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A Little Joséphin Péladan Sampler-Part I

Sâr Séraphin Peladan. A sculpture by Zacharie Astruc

in the collections of the Musée des Beaux-arts de Lyon.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA is the opening of a sampler of quotations & excerpts from the works of Joséphin Péladan, here from the 1911 ‘Introduction aux sciences occultes‘, Sansot, Paris and the 1958 anthology ‘Bréviaire du Rose+‘, Editions Rosicruciennes de Lausanne. More will be added, as time grants us. English working translation from the original French by Via-HYGEIA. This post is dedicated to Ismail Akgöz who suggested this sampler to us.


From ‘Introduction To The Occult Sciences’, 1911

‘The Evocation of a great spirit is ridiculous, because the famous dead cannot devote themselves to be the repeaters of human curiosity, even-though studious; and it is more rational to meditate upon Plato’s works than to evoque him: Here below is what was answered to an enthusiast who dared evoque Pythagoras-It is obvious  that the Great Silent did not show up. Who replaced him? No one knows! The answer was from an messenger of light, providing a useful warning against many perils:

There is not enough ashes left of Pythagoras the man to fill the palm of your hand and you want to see him before you! When an intelligence exits this world of trials, it springs throughout the stages of purification, towards its maker, the unique good; and you think that your call will pull it out of its gravitation towards the absolute! What you have called is Pythagoreanism, that is the astral reflection that this philosophy has crystalized to its own image by practice.

Thou who commands with the sword, wrapped in your philosophical mantle, do you ignore that apparitions only act upon the soul! Man does not see simultaneously with the eyes and the spirit. You are seeking the sensuality of mystery, the spasm of the after-life; you are just but a study splenic, you ask for sensations to an order of facts that does not deal with the senses. You want to see Pythagoras? This desire has only one excuse to be asked and one chance to be obtained: Love! Only love roams the degrees of the invisible and alone attracts to itself the reflect of its object. But you would accept the coming of any other great philosopher; therefore, you don’t have upon me the rights of love and I haven’t upon you the powers of love! Your perusing produced a longing for a vision, ignorant one who applies the processes of the soul to the matters of the spirit. The magus is the one who takes advantage of an extraordinary part of the usual circumstances. Phidias took some earth and modeled his Athena. If he would have fasted for forty days and then Evoque the goddess with perfumes and gemstones, he would have been a child.

Think your life instead of only living it and you will be, if not a Pythagoras, but a least a worthy disciple of Pythagoras! You can only command to your inferiors; the imperfect, the shapeless and the gutter realm only will obey you; shadowy and envious beings will graft their fleeting life on yours, parasites of your health, parasites of your reason.

Curiosity is a passion, and not a virtue. When the unknown manifests itself, either its will is superior to yours and it comes by itself, either it is inferior and then, what good does it make for you?’ Thus spoke what did not have a mouth.’


‘I am conscious of the infinite grip and charm the evocation of the ancient rites of the antiquity exerts on our spirits saturated by the modern horror. The splendor of the images acts more than the clarity of the ideas; and whatever the joy to drink from the spring of initiation itself and the intoxicating journey after the most venerable truth, we ought not to forget that the Greek genius has been the miraculous van (vehicle or sacred basket of the ancient mysteries) where tradition found itself purified and rationalized. Even though Pythagoras spiritually originates from Egypt, and Orpheus-to consult the only available documents-was an Arya, and probably a Persian, but to the Hellen goes the honor to have made pure light out of the colors of the East. Fabre d’Olivet, and after him, the marquis de Saint-Yves reveled what were the Mysteries of Eleusis and of the Amphictyonic League (Greek: ἀμφικτυονία, a “league of neighbors”). It is enough to consider the ‘Prometheus Bound’ by Aeschylus, or ‘Oedipus at Colonus’ (by Sophocles) to discover that anywhere else than in Greece the demarcation between the esoteric and the exoteric has been that much exacerbated.


The Greeks through their devotion were distorting their myths at will; to the people popular beliefs were needed; that is, here the myths were adorned with an incomparable beauty, which the human imagination could never forget. The adventurers of the ship Argo, were they seeking a golden fleece? Anyway, Orpheus brought back initiation. Cadmus coming from the Egyptian Thebes established another Thebes.
The golden verses of Pythagoras, his doctrine of the tetractys or quaternary, embodied enough light to dazzle and vivify the most imperious intelligence; but an unhealthy curiosity drags us towards the Thessalian witch, towards the lamias, stryges and empuses. Though the great initiates were called Plato or Aristotle; the first was used as an ancestor to the Church Fathers and the later became the master of the Middle Age Scholiasts. Pythagoras was imposing a long and arduous novitiate to his disciples, and Plato, the master of the Academy, was not teaching everything he knew: “It is not the books, he said, that give this incomparable knowledge; we must draw it from inside ourselves by the works of a deep meditation and find the sacred fire at the very core of one’s being. This is why I have never written about these revelations and I will never speak of them.” Our official contemporary thinkers cannot fathom this prudence and they see no danger in disclosing everything; but anarchy has become a theory and its dreadful fanatics make it a reality with their explosives’.


After decadent Athens, indecisive Byzantium, the human spirit for four centuries had Alexandria for a metropolis. In the entourage of Ammonius Saccas and of Plotinus, the Plato of this other Socrates, there was an admirable gathering. One must read the ‘Enneads’, this Neoplatonist organon, to judge of this effort to unify dogma to experience, tradition to dialectics and religious ascetism to magical empiricism. They prepared the minds for the ‘Good News of the Gospel’ and brought the Jews to create for themselves a metaphysic. Never thoughts so venerable by their sources, so precious by their nature, so numerous by the multiplication of their reconciliation, were gathered to better unify under the influx of their reciprocal powers. It is reflected in Louis Ménard’s beautiful quote: ‘In Alexandria, Humanity had put to competition the great philosophical and moral questions; the proposed prize was the ruling of the consciences.

‘Italy was not, in fact, the Great Greece, like it was calling itself. The Roman Thought does not have any wing-span. Though, Numa bears the qualities of an initiate and the Vestals are the ancestors of our nuns. The mysteries of the Good Goddess (Bona Dea) were not as Juvenal was depicting them. There was in Rome strong virtues. Expiring paganism produced two remarkable men: Apollonius of Tyana and (Emperor) Julian. Philostratus’ reader is dazzled: the last splendor of paganism shines without effect, without any other wake than the one produced by curiosity. And if there are martyrs in error, the emperor, of whom Ammianus Marcellinus tells us of the last moments, dies for the sake of Hellenism, without prolongating its agony.


Magic is based on the harmony of the universe; it acts by the means of forces bound one another by sympathy. Enchantments only act on the irrational part of the soul. Anyone who is in relationship with another person can be charmed by him; Only the being who is focused into the intelligible cannot be charmed.’ Plotinus quoted by Péladan.


From ‘A Rose+ Breviary’, a Péladan anthology by Dr. Edouard Bertholet, 1958

Esotericism alike a great river sees its name changing according to the epochs and people it crosses; unfortunately, dams have been established to obstruct the course of these beautifully traditional waters; and the Church Fathers did not want to see this simplicity: The most beautiful religion cannot be a surrogate for philosophy’.


Neophyte, you must renounce the collective in order to be born into individuality’.
Will you be somebody or a social thing?
You will act upon others in the proportion in which you have acted upon yourself.


The ancient initiates feared the contagion of passions like we fear tuberculosis. They practiced a soul hygiene and a sentimental prophylaxis that we have no idea anymore.’


The legend is always true; it takes shape naturally from the emanations of the collective soul, by its truthfulness it has the character of a coat of arms, that is of a symbol. He who believes the enigma is mankind in its physical seasons has not, in deed, guessed.


An initiatic secret given away is of no use. In magic, the quintessential science of secret, nobody never does what he has reads. One must dig one’s own artesian well into the mystery in order to become a thaumaturge.’


Mystery is one by essence, and the symbols veiling it have no other purpose than the imperfection of our minds’.


The initiatic method per se is analogy; it supposes the un-known parallel to the known; the major arcana has no shadow: the invisible is like the visible, for the sake of unity.


‘…And from great knowledge a great humility is born.’

To be continued…

Sâr Joséphin Péladan. Picture by Walter DAMRY, in the collections of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.


Our first source book

Original French

&  full text

available here


Our second source book

Not online

but available






with the latest


by polymath

Sasha Chaitow:


A Little Joséphin Péladan Sampler-Part I

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