Magic is the Tree of Life

Christ was and is the Logos who dwells in every man. ~ Justin (Apology)

The Fall of Man brought about a fundamental change in his being:

  • His spontaneous, effortless relationship with God was replaced by toil and struggle. The loss of that relationship meant the loss of alignment with His creative power. Instead, man struggles to create on his own without divine guidance.
  • Direct revelation or gnosis was lost and suffering results. Much of man’s suffering is mental. Since he no longer knows his place in the world, he becomes filled with fear and anxiety.
  • Before the fall, Sacred Magic was manifested in the history of the world. Afterwards, that power was lost and death was the consequence.

The good news of the Gospel is that the effects of the Fall can be reversed in Jesus’ claim to be the Way, the Truth, and Life. This is summarized in the following table:

Arcanum Before the Fall After the Fall Jesus
Bateleur Mystical Union with God Toil, work, struggle Way
High Priestess Gnosis Suffering Truth
Empress Transforming Life, Sacred Magic Death Life



From this, Tomberg concludes that Sacred Magic is the Tree of Life. That tree was made inaccessible to those who would “be like gods” or the foolhardy, but not to those who do the Will of God. He points to the existence of saints, sages, geniuses, benefactors, healers and their works of pure thought, poetry, music, and prayer. This is all evidence of sacred magic in the world, understood in a superbiological way, since material forces, genetics, evolutionary psychology, or the like cannot account for it.

Magic is not the absence of cause, nor the “God of the gaps” that is derided by the semi-intelligent to discredit religious experience. Otherwise, the diffraction pattern of an electron beam would be a “miracle” since no physicist can predict the path of any given electron. Rather, magic is the visible effect of an invisible cause or the effect on a lower plane due to a cause from a higher plane. You either can “see” that or you cannot; I cannot convince you and there are many educated and seemingly educated people who deny such a possibility with passion and conviction. If you “see” it, you are understanding what gnosis is.

As a powerful example of such a miracle, Tomberg uses the example of Theresa Neumann who survived for years only on the Holy Eucharist. This is the principle which should be contemplated until it becomes ingrained in your understanding and worldview:

Matter is only concentrated energy and energy is only concentrated consciousness.

Or, concentrated thought leads to will which brings about material change.

The Great Work

The Tree of Life is the sources of the miracles of creation, transformation, rejuvenation, healing, and liberation. One’s conscious participation in performing the miracle of the One Thing (Emerald Table 2) is the Great Work of Sacred Magic.

To understand this, Tomberg contrasts it with profane science whose ideal is power, i.e., practical and intellectual technical power. Intellectually, it seeks to reduce the multiplicity of the world to a few laws. That is, its goal is to mechanize the intellect in such a way to calculate the world rather than to comprehend it. On the practical side, technology has advanced in successive stages by destroying matter in order to free up the energy bound to it. Its principle, therefore, is destruction or death.

Hermetic science is quite different. It aims for conscious participation with the constructive forces of the world. While profane science tries to constrain nature to serve man’s will, i.e., his fallen will. Hermetism, on the contrary, aims to purify, illuminate, and change man’s nature and will. Hence, the Great Work can be defined this way:

The Great Work is the state of the human being who is in peace, union, harmony, and collaboration with Life.

The Theological Virtues and Incarnation

As always, along with the truth path, Tomberg points out some pitfalls of the religious life, which we should be on guard for. It becomes decadent, a theological and moral legalism, when it ceases to be:

  • rooted in Mysticism
  • illuminated by Gnosis
  • moved by sacred Magic

The remedy consists in the theological virtues which are related to experience and mystical stages as shown in the following table.

Virtue Divine Experience Mystical Stage
Faith Divine Breath Purification
Hope Divine Light Illumination
Love DIvine Fire Union


These virtues often frustrate the modern secular mind. Rather than faith, people today want to “know”, at least in the profane scientific and technical sense explained above. Faith, however, cannot work that way. It surpasses such knowledge and requires an act of the will, a commitment. Only then can one begin to see and allow gnosis, or true knowledge to arise. Tomberg relates the simultaneous work of these virtues with the élan vital, the impulse behind evolution. Everything was created through the Word, or Logos, that is, faith, hope, and love.

In summary, then, the third Arcanum is that of creation, vertically from above to below, and horizontally along the same plane. This is included in the Nicene Creed:

and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary

Once again, this requires faith, a commitment, a transformation, and gnosis. It does not suffice to contemplate it as an object, as some historical event that happened long ago. Rather this teaching must come alive in one’s own consciousness. As for how, that has been explained in the first two Arcana.

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The Goal of Sacred Magic

I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)

Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets. (Lumen fidei)

Tomberg next tackles the question of the goal or purpose of sacred magic. This goal is freedom. Of course, this ties back to the Holy Spirit, whose action in the world is totally free. The presumption here is that man is not free, but must be liberated from the various forces that bind him. This differs from the modern secular mindset which follows Rousseau’s dictum: “Man is born free but is everywhere in chains.” Tomberg’s response is that man is enslaved to various forces and must be born again in order to become free.

On the material plane, this is freedom from various physical maladies. Thus the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead rise. Also, good news or a role model is given to the poor and free will restored to those possessed by malign spirits. Thus, Tomberg concludes that healing is not the ultimate purpose, but really the means to the end of true freedom.

This freedom includes liberation from the domination of doubt, fear, hate, apathy, and despair.

Evil Spirits

The evil spirits do not forcibly deprive man of his freedom. On the contrary, those beings take advantage of man’s freedom and use thus employ temptation as their weapon. Hence, possession by an evil spirit is something else. In the case of possession, man gives rise to an elemental being and then becomes the slave of his own creation. Thus, the evil spirits of the New Testament are not the devils who go by the name of Satan, etc., but are actually neurotic psychological complexes: viz., obsessions, phobias, etc.

Nevertheless, they are still real since they are independent of the conscious human will and tend to enslave it. The Devil does not participate directly in that, since he observes the law that protects human freedom. Hence, it is not the devil that we should fear, but rather the perverse inclinations within us.  It is the latter that can deprive us of our freedom and enslave us. The depravity of man’s warped imagination is more dangerous than the Devil and all his legions. That is because man is not bound by the law respecting man’s freedom. Hence, some of the worst examples in history cannot simply be attributed to the devil, but are really the result of various human collectives.

The Role of Sacred Magic in the World

If freedom is the goal of sacred magic, then who, or what, is waiting for it, desires it, and is always ready to receive it. After quoting Romans 8:19-23,

For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

Tomberg concludes that this includes the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms – hence all of nature is the domain of sacred magic since it desires to be free of the bonds of necessity. The reason for sacred magic arises from the Fall, including the Fall of nature, man, and even the hierarchies of evil. It is first necessary to see how this works in the deliverance of man.

Sacred magic is unlike personal magic. The latter operates by hypnosis, suggestion, necromancy, etc. Sacred magic is opposed to all these:

Personal Magic Sacred Magic
Hypnosis The awakening of free will
Suggestion Deliverance from psychopathology
Evocation of the necromancer The ascent to the deceased by the strength of love
Evocation of elementals in ceremonial magic The gain of their confidence and friendship
Enslavement of evil spirits in practical Kabbalah The resistance to their temptations

Those unfamiliar with the use of hypnosis and suggestion in personal magic may be interested in this four part essay on Emile Coué.

Curiously, Tomberg claims that by resisting devils, they will become your friends. That is because they, too, are awaiting the manifestation of the children of God. A devil is not an atheist and does not doubt God. Rather, he has no faith in man.

Bearing Burdens

Ultimately, sacred magic involves taking on others’ burdens, even unhealthy ones. Sacred magic necessarily serves the good. Personal magic may or may not serve the good … that is an essential difference.

The actual practice of sacred magic, including its various formulas and gestures, derive from, and are confirmed by, revelation. Tomberg lists, of course, the Holy Bible, particularly John’s Gospel. Then the other gospels and the Book of Revelation, etc. In the Old Testament, there are principally the Psalms, Genesis, and Ezekiel. He adds the traditional liturgy as well as the writings of the saints and mystics. He ends his list with the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.

If anyone finds the last entry out of place, perhaps we can consider these words from Vladimir Solovyov in Lectures on Divine Humanity:

The great fathers of the ancient Church affirmed that even before Christ’s incarnation, the same divine Reason that was revealed in Him enlightened with the eternal truth the inspired wise men of paganism, these Christians before Christ. … Although the close inner connection between Alexandrian theosophy and the Christian doctrine is one of the firmly established theses of Western scholarship, for one reason or another, this perfectly correct thesis does not enjoy common acknowledgment in our theological literature.

Solovyov ended the passage with the promise to show the relationship between Christian doctrine and that of Hermes Trismegistus, but that essay never appeared. Perhaps, Tomberg’s text can be considered as an expansion of the project that Solovyov announced but never completed.

Mystery and Secret

Now, although these gestures and formulae are not “secrets”, they must nevertheless not be betrayed. Betrayal comes from their abuse. We can surely infer how Tomberg would feel about the abuses of the Mass that are happening so often in our time.

A mystery is protected by the light. Referring back to our epigram, it is clear that this light is the light of faith, a light that restores our sight. An Arcanum both reveals and conceals. Although anyone can “see” the Arcanum, there can be no revelation arising from it without that light.

Perhaps now we are in a position to consider the spiritual meaning of the physical healings in the gospel:

  • The spiritually blind see through the light of faith
  • The deaf hear the Holy Spirit by stilling the mind
  • The spiritually dead are born again, from above
  • Sinners are made clean
  • The poor in spirit are set free from their perverse inclinations
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