The Golden Star
“Butler regards the members of the body as so many instruments, used by the soul [higher mind] for the purpose of seeing, hearing, or feeling, just as we use telescopes, or crutches, which may be discarded without loss or injury to our individuality. Vaughan calls the body a cage in which the soul is imprisoned, therefore, it is possible for the soul [the mind] to change the cage for another one. It is necessary to distinguish always between the principles of soul and mind; higher and lower mind. The soul never enters a body, but the higher or lower mind both do; in fact, the lower mind is the body.
“When Loki, the Northern God of evil, went in quest of the stolen Idunn, he borrowed of Freyja her falcon dress, and at once became a falcon. Thiassi, who pursued him as he left Thrymheimr, took an eagle’s dress, and so became an eagle.
“The magicians of the Finns and Lapps often fall into a cataleptic condition, whereupon their minds leave their bodies and travel in the body of any animal most suitable for their purpose.
“In one of the ancient Sanskrit books appears the story of a King who was so amused at the antics of a clown at a fair, that he engaged him as his court fool and installed him at the palace. As this clown was apparently a person of low intelligence, apart from having a crookéd body and contorted limbs which made everybody laugh, he was allowed to wander about at will, and be present at even the most secret council meetings. So it came about that the fool was present when the court magician instructed the King in the secret of how to make his mind leave his body and enter into any other body he wished.
“One day the King, accompanied by the fool, rode through a forest and there, found the body of a holy man who had just died. In order to test his powers, the King left his body and entered that of the holy man. No sooner had he done so than the fool left his body, and entered that of the King, and proceeded with all speed to the palace, where he was received with all the honours due to the King himself.
“But soon the Queen and the courtiers began to notice that all was not as it should be with His Majesty, and they wondered. A short time after, the King himself, in the body of the holy man, made his way to the palace and succeeded in obtaining an audience with the Queen, to whom he related the true state of affairs. They talked the matter over and hatched a plot, whereby they hoped to induce the fool to leave the King’s body, so that its rightful owner might take possession again. The King—in the body of the holy man—therefore hid himself behind some curtains, whilst the Queen summoned the false king to her apartments. When he arrived the Queen asked him why a beautiful parrot that was in the room was unable to learn to speak. Everyone who had tried to teach it had failed; was there no way at all in which that bird might be taught? The fool, in his vanity, said that he could easily make that bird talk, and, leaving the King’s body, entered into that of the parrot and began to show off. No sooner had he done this than the King left the body of the holy man and entered into his own, and immediately the King and Queen went for the parrot and wrung its neck!”
“Could the fool not have left the parrot’s body and entered into that of the holy man?” asked Ma-uti.
“Being only a fool, he was not quick enough to find out where the body was hidden behind the curtains,” said Neteru-Hem. “Moreover, this story is only an illustration of how the ancient peoples thought that the doctrine of metempsychosis would work out. It is a fanciful presentation of a real law, which is made use of in various ways by sorcerers and witches who have the necessary knowledge.
“The stories about transformations deal principally with three kinds: those of the swan, the wolf, and the serpent; and the individual who knows how to change his shape into such, or other animals, is regarded with superstitious reverence as being of a higher order—of a divine nature.
“In Christian countries, however, such magicians were considered to be deserving of the stake, being the devil’s own spawn; and all stories of transformations fell into bad odour, and any miraculous powers, not sanctioned by the church, were attributed to the evil one.
“The ancient peoples regarded the forked and writhing lightning as a fiery serpent with god-like powers, manifesting himself to mortals in this way.
“The North American Indians also regard lightning as the great serpent, and the thunder as his hissing. The German peasants, as well as the Greeks, call lightning the glorious snake. Anyone who could transform himself into a serpent was, therefore, considered to be a God.
“The dragon had the same origin; for he is nothing else than the thunderstorm, which, rising at the horizon, rushes with expanded winnowing black pennons across the sky, darting out his forked fiery tongue and belching fire, whilst his eyes flash in anger, and with his lashing tail he overthrows pines and beeches; snapping them as if they were thin rods.
“To the Greeks, Typhœus, the whirlwind or typhoon, has a hundred dragon or serpent heads, and he howls like a pack of wild dogs. He ascends to heaven and makes war on the Gods, who fly from him in various fantastic shapes. In modern Greek and Lithuanian mythology the dragon becomes an ogre, or gigantic man; or he walks on two legs, sloughs off his scales and wings, talks, flirts with a lady and marries her. But he retains his evil disposition and his magic powers.
“The swan-maidens we can find in the ancient Indian Vedic mythology. They dwell in the Æther between earth and sun and are called the Apsarases. They are fond of changing their shapes into swans, ducks, or sometimes human beings. The souls of heroes are given to them for lovers and husbands.
“Similar tales are found in Persian, Greek, Latin, Russian, Scandinavian, Teutonic and other literature. Even amongst the Samoyeds and American Indians such stories are told. Everywhere mythology, sorcery, magic and witchcraft are closely interwoven and produce a fantastic pattern, into the woof and warp of which run many threads of the ancient wisdom of the Magi.
“Apart from insanity and inborn cruelty, lycanthropy occurs under hypnosis, self-induced or otherwise. The use of certain drugs does free the mind from the shackles of the body; this has nothing to do with the soul. The mind can also be released by projection of the so-called astral self or body. This is a form of extension of consciousness; for the mind has the power to fix itself on any spot or locality, or being, removed any distance from the body. By the use of special exercises the mind can be trained to project in this way, and make its presence felt in no uncertain manner when sufficient efficiency has been attained by practice.
“In this way it is possible for an accomplished black magician to influence human beings to a certain extent, and animals to quite a large extent. Not only can he influence them, but take part in their sensations, whatever they are.
“In just the same way do witches take part in the unholy revels of the black sabbath. Their bodies lie at home or elsewhere in a state of catalepsy, and their minds take wings and issue forth on their ghastly errands. Their thoughts being so strongly fixed by the power of their minds, take form and become visible. If these witches have not attained full power, it is only the clairvoyant who can see these forms; but it is possible for some witches or magicians to make their thought-forms visible to people without clairvoyant gifts. They become ‘Princes and Powers of the Air,’ which, under certain conditions, can be seen by anyone.
“Witchcraft is not confined to witches riding astride broomsticks, or turning themselves into black cats. Such is mere superstitious trash, although it is possible for a spirit-force to assume the shape of a black cat, should its fancy lie in that direction!
“The exercise of magical power is the exercise of natural power, but superior to the ordinary functions of Nature. This is not a violation of natural laws but a science, based on a profound knowledge of the occult forces and of the laws governing the visible or the invisible worlds."
“Where can one find the books in which these occult secrets are revealed?” asked Ma-u.
“These secrets cannot be found in books, my son; they were never put in plain writing, but always written down in such a way that only with the help of the real Adept, or Master, one can apply the key that opens the door to the occult Arcana. Neither Zoroaster, Buddha, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Confucius, Socrates, nor Ammonius Saccas, wrote any of these secrets down. Such knowledge is a double-edged weapon and unfit for the ignorant or the selfish. And not only that, but there was an added danger in the terrible persecutions the disciples of occult lore suffered from in the past. During a period of one hundred and fifty years, no less than ninety thousand persons were burned in Europe for alleged witchcraft. They were tracked like wild beasts by the ‘Christian’ clergy, who saw in the dissemination of such knowledge a great danger to their soft ‘livings,’ and were therefore determined to stamp it out ruthlessly. In Great Britain alone, from the period of A.D. 1640 to 1660—a mere twenty years—three thousand persons were put to death for compact with the ‘Devil.’ There are still priests today who would gladly avail themselves of any laws permitting them to carry on with the ‘good work,’ for amongst these good Fathers one can yet find the most ignorant and savage ‘defenders of the faith,’ as they see it in their lack of perception, or for the reasons stated before.”