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Pathotism is empathy

by Oscar Laurens Schrover

Part of my translation of the foreword and proposition of Tradition Cosmique:

The basic ideas of Max and Alma Theon are to be found in The Cosmic Tradition, published in 1903 by the publishing company Library Charcornac. A set of these two books can still be found in the French National Library. On the frontispiece someone has noted, in pencil: 'attributed to Max Theon.' We believe however that the Cosmic Tradition was the result of a collaborative effort. It is the book of Max and Alma Theon, a gifted psychic whose role until now has been grossly and unduly ignored. And the psychic gifts of Alma Theon were much larger then those of the late Eileen Garrett or those of the celebrated Fantasy author Dion Fortune, who was a member of the famous Morningstar Lodge.

Why do we believe Alma Theon co-authored the Cosmic Tradition? Firstly because Max Theon hinted at many occasions that his wife was elementary to his occult work, and secondly, which is more tangible proof, the foreword of the Cosmic Tradition sets off with a plural we. It says: "The work WE are offering.." We are offering.
The impression the foreword (Tradition Cosmique) leaves on the modern reader is somewhat stilted. It reads:

"The work WE are offering here, to psycho-intellectuals, is a French adaption of an ancient tradition, which is given by those who have received and kept this tradition, handed over during the centuries.
After a quick survey of the first cosmic principles, it exposes primitive human history until the foundation of the first empires. The most important problems will receive a new solution here, problems such as the origins of evil, the role of mankind, and the fate of man after death.
At no time such a presentation has been given about extraordinary phaenomena that are multplying these days, phaenomena numerous occult and spiritual schools were unable to clarify. The nature of this work is such that it will interest the occultist, as well as the scientist, the religious as well as the philosopher. The subject of these two volumes, is only a tiny part of the Tradition.."

After these somewhat inflated sentences the book becomes dense, nearly cryptic. It begins: Chapter One

'The Cosmos consits of one, The Impenetrable and Indivisible, whose first manifestation is the Nucleolinus (1) or Occultisms which is veiled by, two, the Nucleolus or Pathetisms, which is veiled by, three, the Nucleus or Etherisms, which is veiled by, four, the spere of Attributes and, five, the Materialisms.

This is the cosmos of Max and Alma Theon, the creation model that ensues is basically a centrifugal process; Nucleolinus consists of the word nucleo which signifies 'fleeing from the centre' and the word linus.
Max and Alma's metaphysics and teachings concern themselves with forces fleeing from the Center or gather round it. The movement in their model is either towards densifying or rarefying.
The sphere closest to the Cosmic Order is the sphere of Occultisms or Secrets, followed by the sphere of Pathetisms (Fr: Les Pathétismes), which is a charged term.
Until now, the term 'Les Pathétismes' has been translated as 'pathotisms' in the English books about Max Theon and the Cosmic Tradition. This phrase was obviously coined by Louis Themanlys or his son, the French-Israeli journalist Pascal Themanlys (1909-2000), poet, zionist and kabbalist who published a number of books about Theon.
Pascal Themans was, as said, the son of Claire and Louis Themanlys, close friends of Max and Alma Theon (close, not as in proximity, for the Themanlys lived in France, in Normandy and Pau, whereas the Theons lived in Algiers). Pascal Themanlys has been instrumental in spreading the work and ideas of Max Theon. But because he allied himself with the Hassidic school and studied the orthodox Kabbalah he choose to ignore the wider scope of the work of Alma and Max Theon; and subsequently glossed over the more disturbing elements in their work. Some of his editing must be deemed as erratic and prejudiced.

These are the facts: Themanlys only met Theon once in 1920, when he was 11 years old. That was the only time Theon visited the continent in the period 1913-1927. In 1927 when he died Pascal Themanlys was 18 years old and - he claims - allegedly been initiated by his father Louis. Pascal Themanlys debuted as a poet in 1926 with a booklet called the Emerald Monocle. As a young man he had met a great many noted authors and artists such as f.e. Tagore and Paul Valery.
During the second world war Pascal Themanlys was a member of the French resistance. In 1949 he emigrated to Israel where he became the head the French section of the Jewish Agency. After his retirement as a civil servant he taught and studied Kabbalah. In his publications Themanlys let himself out very negatively about the liberal currents within Judaism. He died only recently on the 25th of June 2000.

We believe that the notion Pathetismes, which the Theons intertwined with the concept cosmic Love, is more aptly translated with 'empathic', which etymology comprises both the notion of suffering (pathos from the Gr. Pathikos) and of understanding.

Oscar Laurens Schrover

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page uploaded 4 September 2002, last modified 9 September 2005