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Secret address “Hail, whole structure of the spirit of air ; hail, spirit, which penetrates from heaven to the earth, and from the earth, that lies in the central space of the universe, to the boundaries of the abyss; hail, :spirit, that enters into me, and seizes me, and leaves me according to the will of God in goodness; hail, beginning and end of immovable nature; hail, rotation of the elements full of unwearyingly service ; hail, service of the sun beam, illumination of the world; hail, changeable gleaming sphere of the moon shining by night ; hail, spirits of all the daemons of the air; hail, ye, to whom greeting is brought in glorification, brethren and sisters, devout men and women !
Oh great, greatest, spherical, incomprehensible image of the world ! Heavenly (spirit) which art in heaven; ethereal wind formed, light-formed, darkness-formed, gleaming as a star, damp-fiery cold spirit: I praise thee, thou God of gods, thou who hast ordered the worlds, who hast gathered the deep together on the invisible support of its firm foundation, who hast separated heaven and earth and who hast veiled heaven with golden, eternal wings but hast founded the earth on eternal supports, who hast hung the ether high above the earth, who hast scattered the air by a self moving wind, who hast laid the water round about, who dost lead up the flashes of lightning, who dost thunder, who dost lighten, who dost rain, who dost shake, who dost beget living beings, God of aeons, great art thou, Lord, God, ruler of the universe.”
This beautiful prayer contains ideas which w e find also in the writings of St. Paul.
I would draw your attention to the fact, that the whole world is understood here as the structure of the spirit of air, which penetrates everything.
That is Pneuma in the original sense, it is the all-penetrating, wind-resembling, breath resembling Pneuma, which pervades the whole prayer. It is a corpus subtile, a subtle body, and also the Hyle, finest Hyle, but substantially identical with matter.
This is no materialism, for materialism only began to exist after the beginning of the Christian era, when matter really became matter.
Originally it was a mystical conception, a spirit of the world or something of that kind.
The spirit of air, addressed in this prayer, became the devil in the earliest days of Christianity.
We read in St. Paul, for instance, of “the prince of the power of the air.”
He is not the Pneuma here but the Archon. In another passages St. Paul says to the Christians :
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may b e able to stand against the whiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
These are the pneumatika, that is psychic or spiritual beings, regarded by St. Paul as the essence of evil, though they are in “high places”, that is, they are also in the heavenly world.
This is the spirit which was glorified in the ancient pagan world, as the sum total of the highest god.
The multitude of air demons are not devilish per se, but are nature beings.
These were condemned by Christianity, as early as St. Paul:
“The prince of the power of the air that now worketh in the children of disobedience”, but this prince was not originally the spirit of evil or of sinfulness. Yet there are some peculiar hints in this prayer, the author says of the spirit of air “that it leaves me according to the will of God in goodness”.
It is kind enough to leave me, presumably therefore if it stayed it might do me harm so it is evidently capable of evil.
This is a hint, that, even in their original form as nature beings, these demons were not always favourable, but had a somewhat ambiguous quality.
Therefore we have the wonderful description:” damp, fiery, cold spirit” .
It is damp in as far as it is soul; the soul in the ancient sense of the word, was exquisitely moist, a damp, cool breath.
It is fiery as the highest spirit in its perfect flowering; and when the soul is in its highest condition, it is hot and dry, as Heraclitus said.
But this spirit is also cold, it belongs in the cool darkness as well, in the darkness of the abyss.
It is a spiritual being, which unites all opposites and encompasses the whole cosmos in its height and depth, including the moral opposites.
This is naturally a point of view which would be extremely difficult for any Christian dogmatic creed to swallow, so i t was thought more prudent to throw away this spirit as scrap iron, and to declare it to be the devil.
But the whole of the beautiful relation of man to nature in antiquity, that really valuable religious feeling for nature, was lost with this declaration.
“People go out ” says St. Augustine “to admire the mountains . . . . and lose themselves (on that account],”
That is perfectly true, the man of that time was lost in the contemplation of the fascinating Hyle, and did lose himself on that account. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture IV, Pages 38-41