Comments on Extracts taken from the Works of S. T. Coleridge and Gustav Seyffarth.
To continue our digression: — In a research like this, — as to what was the true exact basis of the old religions and mysteries, and the teachings thereof, under the name of Cabbalah, it is gratifying to find collateral support for our supposed discoveries thereabouts, in a general way;- especially where such support comes to the very verge of the specific explanations, or to the borderland of the system one is about to announce: —to the verge, I say, because it would appear that that which is to be so announced is just the lack which would have rounded out to completion such support and would have been made use of for such purpose had it been known. First:- It seems that Mr. S. T. Coleridge wrote his essay on the Prometheus of Æschylus, preparatory to a series of disquisitions respecting the Egyptians in connection with the sacerdotal theology, and in contrast with the mysteries of ancient Greece. We make the following quotations from this essay, as having an important bearing on the general subject of the Cabbalah, –coming as they do from so distinguished a metaphysician and investigator.
“I am aware,” he says, “that it is almost universal to speak of the gross idolatry of Egypt.” To the contrary, he conceives that at bottom the Egyptians had, in common with the Hebrews, the idea of one Supreme Being:- and this being said, he then continues:—“Of certain astrological superstitions,—of certain talismans connected with star magic, — plates, and images constructed in supposed harmony with the movements and influences of celestial bodies, — there doubtless exist hints, if not direct proofs, both in the Mosaic writings» (for instance, as to the furnishing the tabernacle, and as to the trappings of the high priest), “and those next in antiquity. But of plain idolatry in Egypt, or the existence of a polytheistic religion, represented by various idols, each signifying a several deity, I can find no decisive proof in the Pentateuch » — but, “that the sacerdotal religion of Egypt had, during the interval from Abimelech to Moses, degenerated from the patriarchal monotheism into a pantheism, cosmotheism, or worship of the world as God. * * * The worship of the ox and the cow was not, in and of itself, and necessarily, a contravention of the first commandment, though a very gross breach of the second; for it is most certain that the ten tribes worshiped the Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, under the same or similar symbols:– secondly, that the cow or (Egyptian) Isis, and the Io of the Greeks, truly represented, in the first instance, the earth, or productive nature and afterward the mundane religion grounded on the worship of nature, as God. In after times the ox or bull was added, representing the sun, or generative force of nature, according to the habit of male and female deities, which spread almost over the whole world. * * * Time, cyclical time was their abstraction of the Deity, and their holidays were their gods.” That which Mr. Coleridge lacked to make his statement incontrovertible, was the facts:–(1) That the name Jehovah was chiefly, a scientific and symbolic term to show, -(a), the astronomical value of the lunar year cycle, symbolized by the horns of the heifer (Isis) as representing the crescent new moon, and (b), that He was the specialized causative power of the divine economy, to produce and continue animal life; – His collective name was Sacr. He intervened to control and perpetuate the generations,—and thus was the cherished god of the households. (2) In this regard while His form was that of man, or rather man was the image of His form, under the Hebrew idea, His symbol with the Egyptians was a synonym of this, – because as the God of generation, in the highest grade, viz., of man, He was best and most emphatically commemorated by the cyclical space of time, measured by the seven day phase of the moon, viz., that from conception to birth, or 280 days, – and, strange to say, yet happily, in this connection, this is the period with the cow. Hence, with a common idea in either case, with the Egyptians and Hebrew legislator, −a feigned issue of superstition was fastened on the Egyptian culte, as also upon the acts and tendencies that way, of the ten tribes.
The ground work of cyclical or astronomical time was founded on especial periods agreeing with animal, and particularly human times of embryotic development and birth. Hence the working together of the two systems, namely, of astronomy and animal generation, toward the recognition of the Divine Causation, and a consequent adoration and supplication,—with the further evolution of social rules and moral training.
Passing from Egyptians and Hebrews, Mr. Coleridge says: — “With the Phoenician (Chaldean) sages the cosmogony was their theogony, and vice versa. Hence, too, flowed their theurgic rites, their magic, their worship of the plastic forces, chemical and vital, and these, or their notions respecting them, formed the hidden meaning, the soul, as it were, of which the popular and civil worship was the body with its drapery”; – just precisely as it is to-day:—and in this regard, it may be said that to-day Masonry, i. e., the first three grades, holds the like foundation of the ultima ratio, as a base for the more popular forms of religious observance. Proceeding on to the Greeks, Mr. C. makes the following most valuable remarks, going to show the Hebrew or Semitic origin of all ancient religions and mysteries, -which should be well considered:—“The earliest Greeks took up the religious and lyrical poetry of the Hebrews; and the schools of the prophets were, however partially and imperfectly, represented by the mysteries thence derived through the corrupt channel of the Phoenicians. With these secret schools of physiological theology, the mythical poets were doubtless in connection,” etc. * * * “The Samothracian Mysteries Mr. Coleridge supposes to have been of Phoenićian (Chaldean or old Semitic) origin, and both these and the Eleusinian to have retained the religious belief of the more ancient inhabitants of the Peloponnesus (Cyclopean Pelasgians) prior to their union with the Hellenes and the Egyptian colonies: that it comprised sundry relics and fragments of Patriarchal Faith, the traditions, historical and prophetic, of the Noetic Family, though corrupt and depraved.” That is, in fact and in truth, the Greek civilization rested for its excellencies and its beauties, on the remote and mystic, or, in short, the Cabbalistic readings of the Mosaic theogony or theosophy;- which, I think, is fully shown in Notes and Comments on Vitruvius Pollio:—where in, and elsewhere, it is to be seen that the Greeks did not hesitate to borrow the fundamental data for their immense advance, and claim them as their own by original invention or Divine gift, giving no credit to their source of obtainment. They appropriated, without giving credit, and vaunted themselves, in a Greek way, under their borrowed plumage.
But Mr. Coleridge goes on to point directly to the philosophy of the Cabbalah, as laying at the base of the Greek theosophy: -‘‘The fundamental position of the Mysteries, Mr. Coleridge contends, consists in affirming that the productive powers or laws of nature are essentially the same with the active powers of the mind—in other words, that mind, or Nous, is a principle of forms and patterns, endowed with a tendency to (intelligently) manifest itself as such; and that this mind or eternal essence exists in two modes of being, namely, either the form and the productive power, — which gives it outward and phenomenal reality,- are united in equal and adequate proportions (as, for instance, the male and female elements), in which case it is what the oldest philosophers, and the moderns, in imitation of them, call a law of nature; or, the form remaining the same, but with the productive power in unequal or in adequate proportions,—whether the diminution be effected by the mind’s own act, or original determination not to put forth this inherent power, or whether the power have been repressed, and as it were driven in ward by the violence of a superior force from without, —was, in this case called, by the most Ancient School, “Intelligent Number’ ” (the Hebrew Sephiroth, from Sepher, our “cypher,” or working by absolutely true proportions), “by a later school ‘Idea or Mind.’” Which sums up the whole as being contained in the very teachings, the essentials of which we are trying to set forth to some extent, —viz., those of the much belittled and despised Hebrew Cabbalah.
Second:—It will be found on painstaking investigation that that most learned scholar, the late Gustav Seyffarth, was the one who discovered and elaborated the most important element of the true system by which the Egyptian hieroglyphics could become comprehended and understood as a fixed and certain language. Dr. Young, of England, was the discoverer of the key, in the reading of proper names. On the reception of Dr. Young’s discovery Champollion abandoned his previously formed theory, and adopting Young’s discovery, made very great advance without however the proper credit. But while advance could intelligently be made in the decyphering of proper names, because in them the initial letters of the names of hieroglyphs alone were made use of, yet when it came to decyphering by applied use of the same to common nouns, verbs, etc., it was found that neither Champollion, nor any of his disciples could make intelligible and acceptable work. This fact became notorious and acknowledged. It then came to pass that Seyffarth published his discoveries. The same were surreptitiously made use of, and the most dishonorable claims were made that they of right belonged to Champollion.* There can be no doubt that Seyffarth was the most industrious of all Egyptologists, and that he was by far the most learned of all of them. His works are a sufficient proof of this. But Seyffarth, in his labors, was ignorantly and innocently enough arousing a feeling of dislike, which eventually became an important agent in the suppression of his immense and most valuable labors. His researches pointed to the evidence that the foundations of all religious systems rested on astronomy and astrology. He was too plain spoken, and the sudden dropping of him, especially in this country, after, for a season, the most abundant and fulsome praise, particularly by religious journals, had every appearance as of concerted action to suppress too close an inquiry into the real truths of our religious system. So much was this the case that the Rev. Dr. Thompson, an amateur student, was selected to write up an article as to the state of advance in the learning of Egyptian
*Note.—But the most valuable discovery of Seyffarth’s was attempted to be appropriated by others than for Champollion. See what Uhle mann says of Brugsch: “Hoc vel illud debebat, profiteri systema, duobus inter semixtis novi fortasse systematis auctorem atque inventorem se fore existimavit. * * Speravit sine dubio Brugschius, si omnem interpretationem praetermitteret, cumque Seyffarthi systema minus esset notum, omnes credituros, psum primum harum imaginum valorem syllabicum divinasse atque proposuisse.
hieroglyphy, for Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, in place of Seyffarth, so well known, Thompson, himself, admitting that though having made study of the system of Champollion for twenty years, he could not as yet make translation of a single line of the hieroglyphs. Seyffarth had a profound knowledge of the structure of the Hebrew, and was greatly accomplished in the Coptic language. It was his proficiency which enabled him to arrive at his admirable results. He determined that the very old Egyptian (long prior to the Christian era, after which the present Coptic letters were introduced into use) was a Semitic dialect (or better, an older Hebrew), at its oldest and most simple stage of development; so, old, that most of the words were monosyllables. Of course in the lapse of hundreds of years many words would go out of use, –and many words would suffer change;—but, the hieroglyphic images, remaining fixed and constant, sounds of such very old words could be had, though thus pronounced the same could not be found in the Coptic vocabulary. By comparison, many of such words were found to be Hebrew, and were restored as belonging to that vocabulary. So, moreover, the system of affixes and suffixes in the cases of nouns, and for the inflexion of verbs, was found to belong to the Hebrew system. He left in MSS, a large vocabulary (some six hundred) of old Hebrew Egyptian words. It seems evident that the old Egyptian was an older stage of the Semitic than the Biblical Hebrew; — for, for one reason as to this, increase was found to have been made from the former to the latter of three letters for root words in place of two. And it seems most likely that this older phase was in contemporary use with the very old Babylonians (or Chaldeans, or Phoenicians), —with a start, for all of these peoples, on their northward travel, from the ocean ports on the latitude of the mouth of the Nile and the head of the Persian Gulf. Seyffarth says: “All ancient reports concur in stating that all pagan religions originated in Babylonia prior to the dispersion of the nations.” But if it is to be discovered and admitted that these pagan religions rested on one and the same system of philosophy or science, and that in fact the Hebrew was but a reformation of, with a still retained admixture of, the same, –then, this, so called, Babylonia was the mother of all the forms of religion with which we are acquainted.
Now Seyffarth corroborates and sustains Coleridge, for he says, as the result of his labors to that end ––
“The Egyptians worshiped, first, the Creator of the Universe; second, the seven planets; and thirdly, the seven Zodiacal gods. All ancient religions consisted of theism modified by astrology…”
Apart from all this, we find, that the sacred traditions possessed by the old Semitic Babylonians, and which, at last, developed into the substance of the Mosaic Books, contained by that which is called Cabbalah, as their most precious hidden treasure, that same identical system of mensuration and astronomical science, which The Great Egyptian Pyramid contained in the proportions and measures of its mason work, or stone constructions. Hence the common sameness of the base of all the sacred ideas of all the nations, — without exception.
Let us close with a striking instance which will enable one to obtain, at least, a glimpse into one of the interior conceptions belonging to these old systems, –and how the work was done, and for what reason a special god-name was given. The Roman god was JVH (JaVE, or JoVE),- his sister and wife was JNO (JuNO). The three famous letters of Jehovah’s name were the same, or JV H, whose significant import had spread to the furthest ends of the earth (China) at least 1200 B.C. These are the Hebrew letters, jod vav hé. Now the middle letter of these three, the way, had the curious office of standing for several letters, which were, the consonant v or f and the vowels o and u, — so that, supplying the vowels, we could write out to-day the Hebrew letters JVH, as JoVE, or as JaVE. So, moreover, the last letter, hé, (or E), whose number was 5, was exchangeable, for the number’s sake, for the letter of the same number on a higher grade of value, as the letter nun, or n, whose number was 50. Thus, for JVH, we could have JVN or JUN, and we could write this in Roman as Jun, or Juno. But the use of these three letters was to monument the use of three numerals, viz., 10 and 6 and 5, through which the value of the lunar year, in the natural measure of days, was worked out and commemorated in the proceedings at Mt. Sinai, -and this was the chief reason for the use of this name.
Where did this great name come from? If we refer back to the very old archaic Hebrew, which was the very old Egyptian, we will find this curious fact, —by which, each one, having the premises, can form his own opinion as to whether this question may not be satisfactorily answered.
The hieroglyph of the crescent indicated the name of the moon, which name was used for its cyclical revolution, either of a month, or of a year. It is shown to be repeatedly so used, for the month on the Rosetta Stone, by Uhlemann, and, for the year by Seyffarth, in his “De alphabeto Ægyptiorum genuino,” page 10. The Egyptian word used for this in Coptic, was IOH, or the very equivalent of the Hebrew three letter word jod, vav, hé, or JVH, that is, the Hebrew jod is the Coptic I, the Coptic O is the Hebrew vav, and the Coptic H is the Hebrew Hé, —or, the words are identically the same. The apparent discrepancy is in the use of o for v, or Hebrew vav, — but strange to say, for this vav of the Hebrews, we have in the old Egyptian, the hieroglyph of the horned-snake, or the cerastes, which is given as having the same curious use for the same letter sounds, viz., the consonants f, or v, and the vowels o and u;—so that here, in the more ancient or original form of the He brew, viz., the old Egyptian, we have the Hebrew letters of Jehovah’s name, jod, vav, hé, used as a word, in the same three letters, IOH:—and what is of the greatest significance about the matter is, that this word meant and stood for
and for the indication of its cyclical times, — as for the month and the year. Thus one can see the very origin from whence was de rived the Hebrew god-word, –with the occult reason for its use, viz., a scientific one, for the measure of cyclical periods. And having this ground support, we do find that this venerable god name is found, constantly, as having relation to the moon, either as to its supposed generative influences, or as to the measure of its cyclical periods. His greatest manifestation was at, on, or about Mount Sinai, -which mountain, Fuerst says, was named “Sin, the mountain of the moon,” with the Sabeans, or the worshipers of its cyclical periods and — its generative influences.
“As a parent, ever watchful over the well-being of its off springs, constantly regardful of its welfare, so is the overseeing supervision of Grand Bodies, with equal care, constantly manifested in guarding the interests of their Subordinates, that no encroachments be made upon the rights of each other.”
Comments on Extracts taken from the Works of S. T. Coleridge and Gustav Seyffarth.