OLNEY H. RICHMOND TELLS HOW HE BECAME A MEMBER OF THE MAGI.
HIS EXPERIENCE AT NASHVILLE AND HAIRBREADTH ESCAPES DURING THE WAR—HIS PHILOSOPHY, HIS RELIGION—AN OATH-BOUND SOCIETY WITH SIGNS AND PASSWORDS—CAN PROVE ALL THAT HE CLAIMS—A CRAFT WHICH FLOURISHED TWENTY THOUSAND YEARS BEFORE CHRIST—DESCRIPTIONS OF THE TEMPLE.
Much talk has been caused by several articles which have appeared in “The Democrat” recently, regarding occult astronomy, or astral magnetism, of which Olney H. Richmond, the South Division street druggist, claims to be a student and expounder. Heretofore Mr. Richmond has refused to give a full account of the manner in which he became possessed of his mysterious knowledge. So much comment has been made on previous articles on the subject that Mr. Richmond was again called upon the other day and asked to give his story in full. His reason for refusing to give the information heretofore, was, as he said, because his superiors had not yet given him permission to tell. When accosted by the reporter the other day he answered cheerfully: “Come back here by the stove, where it is warm, and I will tell you the strange story of the manner in which I became acquainted with this wonderful philosophy.” This the reporter willingly did, and on getting comfortably seated Mr. Richmond proceeded as follows:
RICHMOND’S STRANGE STORY.
“During the war I was a soldier in the Fourteenth Michigan Infantry, and in the Spring of ‘64 our regiment was quartered at Nashville, Tennessee. One night, about 8 o’clock, when I was on camp-ground duty, I saw a man approaching. I thought at first that he might be a spy, but immediately after I first saw him he spoke to me. I concluded he could do me no harm as I was so near the camp, and so I answered his salute. He came up to me and said, ‘your name is Richmond.’ ‘Right,’ said I, supposing that some of my comrades had given him my name. ‘And your other name is Yenlo,’ continued the stranger. ‘There you are wrong, for that is not my name.’ ‘Yes, it is,’ he said, ‘at least that is the name given you by my authorities, who have sent me to you; spell Yenlo backward and see what you make of it.’ ‘O-l-n-e-y, Olney; why, yes, that is my name.’ ‘Yes, and you were born on February 22, in the year 1844,’ said the stranger. ‘How did you find that out?’ ‘By the wonderful philosophy which I wish to communicate to you. I do not know you, but was guided to you. I am a member of an order which has been lost to the public for many ages; I am a member of the ancient order of the Magi, which flourished in Egypt thousands of years ago. I feel that I am about to die, and am bound by the powers that rule me to convey the marvelous secrets which I hold, to another, who shall live after me. You are that successor, and I wish you to call on me at No. ........ street some evening, and very soon, for I am sure that I shall not live long.’ My curiosity was aroused and I promised to do as he wished me.”
A VISIT TO THE STRANGER.
“The man was a tall, thin, hollow-cheeked individual, and was very earnest in his conversation. I called on him as I had promised, and he initiated me into the high order of which I have the honor to be a member. He also gave me different articles which are necessary in the study. He was a Frenchman and told me that he had been told the secrets while in India.
“I did not understand but very little of what he told me at the time, but I am now able to understand it all, and the signs, pass-words, etc., that he gave me really amounted to initiation into the higher degrees of the craft. ‘I am much obliged to you,’ said I to him, ‘for the information you have given me, but it seems to me, inasmuch as the object is to transmit this knowledge in an unbroken line, you are leaving it in bad hands.’ ‘How so?’ said the Frenchman. I answered, ‘How long the war will last I have no means of knowing; I am liable to be killed long before the war ends, and could not transmit this knowledge to another person.’ He said: ‘I am not acting without knowledge; you need not fear; you will pass through many battles hereafter, but without injury; not a bullet will touch you.’”
HIS NARROW ESCAPES.
“I must confess that I did not believe what he told me, for before every battle that I ever took part in, I felt that I was about to be killed. But, sure enough, not an enemy’s bullet touched my body, notwithstanding that my clothes were perforated in several instances. Something always seemed to move me just enough to escape a bullet. At Kenasaw, for instance, I was standing with my head above the breastworks, looking at the enemy’s batteries on the mountain. Suddenly and involuntarily I ducked my head below the head-log just in time to escape a rifle ball from a sharpshooter, coming from a direction in which I had not been looking. He had evidently been taking deliberate aim at me. On another occasion I was sitting on a bank, and by some unaccountable impulse I suddenly arose, just in time to escape a twenty-pound shot which whizzed past right beneath my coat tails. This was at the siege of Atlanta. I might relate many similar instances of this character, but this will suffice to show you that some unseen power constantly protected me.”
IN THE HANDS OF FATE.
“At the close of the war I came North and opened a store at Cedar Springs. I resided there for several years, and removed my store to Pierson, a small town a few miles north of Cedar Springs. I was at this place in 1871, and it was in this year that I took an unaccountable notion that I wanted to go to Chicago; I did not know why I wanted to go, but something made me desire to do so. My wife asked me if I was going there to buy goods. I told her no, that I could buy all the goods I wanted in Grand Rapids, but that I needed relaxation and had made up my mind that I would take it in Chicago. I went, and as I intended to stay for some time, went to a private boarding house, at, I think, 172 State street. I do not know why I went to this particular house, but I was attracted to it. There were several boarders in the same house, and at the first meal I took there I met a gentleman with whom I immediately formed an attachment. His name was Dr. Hamilton, from Charleston, S. C.. After we had finished the meal we had a cigar together and got to talking. He invited me up to his room, and while we were there he showed me some books, among which was an old book, which he said was a family heirloom. He had no idea why he had brought the book along with him when he came to Chicago to seek his fortune. I opened the book and was surprised to see some of the mysterious words which the Frenchman had given me at Nashville seven years before.”
THE MYSTERIES UNLOCKED.
“My curiosity was at once aroused, and I concluded that I could spare as much as $25 to buy that book, if it could be bought for that sum. I asked him how much he would take for it. ‘I have no use for it,’ said he, ‘take it along if you want it.’ I brought the book home with me and it cast a flood of light on my studies, which I began to prosecute with great vigor. It took me from that time to this, over eighteen years of profound study for me to gain the valuable knowledge which I now possess. I have books which have cost me $700 to get up. It took me years to get these books up; for I printed them myself, with rubber stamps.” ‘Are you a Mason?’ asked he of the reporter.
“No sir, I am not.”
“I was going to say, if you were I could give you a much better idea of my philosophy. The Masonic order claims to have had its origin among the ancient priests of Isis. My philosophy is the true Masonry; that which existed among the ancient Chaldeans 20,000 years before Christ. Every Mason will admit that a great change took place in the order at the time of the building of Solomon’s temple. The ‘word,’ which is so often mentioned in the Bible, was lost at that time, and the ‘word’ is the great secret of this order. To this day, no one outside the Magi knows what this word is. My philosophy is really my religion.”
“Does this religion include a Christ?”
CHRIST WAS A MYSTIC.
“Most certainly it does; my religion is the true Christianity. Christ was a member of the Magi and received his education at the hands of the order when he went down into Egypt. Why is the fact of Christ receiving his education in Egypt so little spoken of in the Bible? Simply because, as it now is, it reached the present generation with many books suppressed. It is because of the church that the arts of the Magi have been suppressed for so many hundreds of years. The exponents of the craft have been burned at the stake by the church, and tortured to death in many other ways, so that the order has been kept very secret, no one but the members dreaming of its existence. One proof to Christians of the truth of astrology is the fact that the three wise men who found Christ in the manger at Bethlehem were guided thither by a star. These three wise men were a committee from the Magi. The old prophets mentioned in the Bible were members of the Magi, and foretold coming events by the stars and planets.
“My religion does not require that its believers shall have faith. Everything that I believe I can prove. Where Christians, that is Christians in the common acceptation of the word, believe in a heaven, and have faith that there is one, I know and have absolute proof that there is one. By heaven, I do not mean a place where winged angels sit about on clouds, playing golden harps, but a practical hereafter, a heaven such as a man makes for himself. A man of high and refined tastes certainly would not be happy in a heaven where he would be classed with men of naturally low tastes.
AN OATH-BOUND ORDER
“Mr. Richmond, what pecuniary benefit do you realize from having this knowledge which you claim to have?” asked the reporter.
“I can truthfully say that it is more of a nuisance to me than a profit, speaking in a financial way. Men come here to my store every day and want me to tell their fortunes, or prophesy how certain matters in which they are interested will pan out. Almost without exception I refuse these requests, as I do not care to degenerate my philosophy and religion to such uses.”
“Now that the church has been wrested from its throne of temporal power, so that it cannot materially interfere with worldly affairs, it is time that the ancient order of the priests of Isis should be revived, and within the past year I have been directed by the powers who rule me to communicate my knowledge to others. Accordingly I have formed a class, which already includes 30 members, many of them prominent and influential men and women, who are cultured and refined people.”
“Then you admit ladies to your secrets?” was asked.
“Yes, sir; in the ancient days such was not the case, but women now stand on a level with man, and they are admitted. It is not an easy thing to become a member of our circle, and many applications have been denied. Members must stand well, intellectually and socially, and withal be virtuous, else they will be unable to grasp the great ideas of this philosophy. An oath-bound order is the result of the formation of my class, several members of which reside in other parts of the state, and one lives as far away as the state of Alabama. We have a room all fitted up for our temple, which is located on this street (South Division street). We have our signs, passwords, etc., and symbols and articles similar to those used by the Priests of Isis, way back in the time of the Rameses and Pharaohs. We have elected officers, and no outsiders are admitted at our meetings.”
A VISIT TO THE TEMPLE.
“At Mr. Richmond’s invitation, the writer visited the temple. The first thought that strikes the mind of the visitor on entering the place is that he is in an astronomical study, and such is the case, except that the place is devoted more to the occult branches of the study rather than plain astronomy. In the center of the ceiling is a large elliptical diagram, which includes the signs of the zodiac, and from the center of the figure is suspended a large white globe, which represents the sun. Within this globe are several incandescent electric lights, one or all of which can be turned on, and any shade of light can be obtained which is desired. Around the sun, at relative distances and locations, are suspended the planets. By means of this system all manner of astronomical phenomena can be plainly illustrated. The walls are hung with charts of the heavens and illustrations of planetary movements. Four chairs, evidently for the officers of the temple, are stationed opposite each other, on the four sides of the room. Against one of the chairs, presumably that of the highest officer, leaned the symbol of his office, the three-pronged spear of Neptune. Mr. Richmond explained that this trident was
THE OLDEST SYMBOL KNOWN
on the earth at the present time. It was the emblem of the ancient lost Atlantis, and was derived by them from the form in which the stars now composing the great dipper of the north occupied 22,000 years ago, as he has demonstrated, with the spectroscope by mathematical calculation based upon the motion of the seven stars composing the tail and part of the body of the great bear. As descriptions have heretofore been related of Mr. Richmond’s mysterious performances with cards, etc., it will not be necessary to describe seeming miracles which he performed during this visit to his temple.
Mr. Richmond says he does not mean to antagonize prevailing religions with his philosophy; all that he antagonizes is their dogmas. His philosophy, he claims, gives as much clearer insight into true Christianity. Several Masons are among his most ardent students. Mr. Richmond claims that his studies show that the order of the Magi existed and was started on the continent of Atlantis, which existed in the Atlantic Ocean, too many ages gone by for man to trace back. This is where he thinks the Garden of Eden was located; on the continent which he believes sank beneath the waves ages upon ages before the time that the first page of history begins to record the accurate story of mankind.
[A Mysterious Tale can be found in the book Temple Lectures by Olney H. Richmond.
The entire book is available for free on the internet at: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Temple_Lectures_of_the_Order_of_the_Magi/XDxVAAAAMAAJ ]
Learn more about Olney H. Richmond, author, publisher and Grand Master of the Order of the Magi and the Father of today's Cardology