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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Magi

(sing. Magus). Members of an ancient Persian priestly caste who practiced magic and astrology. In the New Testament three magi paid tribute to the infant Jesus and it has been suggested that they symbolize spiritual will, spiritual wisdom and spiritual intelligence (Hidden Wisdom in the Holy Bible, Geoffrey Hodson, T.P.H. Madras, 1963, Vol. I, p. 216). One of the earliest references to them occurs where Darius the Great defeated Gautama, a Magus, in a struggle for the Persian throne (522 BCE). Parts of the Avesta may have been written by Magi, such as the ritualistic portions of the Videvdat.

Helena P. Blavatsky states that the Magi, as well as Brahmans, were originally a hierarchy of adepts, “profoundly versed in physical and spiritual sciences and occult knowledge, of various nationalities, all celibates, and enlarging their numbers by the transmission of their knowledge to voluntary neophytes.” When their numbers became too large, they scattered far and wide, and they started to restrict admission. The latter mode of admission became the Temple Mysteries (CW IV:515).

P.S.H./V.H.C.

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