Edgar held forth at length upon Art, passionlessly expository. “Art,” said he, “and do not imagine that Art or anything else is other than High Magic! — is a system of holy hieroglyph. The artist, the initiate, thus frames his mysteries. The rest of the world scoff, or seek to understand, or pretend to understand; some few obtain the truth. The technical ability of the artist is the lucidity of his language; it has nothing to do with the degree of his illumination. Bougereau is better technically than Manet; he explains more clearly what he sees. But what does he see? He is the priest of a false God. Form has no importance except in this sense; we must not be revolted by the extravagance of new symbolic systems. Gauguin and Matisse may live to be understood. We acquiesce in the eccentricities of Raphael.”
Abraham Merritt’s Seven Footprints to Satan was first serialized in 1927 and issued as a complete novel in 1928, but it’s been through a whole stack of paperback reprintings. It’s a pulpy action tale with no real theological pretenses, and it is entirely light reading. Seven Footprints has a cinematic feel, and was made into a movie in 1929.
l took a perverse amusement in imagining the protagonist James Kirkham with the appearance of a young William Shatner. And in fact the pacing of the book and its contrived dilemmas are somewhat reminiscent of the original Star Trek and other TV adventure dramas of that vintage. Kirkham is a “famous explorer,” i.e. a sort of generic resourceful man of action. He is recruited — conscripted, rather — by an arch-criminal who styles himself as Satan. For most of the book, Kirkham tries to escape Satan’s domination, eventually determining to rescue others as well. There’s an obligatory romantic plot vector and some irksome orientalist racism.
Although the author had a longstanding interest in the occult and amassed a considerable esoteric library, such studies are not evident in this book.
Their wider scope,
Limitless Empire o’er the world of thought,
Help my desires to press
Beyond all stars toward God and Heaven and Hope;
And in the world-amazing chase is wrought
Somehow — all Happiness.
Aleister Crowley, “Dreams” in Mysteries
The secrets of his mental nature and the principles of intellectual life became at this stage gradually unfolded to his view. You will thus perceive, Brethren, that the F.C. degree, sometimes regarded by us as a somewhat uninteresting one, typifies in reality a long course of personal development requiring the most profound knowledge of the mental and psychical side of our nature. It involves not merely the cleansing and control of the mind, but a full comprehension of our inner constitution, of the more hidden mysteries of our nature and of spiritual psychology.
W L Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry, Chapter I The Deeper Symbolism of Freemasonry
Not without good reason does our catechism assert that Masonry contains “many and invaluable secrets.” But these of course are not the formal and symbolic signs, tokens and words communicated ceremonially to candidates; they are rather those secrets which we instinctively keep locked up in the recesses and safe repository of our hearts; secrets of the deep and hidden things of the soul, about which we do not often talk, and which, by a natural instinct, we are not in the habit of communicating to any but such of our brethren and fellows as share with us a common and a sympathetic interest in the deeper problems and mysteries of life.
W L Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry, Chapter II Masonry as a Philosophy
Mysteries of other worlds, hidden forces, strange revelations, mysterious illnesses, exceptional faculties, spirits, apparitions, magical paradoxes, hermetic arcana, we shall say all, and we shall explain all. Who has given us this power? We do not fear to reveal it to our readers.
Éliphas Lévi, trans Aleister Crowley, Liber XLVI The Key of the Mysteries
Jonathan shrugged again. He cared not for mysteries. Instead he smiled as he reached into his scrip and pinched a big fat chunk of meat to put in his mouth. He cared a lot more for pork.
Lavie Tidhar, Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library]
“Think not that we have acted toward you in a spirit of persecution,” said the nun. “The mysteries which have alarmed you will be explained at a future period, when your soul is prepared by penance, self-mortification, and prayer to receive the necessary revelation. In the meantime, ask no questions, forget the world, and resolve to embrace a life devoted to the service of Heaven.”
In our school we are instructed by Divine wisdom, the heavenly bride, whose will is free, and who comes to him whom she selects. The mysteries which we know embrace everything that can possibly be known in regard to God, Nature, and Man. Every sage that has ever existed has graduated in our school, in which he could have learned true wisdom.