. The adventures of the party who travelled South form an astounding chapter in the history of Atlas. It was they who discovered the Magnetic South, and whose observations rendered possible the theory which resulted in the piercing of the Earth by Zro.®MDSU¯*®MDNM¯
There were also preparations of Zro which increased the size of the user, and others which diminished it. In general use among the lower classes, until the very end, was that composition which made the body light. Careful adjustment would equalize its weight with that of the displaced air, and movements of the limbs would then permit flying. In this way the overseers visited the plains and returned. The other and earlier art of flying needed no apparatus, but I am forbidden to disclose the method, except to hint that it is connected closely with the art of ``dreaming true.''
These are but a few of the Magic powers so-called of the compounds of Zro; but they will indicate the power of Atlas by shewing what it could afford to neglect. Yet all these powers were implicit in the process of ``working.''
The art of prediction was in the same unsatisfactory state as it is in England today. Nor was its practice encouraged. A Magician makes the future, and does not seek to divine it. All true prediction was therefore necessarily catastrophe. The greatest good fortune seemed worthless to an Atlantean, since it was accident, and if accidents are to happen, one of them may be fatal. They believed themselves to be equal to the whole tendency of things, and proudly gazed on Nature as a man might upon a virgin captive to his spear. Everything that was being was Zro; everything that was Energy was ``working for Zro.'' Outside this was but by-product and waste-heap.
The arrangement of the houses was in accordance with the magical theory. There was first the High House, then four (later six, last ten) ``Houses of Houses''; and to each of these was attached a varying number of ordinary houses. The High House was the central shrine of the whole archipelago, and must be separately described.
OF THE HIGH HOUSE OF ATLAS, OF ITS INHABITANTS, AND OF THEIR MANNERS AND CUSTOMS, AND OF THE LIVING ATLA.
The High House was separated from its nearest neighbor by over twenty miles of sea. Its diameter was about an half-mile and its height four miles. It had no plains at the base, and its cliffs went absolutely sheer and smooth into the water. It was in shape a flattish cylinder, but the top broadened into a pointed knob, somewhat in the style of St. Basil's at Moscow. There was not a trace of vegetation, which by the way was despised by the Atlanteans. A child would pick a flower contemptuously thinking ``You cannot even move about,'' or pet it as an English degenerate woman does a dog. The only entrance was by an orifice at the top. But the base was tunneled so that from every house was a channel for the Zro which having been brought to the highest perfection was thus transferred to headquarters. The receptacle at the base being far below the Earth, and the Zro further heated by friction, it seethed continually into a bluish or purplish smoke. This was the sole sustenance of the inhabitants of the High House. In early days the old High House, in an island since destroyed by order of the Atla, had been called the House of Blood, the inhabitants subsisting only on blood sucked from the living. The improvements in Zro had changed all that; but the idea was the same, to live on the Quintessence of Life. Hence while the ``houses'' ate and drank Zro, the High House drank its vapour. No children were born in it, and none below the rank of High Priest dwelt there.
Except for one matter which was never thought of, though constantly spoken, the inmost mystery of the High House was the ``Living Atla.'' This had many names, ``Wordeater,'' ``Unshaven'' (because the razors of Zro were turned on its hair), ``Fireheart,'' ``Beginning and End'' and so on: but especially a word I can only translate as ``To Her,'' a defective pronoun existing only in the dative. What the Living Atla really was, is a secret of secrets.®MDSU¯*®MDNM¯ We know it only from its epithets, its veils. Thus it was ``That Black which makes black white.'' It was ``twenty-six feet high and fifteen feet across -- Oh my Lords, it is the essence of the Incommensurable!'' It was ``the wife of Zro,'' ``the heart of Zro,'' ``desire of Zro,'' ``the Atla that eats Atlas,'' ``the swallower up of her own house,'' ``the pelican,'' ``the fire-nest of the Phoenix,'' according to the greatest of the poets. And the burden of his hymns of worship was that it must be destroyed.
It was impossible to approach the Atla without being instantly sucked up and devoured by it. This was the greatest death, and ardently desired by all. The favour was accorded only to those who discovered improvements in Zro, or otherwise merited signal and supreme recognition from the state. Hidden men listened to the cries of the victim, and thus learned the nature of the death. It appears that the black suddenly broke into a fiery rose, ``the only®MDSU¯*®MDNM¯ luminous thing in Atlas,'' and a shooting forward enclosed him. For some reason which was never even guessed the Atla refused women. Those who had seen Atla were however useless to instruct. They came forth from the Presence smiling, and even under the most fearful tortures that the Magicians could devise, continued to smile. This smile never left them during life, and the conscious superiority of it was so irritating, and so contrary to the harmony of life in Atlas that the women were killed, and their companions for the future forbidden to approach the Atla.
Whatever theories as to its nature may have been formed by the Magicians were upset by a famous experiment. A most holy High Priest, a man who at puberty had insisted on immediate marriage with all the women of his house, a Magician who had formed four new compounds of Zro, and discovered how to pass matter through matter, was honoured by the great death. On reaching the last corridor, where the concentrated spirals of Zro vapour whirled up into the Presence of Atla, he bade farewell to the appointed listeners in the manner suitable to his dignity, and then, taking a last deep draught of Zro into his lungs, rushed into the antrum. They heard him cry aloud ``O!'' with surprise, and then with inexpressible rapture the words ``Behind Atla, Otla!'' which were, and still are, completely unintelligible. Their surprise was greater, when, seven days later he came striding past them without greeting. He went to his ``house'' and shut himself up, was never seen or heard again, but was assuredly living at the time of the ``catastrophe.'' This man founded a school of philosophy, or rather, it founded itself on what it supposed him to have discovered; and this school disputes with the orthodox the credit of the final success.
The lesser mysteries of the High House were concerned almost entirely with the creation of life, and the bridging of the gulf between Earth and Venus. These were connected intimately; the theory was that if Atlantean brains could exist in bodies sufficiently subtle to traverse aether, the task was done. Some of the experiments were crude enough, and, to our minds, horrible. They attempted to breed a new race by crossing with snakes, swans, horses and other animals.* The Greek legends of such monsters as Chimaera, Medusa, Lamia, Minotaur, the Centaurs, the Satyrs and the like are mere filtrations of the Atlantean tradition. The only theory behind such experiments was that they were contrary to the natural order, and so worth trying. Men of more scientific mind more plausibly passed Zro vapour through sea-water; but they only created serpents of vast size, which they cast into the sea about the High House as guardians. The sea-serpent, whether legend or fact, is derived from this experiment. It is quite possible that some such survive. Another school, objecting strongly to the sex-process, ``which must be transcended as the Lemurians overcame gemmation'' vivisected men and women, taking various parts of the brain, especially the cerebellum, the pineal gland, and the pituitary body, and cultivated them in solutions of Zro under the invisible rays of black phosphorus. The best results of this work was a race of translucent jelly-folk of great intellectual development; but so far from being able to travel through space, they could hardly move in their own element. Another school argued that as Zro in vapour combined the virtues of the liquid and the solid Zro, so a fiery state might be produced which would so impregnate their bodies as to make them ``mates of the aether.'' This school held that fiery Zro already existed in Nature, ``in the heart of the Living Atla,'' and asserted that those who died by absorption into Atla passed straight to Venus. Many of them therefore tried hard to obtain messages from that planet. Familiar with Newton's first law of motion, they further held it possible to prepare Zro in such a state that a current of it could be made in sufficient quantity, a bridge to Venus might be built by which they might travel. They therefore tunneled through the planet, as previously explained, to have a sort of cannon for the Zro. But as their supply was pitifully insufficient, they endeavoured also to prepare a Zro which would have the power of multiplying itself. Alchemical tradition has some record of this problem.
Yet another group of Magicians argued that as Nature had cast off the planets from the Sun -- a disputed point, some thinking this due to Magic, which if so completely destroys the argument -- it would be contrary to Nature to cause the planets to fall back into it. They busied themselves with attempts to increase the Earth's gravitational pull, and (alternatively) to check her course. Their schemes were generally regarded as Utopian -- yet they could boast of the discovery of the Zro that lightened bodies, and of a kind of aether-screen which generated mechanical power in inexhaustible quantities by making matter slightly opaque to aether. This engine only worked on a very small scale. A screen two inches long would tear itself from fastenings that would have held an earthquake, while the rocks in its neighbourhood would melt in a few minutes, and the sea boil instantly where its rays struck. The most brilliant of this school asserted ``Matter is a strain in the aether.'' He explained gravitation in this way. Place two ivory spheres in a rubber tube; the strain on the tube is least when the balls touch. The tendency is therefore for them to come together. Friction alone checks them. Now aether is infinitely elastic and without friction. From these data he calculated the Law of Inverse Squares.
A more mystic school saw life everywhere. It knew all that we know, and more, about ions and electrons; it saw every phenomenon as a manifestation of will. The crowning glory of this school was the discovery that Zro in its ninth stage, eaten and drunken with concentrated intention, produced the desired result, whatever (within wide limits) that result might be. This went far to supersede the use of all specialized forms of Zro, and so to unify the magical practice.
It seems curious with all this Magic, Magic itself should be the thing most deplored. But it was the means, and, as such, ``that which is in particular not the end.'' The word for Magic, ®MDUL¯Ijynx®MDNM¯, was the only dissyllable in the language, for Magic was the essentially two-fold thing, more two-fold (in a way) than the number two itself. It is interesting here to sketch briefly the mathematics of Atlas. The task is not easy, as their minds worked very differently from ours.
The number 1 was a fairly simple idea; but two was not only two, but also ``the result of adding 1 to 1'' and ``the root of 4.'' The numbers grew in complexity out of all reason. Seven was 6 plus 1, and 5 plus 2, and 4 plus 3, and so on; as well as ``the root of 49,'' ``half 14'' and the like. They even distinguished 4 plus 3 from 3 plus 4. Each number also represented an idea or group of ideas on all sorts of planes. It would have been quite possible to discuss dressmaking in terms of pure number. To give an example of the way in which their minds thought, consider the number three. Three, in so far as it gives the first plane figure, suggests superficies; with regard to the dimensions of space, solidity. Three itself is therefore ``that ineffably holy thing in which the superficies is the solid.'' Of course hundreds of other ideas must be added to this; and to grasp and harmonize them all in one colossal supra-rational idea was the constant task of every mathematician. The upshot of this was that all numbers above 33 were regarded as spurious, illusionary; they had no real existence of their own®MDSU¯*®MDNM¯; they were temporary compounds, unreal in very much the same sense as our square root of 1. They were always expressed by graphic formulae, like our own organic compounds. To take an example, the number 156 was regarded as a sort of efflorescence of the number 7; it was never written but as 77 plus (7 *PLS 7/7) plus 77. Again 11 was usually written 3 plus 5 plus 3. It was always the aim to find symmetry in these expressions, and also ``to find an easy way to 1.'' This last is difficult to explain.
Eleven was their great ``Key of Magic.'' It is a twofold number in ``the act of becoming 1.'' Thirty-seven was the essence of 1 inasmuch as multiplying it by 3 gives 111, three ones, which divided again by 3 in another manner, yield 1. ``One would rather think of 48 as 37 plus 11 than as 4 times 12'' is the statement of an elementary text-book dating from the earliest days of Atlas. It was a sort of moral duty to teach the mind to think in this manner.
The number 7 was the ``perfect number'' with them as with us, but for very different reasons. It was the link between Earth and Venus, for one thing; I cannot explain why. It was ``the number of Atla,'' and the ``house of success'' (two being the ``house of battle''). It was also grace, softness, ease, healing and ``joy of Zro'' as well as ``play of phosphorus.'' Many mathematicians, however, attacked it with rigour; there was at one time an almost general consent to replace it by 8, and its ``rapture-combination'' 31, by 33. Despite the intense preoccupation with such ideas, mathematics as we know them had reached a perfection which if it does not surpass that of our own civilization, fails principally because of its theorems, handed down to Euclid and Pythagoras, although imperfectly, formed a springboard whence we might leap.
The initiation of children was also a matter reserved for the High House. Weaned at three months, the children were tended by the lower classes until the age of puberty, an occurrence which fitted them at once for initiation. A legate from the High House was sent for, and in his presence the child was brought, acquainted with Zro by its father and mother, and full instruction in ``working'' was further conferred by any member of the ``house'' who chose to do so, this in practice meaning by everybody. The ceremonies were frequently long and exhausting; children often enough died in the course of them. This was not regarded as a serious calamity; some schools of Magicians even pretended to rejoice. The representatives of the High House had a prior right to the parents of the child; at times he conducted the initiation in person, a high honour, but invariably fatal. On rare occasions male children were sent over to the Atla to be devoured. The parents of so fortunate a child were advanced in rank on the spot, and had special privileges conferred on them, sometimes even being transferred to a ``House of Houses.'' All those who dwelt in the High House were veiled whenever they appeared, in order to prevent it being known that they were of the same appearance in all respects as their inferiors. This ordinance had been made after the Great Conspiracy, with which I shall deal in the chapter on History.
OF THE UNDERGROUND GARDENS OF ATLAS, AND OF THE ALLEGED COMMERCE OF THE ATLANTEANS WITH INCUBI, SUCCUBI, AND THE DEMONS OF DARKNESS.
I have referred to the contempt with which the Atlanteans were prone to regard the vegetable kingdom. Animals, including man, shared their scorn. The idea may have been that with their advantages they ought to have done much better for themselves. Minerals, however, were regarded as helpless; and hence the extraordinary attention paid to them. Beneath the ``houses'' the rock had been tunneled out into grottos, some in odd fantastic forms, but most in immense polyhedra or combinations of curves. Each ``house'' had some twenty of such gardens. Three reagents were used in the cultivation; the ``seed of metals,'' ``the seed of Light,'' and the seed of `` ,'' an untranslatable idea approximating to our mystic's interpretation of ``Alpha and Omega.'' The two former produced simple effects, the first formed jewels, self-luminious, which yet grew like flowers, the second similar effects with metals; while the third brought any mineral to flower in the most extravagant combinations of colour and form. All such conditions as texture, hardness, elasticity, and physical attributes in general, were considered worthy of the profoundest attention.
As an instance of these, I may describe particular gardens. One would have a roof of softly-glowing sapphires, foxglove, bluebell or gentian, and between these champak stars of ruby. The walls would be covered with tendrils of vine within whose depths lurked tiny blossoms of amethyst. The floor would be of malachite, but alive, growing as a coral does, softer than any earthly moss and more elastic to the tread. On every darker leaf might glow dew-drops of self-strung diamond formed from the carbon dioxide of the air by the action of the ``seed of Light.'' Another grotto would be a monochrome of blue, various copper salts being ``planted'' everywhere, and growing in incrustations and festoons of every shade of blue from the faintest tinge of coerulean azure and green and grey, in whose abyss would be seen shapes of anemonies, perhaps of such hues as iron oxide, silver chromate, and cupramonium cyanurate. All this floor would in all respects resemble water but for its greater solidity, and floating on it would be giant lilies, great green leaves of emerald with cups of pearl not less than twelve feet in diameter, with corollae of pure gold, so fine that they glimmered green, with pistils of platinum on whose tops trembled great pigeon-blooded rubies. Another might be wholly of metal, a mere bower of jasmine, with its floor of violets. The law of growth of these creatures of wisdom was not that of plants or animals, or even of crystals; it was that of the Earth. Constantly growing as the planet approached the Sun, they as steadily shrank as she departed to aphelion. This was not growth and decay, but the rise and fall of an eternal bosom. It is probable, too, that this is one of the reasons why Atlas neglected the higher kingdoms; they had learned to grow, but on wrong lines, and it was too late to endeavour to correct the error.
These gardens were the principal places of working. It was hardly possible to pass from one place to another without coming upon one of them, so cunningly were they distributed; and in every garden would be found, joyful and noble, parties of workers intent on their beloved task. The passer-by would gladly join one of such parties, engage in the work for so long as he wished, and then proceed upon his private business. In these same gardens too, were salvers and goblets always filled with Zro, and after toil, refreshment fitted the workers to return to labour.
Now of these workings in the gardens strange tales are told. It is said that the inhabitants falling to repose were visited in sleep by ®MDUL¯incubi®MDNM¯ and ®MDUL¯succubi®MDNM¯ (whatever the nature of these may be, and I by no means concur in the opinion of Sinistrari), and that they welcomed such with eagerness. Nay, darker legends tell of infamous commerce and intercourse with demons foul and malicious, and pretend that the power of Atlas was devilish, and that the catastrophe was the judgement of God. These mediaeval fables of the debased and perverted phallicism miscalled Christianity are unworthy even to be refuted, founded as they are on hypotheses contrary to common sense. Nor would they who knew themselves masters of the Earth have deigned to degrade themselves, and moreover to vitiate their whole work by commerce with inferiors. If there be any truth whatever in these stories, it will then be more easily supposable that the Atlanteans aspiring to journey sunwards to Venus, might invoke the beings of that planet, should it be possible for them to travel to us. And that this is impossible, who can assert? On the theory of the Magicians, power increases as the Sun is approached, the inhabitants of Earth being more highly infused with the magical force of Our Star than those of Mars, and they again more than those of great Jupiter, gloomy and disastrous Saturn and Uranus, or Neptune lost in star-dreams. Again, the powers of each particular planet may, nay, must be wholly diverse. So fundamental a condition of existence as the value of ®MDUL¯g®MDNM¯ being vastly various, must not the inhabitants differ equally in body and in mind? What lives on the minute and airless Moon can be no inhabitant of what may hide beneath the flaming envelope of the Sun, with its fountains of hydrogen flaming an hundred thousand miles into the aether. And surely so wild an ambition as that of Atlas would not have been held by beings so wise and powerful for so many centuries had they not either a sure memory of coming from Mars, or some earnest of their eventual departure to Venus. Man does not persist in the chimerical for more than a few generations. Alchemy achieved results so startling and so beneficial to humanity at large -- one need only mention the discovery of zinc, antimony, hydrogen, opium, gas itself -- that the original ideals were changed for others more limited and more practical -- or at least more immediately realisable.
Nor is this view unsupported by testimony of a sort. ``Great and glorious, rays of our father the Sun,'' says one of the poets of Atlas, ``are they within us. Let us call them forth by utterance that is not uttered, by the gesture that is not made, by the working that is above all working, for they are great and glorious, rays of our father the Sun. Then from our bride that waits for us in the nuptial chamber, green in the green West, blue in the blue East, exalted above our father in the even and in the morn, spring forth our heirs and our hosts, to greet us in the darkness. Dim-glimmering are our gardens in the light of the seed of light; they are peopled with shadows; they take form; they are as serpents, they are as trees, they are as the holy ®MDUL¯Zcrra®MDNM¯, they are as all things straight or curved, they are winged, they are wonderful. With us do they work, and that which was but one is seven, and that which was two is become eleven! With us do they work, and give us of the draught miraculous; us do they instruct in Magic, and feed us the delicate food. Let us call forth them that are within us, that they that are without may enter in, as it was made manifest by Him that maketh secret.'' This passage, not devoid of a rude eloquence, makes clear what was held in exoteric circles. For in Atlas the poet was not as in England a holy and exalted being, one set apart for his high calling, throned in the hearts of the people, cherished by kings and nobles, one on whom no wealth and honour are too great to shower, but one of the people themselves, of no greater consequence than any other. Every man was an artist in so far as he was a man; and every man being equally so in nature, whether so in achievement or not mattered nothing, as appreciation was of no moment. Accomplishing Art for the sake of Art, the interest of the creator in his work died with its creation. It may therefore be possible that these words are those of poetic exaggeration, or that there is a concealed meaning in them, or that they are intended to mask and mislead, or that the poet was not himself fully instructed. Indeed it is certain that only the High House had the secrets of Atlas, and that the Magicians of the House held the undeniable if sometimes dangerous doctrine that the truth and falsehood of any statement alternated as do day and night according to the status of the hearer of the statement. However, so strong is the tradition concerning the ``Angel of Venus'' that it must at least be considered carefully. The theory appears to have been that if the Magicians of Venus invited the Atlanteans, means would assuredly follow, just as if a King summons a paralysed man to his presence, he will also send officers to convey him. Now whether the ``Angel of Venus'' is really an angel in anything like the modern sense of the word, or merely a title of one of the principal Magicians of the planet, it is evident that the High House ardently desired his presence. That this might be manifested by the birth of a child ``without the stain of Atla'' was clearly an ultimate desideratum, an outward and visible sign of redemption, an obvious guarantee of the reality of the occurrence. It was then a Virgin High Priestess who achieved so notable a renown; whether or not this is a mere poetic parable of the abiogenesis -- if it is indeed fair so to describe it -- of the eleventh stage of Zro is another and an open question. In any case, such is the tradition, and numerous parodies of it are still extant in the stories of the births of Romulus and Remus, Bacchus, Buddha and many other legendary heroes of modern times; we even catch an echo in the myths of such barbarian lands as Syria.
So much and no more concerning the Underground Gardens of Atlas, and of their commerce with the inhabitants of Venus.