What the Magi Teach







This is a subject of vital importance to all those who take an interest in the order and think of becoming members. The Magi believe and teach that the Universe is made up of two great principles of an opposite nature, namely, spirit and matter. We might say psychic force and material force, although the terms are more obscure, because all matter and all spirit are simply forms of vibratory force. These two great principles are like opposite polarities of the same magnet. Both poles belong to the same magnet and meet and neutralize in the middle thereof, yet the manifestations are different and in fact quite opposite in some particulars.

Thus we find that the terms spirit and matter stand for one great universal principle with two polarities.

We teach that intelligent beings must recognize both states of the principle, and that any system of philosophy that does not recognize these facts, is defective, and must fall sooner or later. To spirit belongs the high and fine vibratory forces that constitute the mind, intelligent thought, emotion, etc., that go to make up the spirit side of man. The material belongs to the lower vibratory forces that constitute the body we live in, and through which the indwelling spirit or soul makes itself manifest.

Just so the whole universe—for man is a type or epitome of the universe—is made up of these two great principles.

“The universe is one stupendous whole,

Whose body nature is and God the soul.”

This oft-quoted couplet is a grand fact, and a man wrote it who had the true mystic mind. The great trouble of mankind in all ages has been to properly separate these two principles, giving both their true signification and not mixing them up in their systems of philosophy and religion. The speaker has been astounded many times by the utter lack of all understanding of the true nature of various causes and effects, evinced by many persons and even entire schools. For instance, the Christian and Jewish faiths mix spirit and matter most wonderfully. God, who, as the Infinite, occupies the most ultra spirit end of the spectrum celestia, is believed in as a material being with limbs, “parts and passions,” and occupying a material throne in a material heaven, with streets paved with one of the materials which belong at the other end among the most ponderable bodies, to wit, gold.

The part saved of man, when he becomes finally fit to enter this material heaven, is nothing but the body. The body—the blood—is the burden of the scriptures. Is it any wonder that a certain popular preacher said a few years ago: “If you mark all the passages of the scriptures that speak of blood with red ink, you will find the sacred book a stream of blood from end to end.”

Christ, a pure principle, meaning the same as Christna (sic) of the Hindus or Osiris of the Egyptians, is made to be, and is, worshipped as a material being. If this is not genuine materialism, and a materialism run mad at that, then what is it?

On the other hand, certain actions of men which have their origin in purely material surroundings and belong on the material plane, are erroneously ascribed to “bad spirits” or devils. Fits or spasms caused by an irritation in the spine, or by worms in the intestinal canal, were called spirits, or the work of spirits, “and cast out” by charms and incantations. If this is not Spiritism; and a mad article at that, what is it?

But the church-man is not the only one who confounds this great principle in its two modes of manifestation. The ordinary material philosopher, or so-called scientist, looks only at the material universe, and denies everything that he cannot see, feel or weigh. He denies spirit or any intelligent force or vibration only that of matter. Some materialists are so set in their belief that all a person has to do is to let them know that he believes in a future state of existence to be set down as a crank, almost outside the pale of human sympathy.

As an offset to this class, we have the new schools of transcendentalism and Christian science, who go to the other extreme and declare that matter does not exist—matter is all moonshine. We think we exist on a world, but it is a huge mistake. We think a part of our so-called system is out of order and think we have a pain, but we have no system and no pain. “There is nothing material.”

Of course I am giving only the views of the most ultra teachers of these schools. Ah! my good friends, I love you and respect you, but I fear me you are too much to the other end of the great magnet. Another great class that have come to the front during the last few years, and have been especially prolific in literature, is the Theosophist. This school of thinkers have a vein of spiritual truth running all the way through their teachings that in a measure leavens the whole lump; but I trust that all of that school who read this, will forgive me when I say that the mixing of spirit and what is of spirit, with matter and what is of matter, is very great in nearly all theosophic works.

Within the past week I have read in a theosophic work by a noted writer, that “the earth itself may be thrown out of her just equilibrium of forces by the stupendous will perversions of an earthly potentate,” etc. My friends, when this old earth is thrown out of her equilibrium of forces, such as magnetism and gravatic forces, or, in fact, any other natural force through the power of any man’s will, I want to be there to see it.

In the same book, which I open at random, I find that “The Atlantians, gradually becoming addicted to the practice of an infernal magic, used their super-physical powers unlawfully. They allied themselves with death instead of with life co-operating with nature on her side of destruction; and thus, we are told, brought upon themselves the engulfing floods of oblivion.”

What a far-fetched spiritual reason to give a catastrophe that was as natural and material in its nature as is the fall of an over-ripe apple or a dead leaf. Atlantis sank beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, as Mr. Donnelly so ably shows, under the same material forces, aquaus* (“aqueous”) and volcanic, that have heretofore and will hereafter level continents, raise islands and otherwise change the face of the world.

What is the use of attributing a spiritual origin to a natural material state of matter? Matter and spirit have always existed in perfect correlation to each other. One has just as much right to exist as the other, and we must recognize the fact.

I have also found the most astounding theories abounding in Theosophic works relative to the nature of man’s spirit. “Shells” and “astral envelopes,” over-souls and in-souls, and several other parts of man’s spirit, floating about on earth and in the heavens. My dear friends, I do not say one word against those who believe and teach such doctrines; I do not set down one word in malice, but for heaven’s sake do not trouble your heads over any such complicated spirit to man. Ask those who teach it to prove it.

Another thing I must call your attention to is the erroneous teachings of some Spiritualists. I allude to no particular one. Some teach that the only thing really worth knowing is spirit. Let a scientist endeavor, after years of study of the subject, to show that the fact of man’s future existence is perfectly consonant and harmonious with true science, and that the more we know of the scientific laws that govern matter and mind, the more we know regarding a future state of life; let him, as I say, endeavor to instill this truth into the minds of men and many will cry out in public and private: “Oh he is on the material plane,” or “science is the greatest enemy of Spiritualism.”

Friends, I don’t deny it. Science is the greatest foe the churches ever had; but Spiritualism need not fear science. Science is nothing but demonstrated truth, and truth can hurt no true and good thing. The only thing a truth will not fit into is an untruth. Truth fits truth like the stones in the Pyramid of Cheops, square and true, jointed like a fine piece of cabinet work.

A three-cornered lie may be made to fit in for a time, by plastering it well with the plaster of sophistry and the cement of ignorance, but as soon as investigation is made with the hammer of science the cement loosens and the stone falls from its place, leaving a hole in the structure.

The people we appeal to for our work are those who have advanced to a point where the ism they have hitherto professed does not seem to fill their hearts and souls. We do not ask any person to give up a single good or a single truth. Keep all you have and add all the good and true you can get thereunto.


It is Christianity, with the absurdities of a bodily resurrection, a material heaven, an endless hell and many other matters of the kind left out. It is Theosophy, with the wild and untenable speculations of dreamers and absurdities wrapped in uncouth Sanscrit and Hindoo terms, to conceal their nakedness, omitted. It is Spiritualism of the highest type, with the false communications and ignorant teachings of unadvanced beings on the other side ignored. It is science, minus the short-sighted and unscientific mode of investigation, which places a limit on infinity and stops short at the point where man’s very limited physical senses cease.

It is Transcendentalism in its best form, which ignores nothing real, while giving due prominence to will force and mind, or the psychic powers. It also takes due cognizance of the physical universe, without which spirit could not manifest itself or gain in progressive knowledge or experience.

In short, we appeal to that large and growing class of thinkers who have become tired of old theories and have therefore arrived at a fit state of development to appreciate the Light of Atlantis and America.


(This lecture is found in Part I, Lecture XV in Olney H. Richmond’s second book, Temple Lectures of the Order of the Magi, also known as Religion of the Stars, published in 1891.)

Emblematic Magic Chart of the Order of the Magi

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