His Initiation in Egypt

* Polycrates willingly gave Pythagoras a letter of recommendation to Pharaoh Amasis, who introduced him to the priests of Memphis. The latter were opposed to receiving him, and were induced to consent only with the utmost difficulty. He knew that he would only attain to knowledge by entirely mastering his will throughout his entire being. His initiation under the pontificate of Sonchis the high priest, lasted twenty-two years. [Edouard Schure, Pythagoras and the Delphic Mysteries, p. 20.]

* As concerning his learning, it is generally said that he learned many, and those the most excellent, parts of his philosophy, of the barbarians. Diogenes affirms “he gained the greatest part of his wisdom from these nations.” The sciences which are called mathematical he learned of the Egyptians, the Chaldeans and the Phoenicians, for the Egyptians were of old studious of geometry; the Phoenicians, of numbers and proportions; the Chaldeans, of astronomical theorems, divine rites and worship of the gods, and other institutions concerning the course of life he learned and received of the Magi. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 16]

* “The science of numbers and the art of will power,” said the priests of Memphis, “are the two keys of Magic; they open up all the gates of the universe.” He was instructed in three kinds of writings, epistolic, hieroglyphic and symbolic, that he might understand all Egyptian lore. A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 27]

* His initiation lasted in all twenty-two years, and he reached the summit of the Egyptian priesthood, realizing, not as a vain theory, but as something lived through, the doctrine of the Logos-Light, or of the Universal Word, and that of human evolution through seven planetary cycles. [Bernard H. Springett, Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Chapter XI: Pythagoras and His System, pp. 98-106]

* All the trials and temptations, the soul-rending dread and ecstatic joy passed through Hermes, the initiate of Isis, even to the apparent, or cataleptic death of the adept and his resurrection in the light of Osiris, were experienced by Pythagoras, so that he now realized, not as a vain theory, but as something lived through, the doctrine of the Logos-Light, or of the universal Word, and that of human evolution through seven planetary cycles. A hundred times the risk of death was incurred, especially if one’s object was to gain control over occult forces, and attain to the dangerous practice of magic and theurgy. Like all great men, Pythagoras believed in his star. No path that led to knowledge disheartened him, the fear of death could not check him, for he saw life beyond. When the Egyptian priests had recognized that he possessed extraordinary strength of soul and that impersonal passion for wisdom, which is the rarest thing in the world, they opened out to him the treasures of their experience. Whilst with them he daily improved, and became filled with divine knowledge. He mastered sacred mathematics and the science of numbers, or universal principles, which he formulated anew and made the center of his system. The severity of the Egyptian discipline in the temples also impressed on him the prodigious power of the human will when wisely trained and exercised, the endless applications, both to body and to soul, that can be made of it. “The science of numbers and the art of will-power,” said the priests of Memphis, “are the two keys of magic; they open up all the gates of the universe.” It was in Egypt that Pythagoras obtained that view from above, which allows of one seeing the spheres of life and the sciences in concentric order, and understanding the involution of the spirit into matter by universal creation, and it evolution or re-ascent towards unity by way of the individual creation called the development of consciousness. [Edouard Schure, Pythagoras and the Delphic Mysteries, p. 21.]

* From the priests of Memphis he learned that the two magic keys which open all the doors of the universe, are the science of numbers and the art of Will Power. [Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, Lives of 21 of the World’s Greatest Spiritual Teachers, p. 61]

* Then Cambyses, the Persian despot, invaded Egypt ; the temples of Memphis and Thebes were plundered, that of Ammon destroyed, and Pythagoras, with other Egyptian priests, was taken as a prisoner to Babylon. Here he was able to thoroughly study the knowledge in the possession of the magi, the heirs of Zoroaster, thereby enlarging his already vast horizon of doctrines and mysteries. [Bernard H. Springett, Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Chapter XI: Pythagoras and His System, pp. 98-106]

* At this time there were in Babylon three different religions in the high priesthood, here he acquired much knowledge which Egyptian priests did not have. He was instructed by the Persian Magi and arrived at the summit of music and mathematics… Indeed, he could not have heard Zoroastres himself, as being some ages later; yet it appears from the relation of Apuleius that many conceived Pythagoras to have been a follower of Zoroastres. A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 28]

* ….Persian wise men had a unique practical knowledge of certain occult arts. They specially understood the handling of psychic or astral lights; at their command, lamps lighted themselves and radiant spirits manifested. The Magi called this incorporeal fire, which they could condense or dissipate at will, “celestial lion,” and the electrical currents of the atmosphere, which they were said to be able to aim as an arrow upon men, they called “serpents….” The Persian Magi had also made a special study of the power of suggestion. For the evocation of spirits they used formulas graduated and borrowed from the most ancient languages; for, said they, these barbarous names of evocation must not be changed, as they are the pantheistic names of God; they are magnetized by the adoration of the multitude, and their power is ineffable. [Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, Lives of 21 of the World’s Greatest Spiritual Teachers, p. 62]

* He is said to have had the gift of healing souls as well as bodies; of talking with animals, and even with rivers; of controlling wild beasts by his words; of being in places at once – a useful accomplishment; of being able to hear the music and harmony of the spheres; of prophesying. He prophesied accurately the downfall of Greece, the time when the barbarians would destroy the Temple, and when shepherds would feed their flocks on the ruins of Delphi. He knew, too, that all religions are refractions from the same light; and that all of these he held the key, namely, esoteric science. [Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, Lives of 21 of the World’s Greatest Spiritual Teachers, p. 62-63]