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Join Date: 24 Aug 2003
Location: Northern California
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Welling's 'Cosmic History Myth'

I've been reading Gershom Scholem's 1994 book Alchemy and Kabbalah (translated in 2006). After discussing how different the first appearances of alchemy are in the Jewish tradition (silver is masculine and the highest form, while gold is feminine and of lesser quality), in Part III he discusses how alchemy and Kabbalah became widely synonymous among the Christian theosophists and alchemists.

He mentions three elements in this merger. The first two seem to be the magical and the mystical, which division also seems to be along the lines of a distorted Kabbalah (magical) and those who studied the real Jewish Kabbalah mystically. The third he defines as the "market criers" about which he quotes H. Kopp (1886): "Here . . . Kabbalah was only the bait, mostly already employed in the titles, to lure curious readers into buying books by authors who knew nothing about this sort of knowledge."

Was Etteilla, as Lévi seems to think, mostly a "market crier" who used a few Kabbalistic references to lure those who would think he knew more than he did, or did he actually know more? Next, Scholem presents us with a possible understanding of Etteilla.

He describes George Von Welling and F.C. Oetinger (18th century) as theosophically reinterpreting alchemical ideas of the mago-kabbalists - resulting in a melding of the two lights - "the light of grace and the light of nature" - the marriage of the mystical and magical that had been proposed by Jacob Boehme. Welling shunned the Jewish Kabbalah, saying it "is nothing other than an abuse of divine names," in favor of a 'correct' Christian Kabbalah (while Oetinger reintegrated Jewish Kabbalah back into the mix).

Scholem then quotes Goethe's summary of the central "cosmic history myth" that resulted from Welling's work. It included the 7 days of creation. Scholem notes that this myth was 'foreign to kabbalist tradition.' It is, however, central to de Gébelin/Mellet, Etteilla, Lévi, and even the Theosophists, in my opinion [bold is my own emphasis]:
"'At the beginning there was the world of light of God and the spirits, at the center of which stood Lucifer, reflecting the divine as the first and most magnificent of God's creatures. But Lucifer's will inhibited the effect if the divine light.' Thus, in his sphere arise a space of chaos, of darkness and gravity, from which God created the solar system. While reveling in the consciousness and appreciation of the encompassing glory, Lucifer had in fact forgotten his origin and therefore, by developing his own will, sequestered himself from God. According to God's plan, it was Adam, not Lucifer, who was supposed to be 'in his image and dominate the earth.' But Adam turned away from God in his Fall, and this results in the battle between Lucifer's forces and those of God in the Creation and humankind itself. Only at the end of days will God's interfering fire of strength transform the world, restore God's world of light, and return all beings, eventually even Lucifer, to their original harmonic, pre-dialectical state. Thus, each of Paracelsus's three basic elements—salt, sulphur, and mercury—have a special relation to one of the epochs of salvific history: salt to God's world of lights, the Fall of Lucifer, and the Creation of the world; sulphur to the balm of life of all creatures, but also to the destroying fire, which determines the state of humans after death and the end of days in the Last Judgment; and mercury to the bringing back of all things in the eon of the new heavens and the new earth."
"So influential was Welling's book that it was used as a main source of ideas in the formation of freemasonry around 1780. Both the didactic publications of the Masonic circle of Golden and Rosy Cross and that of the Asiatic Brethren, which partially originated in the same circle but distanced themselves polemically from it, adopted Welling's Lucifer myth almost verbatim."
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