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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