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The Chaldĉan Oracles of Zoroaster

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Ahura Mazda
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« on: May 01, 2009, 03:13:02 pm »

The Chaldĉan Oracles of Zoroaster
by W. Wynn Westcott
[1895]


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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 03:13:17 pm »

Attributed to, but probably not of Chaldean origin; not oracles (in the sense of prophecies); and definitely not Zoroastrian; this is a famous collection of aphorisms cherry-picked from classical sources. The earliest editions of the COZ were published during the renaissance, when Chaldea was a land of mystery to Europeans. Many of the cryptic 'Oracles' seem to reflect Neo-Platonism, the Kabbalah and Gnostic views, which would have been considered heretical at the time. Claiming an ancient Chaldean origin might simply have been a flag of convenience.

The main text here was translated by the 19th century Neo-Platonist Thomas Taylor, and I.P. Cory in his Ancient Fragments. This edition was published and introduced by the Theosophist W. W. Westcott in his series Collectanea Hermetica in 1895. Despite the twisted background of this text, it has a definite resonance which students of the Esoteric will enjoy. Indeed, W.B. Yeats, who moved in Theosophical circles, was an admirer of this text.

This is the first complete transcription of this edition of the COZ at sacred-texts. This version supersedes an earlier etext, prepared by a third party, which was incomplete and defective.


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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 03:14:07 pm »

THE CHALDÆAN ORACLES
ATTRIBUTED TO
ZOROASTER.
PREFACE
By SAPERE AUDE.
THESE Oracles are considered to embody many of the principal features of Chaldæan philosophy. They have come down to us through Greek translations and were held in the greatest esteem throughout antiquity, a sentiment which was shared alike by the early Christian Fathers and the later Platonists. The doctrines contained therein are attributed to Zoroaster, though to which particular Zoroaster is not known; historians give notices of as many as six different individuals all bearing that name, which was probably the title of the Prince of the Magi, and a generic term. The word Zoroaster is by various authorities differently derived: Kircher furnishes one of the most interesting derivations when he seeks to show that it comes from TzURA = a figure, and TzIUR= to fashion, ASH = fire, and STR = hidden; from these he gets the words Zairaster = fashioning images of hidden fire;--or Tzuraster=the image of secret things. Others derive it from Chaldee and Greek words meaning " a contemplator of the Stars."

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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2009, 03:14:18 pm »

It is not, of course, pretended that this collection as it stands is other than disjointed and fragmentary, and it is more than probable that the true sense of many passages has been obscured, and even in some cases hopelessly obliterated, by inadequate translation.

Where it has been possible to do so, an attempt has been made to elucidate doubtful or ambiguous expressions, either by modifying the existing translation from the Greek, where deemed permissible, or by appending annotations.

It has been suggested by some that these Oracles are of Greek invention, but it has already been pointed out by Stanley that Picus de Mirandula assured Ficinus that he had the Chaldee Original in his possession, "in which those things which are faulty and defective in the Greek are read perfect and entire," and Ficinus indeed states that he found this MS. upon the death of Mirandula. In addition to this, it should be noted that here and there in the original Greek version, words occur which are not of Greek extraction at all, but are Hellenised Chaldee.

Berosus is said to be the first who introduced the writings of the Chaldæans concerning Astronomy and Philosophy among the Greeks, * and it is certain that the traditions of Chaldea very largely influenced Greek thought. Taylor considers that some of these mystical utterances are the sources whence the sublime conceptions of Plato were formed, and large commentaries were written upon them by Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, Pletho and Psellus. That men of such great learning and sagacity should have thought so highly of these Oracles, is a fact which in itself should commend them to our attention.


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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2009, 03:14:30 pm »

The term "Oracles" was probably bestowed upon these epigrammatic utterances in order to enforce the idea of their profound and deeply mysterious nature. The Chaldæans, however, had an Oracle, which they venerated as highly as the Greeks did that at Delphi. *

We are indebted to both Psellus and Pletho, for comments at some length upon the Chaldæan Oracles, and the collection adduced by these writers has been considerably enlarged by Franciscus Patricius, who made many additions from Proclus, Hermias, Simplicius, Damascius, Synesius, Olympiodorus, Nicephorus and Arnobius; his collection, which comprised some 324 oracles under general heads, was published in Latin in 1593, and constitutes the groundwork of the later classification arrived at by Taylor and Cory; all of these editions have been utilised in producing the present revise.

A certain portion of these Oracles collected by Psellus, appear to be correctly attributed to a Chaldæan Zoroaster of very early date, and are marked "Z," following the method indicated by Taylor, with one or two exceptions. Another portion is attributed to a sect of philosophers named Theurgists, who flourished during the reign of Marcus Antoninus, upon the authority of Proclus, † and these are marked "T." Oracles additional to these two series and of less definite source are marked "Z or T." Other oracular passages from miscellaneous authors are indicated by their names.



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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2009, 03:14:44 pm »

The printed copies of the Oracles to be found in England are the following:--

1. Oracula Magica, Ludovicus Tiletanus, Paris, 1563.

2. Zoroaster et ejus 320 oracula Chaldaica; by Franciscus Patricius. . . . 1593.

3. Fred. Morellus; Zoroastris oracula, 1597. Supplies about a hundred verses.

4. Otto Heurnius; Barbaricæ Philosophiæ antiquitatum libri duo, 1600.

5. Johannes Opsopoeus; Oracula Magica Zoroastris 1599. This includes the Commentaries of Pletho and of Psellus in Latin.

6. Servatus Gallœus; Sibulliakoi Chresmoi, 1688. Contains a version of the Oracles.

Thomas Stanley. The History of the Chaldaic Philosophy, 1701. This treatise contains the Latin of Patricius, and the Commentaries of Pletho and Psellus in English.

Johannes Alb. Fabricius, Bibliotheca Græca, 1705-7. Quotes the Oracles.

Jacobus Marthanus, 1689. This version contains the Commentary of Gemistus Pletho.

Thomas Taylor, The Chaldæan Oracles, in the Monthly Magazine, and published independently, 1806.

Bibliotheca Classica Latina; A. Lemaire, volume 124, Paris, 1823.

Isaac Preston Cory, Ancient Fragments, London, 1828. (A third edition of this work has been published, omitting the Oracles.)

Phœnix, New York, 1835. A collection of curious old tracts, among which are the Oracles of Zoroaster, copied from Thomas Taylor and I. P. Cory; with an essay by Edward Gibbon.


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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2009, 03:15:17 pm »

Footnotes
4:* Josephus, contra Apion. I.

5:* Stephanus, De Urbibus.

5:† Vide his Scholia on the Cratylus of Plato.



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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2009, 03:15:38 pm »

p. 7

INTRODUCTION
By L. O.
IT has been believed by many, and not without good reason, that these terse and enigmatic utterances enshrine a profound system of mystical philosophy, but that this system demands for its full discernment a refinement of faculty, involving, as it does, a discrete perception of immaterial essences.

It has been asserted that the Chaldæan Magi * preserved their occult learning among their race by continual tradition from Father to Son. Diodorus says: "They learn these things, not after the same fashion as the Greeks: for amongst the Chaldæans, philosophy is delivered by tradition in the family, the Son receiving it from his Father, being exempted from all other employment; and thus having their parents for their teachers, they learn all things fully and abundantly, believing more firmly what is communicated to them." †

The remains then of this oral tradition seems to exist in these Oracles, which should be studied in the light of the Kabalah and of Egyptian Theology. Students are aware that the Kabalah ‡ is susceptible




p. 8

of extraordinary interpretation with the aid of the Tarot, resuming as the latter does, the very roots of Egyptian Theology. Had a similar course been adopted by commentators in the past, the Chaldæan system expounded in these Oracles would not have been distorted in the way it has been.

The foundation upon which the whole structure of the Hebrew Kabalah rests is an exposition of ten deific powers successively emanated by the Illimitable Light, which in their varying dispositions are considered as the key of all things. This divine procession in the form of Three Triads of Powers, synthesized in a tenth, is said to be extended through four worlds, denominated respectively Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah, a fourfold gradation from the subtil to the gross. This proposition in its metaphysical roots is pantheistic, though, if it may be so stated, mediately theistic; while the ultimate noumenon of all phenomena is the absolute Deity, whose ideation constitutes the objective Universe.

Now these observations apply strictly also to the Chaldæan system.

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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2009, 03:15:52 pm »

The accompanying diagrams sufficiently indicate the harmony and identity of the Chaldæan philosophy with the Hebrew Kabalah. It will be seen that the First Mind and the Intelligible Triad, Pater, Potentia, or Mater, and Mens, are allotted to the Intelligible World of Supramundane Light: the "First Mind" represents the archetypal intelligence as an entity in the bosom of the Paternal Depth. This concentrates by reflection into the "Second Mind " representative of the Divine Power in the Empyræan World which is identified with the second great Triad of divine powers, known as the Intelligible and at the same time Intellectual Triad: the Æthereal World comprises the dual third Triad denominated Intellectual: while the

p. 9

fourth or Elementary World is governed by Hypezokos, or Flower of Fire, the actual builder of the world.

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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2009, 03:18:15 pm »

CHALDÆAN SCHEME.
The Intelligibles
 The Paternal Depth
 
World of Supra-mundane Light
 The First Mind
 
 
 _______
 
 
 The Intelligible Triad
 
 
 Pater: Mater or Potentia: Mens
 
______________________________________
 
 
 The Second Mind
 
 
 _______
 
Intelligibles and Intellectuals
 Iynges
 
in the
 Synoches
 
Empyræan World
 Teletarchæ
 
______________________________________
 
 
 (The Third Mind.)
 
 
 Three Cosmagogi
 
Intellectuals
 (Intellectual guides inflexible.)
 
in the
 Three Amilicti
 
Ethereal World
 (Implacable thunders).
 
______________________________________
 
Elementary World
 Hypezokos
 
The Demiurgos of the
 (Flower of Fire)
 
Material Universe
 Effable, Essential and
 
 
 Elemental Orders
 
 
 _______
 
 
 The Earth-Matter
 

 
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2009, 03:18:46 pm »

p. 10

KABALISTIC SCHEME.

World of Atziluth
or of God
 The Boundless
 Ain Suph.
 
The Illimitable
 Ain Suph Aur
 
Light
 
 
 
 A radiant triangle
 
_____________________________________
 
World of Briah
Divine Forces
 Kether
(crown)
 
Binah
(Intelligence)
 Chokmah
(Wisdom)
 
_____________________________________
 
World of Yetzirah
or of Formation
 Geburah
 Chesed
 
Tiphereth
 
Hod
 Netzach.
 
Yesod
 
_____________________________________
 
World of Assiah

Material Form.
 Malkuth
Ruled by
Adonai Melekh
 
 
 _________________
 
 
 The Earth-Matter
 

 
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2009, 03:22:56 pm »

p. 11

CHALDÆAN SCHEME OF BEINGS.
Representatives of the previous classes guiding our universe.

I.
 Hyperarchii--Archangels
 
II.
 Azonœi--Unzoned gods
 
III.
 Zonœi--Planetary Deities.
 

_______________

Higher demons: Angels

_______________

Human Souls

_______________

Lower demons, elementals

Fiery
Airy
Earthy
Watery
_______________
Evil demons
Lucifugous; the kliphoth
 

_________________________________
__________________________________________________
_________________________________
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2009, 03:23:10 pm »

Chaldæan Theology contemplated three great divisions of supra-mundane things:--the First was Eternal, without beginning or end, being the "Paternal Depth," the bosom of the Deity. The Second was conceived to be that mode of being having beginning but no end; the Creative World or Empyræum falls under this head, abounding as it does in productions, but its source remaining superior to these. The third and last order of divine things had a beginning in time and will end, this is the transitory Ethereal World. Seven spheres extended through these three Worlds, viz., one in the Empyræum or

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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2009, 03:23:22 pm »

verging from it, three in the Ethereal and three in the Elementary Worlds, while the whole physical realm synthesized the foregoing. These seven spheres are not to be confounded with the Seven material Planets; although the latter are the physical representatives of the former, which can only be said to be material in the metaphysical sense of the term. Psellus professed to identify them but his suggestions are inadequate as Stanley pointed out. But Stanley, although disagreeing with Psellus, is nevertheless inconsistent upon this point, for although he explains the four -Worlds of the Chaldæans as successively noumenal to the physical realm, he obviously contradicts this in saying that one corporeal world is in the Empyræum.

Prior to the supramundane Light lay the "Paternal Depth," the Absolute Deity, containing all things "in potentia" and eternally immanent. This is analogous to the Ain Suph Aur of the Kabalah, three words of three letters, expressing three triads of Powers, which are subsequently translated into objectivity, and constitute the great Triadic Law sunder the direction of the Demiurgus, or artificer of the Universe.

In considering this schema, it must be remembered that the supramundane Light was regarded as the primal radiation from the Paternal Depth and the archetypal noumenon of the Empyræum, a universal, all-pervading--and, to human comprehension--ultimate essence. The Empyræum again, is a somewhat grosser though still highly subtilized Fire and creative source, in its turn the noumenon of the Formative or Ethereal World, as the latter is the noumenon of the Elementary World. Through these graduated media the conceptions of the Paternal Mind are ultimately fulfilled in time and space.

In some respects it is probable that the Oriental mind     day is not much altered from what it was

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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2009, 03:23:36 pm »

thousands of years ago, and much that now appears to us curious and phantastic in Eastern traditions, still finds responsive echo in the hearts and minds of a vast portion of mankind. A large number of thinkers and scientists in modern times have advocated tenets which, while not exactly similar, are parallel to ancient Chaldæan conceptions; this is exemplified in the notion that the operation of natural law in the Universe is controlled or operated by conscious and discriminating power which is co-ordinate with intelligence. It is but one step further to admit that forces are entities, to people the vast spaces of the Universe with the children of phantasy. Thus history repeats itself, and the old and the new alike reflect the multiform truth.

Without entering at length into the metaphysical aspect, it is important to notice the supremacy attributed to the "Paternal Mind." The intelligence of the Universe, poetically described as "energising before energy," establishes on high the primordial types or patterns of things which are to be, and, then inscrutably latent, vests the development of these in the Rectores Mundorum, the divine Regents or powers already referred to. As it is said, "Mind is with Him, power with them."

The word "Intelligible" is used in the Platonic sense, to denote a mode of being, power or perception, transcending intellectual comprehension, i.e., wholly distinct from, and superior to, ratiocination. The Chaldæans recognised three modes of perception, viz., the testimony of the various senses, the ordinary processes of intellectual activity, and the intelligible conceptions before referred to. Each of these operations is distinct from the others, and, moreover, conducted in separate matrices, or vehicula. The anatomy of the Soul was, however, carried much farther than this, and, although in its ultimate radix

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